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James McHenry's The Wilderness, Volume 2, in electronic form
- By JamesMcHenry -
Then might you see on earth the warriors lie.
Whose limbs robust could every toil defy;
Inur'd the weight of ponderous arms to bear,
Inur'd on fields the hostile steel to dare.
Deep in their flesh the bidden furies prey.---
The warning which Tonnaleuka had given Charles to be circumspect in regard to the enemy, was not lost upon him. He employed Paddy Frazier as a scout to hover round the French station at Le Boeuf in order to watch their motions and give him the earliest intelligence of their design. He also kept four or five of his men constantly employed in ranging on horseback, those quarters of the country from which he could be suddenly attacked, while the whole of the remainder were busily engaged in digging trenches, and preparing long pointed stakes to fix in the ground to form their stoccade fortification. From the friendly Indians he at first rceived considerable aid in forwarding his works; but in a few days he began to perceive their ardour in his behalf to diminish; and suspecting that they had imbided some unfriendly feeling towards him, he thought proper to visit king Shingiss, and expostulate with him on the subject.
His Delaware Majesty stated to him, that he still preferred his nation to the French, but as he was now imitating their conduct by building strong holds in the country, many of his people began to fear that these might, some day, be used against them, instead of the common enemy.
Charles assured him that his strength never would be employed against his friends; but that such of the tribes as remained true to him should always experience his gratitude; and if his nation should wax strong in the country, which he doubted not, it would during the next summer, so as to overmatch the French, those, who now adhered to him in his weakness, would be amply compensated and protected from their enemies.
The result of this interview was, that Shingiss promised to remonstrate with his people, and exhort them to befriend and assist the English as usual. They became in consequence somewhat more carnest in the aid they afforded, and by their assistance, in about five weeks after Charles's arrival, the trench was dug, and piles planted around the two most exposed sides of the intended fort. The other two sides being skirted by the rivers, did not require a trench, and the piles for their circumvallation were getting ready with all possible despatch.
Matters were thus situated with our adventurers, when Paddy Frazier arrived in haste one evening with intelligence, that a large body of French, consisting, as he conjectured, of between four and five hundred men, collected from various forts, were proceeding rapidly down the course of the Alleghany river, to attack them.
This intelligence was indeed alarming, as their defences were as yet but slight, and the few Indians who were present, were of very doubtful fidelity. Charles, however, determined to put a bold face on the matter, and resist his enemies as long as he could, with little hope indeed of victory, but with the expectation of forcing them, if he must capitulate, to grant him honourable terms. He despatched a messenger to Shingiss, requesting the aid of the Delaware warriors. Shingiss attended personally with about thirty men, being all he could muster on the emergency. When he arrived, he addressed Charles---
"You suspected me, brother," said he, "of want of fidelity to your interests. Brother, I promised you my assistance in your need---you now shall have it, for I never broke my word. You will never tell your great king of the east, that Shingiss was a deceiver, because I expect you will tell truth."
"Brother, I have reasoned thus: I will join the English now, because I am pledged to it. The French are more powerful and will beat us---but then we will only be beaten, as brave men often are---we shall not have broken our words like cheats and cowards."
"Now, brother---I am ready to obey you."
All Charles's force was now concentrated within the entrenchments; and every man was in full expectation of a speedy and severe conflict. They kept all night on the alert one half only retiring to rest at the time. During the night, however, they were left undisturbed; but the morning scarcely dawned when they perceived the woods at the distance of little more than five hundred yards, glittering with the arms and uniforms of the French soldiers.
In a short time, a man approached with a white flag, who was admitted into the entrenchments. He said he was sent to demand from Mr. Adderly an absolute surrender of himself, and all the men and stores under his command to Monsieur St. Pierre, the officer commanding the troops of his most Christian Majesty at Le Boeuf, in return for which his own life, and the lives of all his followers, should be protected from the power of the Indians, although they must submit to be sent to Canada, perhaps to France, as prisoners of war.
Charles at once rejected these terms. "If we were absolutely beaten, thought he, they could not ask for a submission more disgraceful. In the name of God and our country, we will try them. If we beat them off, it is well. If not, it is only to submit when we can do no better."
His refusal was scarcely communicated to the French commander, when the trumpets sounded, and the attack commenced by a heavy fire of musketry opening upon the English, from which their defences were so incomplete as to afford them but a very imperfect shelter. They fought, however, with great bravery, returning the fire of their enemies with such promptitude and steadiness, that they dared not advance to storm the works, as was their first intention.
Neither party had any cannon, as the French understanding that the English had none, did not choose to spend time in transporting any over such a difficult country as lay between Le Boeuf and Shanapins, lest the British might become too well fortified before they attacked them. The whole of this forenoon was, therefore, spent in the interchange of a severe and unintermitting fire of musketry, very destructive to both sides. The French, it is true, saved themselves as much as they could behind trees, which afforded them almost as secure a shelter as the unfinished stoccade did the English. Their numbers, however, and the necessity they were under of making frequent movements, rendered them more exposed than the English. They had, therefore, considerably the worst of it during this period of attack.
Monsieur St. Pierre, therefore, about one o'clock in the afternoon, resolved to change the mode of combat. He accordingly drew off his men from the reach of the English fire, and dividing them into two parties, ordered Captain Joncaire to proceed with one of them out of view of the enemy, towards the Monongahela, and under cover of its high bank, which varied in height from twenty to thirty feet above the common surface of the river, to proceed down, by the water's edge, to the point at the junction of the two rivers where the English station was yet unprotected. He took himself the charge of the other division which he conducted, in a similar manner, under shelter of the Alleghany bank. It was calculated that both divisions would reach, nearly at one time, the defenceless quarters of the English position. If not, however, as either party considerably out-numbered the force to be attacked, the one which arrived first, was to lose no time in waiting for the other, since it could not be far off with its assistance.
St. Pierre's own division came first to the attack, but on scaling the bank which was considerably steep, nearly thirty of his men were killed by a well-directed fire from the English, and the rest shrunk back under cover of the bank. Another minute, however, brought forward Joncaire's division, who made good their destination, not, indeed without some loss, which, however, they severely repaid by a dreadful volley upon Charles's men, who were now without shelter. That instant St. Pierre's men also leaped upon the contested ground; and Charles, seeing that further resistance would only bring useless destruction upon his followers, submitted to necessity, and surrendered himself and his party prisoners of war.
In this second disastrous conflict which Charles had conducted against the enemies of his country, he lost nealy half his men. Five or six others were wounded, and he himself had one of his thighs slightly injured by a musket ball. Of his Indian auxiliaries, ten or twelve, among whom he particularly regretted king Shingiss, were killed. The French had between forty and fifty slain, and nearly as many wounded; but their victory was decisive, and the object of their expedition completely attained.
The French commander now resolved to keep possession of the ground he had taken, both as furthering the views of his government in extending their line of forts from Quebec to New Orleans, and as being the most eligible position from which he could not only overawe the English Indians, but check any future attempts that the Ohio Company, or even the British nation, might make upon this country.
He immediately set his men to work, assisted by a great number of Indians, to finish the fort which the English had begun. During the ensuing spring, this post assumed a very formidable aspect, under the name of Fort Du Quesne, overawing any of the Indian tribes that might still harbour a secret partially for the English, and for several years setting even the whole power of the British in America, at defiance.
St. Pierre, at once, perceived the advantage of ingratiating himself with the neighbouring tribes, and drawing them off from the English interest. He therefore set all the Delawares, whom he had made prisoners in the late battle, at liberty, and king Shingiss being now dead, he had no difficulty in forming an alliance with his successor.
Not having accommodations for the English prisoners at Du Quesne, he in a few days after the battle, sent the greater number of them under a strong escort, to Le Boeuf. But Charles was detained until his wound should be so far healed as to permit him to travel without inconvenience. He was kindly enough treated by the French commander, who permited him to retain all his private baggage, and afforded him every accommodation for his personal comfort, that the circumstances of the place could afford.
Charles bore his misfortunes stoutly, for his conscience told him that he had done all that man could do, to avoid them. His employers had not furnished him with sufficient force to effect their designs, and hence they failed, and failed too, without occasioning any great disappointment to his anticipations. But he did not blame the company. They had given him all the force they could muster for such an enterprise, and his own anxiety to have business once more in the vicinity of his Maria, together with an ill-judged notion that the inclemency of the season might protect him until he should be fortified, and receive additional succours from the eastward, had induced him to accept its command.
The state of Maria's mind, on hearing of his defeat, he had found means to ascertain from Tonnaleuka, who visited him a day or two after the battle.
The prophet informed him, "that on first hearing that the French were about to attack him with an overwhelming force, she, and indeed the whole of the Frazier family, manifested great agitation and alarm for his safety; but as soon as it was understood that he had escaped with life, she became resigned and thankful; for she knew that to be a prisoner of war in the hands of Europeans, although it might be a disagreeable and troublesome, yet it was not a dangerous, nor could it be a permanent matter. She, therefore, consoled herself with the hope that all might yet be well.
The French commander knew nothing about Charles's intimacy with the Frazier family, nor even of their partiality for the English interest. He knew them indeed to be British subjects, for he had often heard of them; but he had also heard of their long residence in the Wilderness, and of their peaceable demeanor; and he conceived that from long association with the Indians, they must have thrown off much of their European manners and partialities. It did not appear that they had, in any manner, assisted the English in their late attempts to gain a footing in the country, farther than by entertaining some of their sojourners, and trading with them, which they were in the habit of doing with individuals of every nation who visited them. As to Paddy's agency in behalf of Charles's cause, it was conducted by that wily woodsman, with so much adroitness and secresy, that no one in the French interest suspected him. He was, therefore, without hindrance, permitted to trade at their forts, with which he continued to maintain as free and uncontroled an intercourse, as before these transactions.
As to Tonnaleuka, although the French commandant had too much of the philosophical scepticism of his countrymen in his disposition, to place much confidence in his prophetical pretensions, yet he respected him as a man of extraordinary talents and information, and courted his friendship and good will with considerable assiduity, on account of the great influence that he knew him to possess over the native tribes. The prophet was therefore under no restraint in his intercourse with the different forts; and consequently, very few matters of importance were agitated, either there, or in any of the Indian councils, with which he was not acquainted.
In a few weeks, Charles Adderly being quite recovered of his wound, Monsieur St. Pierre thought proper to send him under a guard of six soldiers, to his fellow prisoners at Le Boeuf. This was a movement very much against Charles's inclination. He wished to remain as near as possible to the residence of Maria; and he had during his confinement consoled himself with the hope of obtaining permission, on his parole, to occasionally visit Frazier's family. He had, however, to submit to the will of his conqueror; and he departed from Du Quesne in company with his guard, with a heavy and reluctant heart, about the beginning of February, 1754.
The weather was cold and dry, with about two feet depth of snow on the ground; but the party were hardy and lively, and tolerably well equipped for the journey. They proceeded on merrily and carelessly, for nearly two days, without meeting with any accident; but on the evening of the second, when they reached the bank of Bear Creek, between thirty and forty miles from Du Quesne, their progress was unexpectedly arrested by a volley of musketry fired by men in ambush, which killed four of the guard upon the spot. The assailants immediately leaped from their concealment, with loud cheers; and to Charles's infinite surprise and delight, he beheld his friends Paddy and Archy Frazier, Peter M` Fall and Dr. Killbreath. Paddy, the Doctor, and Archy, threw away their rifles, and seizing each a loaded musket from the fallen Frenchmen, gave instant chace to the two survivers, who, the moment their companions fell, had taken to flight, without thinking of Charles, or waiting to see whether they were attacked by Indians or white men. But Peter ran directly to loosen the cords that bound his master's wrists; Charles, however, ordered him first to call his companions back from the pursuit, saying, "there has already been slaughter enough here. It will now do no harm to allow these two poor fellows to escape."
"Arrah! Master, now, my honey, never mind them," said Peter. "Who knows but they might come and fire a backshot at us, before we could get home; and then the devil take us, if the chance wouldn't be that some of us wouldn't get home at all, at all. By the piper, Doran! who broke the hangman's neck at the foot of the gallows, master, but our boys must send lead into their wheezans."
By this time, however, Charles was loose, and he hastened himself after the pursuers, whom he was easily able to trace, by their tracks in the snow. He had not run far, until he heard two or three shots fired, and again loud cheers rang in the air. He soon arrived at the spot, and found to his unspeakable chagrin, that the objects of his solicitude had received their death wounds.
"My friends---I heartily thank you for the service you have rendered me," said he. "But would it not have been as well to have spared these poor men! Was not your object fully enough accomplished before their destruction?"
"No, sir," replied Paddy Frazier. "When I manage a thing, it shall never be half done, or else the devil is in it. Our object was, no doubt, to rescue you at all risks, but it was also, to do it without any risk, if we could. And do you think that there would be no risk in permitting these men to escape? If we did not pursue them to death, they might have pursued us, by our tracks in the snow, to discovery; which might one day have terminated in the destruction of at least some of us; perhaps of your humble servant, my precious self, who knows! for it as certain as that snow lies there, that they would have discovered and told our names to our good friends, their complaisant countrymen. Nay, they might have taken a more speedy revenge, by sending, from some convenient place, a couple of balls after us, one of which might have lodged in my own groin, where, Mr. Adderly, I assure you I would have conceived it no agreeable guest. In short, sir, by shooting them, I breathe easier, and am likely to breathe longer."
"There may be some truth in your observations," returned Charles; "and as the deed is now done, it will do no good to argue its propriety. Let me again assure you of my gratitude for your exertions in my behalf. I only wish that the affair could have been managed with less bloodshed--- but that may have been impossible."
"Arrah, master!" cried Peter McFall, "it has been done snugly. I knew Paddy was the boy could manage it. Och! long life to his mother that put such an eye in his head when she bore him. By the great Brian! master, if he couldn't, at half a mile's distance, shoot your nose off without touching your face!"
"Why Peter, now when I think of it," exclaimed Charles, "how, in the name of wonder, are you here? I thought you had been quietly lodged in Le Boeuf long since."
"Arrah! master, now be asy," said Peter, winking significantly; "can't you keep a bit of a secret; sure I told you before that there are more ways of getting out of Le Boeuf than by the door."
"What! then I suppose you escaped through the kennel again!" said Charles.
"No, your honour. By my sowl, the devil couldn't now escape that way," replied Peter; "it is now a wooden pipe, that you could scarcely put your fist in. But I scaled the walls, may it please your honour, like a lark, and swung down the tother side like a swallow, and so bade them adieu, to eat their own meal and potatoes; though the devil a morsel of oatmeal or a good Irish potato did Peter ever see among them, my honey!"
In short, by dint of patience and interrogatories, Charles ascertained that Peter, finding from an alteration in the structure of the drain which had been before so propitious to him, that he could do no good by its means, resolved to discover some other. He for several days prosecuted his investigations, and exercised his ingenuity to no purpose. But he was resolved not to be baffled in his design. Escape he must, he had repeatedly sworn to himself, if he should some night blow out the sentinel's brains in order to effect it. This would be a rather dangerous scheme, he thought, and therefore, after long balancing on the subject, he preferred one which only presented him with the trifling hazard of beaking his neck.
He had taken notice of a long line of jack-cord, which reached from the top of one of the piles of the stoccade to an iron staple fixed in the gable of one of the store-houses. This line had been placed there for the purpose of airing and drying the clothes of the garrison. This cord, partly from its smallness, and partly from long exposure to the weather, had become rather weak to bear the weight of such a man as Peter; but he instantly conceived that if it were doubled, it might answer the use he intended. In order to ascertain this, he took an opportunity, when he was unobserved, of relieving its end from the staple, and having doubled it, he found it, after repeatedly trying his weight upon it, quite sufficient for his purpose. He again secured it in the staple, until night should give him an opportunity of commencing his operations; and in the interval searched for and found a large iron hook, to the one end of which, when the hour was favourable for his design, he attached the cord, and by repeatedly throwing it up to the top of the stoccade, he at last dexterously fixed it upon the pile round which the other end of the cord was bound. He now, by a great effort of strength, slung over the piles a small bag of provisions, and then, with the agility of a cat, ascended to the top of the stoccade, from which he at first intended to let himself drop down. But the height was too fearful. He, therefore, drew over his cord, and fixing the hook more firmly than when he ascended, he committed his safety to it, and in a few moments reached the ground on the outside, without injury. Then shouldering his bag of provisions, he whistled adien to Le Boeuf, and in about a week found himself seated by Gilbert Frazier's fireside. Hence it was that Paddy, who projected and conducted the scheme of Charles's rescue, obtained him as a bold and zealous auxiliary.
Oh, Anna! think'st thou time or space
Can ever change a love like mine;
Can from my mem'ry e'er efface
Charms there impress'd so deep as thine!
No; I may suffer and repine,
While round my head life's tempests roll;
To death itself I may resign,
But thou shalt triumph in my soul!
A short time brought Charles to the residence of his beloved. Oh! how comfortable, how happy he now felt as he sat by her side and gazed upon her charms. Here he beheld himself so suddenly, so unexpectedly, freed from the midst of his misfortunes, and placed in that very spot where of all the world he most wished to be, and in the presence of her whose society alone could yield him true happiness, that the whole almost appeared to him as if it had been the effect of magic. What luxury on earth was equal to this! what could he wish for more! The bliss of "pleasure after pain" he now enjoyed for a few days almost to intoxication; for in the romance of his feelings, in the intensity of his joy, his gratitude, and his love, he buried every recollection of past pain, except such as served to make present enjoyment sweeter; and as to any anticipations of future evil, they could no more gain his attention than a true-bred Yankee could forget charging for value delivered.
But Maria did not feel so perfectly at ease. Rejoiced as she was at his escape from his enemies, she greatly feared his falling again into their hands, for she knew that under present circumstances he could not in the Wilderness enjoy that perfect safety she wished for him. His enemies she believed would soon hear or suspect something of his rescue, and would no doubt use all their powerful endeavours to discover the place of his concealment. She endeavoured to impress these truths upon her lover's mind, but he, for the first two or three days, would give toleration to no feeling that possessed the remotest appearance of being a drawback upon his present enjoyment.
At length his enthusiasm of delight began somewhat to subside; or, to speak more correctly, to become reasonable; and she succeeded in convincing him that his only security against being retaken by his enemies, would be close concealment, or else flight from the Wilderness. The latter expedient she acknowledged was, at this season of the year, rather difficult and dangerous. The weather was inclement, and he might perish in a storm; or, as the mountains were covered with snow, an attempt to cross them might lead to his discovery, by exposing the tracks of his footsteps to the enemy.
Removal from the vicinity of his Maria was, indeed, at this time a disagreeable step, which Charles was happy to have some reasonable excuse for avoiding.
"My love," said he, "banish me not from your presence, and I will adopt any other means of security--- I will conceal myself in any other manner you may prescribe."
"You are aware," said she, "that as soon as the French suspect your escape, they will search for you here. They will naturally suppose that, if you be at all in the Wilderness, your countrymen will know something of you. I wish you to disguise deeply, remove to some distance from us, and visit us but seldom, at least until the heat of the pursuit after you shall abate. Tonnaleuka will furnish you with a retreat, for he knows all the fastnesses and lurking places of the forest. Our family will take care to supply you with every thing they can to render your asylum comfortable."
"Oh, Maria! this is almost banishment," he replied; "it will drive me to some solitary shade where I will be deprived of your presence."
"But it is necessary, in your present circumstances," said she, "to submit to this inconvenience, unless you wish to be again captured; and the sooner you submit, my Charles, I will feel the sooner at ease in regard to your safety."
"O Maria! speak ever thus to me, and I will do any thing you wish. But, bethink you, my sweetest maiden, there is not, there cannot be, much danger of my being here searched for so very soon as you apprehend. There is not one of my escort now living to tell the story of my rescue. It will be many days before any suspicion of it takes place at Le Boeuf, and many more before that suspicion is communicated to Du Quesne. Even then, the enemy will not be certain whether the whole party may not have perished, either by intense cold, or by some marauding band of treacherous Indians. In short, my too timid love, I do not believe that the pursuit after me will be either very eager, or of long continuance."
"It may turn out as you say," replied Maria; "but it may also turn out otherwise. This is the danger; and to guard against misfortune upon which we can calculate, however remote may be its appearance, is surely wise and prudent. O Charles! be prudent, for both our sakes. O! relieve my mind, and without delay betake yourself to disguise and concealment."
"I shall do as you wish," said he. "For your sake I will dive into the thickest of the woods, into the depths of caverns, for concealment. Only let your mind be at ease, I will vanish from danger, although in doing so, I shall be banished from you. I will attend Tonnaleuka wherever he chooses to lead me."
"Now I am satisfied, Charles," said she; "all will be well. Under the prophet's care you will be safe. He will be here this night, and shall direct your proceedings."
That evening Tonnaleuka, as Maria had foretold, visited them.
"My son," said he to Charles, "you are once more out of the power of your enemies, and it only now requires prudence to keep you so. My son, I rejoice that this maiden has prevailed on you to follow my directions. If you be ready, follow me---but first bid that maiden farewell, for you will not see her for many weeks."
"Oh, father!" he cried, "what do you require of me! Why separate us long? What necessity is there---"
"My son," said Tonnaleuka, "I have promised to her, that if you obey my directions, I will be responsible for your safety; and I will not endanger my word by exposing it to risk. Your obedience will be voluntary; but if, by following your inclinations, you bring evil upon yourself, then I shall be blameless. Now, my son, choose whether you shall be ruled by me, or by your own imprudent wishes."
Charles looked at Maria with an expression which asked, "shall I go?"
"Mr. Adderly," said she, "this hesitation is unbecoming, it is weak. Haste, attend the prophet, if you regard my peace of mind, or your own absolute security. Alas, Charles! since you will have me to express myself so, I feel every hour an age, till I know that you are beyond the reach of your enemies."
"I go, dearest of maidens! and I promise to obey the prophet. But, O! let me ask one request. If there be danger in my coming to thee, surely there can be none in thy visiting me. Will the distance not be too far to allow me sometimes to see thee in my concealment?"
"It may happen that I will visit you," she replied. "But if I should not, you may assure yourself that it will only be lest my going might excite suspicion of your retreat. Farewell then!---be patient, and submit to temporary inconveniences. The prophet is your friend, and O! may God be so too!"
"Farewell!" he said; and he pressed her hand to his burning lips, and followed Tonnaleuka out of the apartment.
It was a beautiful moonlight frosty night. Ten thousand fiery stars sparkled in the heavens, and the pure cold snow glittered on the earth. The queen of night coursed, in all her splendour, steadily and majestically along the smooth blue starstudded arch that overcanopied the sober and chequered horizon of mountains and vales, clothed in a party-coloured covering of dark trees, and silvery shining snow that lay extended beneath. The rivers and rivulets were all frozen as hard as iron, and the movements of every terrestrial object seemed to be arrested, except the shadows of trees, and rocks, and mountains, which flitted around as Charles and his conductor went forward, as if to yield them way, or pay them respect as they passed by.
Tonnaleuka led the way, and Charles followed in meditative silence. They kept nearly northward, along the right bank of Turtle Creek. The stream soon became enclosed between high mountains, and they crossed on the ice to its left bank, along which they proceeded about half a mile; when suddenly taking a path that led in an easterly direction up a high hill, on gaining its top, they kept along the ridge which it formed, still in an easterly course, for half a mile further. They then struck suddenly to the left, and descended into a deep valley, at the bottom of which they crossed a small run, near a place where it was almost overarched by a huge rock, which formed the rugged juttying face of the opposing ridge. They passed up the bank of this stream underneath this fearful arch, to which the solemn rays of the moon now imparted an aspect impressively awful, for about two hundred yards, to a place where the continuity of the rock became interrupted by a deep ravine, into which they turned. For a few moments they ascended a small path, until about half way up the left side of this ravine, when they came to a large rock, which seemed to obstruct their farther progress.
Here the prophet spoke to Charles for the first time since they had left Frazier's.
"Now, my son," said he, "you will see my favourite retreat when I wish for concealment. There are only two individuals, besides myself, who know it, and in these I can repose implicit reliance. You will be the third; consequently the confidence I have in you cannot be small; and the security you will here enjoy from either French or Indians, will be as great as even your Maria could desire. Within is the lodging I am about to afford you, till you can leave the Wilderness in safety. its entrance, except by those who already know it, can only be found by a miracle."
So saying, Tonnaleuka caught hold of a branch of a small pine tree, that seemed to be growing in the angle formed by the rock and the side of the acclivity, and pulling it downward, he separated the upper side of the root some distance from the earth. He let go his hold, and the tree remained in this posture.
"Follow me!" said Tonnaleuka, as he ascended to the gap, which this separation of the tree from the earth had occasioned, into which he lowered himself by a flight of ten or twelve rugged stone steps, until he came to a kind of landing-place, or lobby, having a smooth earthen bottom.
"Remain here a few moments, until I strike a light," said Tonnaleuka, and he proceeded into a dark passage, in what direction Charles could not tell, but of considerable length he conjectured, from the distance at which he soon heard the sound of his retiring footsteps, while he himself remained awkwardly enough watching the oblique rays of the moon, that with great effort cast down a very feeble light to where he stood. In a short time, however, he perceived the glancing of light at a distance in the subterraneous passage, and Tonnaleuka soon returned with a flaming taper.
"My son," said he, when he approached, "draw the rope which winds through that pulley."
Charles did so, and the root of the tree instantly returning to its place, closed up the aperture by which they had entered, and the rays of the moon were no longer visible.
The prophet now led the way through a long, narrow, and rather damp passage, which at length brought them into a large, dry, and airy chamber, with a comfortable floor somewhat more elevated than the passage. In an angle of this apartment, to the left of its entrance, the embers of a woodfire not quite extinguished were seen, on a convenient hearth, which possessed a species of funnel that carried away the smoke by an outlet, which Charles afterwards discovered to be into another ravine, on the opposite side of the ridge from that on which they had entered.
The furniture was simple and scanty, comprising no articles but such as were of prime necessity for the comfort of one, or, at most, of two individuals. There was indeed a bed and bedding, not much inferior to some of those possessed by Gilbert Frazier. A plain table, two or three chairs, a small stool, a large chest, a cupboard, two or three shelves, with scarcely any cooking utensils, constituted the remainder of what Charles Adderly now observed in this subterranean hermitage.
"Sit down, my son," said Tonnaleuka; "you are now in my abode. I must warm it. The cheering flame shall blaze forth in a few minutes."
He withdrew into the passage, but soon returned with several billets of wood in his arm, which, to the great comfort and exhilaration of Charles, who had begun to feel rather discontented, chilly, and vapourish with his situation, soon began to crackle from the impulse of the glowing element, and to enliven the chamber with its animating rays.
"My son, you perhaps need refreshment," said the prophet. "I shall supply you---for within this cavern there is enough for all present wants."
"Father, I require none," said Charles, "but I acknowledge that I need repose, for my mind is overpowered with sadness."
"And what grieve you for?" asked the prophet--- "Is it because you are not now a prisoner in Le Boeuf or Du Quesne? Or is it because you are not now in Gilbert Frazier's, exposed to the risk of being again captured and exposed to the vengeance of your enemies? Are you sad, my son, because you are safe? If so, you are here without restraint, and may rush again into danger, if it will give you pleasure."
"But, my son, you have promised to be ruled by me, and it is the wish of her whom you love that you should be so. Will you vex her by your imprudence, by your breach of word? Know you not, that your enemies are powerful and numerous in the country; and if you should fall again into their hands, think you, that they would treat you with indulgence? No, my son---be wise, render yourself content here for a few weeks. You will want for nothing necessary to human life. Food, drink, a bed to lie on, and books to read, you shall have as liberally as the Wilderness can afford. But for your own sake, and for the sake of one still more beloved, I request you to reconcile yourself to a temporary privation of her society, and of the external world."
"My son, I offer you food---I wish you to partake of it; but if you prefer retiring to rest, go, and may the blessing of the Great Father accompany you!"
Charles preferred retiring, and requested the prophet to excuse his apparent dissatisfaction with his residence, as he in reality felt both mind and body overcast and indisposed. To-morrow, he hoped, he should recover the serenity of his mind, and be able to express, with cheerfulness and cordiality, the obligations he owed him as his kind deliverer.
"Talk not of obligations, my son," said the prophet. "My duties are my obligations, and for performing them, I require no thanks. Ah! my son, how miserable I should have long felt a life, whose misfortunes have been severer than any you have yet experienced, had it not been, that among my red brethren I have often found the means of doing good! But your mind is oppressed. Repose, I hope, will relieve you. I will show you where to seek it."
He took up the light, and conducting Charles a few yards into the passage through which they had before passed, turned to the right into a small recess, much more comfortable and clean in its appearance than the large apartment. Here he beheld a bed prepared for his reception, with a small table and a chair, both exhibiting very rude workmanship, but suitable enough for the place, and the purposes intended by them.
The prophet having pronounced a short benediction upon his guest, retired, and Charles was about throwing himself into bed, when he perceived, beneath the bedclothes, a letter addressed to himself. He opened it, and seeing that it was from Maria, with feelings of great emotion he read as follows:
"My persuading you to submit, at this time, to a residence in a dark subterraneous cell, is a proof how anxious I am for your safety. You will, no doubt, feel your situation lonely and disagreeable; but I hope the necessity for it will not be of long continuance; and, in the meanwhile, in order to relieve its tediousness as much as possible, I shall send you a supply of such books as I possess, best suited for your entertainment. You may be also assured, that our family will let you want for nothing in their power to afford you comfort."
"Oh, Charles! how little are the men and women of society aware of the dangers and calamities that often visit the most remote and secluded condition! How have their philosophers and their poets praised, in strains of enthusaism and rapture, the virtue, the tranquillity, and the happiness, to be found in retirement! Ah! they appear to forget that human passions, and, therefore, human crimes and human miseries, are ever, in such places, more violent and fierce, because more unrestrained and unmodified by the salutary customs and institutions of society!"
"But, Charles, the object of my writing to you, is to encourage you to an exertion of patience in your present solitude, and not to magnify the evils to which it is exposed, by making contrasts, for which my inexperience renders me incompetent."
"But these times of calamity, I trust, will not always last. Providence will yet moderate the storm, and grant this Wilderness a restoration of that calm which it once enjoyed. Till then, let us shelter ourselves, as much as possible, from the fury of the times, and be content with privations, if we can only thereby secure safety. I am aware that this advice will not be relished by your adventurous spirit; but it is because I dread that spirit, fearless and rash as I know it to be, leading you into fresh dangers, that I am so solicitous for your present confinement. If it will in any degree enable you to support that confinement, I have here no hesitation to repeat the assurance, which you already have, of the unalterable nature of my affection for you."
"Let me be assured in return, that you will bear your present lot without repining, and you will contribute much to my ease of mind;---and, that heaven may protect you, and hasten over" these times of danger and distress, is the fervent prayer of your, Maria."
"Yes!" thought Charles, when he had finished this letter, "I am happy. Ah! what can make me otherwise, when I possess the affections, the sweet, the pure, the tender, the faithful affections of such a lovely being! Oh heaven! it would indeed, be criminal to repine at thy dispensations, when thou hast granted me this! This is ample remuneration for all sufferings---this is balm for every wound!---O thou good Providence that hast thus granted me the first wish of my heart, make me truly grateful for such a consolation, such a blessing, amidst my misfortunes!---Yes, I will assure the dear maiden that I will not repine--- I will assure her that I am happy, and that she has made me so!"
The weight and weariness upon his spirits, of which he had complained so much to Tonnaleuka, were now gone; and, instead of anxiously wishing to relieve his mind of the thoughts that crowded upon it, he now wished to indulge them, and to prolong, by a protracted wakefulness, the delightful sensations which they afforded him.
If he had possessed writing materials, a glowing reply, as warm as love and gratitude could dictate, would soon have extended itself, in black and white, upon the table before him. But this pleasing spectacle he could not enjoy until the next morning, without interrupting Tonnaleuka either in his devotions or his repose, for he reasonably enough supposed, that by this time the prophet was engaged in one of these. He had, therefore, nothing for it but to hurry into bed, and fall asleep as fast as possible, in order to annihilate the time that must elapse before he could enjoy the felicity of pouring out his soul in a letter to his beloved.
'Tis love like this, in young and faithful hearts,
The nearest bliss to heaven on earth imparts:
For holy, sweet, and full, without alloy,
Nought but the fear of parting to annoy,
If time would only cease his onward flight,
Nor wing away those moments of delight,
When mutual happiness each throb attunes,
And heart with heart, and soul with soul communes,
When fearless joy wafts free o'er passion's wave,
With the first feelings sacred nature gave,
The Fall's dread curse would threaten then in vain,
And Paradise would bloom on earth again!
Tonnaleuka was surprised in the morning to see Charles in such good spirits, although he at once conjectured the cause, for he had himself been the bearer of Maria's letter, and had deposited it where it had been found.
"You have benefited much from your night's repose, I perceive, my son," said the prophet.
"Yes, father;" replied Charles, "I am much better than I was last night. But, father, could you oblige me with materials for writing?"
"I can, my son. It will be a pleasant amusement for you. I am glad you desire it. By reading and writing, I trust you will be able to spend your time here without feeling it tedious and uncomfortable."
"I shall try to do so, father," replied Charles, who having possessed himself with pen, ink, and paper, retired with a light heart to his bed-chamber, to write his epistle.
I will not insert this elaborate address of the enamoured Charles to his beloved in these memoirs, because, although it did not contain a sentiment which was not the sincere dictate of his heart, and for the sincerity of which Maria did not give him full credit, yet I am aware that there is not one reader in twenty but would consider it absolute bombast. It is, indeed, frequently impossible for enthusiastic lovers, like Charles, when communicating by letter to the mistress of their hearts, the fervours of their passion, to write common sense, at least what common readers can receive as such: for, like all other classes and communities of men, lovers have a technical language of their own, to themselves the prettiest, and sweetest, perhaps, of all languages; but certainly the least rational, and intelligible, to the rest of the world.
Charles having finished his letter, put it into the hands of the prophet, who promised that it should be conveyed to Maria that very day.
"With respect to your servant's safety, my son," said the prophet, "I have thought it necessary that something should also be done; for if left long to himself so near his enemies, his rashness will inevitably expose him to the risk of being recaptured."
"Father," replied Charles, "the certainty of his safety would indeed give me pleasure, and I shall be thankful for whatever your wisdom may think proper to do for him."
"It may be," said the prophet, "that he will be unwilling to obey my directions. Your authority may be necessary to induce him thereto. Write to him that it is your will he should obey me, and I will provide for his safety. I cannot bring him here to conceal him, or to receive your commands, because I wish not the secret of this cavern to be known to one of his careless and unguarded disposition."
"You are prudent, father," replied Charles, "and you are right. I shall write to Peter, that in obeying you be obeys me, and that on pain of my displeasure he must attend to your directions."
Charles wrote accordingly, and shortly afterwards Tonnaleuka set out on a visit to Frazier's. In order to prevent any of Charles's enemies from suspecting, on account of the termination of the tracks of footsteps in the snow at the pine tree, that there was any lurking-place near it, he continued to extend these tracks onwards quite over the ridge, by now taking a circuitous route to Frazier's.
Having delivered Maria's letter, he took Paddy Frazier aside and explained to him his views with respect to Peter McFall.
"I have myself been a little alarmed on this subject," observed Paddy, "lest that fellow's long tongue should some time or other betray to the French the whole affair of Mr. Adderly's rescue. His discovering on himself only would be of little consequence, as the world could jog on pretty well without him; and besides, you know it would be altogether his own business---though I don't wish the blockhead to get into a scrape either. In short, father, I agree with you that, for the general good, we must get him out of the way as soon as possible."
"Have you not certain trading concerns at Gist's plantation, on pretence of managing which we could send him there?" asked Tonnaleuka.
"It is a good thought, father;" replied Paddy, "I have a package of otter and minx skins, that I wish immediately conveyed to Gist's. Father, I think we can despatch him with them; nay, I shall go with him every yard myself, and fix matters so with Gist as to have our loose-tongued Irishman detained there for a few months at any rate, by which time it may please fortune to turn up something for our benefit."
This scheme was agreed upon, and Peter was summoned before Tonnaleuka.
"My son," said the prophet, "here is a letter requiring you to perform some services I have in view for you. Will you have any objection?"
"Now, by the powers! prophet," replied Peter, "isn't that a strange question? don't you see my master bids me---och! may the blessing of "Bonna-Margery" be on him! But, prophet, may I make free to ask you just where you have stuffed my poor master out of the way? for sure wouldn't Peter attend to him and all his errands, if it should be running in and out of the devil's dungeon, or even a catamount's den in this Wilderness."
"I know your regard for your master," observed the prophet, and hence it is that I am persuaded you will cheerfully undertake the performance of an errand on which he wishes you immediately to proceed. As to your master's present residence, my son, I am not at liberty to reveal it. But I may assure you that he is quite comfortable and safe."
"Arrah, now, dear prophet! but you know every thing. You know where my master is. Now, if you would only tell me, so that I might set my eye again on him; who knows---botheration to it! if we couldn't dash our brains together, and find out some method---never fear us for that, dear prophet!---of making our way to swate Philadelphy again, God bless her! but I wish my master and myself were once more snug under the wooden roof of her long beef market, my jewel!"
"But, my son," observed Tonnaleuka, "on your present errand Paddy here will accompany you, and you will assist him as your master desires, in his trading designs. Will you start tomorrow, and Paddy will have matters prepared for your journey?"
"This moment, your honour---if I may call a prophet, your honour---Och! now, any moment, I'll obey my master's orders---but where must I go?"
"Paddy will give you every information," said Tonnaleuka. "Follow his directions, and expect my blessing and your master's approbation."
"By the jingo!" cried Peter, "two excellent things these, for a poor fellow like me. Arrah, now, master, be asy---and just tip a little bit of a prayer, and a blessing with it, for me every night. Priest Balgruddery,---oh, the Virgin bless him!--- used to do so. It saved poor Peter a deal of trouble when he was in Ireland, your reverence; and if you'll just do the same for me in this wild country, Och! how I'll skip over it any where your worship and my master please to send me."
"I'll remember you in my orisons," replied the prophet. "But you must now for some time follow Paddy's directions." So saying, Tonnaleuka departed.
"Horses horns!" exclaimed Peter, when the prophet was gone; "horses horns!---he'll remember me in his horses horns! What the devil is that, Paddy? If horses have horns in this country, by the great Columb! but it's more than they have in Ireland, my boy."
"He said his orisons, which is Indian for saying mass," returned Paddy. "It is only asses and stags that have horns in this country. But, Peter, we must be off by sunrise to-morrow. I have a parcel of peltry and furs you must asassist me to take to Gist's plantation. It is only about a hundred miles up the river. Your master wishes you to remain there, where he intends you shall see him, probably in a couple of months."
"See him in a couple of months!" exclaimed Peter. "Why, sure now, he may be in heaven before that time, and Peter in purgatory, and I may never see him at all---"
"Very likely," replied his consoling companion; "or might it not just as readily happen that you should both go to purgatory together?"
"By my faith," said Peter, "and sure that's just what I would like. But my master has never a purgatory to go to. Why, didn't you know he's a Protestant, my jewel?"
"And that will save him from the devil's flail, you think?" said Paddy. "Don't they say they thrash poor sinners in that purging hole of yours, till their sins are beat out of them?"
"Och, Paddy!" cried Peter, "none of your jeers now---for it's only when we don't pay the priest well enough to say mass for our souls, heaven bless them! that the devil thrashes them: but it's for their good after all, as my mother used to say."
"Well, Peter, it may be so; we'll not dispute about this matter, just because we know nothing about it. Only you need not expect to meet your master at either Gist's or purgatory, for two months at least. So you must be content to wait for him at whichever of the two places you first find yourself. But take care, that in neither place you mention any thing about our rescuing him from the French. It will do Gist no good to hear it, and as to the devil you may meet with in purgatory, he must know already all about it, from the clattering of the half dozen Frenchmen we sent there."
Peter promised to attend to this salutary caution; and every thing being that evening prepared for their journey, they set forward with the dawn the next morning for Gist's habitation, where Paddy left his companion to fall in love with one of Gist's daughters, which he swore by St. Patrick he would, if he were obliged to remain there only the half of the time prescribed to him.--- I have been actually informed that Peter did, in this instance, literally keep his oath, and permitted the charms of the fair Esther Gist entirely to obliterate from his recollection those of Molly M`Nickle. So much, dear reader, for the constancy of man!
Paddy returned to his father's, after little more than a week's absence, with his mind entirely at ease, as to the present security of both Charles Adderly and his man Peter from the power of the French. He had, indeed, in a short time afterwards, reason to congratulate himself on Peter's removal; for the French had begun to entertain some suspicion as to the fate of Charles's escort, and had employed a number of Indians to range the whole country in search of information concerning them. Some of the remains of the French soldiers were at length found, very much mangled and torn by wild beasts, but still in a condition to admit of their being identified. Suspicion was, by Paddy's sly management, fixed upon some of the Delaware Indians, who were supposed still to harbour a secret partiality for Charles Adderly and the English interest. It was even believed, that Charles was yet secreted among them. Their chiefs were in consequence summoned to Fort Du Quesne, in order to undergo an investigation, and answer to charges founded on these surmises before the French commandant.
They attended cheerfully, and replied to all questions with such promptitude, and freedom from embarrassment, that St. Pierre, persuaded of their innocence, was about to dismiss them, when Swanlamis, their king, addressed him:
"Father! you called us here to answer an accusation of treachery and murder. Father! we abhor treachery, and we never slay those with whom we are at amity. We first return the wampum of peace, we break the calumet, and we sing the war-song in public, ere we abrogate treaties. Have we done these things towards you? It is injurious, therefore, to say that we killed your people at the time you were our brothers, and when we professed friendship for you. Father! it was wicked in you to suspect us. It shows you could do such things yourselves, if your occasions required them."
"Father! you must think better of us, and not judge of our integrity by your own, if you wish to preserve our friendship. The English were more manly than you. They once charged us with coolness, but never with treachery; for they knew that before we should injure them we would warn them, and return their wampum. Shingiss thought himself bound to them, and he died fighting for them."
"Father! we will do so for you, if you act generously. If not, we will remove afar off to the English lands southward, and lift the hatchet against you."
"What we want you now to do, father, is, to tell all the tribes that we are innocent---that we scorn treachery, and that you are sorry for having suspected us. We will then forgive your rashness, and smoke with you as if this matter had not happened. We can resent vengefully, but we can also forgive readily. Father, choose ye!"
St. Pierre, partly from motives of policy, and partly from a sentiment of generosity towards men whose feelings he thought it was but just to soothe by some concession, replied---
"My brother---that your people have been wrongfully accused of this deed, I believe. But the accusation did not originate with me. It has been circulated by many mouths; and I thought it was your due to afford you this opportunity, if you were innocent, to justify yourselves to all men. I am glad you have been able to do so, and I hope that every one will be as satisfied as I am."
"Brother---I will inform all our allies that you are innocent; and, for the trouble I have given you, I shall order you a present of rum and some blankets."
The Indians, perfectly satisfied with this result, left the garrison in great good humour with their allies.
The search after Charles and Peter M`Fall, whose escape from Le Boeuf was, soon after it took place, known at Du Quesne, was carried on for some time, in the neighbourhood of both forts, to no purpose. It then slackened, and at length was altogether abandoned as fruitless; and Maria began to feel quite at ease in respect to her lover's security.
He had written to her often, and in every letter pressingly solicited a visit from her. "O my love!" he would say, "let your presence but for once bless the cell to which you have condemned me--- it will then be endeared to me, and I shall feel happy!"
At length, as soon as she was assured that all inquiry after him was relinquished by his enemies, she yielded to his request, and accompanied the prophet to his cavern. Charles was sitting beside a tolerably comfortable fire, with his head reclined upon the table, meditating upon her when she entered. The prophet had gone on, as was his usual custom during a time of snow, to continue the tracks to the other side of the ridge, until they joined a frequented Indian path about half a mile distant. She, therefore, entered her lover's apartment alone, and her light footsteps along the passage had not aroused him from his meditations.
"Mr. Adderly!" said she. He looked up, and scarcely believing his senses, started to his feet, and approached her.
"Ah, Maria!" he exclaimed; "blessed girl! and I indeed so happy! Have you come at last, to cheer your Charles amidst the solitude of his dungeon?"
"I have ventured" said she, "with the permission of Tonnaleuka, to indulge you at this time, because I believe that the danger of my visit leading to your discovery, is now much diminished. I thank God that you have so long escaped; for your enemies were much inflamed at the slaughter of their companions, and, for some time, very ardent in their search after you. Oh, Charles! it was well that you had such a place of refuge. Were you now to fall into their hands, I fear that in their rage, they would at once consign you to destruction!"
