University of Virginia Library


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Jones Barry was greatly elevated by his new commission.
His vanity was immediately tickled by being
adopted as the champion of the fair. He had heard
something of the days and institutions of chivalry, and
he felt all over knight-errantish. It was not that he desired
to shed blood, for he was, in fact, rather a kind-hearted
creature; but to be somebody, and to be moving
always conspicuously in some one's eyes, was sufficiently
grateful to make him lose sight of all other matters.
Full of fight, he hurried at once to Tom Nettles, to whom
he laid bare all the particulars of his situation.

“It's d—d strange!” said Nettles; “and yet I
don't know. To touch a woman on that point is to run
into the quick with a rusty gimlet. I suppose, since
you've pledged yourself to the lady, you'll have to challenge;
but Ran. Hammond will blow you into splinters.
He's a dead shot at a shingle.”

“A shingle's not a man; and I can shoot too. The
question is, Tom, will you see to this business for me?”

“Oh, certainly!”

“Well, ride over to Hammond this morning, make
the arrangements, and, after that, come and give me
some practice at the distance.”

“Very good. I'll ride round to your house from
Hammond's in time for dinner, and we'll make a night
of it. It's no time for practice after dinner, so we'll
leave that for next morning at sunrise.”

This being agreed on, Nettles at once proceeded with
the challenge, which was peremptory, to Hammond. It
must not be forgotten that the bearer of this letter was


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a great admirer of Hammond. Nettles only amused
himself with Barry, and did not respect him.

“Why, Nettles!” said Hammond, “how can I go out
with this foolish fellow? The thing is ridiculous. He
is the laughing-stock of the country. A good-meaning,
harmless creature enough, but one whom I should be
sorry to think of raising to my level. As a general rule,
I have resolved to fight anybody that makes a demand
on me, if only to prevent annoyance from persons who are
always to be found anxious to make for themselves a
capital of courage out of your reluctance. But I should
be afraid of the ridicule which would attach to a formal
combat with one so utterly silly and ridiculous as Barry.”

“Well! there's some danger of that, I confess; but
we'll keep the thing as quiet as possible.”

“You can't keep it quiet. His vanity will never suffer
him to sleep until he succeeds in making everybody
know that he is a champion for the lady.”

“Some danger of that; but the truth is, Ran., the
fellow is resolved on it, and when that's the case he can
annoy you quite as effectually, and perhaps make the
ridicule much more successful, than it would be if you
were to meet him. If you say you won't meet him, why,
I shall give up the business; but, in his present temper,
he'll only seek somebody else, who will be very apt to
follow it up, and vex you into it at last. Now, I have
a plan by which to shift the ridicule to the proper

He whispered his scheme to Hammond, who heard
him with a dubious shake of the head.

“If I am to go out,” said he, “I should prefer to do
so with a serious resolution. I should never wish to
trifle in such matters.”

Nettles had his arguments, and, without being convinced,
Hammond consented that his decision should
be referred to Miles Henderson, whom he made his
sense-keeper, as well as friend, on the occasion. The
two rode over together to Henderson's, and the whole
affair was submitted to him. Hammond, as in duty


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bound, put himself in the hands of his friend, and the
subtle Nettles found it much more easy to impress the
latter than the former with the propriety of his scheme,
whatever that may have been. At present, its purport
is concealed from us. Henderson, indeed, was greatly
tickled with it, and Hammond, still doubting, was compelled
to submit.

“It'll be rare sport, Ran. We shall have the laugh
to ourselves. Let him get the lady if he can, but, at
all events, give him a mighty bad scare. I know Jones
well. He's got as soft a heart as anybody in the world,
with all his bluster and conceit, and if we don't make
him run for it, my name's not Nettles.”