"Be not alarmed for that, my love!" said he. "I might, indeed, if now in their power, be more strictly confined, and perhaps more harshly treated than before my escape; but they would have no plea for endangering my life. European usages, you are aware, my too timid girl, acknowledge the right of every prisoner of war, except he be on parole, to regain his liberty by any means he can."
"It may be so," she replied; "but what power is there here, in this Wilderness, to constrain their compliance with these usages? Alas! may we not fear that the example of the Indians would reconcile them to the destruction of an obnoxious prisoner; and it is reported that they have lately used horrible threats against you, on account of the loss of their men."
"They may have done so," said he; "but, Maria, here you know there is no danger, and if you would only sometimes bless me, as you do now, with your presence, I think I could become content to pass my days even in this dungeon. Oh! if we had but had the good fortune to have united our fates---but I will not now annoy you with this subject. Only---only promise to visit me often, and I shall here be happy!"
"Alas, Charles!" she replied, "if it were not imprudent, I would feel but too much inclined to visit you. But I must be cautious, and indulge neither my wishes nor your own to the endangering of your safety."
"And will you deny me?" he cried; "Oh, surely you cannot, merely on the cold calculation of some trifling, some scarcely-to-be-imagined danger, deny me the only enjoyment that can make my abode here---that could make my existence any where, tolerable. Oh Maria, deprive me of your society, and you will bid me at once despair!"
"Be calm, Charles!" said she, "I have no intention to exclude myself entirely from you; but my visits must not be frequent, and they must only be when Tonnaleuka permits---for it is he whose wisdom has hitherto regulated all my conduct, better than I myself could have done."
"I will then weary the prophet with prayers," said he, "and he will not refuse to indulge me in the only happiness my soul is now capable of knowing."
"Tonnaleuka," she observed, "will only do in this matter what your safety and my case of mind will thoroughly warrant. I wish you to expect no more from him, my Charles. Oh! would to heaven, that you were safe again with your friends in Philadelphia!"
"And banished from thee, my Maria! Ah, how can you wish to drive me so far from you! Here, even here, in this dungeon, enclosed in the bowels of the earth, I feel happier, because I am near thee, because I can often hear of thee, and perhaps sometimes see thee, than if I were in the midst of my friends, surrounded with all the smiles and the pleasures of social enjoyment, without thee. Alas, Maria! will the day never come when I shall introduce thee to those friends, to that social life, which thou art so eminently formed to ornament and enjoy? How would my friends rejoice in thee! how would society admire thee, and how would I exult, and adore thee! Oh Maria, if thou wert once mine, all this beatitude would soon be our lot!"
"Charles," said she, "you are too visionary, you are too sanguine of what the world might think of me. You have been pleased to think well of me yourself, and hence you think every person else must do so. Restrain these flights of fancy, these poetical dreams of yours, and look at what is more likely to be the world's estimate. It may gaze at me, but so would it gaze at any savage from the wilderness, for strange sights I am told will always draw its attention; and as to your friends, they would be likely to say, `It was indeed an unlucky day for poor Charles, when he first went among the savages, to get himself and us entangled and burthened with this woman, who is come amongst us without a penny---a rude, uncultivated daughter of the desert. The loss of the expedition he conducted, was not to him, and to us, such a provoking misfortune as this!"
"Maria, Maria!" said Charles, pressing her fingers to his lips, "Oh, have done with such a picture! it will not be---it cannot be so! oh, I swear to you it will not! So beautiful, so intelligent, so gentle, so sweet-tempered, so goodhearted, so---"
"Stop, sir!" said she, with a smile, "I will help you out with it; you were going to say---so angelical! so celestial! so immaculate!---I declare, Charles, I already know the whole cant, and you may save yourself the trouble of repeating these elegant phrases. If you wish me often to visit you, I desire you will speak common sense to me; for I assure you that, although I have been brought up in a country of savages, I am not absolutely a fool."
"Alas, Maria! you are too severe with me. Oh! believe me, I speak truth when I say, that my words have never expressed to you half the admiration of my heart for your beauties and your virtues. But, forgive me if I be too warm. My heart is now open to you, and, by heavens! I cannot help it. My love!" here he again pressed her hand to his glowing lips, while, with a sigh, he continued---"Oh! my love, little do you indeed know what this heart feels for you!"
"I am aware," said she, unconsciously returning his sigh, "that you love me, Charles; and hence I can well know what you feel, for, alas! my own heart feels too fondly---too strongly---the softness, the tenderness, the fervency of true love. But we must change the subject. I came here to soothe your feelings, to allay your impatience under confinement, and to encourage you, all in my power, to support it; and not to dissolve you into weakness, or reduce you to foolishness. I would have you to be resolute, to be manly, and rational; and restrain these inordinate emotions, which only the feeble-minded and the effeminate will permit to overcome them."
"My monitress! lovely inspirer of all my generous sentiments, I will be swayed by thee. Thy rules of conduct shall direct me, and thy suggestions of propriety shall give me law. I will arouse myself to fortitude, since thou bidst me. I will bear, and I will try to bear without repining, the delay of calling thee mine, which fate has prescribed, perhaps, as a punishment for my excessive love. When thou seest me getting weak, Oh Maria! only tell me, and I will be strong if I should die under the effort."
Here the approach of Tonnaleuka was heard, and Charles had just let go her hand, which ever since her entrance he had held in his, when the prophet appeared.
"Hail to you, my children!" said he, "I am glad that you can yet meet in safety. But, alas! dangerous times are coming upon the Wilderness, when the two most powerful nations on earth will combat here, and make the most secret depths of the desert ring to their very entrails with the fury of their combats. But, my children, I will not shock you, now when you are happy, with a description of the evils that are approaching, for I trust that you will both escape the desolation they will entail upon multitudes. Here, at least, in the worst of times, I expect there will be found by the meek and the humble, safe shelter from storms that will level to the dust the mighty and the renowned! My children, be of good cheer, for after the fury of this storm is expended, one of the powerful nations will yield, and to those who survive here, an age of peace and happiness shall arrive, bringing days more prosperous and bright than ever before shone upon the desert. Then shall come to pass the saying of the Hebrew oracle, `The Wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
"Father," said Charles; "that the recent transactions in this country will occasion a war to break out between Great Britain and France, I doubt not. Great troubles will consequently be here, for this neighbourhood will naturally be one of the first scenes of the fierce contention---and oh! that this fair, but tender flower of the forest could be removed to a more secure soil before that stormy period commences! Father, do you not think that this could be accomplished? Could she not accompany me?"---
"My son," said the prophet, interrupting him--- "there are many obstacles in the way. If ever it be accomplished, it must be done with a strict regard to all the rules of propriety. At least, my son, if I can influence the actions of this child of my instruction, she never will yield for one moment to consult inclination or even to yield to terror in the commission of any act that may exhibit the faintest shade of offence against feminine propriety; and let me add, that I believe her determination to act properly and becomingly in all cases, and in defiance of all inducements to the contrary, is as firm and unalterable as I could wish it."
"Therefore, my son, although she loves you, and although the horrors of war may here assail her even to destruction, yet, except under circumstances wherein no duty can be broken, no principle either of religion, honour, or decorum infringed, you may solicit her to fly with you from the scene of evils, but I am persuaded you will solicit in vain."
"My son, until the Great Father shall entitle you in the opinions of men to be her protector, which you are aware, under present circumstances, cannot take place, it will be well if you refrain from disturbing her with solicitations to which she cannot yield, since there would be impropriety in her doing so."
"Now, my children, it is time for you to separate. Daughter, attend me: I wish to conduct you home while it is yet day."
Maria arose, when her lover catching her by the hand, exclaimed, "Ah! are you going to leave me? But it must be. O! let me beg, in the presence of this our good father, that you will soon indulge me with another precious visit!"
"It will be whenever our father pleases," returned Maria, looking at the prophet with an expression of countenance which very much favoured Charles's request.
"It will then be, when both safety and propriety combine to permit," said Tonnaleuka. "But, my son," continued he, addressing Charles, "be comforted: her absence will not be unnecessarily protracted."
"Then, farewell, my beloved!" cried Charles; "and may the Great Guardian of all purity protect you in every peril, and assist you through every difficulty!"
"Farewell, Charles!" said she; "may he likewise be your protector!"---and they separated.
Beneath a moving shade of fruits and flowers,
Onward they march to Hymen's sacred bowers:
With lifted torch he lights the festive train
Sublime, and leads them in his golden chain;
Joins the fond pair, indulgent to their vows,
And hides, with mystic veil, their blushing brows.
Shortly after the foregoing visit of Maria to her lover's cavern, the first marriage that ever took place between the children of Britain in the Wilderness, was celebrated. As the parties to this nuptial treaty have already been in the reader's presence, and have, I trust, made upon his mind, if not a very deep, at least not an unfavourable impression, I shall take the liberty, for which, with all the humility possible in an author, I crave indulgence, to expend a few pages in relating some of the circumstances connected with a transaction which had, upon these parties, the very important effect of binding them together for life.
To keep the reader no longer in suspense as to the happy couple, I shall broadly name them, viz. Andrew Killbreath, M. D., late of the city of Philadelphia, and Nancy Frazier, eldest daughter of Mr. Gilbert Frazier, of Frazier's-Field, at the forks of Turtle Creek and the Monongahela.--- After this precise annunciation, there can be no mistake as to the identity of the persons: I shall therefore go on to show the marriage.
The bridegroom, that is, the Doctor, was, as in this case became him, the grand spring in moving the whole machine of the matter. He had long solicited the hand of the fair Nancy, and she had been nothing loth to let him have it. Besides this, her father and mother, and every one else that had any thing to say in the affair, had assented to her becoming the Doctor's wife; and the latter had, for many months, found only one obstacle in the way of his getting possession of the desired premises, which was, the want of some proper person to perfect the deeds. The arrival of the Chaplain that accompanied Charles Adderly's last expedition, seemed to remove this obstacle, and to offer to the Doctor the prospect of immediate happiness. But the Doctor found in this matter, as many another clever fellow in this precious world had done, that there is, as the old saying has it, "many a slip between the cup and the lip."
I had at the time more important business on hand, otherwise I should have related the Doctor's joy on finding so desirable a personage as the Chaplain along with the expedition, and the measures that he, in consequence, adopted to avail himself of that lucky circumstance. There is, however, no time lost, and I beg leave now to atone for the omission.
"Now, Nancy," said he, running to his fair one, as soon as he learned that the Chaplain was forthcoming, and taking her aside---"Now, my dear, there need be no longer any delay of our happiness. Mr. Adderly has brought a clergyman with him, who can make us man and wife. If you will consent to it, I shall talk to his reverence on the subject, and engage him to perform the ceremony, as soon as you shall think convenient. But, O! my dear, let it be soon!"
"Have you spoke to my father about it yet?" asked Nancy.
"No, my love; but I am sure he will have no objection. You know he has long since said that he had none to our marriage, provided we had a clergyman convenient to perform it. Now we have a clergyman, Nancy, and I expect your father will keep his word."
"I expect so too," said she; "and if he has no objection---then---then---But you and he for it, Doctor!"
"Oh, my dear! give me a sweet kiss for that," said the Doctor. "I will immediately converse with your father, and have the happy day appointed."
"You may do as you think proper," was Nancy's reply. He took another fervent kiss, pressed her hand softly, and hastened away, with great animation of manner, in search of Gilbert.
If Gilbert had at all any scruples on the subject, it arose from this clergyman not being a Presbyterian. "It was unfortunate," he said, "that he should belong to the prelacy, wha had only cleared aff a sma' part o' the abominations o' the whore o' Babylon, as the worthy gospel minister o' Maughrygowan, Alexander Carmichael, used to say." These scruples, however, soon gave way before the weight of the Doctor's rhetoric, and Gilbert consented, that on that day the learned Doctor should become his son-in-law.
The Doctor thought, perhaps justly enough, that there was no good reason for waiting to such a distant period; but Gilbert stated, that one month was the exact length of time which had, on appointing the day, been fixed for himself to wait for the attainment of Nelly's hand; and insisted that the Doctor was capable of exerting as much patience as he then was, and that he should now submit to do so. The Doctor, not being able to do better, acquiesced, sagaciously observing, that the longest month would have an end.
But, alas! if either the Doctor or Gilbert had possessed the spirit of prophesy, they would not have agreed to such a distant period; and Tonnaleuka, who might perhaps have set them right in the matter, was not consulted.
The capture of Charles Adderly's follower happened in the interval; and before the heavilymoving month had gone past, the ill-starred clergyman had been obliged to take up his quarters in Fort Le Boeuf.
The Doctor and Nancy were much afflicted at this untoward accident, this dashing of the cup of bliss out of their hands, when it had almost approached their lips. But the Doctor was a man of sense; and, therefore, instead of sitting down, and uselessly lamenting his misfortune, he set his mind to work to discover how he should best repair it. But first, having a good deal of mettle in his composition, he resolved to convince his mistress of it, by inflicting a blow of some kind upon the French, in revenge for the injury they had done him. He accordingly joined, heart and hand, in the scheme which Paddy had projected for the destruction of Charles's escort. Soon after this exploit, however, he began to think, that from the French themselves he might obtain a remedy for his misfortune. Their Chaplain, he conceived, must be as capable of making husbands and wives as any other Chaplain; and, although he should use the form prescribed by the Romish church, yet that form would still be a christian one, and would, if it erred at all, err only on the safe side, by using too much ceremony instead of too little. To get bound to his Nancy, was the great object for which he longed; and, if he could only get this Catholic priest to do it, if it should be a little overdone, he could readily excuse him.
Monsieur d'Abbeville had been too long a military priest, and was too deeply versed in Montaigne's Essays, to feel any great scruple of conscience in performing a piece of service, of the kind the doctor wanted, to two young lovers in a Wilderness, although they should be heretics. He therefore consented without hesitation to spend a merry night at Frazier's, and make the doctor happy.
There was another obstacle, however, which the doctor found more difficulty in removing. This was the conscientious scruples of both Gilbert and Nelly, in assenting to the marriage of their daughter by one of the priests of Antichrist. The doctor had anticipated this; and, therefore, besides exerting all the artillery of his own eloquence, he took care to secure the powerful aid of Paddy's, who, in a few conversations, drew over his mother to the side of the lovers.
Gilbert stoutly maintained his integrity for some days, but at length yielded rather to the importunities and entreaties of his whole family, than to his own conviction on the matter, observing---
"Weel, my bairns, gin ye will marry, e'en in the name o' Gracious, do sae, an' dinna teaze me mair aboot it. It is better to marry than to burn, Saint Paul says; an', feggs, gin ye didna marry noo wi' my wull, ye micht do waur in spite o' me. I dinna like them limbs o' the pope. But they ca' themsel's Christians, though the fule fa' me! gin they ken aucht aboot it; yet syne ye maun gang thegither, its better to be married in their gate than no be married ava. It was an auld saying in Maughrygowan, `O' twa puddles, aye choose the cleanest.'"
In consequence of this reasoning on the part of Gilbert, every obstacle was removed, and the 17th of March---Patrick's day, dear reader! a day to which Gilbert's heart was always partial---was fixed for the wedding.
The preparations for celebrating a day so important in the annals of Gilbert's family, occupied the attention of his whole household for nearly a week. Gilbert, having once given his assent to have the thing done, resolved to put forth his might to have it done genteelly, and therefore spared no pains on the occasion. Paddy also greatly exerted himself; and as he was at this time on a more than usually intimate footing with the officers of the garrison, for, ever since the affair of Bear's-creek, he had been extremely assiduous in cultivating their good will, he procured from their stores a supply of luxuries which could not then have been elsewhere procured in the Wilderness. He had, also, with the view of ingratiating himself still more firmly into their good graces, invited several of them, and two or three of their ladies, to the ceremony; having resolved in his own mind that the festivities of the day should conclude with a ball.
As to the part which was assigned to Maria in these preparations, they were both zealously undertaken and efficiently performed. The regulation of the bride's dress, the decoration of the room, the arrangement of the table economy, and such like, were what principally came under her management. As to Mrs. Frazier, every good house-wife, who has had to prepare a marriage feast, knows that she had a thousand things to do, and it has been satisfactorily ascertained, that she neglected none of them.
In short, the great day at length came, and just about the hour of noon, the "holy man," accompanied by five officers and three ladies, came gaily to the door.
Nancy was enclosed in a small room with Maria, who was decorating her for the occasion, when she perceived this merry party advancing past the window.
"Oh, Maria dear!" she exclaimed, "there they are! what shall I do? I never shall be able to face those impudent looking officers, and funny looking ladies. Oh, I feel already ashamed!"
"Fear nothing," said Maria; "it is a trying occasion, I acknowledge; but I am convinced you will go through it creditably. Why, Nancy, you really look so well that you need not be ashamed to show yourself in any place, or before any company."
"But they will be all looking at me," returned Nancy; "Oh! how will I stand it! If none but our own family were to be present, I could do well enough, I believe---but such a number of strangers!--- I wish Paddy had been far enough when he asked them."
"You must have courage, Nancy," observed her sister; "the two or three first minutes will carry you over the whole difficulty. The first look at you will give these people a favourable impression; and they will not, for civility's sake, you may depend on it, after that, attempt to stare at you, at least with any rudeness or intention to hurt your feelings."
"I wish the affair was over altogether!" returned the bride.
"I myself wish it, I assure you," said Maria, "both for your sake, and my own, for I anticipate that it will be too jovial a scene for my taste. But, Nancy, we must have courage, and perform our parts as well as we can. Your part, I am aware, will be by far the most difficult; but I am persuaded you will acquit yourself properly. Keep up a good spirit; you will get through it more easily than you expect.",
"I shall get through it," replied Nancy, "I know I shall, but then I doubt it will be with a great deal of blundering; for I really know nothing about such a matter."
"Nor is it necessary, I presume," said Maria. "I should suppose, that it is the priest's duty to inform you. Every young woman who is going to be married is not supposed to be acquainted with the forms of the ceremony. The contrivers of these forms must, therefore, have provided for this circumstance."
"There is no help for it now," said Nancy; "I must just do my best, but I could almost wish that I had not to undergo the trial."
"Why, are you not getting a good man and a fond lover for your husband?" observed Maria, "and will not that atone for any little temporary inconvenience of this nature. But, believe me, you will not feel half the confusion you expect."
At this moment her mother entered to inquire if Nancy was ready to be introduced to the company. A few minutes more made her so, and blushing "like the dawning of morn," this fair wood-nymph was attended by her still fairer sister into the presence of the gay French ladies and gentlemen, who were burning with curiosity to see them. Expecting only to behold raw, clownish, and coarse girls, little superior either in appearance or cultivation to the squaws that performed their menial services, how great was their astonishment, when these connoisseurs saw entering their presence, in simple, neat, and elegant attire, two beautiful females, so attractive, and yet so modest, that they might have passed for Diana and one of her nymphs come from the classic plains of Greece to hunt in this unknown Wilderness.
Immediately a thousand bows were made, and a thousand compliments paid by the officers, with all the rapidity and volubility of true Gallican politeness. The French ladies also received our two buds of the forest with politeness and good humour, although they could not but be conscious that they were surpassed by them in all those charms and graces of person on which they, in reality, had some reason to value themselves.
Nancy understood a little French, but Maria spoke it almost as freely as English. She, therefore, took the burthen of conversing with these ladies upon herself.
"Why, Miss Frazier," observed Madame de Vamploise, "this is really a novel and charming scene to which we have been invited. I should not have missed the delight of being here to-day for the world."
"The business of this day is, indeed," said Maria, "altogether a novelty here. I believe that nothing of the kind has before taken place in these woods. The singularity of the situation, and other circumstances, for a wedding-party, it is natural should make some impression on your mind; and, as you have no doubt the good nature to view some things with indulgence which you cannot altogether approve, so you may, perhaps, on account of not having expected much to give satisfaction, be inclined to yield to what is really tolerable, more credit than it deserves."
"I see nothing," returned the French lady, "but what the most fastidious would acknowledge to be delightful; and the occasion is so interesting--- a beautiful young woman going to be married to a fine looking young man---really, Miss Frazier, the whole is charming! What say you, Madame Joncaire, is it not charming? But the bride herself---I must have her opinion."
Nancy sat silent, pretending not to have noticed this intimation to join in the discourse, while Madame Joncaire observed---
"It is, indeed, admirable! and in the wild woods too!---who would have dreamed of such a thing! and such a place, and such people!---Why, Madame de Vamploise, I am really charmed! But I wish to hear the bride's opinion of the matter. My dear," said she, addressing Nancy, "will you favour us---"
Nancy, finding that she was compelled to speak, replied, with as much good humour as she could, to her garrulous companions---"I have not had sufficient means of judging how these things should be, to know whether we are here likely to conduct them right or wrong. But we shall do the best we can to make you and the rest of our company comfortable."
"La! now," returned Madame De Vamploise, "this is not what we want to know. We want to know, my dear, how you like your present situation--- We are so charmed with it, that we hope you too feel happy. Why, I remember when I was myself going to be married---It was at Bourdeaux, a very gay place, I assure you---how I felt! for the whole world was present---and Monsieur de Vamploise was so gay and agreeable, not like the dry, prim, Dutchman-looking piece of gravity that he now is---"
"Heh! what say you now, my chucky?" cried De Vamploise, who had heard these flattering observations of his helpmate, as she intended he should. "Why, to be sure I was always pleasant--- but, as to your Dutch comparison, my dear--- Why shouldn't a Dutchman be as pleasant as another man? Answer me that, my spouse!"
Here the priest interposed. "No catechising, I beg of you," said he. "It is my province to be inquisitor; and I will inquire of our fair bride here, whether you, Madame de Vamploise, have given her fair play in your discourse, for I know it is seldom that you give it to any body."
"How so! Monsieur d'Abbeville?" demanded the lady.
"Because you unmercifully exert all your powers against us," returned the priest, "when one half of them would be as much as we could have any reasonable chance of resisting. But, apropos, I think we had better have this ceremony performed before dinner, and then we shall be at ease, and have nothing to do afterwards but enjoy ourselves."
"Nobly said, your reverence!" exclaimed Monsieur de Vamploise; "I second your motion. What says the bridegroom?"
"I have no objection," replied the doctor. "We are in this matter under the priest's control. Let him regulate it as he chooses."
"Well, then," returned the priest, "we shall prepare."---At that instant the sounds of horses' feet were heard at the door, and the ceremony was delayed. Paddy Frazier in a few minutes introduced two travellers to the company, by the names of Mr. Washington and Mr. Vanbraam.
Joncaire and De Vamploise had seen Washington before, and immediately recognised him.
"What! I am really glad to see you, Mr. Washington," exclaimed Joncaire, as he shook him by the hand; "you remember Venango yet, I hope?"
"Very well," replied Washington; "and I remember you too. You have kept your words good with respect to Shanapins, I hear; but no matter, it is the fate of war, and the sword devoureth one man as well as another."
"You remark excellently, Mr. Washington. But I hope you are not come among us this time with any proposals to drive us from this pleasant country. By G---d, all the treaties that can ever be penned in Virginia, will not induce me to leave it!"
"You may rest at ease on that subject at present," observed Washington. "I come here on no official business; I am merely a private visiter."
"Then let us drive public concerns to the devil, for this day at least, Mr. Washington. We are come to a wedding, and have nothing to do here to-day but to be merry. I hope you will have no objection to join us?"
Washington had been hastily informed by Paddy, previous to his entering the room, of what was going on. "I will have no objection in the world," he observed in reply to Joncaire. He then hastily proceeded to pay his respects to each individual in the room. When he came to Maria, he for a moment changed colour, and trembled so, that, had he not possessed an unparalleled command over himself, which enabled him suddenly to check his agitation, it would not have failed to betray itself. As it was, however, Maria alone observed it. She slightly blushed at the circumstance, which his keen eye perceived, and from thence imbibed a hope, a delusive hope, of the nature of her feelings towards him.
He hastened to seat himself beside the bridegroom, with whom, in order to divert the current of his ideas, so that he might the more easily join in the good humour of the company, he entered into a lively and interesting conversation on the topic of this being the first christian wedding ever given in so remote a part of the country.
The priest having now put on his sanctified vestments, and all other matters that he deemed essential to the ceremony being adjusted, he ordered the doctor and his betrothed to kneel together before him. The whole company also kneeled; when, having gone through what Gilbert considered the profane and idolatrous ceremony of the mass, he proceeded to the more interesting and essential one of receiving the mutual vows of the bridal pair, and then, with as much haste as the forms of his church permitted, he pronounced them to be husband and wife, and desired the doctor to imprint the seal of the sacred union upon his wife's lips. The doctor eagerly obeyed; the priest imitated him, and every man in the company followed such a laudable and agreeable example.
So peaceful rests without a stone, a name.
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame,
How lov'd, how honour'd once, avails thee not,
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be.
This important matter being so happily accomplished, the whole company felt disposed for the enjoyment of hilarity and mirth. The sly inuendo, the smart repartee, and the loud laugh, now exercised the wits and amused the fancies of all present, until, by the exertions of Mrs. Frazier and Maria, assisted also by Archy, a plentiful and luxurious dinner smoked upon the table.
The French showed themselves as good at eating as they had been at jesting, and, for about twenty or thirty minutes, appeared to have as keen a relish for Mrs. Frazier's dainties as for their own jokes. To this full and comfortable repast succeeded a liberal supply of excellent wine, (whether Champaigne or Burgundy, I have not been informed,) procured by Paddy from the garrison, to the soul-cheering qualities of which, the increased gaiety and jollity of the company, particularly of the French part of it, soon bore testimony.
An inclination for dancing soon became the consequence of this overflowing of the spirits; and, as Paddy possessed a violin, and both Vanbraam and he were tolerable performers, the strings were soon screwed to their proper pitch, and away went the merry Frenchmen to the regions of airiness and joy.
After becoming somewhat relieved and composed by this first irregular and rather violent explosion of their bounding spirits, they proposed a more civilized and rational set of dances, in which the ladies should bear a part. A regular cotillion was soon got up, for which Mr. Washington had the good fortune to secure Maria as his partner.
But I will not detain the reader with a formal description of the amusements of this evening; during which, the noble appearance and accomplished manners of Washington rendered him a great favourite with the French ladies, while the uncommon beauty, and the thousand graces that sparkled round Maria, excited the unbounded admiration of the officers. Washington was happy--- for Maria, studious to give him no cause of uneasiness, paid him every attention, and spared no pains to render his situation agreeable; and he could not but fondly cherish the idea, that if such partiality did not proceed from love, it might be brought to end in it.
Indeed, so pointed was the attention which these two young people paid to each other this evening, that the French, both men and women, observed it, and became satisfied that Washington's present visit was altogether a visit of love. The officers, therefore, although they were aware of his political standing and influence as their enemy, felt no inclination, at the present time, to inquire farther into his business in their neighbourhood. They envied, indeed, his good fortune in making an impression, as they supposed he had done, on the heart of so lovely a being as Maria, but this was an envy attended rather with a feeling of felicitation than of animosity towards him; for they were persuaded that he was worthy of her, and at that moment felt, perhaps unconsciously, a sincere wish for the welfare of both these interesting objects of their admiration, and would have had no objection to have spent another merry day at Frazier's, in order to witness their union. Joncaire, who was the only one of the French present who could speak English, during the evening took occasion to banter Washington on the subject.
"I think, Mr. Washington," said he, "that it is in your power to afford us another agreeable day like this, by giving Monsieur d'Abbeville another job Suppose you detain us for to-morrow. By my faith, we will take it as a great kindness."
"There is nothing more remote from my power at present, I assure you, sir," replied Washington. "I cannot see how you could have fallen upon such a conjecture."
"No conjecture," returned Joncaire, "could be more natural. Who could look at that young lady without admiration? By heavens! if I were a young fellow like you, I could not---nay, pardon me---as it is, I cannot---and my wife says that she feels the same sentiment towards you. Upon honour, Mr. Washington, if I did not see that you are otherwise engaged. I should become jealous of you. See that leering dame of a wife of mine, she cannot keep her eyes off you."
"It is yourself, sir, I perceive, that she is looking at," observed Washington, following the direction of the lady's eyes. "But will you not hurt her feelings by the levity of these observations?"
"No, no," returned the other, "she's too cunning a puss for that. Besides, you may be easy, sir, and speak freely; for curse the word of what we say will she understand."
An idea of retorting upon Joncaire, at least of diverting the conversation from its original topic, now occurred to Washington. "If she is so partial to me," said he, "as you mention, you may really bless your stars that you secured her before I saw her, for positively, if she were not the property of another, I should try to make her my own."
"Ha! ha!" exclaimed the light-hearted Frenchman, "there for you now! I knew she had hit you with her sharp glances, Mr. Washington, although you alleged that she had cast them at me. By heavens! sir, you perceive that her eyes are like the quills of a porcupine."
"That is a strange comparison," returned Washington. "I rather think they are like the stars in the firmament."
"Ha! sir, you are too sublime for me." Here they were interrupted by De Vamploise, who wished them to engage in another dance.
The sports and enjoyments of the night were kept up until the moon arose, which was about one o'clock in the morning, when the French departed as gaily as they had come, and a couple of hours found them snugly deposited in their comfortable couches at Fort Du Quesne. But before the half of that period had elapsed, all Gilbert Frazier's inmates, without excepting the bride and bridegroom, were as comfortably disposed of.
Washington was up with the dawn, for his heart was far from being at such ease as either to invite repose or make it refreshing when it came.
"Alas!" thought he, as he walked out on the margin of Turtle-creek, "if this most lovely of created beings refuses my love, how wretched I shall be! My heart destitute and forlorn, shall bleed at the desolation of its hopes; but it shall be still more miserable at the thought of the troubles and dangers with which, if she will not leave this Wilderness, she will soon be surrounded. War! shocking and barbarous war with savages, will ere long penetrate to these wilds; and Maria, oh, Maria! how I delight to name thee!---Oh, how wilt thou escape its fury! But I will urge, I will entreat, I will implore thee to fly with me while there is yet time, while thou art yet safe, and before the coming tempest bursts around thee. Oh, with what eagerness I should march in the ranks of those brave men who shall be sent here to drive the enemies of my country from their usurped fastnesses, if I were sure that she who is dearer to me than life, would not suffer in the conflict. But I will prevail on her---O heaven! grant that she may consent to become my own, that I may lodge her in a place of safety."
In such contemplations this ardent and illustrious lover spent upwards of an hour. He returned to the house, resolved to watch the first opportunity that should offer, to make known to the dear mistress of his affections his whole mind---his fears--- his wishes---his warmth of admiration, and his sincerity of love.
Maria had arisen. He met her smiling sweetly in all the blooming charms of maiden youthfulness. She was busied preparing breakfast, and as she went through the various movements of household economy required by the occasion, he perceived in every turn and every gesture, a gracefulness and ease, which showed that she could render any task becoming and interesting, and that she was peculiarly fitted to preside with dignity, propriety, and grace over all kinds of domestic concerns.
"Oh, that she were once the mistress of my household!" thought her adoring lover; "how doubly sweet and delightful would then the shades of Mount Vernon be to me! It may be so; I may yet be so happy; and the time may not be far distant. To-day, to-day, I am resolved I shall ascertain the state of her feelings. Oh, God of heaven! grant that they may be favourable."
But an unforeseen circumstance prevented him for that day from becoming, as he had resolved, certain on this point. The breakfast had been delayed nearly an hour on account of the bridal pair, who were rather tardy in making their appearance. At length they were forthcoming, and Mrs. Killbreath, covered with blushes, received the salutations of Washington and the rest of the family; and cheerfulness and gaiety prevailed throughout the conversation, with which they seasoned the most comfortable, because generally the most simple and domestic of all meals, the breakfast.
This meal, however, was scarcely over, when the cheerfulness and satisfaction of the party, especially of Maria, became overcast, by a message from queen Alliquippa, with intelligence that she had become suddenly very ill, and was not expected to live many hours; and that, conscious herself of her approaching end, she had requested to see Maria before she died.
Maria immediately set out in obedience to this summons. When she arrived at the wigwam, she found the queen just recovering from a strong convulsive fit which had left her much exhausted. She was, however, sensible of the presence of her favourite, and pressed her hand in token of the satisfaction she enjoyed from her visit. Maria wept over her, for she felt that she was about to lose for ever one of her dearest and most valued friends.
Her grief seemed grateful to the queen's mind. The violent tremors and emotions that agitated her nearly exhausted frame somewhat subsided; and the power of articulation, which appeared to have been gone for ever, returned for a space, and enabled her to say---
"Maria, my daughter, thou art kind. It pleases me to see that thou lovest me. But do not grieve too much. Some day thou wilt follow thy mother."
Here the sounds, although continued, could not be distinguished, and the weeping Maria replied: "My mother! my ever affectionate and kind mother! thou art going to leave me. I will indeed regret---bitterly and long will I regret, thy departure, for thou wert ever good and kind to thy daughter. Oh! canst thou not bless me before thou goest?"
In a faint murmur the queen prayed--- "Oh, Maneto, bless my child!" Immediately the muscles of her body became slightly agitated with a short-continuing convulsion, during which the soul fled its frail tenement; and on its subsiding, Alliquippa was found to have returned to her original dust.
Maria kissed the cold inanimate lips of her deceased friend, and withdrew in great agitation. The Indians, especially their females, loudly lamented this public calamity that had befallen their tribe. Alliquippa had, indeed, been always much beloved by them, for the indulgent, kind, and parental manner in which she had at all times exercised her authority. For some months past she had intermeddled very little with public affairs. The French influence in the country, since their establishment at Du Quesne, she was unable to resist, and she could not without breaking her faith with the English, join in promoting it. Besides, since the death of king Shingiss, to whom she had in reality been much attached, she more than ever hated them as being the cause of his destruction.
Her tone of mind, and strength of body had ever since that fatal event been gradually and perceptibly declining; and, although her last mortal attack of sickness was sudden, yet that depression of the spirits, that wasting of the frame, which, ever since the battle of Shanapins, had been visible to every observer, could not fail to impart the opinion that she was hastening to the world of spirits, the happy land where the brave and the upright, the faithful and the affectionate, shall meet to enjoy each other's society for ever, undisturbed by the warwhoop, or the song of slaughter and revenge; where men shall no longer pant for each other's ruin, where no blood shall be shed, except that of the deer and the buffalo, and warriors shall be proud of no exploits but the destruction of the wild beasts of the forest.
When the account of Alliquippa's death reached Frazier's, Washington and Paddy set out for the purpose of bringing Maria home. As the latter choosed to remain some time at the wigwam, for the purpose of showing the Indians his respect for their deceased queen, he left the task of conducting his sister home altogether to Washington. Had her mind been in its usual state, her lover could not have wished for a more favourable opportunity of making known to her his wishes; but his soul was of too delicate a nature to obtrude upon her, in her affliction, that disclosure of his feelings and desires which he longed to make. During their walk, therefore, the conversation chiefly turned upon the history and character of the deceased.
"You will not be surprised, Mr. Washington," said Maria, "that I feel so much for the loss of this Indian princess, who has been to me ever since my infancy, the most constant of friends, a companion in pastime, a sister in tenderness, and a mother in affection. By this stroke of fate, I really feel bereaved of a long cherished source of happiness."
"It is, indeed," replied Washington, "a great trial for a sensible and grateful mind to witness the death of a beloved object, and one too from whose affection it has been accustomed to derive happiness; and these trials must still be most severely felt in the days of youth, when the frequency of their occurrence has not in any manner strengthened the heart against their impression. But, Maria, you know the duty of resignation to the will of heaven. I need not teach it to you; it is enough to remind you of it; and what is duty, you are aware, should, at all times, obtain the preeminence over feeling."
"You are right, Mr. Washington," she replied. "I know it is my duty not to repine at such a dispensation. I therefore do not repine. But it would be unnatural, nay, I believe it would be a breach of duty, not to feel for the irreparable loss of such a friend."
"To feel is, indeed, natural," said Washington; "nay, not to feel would argue an insensibility of heart, unamiable, offensive, and culpable. But you, Maria---ah! you do not possess this; but--- but---forgive me---I would say, that you should not call this loss irreparable. Providence can repair it tenfold for you. Ah, Miss Frazier! you can never want friends. Every one who sees, who hears you---but I will not now talk so. I wish to say, that I do not blame your manifestation of feeling on this occasion. Nay, it pleases me to behold it. I esteem you the more for it. Oh, Maria, Maria! I would have you to consider me as one who has never seen any thing connected with you but what he must esteem, and---"
"Mr. Washington," said she, interrupting him, "I will be candid, and confess that I believe you esteem me, even more than I deserve. But you are not acquainted with all my weakness of heart, my frailty of disposition, and, shall I add, the errors into which I am conscious of having fallen---"
"Accuse not thyself unjustly," said a voice behind them. They turned round, and beheld Tonnaleuka. "Child, accuse not thyself unjustly," continued the prophet; "I know every action of thy life; I know each affection of thy heart; nay, I know almost the very thoughts of thy soul; and I know thou art as innocent and pure as the nature of thy species will permit; and, hear me, maiden, if there be on earth a being of human origin who can match thee in purity and excellence, it is the youth who now stands by thy side."
"Prophet!" said Washington, "I pretend not to---"
"Hear me, my son!" interrupted the prophet, "for I am sent for, and must, in haste, go to conduct the obsequies of the queen whom this maiden deservedly loved as a mother. I know something of mankind, even in the state you call civilization; and I know something of you, and can compare you with your brethren, and if I should ascribe to you more qualifications than purity; if I should ascribe to you prudence, courage, humanity, greatness of soul, and true love for your fellow-men, and all these in as high a degree as ever man possessed, I would not ascribe them wrongfully; and if heaven spares thee to thy country, the opinions of mankind will confirm my words."
"My son, hear further. I would caution thee to protect thy heart. I know it to be in danger of suffering the pangs of disappointment. Beauty and worth may inflict a wound which they cannot cure. Adieu, my children!" So saying, Tonnaleuka hastily proceeded towards the wigwam, leaving Washington and Maria greatly struck with the plainness and oracular abruptness of his language and manner.
"Alas!" ejaculated Washington, almost unconscious that Maria heard him, "he knows too well the state of my heart! but what can be the danger to which he alludes? Disappointment! alas, it may be so; I may not be capable of inspiring her with---but, Miss Frazier!" said he, suddenly recollecting him, "I am raving, forgive me---my concerns I will not obtrude upon you this evening, as you may be desirous of devoting it to sorrow for your lost friend. Let me only entreat that you will not indulge the softness of grief to the injury of your health; and that in reflecting upon one lost friend, you will remember that there are many yet left you."
"I thank you, Mr. Washington," said she, "for the consoling idea; and shall be careful to bear the goodness of God to me in this respect constantly in mind, so that, instead of murmuring at my lot, I trust I will be enabled to feel grateful."
Amidst such discourse, the road to Frazier's house was soon passed over, and Maria retired for the rest of the evening to her apartment. Here, after long meditating upon the friendship and the worth of Alliquippa, her thoughts fondly turned upon Charles Adderly, the warmth, the fervour, the faithfulness, the devotedness of his passion for her, the consciousness of which had now become the great solace of her existence, and the return of which had entwined, or rather identified itself with all her feelings.
"Oh, Charles!" she exclaimed, in the fervour of her meditations upon him, "while thou livest I know I shall never be destitute of a friend. Oh, heaven! protect this object of my first and only love---for if he were snatched from me, then--- then should I indeed be miserable!"
Her reflections next reverted to Washington. "I cannot but perceive," thought she, "that this excellent young man loves me. If, indeed, it were God's will, I should wish that it were otherwise; for, although I may esteem, I may admire, his numerous and engaging accomplishments and eminent virtues, yet I cannot return him love for love. My heart cannot be his: it is too sincerely and exclusively given up to another. Oh Washington, Washington! for thy own sake, excellent, admirable young man! how fervently do I wish that thou wouldst fix thy affections upon one who could return them---for thou art worthy of being beloved--- alas, I know it---and yet I cannot love thee."
She would then reflect upon the transitory nature of all human enjoyments, cares, and feelings.
"How happy did I long feel," she would say, "in the possession of the parental affections of that kind and amiable being who is now no more. Never more will she smile upon me, and press me to her bosom; never more shall I listen to the words of instruction, to the lessons of virtue, that flowed from her lips! Alas; those lips, and the warm heart that beat in that bosom, are now cold and insensible, and will soon mingle with their kindred earth. Never more will they feel the glow of affection, or utter the words of kindness. Never more will they contrive benefits for me, or speak comfort to my soul. But why do I say never? Is there not another, and a happier world, wherein faithful friends, who are thus separated, are destined again to meet, and enjoy each other's society for ever? Yes, thanks to the great Deity, there is such a world! My departed friend believed it---Tonnaleuka believes it---my parents have taught me to believe it---the sacred oracles of our faith confirm it---the heavens, and the earth, and the whole face of nature show it---and all our harassed feelings, our disappointments, and misfortunes; our bereavements, our pains, and our sorrows of this world, all find consolation and solace in the idea. Glory to God for it! I will cherish, I will dwell upon the sweet reflection, and anticipate, even here, the delights of a future existence!"
In this manner did Maria spend this evening; while Washington endeavoured to divert the anxiety which the obvious import of Tonnaleuka's oracular expressions occasioned in his mind, by trying to explain it away, or at least to attach to it such a degree of uncertainty as might still keep open the door for hope.
The prophet says, that I am in danger of suffering the pangs of disappointment, thought he. But he may not mean the kind of disappointment which I most dread;---he may not mean the disappointment of that devoted love I bear for this young woman. Or, if he does mean it, how can he know the revolutions of the female heart? He may be aware, or may imagine, and perhaps, alas! too truly, that she does not at present love me. But surely, if this be even so, I may still hope for some good to arise from my assiduities, from the fervency and fidelity of my passion, of which it must now be my study to convince her. She has a good heart, and will not bear to see me drag out a life of continued misery, when it is in her power to relieve me. I will trust in Providence, and hope that He who moveth all hearts, will turn hers towards me.
The next day, Washington attended to witness the funeral of Alliquippa. She was dressed in the full costume to which she was accustomed in the days of her greatest glory. All the great men and warriors, together with a numerous company of the females of her tribe, were present; and her successor, who was named Susquelooma, a near relative of Swanalow her husband, and who had for some time past been entrusted with the management of the public affairs, attended as chief mourner.
The bier on which she was carried to the grave, consisted of two long poles, joined together by a rude structure of wicker-work, covered with leaves. Tonnaleuka, as the prophet of the tribe, walked before the procession, with his sacred wand extended forward. The corpse followed, and close to if the chief mourner; then came the sages and elders of the tribe, and then the older and more celebrated warriors; after them, the younger and less celebrated, all in pairs. The females of the tribe then succeeded, also in pairs, taking precedence according to their age, or rather according to the order of Tonnaleuka, who had arranged the whole proceeding. Washington, and those of Gilbert Frazier's family who attended, closed the procession.
They had about half a mile to go to the burial ground, which was a little way up the side of a hill fronting the southeast, not far from Turtle Creek. Here they had dug a grave in such a form, that when the body was laid in it, the feet were considerably lower down than the head; and as it was turned somewhat upon its right side, with the face to the rising sun, it appeared to lie in a gently reclining, rather than a horizontal posture.
When the procession reached this last abode of mortality, and placed the bier with the corpse upon it alongside of the grave, Tonnaleuka, waving his wand in the air, addressed the assembly.
"Brothers and sisters, before you commence your funeral dance, before you convey your beloved queen into her last dwelling, and sing over her the song of your sadness, listen to my words."
"You appear all to be healthy just now, and full of life, and many of you, no doubt, promise yourselves the enjoyment of a long existence---for there are many of you yet young. But listen to me. What avails health, or youth, or the full tide of flowing blood, when Maneto says you must die? Then disease or accident, or perhaps the hatchet of war, does its duty; and then we return, as the queen our sister has done, our bodies to the earth of which they were made, and our souls to the Great Spirit who made them in a manner he has not revealed to us. Why, then, should we be proud of this life, or seek to render any of our fellow-mortals, who may enjoy its transitory existence, miserable?"
"Alas! listen to me. The existence is but transitory, whether it be of joy or of misery, that we can experience here. She who lies there, I have seen young, happy, admired, and beloved. Many of you have also seen her so. Think of it, brothers and sisters: does it not appear as if it were but yesterday? But look at her now! Where are the smiles which drew warriors after her?--- where are the graces which captivated counsellors and chiefs?---where is that dignity of mien, and that authority of expression, which both men and women delighted to obey? Alas! they are to her as if they had never been, and to us their existence is like a shadow, passing only through our recollection, as if we had but seen it in a dream! Such will be the fate of the sensations of all here---nay, of all mankind! We are but the insects of a day: the fleeting hour of sunshine passes---the night of death comes, and we are no more! So rapid, and of such little consequence, is our present existence."
"But listen to me, brothers and sisters---The manner in which we use that existence is of consequence. And why? Because there is another; and one to which we must immediately proceed, and receive the reward of bliss or of wo, as we have here earned it."
"Listen again! Ye grieve for Alliquippa---ye think she has been unfortunate, in being thus separated from you whom she loved to reside among. But hear me---she has been fortunate in the transition, because she was virtuous, and good-hearted, and did her duty, and for these things her spirit is now receiving a glorious recompense from the Almighty Maneto!"
"Then, brothers and sisters, what I would now advise you to do, is this---When you think of her who lies here, let it be to imitate her virtues. You will never then have cause to fear the approach of death---Nay, the sooner he comes, it will be the better for you, as you will thereby the sooner obtain the reward of your good conduct from the justice of the Great Father, who will then receive you into his favour."
"Now, brothers and sisters, you may perform your solemnities, and bury your queen. I go to worship the Great Father."
So saying, he waved his wand three times towards heaven, blessed the assembly, and departed.
Susquelooma now took upon him the direction of the proceedings, and the death-dance was immediately commenced. It consisted, in all the warriors marching one after another in an extremely slow and solemn gait, somewhat like that adopted at military funerals in Europe, nine times round the bier, each warrior as he came to it pausing, to spread his arms over the corpse, and then raising them and his face to heaven, as if to say, "Here on earth is the body, but there in heaven is the soul;" then turning quickly upon his heel, and drawing both hands slowly from his heart, to represent the disunion of soul and body, he clasped them again firmly within each other as he moved away, in order to show that they should be again united.
The body was now lowered into the grave, into which the leg of a deer, the wing of a dove, a pair of moccasins, and a string of beads, together with some twigs of spice-wood and leaves of the sprucepine, were also thrown.
Susquelooma and several other chiefs then chanted the death-song, which Tonnaleuka had on this occasion prepared for them. It was, as nearly as I can versify it in our language, as follows.--- During its singing, a number of the warriors proceeded to cover the body with earth in the usual manner.
An Indian Funeral-Song.
We lay her in earth whom our sad hearts deplore,
Where the dust of her fathers was buried before,
And where, in our turns, we shall all of us lie,
Ere we pass to our sires in the regions of joy!
Oh! once she was beautiful, sportive, and young,
So sprightly she danced and so merrily sung,
Nor thought, in the midst of her joy and her mirth,
That thus her last covering should be the cold earth!
We lay her low here---she whose charms could engage
The hearts of the warrior, the sachem, and sage:
Ah! think of her now, all ye valiant and gay---
The charmer of hearts is a cold piece of clay!
How bright were the virtues that glow'd in her breast!
How sweet was the kindness her visage express'd!
In true love her constancy ne'er was surpass'd,
And for Shanalow's sake she was firm to the last.
But ye of her tribe, ye Shannoahs, deplore,
She who rul'd you with love, now will rule you no more:
Oh! remember her long---and with tears in your eyes,
As ye pass, strew with spice-wood the ground where she lies!
The soft-growing spice-wood is sweet to the smell,
The evergreen pine-leaves will constancy tell---
Then both we shall scatter as tokens, to prove
That the sweets of her mem'ry we ever shall love!
The body being now covered, and the grave filled with earth, a heap of stones was piled upon it, in order to mark it out, so that any of her tribe passing by, might know where to pay the customary honours to the remains of one who had been long beloved and respected amongst them. The procession then returned to Susquelooma's wigwam, where it dispersed, and Washington took his way, with Paddy, Archy, and Dr. Killbreath, to Frazier's.
Maria had not gone to the funeral, as she conceived that witnessing the solemnities would only have exposed her spirits, which were now beginning to recover their tone, to a fresh and unnecessary depression. It was not, however, until the afternoon of the following day, that Washington took occasion to make to her an open avowal of his sentiments and wishes. He asked her to walk out with him along the bank of the river, as doing so, might tend to remove that degree of melancholy which still evidently pervaded her mind. She readily complied, and they set out together.
It was one of those premature spring days which sometimes, in Pennsylvania, enliven the generally severe month of March, and from their novelty, together with the fair face of verdant nature which they disclose just unveiled from the long protracted covering of winter's snow, make a ramble, for a short distance, very inviting and agreeable. On this occasion, Washington and his fair companion felt their hearts warmed and expanded as they beheld the symptoms of reviving nature that bloomed around them, although they were conscious that before the spring should set really in, storms of wintry fierceness would again overcast and deform this fair face of things, and nip in the bud the young plant that now rashly attempted to peep forth, and leave it in a blasted and undone state to repent its temerity.
Washington intentionally directed their steps towards the walnut-tree, beneath whose branches he had first stopped to gaze upon those charms that had been fated to make such an impression upon his heart.
"Here, Maria," said he, when they arrived at the spot, "is the place where I first beheld you; and from that moment to this, the image that you then impressed upon my mind has never for one instant left it---Ah! never, never will it leave it!"
"Mr. Washington," said she, "I hesitate not to credit your assertions; for I know that your mind is superior to the common custom in which the gay part of your sex, I am informed, indulge themselves, of seizing all occasions to flatter ours, even often at the expense of truth. And because I believe you, and esteem you so sincerely as to feel an ardent desire for your welfare, I will candidly say, that I am sorry you should have viewed me in the light you have done."
"O Maria!" he interrupted her, "do not use these chilling expressions. How can you, if you esteem me, and wish for my welfare, regret that which has afforded me the sweetest sensations of my life! that which, although it has, indeed, occasioned me many hours of painful anxiety, has, nevertheless, been the delight of my existence, the sacred charm which has often buoyed my hopes into rapture, and presented to my enamoured view the lovely vision of felicity which it might be my lot to enjoy! Oh Maria, do not say you are sorry for this!"
"Alas, Mr. Washington!" she replied; "if I respected you less, I might feel less sorrow on this subject. But you deserve to be happy, and to make you so, the woman of your choice should be capable of loving you with an ardour equal to your own---with an ardour of which I feel, and must for ever feel, myself incapable. In short, sir, it is my earnest wish that you should bestow upon a more suitable object, those affections of which I am but too conscious I am not worthy."
"Not worthy!" he exclaimed; "not worthy of my affections! Ah, then, what woman on earth can be worthy of them? Oh Maria! I have seen, I have been acquainted with many females; and if I were to make, in your hearing, the comparison which my fancy has often formed between you and the fairest, the best of them, your modesty would not tolerate it. You would not listen to me;---you would command me to be silent. Alas! to draw the picture which my imagination has formed of your person and your virtues, would excite your incredulity, and subject me to the suspicion of insincerity. But with you, with none, will I ever be insincere. Oh! if you cannot---"
"Sir," said she, "I must interrupt you. If I thought you could be insincere in any of your professions, I would abandon every good opinion I have hitherto had of mankind. I must, therefore, believe that you do entertain the exaggerated and erroneous opinion of my good qualities which you mention. But this is owing to the generous impulse of your nature, which has led you astray, and induced you to give me credit for excellences which I do not possess. Permit me to say, that you do not know me sufficiently to judge of me accurately. If you did, it might relieve us both of much uneasiness. You would see the necessity of forming a better choice; and, because I know that it would contribute to your happiness, I should rejoice that you had done so."
"Maria!" he exclaimed---"Oh, tantalizing girl! Another choice, did you say! No; let heaven hear me! I swear that, unless thou dost peremptorily and finally refuse to be mine, I shall never form another choice; and even then, should that ever be, which heaven forbid, my choice may be the dictate of duty, but I never shall be impelled to it by that warm, that irresistible feeling of heart and soul, which urges me to sue thee to become the partner of my love, the mistress of my fortune, the fondly-cherished wife of my bosom, the dear, the sweet source of all my earthly happiness. O Maria! wilt thou not yield to it? wiltthou not become mine? This Wilderness is an unfit---"
"Mr. Washington," said she, "excuse me; but I must speak, to undeceive you---or---or rather to remind you, that I have already said I can feel for you every thing but love---alas, that---that alone is impossible---and without love, how could I assent to the proposals with which you honour me. No, sir, I will submit it to your own feelings--- without my heart, would my hand be worth accepting?"
"Time, time, my sweetest of maidens!" cried her lover; "time, and my long-continued anxious assiduities, would excite your gratitude; my sufferings on your account, oh! they must surely excite your pity; and gratitude and pity would soon produce love. Oh, Maria! you would not be long so cold, so indifferent, so cruel towards one so devoted to you, as you expect. You could not---it is not in your nature---"
"Ah, sir!" said she, "you know not, you cannot know, my feelings on this subject. You may charge me with cruelty---alas, sir, I am not cruel. That I feel pity for you just now, heaven is my witness; but that I never can feel love, heaven also knows."
"Maria, you talk mysteriously," cried he. "Indeed, my love, I cannot understand you. You pity me, and you will never love me! But, enchanting maiden, although you say it, I will hope against it; and trust that time will soften your heart, and dispose it towards---"
"Never, never! I cannot be---" she exclaimed, evidently much agitated.
"Oh! use not these cruel words," said he, interrupting her affectionately; "I will not ask you at present to be mine. I will have hope---I will have patience---But, O! fly this Wilderness, my beloved, for there will soon be no safety for you here. Oh Maria! this circumstance is at present the great, the immediate object of my solicitude. The legions of a powerful nation will soon carry their thunders into this forest to root their enemies out of it. The conflict will be dreadful; and oh! to what accidents wilt thou not be then exposed? If thou wilt not fly from peril as my wife, let us persuade the whole of thy friends also to go. I will yield them shelter. I will bestow upon them comfort and abudance in a pleasant asylum, where thou, whose safety is more dear to me than the air I breathe, wilt have nothing to fear from the evils of war."
"Sir," she replied, "you are kind and generous; but it is your nature, and does not surprise me---for what virtue could you display that would surprise me! Yet I would not do myself justice if I did not express my gratitude for the friendly solicitude and liberality which has dictated this proposal: but I cannot see that my father's family are in such danger as to induce their removal from a place where they have so long resided, and where they have often, in the worst of times, of late years, experienced safety."
"The war that is now threatened," observed Washington, "will be quite different in its extent and consequences from any they have yet seen; and as the savage tribes that will be engaged in it are much exasperated against every thing British, no doubt its ferocity will be greatly aggravated beyond any thing that has yet arisen from former wars in this country. Your family will, therefore, be more exposed than formerly. Ah! Miss Frazier, I indeed tremble for your safety, unless you can be prevailed on to leave this place before the bloody era commences."
"Mr. Washington," she replied, "peculiarly circumstanced as my father's family is in respect to all the parties who are likely to engage in the war you anticipate, I do not suppose, that, unless some of them take an active part in the quarrel, there is much danger of our being molested. With the French and Indians we are now on terms of intimacy. Our feelings and affections are with the English, it is true, and the French may suspect this, yet so long as we join neither party, I think that neither will injure us. But you may lay your proposal for our removal before my father. With his determination in this matter I must of course comply; but your solicitude on my account must be kept altogether out of view."
"I will try this expedient," said he; "I may prevail with your father, and by this means have the satisfaction of securing your safety, to effect which was the great object of my present visit to the Wilderness."
Maria again expressed her thanks for his solicitude in her hehalf. They then returned to the house, and Washington soon found an opportunity of laying his proposal before Frazier.
Gilbert had long enjoyed so much safety amidst the various tribes of warring Indians, and felt himself at the present time, so secure in the friendship of both the English and French, in the event of the war of which Washington spoke, taking place, that with the strongest expressions of gratitude to that gentleman for his generous offer, he declined accepting it, and refused to remove.
"God has aye been gracious to me," said he, in reply to Washington's reasoning, "since I cam' into thir backwoods; an' though a' ye represent in sae freen'ly a manner may be true, yet I wunna noo mistrust his providence; for ye ken hoo the prophet reprimanded the godly Asa for trusting in the strength o' Egypt an' no' in the arm o' the Lord."
In addition to the piety of Gilbert, the wishes of Washington were, in this instance, opposed by the policy of Paddy, who observed that if they even should consent to remove, it would, under present circumstances, be impossible to do so without the knowledge of the French, who would inevitably prevent them.
"The day we should attempt it," said he, "you may rely on it, a troop of horse, and a tribe of Indians, at the very least, would surround us, and force us to take up our abode, not in our own dwelling again, it is true, but in Fort Du Quesne; so that all we should gain by the attempt would be to make them enemies who are now our friends. No," he added in a whisper to Washington, "I think we can be of more service to the British cause by remaining here, and keeping on good terms with their enemies, for then, you know the opportunity for a little stratagem in war may be more conveniently watched."
Washington finding that he could not prevail on the family to accede to his wishes, and feeling that his duty to his country required his immediate return to Virginia, resolved, before his departure, to do all that remained in his power to effect for the safety of his beloved, when he should be far distant, by informing Tonnaleuka of the approaching dangers, and obtaining from him a promise to be her protector.
That very evening Paddy Frazier procured him an interview with the prophet, who seemed to enter into his views on the subject more fully and readily than either Gilbert or Paddy.
"My son," said Tonnaleuka, when Washington had made his statement, "I know there will be an alarming time in this quarter, and I fear that that young woman will be peculiarly exposed. But make your mind easy. I will think of your generosity towards her, and her friends, and shall not be less solicitous for their safety than yourself. Hers, in particular, you may be assured I shall watch over with all the anxiety and care you can wish. Ah, sir! think you I can be indifferent to the fate of her who has grown up from her infancy to what you now see her, under my tuition and care! Be satisfied, I will protect her as I would the apple of my eye."
"Give me one more promise, my father, and I shall be satisfied," said Washington; "promise me that if thy power should fall short in protecting her, for thy will I do not distrust, thou wilt give me the speediest intelligence of whatever misfortune may befall her, so that no time may be lost before I can fly to her deliverance."
"I promise thee this," replied the prophet. "And since thy country will soon need thee much, go now, attend to her call, and take my blessing with thee, and may heaven preserve thee long for the benefit of millions!"
"Thank thee, father, and farewell!" replied the hero, and they separated.
The next morning Washington bade a tender adieu to Maria, and, accompanied by Vanbraam, left her abode with a heavy and anxious heart, and pursued his way to Mount Vernon, where he arrived in about two weeks, without meeting with any accident.
What! shall the foes whom oft our arms have humbled,
Now triumph o'er us with impunity,
And scorn that power at which they oft have trembled!
No, no, by heavens! we are as brave as ever.
And soon the proud destroyers of our brethren
Shall feel that we have weapons to avenge them.
The intelligence of Charles Adderly's second defeat, and the establishment of the French in the fort at the head of the Ohio, had reached the Atlantic cities, and excited a great ferment over all the country east of the Alleghany mountains, several weeks before Washington's second visit to the Wilderness. It was indeed the anxiety for Maria's safety which this intelligence naturally occasioned, and the anticipation of the national war which he saw would be hastened on by this affair, that accelerated his visit ere the winter was over; for he had not, at first, calculated on paying it until the spring opened, in order that, if Maria consented to accompany him to Virginia, the state of the country, the weather, and the roads, would be better adapted for travelling. Before he set out for the Wilderness, his exertions and influence tended much to excite his native colony to take the lead in those active measures which were about to be adopted for the infliction of British vengeance upon the French aggressors; and when he returned to Mount Vernon, he had the satisfaction to find that a regiment of four hundred regulars had been raised by the authority of the Virginia legislature, for the express purpose of proceeding against the enemy as soon as the season would permit. Of this regiment he had himself received the commission of lieutenant-colonel; one Mr. Fry, a military gentleman, supposed to be well acquainted with Indian affairs, having been appointed Colonel.
Hostilities were not yet formally declared between Britain and France; but the British secretary of state had written to governor Dinwiddie that his cabinet considered the attack of the French upon the Ohio Company's people, and their fortifying themselves in Du Quesne, as equivalent to the commencement of hostilities on their part; and that therefore his majesty's colonies should conceive themselves at full liberty to attack and drive off the aggressors by any means in their power.
In consequence of this authority, Dinwiddie indulged the zeal of young Washington, who earnestly solicited permission to march against Du Quesne as soon as the country was fit to be travelled. His chief inducement for this urgency was, that by information he had received from Paddy Frazier, he knew the French works at Du Quesne were yet incomplete, but were every day getting stronger, and as soon as the season opened, the garrison expected to receive from Canada a strong augmentation of its force. If the early part of the season should therefore be permitted to pass away without attacking the French, the probability was that they would soon become in all respects, so strengthened, as to set any force the colony could send against them, at defiance.
Washington was extremely anxious for the capture of this fort, for many reasons; but the one which operated, perhaps, the most powerfully upon his heart, was, the idea that by such an event, the seat of war might be kept at a distance from the residence of Maria. Le Boeuf, Presqu' Isle, and the plains of Canada, would then become the theatre of contention; while, by possessing Du Quesne, its neighbourhood would enjoy tranquillity, as too much employment would be given the enemy in the country of the St. Lawrence, to allow them either leisure or means to disturb that of the Ohio.
True policy also called for this promptitude of action which he recommended, as a small force might now accomplish what in the lapse of only a few weeks, a formidable army might find impossible.
"If you wish to drive the French from Fort Du Quesne," said he, in a memorial to the governor; "if you wish to save our border-settlers from the depredations and horrors which the savage allies of our enemy meditate against them as soon as the season will permit their irruptions, you will attempt it without delay. Time passes on, the day fast approaches when the Indians will strike their winter-tents, and prepare for war and devastation. The enemy which supports and encourages them to mischief, is every day strengthening himself. While he is yet weak, the means you can already command, may drive him from his strong-hold, afar from our borders, and compel the barbarous tribes, who do his bidding, to remain quietly in their own forests, without daring to search for human victims upon our frontiers."
"If, on the other hand, you delay till the fort on the Ohio is completed, and until it shall be filled with troops and stores from Canada, the favourable moment will have departed for ever, and the power of a nation may not then be able to do what could now be done by that of a colony."
In consequence of these representations, Colonel Washington was authorized to proceed, about the middle of April, with about two hundred regulars and some militia, with all possible dispatch, to attack Fort Du Quesne, if he found it adviseable, with that force; if not, he was to throw up entrenchments and wait the arrival of Colonel Fry, with the remainder of the army, who would hasten after him as soon as it should be ready for marching. By this measure, it was expected that if the French could not be driven from this station, the hostile Indians would at least be overawed into tranquillity; and any of the tribes that still felt a predilection for the English, encouraged to declare themselves.
The young hero lost no time in availing himself of this permission, and something less than two weeks found him encamped at a place called the Great Meadows, a few miles eastward of the Laurel Hill. Here finding an eligible position, he determined to erect a fort, for the purpose of protecting his horses and provisions, and also of securing a retreat for his men in case of disaster. This strength, from the haste and circumstances under which it was erected, he called "Fort Necessity."
While his soldiers were employed at this work, being anxious to ascertain the real condition and strength of the French garrison, and whether they were apprised of his approach, he set out on foot, accompanied by Vanbraam, both drest as Indians, in order to reconnoitre their position. When he arrived at Turtle Creek, he found that Paddy Frazier had just come that very day from Du Quesne, and was therefore able to give him all the information he could wish. The circumstances he reported, however, were not very encouraging. The circumvallation of the Fort was not indeed entirely finished on the sides towards the rivers, nor had the garrison yet received any ordnance from Le Boeuf; but a day or two before, a reinforcement of nearly five hundred men had descended the Alleghany river, and a large supply of cannon and other warlike stores from Canada was reported to be on its way, and daily expected.
With respect to Washington's approach and intentions, Paddy rather believed that the French were yet ignorant. At all events, he had heard nothing said of them while he was in the garrison, but he proposed to return the next morning, and by some means to make himself more certain on the subject.
During the evening, Washington had the pleasure of enjoying in private, a short conversation with the beloved of his soul; but he found her heart as much averse to love as formerly, although he pleaded his passion more energetically and eloquently than ever. She, however, with the view of soothing his wounded feelings, and rendering her refusal of his proposals as little oppressive upon his mind as possible, expressed so warmly what she really felt, esteem for his virtues, and admiration of his talents, that although he forbore to urge her further, he could not forbear to cherish some sweet hope that the day might come when, even contrary to her own expectations, she might feel---she might acknowledge, that she loved him. Alas, he knew not how intensely and steadfastly she loved another: and alas, by her kind and amiable, but ill-judged anxiety to save him from the mortification of a harsh refusal, she prolonged those hopes with which his soul was loth to part, and unintentionally, encouraged that fallacy of expectation in his bosom, which, because it was destructive of his peace, she would have given any consideration to remove.
In the morning, as Washington, in order to pass the time which was now become heavy on his hands, wandered along the bank of the river, his steps almost involuntarily led him to the spot where he first beheld Maria.
"Here," said he, as he leaned against the walnut tree, "here it was that, while standing in this spot, that vision of light so unexpectedly burst upon my view! There she sat, as fixed to this place I listened to the tones of her enchanting voice. Ah! I will never forget that moment when she looked up and showed me a countenance of more than mortal beauty, such a countenance as my imagination in its romantic moments had often attempted to depict, but had never before seen, and till then, had despaired of ever seeing. Oh! what varied sensations both of joy and misery have I since sustained! But, alas, little of joy appears now to be before me. I might have been happy had I never seen her: but no---thank heaven I have seen her, I have conversed with her, although it has ruined my peace; for such an idea, such a lovely idea, as her image alone could impart to my soul, was necessary to make me happy. She refuses me, alas, but she esteems me, and the time may come when her heart may be disposed to love; for heaven surely could not have made her so essential to my happiness, without ordaining her for me!"
"My son, I could wish thy hopes to be better founded," said a voice. He turned, and beheld Tonnaleuka beside him.
"Father, thou knowest the maiden," said Washington. "Ah! tell me---thinkest thou, can her heart ever be mine?"
"My son," replied the prophet, "the chances are now against thee, but the fates may in the end be favourable. I will neither desire thee to hope nor to despair."
"But hear me, my son, there is a person concealed in these woods from the enmity of the French. He is of a generous and daring mind, a Briton like thyself, and like thyself, a soldier. He has heard of thy coming with an armed force, and longs to join thee against the enemies of his country. Wilt thou receive him?"
"With great pleasure, and a hearty welcome," replied Washington---"May I ask his name?"
"Charles Adderly," returned the prophet.
"I am glad of it," said Washington. "He is a young man of indeed a gallant spirit, and will be a real acquisition to me. I have often of late wondered where he was concealed. I heard of his rescue from the French, and could not think he had made his way to Philadelphia, otherwise it would have been publicly known. But where shall I see him?"
"Let me first inquire when you intend returning to your army?" said the prophet.
"To-night I believe; as it is moonlight, I think I need not delay longer."
"Then to-night, at ten o'clock, he shall here meet you, if that hour answers," said Tonnaleuka.
"I shall make it answer," returned Washington.
"Then, farewell, my son," said the prophet, and he disappeared in the direction of Turtle Creek; and Washington returned to the house, to enjoy the luxury of conversing with Maria, although he knew that he must avoid the subject of love. She had walked out, however, and he could not ascertain, or at least he had too much delicacy of feeling to inquire, in what direction; and he passed rather a tedious and melancholy afternoon, in company with Gilbert Frazier and Mr. Vanbraam.
But although Washington did not find his beloved, yet, reader, I will tell you where she had gone. It was to the place where her heart was treasured---the cavern of her lover. She had paid several visits to this place of late, and had indulged Charles in some very pleasing and interesting interviews; but she had taken care never to mention to him any thing concerning the addresses she had received from Washington, as she conceived that such information would only give him unnecessary pain. Tonnaleuka had been equally guarded on this subject, so that Charles had no conception that the chief under whom he was about to volunteer his services to his country was his rival; and Washington, on his part, was altogether ignorant that the young volunteer for whom he felt such a high respect, was the only obstacle between him and his soul's chief desire.
Tonnaleuka had, previous to his meeting with Washington at the walnut tree, as we have just related, informed Maria of Charles's wish to join the troops at Fort Necessity. He had also informed Charles of the vicinity of Washington, and did not object to his joining him as he considered it to be the safest and most elegible means by which he could be relieved from his confinement, and get out of the Wilderness. As to Maria she had been always in the habit of offering no opposition to whatever the prophet approved. The matter was therefore decided on; and she now went to the cavern in compliance with her lover's request to see her before his departure.
"Ah, my love!" said he, as they conversed together, "I almost feel inclined to reject that liberty, and to forego that honourable service, which is now open to me, since they will be purchased at the dear rate of leaving thy vicinity, of depriving myself of these sweet visits with which thou hast made my asylum happy. Oh Maria! honour calls me---but how can I think of removing so far from thee?"
"Charles!" she replied, "I indeed feel uneasy at the thought of your being again exposed to the hazards of war. But it is perhaps your duty, Tonnaleuka approves of it, and he knows better; at least, he can judge more cooly on this matter than I can. I pray that God may watch over your safety---"
"And oh!" he replied, "may he watch over thine, thou lovely, but tender plant, whom I must thus leave exposed to all the rude storms of a barbarous forest! But my absence shall not be long, my love---we shall soon advance forward under our prudent and heroic leader, and root our enemies out of their strong holds."
"It is a comfort to me," she replied, "that you will be under such a chief. I know him, my Charles---I have heard Tonnaleuka speak of his qualities, and I am persuaded that if wisdom can command success, and virtue deserve it, it will follow his standard. But, oh Charles! he may be successful, and yet thou be lost, lost to thy Maria. Alas! alas! I cannot help trembling when I think of the numerous accidents of war to which thou wilt soon be exposed."
"Fear not, my dearest, my best beloved!" said Charles, much affected at this manifestation of her concern for his safety. "Fear not---the God whom thou servest, and who made thee so pure and so lovely, will preserve me for thy sake."
"I will never cease to pray fervently," she replied, "that he may---and, although I cannot help suffering fear lest misfortune should assail the betrothed of my heart when he becomes so exposed to danger, yet I will not distrust either the power or goodness of that God, who, I know, is as able to save in the whirlwind as in the calm. And, oh Charles---may I conjure you never to cease to trust in him, and implore him to be your guide, as well as your guard."
"Maria, my sweetest love!" said he, "it is my duty to do so; and since thou desirest it, it shall be my study, it shall be my pleasure, my---"
"Oh, Charles!" she hastily replied; "I trust that it has always been thy pleasure. Oh, say not that it is to gratify me that you would make it so."
"Maria, hear me, my love!" said he; "I have never yet been insensible to the delight that arises from worshipping God, and I hope I never shall. But to obey thy injunction is in itself a pleasure, distinct and rapturous, which until my heart ceases to beat it shall keenly feel; and even the first of my duties, the worshipping of my God, shall derive additional pleasure from thy commanding it. Oh Maria! do not think me profane when I say that religion appears to me more lovely when it is recommended by thee."
They now heard the steps of Tonnaleuka advancing.
"My children," said he, as he entered, "you are now about to separate. Let it be with fortitude and resignation. The will of heaven respecing you cannot be yet known. But repose confidence in your Great Father, and serve him; and whatsoever accidents may befall you, be assured that, although they may produce temporary distress, they will in the end result in your lasting advantage. Such, such, will ever be the happy fate of those who, amidst all trials, maintain their integrity."
"This, my children, is my advice. I wish you to attend to it."
"For you, my son, this night at ten o'clock your chief will await your coming to the place where I will conduct you. Be ready, therefore, to meet him---and study to love and obey him, for he is worthy of love and obedience. I would also say, imitate his virtues; but they are inimitable."
"And now, my daughter," said he, to Maria--- "Bid this young man farewell, and come along with me. I doubt not but heaven will again grant you to meet, and perhaps at no distant period."
"God grant it," said Charles---"Then since it must be so, farewell---farewell, my love!"---and while he imprinted an ardent kiss upon her hand, she returned a faint "farewell."
She then left the cavern with Tonnaleuka, who accompanied her until within sight of her father's house, where she arrived a little before sunset, much to the gratification of Washington, who began to fear that he might not see her before his departure; and even felt his mind agitated with doubts that she might have absented herself on account of his presence."
He could not help, therefore, manifesting his satisfaction at her return, by indulging in a sprightliness and gaiety of conversation to which, during the whole day, he had been a stranger.
"Miss Frazier," said he, "I was beginning to despair of seeing you before I set off. You seem to be like the great huntress of the Grecian mythology, who esteemed the shades for nothing so much as their concealing her from the eyes of visiters."
"I have always, in good weather," she replied, "been fond of the woods, although I did not seek them to-day, I assure you, for the purpose of avoiding visiters; and with respect to those who now honour us with their presence, they are the last in the world towards whom I should be disposed to act the part of the shy Diana. No, no, sir, they stand too high in my estimation for that."
"Notwithstanding which," returned Washington, "you have for the last six hours at least, exclusively favoured the rocks and the streams with your company, to the great disappointment and vexation of us your poor visiters, who have been the whole afternoon fretting and pining so much at your absence, that we could have wished ourselves changed into rocks, and trees, and fountains, if so we could have enjoyed your presence. But it was perhaps as well, as we now enjoy it the more sensibly, on account of having so severely felt the want of it."
"I am really glad that I can make any atonement for my fault," replied she. "But methinks, Mr. Washington, that if the company had suffered so very much from my absence, it would hardly exhibit the contented, good-humoured, and sprightly countenances I now behold."
"It is only when you are present, that you can perceive such happy countenances," said he, smiling.
"I acknowledge it," she replied; "I have not the power of seeing through hills and rocks, and cannot exactly behold felicity any where but in my presence. In some cases, however, it may be right to judge of the past by the present; and if so, I cannot suppose that any of you here have been very unhappy this afternoon."
"Ah, Miss Frazier!" returned Washington "you know that the minds of men are variable; and you have yourself seen plants drooping in the rain, that have almost instantaneously erected their heads, and become lively and gay in the sunshine."
"I have seen such appearances," she replied; "and I believe, sir, that you have not erred in resembling them to the fickle tempers of men---a strange race of beings, for so assiduously avoiding whom, I cannot but give the woodland goddess you spoke of, some credit."
"I acknowledge you have the advantage of me in this respect," observed Washington. "I cannot retort upon you; for I know no one of the gods who ever thought of avoiding women, otherwise I might eulogize his firmness, although I confess that I would heartily condemn his taste. But, alas! Miss Frazier, to speak seriously, it was cruel to deprive me of your company to-day. My stay here must be very short, and I wished to have all my friends in this place around me while it lasted. O! would to heaven that every member of this family were now at Mount Vernon, safely removed from the havoc and distress which barbarous war has destined for this quarter of the country. But I trust God will protect you, if I cannot."
"Ye were aye frienly an' kin'," Mr. Washingington, observed Gilbert, "an' hae a gude religious heart o' yere ain, whilk I'm muckle mistaken if God dinna bless to abundant satisfying, as oor minister at the Juniata used to say. Ah! it's a pleasing sicht to see a soldier wha fears naethin' but to offend his God; an' I doot na but he'll, in every strait, remember your trust in him, an' keep you in the hollow o' his hand, and under the shadow o' his wings. For me, syne ye hae ta'en up the sword in a gude cause, to stop the ravages o' thir French an' Indians on oor christian neighbours, I'll aye pray for your success."
The following portion of The Wildernesswas encoded by Satoko Kakihara!
Soon after this, Paddy returned from the garrison. Washington walked out with him, and received the following intelligence.
"Some Indians have informed the Governor this very day," said he, "that you are approaching with several hundred Virginians to attack the fort. The whole garrison has in consequence been, during the afternoon, in commotion; and I waited a couple of hours longer among them than I intended, in order to see what measures they would adopt. After holding councils of war, making speeches, and drinking wine in abundance, they at last resolved to detach about a hundred men to watch your motions, impede your progress, and send you to the devil, I suppose, if they can. These fellows started at a quick pace about an hour and a half since, under one Major Jumonville; and may heaven send them all safely into your clutches."
"I must then return immediately to my camp, in order to prepare for their reception," said Washington.
"Wisely said," replied Paddy; "but you must take care not to fall into their hands on your way. Let me see; they have taken the northern route, I suppose that they may come upon you from behind--- though heaven only knows what they mean. I'll watch them, however, and give you timely notice of their movements."
"We must now set off, and endeavour to avoid them as well as we can," observed Washington. "The night will favour us, in case they come upon our course."
"There are private and near paths," said Paddy. "Let me think a moment---can I not procure you a guide? Doctor Killbreath, or Archy --- No---the Doctor's too ignorant of the country, and Archy is a---blockhead. I had better conduct you myself, till you're out of danger; and then, trust me, sir, I shall soon scent the designs of the Frenchmen."
"This, I believe, is the best arrangement," replied Washington. "I thank you, Mr. Frazier, for your zeal. I hope it shall yet be in my power to reward you."
"As you choose for that," said Paddy.
"The sooner we are off now the better," observed Washington. "If Mr. Adderly were here, I think we might proceed immediately."
"Mr. Adderly!" returned Paddy; "does he go with you?"
"I am told that such is his desire," said Washington.
"You will find him a brave fellow," observed Paddy; "worth a dozen Frenchmen, so long as he has nothing to do but to fight. But as to warcraft, sir---why he can no more think of overreaching an enemy, than of cheating a creditor. He will make a daring soldier, but a confounded bad leader."
"He has honour and courage," replied Washington. "He has also talents and education of the first-rate kind; and if he disdains low cunning, permit me to say, that it is only what every great leader should do. Foresight, prudence, coolness, fertility of invention, and promptitude of execution, which are the great requisites of a commander, are in no respect akin to fraud and deception. But we will not waste time on this subject, Paddy: is it near ten o'clock?"
Paddy, pulling a watch out of his pocket, observed, "Let us see what this madam says: I just set her by the dial at the garrison to-day. The moon's pretty clear---I can discern it: it appears to be within about ten minutes of ten."
"We must then be off," said Washington--- "Let us call Vanbraam, and bid adieu to our friends."
So saying, he hurried into the house, bade a hasty farewell to Maria and the rest of the family, and set out for the walnut tree, followed by Vanbraam and Paddy. Tonnaleuka, and Charles had arrived there a few minutes before them. The two young heroes received each other with a warm and hearty greeting; and the prophet pronouncing his benediction upon them, left them, and they set forward, Paddy leading the way, at a vigorous pace, for Fort Necessity.
Yet cautious as in foeman's land,
Lord Marnion's order speeds the band,
Some opener ground to gain;
And scarce a furlong had they rode,
When thinner trees, receding show'd,
A little woodland plain.
Just in that advantageous glade,
The halting troops a line had made,
As forth from the opposing shade
Issued a gallant train.
Paddy continued to guide our party through unfrequented paths, and often no paths at all, amidst an uninterrupted and silent forest, and over hills, and precipices, dingles, vales, ravines, and creeks, until he deposited them in Fort Necessity, a distance of nearly seventy miles, in little more than twenty four hours after their leaving Frazier's. During their journey they had neither seen nor heard any thing of the French detachment, nor had any intelligence concerning it reached the Fort.
The whole of that night, however, Washington took effectual measures to prevent a surprise, and the next morning Paddy Frazier, together with several other scouts were sent to range the country in search of the enemy.
As a few days before, Washington had the misfortune to lose by sickness, one of his officers, a captain, named Stewart, he had now an opportunity of manifesting his regard for Charles Adderly by bestowing upon him the vacant commission. Charles, therefore, now felt himself in that honourable situation of life, which was perfectly suited to his ardent and romantic disposition. He was now a soldier, and an officer in the service of his country, and under a leader who honoured him with his friendship, and for whose pre-eminent talents and virtues he was impressed with the most profound admiration and respect.
It was about nine o'clock at night when Paddy Frazier entered Washington's quarters, with information concerning the enemy. He had discovered them about mid-day, ascending the western side of the Laurel Hill, and he kept them in view the whole afternoon, until he saw them encamped in a narrow defile several miles eastward of the hill, and only about two hours march from the Fort.
Paddy described the ground on which Jumonville had encamped his men, in such a manner, that Washington immediately perceived the practicability of seizing, during the night, upon the heights that surrounded them, and surprising them into a surrender in the morning, perhaps, without bloodshed. He accordingly, without delay, placed himself at the head of about two hundred men, and proceeded to the spot. It was on the margin of a small brook, and consisted of a flat piece of ground not more than fifty yards wide, covered on both the east and west by high and abrupt hills, which rendered it one of the best places that could be found for concealment, but one of the worst for escape.
After silently and cautiously reconnoitering the ground, Washington detached nearly one half of his troops under the charge of a trusty officer, by a circuitous route through which they were guided by Paddy Frazier, to take possession of the western height, while he himself with the remainder occupied that on the east.
During the night his humanity prevented him from attacking the French; for he reasonably expected that when they should, in the morning, perceive themselves so completely hemmed in by a superior force, without any means left for either escape or resistance, they would surrender without giving occasion for unnecessary slaughter.
His expectations were, to a great extent, although not altogether, realized. The French, indeed, were much astonished when the dawn discovered to their view the adjacent heights glittering with the weapons of war, and the British colours floating at intervals all around them. Their commander, however, who was of a brave, but rather rash temper, felt more chagrin and irritation, than despondency at the circumstance. He rejected Washington's summons to surrender at discretion; and with the very forlorn expectation of throwing the Virginians into some confusion which might facilitate his escape, he ordered an attack to be made upon a company which guarded the lower entrance into the defile. This company was under the charge of Charles Adderly, beside whom Paddy Frazier happened then to have stationed himself.
"Damn that scoundrel Jumonville!" cried Paddy, as soon as he observed these motions of the French. "He'll sacrifice his men to his madness, and give us trouble too. But I'll pop a ball into his cap, to teach him sobriety."
The next instant Paddy's rifle was at his eye, and Jumonville's brains were scattered on the ground. The attack in consequence of this accident was suspended, and, after some little parlying, the French surrendered themselves unconditionally prisoners of war, and were soon lodged in Fort Necessity.
The sun of prosperity seemed for several days to brighten more and more upon the British cause. The day after capturing the French detachment, the remainder of the Virginian regiment, that was to follow under Colonel Fry, joined their companions; but the Colonel had died on the march, and, very much to the satisfaction of all his soldiers, the sole command now devolved upon Washington. The number of his troops was also augmented a few days afterwards, by the arrival of two regular companies, one from the colony of New-York, and the other from South Carolina; for by this time all the colonies had become interested in the struggle, and resolved to support Virginia in her efforts against the common enemy.
Having now a force of nearly six hundred men, tolerably well appointed with every material for war except cannon, of which, however, he knew that Du Quesne was also destitute, Washington resolved to proceed westward to the attack of that post, or if that should be found imprudent, to cut off whatever supplies might be sent to its aid from Le Boeuf or Canada. At the very worst, he conceived that he could at least seize upon some favourable position which he might fortify, as a countervailing strength, and where he could maintain his ground, and keep the enemy in check, until he should be reinforced from the east. A scarcity of provisions, which began to be felt in his little army, was the only thing that gave him uneasiness, and seemed to call for a postponement of his design. But he trusted that a supply would soon follow him, as he had expressly and urgently written to Governor Dinwiddie on the subject; and he feared much that even a short delay might allow the Canadian reinforcements to enter Du Quesne, and thereby ruin every prospect he might have of dislodging the enemy from thence, for that campaign.
In the mean time, he knew that Paddy Frazier, who had returned to his father's the day succeeding the capture of Jumonville's party, was keeping an active and vigilant eye upon the proceedings of the French. He therefore felt confident that they could take no step of importance, or receive any considerable accession of force, without his obtaining the speediest intelligence possible on the subject. So long as Paddy was silent, he had, in consequence, a right to presume that the French were yet unrecruited and inactive.
These reflections, and his extreme solicitude to clear that quarter of the country of the French, induced him to proceed; and about the latter end of June, he commenced his march westward with all the troops he had, except one company, which was left to protect the fort from any surprise. On the second day of their march, however, when they had proceeded only a few miles to the westward of the Laurel Hill, Paddy Frazier met them with intelligence of such a nature as to stop their further progress.
He said, that "the French having only two days before received their long-expected supplies from Canada, had already, with a force of nearly a thousand Europeans and as many Indians, commenced their march to meet the British, and could not be more than half a day's journey distant."
Under the circumstances in which his army was then placed, Washington considered that this was indeed alarming intelligence. Their bread was altogether exhausted, and their supply of meat was become very scanty. If the French should by any means get to the eastward of them, which, by the aid of the Indians, who were well acquainted with the country, and their own superior numbers, they might easily do, any supply of provisions or other stores that might be sent from Virginia, would inevitably be intercepted, unless convoyed by a stronger escort than there was any reason to expect would accompany it.
As, however, Washington was very reluctant to commence a retrograde motion solely on his own responsibility, however necessary it might be, he thought proper to call a council of war, before which he laid all the circumstances of their situation, and his own opinion as to the necessity of a retreat.
"God is my witness," said he, in concluding his address to the council, "that there is no one here who feels more reluctant to embrace such a measure than I do. My whole heart has become bent on relieving this country from the influence of the French; for while they rule here, I know well that Indian outrages will never cease to afflict our frontiers, and entail upon our back-settlers a precarious and wretched existence. But we must, at present, yield to the imperious mandate of fate. The force of the enemy is overwhelming. In Fort Necessity we may be able to defend ourselves until our friends send us succours, which we have every reason to expect cannot now be long delayed."
"Thus, gentlemen, I have laid before you the real nature of our situation, and the measures which it appears to me the preservation of our troops require us to pursue. I now submit it to your decision, whether to adopt the disagreeable alternative of returning to our fort, which I have recommended, or of pushing forward or remaining where we are, and thereby tempt destruction, either from the hand of the enemy, or the more terrible one of famine."
The council, after a very short deliberation, resolved unanimously that a retreat was necessary, to afford them any chance of avoiding capture or destruction. It was therefore immediately commenced; and Fort Necessity saw them again enter its ramparts, about four days after they had left it.
There was only one individual in the whole band who felt the disappointment occasioned by this unfortunate turn of affairs, as acutely as Washington himself, and he did so because his feelings arose from the same cause: this was Captain Adderly. With hopes highly elated in his breast, he had expected in a few days to have been again stationed beside his Maria, not as an absconder, who feared to show his head above ground, but as an avowed soldier of his country, able to protect the object of his affection from any species of insult, whether offered by christian or savage. Now he had to retreat from the superior force of that enemy, whose control in the country was the only obstacle to his happiness.
Washington's feelings ran much in the same strain, only he had an additional burthen of public solicitude and grief for the miseries to which he saw that thousands of his countrymen would, in consequence of his failure in this enterprise, be doomed. He, however, even at this early period of his career, began to practise, in an extraordinary manner, the virtue of self-command, for which he afterwards became so remarkable. At this time, when his heart's tender affections were undoubtedly stronger and more tried than ever they were during any subsequent period of his life, when he cherished an ardent desire to be near his Maria, and to perform every thing that promised to secure her safety during these times of trouble and peril, he never permitted her idea for one instant to interfere with his duty to his country. No; although no man ever loved woman more fervently and tenderly than he loved Maria, yet still his country was the mistress to whose service, whenever she pleased to call upon him, he resolved to devote himself in preference to any other.
As he expected soon to sustain an attack at the post he now occupied, he kept his men busily employed in improving its strength. Its defences, which were of the stoccade kind, had been hastily erected, and were very incomplete, and he had not yet been able to deepen its trench sufficiently to offer much obstacle to the enemy. His troops were all zealous, however, in obeying his directions, and exerted themselves so industriously, that every hour appeared to add to their security. The officers themselves made great personal exertions on this occasion, and with great alacrity set the common men an example of manual labour.
Among others, Charles Adderly had one day wrought very perseveringly at the trench, when feeling fatigued towards the evening, and wishing to enjoy, for a short space, the luxury of meditating in solitude upon Maria, he descended a steep declivity, at a small distance from the fort, to the edge of a brook which there worked its silent passage beneath a verdant covering of hazels and alder bushes.
On a small grassy bank he threw himself down, beneath a canopy formed by the intertwining branches of these shrubs, the luxuriant foliage of which scarcely permitted the rays of the sun, at that time setting in great magnificence, to reach him. But if they had reached him, all-glorious and strikingly beautiful as the appearance of that luminary then was, it could not have attracted his attention---for that attention was now firmly riveted upon an object to him more attractive, lovely, and endearing, than any other created being he could behold.
"Alas," thought he; "and am I doomed to be cut off from her presence? Is she fated thus to reside within the reach and under the power of an enemy, whose outrageous and ruffian tempers are but too well known? Ah! what troubles and persecutions will she have to suffer, if her enchanting beauties should happen to excite the passions of any of these lawless and unrestrained Frenchmen? Oh, my God! there is distraction, there is frenzy in the idea. Heaven preserve her from such trials!"