Hammond, it must be confessed, did not altogether
relish the cool and philosophical manner with which the
other was prepared to consign the lady to the arms of
her champion. He still felt a deep sympathy with Geraldine,
though she had greatly mortified his pride, and
it was only with the conviction that her conduct had
been dictated by a total indifference to his claims, that
he was reconciled to yielding her up without a farther
struggle. His mind was distracted by lurking doubts
of this same indifference, and was continually recalling
the numerous little instances in her conduct which had
encouraged him in the belief that she really had a preference
for him; but these impressions he had been
compelled to discard, however unwillingly, in the more
recent events which we have described. But her
beauties were more deeply engraved upon his imagination
than he had been willing to believe, and he now
listened to her final surrender with a secret sense of
pain, of which he was thoroughly ashamed. The plan
arranged between Nettles and Henderson for the duel
was such as he could not approve of, and he only submitted
to it as one accustoms himself, in such cases, to
submit to the conclusions of his friends, even where he
deems them unwise. It is a matter of punctilio which
decides many such affairs, in defiance of the deliberate
judgment of nearly all the parties. But upon this head


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we need not dilate. Enough that Nettles went off with
an acceptance of his challenge. In three days the parties
were to meet. Time, place, distance, and all the
particulars were fully agreed on between the two
seconds, and they proceeded—one of them, at least—
to put their principals in training. Barry, not a bad
shot before, was practised every day, at frequent periods,
until he could snuff a candle.

“You're now as good a shot,” said Nettles, “as you
need be; you can snuff a candle at ten paces.”

“Ain't that famous shooting?”

“Yes; but I've seen Ran. Hammond divide a firefly
upon the wing!”

Nettles had his own mode of encouragement, truly,
and possessed the art, in high degree, of warming and
cooling his patient in the same instant—as in Russia,
they tell us, a fellow is taken smoking out of the
vapor-bath and rolled over and over in a mountain of
snow—and all with the view to reaction. Nettles was
never more happy than when he could exercise the
nerves of our friend Barry with such pleasant contradictions.
As soon as the duel had been determined
upon, and the preparations made, Jones Barry proceeded
to report progress to the lady whose battle he
espoused. Mrs. Foster, we are pleased to state, was
now entirely opposed to the affair; but Geraldine's
anger continued. She had few words; but these were
all vindictive and wrathful. She thanked Barry for
his zeal, and renewed the assurance that, with the fall
of Hammond, he should have her hand. Nothing was
said of his own fall; but, of course, in that event, the
hand could be of no use to him. Before the parties
separated, Geraldine drew him aside.

“Mr. Barry, I must be present at this meeting.”

“You, Miss Geraldine?”

“Yes, I must see it. I must see him fall!”

“But how? We have but two friends on each side

“I care nothing for your fantastic forms. I must be


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present. I do not mean to be seen, but to see. You
must manage it that I shall be hidden in the neighboring
wood. None shall know.”

“But, Miss Geraldine—”

“Oh! It's strange, it's unreasonable, it's unnatural.
I know all that! But I must and will be there. Tell
me, will you arrange it?”

His answer was a compliance, and he kept his word.
Concealed in a neighboring copse, Geraldine Foster was
present when the duel took place. She had contrived
to get away from the “Lodge” without her mother's
knowledge. The place of meeting was at a spot, about
three miles off from it, well known to the combatants of
the neighborhood as “Pistol Quarter.” Here, on a
pleasant afternoon, not ten days after the equestrian
contest for our damsel, the same parties met to decide
a more formidable issue. The preliminaries for a duel
are usually very much alike in all cases, and they were
not departed from in the present instance. Nettles, for
once in his life, seemed thoroughly serious. He proceeded
to his duties with the air of a man who anticipated
the worst. To Barry he said, while placing him —

“You look quite too fierce and vindictive, Barry.
I am afraid you have bloody feelings. I trust you will
be satisfied with winging him only.”

“I am sworn to kill him,” was the stern response.

“Then God have mercy on his soul and yours! Should
he entertain a like feeling, you will both be at `Cedar
Mount' (the graveyard) before to-morrow night.”

Thus saying, he placed his man, and after the lapse
of a few seconds, the signal words were given: one—
two—three! The sharp fire followed, almost instantaneously.
For a moment, both parties appeared erect, but,
on a sudden, Hammond was seen to totter and to fall
right forward.

“The bullet is through his heart!” was the hurried
speech of Nettles to his principal. “To your horse, at
once, Jones, and be off as fast as Heaven will let you.
It's all over with him.”


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“Is he dead?—have I killed him?” was the demand
of Barry in wild and husky accents.

“You've done that same!”

“Oh! God have mercy! I'm a murderer!”

“Begone!” and with the words he pushed the pale
and conscience-stricken wretch from the ground, helped
him on his horse, and saw him wheel about and disappear.
He fled, looking behind him, with terror and
vengeance dogging at his heels.