"Ah, then, you don't like Frenchmen, don't you?" exclaimed a voice suddenly; and before he had time to get on his feet, two men had rushed upon him. He, however, by a rapid exertion of strength, soon got one of them beneath him; but the other was about plunging a dagger into his body, when he was forcibly seized round the waist by a man who lifted him, dagger and all, into the air, exclaiming---
"By Jasus! two to one is foul play, my honey--- would you kill the gentleman?---Ah! blood and thunder! is it my master, you thieves?" was the next exclamation; "then, to the devil with your damned carcass!"
That instant the suspended Frenchman was dashed violently upon the ground, and the next his own dagger was buried in his heart.
"Huzza for old Ireland!" cried the victor, whom the reader must have perceived was Peter M`Fall. "Now, master, for the other rascal!"
"Not so fast, my brave Peter," cried Charles, "he calls for quarter."
"By the holy Bridget! then I'll quarter him in a jiffy," returned Peter, attempting to strike at the Frenchman. Charles's body, however, acted as a shield, and Peter though he made several efforts could not effect his purpose. At length Charles, in an authoritative manner, said---
"I order you, Peter, to desist and leave this man to me. You see he is disarmed, and defenceless. It would be murder to kill him!"
"Murder to kill a Frenchman!" exclaimed Peter--- "by my sowl that's a new doctrine! But if he was the devil, you may save him if you wish it, my honey! But what will you do with him?"
"I will have you," said Charles, "to throw down that weapon, and catch him by the shoulder or the neck, if you think proper, only don't strangle him, and push him before you to the fort yonder, where we will dispose of him as may be found suitable."
Peter leapt upon the captive as a tiger would upon his prey, and seizing him by the collar with his right hand, drove him before him in great triumph, occasionally giving him a shake, and a kick upon the breech with his knee, while the Frenchman, very much to the delight of his tormentor, roared out piteously for mercy.
Upon his examination at the fort, the prisoner acknowledged that he and his slain companion had been sent forward, by Monsieur De Villiers, who was at the head of an army of French and Indians, amounting to nearly two thousand men, to reconnoitre the position and strength of the British under colonel Washington; and that they had the whole of that day been concealed in the hollow where they had fallen in with captain Adderly, and only waited for the coming of night to approach nearer the works, and explore them more minutely. He also stated that the French army could not be far distant; and if they did not delay for the return of their spies, they might advance to attack the fort the next day.
To account for the unexpected and timely approach of Peter M`Fall to his master's rescue, I must inform the reader that Mr. Gist, to whose house it will be remembered, he had been conveyed by Paddy Frazier for the purpose of keeping him out of the way of mischief, understanding that provisions were scarce, and consequently dear at the fort, had, while the main body of the troops were absent on the excursion that has been mentioned, visited the garrison in order to dispose of some of the productions of his farm, and had been there informed of Charles Adderly's situation in the army. He communicated this intelligence to Peter, who immediately resolved to rejoin his master. He accordingly bade a tender adieu to the fair Esther Gist, whose charms had made him forget those of Molly M`Nickle, and starting for Fort Necessity, which was not more than fifteen or sixteen miles distant, arrived, as we have seen, just at the critical moment to save his master from destruction. He at once resumed, very much to the satisfaction of both parties, his old station as the faithful and favourite servant of Charles Adderly.
At length the fresh'ning western blast,
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And first the ridge of mingled spears,
Above the bright'ning cloud appears;
And in the smoke the pennon's flew,
As in the storm the white sea mew,
Then mark'd they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war---
Wide rose the battle on the plain,
Crests rose, and stoop'd, and rose again.
The information which the captured Frenchman had given of the vicinity of the enemy, was found the next morning to be correct. The day had scarcely dawned, when Washington received intelligence from some of the out-posts that the hostile standards were approaching, and that the woods to a considerable extent, seemed to be alive with French and Indians. The garrison was immediately under arms, and every man at his station, expecting a severe conflict, but resolved to do his duty, so that if the enemy should prevail, they should pay dear for their victory. Their defences were far from being complete. The trench had not been altogether cut round the stoccade, in a few places it was barely marked out, and in none was it so deep as to be an effectual barrier to the assailants. The stoccade was itself very imperfect in many places, there being yet several gaps entirely destitute of stakes. The hostile force was at least three to one, and was equally well appointed in all the implements of war. But brave men, although they may see danger, never lose courage; and Washington with great promptitude and coolness, made such judicious arrangements for receiving the assailants, that confidence was inspired in every one of his men, and even hopes of victory began to actuate their bosoms. In order to animate them still more, their heroic commander, after each company had received its instructions, and taken its station, addressed to it a short speech, reminding the soldiers that upon their valour and good conduct that day, the safety of a thousand innocent Christian families upon the frontiers depended.
"Think," said he, in some of these short addresses, "on the consequence of our being defeated on this occasion. Hordes of merciless savages will be let loose upon your defenceless wives and children, who will riot in their destruction, and will, ere they send their miserable victims to eternity, inflict on them every species of torture they can invent. Oh, I therefore conjure you, my fellow-soldiers, to be steady and strong to-day, and if possible, save your country, and her children, from such calamities."
As the enemy was advancing in a direction where the ditch was, to a considerable extent, between four and five feet deep, Captain Adderly was there stationed with about a hundred marksmen, who were instructed to conceal themselves by remaining in a stooping posture until their adversaries approached so near that there would be no danger of their fire missing them, when they should open it with as sure and steady an aim as possible. Each of these marksmen was supplied, in addition to his rifle, with a loaded musket, so that the party could without intermission, pour upon their enemies two successive discharges; or if it should be necessary, meet them at the point of the bayonet. The remainder of the troops kept within the stoccade, ready also to give the foe a fiery and deadly salute, whenever he should venture near enough.
These dispositions on the part of the Virginians, were scarcely made, when the savage warwhoop was heard between nine and ten o'clock in the morning, and at the distance of about six hundred yards from the ditch, the enemy halted, and a volley from a thousand muskets was instantly poured upon the stoccade. Some of the badly fixed piles were overthrown, and five or six of the Virginians killed by this discharge. They, however, coolly reserved their fire for some minutes, until the assailants, encouraged by this forbearance, advanced rapidly to within about a hundred yards of the ditch, when captain Adderly gave a preconcerted signal to his marksmen, and that instant a hundred Frenchmen pressed the ground. They paused for a moment, and were inclined to fall back, but De Villiers supposing the Virginian rifles to be now unloaded, urged them forward to storm the fort, when they were again saluted by a volley from both the ditch and the stoccade, which levelled nearly a hundred and fifty more of them to the earth.
De Villiers now conceived it prudent to avoid that fatal ditch, and attack the fort in an other quarter. He accordingly drew off his men from the reach of the Virginian fire, which movement allowed Adderly's marksmen an opportunity to reload unmolested. The enemy now keeping at a respectful distance from the fort, marched towards its southeast quarter, where they hoped to find it more easily assailable. But when opposite this quarter, although they perceived its ramparts to be less complete than elsewhere, yet being ignorant of the depth of the ditch that fronted it, they for several hours, manifested a shyness to approach, lest similar volleys to those they had so fatally experienced from Adderly's men, should issue from it. They, however, kept up an irregular and very inefficient fire from behind the shelter of trees and long grass, upon the garrison, which the latter seemed to take very coolly and patiently, never returning it except when some of the Indians or French came within hitting distance of their marksmen.
Towards the after part of the day, as if this apparent contempt shewn by the garrison, had at last roused and irritated him to greater boldness and energy of action, De Villiers came rapidly on with his whole force, seemingly resolved to take the place, cost what it would. But here, also, captain Adderly's marksmen lay in wait for him. They discharged their rifles, as before, but the enemy had not come in such a compact body, and therefore, although they lost a number of men, and were for a moment made to recoil, they soon recovered their order, and pushed forward regardless of danger. Even a second volley, although it told fatally upon them, was not sufficient to check their progress, as their whole force, Indians as well as French, seemed to be inspired with an absolute contempt of destruction.
In a minute, the enemy had gained the edge of the ditch, and the rifles of Adderly's men were unloaded; but their bayonets were fixed, and a cheveaux-de-frise of that formidable weapon instantly presented itself against them, over which it was impossible for the French to proceed.
About a hundred bayonets, however, could not defend the whole trench against such a number of enemies as now assailed it, and several strong parties of the French were, in a moment, at other points attempting to cross it. These were instantly attacked with a heavy fire from the stoccade, notwithstanding which, upwards of five hundred, led on by De Villiers in person, had succeeded in descending into the ditch, and would, perhaps, have made their way into the fort, had not Washington promptly charged them, at the head of about one hundred and fifty men, with fixed bayonets, before they could ascend to the level ground. This charge was assisted at a very critical moment by a well directed fire from the NewYorkers, who were stationed within the stoccade. De Villiers, was, in consequence, obliged to withdraw, after leaving between fifty and sixty of his men dead on the spot.
Captain Adderly, much about the same time, had driven off the party with which he had been engaged. Not content, however, with this advantage, his impetuosity induced him to follow the enemy upon the open space. He accordingly sprang out of the trench, and calling on his men to follow him, he was obeyed. The enemy, who were at least three to one against him, turned upon him, and his small band would, in all probability, have been cut to pieces, had not Washington perceived their danger, and with the hundred and fifty Virginians that had driven off De Villiers, flew to their aid, and the enemy thought proper to retire to the shelter of the woods, which they did in tolerably good order; not, however, before Captain Adderly and Monsieur Joncaire had met in single combat, and the latter had been hewn to the earth, receiving a dreadful fracture in the skull, of which he died a few days afterwards.
Both Washington's and Adderly's parties now returned to their old stations, as pursuing a hostile force upon exposed ground, who were so much their superior in number, and as well furnished for battle as themselves, would have been absolute madness.
A cessation of the attack now took place, and Washington had time to inquire into the real posture of affairs. Between sixty or seventy of his men were killed, and upwards of a hundred so badly wounded as to be incapable of service. The enemy were repulsed, it is true, but there was every probability that the attack would be renewed the next day; and if the assailants should happen to direct their force to the quarter where the shallowness of the trench would permit them easily to pass, the fort must fall. If, on the other hand, they should be too much intimidated by the warm reception they had just received, to renew their attempt to storm the place, and should content themselves with blockading it, and cutting off its expected supplies, the surrender of the garrison must be equally, nay, perhaps more inevitably certain, as it did not possess, at that moment, more than three days scanty allowance of provisions.
The only chance of extrication from these difficulties, Washington conceived would be a renewal of the attack by the enemy upon the same points on which they had already made it. This would afford his troops an opportunity of again repulsing the assailants, and perhaps compelling them to abandon the enterprise. It was, therefore, his great object to prevent them from discovering the weak parts of his defence; and he accordingly ordered that, during the night, these should be particularly guarded from the approach of spies and reconnoiterers.
While he was making arrangements for preventing a surprise, a trumpeter approached from the French, who were encamping in the woods, about eight or nine hundred yards distant, demanding a parley, and permission for an officer to enter the fort in order to negotiate for its surrender.
Washington promptly refused to grant the last request. He declared that he would permit none of the enemy to enter the fort without detaining him there as a prisoner; and that if the French commander was serious in his desire to negotiate, he must give a passport for a British officer to proceed to his camp for the purpose, and also his written parole for his safe return. Washington's caution in this matter arose from his unwillingness to expose the incompleteness of his works to any of the enemy, and it also occurred to him that this request for negotiation might be a contrivance of De Villier's to discover any assailable quarter for a new attack.
De Villiers, however, granted the parole required, and Captain Adderly was appointed to wait upon him, and ascertain the terms he had to propose. These terms being very little short of absolute surrender, were quite inadmissable; and Washington instructed Charles to "inform the French commander, that unless he greatly humbled his views, and moderated his pretensions, an attempt to negotiate was only useless trouble, and should be no longer attended to."
This reply induced Villiers to conceive that the British were more confident of being able to resist him than he expected. He therefore in a second message, did lower his tone considerably, offering to permit the garrison, both officers and privates, on giving their parole not to serve in this country again during the continuation of the present contest, against the French, or their allies, permission to return to their several homes, with such provisions as were necessary for their journey, but without any of their arms or military stores.
"Tell Monsieur De Villiers," said Washington, after hearing these proposals, "that he very much mistakes both our situation and our dispositions, if he calculates on our accepting such terms.--- The only terms I shall accept are these,---That we shall be allowed the honours of war, permitted to retain our arms, baggage, and stores of every kind; and also to take our own time to march without molestation back to Virginia.---Rather than capitulate on any other conditions, I shall bury myself and every man who shall adhere to me, amidst the ruins of our Fort. De Villiers need not, therefore, trouble me with any other answer than an acceptance of these terms."
When Captain Adderly reported this reply to De Villiers, "that young Washington is an obstinate commander," said he, "but I see he is a brave one;---and I believe I can make nothing more of him, without considerable slaughter.--- Let him have his terms, therefore, in the name of heaven, so that I may get him out of this part of the country."
The capitulation was accordingly drawn up in French, and afterwards translated into English, when it was signed by the officers on both sides.--- The next morning the British removed all their stores out of the fort, and with their colours flying, their music playing, and the troops marching in military array, they evacuated it, and paraded at some distance beyond the French encampment.
As their horses were chiefly either killed or captured during the engagement, they were unable to carry off all their stores. They, therefore, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the French, destroyed the greater portion, preserving only what they could bear away on their shoulders. They then continued their march homewards, and in about three days after leaving Fort Necessity, arrived at the inhabited parts of Virginia.
All ranks of Colonel Washington's countrymen were highly pleased with the bravery and good conduct he had displayed during these transactions; and, indeed, the whole party received great applause for their spirited and gallant behaviour. When the legislature met, they expressed their satisfaction at what had been done, by presenting a sum of money to be distributed among the soldiers, and passing a vote of thanks to Colonel Washington and the officers under his command, for the credit which their conduct had reflected on their country.
To this vote of thanks, Washington, in the name of the officers, made the following reply:
"We, the officers of the Virginia regiment, are highly sensible of the particular mark of distinction with which you have honoured us in returning your thanks for our behaviour in the late action; and cannot help testifying our grateful acknowledgments for your "high sense" of what we shall always esteem a duty to our country and the best of kings."
"Favoured with your regard, we shall zealously endeavour to deserve your applause, and by our future actions strive to convince the worshipful house of burgesses how much we esteem their approbation, and, as it ought to be, regard it as the voice of our country."
"Signed for the whole corps, GEO. WASHINGTON."
yet, shortly after this, some untoward circumstances took place, which induced him to relinquish it for the present, and to retire to a private station. These were owing to a controversy which arose between the officers commissioned by the king, and those commissioned only by the governors of the colonies, concerning rank, the former claiming precedence over the latter of the same grade, when acting together in the same service. I shall not here enter into the merits of this controversy, which is detailed fully in the histories of the times, and which was one cause among many others that prevented more effectual measures from being taken against the French during the remainder of this campaign.
Colonel Washington and Captain Adderly took part with the provincial officers in the discussion of this matter; and as those holding commissions from the crown at length carried their point, these two gentlemen retired from the service, and many of the Virginian officers followed their example. Governor Dinwiddie addressed several letters to Washington, pressing him still to hold his commission, in reply to which he asserted his unabated attachment for military employments, and his undiminished desire to serve his country when she needed him---"But," said he, "I can only serve with pleasure, when it is in my power to do so without dishonour."
He indeed perceived that his remaining in the service at this time would be attended with very little advantage to the public; for although Great Britain had now declared war against the enemy, and large European succours were expected soon to arrive in the colonies, yet the councils of the latter were so distracted, and their resources so badly managed, that it was easy to see that no enterprise of importance would be undertaken against the French this season.
De Villiers, indeed, had on his part given occasion for none; for, satisfied with having driven Washington out of the Wilderness, and, perhaps, conceiving it imprudent to maintain a station so near the borders of the British settlements as Fort Necessity, he relinquished it the very day after its capture, and retraced his steps back to Fort Du Quesne.
Some Indian ravages, it is true, were towards the latter part of the season, committed on the back-settlers of Virginia and Pennsylvania; but, considering the failure of Washington's expedition, the frontiers suffered infinitely less than might have been expected. That very expedition, it is presumed, although it had failed in its primary object, had given both the French and the Indians such a severe sample of what they would receive from British vengeance, if they should arouse it, by too much provocation, to the exertion of its full strength, that they thought proper to exercise some caution and forbearance towards them, at least until the season should be so far advanced, that the colonial troops could not again take the field. It may be also mentioned, that, after Washington's resignation, one Colonel Innes obtained the command of the Virginia regiment, which being recruited and joined by several companies of regulars from Maryland and North Carolina, presented to the view of the Indians a force which, although it undertook the performance of nothing important, was still sufficient to keep them in such awe as to restrain their depredations.
Although the court of London, as soon as it found that reasoning would have no effect in causing that of Versailles to relinquish its claims upon the Ohio country, did not hesitate to draw the sword in order to accomplish that end; yet no European troops were sent to assist the colonies to drive the intruders off the contested ground for several months after the war was declared, and during the whole of the autumn of 1754 and the following winter, the French remained unmolested in the possession of the Wilderness.
The family of Frazier continued as usual to follow their employments undisturbed by the French, with whom Paddy managed to keep on the most cordial footing. The assistance he had rendered Washington never became suspected, and both he and Dr. Killbreath continued to trade with them and the Indians as freely, and with as little fear, as if they had never taken any part with their enemies. As to the Indians, the friendship of Tonnaleuka secured theirs to the family, and except the disappointment which Gilbert felt from the bad success of his countrymen, he had, on this occasion, no cause for uncasiness; at least he felt none from apprehension of either his own security or that of his family.
With respect to Maria's feelings on hearing of the transactions at Fort Necessity, the uncertainty under which she laboured concerning Charles Adderly's fate, gave her great uneasiness, but that uneasiness was confined to her own breast. Perhaps on that very account it was the more painful; and, although she was not without hopes, still her fears of some misfortune having taken place would sometimes amount almost to agony, and she would have given any consideration to be assured of his safety; nay, such is often the intolerable nature of suspense, that, if the worst had happened, she would have made almost any sacrifice to know it. At length fortune had compassion upon her, and relieved her anxiety by throwing in her way a Philadelphia newspaper, which Paddy had procured from an Indian who had wrapped it round some articles of spoil, of which he had plundered one of the Pennsylvanian settlers on the frontiers, about the latter end of autumn, when several marauding parties of the savages, as has been observed, ventured to make a few predatory excursions. This paper contained the following paragraph, which communicated joy to her soul.
"It is with great pleasure that we announce the arrival in our city of that gallant young man, Charles Adderly, who commanded the party sent out in the beginning of last winter, to take possession of the lands belonging to the Ohio Company, in our western wilderness, and upon which the French garrison of Le Boeuf committed the daring outrage which has been often mentioned in our paper in terms of indignation, and which we rejoice that our mother country has at length determined to chastise, in a manner becoming her rank and dignity among the nations."
"Mr. Adderly's friends had been for several months uncertain of his fate, and their joy on being again blessed with the society of one so much valued and beloved, after he had, as many supposed, fallen a victim to savage revenge and cruelty, will not be easily imagined. This gentleman's adventures in the western wilderness, during the last winter, we are informed, have been of the most singular and romantic character. Until the appearance of the gallant Washington in that quarter gave him an opportunity of joining his countrymen, he owed his safety only to concealment in the lonely dells and darksome caverns that abound in that dreary wild. Great, indeed, must have been his sufferings, and miraculous his escapes, during the inclement season he was obliged to seek shelter in such lurking-places."
"We trust that Mr. Adderly, or some of his friends, will one day favour the public with a narrative of his adventures, during his excursions to the west. We are persuaded that there are none but would feel extremely interested in the perusal of such a work."
The information thus obtained having tranquillized Maria's mind concerning her lover's safety, and no accident of a serious nature occurring to her during the winter, she passed it with as much satisfaction and ease of mind as in Charles's absence could be reasonably expected. This absence, however, it must not be denied, occasioned her many an hour's anxious meditation; and when in good weather she would take a ramble through her native woods, often would the recollection of her Charles's image melt her into tenderness. On such occasions, often did she recall to her thoughts the beautiful lines of Shenstone, with a very slight alteration, so descriptive of her own feelings:
"Dear regions of silence and shade!
Soft scenes of contentment and ease,
Where I could have pleasingly stray'd,
If aught in his absence could please."
Oh! thou pale orb that silent shines,
While care-untroubled mortals sleep!
Thou seest a wretch that inly pines,
And wanders here to wail and weep!
With wo I nightly vigils keep,
Beneath thy wan unwarming beam;
And mourn in lamentation deep,
How life and love are but a dream.
There is, perhaps, no class of beings in the world more apt to be tormented with incidents that are at cross-purposes with their wishes, than lovers. It would be easy to prove the truth of this assertion by a thousand examples; but it would be too tedious a business. I shall, therefore, not prove it all, unless the following statement of some perplexities that befell Charles Adderly shortly after his return to Philadelphia, be received as a proof.
The joy of his father and mother on seeing their only son, whom they looked upon almost as if he had been restored from the grave, once more safe under their roof, was such as tender parents will readily conceive. They in a few days invited a large party of their numerous friends, for the friends of the rich are always numerous, to a splendid ball and supper, in celebration of the joyful occasion. This brilliant party consisted of some of the most distinguished and fashionable families then in Philadelphia. Its ladies in particular comprised almost all that was beautiful, gay, and engaging in the city; but amidst the whole fascinating group, there was one object whom every eye singled out as the most worthy of admiration. This was Miss Arabella Walworth, niece and heiress to Robert Walworth, Esq. reputed to be the most opulent banker in America. This young lady had been the only child of John Walworth, a West India merchant, who died in Jamaica about ten years before her appearance in the gay assembly of which we are speaking, and had left her the sole heiress of a property said to amount to between thirty and forty thousand pounds sterling. She had lost her mother about three years afterwards, and her uncle, the banker, had for the last seven been her only guardian and protector.
Charles's father had long contemplated this young lady as an eligible match for his son, and had even gone so far as to secure the banker's acquiescence. Although the old gentlemen had thus easily arranged the matter between themselves, they had not as yet imparted their scheme to the young people; and Mr. Adderly now thought that it would be but fair to give them an opportunity of getting fond of each other, by which means the match would be rendered much more agreeable, and easily effected. Mr. Walworth, who knew little about the influence of the tender passions, being one of those cold-blooded, good sort of honest money-making men, who never feel any of the sweeter and more endearing impulses of life, would have gone less ceremoniously to work, and would have had the deeds of matrimony signed, sealed, and delivered without delay; "for," said he, in reply to some observation of old Adderly, recommending a more cautious mode of proceeding, "I can see no objection that the parties to this contract can have to perfecting its obligation, since they must, each of them, on the first inspection, be convinced of getting value received. But as it is a kind of business in which I have no experience, being now in my fifty-ninth year, without having ever bargained for a wife, I will leave it to your management, for you must know better what is needful to be done in the premises. Only I wish you to make every reasonable despatch, lest, by keeping the bargain in suspense, Arabella may miss a profitable market."
"There is no danger of that," replied Charles's father; "your niece, you may be assured, will for these ten years to come, be as disposable a commodity as any of her kind in the province. But you may depend on it, Mr. Walworth, that I too anxiously wish her to become my daughter-in-law, to delay its accomplishment any longer than the nature of the transaction will require."
On the night of the ball already mentioned, Charles's father and mother used every contrivance in their power to draw the attention of the young pair towards each other.
"The greatest favourite I have in the room," would his mother observe, "and, I believe, the best young lady in the city, is Miss Walworth."
"I have always thought her an uncommonly fine girl," would his father reply; "eminently beautiful and accomplished, and mistress of nearly forty thousand pounds in ready money, besides her expectations from the banker. Charles, I shall be glad if you secure this young lady for your partner to-night."
"If she will consent to it," replied Charles very complaisantly, "I shall do so; for I really believe her to be a very amiable young woman."
"And don't you think her also handsome?" asked the father.
"Very much so," replied the son, carelessly.
"Have you ever seen any woman you thought more so?" said the father.
"That is rather an embarrassing question," returned Charles, in some confusion, for he thought of his Maria; "I request time to reflect on an answer."
"Well, Charles, no matter about an answer; I wish to see her your partner to-night, at any rate," observed his father.
"If it be in my power, sir," said Charles, "you shall be gratified."
He accordingly did, in the most polite manner, request the fair lady to dance with him, and was honoured with her compliance; and many a gallant youth that night envied his felicity.
Charles, indeed, found her society during the whole evening extremely agreeable and interesting; and his native politeness towards the sex, independent of a wish to gratify his father, induced him to pay her the most pointed attention. But even at that moment, the image of the sweet maid of the Wilderness reigned triumphant in his soul; and as he reflected that, while he was thus surrounded with splendour and enjoyment, she might be a prey to misfortune, perhaps the victim of lawless passion and barbarity, he became thoughtful, and more than once, in the midst of his gaiety and mirth, heaved a sigh, which his father, who observed all his attentions to Miss Walworth, perceived with great satisfaction, as an indication that she had already made some impression upon his heart.
As to the young lady, she, unfortunately for her own peace, drew a similar conclusion. She saw Charles Adderly; she had heard of his military exploits, as they had been eulogised in the official communications of Washington. He was just such a man, he was just such a hero, as she wished should love her; and she felt, from this night she too unequivocally felt, that she loved him.
But, although in every respect admirable and highly finished, both in beauty and accomplishments, yet, even if his heart had been disengaged, she was not exactly the character that Charles Adderly could have loved. Her manner seemed rather to challenge and claim admiration and homage by an assumption of dignity, and a display of conscious superiority, than to attract and warm into fondness by an irresistible combination of faultless loveliness, unaffected sweetness, amiable humility, and the thousand nameless and bewitching graces that shone from both the person and the mind of Maria Frazier.
Charles, however, was pleased with the preference which this high beauty of the world of fashion in his native city manifested for him, on this evening, over the many agreeable young men who fluttered round her, and sighed to obtain from her an approving smile.
As they sat together during an interval of dancing, a young man named Morley, of good connexions and large property in the city, who had been long enamoured of Miss Walworth, and had lately made some unrequited declarations of his passion, approached and saluted them. Charles, who had formerly been intimate with this young man, invited him to sit beside them.
"Perhaps my presence will only spoil the agreeable import of your conversation," said Morley, looking rather discontentedly at the lady.
"If you think so, sir," she replied, "you know what best becomes you to do. I presume Mr. Morley has more good-breeding than to offer his presence where he imagines it is not wanted."
"I beg pardon, Miss Walworth," he replied; "it was only my fears of being an intruder that suggested the idea. I hope Captain Adderly does not conceive me one. If he says the word, I shall retire."
"I am perfectly satisfied with your presence," observed Charles; "neither do I believe that Miss Walworth feels it disagreeable. You must, indeed, Mr. Morley, be much altered since I knew you, if you have become an unpleasant companion."
"I have no objection to the gentleman's company," said Arabella; "but he himself seemed to think that we did not want it. Did you not think so, Mr. Morley? I must have you to speak candidly on the question."
"I really did think then, my fair catechizer," said Morley, "that you might have something of a confidential nature to discuss, which my presence would interrupt: I therefore expressed the idea, so that if it happened to be correct, I might at once relieve you of the interruption; for I assure you, my friends, much as I value your society, I do not wish to enjoy it at the expense of your satisfaction."
"Well, let us drop the discussion," said the lady; "and since Captain Adderly has no objection to your company, and you seem to desire his, I have no right to interfere between you. But, perhaps, gentlemen, you would both feel more comfortable in my absence."
"Oh, Miss Walworth!" observed Charles, "how can you think so? Surely you do not suppose that my late residence among the Indians has made me such a savage as that?"
"No---far be it from me," she replied, "to think so. But there are some young fellows who, I believe, have never been five miles out of the bounds of Penn's city, whose manners frequently appear as if they had been altogether bred among savages."
"Miss Walworth," said Morley, who felt this remark to be levelled at himself, "if my inconsiderate expression has offended you, I recant it.--- But no---it was truth---I really perceive that my presence has disagreeably interrupted the enjoyment of more pleasing company."
"Whether I prefer the company of others to yours, or not," she replied, "has, surely, Mr. Morley, nothing to do with my assertion as to the savages I have seen bred in Philadelphia; for, I assure you, I have seen some in this city so rude, that, although their friends and their fortunes may sometimes gain them admission into good company, I would, for my part, rather see one of the wild Chippeways stalking into my presence."
"You are too severe upon the youth of your native city," observed Charles, "who felt for Morley, as he perceived him much mortified; "surely, Miss Walworth you do not include us all in your remarks?"
"God forbid," she exclaimed; "the same Paradise that contained an angel, we are told contained also a serpent." "But what say you, Mr. Morley," she continued, smiling in that gentleman's face, in order to relieve his chagrin, which she saw had been as highly excited as she wished; "what say you, my friend, would it not be for the advantage of some of our young people, ladies, I believe, as well as gentlemen, to visit the savages to get their city rust rubbed off? Pray, Captain Adderly, what kind of women are those squaws?--- Have you ever seen any of them you thought handsome? But, Mr. Morley, be pleased to be seated, and then Captain Adderly will let us hear of those Indian women."
"Miss Walworth, I am all complaisance to the commands of the fair," replied Morley, seating himself beside Charles. "One smile from beautiful lips will always remove from my mind the impression of a thousand frowns."
"Ah! you are very good-natured, I know," she returned; "but, my dear sir, you look so well in the pet, that it would be a pity you should not sometimes fall into it; and then again you are so much improved on your recovery, really it is delightful to see you go through the process of a little ill-humour. But let us bear of the squaws? Do they ever get angry, Captain?"
"Angry!" observed Charles, "no, no, Miss Walworth, they leave that for their husbands."
"That's right," said Morley, "I wish our pretty white ladies would also do the same. How charming they would be!"
"It would be very unfortunate, sir," returned the lady; "especially if all our white men were so difficult to keep in order as you. Captain Adderly, do the savage men ever get angry?"
"Very frequently with each other," replied Charles; "but seldom or never, I believe, with their women."
"Thank you, sir," she observed; "hence at once is seen the reason why the squaws are so good-natured. I'll warrant you, if they had some of our Philadelphia bucks among them, they would soon change their tempers. But you didn't tell me if they are handsome?"
"Ah! Miss Walworth," replied Charles, "you must excuse me there. My eyes, I believe, have too much Christian partiality in their vision, to be a proper judge in this matter; and present beauty I have ever felt blind-folding in its qualities."
"I understand you, sir," she returned smartly; "although it is odd, too, that beauty should have upon you an effect so different from what it has on other people, who generally accuse it of too much brightness. Yonder are some ladies opposite to us, from whose countenances I will undertake to say, that Mr. Morley will acknowledge he sees light issuing; and let him converse but five minutes with any one of them, he will protest that her eyes dart flames. How then, sir, could they blind-fold you?"
"Perhaps by excess of light," returned Charles. "Men, you know, have been struck blind by lightning. But yonder is the signal for another set.--- Miss Walworth, have the goodness to honour me---"
So saying, he arose, bowed to the lady, who gave him her hand, and whispering to Morley to follow with a partner, he led his fair companion smiling towards the dancing part of the company.
But joy on earth is never lasting. A few hours rolled round, and the merry revellers of this gay party were obliged to separate. They accordingly hastened to their respective homes, where on their dull couches, (such are the contrasts of human life) they sought repose from the fatigue of joy, and concealment from the admiring gaze of the world.
A close intimacy was now cultivated between the families of Adderly and Walworth; the heads of which, with great satisfaction, conceived that their plans for a still closer connexion, were on the fair way of being soon accomplished. Not a week passed but reciprocal parties were several times given at both houses. Mrs. Adderly never seemed so happy as when she had her son to accompany her on visits to Arabella; and Arabella never permitted any other engagements to interfere with her returning these visits. Charles, on such occasions, frequently found his presence expected to accompany her both in coming and going; and very often, so familiar did their intimacy during the autumn become, he was put in requisition to attend her, in her carriage to short excursions into the country. There they often recreated themselves amidst groves, and shady bowers, and by the banks of purling brooks, and all the tempting situations for love; and Charles, it must not be denied, frequently found his natural fondness for the sex in such situations excited to a passing feeling of something like tenderness for the fair companion of his dangerous rambles. But he meritoriously held fast to his heart's integrity. Meritoriously did I say! Alas! he had no merit in the affair. It was his feelings, feelings of affection and passion interwoven with his very existence, that kept him constant to his first and only love. What, if he felt his heart warm at the soft seducing glances, and love-speaking blushes of the universally admired beauty of the gay world, who indulged him with so much of her society! What, if he felt a keener throb than usual beating at his heart, as leaning on his arm she would, perhaps involuntarily, press it to her bosom! There surely was nothing of infidelity in it. There might be weakness in it, but it was the weakness of human nature, and but momentary. One single reflection upon the charms of his distant Maria would calm the storm, restore him to strength, and to those feelings of true love that he delighted to cherish.
It must not, however, be concealed, that in some of those unguarded moments, his natural politeness was perhaps exceeded in the warmth of expression with which he complimented his fair and tempting companion. But these compliments, although often taken for more than they really expressed, by the young lady who wished them to express more, were never intended by Charles to express even half their literal meaning; and were sometimes more than half repented of ere they were fully uttered. It must also be said in his justification, that had he conceived Miss Walworth would have looked upon them in any other light than as the mere dictates of that common-place gallantry and politeness, due by all men to a fine woman, he would have allowed no temptation to induce him to utter them.
He was all this time not aware that he was looked upon by the whole city as the favoured and fortunate candidate for Miss Walworth's hand. His pointed attentions to her, and the exclusive preference she so publicly gave him over all her other admirers, were of themselves sufficient to give rise to this opinion, which was now become the current report and firm belief of all the gossips of the day; but it was also so strongly corroborated and almost confirmed by the fact transpiring, whether by accident or design is not material, of the lady's guardian and the gentleman's father, having actually agreed upon the conditions of the match, that the most skeptical on the subject could not at last withhold their assent to the truth of the report.
Matters were thus circumstanced, when one day Charles went to pay his usual visit to Mr. Walworth's. The servant informed him, that Miss Walworth was in the drawing-room. He ascended the stairs without ceremony, and, the door of the drawing-room being a little open, he had scarcely reached the landing-place, when he heard the young lady saying in a voice rather above her usual tone to some person in the room---
"It is a matter, sir, that cannot concern you. I have a right to bestow my affections, yes, and my hand too, upon any person I choose---and if I have preferred Captain Adderly, it has been my own pleasure to do so, and I hope, sir, I am not accountable to you for my preferences or my conduct."
Charles paused for a moment, uncertain whether to advance or retire; he would have done the latter, but he had already advanced too far, for the lady, who was walking about the room, happened that instant to see him, and exclaimed---
"Ah, here is Charles himself coming!"
He hastened forward, while she held out her hand, which he gracefully saluted, and turning round, made a bow to his friend, Mr. Morley, which was returned with a dry and rather offensive nod.
"Captain Adderly," said the lady, assuming an air of great irritation and triumph, "that gentleman has just had the impertinence to question me as to the disposal of my heart, and to complain of the preference I have given you, as if I were not my own mistress, and could not bestow my affections upon whom I please. He has, indeed, teazed me this some time past, with his ridiculous addresses, in a manner that I am determined to tolerate no longer."
"I hope he has not insulted you?" asked Charles.
"No, he has not exactly insulted me," she replied; "his language is of too whining a nature for that. But I wish to God he would, for the future, refrain from annoying me with his importunities. I will here repeat to him, that I shall give my hand to whomsoever I choose---and I will add, that his presence can be at present dispensed with."
"I shall, then, proud fair one, bid you good morning," said Morley. "But I must first state to Captain Adderly, that I have no quarrel with him; and, heaven knows! it is still further from my wishes to have any with you. My only fault has been, in spite of myself, loving you too sincerely; a fault which I shall, if possible, endeavour for the future to correct. But if I should not be able to do so, believe me, I shall not, at any rate, disturb your peace with the man you prefer."
So saying, he made each of them a polite bow and withdrew.
"Oh, my Charles!" cried Miss Walworth, throwing herself upon a chair, "you know not, although I ought to have told you, how much I have been lately teazed with that young fellow."
Charles scarcely knew what reply to make to such an address. It unequivocally insinuated that she regarded him as her favourite lover, an idea which she had never before conveyed in such express terms. Her conduct had, indeed, often manifested that she entertained such an idea. But he had ventured to hope, especially as he was conscious of having never made any direct declaration of love to her, that he must have been mistaken in his construction of her conduct. Her conduct and language were now, however, both too plain for mistake, and he felt embarrassed, not knowing whether he should undeceive her at once with respect to his feelings, or let her discover them more gradually by his future deportment towards her. Both were harsh, and, after the intimacy he had himself so imprudently cultivated with her, perhaps ungenerous measures, and grating to his feelings---but the last was certainly the least so, and he determined to adopt it.
"Miss Walworth," said he, "what the nature of your intercourse with Mr. Morley has been, you know it is no more my right to inquire than it was his to interrogate you about your intimacy with me. I would be equally culpable with him if I were to do so; and you would be equally entitled to resent my conduct."
"How, Charles!" she cried, "can I understand you? Do you not speak mysteriously? Is it not in my power to prefer you to him, and have I not done so? Has my conduct not all along shown it? Have you not, therefore, privileges on which he had no right to presume?"
"I acknowledge," said Charles, "that you have a right to regulate, according to your own pleasure, the privileges you allow your friends, and I cannot but feel grateful at the superior confidence you seem willing to repose in me, and I can at least make this return for it, that I will not betray it."
"What means this?" she muttered with a tone of surprise and some irritation, "this cold chilling return! the privilege I allow my friends! Is it Captain Adderly that speaks so!"
Here she became much agitated, and for a few moments continued silent. At length relapsing into tenderness, and bursting into tears, she cried, "Oh, Charles! surely I have not deserved this from you. You, from whose attentions I have derived so much pleasure---you, to whom I have given up my heart---to whom I have now exposed all my weakness. Alas! have I been deceived by your professions! If so, I am indeed miserable!"
"Be calm, Miss Walworth," returned Charles, greatly moved, and willing to soothe her---for at that moment he had not the heart to increase the pangs he had already inflicted--- "Alas! be composed, my dear madam; whatever professions I have made, they may have been mistaken, but I assure you that they never were intended to be so." Here the propriety of resolving not to encourage her delusion recurred to him, and he added, "For the future my conduct shall lead to no mistake. Miss Walworth, I shall leave you now to become tranquillized, and believe me, it shall afford me great pleasure to hear that you have succeeded."
So saying, he bade her good morning, and was retiring when she caught him by the arm, and exclaimed---
"Oh, Charles! Charles! do not leave me thus, without some assurance that you love me; for, alas! you have raised a doubt."
"How different is this woman from the mild, the modest, the retiring Maria!" thought he, and he was at once determined how to act.
"Excuse me, Miss Walworth," he replied; "from my soul I pity you, but I can assure you of nothing more at present."
"Then---then---" she cried, "what means that covenant concerning us, into which your father and my uncle have entered?"
"What covenant?" asked Charles, with surprise.
"Is it possible that you know not of it?" said she.
"I assure you, upon my honour, I know nothing of it," he replied.
"Ah! then, I am doubly deceived," said she. "My uncle spoke of it as a marriage treaty, and I presumed, alas! what errors have I not presumed, that it was your doing."
"Miss Walworth, by heavens! I believe you have indeed been deceived!" he cried, with considerable fervour. "The innocent, the unmeaning pleasure I took in your company may have led to all these mistakes; but I shall now endeavour to correct them. May heaven forgive me, I really believe I have sinned against you. But I will stay no longer, lest I repeat my fault." So saying, he hurried from her presence.
The next morning, Charles, availing himself of a pressing invitation he had received from a friend who lived near Bristol, about twenty miles up the Delaware, set out on horseback for that place. There he remained for about a week, and had time leisurely to weigh his past conduct. He could not recollect any thing for which he could seriously condemn himself. He had, indeed, frequently complimented Miss Walworth in terms of high eulogy on both her personal charms and elegant manners; but then she really deserved his encomiums, and he had no conception that she would place any more value upon them than what they were merely worth, namely, the light, airy, and often unmeaning and unreflecting expressions of a gay and thoughtless mind telling a beautiful young woman how pleased he was with her society, but neither telling, nor intending to tell more.
This was the sum of his offending; and if it was venial in itself, surely he was not answerable for any misconstruction that either she or the world might put upon it. He was sorry, indeed, on her account, that such a misconstruction had taken place, but the only thing he could now, do to repair the unintentional injury he had done her, was by avoiding her society, to undeceive all parties, as to his views in having courted it. With respect to his fidelity to Maria, he had nothing for which either to accuse or applaud himself. He felt the constancy of his unspeakable love for her unshaken; but for this he claimed no praise, as he knew that it was a constancy which could only fail when the life-blood ceased to animate his heart.
He returned to the city on the seventh day, after leaving it, in obedience to a summons from his father. A few hours after arriving in town, feeling a disposition for meditation and study, he retired to his apartment without having seen his father, whom necessary business had kept out during the whole evening. Before he was long there, however, his father entered, with a countenance more solemn and stern than he had ever recollected to see him assume. He placed a light he had brought in his hand, deliberately and silently upon the table, and seating himself upon a chair, drew out his pocket-book, from which he took a paper, and also laid it on the table. After returning the pocket-book to its place, and adjusting himself a little more commodiously on the chair, he at length spoke, but it was not to give his son a kindly welcome from the country--- it was to reprimand him for going there.
"Sir," said he, it "appears that you took your flight at the very time you should have attended to make your explanationst o a beautiful young lady, whom, by your pretensions and professions, you have betrayed into the belief that you loved her, and thereby succeeded in making an impression on her heart. Your departure under such circumstances, is looked upon, and I am sorry to say, with an air of great probability, as an intended desertion of this young woman: and the whole city is now crying out shame against you for such perfidious conduct. Have you aught, sir, to say in extenuation of your fault?"
"My father," replied Charles; "it grieves me to hear you address me in such language, and it grieves me still more to think that you have been capable of suspecting, may, of accusing me of perfidy to any person. But I have this consolation, amidst the misfortune of your displeasure, to be conscious that the charge on which it is founded, is unjust; and the only thing I can say in extenuation of the fault you mention, is, that it never was intentionally or knowingly committed."
"What say you?" asked his father with surprise: "Did you never make love to Miss Walworth? answer me, honestly, as you value my favour or my displeasure."
"I will answer you honestly then, my father," said Charles, "I never did."
"You never did! What then meant all your attentions to her, your perpetual running after her company, gallanting with her, flattering her, and complimenting her beauty and numerous excellent qualities, of which it is well ascertained, that you were not sparing?"
"Father," replied Charles, "pardon me if I say that you are too well acquainted with the manners of the world, not to know the true value and import of such compliments, as in the thoughtless hours of amusement and gaiety, our sex has been long in the habit of paying to the other, and which the other has long been in the habit of receiving as unmeaningly as they are given. Beyond such common-place compliments, I assure you I have never gone in my intercourse with Miss Walworth; and allow me to justify myself by saying, that in paying her these compliments, I conceived that I had done nothing but what, from the customs of society, her youth and accomplishments entitled her to expect from any man who had any pretensions to good-breeding."
"So, after all it appears," returned his father, "that the amount of your attentions towards her, was mere good-breeding."
"So I consider it," replied Charles.
"But it seems that both the young lady, and the whole city, consider it otherwise," said his father.
"Both the lady and the city must be mistaken, then," observed Charles, "although in consideration of the lady's feelings, I will say so to none but you, to whom, alone, I am anxious to justify myself."
"Certainly you know the meaning of your own conduct best," observed the father. "But, pray, how did it happen that you paid such unusual attention to one to whom you now profess your heart to have been indifferent?"
"Ah, sir," said Charles, "may I remind you, that the intercourse which called for these attentions, was not, at first, of my seeking; and through its whole continuance, it is with extreme reluctance, I say, though it be only to the ear of a father from whom I wish to conceal nothing, that I was more sought after, or else fortuitously thrown into her company, than would many a time have been my choice."
"This statement may be correct," observed his father in a somewhat more kindly tone, "and I am sorry for it, although it pleases me to find that you have yet done nothing to deserve the censure which is gone abroad against you. But, Charles, I had set my heart upon your marrying this young woman. I wish anxiously to see you established in life; and in the whole city, I do not know a match that would be more advantageous to you, nor could I imagine that any could be found more attractive. Her uncle is also desirous to form the connexion, and we had gone so far, on the presumption that no objection could arise on your part, as to arrange the conditions of the marriage articles. The reason of my not communicating this to you, was, that I expected every day to receive an application from you on the subject, which would have been the most natural course of proceeding, and by far the most agreeable to all parties. I am sorry that the proposal must originate, at last, with me; for as matters exist now, I perceive that there is no other expedient left. Your consent is alone wanted, to effect a union which must give great and permanent satisfaction to all concerned, and on which the whole community had lately set their eyes and expectations. What say you, my son, will you consent to marry the richest and most beautiful young lady in the city, whose love for you is now so unequivocally declared, that ever since the day of your supposed desertion, she has not appeared in company, nor, as that letter on the table states, left her bedchamber. But you may peruse it, sir, it is from her uncle, and I hope it will make some impression upon your mind."
"Dear Sir---The progress we have made in the transaction, in which your son and my niece were to be the parties disposed of, had induced me to hope for a speedy and final settlement of the affair; but I am sorry to say, that owing to some misadventure on the part of your son, the bargain is likely to fail on your side. My niece, which was the part of the concern for which I stood engaged, is still substantial and ready for delivery, when the equivalent shall be forthcoming, and the demand made."
"Your son, it appears, after having, by much management, embezzled the esteem or love, or heart, or whatever you women's-men choose to call it, of my niece, has become a defaulter and decamped from the premises, leaving her in a very destitute and forlorn state. She will not leave her own chamber; and as she scarcely makes use of an infant's allowance of nourishment, I fear that her health will give way, if it has not already done so, under the pressure of this unexpected shock."
"As the head and principal manager of the firm from whose deficiency in the stock of proper conduct, our present embarrassments have arisen, I call upon you, as you value the honour and standing of your establishment, as well as the credit and prosperity of ours, to make all exertions to procure the needful, and by promptly acquitting yourselves of your obligations, relieve us out of our present distresses."
"Your due attention to these matters, is earnestly requested at as early a day as you can command."
"I am, with proper consideration, your most obedient servant,"
"I am, indeed, sorry that Miss Walworth has taken this matter so much to heart," said Charles, replacing the very classical epistle he had been reading upon the table. "But I cannot see why so much blame should be attached to either you or me in the affair. For my part, I stand pledged to her for the performance of no engagement whatever; and, my dear father, pardon me, when I make use of an expression, which I apply solely to this banker's interference, I have no notion whatever of being in this manner bullied into a marriage."
"Charles," observed his father, more mildly than he expected. "This letter is addressed to me. Its style may not be exactly what a pupil of Trinity College would consider suited to the subject, but it conveys explicitly enough the meaning of the honest man who wrote it; and is designed only to call upon me, who have pledged myself to forward the intended connexion with all my influence, to exert that influence in procuring your consent to it. Now, Charles, what I have to say on the subject is this: I know that love can never be produced by an exertion of authority, or by the use of threats, and since you have satisfied me that you have not, as is reported, acted meanly towards Miss Walworth, I am not now disposed to use either. But I would recommend you to think seriously, and as a man of feeling, upon the situation of the lady who has evidently become attached to you; and I know so much of the tender passions, that I have more reliance upon your becoming impressed favourably towards her on account of what she feels for you, than from the fear of any threats or displeasure I might exercise to enforce your compliance. I wish you, therefore, my son, not to drop the intercourse you have lately held with her.--- Visit her as before, that you may put a stop to the malicious exultation of those who now feel a triumph in her supposed desertion, and if possible, incline your feelings to think tenderly of her."
"I shall visit her, my father," replied Charles, "in obedience to your commands; but I trust that your good sense will not, in the mean time, require any further promise from me."
Charles accordingly did visit her. He found her melancholy, discontented, and irritable; evidently suffering under the tortures of wounded pride, as well as of disappointed love.
"Captain Adderly," said she, "you have given that coxcomb Morley a triumph over me, which it was ungenerous in you to allow. But that is of no consequence; this triumph I can well bear, nay, I can bear without much agony the scandal of tea-tables, and the contempt of the world, that you have procured me, but I cannot bear your disdain without sinking under it. It is now too late to say that I do not love you, but I will entreat nothing from you. It is kind in you to visit me.--- It may rescue me from the contempt of my enemies; and on your part, it shows compassion, but, alas! what is compassion from you without love?"
Charles occasionally visited this young lady during the winter; but he took care not to take the same liberties with her as formerly. She for a time continued rather to decline in health, as his visits, cold and formal as they were, inspired her with just sufficient hopes to add the pangs of suspense to those of disappointment. At length Charles supposed that, if all uncertainty in respect to him were removed from her mind, her reason might assist her pride to overcome her tenderness, and produce her recovery.
He accordingly, one day that he felt very much affected with her condition, addressed her in a more confidential tone than usual.
"Miss Walworth," said he, "I have for some time past, been impressed with the idea that you really believe I feel some aversion towards you. But I assure you, I have no such feeling. I am not blind to your various excellences. I see them, and I esteem and admire them---nay, there is only one of your sex in the world who possesses more of my admiration. Ah! if it were not for her dear image pre occupying all my heart, it might, in all probability, have been long ago yours, for next to her, I am persuaded you are the only woman whom I ever saw, that I might have been brought to love. But after having seen her, it is impossible I can ever love another. Thus, Miss Walworth, you see the esteem I have for you, by the confidence I now repose in you; and you also see the utter impossibility of my having returned you that tenderness and affection with which you have been pleased to honour me. But, believe me, I never for a moment felt disposed to triumph over you on account of your showing me your attachment. Such feelings, I know to be beyond our own control; and because you must be convinced that they are so, I hope you will be the more ready to pardon my seeming indifference for those attractions which the whole world acknowledges, and to which I never was blind."
"I feel, alas!" said she, "that these feelings are indeed beyond our control. I thank, sincerely thank you, for this confidence. I see now the barrier that separated us, and perceive that it can never be overcome. I shall try, therefore, to struggle with my destiny; and I trust shall yet be able to view you in a light, in which, I believe, you will afford me reciprocity, that of a true and faithful friend."
"Happy, happy shall I be ever to consider you such," he replied; "and I pray heaven soon to restore you to that health and tranquillity of mind which will promise me the long enjoyment of such a blessing."
Miss Walworth did speedily recover after this period; and I may here mention, for my reader's satisfaction, that the constancy of the enamoured Morley, who, instead of triumphing, as she supposed he would, at her disappointment, had really sympathized in her affliction, and had stood her advocate amidst all the slander that was heaped upon her, made such an impression on her mind, that she rewarded him with her hand about a year after the recovery of her health and tranquillity. I may also add, that her affliction having had the salutary effect of curing her of a great portion of her pride, she became an excellent wife, a tender mother, and an amiable member of society.
Sooner shall the eagle of heaven be torn from the stream of his roaring wind, when he sees the dun prey before him, the young sons of the bounding roe, than thou, O Cathmor, be turned from the strife of renown.
The pleasing sensations experienced during the spring months, when nature resumes all the fascinating softness and beauty of her original youth, it has been long and often observed, have a wonderful effect in disposing the minds of all, especially of lovers, to unusual tenderness and fervour. Affections that seemed before to be as strong, faithful, fond, and endearing, as the human heart is capable of feeling, appear now to become at least more restlessly and actively so; and separation from a beloved object, which the force of reason might, at other times, have enabled us to endure, in this seductive season becomes often intolerable.
It was, perhaps, owing to this mysterious influence of the sweet season, that Charles Adderly, although it ertainly could not be said that his affection for Maria had sustained or was capable of sustaining any increase, in the spring of 1755, felt unusual anxiety to behold her. To inform his father of his wishes, with a view to obtain his permission to return to the western woods, he knew would be fruitless; and might be injudicious, by affording a motive, in case of any favourable opportunity offering to facilitate his return, of forbidding him to embrace it.
Charles secretly contemplated the occurrence of such an opportunity, in the march of a British army to act against Fort Du Quesne, the landing of which on the shores of America was every day expected. Nor was it long until he heard the joyful intelligence of a respectable armament of European soldiers under General Braddock having reached the shores of Virginia, with the avowed intention of proceeding against the French.--- He immediately solicited, and not, it is true, without some difficulty, obtained his father's consent to join this army as a volunteer. Elated with the prospect of soon again seeing his beloved, and assisting to expel the enemy from her neighbourhood, he hastened to Alexandria, where Braddock had agreed to meet a convention of the different governors of the colonies, in order to settle the plan of the campaign.
Here Charles met with his former commander, Colonel Washington, whom Braddock, anxious to employ in the intended service, had appointed one of his aids-de-camp. This gentleman's friendship and influence soon procured for him the appointment of captain of one of the Virginia ranging companies, that were to be attached to the army, and Charles being thus fixed to his satisfaction, impatiently awaited the day when the troops should be ordered to march.
After various, and to Charles, extremely vexatious delays, occasioned by the difficulty of obtaining sufficient supplies of provisions, waggons, and other articles necessary for the expedition, the army, at length was put in motion, and proceeded to a fort at Will's Creek, afterwards called Fort Cumberland, which was the most western post then held by the English on the continent. From this place there was no road on which the waggons could pass, and it began to be feared that the delay which would be necessary to cut one through such an exceedingly woody and rough country, would allow the enemy time to collect such a force as might endanger the success of the enterprise. The army, however, courageously struggled with all obstacles, until it had advanced as far as the Great Meadows, where the difficulties of the way were found to increase so much, that General Braddock, who had at first rejected the advice of Washington to carry only such baggage as could be taken forward on horses, and to leave his long dilatory train of waggons behind, was now compelled to adopt it so far as to bring onwards only the light waggons and tumbrels.
Still anxiously aware of the necessity of expedition towards securing the success of the enterprise, Washington also advised the general to press forward, with all haste, with a chosen body of troops, and only such stores, artillery, and ammunition, as were of immediate and prime necessity. His reasons for this advice were, that their accounts informed them that the French were now weak on the Ohio, but were in momentary expectation of reinforcements; that during the present drought, these reinforcements could not pass down the Alleghany river, but, that if the march were protracted by waiting to bring forward the whole army and baggage, sufficient rains to raise the waters might come on, by which means the garrison at Du Quesne might receive their expected succours before it should be attacked, and might in consequence be able to set all the force of the expedition at defiance.
These considerations agreed well with the fiery temper of General Braddock. Twelve hundred of his best troops were accordingly selected, at the head of whom he proceeded with what baggage and military stores could be carried on horses and in a few light vehicles, as rapidly as possible to the place of destination. With the residue of the army, Colonel Dunbar was left at the Great Meadows, with instructions to follow with them and the heavy baggage in the rear, by slow and easy marches.
It was about the latter part of June when this select corps moved from the Great Meadows.--- It proceeded on with as much celerity as the numerous impediments of the country would permit; but, although divested of every unnecessary incumbrance, and although the soldiers were encouraged to high alacrity and zeal by the almost certain anticipation of soon lodging themselves in Fort Du Quesne---for neither General Braddock nor his regular troops, could suppose that there was any enemy then in the country able to resist them---yet it was not until the eighth of July that they came within sight of the ford below Turtle Creek, where they were to cross the Monongehala. Here they stopped a few hours to refresh themselves before they should attempt the ford, expecting the next day to be in possession of Fort Du Quesne.
How did Charles's heart beat, when casting his delighted view over the expanse of this noble river, he beheld the smoke curling from the dwelling of his Maria, and thought that in a few hours he might fold her to his bosom. There was also another individual in the army of still higher rank and eminence than Charles, whose heart equally throbbed when he beheld the spot which contained this sweet flower of the Wilderness; this was the noble-souled Washington, who loved Maria with a passion never exceeded in faith, fervour, intensity, and disinterestedness, by any that ever man felt for woman. But although the heart of this truly devoted lover, as from a distance he contemplated the abode of her who reigned within it, felt a throb as warm, and keen, and rapturous as any that could be felt by Charles, yet that throb, though equally rapturous, was not equally unmingled with sorrow, for he, alas, anticipated no affectionate embrace, no tender glance indicative of mutual love, and reciprocal gratitude to heaven for the joyful meeting. The delight of again beholding and conversing with her, and perhaps, a hope that he might not converse in vain, (for what lover feels not such hope) however, actuated and inspired his mind, and he also trusted that now was come the time when she should be no longer endangered by the vicinity of a lawless and savage foe.
But this young hero felt a sadness intermix itself with these feelings of delight, which sadness arose not altogether from his consciousness of not possessing Maria's love. It was greatly occasioned by some circumstances attending the march of the army that was to expel the foe from her vicinity; for he knew the wily nature of the foe, and he grieved much to see the rashness of the general by whom that gallant army was led on to the encounter.
When at Will's Creek, he had taken the liberty to caution the general on this subject. In place of marching carelessly along, in one body, through a thick forest, every where intersected with dells and dingles, and ravines, affording lurking places for an ambushed enemy, he earnestly recommended that scouts and rangers should be sent forward on the course of their march, to scour the country, by which means any ambuscade that might be formed for them would be discovered, and perhaps rooted out, before the army came upon it unawares.
Braddock who, although a brave man, seems to have been very deficient in that prompt sagacity which is necessary to form a good general, despised this advice; nay, it is said, that he had the littleness of mind to reply to it in terms of contempt for the youth and inexperience of him who gave it.
Washington, whom love, patriotism, humanity, and every generous motive that can actuate the mind of man, rendered zealous for the success of the enterprise, easily forgave these contemptuous expressions; but when he reflected on the dreadful consequences of a defeat, not to the army alone, but also to the country, and to her whom he loved above all earthly things, his heart all resolute, courageous, and fearless as it was, sunk within him, and he could not help feeling a presentiment of some fatal result, against which their leader seemed too careless or too haughty to provide.
"Alas!" thought he, as a few days before the army left the Great Meadows, he contemplated the appearance of the gallant and well-disciplined soldiers of Britain, as they moved before him through their various evolutions on parade; "into what destruction may not the imprudence of your commander plunge you! Ah, what will avail your unrivalled discipline, and your invincible courage, if his headstrong rashness acts as your evil genius, and drives you foolishly, barbarously, and uselessly into some abyss of ruin, where neither courage nor discipline can serve you! And you, my country, of what dreadful consequence would such an event be to you. Your peaceful citizens would then, indeed, feel tenfold the horrors that they have ever yet felt, from the bloody tomahawk, and the scalping-knife of the rapacious and savage foe. And thou, O thou beloved of my heart! thou fairest, purest, dearest object of this visible creation! ah, it may be that thou wilt be the first to suffer! alas, it may be that thou hast already suffered for the friendship of thy family towards me. Or, oh God, it may be that some lawless, licentious Frenchman may have been excited to horrible lust for the possession of thy incomparable charms, and may have made thee the helpless, perhaps the mangled victim of some diabolical deed! Oh God! Oh God! support me under the agony of such an idea!"
The blood quickened in his veins at the horrid thought; and the force of these disagreeable contemplations, taken altogether, produced upon his frame, manly and vigorous as it was, such an effect that he fell into a raging fever. While he was labouring under this malady, the troops marched, and the commander-in-chief, who, notwithstanding he contemned his advice as to the management of the expedition, esteemed him highly, left strict injunctions upon him not on any account to follow them until he should be recovered.
The second day after their departure, however, although his fever still continued, and the physician declared that his adhering to the army would endanger his life, his anxiety of mind concerning the fate of the expedition, which was now hastening towards the residence of his beloved, was such, that no consideration could prevent him from following it, which he did in a covered waggon. Both duty and love impelled him to this step. For he had within him a feeling which told him that it might be in his power, if not to prevent the general from adopting rash measures, at least to lessen their disastrous consequences. This violent effort restored energy to his mind, and he overtook the army the day before it reached the ford at Turtle Creek. From the south bank of the Monongahela, on which the troops had descended for the last four or five days, having before crossed the river above the Youhiegany, as he beheld the undisturbed appearance of Frazier's dwelling, his hopes whispered that all was yet safe with its inmates, and he became greatly tranquilized, and resumed the performance of his duty on horseback.
While stationed here, and until the van had about half crossed the ford, not an individual in the army dreamed of meeting with any opposition until they should reach Du Quesne; for as to Washington's feelings on the subject, they arose from a sagacious calculation of the advantages which the imprudence of Braddock would allow to the crafty foes he was to encounter, if they should lie in ambush for him, rather than from any prophetic certainty that there would be an ambush laid. Nay, he at this moment, began to entertain strong hopes that the enemy might, on this occasion, contrary to their usual practice, neglect to profit by the advantage which was thus afforded them.
These hopes, however, were but short lived. His anticipations of the worst were but too soon fatally realized, and this joyous and high-minded army experienced, at this place, a disaster which sent half their number, and their rash general along with them, to eternity; and from which, it required all the wisdom, energy, and heroism of Washington, to rescue the remainder.
But before proceeding to detail the circumstances of the celebrated and calamitous battle which occasioned this disaster, I beg permission, in order to give the reader a clearer view of it, to describe the ground on which it was fought.
The stream of the Monongahela, at this place, runs nearly from east to west, while that of Turtle Creek, issuing out of a narrow and deep glen, enters it from the northward. This glen widens in its approach to the river, in consequence of its western ridge diverging from the creek, and gradually swelling backwards from it, from a quarter to half a mile. It continues this bearing of its summit, at a similar distance from the Monongahela, for about half a mile down it, throwing off, as it descends towards it, three or four well-marked, but gently declining tables of fertile land, the lowermost of which forms a level bottom of considerable breadth, extending along the river where the ford is situated. About three quarters of a mile below Turtle Creek this bottom ends, the banks here becoming high and precipitous, which is their general character on the north side, and for a considerable way also on the south, until they reach Pittsburgh, where Fort Du Quesne, at the time of the transactions here narrated, the reader need scarcely be reminded, was situated.
It was on the first of these tables, or flats of land which arises from that adjoining the river, that the principal destruction of Braddock's troops took place, and the spot is, at least half a mile below the mouth of Turtle Creck. Its breast, or front towards the river, is a steep acclivity, elevated from twenty to thirty feet above the adjacent flat, and embraced between two gullies running nearly parallel to each other, about three hundred yards apart, and forming a square portion of ground of eight or ten acres, gradually ascending backwards for eight or nine hundred yards, to where another table elevates its front above the battle-ground, somewhat behind which, the high summit of the sky-covered ridge overtops all.
It was in these gullies that the Indians laid their fatal ambush, amidst trees, long grass, thickly growing shrubs, and various other kinds of close concealing undergrowth, which completely screened them from the view of their victims. The ground itself was covered with long grass, interspersed with many trees, but containing very little underwood. The vegetation on the subjacent bottom was much of the same description, being perhaps a little more thick set with brush and undergrowth.
Standing at the present day on this ground, which is now called "Braddock's Field," a most pleasing landscape, not very extensive it is true, but certainly very romantic, variegated, and comfortable in its aspect, strikes the view. To the north, the ridge already mentioned, rises above you---to the west, the view down the river is limited by the high banks also already mentioned. Directly south, the broad expanse of the Monongahela, about a half a mile over, lies glittering before you, while from its further bank, the bank on which Braddock's army halted before attempting the ford, the land rises gradually and fertilely, without leaving an extensive margin, as it does on the north side.
To the eastward the eye can ascend the river for about a mile and a half above Turtle Creek, for which distance, as the banks gradually withdraw from the river on each side, they impart to the fancy of the spectator a scene resembling some of the more comfortable descriptions of a highland glen, given by some of the late romantic writers of Scotland.
But perhaps the most picturesque feature in the whole landscape, is the winding stream of Turtle Creek, above whose junction with the Monongahela, the highland-looking glen just mentioned, properly begins. This stream issues, as has been said, from a glen northward of the river. When it first flows out of the gap of the glen, its course is about south-west; but, when within a quarter of a mile of the river, it changes its direction to the south-east, forming by that means a kind of peninsula or point of land, lying between it and the river, in the shape of a triangle, which triangle consists altogether of a level river bottom of rich land of three or four hundred acres, and is the identical spot where our friend Gilbert Frazier had made his residence.
The wild and sylvan appearance of this interesting valley in "Braddock's Times," is now changed by the hand of industry to one more rural and more gratifying to the eye of the philanthropist. In those times one solitary dwelling, that of Frazier, was alone to be seen. Now, on both sides of the river, as far as the view can extend, numerous pleasant residences, some of which are even elegant, surrounded with flourishing plantations, decorate the scene, and suggest pleasing reflections to every heart that wishes well to humanity.
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail;
Tradition, legend, tune, and song,
Shall many an age that wail prolong;
Still from the sire, the son shall hear,
Of the stern strife and carnage drear
Of Flodden's fatal field;
When shiver'd was fair Scotland's spear,
And broken was her shield.
The situation of the French garrison at Fort Du Quesne during the spring and early part of the summer of 1755, was rather perplexing and precarious. Monsieur De Villiers who had succeeded St. Pierre as its governor, had at this time only about four hundred French soldiers under his command, the remainder of those that had fought at the Great Meadows having been detached to other forts. He had taken great pains, if is true, to conciliate the Indians, and had in reality succeeded in acquiring over the different tribes a vast influence. Still they were too little under his control, and were too restless and roving in their habits to form that species of force, which, in the event of that attack which he had every reason soon to expect from the British, he wished to possess. He had, therefore, repeatedly written to the Canadian government for succours; and as soon as the season permitted, that government had made exertions to send forward to him both a reinforcement of men, and a supply of provisions and military stores.
These, however, had not got down from La Boeuf before the falling of the waters; and De Villiers could not now expect them before the waters should again arise. A few days rain, he knew, would produce that effect, and for this he had in vain, with great anxiety, waited for several weeks.
Matters were in this state at the garrison, when about the beginning of July some Indians informed him of the approach of Braddock. He immediately sent out three or four trusty scouts to watch the motions of the British, and soon received intelligence that they had crossed to the south side of the Monongahela. He then perceived that their intention was to advance by the way of Turtle Creek, there being no other fording place between that and Du Quesne.
To dispute this passage with them was his first intention; but resolving to view the ground before he concluded on his measures, he for the first time, paid a visit to Frazier's, where he unhappily beheld, with surprise and admiration, the charms of Maria. A violent passion for that unfortunate young woman immediately seized upon his soul. The hurried and alarming nature of the crisis, however, imperiously demanding all his attention, prevented him from at that time declaring it; but he resolved to do so as soon as the approaching contest should be decided. De Villiers was a widower of about thirty years of age, of a temper bold, sanguine, and irritable; and a man who permitted no scruples of religion or morality to stand in the way of his gratifications.
On viewing the ford, he perceived at once that he had not a force sufficient to contest its passage to any good purpose, with the army that he understood was coming against him. He therefore resolved to adopt another plan, in which the Indians could render him efficient service, as being more suited to their mode of warfare. This was to form an ambuscade, into which the British might be ensnared to their destruction. He accordingly selected the ground we have before described for that purpose; and, as in case of its failure, he did not wish his garrison to be much weakened, he resolved chiefly to employ Indians in the affair.
He returned to the fort, and having assembled about four hundred Indians, who were all excellent marksmen, he informed them of his design, and received their ready assent to put it into execution. To each of these Indians he gave two loaded rifles and eighteen charges of powder and ball. With these rifles over their shoulders, and their tomahawks and scalping-knives slung by their sides, these warriors proceeded on the evening of the 8th of July from the fort, to the place of ambush, in order to lay it during the night, as the British were expected to cross the ford the next day. De Villiers, at the head of a hundred of his best French soldiers accompanied them.--- Before the Indians departed they assembled outside of the fort and loudly chanted the following
"Sons of warriors! bold and brave,
Now we haste against the foe,
Now like warriors we'll behave,
And lay the fell invaders low.
We'll lay them mangled in the dust;
Their bones shall rot,
Upon the spot;
Their flesh---what wolves and panthers spare,
Shall yield corruption to the air;
The arms we bear not off, shall rust,
Which when our sons and daughters find,
As through the woods they chase the deer;
They'll call our valiant deeds to mind,
And say---"our father's conquer'd here!"
Sons of warriors! now be strong,
Hurry to the glorious strife;
Drive the leaden showers along,
And fiercely wield the scalping knife!
Bold children we of warlike race!
Our sharpen'd steel
Their hearts shall feel;
Our tomahawks shall pierce their brain,
Who dare to meet us on the plain,
And think us from that land to chase,
Which Maneto the mighty, gave,
And which our father's ne'er would yield!---
Are we less strong! are we less brave!
No! soon we'll prove it on the field!
"Vengeance, vengeance! sons of war!"
Hark, our murder'd fathers cry---
"Steel your souls, and drive afar
"The execrated enemy!
"For merciless, with fire and sword,
"They fiercely come
"To work your doom;
"As ours, in former days they wrought,
"When for our native land we fought---
"But vengeance now you will afford!"
Ah, Maneto! hear, hear our vow!
Swift to avenge our father's fate;
We'll sternly haste with fury now,
In dust to tramp the foes we bate!"
De Villiers arrived at the destined spot long before daybreak. He gave the Indians the necessary instructions how to act, and having placed two hundred of them in each of the gullies before noticed, he waited with his French troops at some distance, also concealed, for the approach of the enemy.
It was about noon when the British, having taken some refreshment upon the south bank of the river, general Braddock gave orders for passing over. His van, composed of some light companies, and a company of grenadiers, to the number of three hundred men, when about half way over, were unexpectedly fired upon by a small party of French, who shewed themselves among the trees near the bank. On firing, this party immediately retired back from the river, and Braddock ordered his van to hasten after them. On perceiving this affair, Colonel Washington rode up to the commander in chief, and begged him not to follow the French, as evidently such a small number of troops, acting as they did, by just shewing themselves and retiring, were only intended as a decoy into some ambuscade.
"My orders are to pursue these fellows," returned Braddock; "and colonel Washington, I have not been so long a soldier, I hope, without knowing how to lead an army over a ford not more than knee deep, in the face of a stronger opposition than a few Frenchmen, without asking advice from any man. I shall ask your opinion when I think I need it."
Washington made no reply. He only sighed as he perceived Colonel Gage, who commanded the van, leading it on, after he had gained the shore in pursuit of a few Frenchmen, who even if they were either destroyed or captured, could afford no laurels to the victors.
"Alas!" said he, riding forward to Captain Adderly, who was leading on his company of Virginia rangers.--- "This is indeed madness---I am afraid we shall pay dear for it. We must do our duty, however."
"I shall obey your directions alone, Colonel," replied Adderly, "to-day, as I know they will not be inconsistent with my duty." ---So said all the Virginian Captains. At that instant, Braddock, at the head of the main body, had gained the beach, and the order was given for the whole to follow in the track that had been taken by the van. Washington gave a signal for the Provincials to advance; for he determined not to forsake the regulars, although he so greatly disapproved of their proceedings in thus inconsiderately plunging into a thick grassy wood, with which they were totally unacquainted, in pursuit of a few fugitive Frenchmen.
Keeping an anxious eye upon the motions of the soldiers in the van, he soon observed them following the French up the front of the table-ground between the gullies already described. Only a few scattering shots had been as yet fired by the French, as they retreated, which were evidently intended to allure the British after them, between the gullies where the Indians lay hidden, and silently watching for their prey. In this they succeeded to their utmost wish. The van ascended the front of this piece of ground with alacrity, and proceeded forward upon it for about thirty or forty paces, suspecting and fearing nothing, when, all at once the dreadful warwhoop was heard; two hundred rifles from the ground on their left, poured their destructive contents upon them, and, the next instant, two hundred from the right imitated the terrible example. Two thirds of the van were now prostrated to the earth. The firing for some minutes ceased, as the Indians had now comparatively few objects against whom to direct it. Braddock conceiving the danger to be over, and determining to avenge the slaughter of the van, and also anxious to rescue those who still survived this murderous fire from the invisible assailiants, ordered a large division of the main body to ascend the height, and forming there in two parties, to rush with fixed bayonets into each of the ravines, and drive out or destroy the concealed enemy. This corps gallantly ascended to the scene of death, when the firing was again opened with as much fury as before. At the same time, the survivors of the van were attacked from above by the French, under De Villiers, and they fell hastily back upon their companions, who were now fallen into too much confusion to charge the enemy according to their instructions. Dreading another volley, every man of them who had not fallen, hastened back from the fatal spot to the lower ground in great terror.
This panic was communicated to the whole of the regulars, who would soon have re-crossed the river in full flight, had not their officers, by great exertions restrained them. General Braddock, who was now mad with vexation, and rage, rushed in amongst them, exhorting them to perseverance, and they were once more brought to stand their ground.
At this crisis, Washington again interfered with his advice, that the army should not attempt to dislodge the assailants, but draw off from the reach of their fire, and continue their route to Fort Du Quesne, without paying these concealed enemies any more attention.
But Braddock was resolved to take another course. He detached about two hundred and fifty men round, at some distance, by the left of the ambush ground, in order to come upon the hidden enemy in another direction, expecting by that means to have them surrounded, at least to get them hemmed in between two fires. This movement, however, was soon discovered by De Villiers, who seizing on a favourable position, by which this detachment, he knew, must pass, met it there, and cut every man of it off, without on his side, losing a single soldier.
In the meantime, Braddock was resolved to make a stronger, and, as he conceived, an irresistible charge with his whole force upon the enemy. He accordingly called upon his troops to come on a third time, and leading the way himself, he was followed by his devoted soldiers, and the death-dealing ravines had victims once more within their reach.
The French, however, were by this time, employed with the detachment that had been sent to take them in flank, so that Braddock's men in place of having, as before, to sustain a fire from three different directions, had now to sustain it only from two, and would no doubt have dislodged the savages from their concealment, had they boldly pushed upon them with the bayonet the moment they ascended the ground. But instead of doing this, Braddock imprudently took time to form them into two columns, with as much deliberation and formality as if he were parading them at a review in Hyde Park.
The consequence of this slowness of motion, was to restore courage to the Indians, who, as they were not now supported by the French, had felt some intimidation from the eagerness with which the British seemed to approach them, and scarcely expected any thing else than destruction in the very heart of their coverts. This pause, however, restored their energy, and their mortal fire again opened upon the troops. Here one half of Braddock's officers were killed, he himself had three horses successively shot under him, and his whole division soon began to lose that unfortunately compact array, into which he had taken so much trouble to form them, and which had only conduced to their more certain destruction. In a short time they fell into absolute confusion, and fled, some of them back to the lower ground, and some forward to that lately occupied by the French. Braddock was carried back with the stream of those who fled in the former direction; and near a spring immediately beneath the point of the most western of the two ravines, while attempting again to rally his broken troops, he had a fourth horse shot under him, and while he was mounting another, he received a ball in his breast.
The Indians had seen him fall, and about a hundred of them rushed out of the adjoining ravine, in order to seize him. Washington, resolving at all risks, to save his commander from the hands of the savages, called forward Adderly with his Virginians, who charged the Indians as they were carrying off the body. A volley from the fatal ravine, soon prostrated nearly one half of Adderly's men; but Washington had by this time shot with a pistol one of the Indians who was dragging Braddock to the ravine, and plunged his sword into the body of another, when his horse was killed under him, and a dozen of shots fired at his head, some of which perforated his hat, and carried away its plumes and other parts of its decorations. Adderly seeing his danger, rushed furiously forward with the remnant of his company, to his rescue, and buried his sword in the entrails of a savage who was levelling a murderous aim at Washington, within a few feet of him. The rifle went off, but its direction had been changed by Adderly's blow, and the ball only tore the epaulette off Washington's left shoulder. In a moment Washington was on another horse, when perceiving that a number of Indians had again laid hold of the wounded Braddock, he plunged in among them with tremendous fury, and levelled three or four of them to the earth with the irrisistible sweeps of his broad-sword.
Another volley from the Indians, who perceived that until he was destroyed, they could not capture the general, now took place at his person. His horse was again shot, and his coat perforated in five or six places; and Adderly's few surviving troops would not have been able to resist the rush of Indians that was now made upon him, had not another Virginia company, commanded by a captain Poulson, given its timely assistance, and the savages were once more driven into their lurking place, not, however, until they had unhorsed captain Adderly, and carried him, together with five or six of his men, with them.
Washington now had Braddock placed in a light tumbrel, which was convenient; and sending it hastily off the field, put himself at the head of the Virginians and such of the regulars as yet stood their ground, in order to rescue a division which was still on the fatal height between the gullies, the object of attack from the Indians on the eastern side. This party, about one hundred and seventy in number, had, at the time their companions fled back in confusion, rather advanced forward to the ground lately occupied by the French, so that they were for some time a short distance beyond the reach of the Indian fire, but attempting to return to assist their companions during the struggle round Braddock, the Indians in the eastern ravine so effectually fired upon them that they were compelled to draw back. Their presence, however, had the good effect of occupying these Indians so as to prevent them from joining in the contest for Braddock, in consequence of which the Virginians succeeded in his rescue. But Braddock was scarcely borne off the field, when the situation of these men became extremely dangerous. The French were seen returning in triumph after the slaughter of the unfortunate detachment that had been sent to take them in the rear, and the Indians in both ravines, the contest for Braddock being now abandoned, were impatiently waiting to shower upon them their destructive balls as soon as they approached near enough to be struck by them.
The active and vigilant eye of Washington soon perceived their danger, and he resolved to release them, or perish with them. About two hundred of the regulars who could not be rallied when they took to flight, had already recrossed the river, but including his Virginians, there was still a force of nearly three hundred on the ground.
"Come on, my brave soldiers!" said he, "we must rescue our companions yonder from impending destruction. If we only give sufficient employment to the savages in any of these ravines, our soldiers may escape. Let us try this eastern one, it appears the more easily assailable. Hark! the French above yonder have fired upon our men already. At it, my boys, and every man do his best either by firing, or by the bayonet, to destroy the savages. Widen your ranks---the less compactly you rush on, the better---Forward!"
The soldiers gave a loud shout, for they now felt confidence. Their companions on the upper ground heard it, and returned it as a signal of cooperation. In a minute the eastern ravine was attacked. The savages fired out of it, but killed only about twelve of the assailants, for the latter were not now in such close order as to prevent their balls from missing.
"Keep these Indians in play, my brave fellows, for some minutes," cried Washington, "and with the blessing of God, I shall soon return to you."
So saying, he clapped spurs to his horse, and ascended between the ravines at full flight towards those he wished to rescue. Three gallant fellows on horseback, named Peronny, Burton, and Craig, voluntarily followed him. As he passed the length of the ravines, a volley was fired at him from that on the west, but he was at too great a distance from it to be hurt by it. The attention of the savages on the east was at this time so much employed in resisting the attack of the troops, that they scarcely attended to him. Several of them, however, fired at him and his followers, two of whom. Peronny and Burton were killed; but the swiftness of Washington's horse, or rather the protecting hand of a kind providence, saved him to his country.
The troops to whom he advanced received him with a cheer. "Follow me rapidly," said he to them; "keep on this side, and shoot every savage you can see as you fly past---but delay for nothing!" He immediately turned his horse, and galloped out of the dangerous ground, followed by the whole party who discharged their muskets into the eastern ravine, as they passed it with all their speed. They only received some scattering shots from the savages, which killed but one or two of their number.
"To the bank of the river now, my brave men!" cried Washington, to the whole of the troops.
They obeyed him, and in a few minutes, he there formed them into ranks, and ordered them to reload their pieces, as he perceived that the Indians manifested a disposition to pursue them. On seeing the British thus prepared to receive them, however, on open ground, neither the savages nor the French thought proper to advance; and the troops were safely conducted to the other side of the river, where they were soon rejoined by those who had previously fled from the engagement.
On reviewing the reliques of that fine body of men, which, only a few hours before this disastrous affair, expected that very evening to expel the enemy from Fort Du Quesne, it was found that out of twelve hundred, very little more than five hundred remained, and of the officers only twenty out of the eighty-five which they numbered before the engagement, now survived. The artillery, all the military stores, and baggage of every kind, and even the private cabinet of General Braddock which contained his instructions, were left in possession of the enemy.
Of the Indians it has been ascertained that not more than eight or ten were killed, and perhaps, as many wounded, and of the French a still fewer number. They had taken nearly forty prisoners, independent of the wounded who could not retire with their companions, and whom they carried that evening into fort Du Quesne.
The defeated army being apprehensive that the French would bring their whole force out of the fort to pursue them, that very evening began a precipitate retreat to the camp of Colonel Dunbar at the Great Meadows. As they were nearly destitute of provisions, Colonel Washington, who seemed to be the life of the whole party, hastened on before them in order to procure some, as well as to order comfortable accommodations for them when they should arrive. He made such dispatch that he reached Dunbar's camp the evening of the next day, procured the provisions, and by his inindefatigable exertions, the wearied and disheartened remnant of the troops were brought forward in a few days without meeting with any fresh disaster.
Shortly after his arrival at this place the unfortunate Braddock died, and was buried on a hill, where his grave is to be seen to this day.
And when my nightly couch I try.
Sore harrass'd out with pain and grief:
My tail-heat nerves, and tear-worn, eye,
Keep watchings with the nightly thief:
Or, if I slumber, fancy chief.
Reigns haggard-wild in sore affright:
Elen day, all bitter, brings relief
From such a horror-breathing night.
At this disastrous realization of his worst anticipations, how did the heart of Washington bleed within him! It bled indeed severely; but it did not, as before the catastrophe, sink under the pressure of the calamity. There is in the minds of men, especially of brave men, an elasticity which often strengthens them, so as to bear up against any misfortune, however great, when it is actually present, but which does not always exert itself during the mere contemplation of an approaching evil. Or, perhaps, the imagination being more actively employed in depicting the horrors of the evil before it comes, is apt to depict them in their most gloomy and appalling colours, so deeply and so strongly that the mind can scarcely endure the picture. But the calamity being present, the mind, as if it had nothing more to do but to suffer, submits, undoubtedly with pain, but often at the same time with fortitude.
Washington indeed felt keenly and sorrowfully on this occasion. Nay, he had anticipations of the most heart-breaking kind, even yet, to agonize his soul. Alas! he feared that this defeat might be attended with the worst of consequences to his Maria. He did not indeed suppose that the Indians would offer any immediate violence to either herself or her friends, with whom they had so long lived on amicable terms. But there was now no prospect of her soon being rescued from that Wilderness of savages and licentious Frenchmen, where every thing was ruled by violence and caprice, and where he conceived that a beautiful young female like her, could not, even in the most tranquil times, be a single day safe from insult.
During the whole of the battle, her image never had been absent from his mind; and sadly, sadly, did he grieve that its catastrophe was likely to be such as to preclude the possibility of his enjoying only one minute's interview with her, although her residence was in view of the very ground on which he fought.
While mustering the defeated troops after conducting them to the south shore of the river, he cast his anxious eyes across the stream, and beheld her, together with the rest of Frazier's family, looking, he believed mournfully looking, at the unfortunate army. He imagined that she distinguished him. He bowed his head as he sat on horseback, and he had the happiness to see that she waved her hand in return. Gilbert, and his sons took off their fur caps, and also returned his salute. He even believed that he discerned Gilbert, lifting his hands and face towards heaven, as if to pray for his safety. His heart burned within him to visit them, but his duty compelled him to proceed almost instantaneously for the Great Meadows. He again renewed his obeisance to the family, and in a few minutes afterwards set off.
He had scarcely proceeded out of view of the troops, when he heard a voice calling him by name. He stopped his horse, and the prophet Tonnaleuka arose out of a thicket that was close by him.
"Beloved of heaven!" cried the prophet; "I will not detain you, for I know your errand must be one of haste. Alas, this has been a calamitous day! I saw you escape in safety, and I thank the Great Spirit. My son, Charles Adderly, has not been so fortunate! But to what the Great Being orders, we must submit. Farewell, my son, I will not detain you."
"Father," said Washington, "if thou lovest me, oh, watch over the safety of Maria! alas, she is too beauteous and too tender a flower to be safe amidst the storms of such a desert. Let me know, wherever I may be, if aught befalls her."
"I shall watch over her," said the prophet, "and shall let you know if she be unfortunate. I concealed myself here that I might salute, and bless you, as you passed. Farewell, and may the God whom you worship still protect you, as he has done this day!"
"Farewell, father," replied Washington; and the prophet disappearing among the bushes, he continued his journey with a heart greatly relieved by this short interview.
The feelings of Maria, and indeed of all Frazier's family, during the momentous scenes which had been that day acted within their immediate view, may be easily imagined by any reader of a good heart, who reflects upon their circumstances and situation. Gilbert's whole soul was with his countrymen; and his heart warmed when he beheld their red uniforms.
"Ah, Nelly!" said he, "they are something like Christian soldiers. They put me in min' o' Ireland and Maughrygowan. Oh, may God help them against the savages!"
"Amen," said Nelly; and she lifted her eyes to heaven to add fervency to the prayer.
As to Paddy Frazier and doctor Killbreath, the vigilance of the French prevented them during the whole of the preceding spring, from venturing to manifest their partiality for the British cause by any active exertion in its favour; and during the whole of these transactions, they had preserved a very prudent, though very reluctant neutrality. From the accounts they had heard of the force that was coming against Fort Du Quesne, they indeed believed that the British were now strong enough to do their own business effectually, without their assistance; and from the appearance of the army when it approached, they were confirmed in this belief. They knew nothing of the ambuscade, for it had been laid in the night, and De Villiers had been so cautious as to communicate the scheme to none but those who were to be employed in its execution. They were, therefore, greatly disappointed, grieved, and shocked, at the result of the memorable battle of which they had been spectators.
But who can speak the agony of Maria's mind during the incessant peals of rifles and musketry, which, for three long hours, rang in her ears, and seemed to her imagination to carry destruction to every thing within their reach. She knew that her Charles was among the combatants; she had with an anxious and affectionate eye singled him out, as seated upon his prancing steed he led his company of rangers across the river, and her view had followed him until the firing commenced, when her alarm and agitation became so great that, unable to behold more, she was obliged to retire to her chamber.
When she was informed that the troops were recrossing the river, with the hope of again seeing her beloved Charles, she hastened to the porch before the house, from which the rest of the family were viewing the scene. Here she perceived Washington, and returned his salute as before-mentioned. But she perceived not Charles, and in a few minutes she returned to her chamber, in a state of dreadful suspense as to his fate.
She was in this situation when Mrs. Killbreath informed her that the French commander was in the house, and had expressed a wish to see her.
"Tell him, my dear Nancy," said she, "that I am really indisposed. The horrible scenes of this day have rendered me incapable of seeing any body. Oh, Nancy, Nancy! God only knows how terribly my heart is at this moment torn with suspense and agony!"
Nancy made her apology to De Villiers. It was of too reasonable a nature not to be believed, and he was of too gallant a temper not to admit it. He observed, "that he was not surprised at her being terrified, and he was very sorry that the affair had taken place so near her; but he hoped that both Miss Frazier, and the whole family, in whose welfare he protested himself to feel greatly interested, would have recovered from their terrors by the time he should next have the pleasure of visiting them." He then partook of some refreshments with which Mrs. Frazier presented him, and returned to the field of battle, where the victors were busily employed, some scalping the slain, and others collecting the spoil. He soon called them together, and as the day was considerably advanced, the greater part of the Indians accompanied him to Fort Du Quesne, which they reached, in triumph, towards the evening.
Not Maria, alone, but the whole of Frazier's family, felt anxious to ascertain the fate of Charles Adderly, whom they had seen advancing to the fight, but not returning from it. As soon therefore, as the victors had withdrawn from the field, Paddy, Archy, and Doctor Killbreath, hastened there to ascertain the number of the slain, and whether their friend Charles was among them.
What a melancholy and shocking appearance this spot of ground now presented to their view! Hundreds of human beings, who had that morning rejoiced in all the vigour of health, and strength, and buoyant spirits, now lay prostrate before them, either already cold and insensible as the earth on which they were stretched, or else were writhing and convulsed in the last tortures of expiring animation. Some had their brains scattered beside them, and had expired on the instant; others had received balls in their breasts or their bowels, or other vital parts, which left them in torment to linger out a few tedious hours of agonized existence.
Into the bodies of the greater portion of these last, the Indians, either for the cruel purpose of gratifying a malignancy of feeling, by making sure of their destruction, or from the more humane motive of more speedily putting an end to their sufferings, had plunged bayonets, and driven tomakawks, occasioning wounds through which the bowels of many had protruded, and lay scattered, and often mangled, upon the blood-stained grass beside them. Upon every one of these unfortunate men, the scalping knife had performed its barbarous office, and where the skull had not been broken to pieces by a shower of bullets, it had been stripped of its natural covering, in order to furnish the savage conquerors with trophies of their victory.
The conquerors, although they had carried off a great proportion of the spoil, had still left a considerable quantity behind; enough, indeed, to have made the fortunes of Frazier's family, had they chosen to avail themselves of it. But at this time, the feelings of even Paddy himself, who was not in general very scrupulous in such matters, were so much affected and shocked to behold such an awful havoc made upon human beings, that all mercenary feelings were stifled in his breast, and he could not carry away a single article.
On numbering the slain, they found them to amount to nearly seven hundred---but they had the satisfaction not to find Charles Adderly among them. They returned home with this intelligence, which was soon imparted to Maria by Mrs. Killbreath, and she was inspired with the hope that providence might yet have preserved him for better times.
"Oh, Nancy!" said she, "although you know the secret of my heart---little, little can you imagine what I this afternoon have suffered. Oh! had they found him there mangled with the rest of these murdered men, I feel that a few days would have terminated my sufferings, and you would have burried me in the same grave with him I loved. Alas! I am not yet altogether relieved of my apprehension; but I will trust---Oh! I will pray, fervently pray, to my God for his preservation."
She here requested Nancy to kneel with her, and then with great agitation after thanking the Deity for the gleam of hope which he had allowed to dawn upon her mind, she implored him "to prevent it from being at last totally extinguished by the destruction of the youth, upon whose preservation her own so entirely depended."
She had scarcely finished, when she heard the voice of Tonnaleuka in the outer room.
"Oh, Nancy!" said she, "if there be comfort on earth for me, that holy man can administer it. Would to heaven, that all Indians had hearts like his! Tell him, my sister, that I wish to see him."
Tonnaleuka was soon with her. "Oh, father," said she, "how I feel relief in your presence, from the torments which this terrible day has inflicted upon my mind. I thank God, that you, at least, have met with no misfortune."
"My daughter," said the prophet. "Much, indeed, have I felt for your situation to day; for I knew the agony you would suffer in consequence of these bloody deeds. The youth whom you love was in the midst of them; but be comforted, for he did not fall, neither is he a prisoner in Fort Du Quesne. But I shall before many hours discover the direction that his captors have taken, and the great Spirit, I doubt not, will protect him."
"Daughter, dry your tears!" ---(for Maria at this time wept violently, which afforded her feelings a relief that the scorching agony of her soul had before prevented her from receiving.) "This storm will blow away. A calm will succeed, and sunshine will yet---for the Great Spirit is just---gild your course, and compensate for these afflictions. One noble and glorious youth has this day been miraculously preserved by his care, amidst the thunder that pealed around him, and blasted hundreds by his side. My daughter, Washington is safe, and the Father of the world has shown kindness to men."
"I know it, Father," she replied. "I have beheld that excellent young man out of reach of the foes, whom, I am told, he alone restrained in their murderous career, and amidst the intensity of my other griefs, I felt consolation at the sight."
"My daughter, I rejoice that you so respect this hero, although you know not half his virtues, half his worth to the world---that world which the Great Being has not forsaken since he has spared him to it; for my daughter, while he lives the cause of mankind may suffer, but need never despair."
"I know, Father," she replied, "that great public good is likely to result from Colonel Washington's career, if Providence prolongs it. I am sensibly aware of his worth, greatly do I rejoice in his safety, and ardently do I hope for his prosperity. But ah, there are griefs that, at present, come closer to my heart. Charles Adderly--- Oh, Father! is he not in danger, and can I be in comfort!---Alas, alas, I cannot!"
"My daughter, I know your heart, I will not therefore blame your feelings. I sympathize with them. Charles Adderly I esteem, I love---for he is worthy of both. But I despair not of his deliverance from danger. The Great Spirit preserved him once, when in as much peril as now, and he is as mighty to save as ever."
"My daughter, I again ask you to be of good cheer---I must now leave you. I go to discover where they have taken him for whom you grieve. Farewell!"
"Farewell!" she replied. "And oh, may the God of all things grant success to your exertions!"
Maria's mind was greatly quieted by the encouragement to hope which she derived from this interview; and during the remainder of the evening, she appeared tranquil, and joined the rest of the family in their conversation on the disasters of the day.
When retired to rest, however, her disquietude returned. She was long wakeful and restless; and when at length she fell into a slumber, it was to experience the horrors of a frightful dream. She thought she was wandering alone along the bank of Turtle Creek, meditating upon the virtues, the tenderness, and the misfortunes of Charles, when she suddenly heard the noise of a mighty rush of waters; she cast her eyes up the stream, and perceived a terrible and overwhelming flood rolling down the valley, and sweeping every thing before it with great violence towards the place where she stood. She instinctively attempted to fly out of its course, but was unable---she seemed spell-bound to the spot, until the waters came upon her, and were rapidly carrying her on their surface towards the river, when a terrific, monstrouslooking animal, half man, and half bear, rushed headlong from the eastern heights, into the flood, and swimming towards her, seized her in his mouth, and making his way with her to dry land, in a few minutes deposited her in a chamber, in Fort Du Quesne. It then addressed her in the human voice:
"Look out of that casement, and behold a feast which gladdens my eyes," said the monster.--- "I must away to enjoy it." She looked out, and beheld her lover, Charles Adderly, bound hand and foot, with iron chains, and seated on a high pile of wood, to which a number of savages were setting fire in several places, by the direction of the monster. The next moment the flames seemed suddenly to ascend in mighty volumes round her lover. She gave a scream, and awoke in dreadful agony.
Mrs. Killbreath, whom the scream had alarmed, hastened into her room to inquire what was the matter.
"Oh, my dear sister!" cried Maria all trembling; "I have been terribly frightened---do not leave me! I beg thee! do not leave me till the morning. I have had a dreadful dream---"
"Be composed---Maria!" said her sister.--- "This is owing to yesterday's alarm! You should not lay these things so much to heart. But I will just inform my husband, who is afraid you have taken sick, that the noise was but the effect of a dream, and shall then return and stay with you till the morning."
Nancy did so.---But Maria slept no more that night; for she feared to experience such another vision. The presence of her sister, however, and the exertions of her own reason, enabled her by the time the day dawned, to become once more considerably soothed and tranquilized in her feelings.
Curse on his perjured art, dissembling smooth!
Are honour, virtue, conscience all exiled?
Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fonding o'er their child.
Then paints the ruin'd maid, and their distraction wild?
The charms of Maria had made too deep an impression upon the mind of the governor of Du Quesne to permit him to delay long the repetition of his visit to Frazier's. His reflections upon her had kept him awake almost the whole night.
"How in the name of heaven!" thought he, "have I been so long ignorant of such a lovely creature residing so near me! Such a jewel in such a Wilderness! But I am a fortunate man to have discovered her at last. I will make her my wife, for it would be worse than villany to pollute so much purity! nor do I suppose it would be so easy a matter, for she appears as modest as she is beautiful. By heavens, I will seriously offer her my hand. She surely cannot refuse to become mistress of Fort Du Quesne; and I shall be happy in the enjoyment of such a treasure! I wish the morning was come, for I will not be content till I know her mind, and till I have made her my own property."
In the morning he accordingly, at an early hour, set off for Frazier's. Maria had walked out upon the bank of Turtle Creek, with the expectation of deriving some assistance from the tranquillity and beauty of the scene, in soothing the sorrow that lay so heavy at her heart. He perceived her before he came to the house; and tying his horse to a tree, he approached her on foot ere she was aware.
He bowed politely to her, and smiling pleasantly, addressed her--- "Miss Frazier, I am really happy to meet you here all alone, in this charming place. I hope you have recovered from your yesterday's fright. I could not be easy, I assure you, without coming to see whether you had thrown it off."
"You are very kind, sir," said she; "but I presume you had more important business to bring you here at so early an hour, than merely to inquire after the state of a stranger's mind."
"Upon my honour, Miss Frazier, no other business in the world than just to see, and to converse with you, brought me from fort Du Quesne this morning. Ah! believe me, my charming girl! I think no business in the world half so sweet or so important as enjoying your society. I wish to God I had only known you sooner, we should by this time have understood each other better."
"It might readily enough have been so," she replied, looking at him with an expression of surprise; "for I protest, sir, that I cannot understand you now."
"Ah! my dear Miss Frazier, you may say so, but I cannot believe you---your pretty tell-tale eyes say that you understand well the nature of my visit. How can you mistake it! But I will make it plainer to you. Ever since I first saw you, I have been so fascinated, I could think of nothing else. I feel as if there was nothing else worth thinking of. Even the hurry of the battle yesterday could not drive you for a moment from my thoughts, and as soon as the enemy was driven off, I hastened to see you. Ah, I feel as if I could live by looking upon you!"
"You would derive very little benefit from such diet," she answered, scarcely thinking it worth while to reply seriously to such language; "and I am afraid that before long you should find it very little to your satisfaction."
"Nay, Miss Frazier," said he in a fond tone, "by my soul, these pretty cheeks, those ruby lips, those sparkling eyes---ah! you may banter me, and laugh at me if you choose, but, by heavens, I never saw any thing in the world I loved half so much to gaze upon!"
"Monsieur De Villiers," said she, "my heart is too much laden with sorrow at present, to laugh at any thing, otherwise, I believe, that such unmeaning, such frivolous, and pardon me, if I say, such ridiculous nonsense, would provoke my mirth. It is, sir, equally beneath your dignity, and unsuited to the present state of my feelings."
"Ah, my pretty banterer!" returned the Frenchman, not in the least disconcerted, "then I shall speak seriously to you. Your charms have warmed my heart to a sincere, uncontrollable passion. I love you, by heavens I adore you! ah, I have never seen a woman I could love as I do you!"
"Sir," said she, "this language seems as mad as what you just now uttered was foolish. Both, I must say, are unworthy of you, and disagreeable to me."
"Pardon me, madam," he returned. "Can it be unworthy of me to love so much excellence! No---by all that is sacred, I swear, that if I were the grand monarch himself, I should think you worthy to share my throne. I love you, Miss Frazier, with an honourable passion, at which the most sainted purity could not take offence. My hand is free, my fortune respectable, my heart devoted to you. I offer you them all, and shall feel myself the happiest of mortals if you accept of them."
"Sir," she answered, "I thank you for being so explicit, and candid with me. I will consider you to be serious in these liberal offers, and shall be explicit, candid, and serious in reply to them. Then hear my reply, and set it down on the tablets of your memory, as one which neither your power, nor even that of your grand monarch himself, should he lend you his aid, will ever induce me to alter---I utterly and decisively reject them."
"You do!" said he, beginning to feel that he did not stand on such eligible ground with her as he had supposed. "Then it exactly comes to this issue, my fair tempter, that as I feel I cannot live without you, you must become mine in spite of yourself. But I wish for your voluntary consent; for, upon my honour, I should be very loth to compel you."
"Sir," she replied, "we may as well drop the conversation. My voluntary assent to your proposals you never can have. In the attempt to pronounce it my tongue would wither in my mouth. With respect to compelling me, you cannot be so irrationally wicked. You cannot be so devoid of good sense as to expect that compulsion will ever produce affection; nay, you must know that the excitement of absolute abhorrence would, it is more than probable, be its consequence."
"Then tell me, fair one, what I am to do!" asked De Villiers, checking a strong tendency which he felt towards irritation. "Tell me how I shall obtain thee, thou ensnarer of my senses! for obtain thee I must. Without thee my life will be nothing---worse than nothing---it will be a burthen I will not be able to bear. But, by all my hopes of salvation, thou shalt be mine, if I should---but no," he said, suddenly changing his manner, "I will not say it, I will not resolve it, for I cannot resolve upon any thing offensive to thee. Oh! consent to my proposals, become my wife, and live happily with a man who adores, who shall for ever adore thee."
"Sir," said she, "you have my answer already. It is final, unalterable, and need not be repeated."
"Then," said he, "proud girl! either you or I, or perhaps both of us, are doomed to wretchedness. Permit me, at least, to kiss your hand before you drive me off in despair."
Here he violently seized her hand, and pressed it forcibly to his lips. Her soul filled with indignation and horror at his rudeness; but fearing to prolong his stay by making any observation concerning it, she meekly turned from him when he loosened his hold, and without making any reply to his farewell, hastened back to the house in great perplexity and alarm. Having taken his resolution as to the measures he should adopt, he did not follow her, but the more to lull any suspicion of his design, he rode up the glen of Turtle Creek, and returned hastily to Du Quesne, by a direction different from the one he came.
She hesitated when she reached home, whether she should communicate the incident to her friends. She did not wish to excite in their minds any unnecessary uneasiness; and she entertained hopes that as the governor had received so decided a refusal, he might see the futility of his pursuit, and disturb her no more. It is true, he threw out some expressions indicative of a resolution to persevere in his designs upon her. But these expressions might only be the common-place protestations of a man wishing to make an impression on a woman whom he found difficult to persuade; or, they might only be the sudden and unreflecting effusions of the moment. At any rate, how could her friends, few and powerless as they were, resist the Governor of Fort Du Quesne, if he should think proper to follow the import of his insinuations? They might, indeed, contribute to her concealment, until he should either forget her, or be removed from his post. But this might bring down his vengeance upon them; and even should her concealment be necessary, by the aid of Tonnaleuka alone, could it be effectually accomplished. To lay the case before him, and be regulated by his advice, she believed would, upon the whole, be her wisest course; and she concluded on not disturbing the serenity of her friends by acquainting them with the incident, until she consulted him to whom she had always been accustomed to look up for advice in every perplexity.
As to De Villiers there was nothing further from his intention than to relinquish his pursuit after her. He saw clearly that nothing was to be obtained from her by mere solicitation; and he was determined not to expend time and labour in vain. His passion for her was too violent to brook such a delay. He therefore resolved to have recourse to active and prompt measures; and he was only sorry that he had happened, while conversing with her, to throw out hints that might put her on her guard against the attempt he meditated. But this consideration formed a motive, additional to the urgency of his passion, to have his design immediately executed, so that she might not have time to adopt any mode of frustrating it.
He therefore, as soon as he returned to the garrison, ordered a Lieutenant Ranttell, a man whom he knew to be fit for his purpose, into his presence.
"Well, Ranttell!" said he.
"Your servant, sir," with a low bow, was the reply.
"I want you on a special service, Lieutenant, which I expect you will manage exactly as you shall be directed."
"To a fraction, if possible."
"There is a lady in the case, Ranttell."
"A pleasant affair, sir, next to shooting the English, and a damned sight better than burning them, as these devils of Indians will have us to do!"
"That's my business, not yours," observed the Governor.
"Your pleasure, sir," ---was the reply.
"A captain's commission, Ranttell," said the Governor, "will be yours, my brave fellow, the moment the lady's brought into the fort."
"Snug's the word," replied the lieutenant, "a neat job, by St. Dennis! Where is the dove's nest, Monsieur Le Governor?"
"At Turtle Creek, a daughter of the old Irishman," replied the governor.
"What! not Doctor Killbreath's wife, I hope," cried Ranttell; "but no matter," he added, winking significantly at the Governor, "sweet's the eye upon a pretty girl, whether married or single."
"You mistake," said the Governor, affecting some offence at this insinuation: "do you think me such a blackguard as to seduce another man's wife?---no---no, Lieutenant, you mistake the matter."
"I beg pardon," returned the Lieutenant, "but I am glad the Doctor is out of the scrape at any rate, for he cured me of the cholic last spring, when our own bungling surgeon could scarce tell what ailed me. But I suppose it is the pretty rosy-lipped, sweet countenanced lady, the Doctor's sister-in-law, that I saw last winter when out in that quarter on a hunting trip. By the Lord, she's a dainty. Had I been the Doctor, I know which of the two sisters I should have chosen for a help-mate."
"But more persons than one, have a choice, you know," observed the Governor, "where two are concerned."
"Perfect logic, your honour," replied Ranttell.
"Well, sir," said De Villiers, "you know the lady---I love her to distraction---I wish to marry her---she's an angel, and I would not for the world pollute her. I told her so, but she is rather shy about the matter. I want you to bring her here, as I think I could here persuade her with more effect, than in the woods under her father's wing yonder. You neither need ask her consent, nor that of any of her friends. Take twenty smart fellows with you, enter the house boldly, and bring her off without question. But, take care, Ranttell! offer her no insult, as you would avoid getting a ball through your brains. Remember, she is to be my wife."
"It shall be all done as fairly and politely, as you would ask her to dance a rigadoon," replied the Lieutenant. "But when shall we set out, Monsieur Le Governor?"
De Villiers pulled out a watch, "by my faith, but I made good speed this morning," said he. "It is not twelve yet. In half an hour, Ranthell, be off. Give each man a dose of rum before you start, and another when you come in sight of your destination, and I shall expect you back by sundown. Good morning---be polite to the lady, and civil to the family."
"I'll manage it as neat as a new made plume in a grenadier's cap," said the lieutenant, bowing several times almost to the ground as he withdrew.
It was between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, when Archy Frazier, who had been in the woods at some distance to the westward of the house, came in hastily, with intelligence that a party of French soldiers were in sight. Maria, who was in her own apartment, for she had scarcely stirred out of it ever since the rencontre with De Villiers, did not hear this intelligence, as the rest of the family did not think proper to disturb her by communicating it. They ran to the door, rather from an impulse of curiosity than alarm; and unconscious that any of themselves were to be the objects of his violence, they met Ranttell rather cordially than otherwise, as, ordering the body of his men to keep at a distance, unless called forward, he, with only three soldiers, advanced to the house. Paddy and Doctor Killbreath, had gone in the morning on a hunting excursion, and were not expected back till night. Gilbert and Archy, therefore, were the only male part of the family present; and for any opposition he might meet with from these, Lieutenant Ranttell cared but little. As neither Gilbert nor Nelly could speak French, Mrs. Killbreath had to return his salutation and answer his interrogations.
"Good day! my friend Frazier! My best wishes for your family," was the first salutation, which was accompanied with a ceremonious bow.
"We thank you," replied Nancy, "but as my father does not speak French, you will excuse his silence."
"With all my heart, Mrs. Killbreath. But pray, my sweet madam, where are all the rest of your people? I hope our fighting here yesterday, has not frightened them away."
"My brother Paddy, and my husband the doctor, are out hunting since the morning, and I believe we are all present except them and my sister, who is rather indisposed since the alarm she received during yesterday's battle."
"You have stood that affair pretty well, I perceive, Mrs. Killbreath," said the lieutenant; "See how hardy people become when they are married. But is your sister so sick as to permit no visiter, my fair friend? I have a message I wish to deliver to her."
"A message for Maria," exclaimed Nancy.--- "Pray, sir, who can it be from?"
"From a most true and hearty friend she has at the garrison," replied the officer.
"Inform me of it, and I shall communicate it to her, and immediately let you know her answer," said Nancy.
"I am instructed only to communicate it to herself," was the reply.
"I shall tell her so," said Nancy, and she without more consideration, hastened to Maria's apartment. But to her astonishment, the officer was there almost as soon as herself.
"Excuse me, ladies!" said he, bowing and smiling very politely to Maria; "excuse me for this unmannerly intrusion. But I must plead the necessity I am under of obeying my commander." "My dear madam," said he, addressing Maria exclusively, "I have to inform you of Governor De Villiers's request that you will honour him with your company, this evening, at fort Du Quesne. I have been ordered out with a party of soldiers to escort you there."
"Alas, alas!" exclaimed Maria, in violent agitation, without making any direct reply to Ranttell; "I see I am undone---Oh! Nancy, Nancy, they are going to take me from you. I might have known it---alas! I might have concealed myself, but I could not think he would have perpetrated such instantaneous violence. Oh, my God, preserve me!"
"What is the meaning of this, lieutenant Ranttell?" asked Nancy; "what do you want with my sister? She cannot have done any thing either to injure or offend the Governor."
"Nor does the Governor, my sweet madam, wish, or intend to do any thing either to injure or offend her. It is pure love, Mrs. Killbreath, that is at the bottom of this affair." "But, my fair lady," said he to Maria, "I am ordered to shew you all possible politeness, and have a horse, as fine an ambler as ever paced over the sod, ready and comfortably caparisoned to carry you to the fort. Pray, now will you permit me to help you on him?"
"Ah, sir, have mercy!" exclaimed Maria, for she shuddered at the idea of being in the power of De Villiers. "Oh! I beseech you, for the love of heaven, do not assist to plunge me into ruin! Heaven will bless you if you let me escape."
"I am but a soldier, madam, and must obey orders you know."
"And oh, sir, would you carry me---me, who never harmed you, to misery, to destruction!"
"There is no danger, madam, of either, I assure you," said the officer, trying to soothe her; "so long as we have a gun in the fort, and a soldier to fire it, not a soul on earth shall harm a hair of your head. But we must be off, madam, and please let us go in good humour together; for, confound me, if I like to be at variance with a lady."
By this time Gilbert hearing something of an altercation between the Frenchman and his daughters, advanced into the room.
"What's wrang, Maria, my bairn?" said he; "I hope the officer wants naething uncivil wi' you?"
"Ah, father, my dear father!" she replied, "I am undone!"
"Sir," said the officer, who perceived that Gilbert was displeased, "there is no use in fretting about the matter. Monsieur De Villiers has taken a fancy to your daughter. He has ordered me to carry her to the fort. He will, I assure you, offer her no harm. On the contrary, he wishes to make her his wife; and will treat her as tenderly as the pupil of his eye!"
"What says he?" asked Gilbert, who did not understand the language addressed to him.
Nancy briefly explained its import.
"Wants my dochter into the fort among soldiers!" exclaimed he, "an' withoot her consent too. Get oot of my hoose this precious moment, ye rascal, to come here on sitch an errand, or by the Great God!---may he forgive me for sitch an oath!---I'll turn ye oot by the shoothers."
The lieutenant understood Gilbert as little as Gilbert understood him; but he perceived him to be enraged, and observed---
"My friends, all this is to no purpose. There are twenty brave fellows without yonder who will enforce my commands." "So, my sweet madam," said he, making a gracious bow to the half distracted Maria, and catching her by the arm, "you had as good come along without giving us more trouble, or permitting this old gentleman to get into a scrape."
"Alas!" said Maria, "since it is so, then God alone can protect me"---so saying, she fell on her knees---"Oh God! oh God!" cried she, in English; "if there is deliverance for me from this
calamity, vouchsafe to send it ere I become wretched; if not, oh teach me to submit to thy will!"
The following portion of The Wilderness was encoded by Panya Lyons!
Here Gilbert could endure no longer; his rage entirely overpowered his reason, and running into an adjacent room, he seized upon an axe that happened to be there.
"I'll cleave you to the yearth this moment," cried he to Ranttell, "if you get not oot, an' no vex my bairn in this gate---" and he actually wielded a blow which would have been fatal to the lieutenant, had not one of the soldiers who had entered the house with him, caught the axe ere it descended, and attempted to wrest it out of his grasp. Gilbert however, although advanced in life, was still a strong man, and in a moment overturned the soldier. But another of the soldier's seized upon the axe, and had it just extricated from Gilbert's hold, when Archy Frazier hearing the scuffle, darted forward upon him and with a kick upon the stomach overturned him upon his companion. Ranttell himself now closed with Archy, and the third soldier having called forward the remainder of the troops, hastened to assist his commander, and Archy was soon overpowered.
Ranttell, as soon as the troops came forward, ordered a sergeant's guard to enter the house, and Gilbert and his son were instantly tied, hands and feet together, with ropes.
"Now, my fair maiden," said he, (running to Maria, who had just recovered from a swoon, for she thought her father was killed,) "the day is our own---let us be going. I am sorry for the scuffle, but it was the curst hot-headedness of that foolish old man that occasioned it. I wished the thing to be done in peace. Mrs. Killbreath here can loosen these ropes as soon as we are gone.---"
"But take care, Mrs. Doctor, and this old dame here," said he, looking at Nelly, whom the fright had thrown into an hysterical fit, from which she was just recovering;"I wish her also to take care not to allow the old dotard, and his hair-brained son to follow us; or, by God! if they do, we shall shoot them!"
Having given these instructions to Mrs. Frazier and her daughter, he caught Maria in his arms to carry her off---
"Sir," said she, making a great exertion to recover her energy of mind;"since such is my fate, keep your hands off me, and I will submit; but before you separate me, perhaps for ever from these beloved beings, my father and mother, permit me to embrace them."
"It is all reasonable," replied Ranttell, glad to see that the application of personal violence towards her would be unnecessary, "do so with all my heart; only remember I can afford you but little time for the ceremony. And pardon me, Mrs. Doctor," he observed. turning to Nancy, "if I interfere in women's concerns, but I see there is one thing you are likely to forget. The lady's stay in the garrison will, perhaps, require some changes of raiment."
Mrs. Killbreath took the hint; but first throwing her arms round Maria's neck, she kissed her, while her eyes overflowed with tears---
"Farewell, my dearest, dearest sister!" said she. "And oh! may God deliver you from these men."
She then hastened to pack up some clothing for Maria, which when done she handed to the lieutenant. While Nancy was thus employed, Maria had alternately embraced her father and mother. She was at length separated from them, and proceeded so far as the porch, when Nelly running after her, again caught her in her arms.
"Oh! my bairn, my lovely bairn! I canna let you leave me. I will go wi' you. Where'er they pit you, canna be owre bad for me. I will watch owre you, an' comfort ye amang the soldiers."
"My mother, I know not what to do," said Maria; "much could I wish they would permit you to go with me, but I fear it would break your heart to witness my misery."
"Alack!" returned Nelly; "it will break my heart to think of my bairn being in distress, an' me no' wi' her to share it, an' to comfort her."
"Pardon me, ladies!" said Ranttell; "but we have no time now to discuss matters; and as my instructions relate only to one lady, I believe I shall be, at present, so moderate as not to exceed them. So, my good mother, you had better walk within doors, and pacify old crack-brain yonder, who will no doubt pronounce many a solid curse upon us before we reach Du Quesne. But, my sweet fair one! you were the prize I was sent to capture; be so good, therefore, as to come along. Yon gallant steed impatiently champs his bit, as if he longed for his lovely burthen."
He here separated her from the clinging arms of her mother, who exclaiming, "Oh, heavenly God! my bairn! my bairn! my lovely, my innocent bairn, is lost!" and she fell flat upon the porch in a state of insensibility.
Maria with a bursting heart, and a burning brain, was soon raised upon the horse prepared for her, and the troops with their beauteous prize, hastened back to Fort Du Quesne.
Gilbert and his wife felt the calamity that had on this day befallen them the more acutely, as they had, since their settlement in the Wilderness, experienced nothing of the kind. Their children had grown up under their eyes, healthy, blooming, and prosperous; and, in all their other affairs, they had enjoyed such a uniform course of tranquillity and success, such an uninterrupted continuance of comfort and repose, that now when the storm of misfortune burst upon them all at once, and struck them so severely in their tenderest affections, it is not wonderful that they were scarcely able to endure the shock.
Gilbert and his son were soon loosened by Mrs. Killbreath from their bonds after the French departed; but the folly of giving pursuit was too apparent for them to attempt it, and all they could do was to weep bitterly for their lost Maria.
As for Nelly, it was a considerable time after her fall upon the porch, before she was restored to sensation, and when that was effected, it was found that her mind had sustained such a shock as to render her delirious. They laid her in bed, for she was in a high fever, and Gilbert had no other expectation during this sorrowful evening, but that he had lost both his wife and his daughter for ever.
As he looked upon Nelly in her raving moments, rage and vexation would sometimes overpower him, and he would involuntarily exclaim---
"Heaven's curse upon the fiends! they hae ruined me, an' a' my comforts!---But God forgie me, I should curse nae yen. I leave them to thy hands, oh Lord! Deal wi' them according to thy own pleasure; but oh! have compassion upon this afflicted family. Protect my bairn, an' restore my wife!"
It was late in the evening when Nelly's mind became so much tranquilized that she began to relish the consolations of religion, and Gilbert was sitting by her bedside reading the following passage of the version of the 4th psalm used by the Church of Scotland:
"In thy great indignation, O Lord! rebuke me not, Nor on me lay thy chast'ning hand, In thy displeasure hot. Lord, I am weak, therefore on me Have mercy, and me spare; Heal me, O Lord, because thou know'st My bones much vexed are---" when the prophet Tonnaleuka entered, on his return from inquiring after the direction which had been taken by the savages who captured Charles Adderly. He had ascertained it, and was now coming to report the circumstance to Maria, and comfort her with the assurance, that something should be immediately done to effect her lover's deliverance.
The prophet was thunderstruck, when he was informed of what had happened to the family. He gave a groan, and threw himself in great agitation upon a bench beside a table upon which he laid his head, and pressing his throbbing temples between his hands, remained in that posture for about fifteen minutes, without speaking a word. He then suddenly started up, and hastily paced the room backwards and forwards for some time in a species of frenzy, with his eyes swollen as if they would burst from their sockets, but apparently too much scorched with the fire of grief to shed a single tear. After which he resumed his former posture at the table, still silent, and seemingly absorbed in intense thought, as well as grief. At length throwing himself upon his knees, he stretched his hands, and lifted his burning eyes towards heaven, and exclaimed---
"Oh! Great Spirit and Father of the universe, assist me in the endeavour, and grant success to what thou hast thyself suggested. I depend on thee, on thee alone to protect that suffering maiden and restore her again to her friends."
He then arose, and inquired for Paddy Frazier; and when told that Paddy had not been at home since the morning, he seemed very impatient, and again paced the floor in great agitation.
In a short time, however, Paddy and Dr. Killbreath arrived, and Tonnaleuka appeared at once to become much tranquilized. The consternation and rage of both these hunters of the forest, when they heard of their sister's misfortune, need not be described: they both swore eternal hatred to the French. But Tonnaleuka did not give Paddy much time to vent forth the vehemence of his rage; he took him out of doors, where he communed with him about ten minutes. When they re-entered the house, Paddy hastily provided himself with a small wooden flask full of rum and some provisions, which he deposited in a pouch at his side, and pitching his rifle on his shoulder, set off again at full speed, with as much briskness and alacrity as if he had just arisen from his couch, after the enjoyment of a long repose.
The prophet then exhorted the family to be of good cheer, as he had great hopes that all might yet be well; and as he understood from Mrs. Killbreath that her father and mother had refused all kinds of nourishment since Maria's capture, he desired that supper should be prepared, of which, he said, he should himself stay to partake. After supper, he took Dr. Killbreath aside and requested him to set off early in the morning towards the head waters of Chartier's Creek, in order to watch the proceedings of a party of Caughnewago Indians, who had carried Charles Adderly in that direction, and to lose no time in bringing him back intelligence of their intentions concerning their prisoner, as soon as he should discover them.
"My son," said he, "show this wampum to the sachem, Takshuma, who is their leader. He will protect you from any injury, and perhaps, give you all the information we require. I should have gone on this errand myself; but, Maria, the child of my heart, is now in distress, and I cannot forsake her."
"My son, my inability to attend to the affairs of Charles Adderly, may, at this crisis, be fatal to him, unless Takshuma grants the petition which, in my name, and upon the testimony of that sacred wampum, I authorize you to deliver to him.---Tell him that Tonnaleuka, the adopted son of the deceased Fallakamsah, formerly chief sachem of the tribe of the Mingoes, and the prophet of Maneto for fifteen tribes, requests Takshuma, sachem of the Caughnewagoes, to grant the English prisoner Charles Adderly, if the Caughnewago counsellors should condemn him to be burned, that which no prophet of Maneto has ever been refused when he asked it for a condemned prisoner---namely, seven days after his condemnation to make his peace with Maneto before he be given to the flames."
"If I had this petition in writing," observed the Doctor, with much simplicity, "I should, no doubt, remember it better, and deliver it more correctly to the sachem."
"My son, you shall have it in writing then," said Tonnaleuka, "for your own use. Only show not the paper to the sachem, for he will either despise you for requiring such as assistant to your memory, or he may look upon it as a forgery of your own, for the chiefs and prophets of our people never use such means of communication with each other."
The Doctor promised to obey the prophet's instructions, which, as well as the petition, were reduced that evening to writing, and he set out on his errand early the next morning.
And now he pours his choice of fear,
In secret on Matilda's ear;
"Consent, and all this dread array,
Like morning dream shall pass away;
Refuse, and by my duty press'd,
I give the word---thou know'st the rest."
The great luminary of this nether world had upwards of an hour's journey to perform, ere he could hide himself behind the edge of the western horizon, from the view of the inhabitants of Fort Du Quesne, when the lovely object of its Governor's passion, was brought an unhappy captive within its walls.
When the sound of the bugle announced the arrival of Ranttell's party, the Governor, with a feeling of some embarrassment, hastened to salute the enchanter of his soul, whom he perceived to be with them, and to conduct her unto his residence. When he held out his hand to assist her in dismounting, she for a moment, with an instinctive shudder, shrunk from his touch; but instantly recollecting that there was no possibility of then avoiding it, without perhaps, subjecting herself to greater rudeness, she silently accepted his assistance, and suffered herself to be led, an uncomplaining victim, to the lodging that had been prepared for her.
This was a tolerably neat room of moderate dimensions, on the second floor of the governor's house, which was situated near that part of the circumvallation which overlooked the Monongahela. It was in the northeastern angle of the house, and had in view from its front windows, the principal area, or parade ground, within the stoccade. Besides the necessary furniture which, although not splendid, was commodious and clean, it contained a few books of a romantic and light species of literature, arranged on some shelves adjoining the door of a small dark closet, which formed an appendage to the apartment.
"Miss Frazier," said De Villiers on handing her into this room, "I am sorry, to my very soul I am sorry, that you should have compelled me to take this step. But I felt that I could not live without you, and I had no alternative. Endeavour to make yourself comfortable in this abode, such as it is, I wish to God it was a palace for your sake."
"Sir," said she, comfort is now a matter of no concern to me, for it is what I feel I cannot enjoy. Alas! to enter a place under such circumstances, would be the same as a dungeon."
Here the energy which had sustained her during her journey, forsook her, for the state in which she had left her friends, rushed into her remembrance, and she burst into tears."
"Oh, my dear father and mother," said she, "what must you not feel at this moment! heaven support you under this trial."
"Be pacified, my lovely maiden," said De Villiers, in a soothing manner---for he really felt affected at her sorrow. "Your feelings are too tender. You are by far of too timid and apprehensive a disposition. I assure you that you will suffer no evil here, and shall also take care to remove any uneasiness your friends may feel on that account. The urgency of passion, irresistible passion, for you, alone, constrained me to separate you from them. But, believe me, it was not to make either you or them unhappy; and, upon the honour of a soldier, I promise that any thing short of parting with you, I shall submit to, in order to make your residence with me agreeable."
"Alas, then, I need expect no relief from misery," she replied, "for nothing short of a separation from you, and restoration to my friends, can afford such relief. Oh, restore me to them, and I shall never cease to bless you, I shall never cease to pray for your happiness!"
"What!" said he, "no---no---you know not how I adore your loveliness, or you would not expect me to part with it so soon. It would be folly indeed, to throw that treasure out of my hand, for which the whole world could not afford me an equivalent. But the whole world, Miss Frazier, cannot now deprive me of you. That blessed consideration makes me ample amends for your present displeasure. Oh, smile upon one who doats on you, and be reconciled to yield to the ardour of his affections, by becoming his wife, and his whole future conduct, he pledges his salvation, shall be regulated so as to make you happy."
"Sir," said she, recovering her full energy of manner and tone---"never---never! You have already had my answer on that subject; an answer which no earthly consideration can ever induce me to change. No, my heart would burst to pieces ere my tongue should utter a promise to be yours."
"Well, my sweet tormentor, you would inflict a pang into my soul, would you, by such a manifestation of hatred for me? But, by heavens! you are beautiful, and so long as I can behold those fascinating features, I shall feel no pangs of any kind! When I shall feel sorrow, I shall fly to you, and gaze upon you. The sight of your charms will quicken me into joy, and to clasp them to my enraptured bosom, will transport me into bliss." He paused---but she continued silent, shuddering at his vehemence; and he soon again continued:
"Maiden! You say you will never promise to be mine. Be it so. I can, if I please, dispense with that promise, and yet be happy. For know, my enchantress, you are at this moment mine to all intents and for all purposes, as completely and absolutely, as if the priest had made you so. It is for your own sake, my fair one, and not for mine, that I wish the forms to be gone through. What say you?---will you consult your own reputation, your own purity, and the satisfaction of your friends, and pronounce the vow which will make me happy without making you wretched."
"Never!"---she replied, in a tone of firmness and decision---"never. If I am doomed to wretchedness, no act of my own shall ever be, with my knowledge, accessary to it. If I cannot control the power of others over me, I can, at least, control the meaning of the words that I utter, and never shall I utter any which will entitle you to exercise authority over me."
"Say you so, obstinate, foolish girl?" he replied, with considerable irritation. "But your obstinacy, or if you prefer the phrase, your firmness on this point, shall be tried. By heavens! if I did not love you too sincerely to seize your charms, and rifle your sweets without ceremony, I would not delay my bliss one hour. But harsh, inconsiderate as you are, your purity and satisfaction of mind, are worth something in my estimation; they are worth at least a few days postponement of my happiness. It shall be, therefore, postponed that it may be the sweeter when it comes; for, by the great God, I swear, it shall come with your own consent, if I should shake your very soul to its centre in order to extort that consent from you! This is my determination, seducing, obdurate girl! I shall now leave you to reflect upon it. But your lovely hand shall first impress rapture upon my lips."
So saying, he forcibly kissed her hand, and left the apartment. Maria threw herself upon the bed, and burst into tears. The full sense of her wretched situation, and still more wretched prospects, rushed violently upon her mind, and she poured forth the sorrows of her soul to her Maker, from whom alone, if there was any deliverance for her, could she expect it, by some miraculous means to proceed. She prayed, fervently prayed, that whatever might be the acuteness of her personal sufferings, she should, at least, bear them without sinning, and that if her distress should occasion her destruction, her soul should return to him from whom it had proceeded, as undefiled, and as unoffending as she had received it.
This pious train of thought had the effect of greatly tranquillizing her mind, and when, in about fifteen minutes after the departure of De Villiers, a squaw entered her apartment with some refreshments, she prevailed on herself to partake slightly of them, after which, committing herself to the all-powerful protection of the God on whom she relied, she locked her chamber door, and throwing her harassed frame again upon the couch, endeavoured to court repose.
But it was long before she obtained it. The misfortunes of Charles Adderly, who loved her so tenderly, and to whom the whole affections of her soul were engaged, for sometime occupied and agitated her mind, so entirely and intensely, as almost to obliterate the recollection of her own. The awful fate which she feared he either had suffered, or would be doomed to suffer, from the cruelty of the savages, excited her mind, as she reflected deeply upon it, to a species of intolerable feeling, so nearly bordering upon despair, that she could have wished herself annihilated, to get rid of it. When she pictured to herself the horrors of his destruction, amidst the flames, gladly, gladly would she have rejoiced in the possibility of becoming herself a substitute to undergo the dreadful doom in his stead.
Then, again, when the terrors of her own situation would recur to her, the possibility of being condemned to the horrible embraces of a wretch whose villany she execrated, occasioned her to shudder, a cold sweat broke upon her frame, and she thought that even Charles's worst fate must be happiness, compared with hers.
"Oh, would to my God!" she mentally exclaimed, "that sooner than permit such a catastrophe to take place, he would strike me dead with his thunder, or cause this building to take fire and consume me amidst the conflagration.
Nature at length became wearied with the poignancy of sorrow, and she sunk into a kind of stupor which terminated, at last, in a slumber, disturbed and troubled, indeed, but infinitely more refreshing and invigorating in its effects than she had any reason to expect.
She arose the next morning, rejoiced to find herself restored to a degree of resolution and fortitude, of which, the preceding evening, she had been entirely destitute; and she now felt as if she could courageously meet her fate, let its aspect be ever so appalling.
The squaw that had the night before brought refreshments to her, appeared some time after she arose, with a request from the Governor that she would favour him with her company at breakfast, which was waiting for her in a parlour below stairs. This invitation she declined on the plea of indisposition. The squaw retired, but in a short time returned to prepare breakfast in her apartment, and in a few minutes was followed by De Villiers himself, who saluted her with great politeness, hoped her indisposition was not of a serious nature, and since she was unable to afford him the pleasure of her presence at breakfast, below, he would crave the liberty to enjoy it in her own room.
"You are master here, sir," said she, "and no doubt, despotically enough disposed to make all such matters bend to your will. My opposition to your taking this liberty, would I am therefore persuaded, be fruitless, and should not relieve me of your presence, let me feel it as disagreeable as I may."
"Then my presence is still disagreeable to you," he observed; "well, let it be so, since yours affords me delight, by the Holy Virgin! I will enjoy it. But, my fair one, I wish you to join me in this breakfast, for, by my faith, I did not bring you here to starve you."
"Sir," said she, "on condition that you avoid the subject so grating to my feelings, I shall partake with you, but on no other."
He bowed a complaisant assent, and she sat down to table with him. But the meal was scarcely over when he renewed the ungrateful subject.
"Oh! how happy, Miss Frazier," he said, looking tenderly at her, and drawing a deep sigh, "should I be, if you were thus the voluntary and permanent mistress of my table, and myself! Oh, will you not consent to receive the hand of the man who loves you beyond all the world?"
"The reply, sir," said she, "that I have so decisively given to that question already, I think might be sufficient to convince you of the inutility of repeating it. That reply was made never to be changed, and it never can be changed!"
"Other methods must then be tried," said he with fierceness; "for by heavens! I must have you for my own, if there be energy in human power to effect it!"
At this moment the sound of a trumpet was heard. "It is these cursed Indians," said he, starting to his feet, "that are going to hold a council concerning our English prisoners, a number of whom they are resolved to burn. I have been trying to persuade them from it, but it won't do. They must be gratified; otherwise they'll go off in dudgeon, and I cannot spare them at present, lest the British under Dunbar should think proper to make a trip this way. I must attend their counsel now and save as many lives as I can."
Maria, whose humanity shuddered at this intelligence, and who that moment thought upon the fate of Charles Adderly, which, for aught she knew, might be dependent upon the decision of this very council---caught the Governor's arm as he was going away.
"Oh, for the love of heaven! Monsieur de Villiers," said she, "save these unfortunate men. God will bless you for the deed."
"Since it is your wish, my sweet one," he replied, "I shall do my utmost; but these savages claim so much merit for their fighting the day before yesterday, that I fear I shall make but little of them, especially as they captured these men themselves. So eager, Miss Frazier, are they for burning their prisoners, that I am told a party of them left the field of battle with one or two captives whom they were resolved not to be baffled in sacrificing, and carried them southward, lest, if they had brought them to the garrison, I should have interfered to save them. But I perceive the old Mingo prophet, Tonnaleuka, among them. This promises well, as he is always averse to burning prisoners, and he has more power over them than I have. Between us, I think we sball be able to save some of these Englishmen."
"Oh! I beseech you to save them all, if you can," cried Maria.
"That is impossible," he returned; "I have already conceded that they should have at least twelve at their disposal; they claimed this as a reward for their conduct in the late battle, and I could not well refuse them. The present counsel is to determine how many more they shall have, as well as to select the twelve for whom they have already stipulated. If the Mingo prophet assists me, I think, however, we shall be able to save the remainder."
"That prophet is a good man," observed Maria; "I know he will assist you, and may heaven also assist you in the benevolent work."
"Amen," said De Villiers."Good morning, my sweet girl. I will think of your wishes, and if possible protect these men."
Shortly after De Villiers departed, the sorrowful Maria beheld from a window the wretched captives, nearly forty in number, tied together, in pairs, and surrounded by several hundred savages who were dancing, singing, halloing, and exhibiting, in every grotesque and frantic manner that could be conceived, their triumph over the unfortunate objects of their barbarous mirth. Her heart for a moment rejoiced to see that Charles Adderly was not among them; but it almost immediately sunk within her, when she recollected that his destruction was perhaps on that very account, the more certainly inevitable.
"For he, alas," she sighed, "my unfortunate Charles! He must be in the hands of those inveterate savages who fled with their victims lest the French should rescue them from their barbarity. Ah! my Charles, to what an evil destiny have we both been born!"
As these reflections passed through her mind, she grew dizzy, the surrounding objects wavered before her eyes, and she staggered back to her couch; but there a flood of tears coming to her relief, she soon became again calm and resigned, and resumed her station at the window. Here her heart warmed to behold Tonnaleuka. His presence seemed, even under the circumstances in which she beheld him, to throw a certain consciousness of security around her, and an almost confident hope that the poor captives who excited so much of her sympathy, would escape uninjured.
He was earnestly talking to some of the Indian chiefs, who appeared to listen to him with great attention. At length De Villiers went forward to him, and walking aside with him to some distance from the groupe, they seemed to converse together for about ten minutes with great earnestness. The Governor then returned to the Indians, and giving the word to march, a flourish of trumpets succeeded, and the party, consisting almost altogether of Indians and prisoners, proceeded out of the fortress. Tonnaleuka remaining some distance behind, took an opportunity, after the Governor had disappeared, when he was unnoticed by the sentinel who was looking after the procession, to make an obeisance to Maria, who still remained at the window. He then lifting his right hand to heaven, and putting it three times on his right ear, thereby intimated his assurance, that God would hear her prayers for protection, and afford her deliverance. She motioned to him in token of understanding his meaning, and he disappeared, leaving on her mind a feeling of encouragement, of an indefinable, but invigorating nature, as strong and cheering as if it imparted an almost certain conviction that she was under the immediate care of heaven, and she felt a degree of tranquillity and fortitude that she had not before experienced since her captivity.
In about two hours, she heard the trumpets again sounding, and, in a short time, the captives and their savage conquerors returned into the fort. Maria perceived that the procession was not now so numerous as when it left the fort; but this excited no surprise in her mind, as the roving and irregular habits of the Indians occasioned them often to disappear suddenly and unaccountably from scenes, in which it might be expected they would feel the highest interest.
The prisoners being conducted to their quarters, the Indians dispersed, and the greater number of them instantly left the fort; and De Villiers hastened to visit the lovely captive whom he had immediately under his own custody.
"Miss Frazier," said he, as he entered her apartment; "I am heartily glad to get rid of these savages, and once more enjoy the delight of your presence. It is like changing the company of fiends for that of an angel."
"Ah! sir, tell me," she returned, "Has any thing been done for the poor Englishmen? Have you secured their safety?"
"They are all safe, thank God!" he replied; "except the twelve I mentioned to you who have been selected by lot. I exerted myself greatly, since I knew it would please you. They have given up all the others to us as prisoners of war."
"And what---what!" she asked, with much emotion, "is to become of these unfortunate twelve?"
"Why I fear much that the savages will burn them, according to their custom in such cases," replied De Villiers.
"And oh, Monsieur de Villiers," said she, "is there no way left to save them from such a cruel fate? Have you not force enough, influence enough, to protect them. Oh, think that these men may have tender relatives---fathers, and mothers, wives and children, whose hearts are at this day in agony to ascertain their fate! Oh, think, feel, if thou canst feel for the misery of others, what will be their horror, their distraction, when they hear that those so dear to them have come to such a terrible end. Oh, do something to save them, I conjure, thee if thou wouldst expect salvation thyself!"
"Why, my sweet enchantress," said he, "why plead so strongly in behalf of men of whom thou knowest nothing, and who neither know nor care any thing about thee; and yet be so indifferent to the prayers and entreaties of one who adores thee? Why feel and tremble so much at the idea of mere strangers being burned to death by a fire of wood, and show so little compassion for one whose life thou art barbarously consuming in the flames kindled by thy own charms? Ah! why, cruel girl, accuse the savages of barbarity to their victims, who are their enemies, when thou art thyself as barbarous, and hard-hearted to thy own lover---to me, alas! who love you with a passion too violent for me to bear long unrequited and live."
"Sir," said she, "it is to no purpose that you talk in this manner. Tell me, tell me, can you do any thing to save these unfortunate men?"
"Tell me first, my angel," returned he, "can you, will you do any thing to save me from a worse fate?"
"Oh, my God," she cried---looking up to heaven, "direct me, merciful Power! what to say--- what to do!---Alas, sir," she continued casting her eyes upon De Villiers, "to what straits would you drive me, say---say---for heaven's sake, can you save these men?"
"If you give me your hand at the altar," said he, after a little apparent meditation, "as the price of their lives, you shall have them, if I should turn out my garrison to rescue them from the stakes."
"Oh, heavenly Father!" she exclaimed, "to what a situation am I reduced! Alas, sir, I cannot, I cannot---Oh, hear me---I would, ah! I think I would give it to you to save these victims, but alas, it is pledged, irrevocably pledged to another."
"Your hand pledged to another!" exclaimed De Villiers, rising from his seat in surprise, and pacing the room in great irritation. "Your hand pledged to another, and no doubt your heart too--- Miss Frazier, is it not so!"
"Alas, sir. I cannot deny it. But surely, surely, if it be in your power, you will not let these unhappy prisoners die."
"Die!" he repeated, "yes---that they must. But---but, perhaps, no," said he, suddenly changing his manner. "It is---that is, it may be still in your power to save them. You are not married, I hope?"
"Then, my lovely fair one, these men may yet be safe. Let us make a bargain.---Let your hand be mine, and their lives shall be yours."
"Alas, sir, have I not told you that my hand is already pledged."
"Merely pledged," cried he, "what signifies that? A mere verbal promise. The wind of the mouth, which, when it passes into the air, is nothing. Miss Frazier, you will surely not place such a trifle, such a nonentity into competition with the lives of twelve human beings. Say the word, my sweetest, tenderest, loveliest of women, utter that which humanity calls upon you to utter, and they are safe."
"Alas, sir!---Oh, what can I do? but it is impossible. I cannot unsay what I have said. I cannot forfeit my truth! No, no, rather than that, let me first die the death allotted to these men!"
"Then these men whom you devote to the flames shall die!" said he, and he hastened out of the room in a paroxysm of rage.
In about twenty minutes the sound of trumpets was heard, and a guard of soldiers appeared conducting twelve prisoners across the court of the fortress opposite Maria's window, at the distance of about twenty yards from which De Villiers gave the word, and the party halted, and fronted towards the window. The prisoners with their heads uncovered, then kneeled and looked up to Maria, as if earnestly supplicating for some important favour.
De Villiers left them in this situation, and hastened to her apartment.
"Look," said he, "hard-hearted girl, at those poor men now under sentence to suffer, within one hour, the most terrible of all deaths, burning at the stake! Look at them on their knees imploring thee to deliver them from a fast approaching and cruel fate. I have told them that their destiny is in thy hands, that if it pleaseth thee, I will defend them from the vengeance of the savages, and procure a reversal of the condemnation that has been passed against them. Wilt thou save them, or wilt thou let them perish?"
Maria looked at the men. Their uniforms of red, in times of prosperity the most brilliant and imposing of all warlike colours, now stained and tattered; their wobegone countenances and wearied-out frames, their humble posture, their hair uncovered and scattered to the winds, to the imagination of Maria, bespoke misery, hardship, and terror in the extreme. She burst into tears as she beheld them; for she reflected that these very men, had, perhaps, been once happy in the enjoyment of domestic comforts, virtuous endearments, and tender attachments; and now, when on the very verge of terminating their existence, of leaving all their joys and affections behind them, and undergoing the most excruciating species of destruction, she beheld them imploring her, who had it in her power to save them by foregoing her own happiness, not to consign them to their awful doom from any selfish consultation of her own wishes, but by gratifying a man who besought her to become his wife, to deliver them and restore them to safety. What was she to do? Could she deny De Villiers, and have these poor supplicants carried off to instant destruction; or could she yield to his desires, and make herself miserable, and, what was the worst of all alternatives, be unfaithful to Charles Adderly?
De Villiers perceived her wavering, and he urged her to a decision. "Five minutes, my love," said he, pulling out his watch---"Let five minutes pass without promising to become my wife, and these men shall be ordered away to the stakes and the faggots already prepared for their execution---"
"Oh, barbarous man! have mercy, have mercy!" she exclaimed. Her eyeballs swelled---her lips quivered and grew pale, her limbs tottered under her, and she fell backwards upon the floor. "God of heaven, I have killed her!" cried De Villiers. He lifted her in his arms, placed her on the bed, and calling loudly for assistance, the attending squaw made her appearance. Some stimulants were applied to Maria's temples, and she soon began again to respire, and recover her sensibility. She at length incoherently exclaimed:---
"Oh! tell me---they have not surely sent them to the flames! The governor cannot be so barbarous! Let them be saved---let them be saved! Alas! I cannot bear to have them burned!"
De Villiers now made a signal out of the window, for the troops and the prisoners to withdraw. Then returning to Maria's bed-side, he watched over her with great anxiety, until he saw the regular chain of her thoughts properly restored, which took place much sooner than he expected. His desire to work upon her feelings, so as to extort from her a consent to marry him, returned with her recovery; and to her inquiry of what had been done with the unfortunate prisoners, he replied,
"They are, my love, respited until to-morrow at noon, in order that you may have time to deliberate leisurely, and decide upon their fate and mine. And, oh! may I conjure you, Miss Frazier, before that time, to resolve on saying the word, which will save them from destruction, and me from despair! I shall now leave you, that you may enjoy repose. Give your commands to Halmanna, this squaw, and she will supply you with whatever the garrison can afford to make you comfortable." So saying, he relieved Maria of his presence by withdrawing from the apartment.
The shock she had sustained had thrown her into a violent fever; and a certain wildness in her expression and manner had become so apparent, as to alarm Halmanna, who in consequence entertained some thoughts of acquainting De Villiers with the circumstance, in order that medical aid might be procured, when she saw the prophet Tonnaleuka entering the house. Halmanna, who believed that if either earthly or spiritual aid could assist Maria, the prophet was the most likely person to afford it, answered Tonnaleuka's inquiry after Miss Frazier, by expressing a desire that he should visit her, as she was very sick.
This being exactly what Tonnaleuka intended to do, he did not require a second invitation; but desiring the squaw to remain below stairs, and not come near the apartment unless sent for, while he remained with the young lady, he in a few moments was in Maria's presence. The very appearance of this venerable man, who had from her infancy been her guide, her oracle, and her friend, and the soothing, parental sound of his voice, produced a powerful effect in allaying her fever, which, having been occasioned altogether by an over-wrought mental excitement, now obtained its proper remedy in the application of comfort, encouragement, and consolation.
"Oh, my father," said she, as he advanced, "your Maria has at length known misfortune--- she has suffered misery, she has felt despair---Oh, art thou now come, as thou wert ever wont, to administer peace and comfort to my soul?"
"My daughter, I am come for that purpose," replied the prophet, sitting down beside her, "and I thank our Great Father, it is in my power."
"My daughter, hear me! my words are comfort, and they are truth. Thou hast this day been greatly imposed upon by the wicked governor of this fortress! The prisoners whom thou sawest, are not condemned to suffer, nor are there any now under such condemnation. Alas! those who were condemned---twelve gallant soldiers, my heart still bleeds for them---were meanly given up by the Governor ere I could interpose in their behalf, and in despite of all my exertions, they were carried across the Alleghany river at noon this day, and committed to the flames. Their sufferings are by this time terminated, and the tribes will, on this occasion, require no more victims."
"Hear me, my daughter. Those who were sentenced to die, returned not back to the fort after leaving it this morning. A band of Ottawas went directly with them to the place of death, and many of my red brothers who did return to the fort, followed immediately after dismissal, to view the sacrifice."
"Hear me farther. As I was amidst the English prisoners, after the Indians had withdrawn, assuring them of their safety, for they understood not the language in which their fate was decided, and therefore knew it not, the Governor came among them. He ordered twelve of them to be separated from the rest. He promised them permission to return to their countrymen under colonel Dunbar, if they would advance into the middle of the fortress-yard, and there kneel, uncovered, before a young lady who should appear at the window of his residence, and obtain in that humble posture, her consent to their enlargement. He informed them, that while making their supplications, they should not speak, as the lady did not understand English; (for his whole scheme was a system of falsehood,) but that he himself should convey to her the purport of their request, and report the lady's answer. He has since informed them that your answer will not be given till to-morrow noon. In the meantime, the men are duped by his artifice to expect liberty which he will not grant, as you have been deceived into the belief that they were petitioning to be rescued from a danger which they neither dreaded, nor have any reason to dread."
"Therefore, my daughter, hear my advice. Persevere in your refusal to become this man's wife. Powerful as he is, the Great Spirit is more powerful than he, and will frustrate all his designs against you, because he loves virtue, and you are virtuous, and because he hates vice, and this man is vicious. Before many days, I trust that the Great Spirit will raise up a deliverer for you, and disappoint the tyrant in his designs."
"My daughter, treasure this my advice in your heart, and fear neither the cunning nor the force of the tempter."
"Father, you have indeed comforted me," she replied. "You have restored life to my soul. For myself, I now fear nothing, since thou, whose words have never yet deceived me, hast bade me not fear. But, Oh, father! forgive my weakness, when I say I am still wretched, since there is one whom thou knowest to be dear to me, in danger. Alas! I need not name him. Canst thou tell me aught of him?"
"My daughter," said the prophet, "I know thy heart is distressed on account of that youth. I have discovered the path his captors have caused him to tread, and hope too, that the Great Spirit will extend to him a share of that mercy with which he is ever ready to aid the virtuous and that he will rescue him whose misfortunes you lament, from the dangers that surround him."
"My daughter, I again recommend you to be of good cheer in all these matters. Inform not the Governor that you know his perfidy. It would only exasperate him, and induce him to have recourse to other stratagems which might involve you in fresh troubles. Require time to deliberate, ere you give an answer to his demands. A little delay may bring you deliverance. But never, never, on any account, answer him according to his wishes. For, my daughter, you know him to be wicked. Uniting your fate with him, would be, therefore, to join in his wickedness. But I need not counsel you thus, since I know that your virtue is firm, and your heart constant."
"Oh, father," said she, seizing the prophet's hand and kissing it, while she moistened it with tears of gratitude and joy, "thou hast ever been to me the source of wisdom and the inspirer of virtue. Next to my heavenly Preserver, I owe to thee the chief blessings of my life. Whilst thou watchest over my safety, methinks that no evil can befal me. Oh, father, wilt thou watch over that of Charles Adderly? Alas, what would protection be to me if he meets with destruction!"
"My daughter, hear me---all that is in my power to do for that young man, is now doing; and when I say I doubt not of his safety, why should you doubt of it? Why should you tremble, when I say to you, be of good cheer on his account as well as your own? Our great Father, on whom you must never forget to place your principal dependence, will never fail you. He will, as the oracles of your religion say, `make all things work together for the good of those who love him."
"My child, that military parade at which the Governor is now employed, will soon be over. He will then, no doubt, return to you. I must, therefore, withdraw. May the Great Being on whom you depend, protect you, and keep you firm!"
He now departed---but before leaving the house, he laid upon Halmanna his commands that she should inform no one of his visit to the sick lady.
"Thanks to Maneto," said he, "she is now free from her fever. But a worse complaint will seize thee, Halmanna, if thou disobeyest my directions."
"Far be it from me," replied Halmanna trembling, "to disobey the prophet of Maneto."
"Then may Maneto bless thee," said Tonnaleuka, and waving his awful wand over her head, he disappeared.
Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone;
Perchance her reason stoops or reels---
Perchance a courage not her own
Braces her mind to desperate tone.
In about half an hour after the prophet withdrew, De Villiers visited Maria. He expressed great satisfaction to find that she was so much better than he had expected; but as she felt an inclination for repose, and informed him of it, he conceived that indulging her in it at this time, would contribute greatly to the further restoration of her health and serenity. He therefore, shortened his visit, and briefly exhorting her for the sake of the unhappy prisoners, as he called them, for his sake, and for her own, before the appointed hour, to determine on being his wife, he withdrew without offering her any species of rudeness.
The next morning, wishing to gain somewhat upon her esteem, by a conciliating demeanor, and a show of delicacy towards her, he admitted her plea of indisposition, and did not insist on joining her at breakfast. Shortly afterwards, however, he entered her apartment. She appeared tranquil and resigned, because the suggestion of hope had afforded her consolation, and inspired her with fortitude. There was, in consequence, a sweetness in her looks, and an increase of her charms, unknown or unthought of by herself, which rendered her appearance altogether more irresistibly fascinating than he thought he had ever before beheld it. His passion for her was therefore more than usually inflamed. But afraid of again occasioning her such a degree of mental excitement as had overpowered her the preceding evening, he resolved to restrain the impetuosity of his feelings, and, if possible, address her in language that should neither alarm nor offend her.
"Miss Frazier," said he, "I need scarcely express my happiness at seeing your serenity and contentment so far restored while under my roof, that I think you could in time bring yourself to live comfortably with me. This circumstance affords me some hope that my application for your hand may not be altogether in vain, and that perhaps you have come to the resolution to decide favourably upon the important affair now committed to your award."
"Sir," she replied, "I have been thinking of that affair; but it is really one of too much importance to be decided without more deliberation than I have yet given it."
"Ah! Miss Frazier!" said he, "surely you cannot hesitate to interpose a single word between twelve fellow-beings and destruction; and you know the hour speedily approaches, which, without that interposition, shall consign them to their fate."
"Monsieur De Villiers," said she, "I have never yet asked a favour from you for myself, and when I first entered these walls I conceived that I never should. I have now changed my mind so far as to make a request, which I hope you will not refuse to grant."
"Ask it! my sweet one," he replied, "and any thing but parting with you, that is within the compass of my power to grant, I pledge my honour shall not be denied you."
"My request is moderate," she replied, "altogether within your power to grant. It is only that I may be indulged with a few days longer time to deliberate on this matter; for I feel it impossible to bring my mind to such an instantaneous change of feeling, as to forget the youth to whom I am pledged, and promise to wed another, by the mere effort of only one day's consideration."
He paced the room for some time in silent meditation after hearing this request. At length, he said,
"It is perhaps reasonable; it is perhaps natural, that this should be so; and you will never find me, my bewitching girl, inclined to treat you unreasonably. You shall have a few days; but, oh! let them be few---for my heart longs, exceedingly longs, to call you its own!"
"Give me one week," said she; "alas! I fear even that will be too short for my purpose!"
"My fairest love!" cried he, "must I postpone my bliss so long? But I will indulge thee. I will show thee by so doing, that I value thy comfort, thy wishes, more than I do my own. I will now hasten to inform the unfortunate Englishmen that they have obtained from thee at least one week's reprieve from their awful sentence: and oh! may they at last obtain from thy humanity their final deliverance! Think not that I am cruel towards them, my fair one. Alas! thou art cruel towards me; and if they be sacrificed, it shall be to thy barbarity---they shall be the victims of my rejected love."
She made no reply to this hypocritical address; for her soul despised his deception, and she even feared to look at him, lest the indignation of her eyes should betray that she was aware of his falsehood. Very much to her satisfaction, however, he scarcely waited for a reply, but, with the self-congratulating air of a man who has gained a great triumph, he bade her good morning, and retired.
The next day happened to be a gala day among the French, whether on account of its being the birth-day of a saint or a grand monarque, is immaterial, and arrangements had been made for celebrating it by a grand fete, in which the greater portion of the soldiers were to be engaged. About two hundred and fifty, it was resolved, should proceed about mid-day to a rising ground, now called Grant's Hill, nearly half a mile to the eastward of the fort, where it was intended that they should march, and countermarch, fire artillery and musketry, eat a hearty dinner, and get drunk, and sing, and swear, and dance, and cut capers, until they were tired; when they should return in the evening to the fort, tumble into their couches, and snore off their debauch like gay fellows.
At about twelve o'clock, the whole garrison was accordingly put in motion, the soldiers and officers running promiscuously to and fro upon the parade ground, where they were to fall into ranks, previous to their marching for the scene of revelry.
Maria had just stationed herself at her window, to view the scene, when she beheld the Tonnaleuka entering the fortress-gate, accompanied by an Indian chief, of a tall and majestic figure. De Villiers had, at this moment, entered upon the parade-ground, for the purpose of ordering the troops to assume their ranks. He halted as he perceived the prophet and the chief advancing towards him. After conversing a few minutes with the former, he made an obeisance to the latter; and calling upon a soldier, he gave him some instructions, when the soldier led the way, followed by Tonnaleuka and his companion, to the governor's house. In a short time, the soldier returned to take his place in the ranks; and in less than fifteen minutes more, the drums and fifes struck up a quick march, and the whole party proceeded to Grant's Hill. Soon afterwards, Maria perceived the prophet alone crossing the area before her window, towards the gate. He looked suddenly back, at a time when he was unnoticed by any one in the yard, and hastily saluting her, continued his way out of the fort.
There was an air of something of importance and satisfaction visible in his manner. She even thought, that, at the time he saluted her, she had seen, what she did not recollect ever before to have seen, a smile playing on his countenance, and she could not but feel confident that some event was about to take place for her advantage.
She was occupied with these thoughts, when Halmanna, entering the room, informed her that she had been commanded by the Mingo prophet to conduct a chief of the Piantia tribe into her apartment, but not to reveal the circumstance to any other person in the garrison.
"What can this chief want with me?" thought Maria. "But he can want nothing but good, since his errand is sanctioned by Tonnaleuka." She therefore desired Halmanna to admit him. Her heart beat violently as she heard his steps advancing. She rose to meet him, and beckoned the squaw, who was entering before him, to retire. He was dressed in an elk-skin robe, the long skirts of which reached below the calves of his legs. This robe was closely wrapped round his waist, so as to show the well-formed configuration of his person, and fastened securely there with a broad belt, fantastically, but rather handsomely, ornamented with porcupine's quills dyed of various colours. His arms were covered with a kind of roller, made of stripes of the soft fur-skins of the smaller animals, neatly enough attached to each other with thongs of half-tanned deer-skin, and wound round the arms from the shoulders to the wrists. At the shoulders, the elbows, and the wrists, these rollers were kept in their places by leathern bands, also ornamented with variegated porcupine's quills. His cap was of a very showy description, made of beaver-skin, with a high plume formed of feathers of different dyes, which, glittering in the sun as he moved along the fortress-yard, produced to the eye of the spectator a very striking and brilliant effect. Tassels, made of small feathers, also of various colours, hung in abundance, eight or nine being on each side, over his ears and down his cheeks, so as to shade and partly conceal them; forming, on the whole, a singularly beautiful and gaudy costume. His feet and legs were covered with mockasins and leggins, in the usual manner of the Indians.
This chief, so majestic in his person and splendid in his apparel, on entering the chamber of Maria, approached her evidently with much emotion, and, to her great astonishment, addressed her in English.
"How sorry I am, Miss Frazier," said he, "to find you a captive in such a place, and in the hands of such a man!---But I forget---you do not know me in this disguise. Alas! has the form of him who loves you with an ardour beyond whatever man has felt for woman, made so slight an impression upon your mind, that the mere changing of the hue of his countenance can conceal him from your recollection? Must I name to you the man who loves you with a tenderness and a devotedness, which none but himself can ever feel?--- alas, must I name to you---George Washington?"
"Oh, my friend!" cried she, alarmed for his safety---"friend of the oppressed! hero of thy country! how is it that you have ventured upon this dangerous ground? I tremble lest you be discovered. The Indians would have no mercy upon you, and the French who possess this place are scarcely less barbarous."
"To rescue you, my soul's beloved," he replied, "I did not hesitate to venture here. Ah, where would I not venture for such a purpose! But, fear not, Miss Frazier, I come strong in the confidence of doing a good deed; strong in the confidence that he who has preserved me amidst more eminent dangers, will preserve me through this; or if I should fall doing my duty, and in the attempt to serve thee, thou fairest, most injured of my country's daughters, it shall be a fall so honest, so glorious, that my conscious spirit will in other regions look back upon it as a matter of joy and exultation."
"Ah, sir!" said she; "was it not rash to risk that life on which, perhaps, the salvation of a nation depends, for the safety of an individual!"
"It is never rash to perform our duty," replied the hero; "no matter what may be the risk.--- Thou wert in distress. I was informed of it. That information was a call from heaven to hasten to thy rescue, and I fear not but that heaven will assist me in accomplishing it."
"Yes," said she; "I have confidence in your success, although I know not by what means you intend to effect it. But you are the favourite of heaven, and whatever you may undertake I know will succeed. But were you not afar off when I was seized? It is yet but a few days since. By what strange means could you hear it, and by what miracle are you here, in the midst of the terrors of fort Du Quesne so soon, and uninjured?"
"I shall inform you," said he. "It was the evening before yesterday. I had just returned from the procession which conveyed General Braddock to his last home, when your brother Paddy entered my tent. He acquainted me in a few words, but they were words that cut me to the heart, that the French had attacked your father's house, and carried you off to Fort Du Quesne, by order of its Governor. Alas, thought I, now indeed is come to pass that which I long feared would be the consequence of so much beauty living so far from the protection of the laws and customs of regular society! But it was no time for retrospection. How to rescue you from your ravishers was the only question. To think of force was vain. The remnant of the Virginians left by the late battle, scarcely exceed a hundred, and Dunbar is commander of the regulars. But even had I possessed an adequate force with which to attack this fortress, to bring that force against it, would not have been the surest way to effect your deliverance. It would have warned the tyrant that he was in danger of losing you, and he would have removed you to some secret place, where perhaps all our diligence could not have found you. Personal exertions were, therefore, the only means I had left, and I resolved to try them. The prophet had desired me to meet him in his cavern, with as little delay as possible, in order to decide upon the measures we should adopt. Before coming to any determination, therefore, I thought proper to hasten there."
"I accordingly informed Colonel Dunbar, who, on account of the harassed and fatigued state of his men, does not intend to leave his present station for several days, of my intended absence; and furnishing Paddy with a horse, he led the way with great rapidity, and we arrived at the prophet's concealment last night. I at once approved of the plan he had formed, and as he had already provided all that we conceived necessary for its execution, we set out from his cavern about two hours since, and thank Providence, have thus far succeeded. The rest remains for the night to accomplish. All that I require of you is, that you will be courageous and firm in the part you will have to act. Tonnaleuka provided a disguise for you as well as for me, and as soon as the people of the garrison have gone to rest, if we can only make our way out of the fort, he will be in waiting at no great distance, with horses ready to carry us to safety. This is the dress you are to assume." Here he produced, from under his robe, the habiliments of a squaw.
"These," he continued, "when the proper time arrives, you will throw over your other clothes, and thus concealed, you will act as my interpreter with the sentinel, and solicit his permission for me to pass out of the fort to worship, according to the custom of the Piantia chiefs, beneath a red-oak tree, to which you are to guide me."
"Alas!" said she, "if the sentinel refuses, we shall be detected, and then---oh, sir, your destruction will be inevitable. It is better not to attempt it---it is, indeed too dangerous. Why should you suffer along with me? Let me bear my own misfortunes alone! It would only double their weight upon my head, if your generosity should involve you in them."
"Fear nothing, dearest Maria!" returned Washington; "if the sentinel should refuse, I shall have a remedy at hand. We need not now trouble ourselves with the fear of such a difficulty, for I assure you, that if we overcome all others, we shall overcome that also."
"Ah! I perceive," she exclaimed, "that there are indeed, other difficulties of a perilous nature. The Governor may come and discover you here, and you will be undone."
"He knows me only," said Washington, "as the character I now personate---a chief of the Piantia tribe, come here by order of his nation, to form a treaty of alliance with the French. Tonnaleuka is my interpreter, and the Governor has agreed to give us an audience to-morrow morning after breakfast. In the mean time he has given directions that I shall be entertained in this house with all proper respect. The squaw Halmanna has received her particular instructions from the prophet, which you are aware, she will not be easily induced to disobey."
"As to the governor finding me here: he will, you may be assured, return with too much bustle and noise from the revels, to take me by surprise; and I can easily resume the apartment that has been allotted to me, before he advances to the house. So, on the whole, Miss Frazier, I do not see that I stand in much danger of being detected."
"I trust in God that you will not be detected," she observed, "and, I believe, the matter is prudently arranged. I shall endeavour to do all in my power to promote its success; for, alas, upon its success alone does my deliverance from a horrible destiny depend."
To lull suspicion as much as possible, and also with the view of making himself acquainted with the different parts of the fortification, so as to be serviceable to any expedition he might hereafter accompany against it, he walked, during the afternoon, openly and freely round the yards and houses, minutely inspecting the whole circumvallation, the trench, the different redoubts, and whatever added to the strength of a place which had now excited a high degree of terror throughout all the middle provincess of British America.
Towards the evening, the revellers on Grant's Hill, returned to the fort, as Washington had foreseen, with much noise and obstreperous mirth, the greater number of them being almost overcome with intoxication. On their approach, Washington retired to his apartment, where he anxiously awaited the hour when he might again visit his beloved, and conduct her to safety.
De Villiers entered her apartment as soon as he had dismissed the soldiers. His spirits were under considerable excitement from the wine and the jollity he had been just enjoying, and when he beheld Maria more than usually cheerful and charming, he felt a strong propensity to break through the agreement he had made with her, and to delay no longer that bliss for which he so ardently longed. Her manner, however, more dignified, calm, and collected, than he had seen it since she entered the fort, convinced him, for he was not so intoxicated as to be totally incapable of reflection, that this could not be accomplished but by the absolute application of perhaps more than even his own personal force; and he could not but recollect, inflamed as he was with both love and wine, that the perpetration of the deed in such a manner, would render him detestably loathsome to her for ever after, and might also be the means of her instant destruction.
After entering the room, and saluting her, he sat gazing at her for several minutes in silence, absorbed in reflections of this nature. At length, resolving to restrain his impetuosity, he muttered to himself, but unconsciously in an audible tone, "No, by heavens! I shall not be guilty of such folly. If I have patience, I shall have her on more easy and agreeable terms." Then, recollecting that she must have heard him,--- "Bewitching being! you have set me mad; you have rendered me wild!" cried he aloud---"by the sorcery of your charms!---Ah, by heavens, you know not the sacrifice I make in delaying my bliss!"
Here the blood gushed to his face, his eyes became inflamed, and darted the very fire of passion. "Hell and fiends!" he exclaimed: "If I must bear this torment longer, it cannot be in the overpowering presence of her beauties!"
So saying, he rushed out of the room, to the great relief of Maria, who trembled in every limb, as she witnessed the terrifying fury of his lawless and wicked passions, which had thus gained such fearful ascendancy over both his reason and his will.
The governor hastened into his own sittingroom, and sent for one or two of his officers, with whom he resolved to become dead drunk, in order to bury in the gulf of inebriation, the remembrance of Maria's charms, and the ungratified tortures of passion which they excited.
Washington's apartment adjoined that in which these Frenchmen now quaffed their wine in quartfuls, and roared out their brutish and clamorous joviality in singing and swearing, until the whole house rung with the noise. At length, although at a pretty late hour, he had the satisfaction to perceive, by their clamour gradually becoming more feeble and interrupted, that the potent offspring of the grape was laying his heaviest hand upon them, and would soon suspend their faculties altogether. A short time, indeed, accomplished this matter. A dead stillness succeeded the riotous and unbounded noise that had so lately filled this region of debauchery, and Washington justly concluded that the revellers had sunk into stupor and insensibility upon the scene of their enjoyment. And although he conceived that the circumstance was favourable for the enterprise he had on hand, yet he could not but feel a pang of mortification and sorrow, when he reflected on the degradation and debasement of human nature which this scene presented to his imagination.
Sweet bud of the Wilderness! emblem of all
That remains in this desolate heart,
The fabric of bliss to its centre may fall,
But patience shall never depart!
Though the wilds of enchantment, all vernal and bright,
In the days of delusion, by fancy combin'd,
With the vanishing phantoms of love and delight,
Abandon my soul like a dream of the night,
And leave but a desert behind---
It was nearly twelve o'clock---every thing in the Governor's house was still and silent; even the squaw had retired to rest, and, excepting those of Washington and Maria, it is probable that there was not at that moment a wakeful eye under its roof.
Washington stole cautiously out of doors, in order to view the state of matters in other parts of the garrison. All was as motionless and silent as his heart could wish. The measured tramp of the sentinel at the fortress gate, was alone to be heard; and, although it was in the middle of July, the clouds of night seemed to perform their office with much effect, and the face of nature was enveloped in a tolerably thick mantle of darkness.
Having ascertained this favourable situation of things, the young hero bent his soul to the business for which he had thus ventured into the strong hold of his enemies. He ascended to the chamber of Maria. He found her waiting with impatience for his appearance.
"Miss Frazier," said he, "thank heaven, the moment is favourable. Haste, lovely maiden, throw on your disguise. Be of good courage, and let us proceed from this abode of wickedness and brutality---God will open the way for us."
A minute or two sufficed to make her ready. She caught Washington's arm. They descended the stairs slowly and without noise, and boldly walked across the area towards the gate.
"Hallo! who comes there?" shouted the sentinel.
"You are my interpreter, remember," whispered Washington to Maria, "as I do not speak French."
"We are friends," replied Maria to the sentinel, imitating, as well as she could, the pronunciation and tone of a squaw.
"And where are you going, my friends," asked the soldier, "at this hour? Why does your comrade remain dumb, mistress?"
"This is the Indian chief," she replied, "that came here to-day with the Mingo prophet. He cannot speak your language, and on that account requested me to solicit your permission for him to pass out to worship the Great Spirit beneath the branches of the red oak, as all the chiefs of his nation have been accustomed to do at this hour of the night, twice every moon, once in the full, and once in the wane."
"And pray, Mrs. Squaw, what is your business with this chief? Let him go and worship till he rots, if he pleases; but for you, my dame, I would advise you rather to go to sleep. He can worship devoutly enough without your help, I dare say. Turn back, mistress, if you please." Here the sentinel pushed her somewhat back from him, while she replied, in considerable fright---
"Ah, sir, my good soldier! I must indeed go with this chief. He is a stranger, and does not know where to find a red oak tree---I must guide him."
"Let him take the first tree he meets," said the sentinel; "it will answer the same purpose, whether it be oak or hiccory. But as for you, dame square-toes, I say you shall not pass here to-night. No, by St. Peter! I shan't risk disobeying orders so far."
"Sir," observed Maria, her agitation having so much increased that she forgot her assumed character of the squaw, and to the surprise of the soldier, spoke good French---"Sir," said she, "this chief declares that he will not go without me. Oh! pray, do now, my good friend, permit us both to pass, and heaven will bless you!"
"Heh! who are you?" cried the sentinel. "I protest you seem somewhat too christianized for a squaw. By the holy mother! but I believe there is something wrong in this affair. The Governor has a lady in keeping. I think I must keep you both within the walls, till we see who you are. I'll be broiled, if it would not cost me a bullet in my heart, if I allowed that lady to escape. Back to your quarters this moment, or by the devil! I shall call the guard."
"Alas!" said the frightened Maria in English to Washington, while the sentinel was uttering this tirade; "we are discovered, we are ruined! Ah me! he threatens to call the guard upon us!"
At that instant the sentinel seized Maria rudely by the arm, and endeavoured to separate her from the chief, calling out loudly for the assistance of the guard; but the next instant he fell, with a dagger plunged to the hilt, by the whole of Washington's tremendous force, in his heart.
The hero seized the trembling Maria in his arms, for terror had rendered her unable to support herself, and hastening with his beloved burden out of the fort, to the spot where Tonnaleuka, attended by Paddy Frazier, had appointed to wait with horses, Maria was in a moment placed on one of them, and her strength being sufficiently recovered, Tonnaleuka led the way through the woods; she followed, and Washington and Paddy brought up the rear.
The numerous shots that they heard fired from different directions round the fort, soon told them, as they rode securely through the intricacies of the forest, that the garrison was alarmed, and that the next day there would in all probability be a hot pursuit made after the sweet fugitive who had thus escaped from the fangs of a tyrant.
About an hour and a half brought them to Tonnaleuka's cavern, from whence Paddy removed the horses to a close dingle at some distance, for the sake of pasturage and concealment.
Some slight refreshment, and the consciousness of security from the power of the tyrant who had threatened the ruin of her happiness, together with the relief from desponding reflections, which the hurry and excitement of her flight had produced, now restored Maria to a train of pleasing and grateful ideas, and she could not refrain from expressing her sense of the happiness she felt in being thus once more under the protection of true friends, and of the obligations she was under to the brave youth, whose prudence and heroism alone could have, with the blessing of Providence, effected her deliverance.
"Ah! Colonel Washington," said she, "to you I owe more, more obligation and gratitude than I can express."
"Miss Frazier," he replied, "to the Almighty I owe thanks that he has made me the humble instrument of preserving the loveliest of his creatures from wretchedness. I owe these thanks for this never-to-be-forgotten blessing, even on my own account; for, alas! had that son of barbarity succeeded in his designs against you---never, never from that day should I have known comfort in this world. Miss Frazier, I have told you often with what ardour and sincerity I love you, how much my happiness in life depends upon a union with you; and although you have not thought proper to encourage my passion, by affording me one single whisper in its approval, yet I have persisted to love you, and even to look forward with a fond hope to the day when you might be brought to afford me some return of affection, and perhaps receive me as the happy partner of your fate."
He here paused for a moment. His heart was full; but Maria appearing too much affected to reply, he soon resumed---
"Ah, think, beloved of my soul! how much your present situation requires a protector---how absolutely it is necessary that you should leave this lawless Wilderness, where men of untamed and licentious passions rule every thing according to their wicked fancies and caprices, unrestrained by either the laws or the opinions of civilized society. For your own sake,---for you are now become the mark against whom the violence of their ruffian passions will be directed---for the sake of that angelic purity which is here exposed to the attacks of fiends---for the sake of your own happiness, the ruin of which is pursued with barbarous avidity by the tyrant of these wilds,---fly with me to the protection of society and laws. Give me---me, who will otherwise never enjoy this world with satisfaction, the right to become your protector, and to secure you an asylum where none will dare to molest you, and where the friends you love may also live in security and comfort."
"My brave, my generous protector!" cried she, "how can I answer you! Would to God that I could recompense your kindness, that I could show my gratitude, that I could prove to you how much I esteem your virtues, and admire your nobleness and heroism of character, by any other means than that which you ask! But, alas, my most valued, my most admired friend, you ask what it is not in my power to give---what is not mine to give"--- she here checked herself for a moment, and then resumed---"yes; I will intrust thee with the secret of my heart. I owe thee this---ah, what do I not owe thee!---but my confidence thou shalt have. Perhaps I have withheld it too long, and thereby encouraged thee to entertain hopes which, sorry, sorry am I to say, must end in disappointment--- my heart, sir, is another's."
"Another's!" exclaimed Washington, staggering back, and for a moment turning pale; but soon the violence of the shock, severe as it was, yielded to the native energy of his heroic soul; a moment's struggle took place, and he recovered his composure, although not his ease, of mind.
"I am to blame, sir," she continued, "for not revealing this to you sooner; but, alas, I was too timid, or rather I was ungenerous enough to fear the effects of a rivalship between you and the youth who had gained my affections before I saw you, for, believe me, that, even when you first sought my heart, it was not mine to give you."
"Then, Maria," said Washington with great calmness, "I know my fate---it is to linger out a life in this world, as long as Providence may please to continue it here, without seeking, without hoping, without caring for personal happiness. But I am resigned. It is the will of Providence. My soul, I know, shall never sink under any calamity, since it does not now sink under this, which is the severest I can ever experience. But, Miss Frazier, although I can submit without murmuring either at you, or at Providence, to this forlornness of my own fate; although I can submit to part with those blissful hopes which for more than eighteen months have formed the great solace of my life, the hopes of you and happiness---yet your welfare, believe me, is as great an object of solicitude with me as ever. I therefore again repeat an offer I once before made to you, that you, and all your friends---and it must be remembered that from this date your friends will be no longer safe in this neighbourhood---should remove to Virginia, where I shall engage to settle them in comfort, safety, and respectability."
She was about to reply, when the sound of footsteps hastily advancing along the dark passage of the cavern, arrested their attention. In a moment Doctor Killbreath appeared, and without ceremony addressed Tonnaleuka:
"Your petition has been granted, father; but it only prolongs Captain Adderly's life till Monday at noon."
"Alas, what of Captain Adderly!" exclaimed Maria, "where is he? oh, tell me---tell me! for heaven's sake what is to become of my Charles!"
"At the prophet's request," replied the doctor inconsiderately, "he has been respited from the flames till Monday; but then I fear that his death will be inevitable. The Indians, with great reluctance, granted him this reprieve. The faggots are already---"
But he said no more, for that moment Maria fell lifeless to the floor. Washington flew to her and lifted her in his arms. She breathed not; she was deadly pale, and the only sign of animation she displayed was a slight quivering motion observable in her lips---those lips that had lately been of the most inviting ruby hue, and that countenance on which every female charm had delighted to dwell, were now destitute of their graces, and ghastly, as if the spirit which had imparted their loveliness, had indeed fled from its possessor, and left her numbered with the dead. Washington carried her to a bed to which the agitated Tonnaleuka conducted him. The soul of the hero, as he bent over her, and beheld the hand of death thus apparently upon her, felt the most acute pang of sorrow he was ever doomed to experience, and moistened her livid cheeks with the last tears that were ever seen to fall from his eyes.
The most judicious means within reach were applied for her recovery, and in about seven or eight minutes the organs of vitality began to resume the performance of their functions. She gave a deep sigh, and respiration recommenced; the fluid of life again circulated through her veins, and the beautiful hue of her countenance began to return.
"Thank my God!" cried Washington, who first perceived these indications of her restoration, "thank my God, she will yet live!"
"Thank thee, thank thee, oh, Great Spirit of the universe!" said Tonnaleuka, who had been extremely distressed during the whole scene, "Oh, thou who restorest this suffering child to us, do thou support her under the trials thou hast brought upon her! If the youth of her choice must die this awful death, do thou enable her to bear the shock."
She was now able to articulate, but it was in a manner wild and incoherent. The returning tide of life brought along with it a burning fever, and when she spoke, she spoke only in delirium.
"Charles Adderly!" were the first sounds she uttered. "Oh, the savages!" she continued, "they have consumed my love! Take me! take me! burn me with him! Ah, I feel myself in flames! my heart is already burning! I am glad of it! Charles, my beloved, our sorrows will soon end!"
Here she relapsed into silence, and appeared to be again falling into a state of insensibility. This, however, continued but a few moments, when her frenzy returned with as much violence as before.
Doctor Killbreath now judiciously proposed to extract some blood from her arm, which was soon accomplished, and shortly afterwards she became tranquil, her horror-struck imagination became less tortured, and reason, piety, and resignation, resumed their seat in her soul."
Washington now felt relief from the terrors which had during the time of her suspended faculties, and her subsequent frenzy, almost overpowered even his manly heart. He now saw who was the object of her affection. He had never before dreamed of it.
"Captain Adderly," thought he, "alas, it is so; she loves him. Her happiness depends upon his welfare. Happy Adderly! at least thou hast been happy, for thou hast been loved by such a being. Oh, Maria, Maria! how I could have cherished thee in my bosom! But though thou art never to be mine, mayest thou be happy!"
He now took Doctor Killbreath apart, conversed with him for some minutes, then returning to Maria---
"I must leave you hastily, Miss Frazier," said he. "I am glad to see that you are recovering. Support your trials with fortitude, and may the God of heaven yet restore you to happiness. Farewell; my duty now calls me elsewhere."
"Farewell, generous, benevolent Washington!" said she, holding out her hand to him. He could not refrain from pressing it, for the first time he had ever taken that liberty, to his burning lips, while she repeated, "Farewell, noble-hearted young man! I never shall forget thy kindness."
He took one look at her beautiful countenance. He dared not trust himself with a second; but hastened, with great agitation, from her apartment; and, followed by Dr. Killbreath, left the cavern.
Farewell, thou fair day; thou green earth, and ye skies,
Now gay with the bright setting sun;
Farewell loves and friendships, ye dear tender ties,
Our race of existence is run!
Thou grim king of terrors! thou life's gloomy foe,
Go frighten the coward and slave;
Go teach them to tremble, fell tyrant but know,
No terrors hast thou for the brave!
The reader will recollect that in the account we gave of the battle of Braddock's Field, we mentioned that Charles Adderly slew a savage when in the act of levelling his rifle at Washington at the distance of only a few feet from that officer, by which means the intended deadly aim failed to accomplish its purpose. This savage happened to be a hero of great repute among the Caughnewago Indians. Several of them perceiving his fall, gave a howl of lamentation, and instantly resolved to seize his destroyer, in order to devote him to the flames, as a sacrifice to the memory of their slaughtered hero. They accordingly succeeded in making him prisoner; the attention of the British being at that time principally occupied in preserving Braddock from falling into their hands.
When the battle was over, the Caughnewago chiefs after a short consultation among themselves concerning what should be done with Charles and another prisoner, a Virginian named Bartley, who had also killed a chief, and whom they were also resolved to sacrifice, determined to remove them while yet in their power, to a distance from fort Du Quesne, lest the French might claim them in the European manner as prisoners of war, and disappoint them of their revenge.
Twenty warriors, therefore, set off as soon as a favourable opportunity offered with these prisoners across the river, and procceeded towards the head waters of Chartier's Creek, where they intended to hold a council, in order to condemn their victims to the flames in the regular manner. During the march the prisoners were stripped almost naked, their hands were tied behind them, and they were subjected to various kinds of barbarous treatment. They were sometimes whipped forward with rods, and at other times goaded with sharp pointed sticks, till the blood trickled down their sides and backs; while their tormentors endeavoured, by every species of wild and frantic exultation, to mortify their feelings with an acute sense of their degraded and wretched situation.
They halted for the night, upon the margin of a small stream about ten miles from the field of battle. Here having tied Charles and his fellow-prisoner, back to back, they continued to dance round them in triumph, singing songs of victory, and clamoring forth yells of exultation for upwards of an hour. They then feasted upon a deer they had killed, a large slice of which they threw upon the grass to each of the captives, but the minds of the latter were too much overpowered with a sense of their horrible situation to permit them to partake of nourishment.
During this awful night, what did Charles Adderly not suffer both in mind and body? With a lacerated frame lying, nearly naked, stretched upon the ground in the open air, with his back closely bound to that of an unfortunate being in the same melancholy condition, he suffered a degree of pain, which, notwithstanding all the weariness and exhaustion of his frame, prevented him from enjoying the slightest slumber.
But the pangs of his body fell infinitely short of those of his mind. An absolute certainty of the most awful fate that could befall humanity stared him in the face; and often, notwithstanding all his attempts to exercise fortitude, made him shudder and sweat with the agony of the reflection. And then his Maria---his tender, his faithful, his lovely Maria, the delight of his eyes, the joy of his soul, the inspirer of the sweetest throbs of his heart, and the sweetest hopes of his fancy---alas! to her he could not bid a last farewell, of her beauties he could not take a parting glance, which his soul might cherish and brood upon with rapture, as it took its flight from his consuming body!
"Alas! she---pure, harmless, lovely, helpless and defenceless, might also be in the hands, and subjected to the insults and tortures of the merciless savages, who would now be let loose in all their wantonness of barbarity, to wreck their vengeance upon every individual of British origin that should come within their power! And she---he groaned deeply as the idea passed through his mind---and she, alas, was immediately within their power, the power of fiends, (he mentally exclaimed,) who will neither regard her sex, nor her youth, nor her innocence, nor her loveliness! ah, my Maria! What can thy Charles do for thee? in bonds here himself, and in wretchedness---Oh, if I could bear thy misfortunes and my own together, how should I rejoice! Oh heaven! wilt thou not protect her whose purity is so like thy own? But why do I rave; perhaps, thou dost protect her---perhaps, even amidst these disastrous times, she is safe---oh! to obtain that assurance, how boldly would I face, how gladly would I endure the fiercest torments the savages can inflict upon me!"
Early the next morning this unhappy young man was compelled to resume his journey for about ten miles further, when the Indians again halted at a place where five or six wigwams were inhabited by some squaws and children. It was a small glade of somewhat romantic aspect, surrounded with sloping hills, and having a pleasant stream trickling along its western border.
Here a feast was again prepared for the party; and the prisoners were once more offered nourishment, of which they refused to partake. When the feast was over, the sachem Taksuma assembled the warriors in council to condemn the prisoners, who were placed on the ground before them. Charles Adderly's sentence was the first to be passed, previous to which Taksuma spoke as follows:
"Brothers---thank Maneto! We have inflicted a sweet and glorious revenge upon the oppressors of our fathers. These oppressors are proud---they think to grasp the whole earth.--- They robbed and murdered our fathers, and took more land from them than they can use. That land they unjustly hold to this day; yet they are not satisfied. They thought to rob us too, Caughnewagoes! They thought that we had hearts like the timid deer, and that they had no more to do than to shew their faces, and we should fly."
"Brothers---they say that the mere treading upon our ground makes it theirs, and they think that wherever we see the prints of their fect we should abandon the country."
"Brothers---they came against us with many men, strongly armed, and we were few; but the Great Spirit taught us how to conquer them. I do not think that they will soon again be so foolish as to disturb us, for they have been taught a lesson."
"Brothers---we lost some of our people by their steel. Hillsamash, who had fought thirty battles, and taken three hundred and fifteen scalps from our enemies, has been slain. That man before you slew him. I saw him with my eyes. They grew dim. The sparkles of horror flashed before them as the horrid steel ran through the body of my friend."
"Brothers---he is gone to Maneto. But we must avenge his death. Are ye for kindling the flames?"
The assembly signified their assent by a loud and unanimous acclamation, and six warriors were ordered to prepare wood for the execution, which was to take place on the third hour afterwards.
The other prisoner was soon also condemned, and both were to be bound to the same stake, and to endure the flames together.
Charles had now become resigned to his fate. His course through life had, at its commencement, and for a long period afterwards, promised to be prosperous and happy. Nay, it had been so. He had enjoyed happiness, the favour of the public, the affection of his friends, and the love of the sweetest female his country had ever produced. It is true his career had been short, and had, especially of late years, been occasionally beset with troubles and perplexities; but this latter period had also been the time of his greatest rapture and joy. He had lived long in a few years; and now, if his hopes and enjoyments were to be cut off in their very bloom, his fears, his griefs, his pains, his sorrows, would also be annihilated. The former might return to him with tenfold increase of enjoyment, but he had great and consoling reason to believe that the latter never should.
While he was fortifying his mind with these considerations for the endurance of the last terrible scene, which he every minute expected to commence, he perceived a white man hastening down the hill that rose to the northward. The savages raised an exclamation of joy, as if they had now obtained a third victim for their vengeance; and Charles shuddered when he distinguished the approaching stranger, whom he believed to be running voluntarily into the jaws of fate, to be Dr. Killbreath.
The doctor however advanced fearlessly forward; and holding out the wampum of Tonnaleuka, he informed the Indians that he was a messenger from the prophet, and was immediately received with an obeisance, and a shout of welcome.
He then advanced to the sachem Taksuma, who was pointed out to him, and delivered to him the prophet's petition, according to his instructions.
Taksuma immediately called upon the warriors to be attentive.
"Listen," said he, "brothers, to the desire of Tonnaleuka, the holy prophet of Maneto. The prisoner Adderly is not prepared to die. In sacrificing him, it is only the body, not the spirit, we wish to punish. Maneto will be offended if we deprive him of this man's soul, which is not now fit to go into his presence."
"Brothers, Tonnaleuka, the great prophet, who declares the will of Maneto, asks the quarter of a moon of longer life for this man, that his spirit may, in that time, prepare itself for the company of the Great Father who made it."
"Brothers, I think we dare not refuse this to the words of the prophet, for the prophet's words are the words of Maneto."
The greater number assented with a voice of applause; but there was a chief, named Remalseh, the brother of the slain Hillsamash, who appeared discontented with the decision. Taksuma asked him to say why he dissented from the voice of the prophet.
"Brothers," said he, addressing the assembly, "I respect the prophet, because I worship and adore Maneto. I will therefore join my assent with yours to allow the destroyer of my brother seven days longer to breathe the air and to see the sun."
"But, brothers, hear me; I grieve much for Hillsamash, and long exceedingly to feast my eyes with the sacrifice of the man who slew him. Is it not natural? He was a brother who reflected honour upon our parentage. I could shed tears for him, but I am resolved never to shed tears for any thing. That prisoner deprived me of him, and my heart shall not feel at ease till I see his destruction. The grief of my soul shall disappear and waste away, as the flames waste the flesh from the bones of that man; but not till then."
"Brothers, I shall not oppose the desire of Tonnaleuka; but lest my indignation against the destroyer of Hillsamash should not permit me to bear to see him live the time requested by the prophet, I shall go westward to hunt, but shall return on the day of sacrifice to delight my soul with beholding the torments of the victim."
So saying, he looked in Charles's face, gave a yell of execration, and hurried from the assembly, followed by three others, who felt in a manner similar to himself.
Doctor Killbreath had now a short conversation with Charles, in which he informed him of the reprieve the prophet had obtained for him. "The prophet would have come himself after you," said he, "and would perhaps have rescued you altogether, but for a very unfortunate occurrence which took place at our house yesterday, and which will require all his attention for a few days. If he can get off from that business before your reprieve is expired, I think he will yet save you."
"What, sir, has taken place at your house?" asked Charles fearfully, for he dreaded that something had befallen Maria.
"Why, sir," replied the doctor, "I think I may as well tell you the whole matter; your heart is stout enough to hear bad news, I hope, although I know it will try you a little. In short, captain, the commander at Du Quesne sent out a party of troops, who attacked our house, bound the old man and Archy with ropes, (Paddy and I were from home) frightened the old woman and Nancy out of their wits, and carried off---Maria, with whom---"
"Maria!" exclaimed Charles, "carried off to Du Quesne! Alas!---Oh, doctor, I could curse, eternally curse the villains! But what,---oh, in the name of heaven, what can I do for her?"
"Nothing, sir," said the doctor calmly, although he himself felt much on the subject, "but there are hands at work for her rescue more powerful than yours can be. I trust they will be successful."
"Oh heaven grant that they may!" said Charles; "but,---ah, these bonds restrain me. Oh God! why am I thus, when my heart's treasure is in distress? Oh heaven, is there to be no end to my misfortunes!"
"Be calm, captain," said the doctor; "had I known you would have felt this matter so violently, I should not have informed you of it."
"Talk not to me of feeling violently!" cried Charles. "Great God! what in heaven or earth could make me feel violently if this could not! Oh God! Oh God! that I could act violently too! then these hell-hounds of Du Quesne should soon learn what it is to molest innocence and loveliness like hers. Talk not to me of feeling violently: those who cannot feel as I do, have never loved as I do. Ah, no! never one loved as I do. Oh, Lord of mercy!" cried he, fervently lifting his hands and eyes towards heaven, "save her, save her, and let me perish!"
Here the Indians assembling round him, inquired what was the matter. The doctor informed them that he had heard bad news from one of his friends whom he loved tenderly, and that he was thus giving way to his grief for the misfortune.
"Hear me, brother," said Taksuma to the doctor. "I thought not that the white men loved each other so well. This man bears his own fate without complaining; but he rages, even to madness, when he hears of a friend being in distress--- and distress which cannot be more fearful than his own. Are there many of your people of this temper?"
"Many among us feel much for the distresses of their friends," replied the doctor; "but there are few, I believe, who carry their feelings to such excess as Captain Adderly does on this occasion."
"I honour him for it," said the sachem, "and shall take care that he be not tortured as the friends of Hillsamash desire he should, before his death. He must be sacrificed, for he has slain a warrior, and is sentenced; but we need not torture him. Neither the red-hot iron, nor the burning brand shall be lifted against him."
The doctor took care, in proper terms, to give due praise to this manifestation of the sachem's elemency, and informed him that he knew the prophet Tonnaleuka would esteem him much on its account.
One of the chiefs now informed Taksuma, that the hour was come when the other prisoner should be executed. Orders were therefore given to have him led to the stake. This unfortunate man took a last farewell of Adderly.
"I go before you," said he, "to the awful doom. But this is, perhaps, a privilege as my sufferings will be the sooner ended. I am not afraid to die; but the manner is terrible. Would to God that these barbarians would send a bullet through my heart; they might then consume my dead carcass as they please. But I must submit to the tortures, though my soul shudders within me, yet I will brave it out."
"Farewell, Bartley," said Charles, almost suffocated with grief and horror. "Your fate is, indeed, preferable to mine. Seven days less of such mental torment as I shall endure is no trifling consideration. May God take you to himself!"
They then cordially shook hands, and Bartley moved towards the stake. He stopped suddenly, however, when he was a few yards distant, and beckoned Doctor Killbreath towards him.
"You are a stranger to me, sir," said the victim, "but you are a Christian and a Briton, and your countenance bespeaks humanity. I think, therefore, that you will not refuse to grant an easily performed request to a dying man."
"If in my power, I will assuredly grant it," replied the doctor, who felt extremely afflicted at Bartley's fate.
"You carry a rifle," observed Bartley, looking at that on which the Doctor leaned.
"Yes, sir," returned the doctor.
"It is charged I suppose," said the victim.
"It is, sir," was the reply.
"My heart would be thankful for its contents ere these savages commence torturing me," observed Bartley.
The doctor mused for a moment on the propriety of granting this request; at length, looking at the prisoner's entreating countenance, he could withstand the workings of compassion no longer, and he resolved to gratify him, let the consequence be what it would.
"You shall have them," said he.
"May heaven bless you," replied Bartley. "Farewell! I hope we shall yet meet in heaven;" and he marched to the place of execution with a countenance of joy, amidst the exulting savages, who not understanding the nature of his dialogue with the doctor, were astonished to behold his sudden assumption of bravery and firmness.
The victim was tied to the stake, the red-hot irons, and the flaming brands were prepared for torturning him, and half a dozen of savages waving these terrific implements in the air, and were rushing forward to drive them into his flesh, when the report of a gun was heard, and he fell dead upon the spot.
Enraged at being thus disappointed in the gratification of their barbarous revenge, they pursued the doctor, whom they soon caught, and would have instantaneously inflicted on him all the tortures they had intended for Bartley, had not Taksuma interfered.
"Brothers," said he, "be cautious in this matter. This man is the messenger of Tonnaleuka. He has, it is true, defrauded you of your just vengeance against a prisoner, and dared, profanely, to interfere with the customs of your fathers. I will not excuse him---but he bears the holy wampum of Tonnaleuka, and we should dread the displeasure of the prophet."
"Brothers---Tonnaleuka himself will condemn his action. Let us detain him prisoner until we inform the prophet of it. Whatever punishment he may award, we shall inflict. The prophet knows best how such an outrage should be punished; or he will consult Maneto on the subject, and instruct us how to act."
This mode of proceeding was agreed to by the warriors, and the doctor was confined a prisoner, with a sentinel placed over him, in one of the wigwams. Charles Adderly was also confined in a wigwam, but being the destroyer of a chief, and a victim already condemned to the flames, he was more strictly guarded than the doctor, who it was not supposed, would be so likely to attempt any desperate mode of escape. Charles was kept constantly bound hand and foot, with four Indians guarding him, whereas the doctor's wrists alone were tied together, and he was watched but by one sentinel.
Taksuma did not fail to despatch a messenger in search of Tonnaleuka, to inform him of what had happened to the doctor. The affairs of Maria at this time kept the prophet so busily moving from place to place, that he was not easily traced. At length, however, the messenger hearing that he was likely to be found at fort Du Quesne, directed his course there, and arrived at Grant's Hill at the time the French soldiers were holding their revels on that place. The messenger had no disinclination to partake of the good cheer that was politely offered him; and after having eaten abundance, he applied himself with great vigour to the consumption of the liquors that were handed to him profusely by some of the merry Frenchmen, who wished to amuse themselves with his fooleries during the time of intoxication. He therefore, in a short time, forgot his errand, Doctor Killbreath, Taksuma, and every thing but the enjoyment of his frolic, and consequently did not see Tonnaleuka for that day, and Doctor Killbreath himself, the reader already knows, saw him in the cavern the next morning. How this happened was simply as follows:
The Indians becoming rather scarce of provisions, had all gone off in small parties to hunt, except the four who were left to guard Charles, and the one who kept watch over the Doctor. On account of being able to speak Indian, the Doctor had somewhat ingratiated himself with a squaw who lived in the wigwam with him. On the evening of the fourth day of his confinement, the Indian that watched him becoming drowsy, requested this squaw to keep guard over the Doctor, while he should enjoy a little sleep. She assented. The Doctor soon prevailed on this Indian female, who, as all females should be, was tender-hearted, and more than particularly so towards the Doctor, to elope with him, promising her a great many fine things, and among others, to make her his wife as soon as they should reach a place of safety, assuring her at the same time, that his master Tonnaleuka would not fail to bless her, and procure her the forgiveness of her friends. The simple lady believed him, for she loved him.
The Doctor's bands were accordingly loosened, and off they set, the Doctor trking care to carry the sentinel's rifle with him, without bidding any one good bye, and were not missed for nearly two hours afterwards.
As the Doctor was very impatient to reach home, he soon outran the squaw; and forgetting all his former protestations of love, and regardless of her cries, her tears, and her upbraidings, he cruelly left her all wearied and forlorn, amidst the clouds of the night, in the heart of a wild desert, either to follow him at her leisure, or retrace her way to her own wigwam, as she thought proper.
Thou power Supreme, whose mighty scheme,
These woes of mine fulfil,
Here, firm I rest, they must be best,
Because they are thy will.
Then all I want, (Oh, do thou grant!)
This one request of mine,
Since to enjoy thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.
The seventh and last day of Charles Adderly's reprieve from his impending doom at length arrived; and any faint hopes that he might have harboured of a final deliverance, were now scattered to the wind. Remalseh the brother of the slain Hillsamash, and the other Indians who had gone off on hunting excursions, now returned to enjoy the ceremony of his execution.
Charles's feelings were sunk, in consequence of the intensity of their previous excitement, nearly to a state of torpor, and he looked upon the awful preparations that were making for his destruction almost with indifference.
Very much to the dissatisfaction of Remalseh, Taksuma prevented the savages from making any arrangements for torturing him. An altercation arose between these chiefs on the subject, but the latter having the authoirty, insisted on keeping his word to Doctor Killbreath, and the warriors obeyed his directions. Charles had been informed by the Doctor of Taksuma's promise, but he entertained such an opinion of the general wickedness and barbarity of the Indians, that he placed very little confidence upon it. When he, therefore, perceived Remalseh, whom he knew to be his inveterate enemy, disputing with Taksuma, he had no doubt, from their manner and gestures, although he understood nothing of their language, that their contest was on this subject; and as Remalseh appeared the more violent of the two, he was confident that he should carry his point, and that consequently the usual tortures would be inflicted.
This idea aroused him at length from his torpor. Had they resolved to overwhelm him at once with the flames, his sufferings would be soon over, and he could look upon his fate with a stoical indifference; but the slow, lingering, and excruciating torments, the endurance of which he now anticipated, were more than human nature could bear to reflect upon unappalled. Notwithstanding all his resolution, he therefore became considerably agitated, when, as soon as the hour of noon arrived, they led him naked to the stake, with great clamour, triumphant yelling, and frantic exultation.
Remalseh himself tied him to the fatal spot, and with ferocious barbarity drew the bands so tight as almost to cut the flesh down to the bone. Taksuma waited until this inveterate savage should retire from the victim, in order to give the signal for throwing upon him the already blazing mass of wood that was kindled by his side. Remalseh gave a shout of joy that all was secure, and had just retired a few paces from Charles, when a troop of cavalry burst, like a clap of thunder, down the eastern hill; a loud huzza rang through the air, while at the same instant, a volley from a number of carbines levelled Remalseh, Taksuma, and five other Indians to the earth. The rest of the savages had scarcely waited to see this slaughter of their chiefs, but had fled in dreadful panic, in various directions, into the adjoining woods. In a moment the sword of Washington had cut the bands of Adderly, and the hapless victim was rescued from the fire of savage vengeance, ere a single particle of it had touched his body.
"Ah, is it thou, matchless Washington," cried Adderly, embracing the hero as soon as his arms were loosened, "that hast restored me to life?"
"It is, my friend," replied Washington; "and I shall do more, I shall restore you to happiness."
"Ah, knowest thou, wonderful man," exclaimed Charles---"knowest thou what can make me happy?"
"I do know," said his deliverer---"If any thing on earth can make thee happy, it is the heart and the hand of the loveliest, purest, and most endearing woman in the creation---Maria Frazier!"
"Angel of mercy!" cried Charles, with a wild mixture of hope, joy, and surprise---"Where--- where is she? Is she still in safety?"
"Thank God," said Washington, with a half suppressed sigh, "she is safe from all present danger. You are now safe also; and may you both long continue so."
"And it is to you, Colonel, that they both owe it," said Doctor Killbreath, coming forward to Adderly, and shaking him warmly by the hand---"I wish you---from my soul, Captain, I wish you joy, of both your life and your love. You may thank Colonel Washington for both. He plunged into the heart of Fort Du Quesne, and rescued, singly and alone, my wretched sister-in-law out of the midst of the Governor's house as safe and unhurt as she entered it.---But with your leave, gentlemen, what if we search these deserted wigwams, (for I perceived the squaws running off, as we approached, as fast as their yoke-fellows,) for something to eat; for after our long rapid ride, I confess I should think a slice of venison an excellent dainty."
"I propose, first," observed Washington, "that we find some clothing for Captain Adderly; and then we shall think of what is best to be done for refreshing our frames."
"My portmanteau," said the Doctor, "will furnish him a suit of as good captain's uniform as there is in the army. I knew the Captain would be naked; and while you were assembling the men at the Great Meadows, I provided the dress."
So saying, the Doctor led forward his horse, unstrapped his portmanteau, and produced a captain's uniform, of the provincial service, complete in all its parts, which, although it did not in every particular exactly fit Charles, answered his present purposes, and he in a moment resumed a christianlike, or rather a soldier-like, appearance; and an unoccupied horse having been brought by Washington's care purposely for him, he was now able to take his place among his companions in arms.
On exploring the Wigwams, there was neither man, woman, nor child, to be found. All had fled in rapid consternation, the moment the cavalry appeared, the squaws carrying away the younger children, and the older ones running after them. So complete indeed had been the panic, than even the warriors, who had assembled to witness the intended sacrifice, had not carried away their rifles; and Dr. Killbreath, whose rifle had of course been taken from him when he was captured for making such an offensive use of it, although he had replaced it with that of the sentinel, from whom he had run off, did not now scruple to reclaim his own, which he found in one of the wigwams, and, to which, as it had been an old acquaintance, he gave a hearty welcome.
As the troops had brought some provisions with them, they were enabled, with the aid of what they found in the wigwams, to make a very comfortable meal, which they had no sooner dispatched, than they bent their way towards Turtle creek, Washington being anxious to conduct Captain Adderly in safety to his Maria.
The squadron of horse consisted of about fifty in number, Virginia rangers, all well acquainted with scouring the woods. They did not, therefore, fear for any force that under the present circumstances of the country could be hastily brought against them from fort Du Quesne, or elsewhere in the neighbourhood. The present garrison of Du Quesne consisted chiefly of infantry, there not being more than one company of horse in it, so that if a French force too numerous to be attacked with advantage, should appear, they could at least keep out of its reach by their superior fleetness and knowledge of the woods.
As their horses had been driven at a very rapid rate all the way from the Great Meadows to the place of destination, to which Dr. Killbreath had been their guide, they now moved at rather a moderate pace, and it was late before they arrived at Frazier's.
Here they met with a hearty and joyful welcome; provisions for the men, and provender for the horses, were both furnished with prompt and zealous liberality. Gilbert and Nelly showered blessings, often and often, upon Washington's head, for what he had so nobly and gallantly done for their darling daughter. They had both gone to Tonnaleuka's cavern in order to visit her, it being dangerous for her at the present crisis to enter their house which had, indeed, since her escape from the fort, been several times searched, and ransacked by parties of soldiers sent out in pursuit of her. Gilbert had been even told that De Villiers had threatened to come himself, and raze it to the ground, if the old man did not inform him where Maria was to be found. As Gilbert, however, conceived that this was only a threat which the governor had no intention to put into execution, he did not, on this occasion, think proper to inform Washington of it. The troops were, therefore, after they had received refreshments, conveyed to the same dingle where Paddy Frazier had concealed the horses on the night of Maria's rescue from Du Quesne. Washington preferred that they should encamp there for the night rather than at Frazier's, as being a spot where there was less danger of being discovered by the enemy, while it was equally favourable for his setting off for the Great Meadows, to which place he intended to proceed the next day.
This matter being adjusted, he retired with Charles Adderly to pass the night at Frazier's, it being too late an hour to visit the cavern of Tonnaleuka. The impatience of Charles to behold the charmer of his soul, the espoused of his heart, after her late disasters, was, indeed, so extreme that he could scarcely brook the delay which this arrangement occasioned; and it was with difficulty that he permitted his desire to hasten immediately to her abode, to be overruled by the persuasions of the more prudent and considerate Washington.
"She shall not be disturbed from her repose," said Charles, in arguing the point. "All I want is to enjoy the happiness of feeling myself in the same habitation with her till the morning."
"You will, at least, if you persist in gratifying this piece of useless impatience," said Washington, "disturb Tonnaleuka's repose, a matter which I am sure would give you no pleasure; and, then consider, that as the prophet may not have accommodations for you in his subterranean abode, you might be obliged to sit moping and dozing by the fireside, either breaking your heart or dreaming nonsense, till a reasonable time in the morning should afford you the wished-for happiness. No, you have, just now, my friend, too much need for the refreshment of a few hours comfortable rest yourself after what you have undergone, for me to permit you to take this whimsical step."
"Well! do as you please with me," replied Charles. "You are not so hot brained as I am; and, as you do not feel so acutely in this matter, you can judge more cooly, and, no doubt, more correctly."
"Alas!" thought Washington, and he heaved a sigh, "he knows not how acutely, how severely I feel in this matter."
Charles was, indeed, as his illustrious friend had observed, much in need of rest. Ever since he had fallen into the hands of the savages, he could scarcely be said to have enjoyed any; and in spite of all his ardour and impatience to be with Maria, as soon as he had thrown himself upon a comfortable couch in one of Gilbert Frazier's apartments, he fell into a deep and invigorating slumber, which continued until the beams of heaven shone full upon his pillow in the morning. He then arose vigorous, cheerful, and rejoicing, confident now of proceeding instantaneously to the presence of his beloved. But he was doomed to bear another half hour's provoking delay; for Mrs. Frazier would by no means permit such esteemed guests to leave her house without breakfast, and Washington agreed that she should be indulged. Charles had, in consequence, to submit with as good a grace as he could assume, and by making a considerable effort, he was able to smile off the vexation and chargin, which these little cross-purposes to his wishes occasioned him to feel.
At length all obstacles were removed, and Washington set out with him to the cavern.
Maria had suffered much from her anxiety concerning the fate of Charles; but the attentions of Tonnaleuka, who had industriously infused into her mind the consolations of hope and of piety, greatly soothed, and meliorated her feelings. Tonnaleuka, however, had not himself any certainty as to Charles's safety; nay, he had begun to entertain great fear for the worst, and therefore could not administer to the afflicted Maria that solid species of comfort which an unequivocal assurance of his belief in her lover's safety, would have enabled him to do.
They were sitting together after breakfast, conversing about the misfortunes of Charles, when they heard the sound of persons entering the cavern.
"My child, I have a presentiment that there is good news approaching us," said Tonnaleuka.
"Heaven grant it!" she replied. "But, alas, I am so accustomed to hear of nothing but disasters, that---Oh, God of goodness, is it so!" and the next moment her head was in Charles's bosom.
"My dearest Maria! My dearest love!" he exclaimed; "have we met---have we, at length, met!---oh never, never again, while we live, shall we part!"
For some minutes she was unable to speak; at length she burst into tears, and found utterance.
"Oh Charles!" said she; "it is you, indeed, whom I again behold. Thanks to a merciful God, you are yet living! By what miracle has he preserved you from your awful doom? Oh, are you not yet in danger?"
"No, my dearest love," he replied; "I am in no danger; but that thou art safe---that I find thee here---that I thus clasp my treasure to my heart thanks! glory to the God who has thought of us in mercy! who has rescued us out of distress unspeakable; who has brought us together in a manner, indeed, miraculous; by means of an exertion of such a combination of wisdom, courage, benevolence, promptitude and energy of action, which no earthly being but one possesses!"
"Ah!" cried she suddenly; "I see it; I might have known it! It is he, it is he! Nothing that man can do is difficult for him. My deliverer is thine. Oh, Washington, Washington!"
Here she advanced towards the hero, who met her calmly in his manner, but inwardly trembling, and almost fearful for the steadiness of his own heart. Ah! when she who reigned over his whole affections now fondly approached him in all her charms of youth, beauty, tenderness, and virtue, could he feel easy, collected, and cool! No; Washington's feelings were not of a temperament capable of such stoicism. But he had a soul superior to his feelings, and capable of controling every impulse that stood in the way of his duty. He had now formed within his mind a purpose which he conceived his duty called upon him immediately to accomplish. It was indeed a task, a difficult task. The force of nature was strong, was almost irresistible against it. But he would not shrink from it, although his heart should burst assunder in its performance.
"Thanks, thanks, thou incomparable man!" cried Maria, to the restorer of her Charles and herself to happiness and each other. "What can I say to express the weight of our obligations to thee?"
"Miss Frazier," he replied, taking hold of the hand which she held out to him; "spare your thanks. The witnessing of your joy on the present occasion is an ample recompense for my exertions. But let me say that it will recompense me still more amply to witness the confirmation of your permanent felicity. Captain Adderly," said he, "give me your hand." Here he for a moment appeared much affected, and a sudden paleness came upon his countenance. It continued, however, but an instant; the cloud passed swiftly away, and all the firmness, nobleness, and dignity of America's hero, shone full and bright from his countenance.
"The struggle is now over," thought he; "and I am what I should be." "My friend," said he to Charles; "that lady by your side I have loved, as I shall never love another. But you possessed her heart, before she possessed mine. You are become necessary to her happiness---her happiness, in competition with which I value my own as nothing; and I know well that she is necessary to yours. Take her, my friend; make her your own; and oh may you be long happy together!"
"My best of friends!" cried Charles, almost weeping with the force of his admiration for his deliverer's magnanimity. "You---you alone could be capable of this. I shall not attempt to express my gratitude. It would be in vain. But a heart like yours can easily imagine it.---Ah, then you loved my Maria. I once for a moment suspected it. But I was secure in her fidelity, and cast the suspicion from my soul as injurious towards her. Highly, highly can I estimate the sacrifice which, on her account and mine, you now make of those heavenly hopes which must have accompanied a love for her; and highly should I appreciate myself if I could imitate thee in the magnanimous self-denial of sacrificing such hopes at the shrine of friendship and duty. But, alas, I feel that I am not capable of such virtue. Oh Maria, your Charles acknowledges his inferiority to that man!"
"And well may you without a blush acknowledged it," replied Maria, proud of her lover's admiration of the hero, and rejoiced that he did not hesitate to confess him his superior in virtue and energetic greatness of mind. "For ah," she continued, "who can compare with him in virtue? oh, what do we not owe him!"
"My children!" said Tonnaleuka, who had hitherto remained in silent astonishment; "this scene, indeed, affects me. I knew Colonel Washington capable of much, but I scarcely thought him capable of this; for I knew the fervour of his love for that maiden, and I know with what adamantine bonds, (said he with unusual energy) love, like his, binds the human heart."
"My children, I cannot speak my joy at this happy meeting---Oh may the Great Father who raised up this heroic deliverer for you, make you long the objects of his care in this life, and in that of immortality, the inheritors of his eternal love!"
Washington now again addressed Maria, "Miss Frazier," said he, "there is yet one thing remaining to set my mind at ease respecting you, that is, your removal from this desert, where you are now beset with perils, imminent, innumerable, and terrifying. I entreat you to leave it with the man of your choice. Give him a legal right to protect you in the midst of society. I shall then be assured of your safety, and become, if not happy, at least resigned, and perhaps, content with my lot."
"Sir," she replied, "Captain Adderly is aware of my only objection to the wishes he has often expressed on this subject. This objection still remains. If it were removed---but of that I see, at present, no probability---I will not affect to say, that I should advance any other."
"Oh Maria, my dearest love!"---said Charles, "Do overlook that objection under present circumstances. It is one which, under any circumstances, ought not to intervene between a union of hearts like ours. It is of too trifling a nature, surely, to be put in the balance against your safety and my happiness. Believe me, my love, my father is not of such a mercenary mind as you imagine. He will place no importance upon gold, in comparison to the permanent happiness of his son. He has both too much liberality as a man, and too much tenderness as a father, for that."
"But his consent, at all events, should be first procured," returned Maria. "You are his only son; he has no doubt been an indulgent father; and it would be giving him real ground for offence, if you should take such an important, irretrievable step without his approbation, nay, without his knowledge."
"Miss Frazier," observed Washington, "these sentiments become you; they are just such as I should expect from your acute delicacy of feeling, and strong sense of propriety. But I am glad that there are no other obstacles in the way. These shall vanish. I shall contribute to remove them. You know me too well not to suppose that I shall be the obliged party if you accept the offer I am about to make. It has pleased providence to bestow upon me a fortune amounting to even more than affluence. A portion of this I can easily, and shall gladly, devote to the promotion of a purpose so dear to my heart as your safety and welfare; and must beg leave to make over to you deeds of such a property as shall reconcile your future father-in-law to your alliance with his family. I trust---"
"Ah!" said Tonnaleuka, hastily interrupting him. "Hear me---Where will your generosity, your kindness for this young woman have an end?"
"Hear me, permit me to speak. You have plunged into the midst of her enemies, and snatched her from ruin. You have relinquished in favour of a rival the most fondly cherished wishes of your soul, to promote her happiness, and now you would bestow fortune upon her."
"But, hear me, glorious young man! and believe me, she requires not this last instance of your generosity. She is rich---as rich, even in worldly goods, as the father of any man whom she may make her husband, should wish her to be. She is my hieress. She is my daughter! my only, only child! Oh, Maria, Maria! I am no Indian--- I am a son of Europe. Oh, embrace me, I am thy father!"
"My father!" she exclaimed, as she threw her arms round him, and leaned her head on his bosom. "My father, and have I really such a father--- am I not indeed an orphan? But I long felt it, although I knew it not. I never felt forlorn in thy presence. Oh, gracious God! thou art kind. This, indeed, this crowns the mighty blessings thou hast this day conferred upon me. Oh, my father, my father! I feel thou art indeed my father. Why did I not know my happiness sooner?"
"Daughter of my love!" replied Tonnaleuka, again clasping her to his heart, "in your infancy I saw you happy and safe, and I was content. In the latter years, you were also, until within these few days, as serene and comfortable as perhaps the state of womanhood will permit. I would not, therefore, disturb this serenity of your bosom for no purpose, and I saw none that could be answered by doing so. I had acquired an influence over the inhabitants of these wilds by my assumption of their manners, and of the character of a prophet among them, which had been often useful to themselves, and which I believed might on some emergency be useful to you and to your friends. I wished, therefore, to maintain this character undiscovered and impenetrable to all the world, so long as it might be attended with such benefits. I perceive that you, and they, and I, must now, all of us, leave the Wilderness, from whence that repose, and safety which once blest it, is fled. We must mix in the ranks of society, my daughter. The scene will be new to you, and it may for a while be irksome. But it will afford you safety, and an opportunity of performing duties, and consequently of being useful to both yourself and others, which cannot here be found."
"But, my friends," said he to Washington and Adderly, "I perceive that you are surprised at this discovery, and, no doubt, feel a curiosity, since you find I am not an Indian, to know what I really am. I shall at present give you but a brief sketch of my history. At a more convenient season, I may, perhaps, enter more minutely into its details."
Be hush'd, my dark spirit! for wisdom condemns,
When the faint and the feeble deplore;
Be strong as the rock of the ocean that stems
A thousand wild waves on the shore!
Through the perils of chance, and the scowl of disdain,
May thy front be unalter'd, thy courage elato!
Yea, even the name I have worshipped in vain
Shall awake not the sigh of remembrance again;
To bear is to conquer our fate.
"I am," said Tonnaleuka, "by birth a Scotchman, and a Highlander. My European name is Mackintosh, a name to which my zeal for an unfortunate cause has given a place in the history of Britain. At the death of Queen Anne, it is well known that the friends of the house of Stuart, among the most zealous of whom I ranked myself, for I was then young, enthusiastic, and rash, resolved to attempt the re-establishment of its exiled representative upon the throne of his ancestors."
"The Earl of Mar was the first to raise the standard of insurrection in the Highlands, and I was the first to join him with the whole strength of my clan, consisting of nearly a thousand of as brave men as ever wore tartan. We soon heard that Mr. Forster, the Earl of Derwentwater, and some others had raised forces in England to support the same cause, and were on their way to join us in the Lowlands of Scotland. I was detached at the head of twenty-five hundred men to meet them in the Lothians. The Frith of Forth had to be crossed in the face of a strong naval force, aware of our design. By various manoeuvres, however, we drew off the attention of the ships from the place of our embarkation, and, during the night, arrived safe on the southern shore. I immediately invested Leith, which surrendered; but the Duke of Argyle hastily throwing himself into Edinburgh with a large body of troops, I was deprived of the capital. I proceeded, therefore, without delay, to join our English confederates, who waited for us at Kelso some distance southward."
"Being now nearly six thousand strong, we resolved to push boldly into England, in order to encourage our adherents there, and strike some sudden blow against the Hanoverian government."
"Fortune smiled kindly enough upon us until we reached Preston, where she ceased for ever to encourage our cause. General Willis there besieged us with a formidable army. We were compelled to surrender, and I, together with all our leaders, was carried to London, and imprisoned in Newgate. About the same time, the Earl of Mar was defeated in the Highlands, and the friends of the Stuarts gave up the contest."
"They paid dear for it, however. Almost every week brought into my prison intelligence of the execution of some of my confederates, few of whom, after condemnation, received mercy. I who had been much more active than many who had suffered, had therefore no reason to expect any. For several months there was no word of my trial. At length I was desired to prepare for it, as it should take place in a few days. Several of my fellow-prisoners, also under the charge of high treason, were to be tried at the same time. The evening previous to the sitting of the court, I engaged five of these to assist me in an attempt to escape. We soon mastered the jailer and his assistants, and in a moment dispersed ourselves in different directions amidst the crowds of London. Less than a week afterwards found me at the court of St. Germain's, the titular sovereign of which received me with great respect and cordiality."
"My Scottish property was now lost to me by an act of attainder, and I was declared an outlaw. I was soon in beggary, but the interest of the Stuarts was sufficient to procure me a captain's commission in the French army. In a few years I was sent as lieutenant-colonel of a regiment to Canada. My superior, disliking the climate, soon returned to Europe, and I was made colonel. In this capacity I was stationed for a number of years at a fort near the falls of Niagara. Here I had an opportunity of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the manners and customs of the Indians, as well as many of their languages; and also of greatly improving my fortune, by purchasing their furs, and transmitting them for sale to Quebec, where I had formed connexions with mercantile houses for that purpose."
"I had never yet thought of entering upon the marriage state; for, although I had not been indifferent to the sweets of female society, yet, perhaps the sense of my misfortunes and unsettled condition of life, had prevented any woman from making a serious impression upon my heart. But I was now doomed to behold one to whose graces, accomplishments, and virtues, I felt delighted to pay homage. It was during a visit I paid to Quebec on pecuniary concerns, that I first beheld her. She was the daughter of Monsieur d'Anville, commander of the Quebec garrison, and only a few years from France. I became entirely captivated with her charms, and although I was then thirty-seven years of age, and she but twentytwo, and although she had refused the hands of numerous suitors, I had the happiness to gain an interest in her heart. Her father at first made some difficulty about consenting to our union. He was rich and noble; but I was so too, and he at length yielded."
"We were somewhat more than a year married, when by Monsieur d'Anville's interest I was appointed to command the garrison at New-Orleans. In proceeding there, I was instructed to descend the Ohio river, to take notes of the most eligible situations for a chain of forts which the French government then contemplated erecting, so as to secure the possession of the whole country from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico."
"I set out with my wife, who was attended by one female servant, in the autumn of 1734. We were accompanied by six officers, who had also received appointments at New-Orleans. We advanced on our journey, receiving assurances of friendship from the different tribes on our route, and without meeting with any accident, until we reached the mouth of French Creek, when unfortunately our servant girl died, and my wife was left without any female attendant. We felt this accident the more acutely, as Maria, which was my wife's name, was then far advanced in pregnancy, and there was no possibility of replacing our deceased servant with another from Canada previous to the time her confinement was expected. In this dilemma we heard of an Indian queen residing on the bank of the Monongahela, not far from our intended route, whose society, it was thought, would be the most suitable the country could afford to my wife under present circumstances. We accordingly hastened there, and Alliquippa received us with great friendship and kindness."
"Maria, however, still felt so uncomfortable at the prospect before her, with only savage women to attend her, that it was with great joy we were informed of some white women being in the vici dian language, when I spoke in any other, they conceived that there was something supernatural about me, and began to reverence me in my insanity, as a person under the effects of prophetic inspiration."
"As this opinion of these savages had probably saved my life, I believed it best when I recovered, not to undeceive them. I rather took some pains to confirm them in it. At length my desire to inquire after my child became so strong, that I privately left the Iroquois with that intention. I had proceeded eastward as far as the Scioto river, when a party of the Mingoes seized me. I, however, understood their language, customs, and opinions too well, to feel much alarmed. The delay in my enquiry after my child, that the accident would occasion, grieved me most. My appearance, both as to complexion and dress, was altogether Indian, for I had, in order to avoid danger on my journey, used their dyes in colouring my skin. I also had resolved to avail myself of the hint which the credulity of the Iroquois had given me, if I should fall in with any of the tribes, to pass upon them as a prophet. I therefore represented myself to the Mingoes as origiginally belonging to a remote nation of Canadian Indians, and as frequently having had visions by which I was instructed to go towards the Ohio in order to teach the tribes in that quarter the will of the Great Father."
"It happened that these Mingoes, had, at that time, some prisoners whom they had taken from the Ottawas in a battle, and concerning whom they were the next day to hold a council, which they invited me to attend. I immediately determined to try what I could do to save these prisoners, by working on the belief which their conquerors seemed to entertain of my prophetic mission, and succeeded beyond my expectation."
"I was in consequence of this incident, inspired with the resolution of remaining among the Indians for the purpose of using the influence I had thus acquired, in order to tame their manners, and restrain their barbarous practices towards their enemies. With this view, I solicited adoption into the tribe of the Mingoes, and their principal sachem, Fallakamsah, who had lost a son in the late fight with the Ottawas, received me with all the usual formalities, in his stead."
"My desire to make inquiry after my child, however, still urged me to proceed eastward. I informed Fallakamsah, that a vision had ordered me to that quarter, and requested his cousent to my journey. He at once gave it, observing:"
"Fallakamsah never will oppose the revelations of the Great Spirit"---
"I came to Frazier's. He did not know me. I saw my child, I kissed it, and pronouncing a blessing upon its head, returned to the Mingoes, for the purpose of extending my influence among the Indian nations. I succeeded, and was soon acknowledged by all the neighbouring tribes as the undoubred prophet of Maneto."
"In a few months, I again visited my daughter, and formed the resolution of making a concealed residence in her vicinity. I soon discovered this cavern; it was naturally well suited for my purpose; and with considerable labour and perseverance I rendered it still more so by constructing its entrance as you find it. It was whilst I was employed in this undertaking, that my intercourse with Frazier's family, in the character under which they have ever since known me, commenced. In a dell, a short distance from this place, I found Paddy, who was then but a small boy, lying on the ground crying piteously, with a fractured limb. I carried him home, and by this means obtained an unsuspicious introduction to the intimacy of the family. Previous to this, my visits had been few, and made cautiously, for I feared discovery from the superior means which Gilbert and his wife had of knowing me. I escaped such discovery, however; for simple and undisguised themselves, they placed implicit confidence in my story, and looked upon me to be nothing more than I pretended. "
"I now became the instructor of my child, and I felt happier than ever I thought this world could make me, since it no longer contained her who had given me the only true relish of existence I had ever enjoyed. I had no desire to return to society. My all was here, in the Wilderness. My child was here, the last sad home of my wife was here; here was the spot---ah, how often have I watered it with my tears! where the remains of her once lovely form were interred. Here, too, was the theatre of my usefulness to humanity. By my authority over the minds of the savages, I have had the happiness to save many a human being from destruction. In maintaining that authority, however, I must not conceal that I was often obliged, in imitation of the Catholic priesthood in former times, to work miracles; in successfully effecting which I have been long greatly assisted by the shrewdness and dexterity of Paddy Frazier, who alone is in the secret of my being an European, although he knows nothing more of my history. It was by his management that the eagle which was sacrificed instead of Doctor Killbreath, at Le Boeuf, was found so opportunely bound to the Rock at Lake Erie, and numberless other instances---"
Tonnaleuka, or rather the Laird of Mackintosh, was here interrupted by the hasty entrance of Paddy Frazier, with information "that a party of French soldiers, commanded by De Villiers himself, had just surrounded his father's house, threatening to burn it, and to carry the whole family prisoners to Fort Du Quesne, in order to compel them by torture to discover the place of Maria's concealment."
Here was a new trial for Maria, and one which would have overpowered her, for she felt the most tender affection for those kind friends who were thus plunged in calamity on her account, had not Washington, instantly perceiving the state of her feelings, addressed her:
"Fear not, Miss Frazier, for your friends. I have a force at hand sufficient to rescue them from these tigers of the forest. My life for their safety.--- Father, comfort thy daughter till we return. And now, Captain Adderly, and you, Paddy Frazier, follow me!"
He hastened to the dingle where his troops were encamped. Their gallant horses swept the ground in full speed, and in a few minutes the French party were attacked almost by surprise. The greater number of them fled at the first onset, and those who stood to give battle, only stood to be slain or captured. De Villiers who was a good soldier, did all in his power to form his men, and prevent their flight. He mounted his horse, galloped from place to place, after his flying soldiers, to bring them back, and those who did keep the field, were retained there altogether by his exertions.
His exertions, however, were soon ended, for Paddy Frazier having pointed him out to Charles Adderly, who had never before seen him, Charles flew towards him with the rapidity of an eagle darting upon its prey. He came upon him unawares, and so intense was the bitterness of his rage against him, that his first impulse was to strike him to the earth, but he checked his blow.
"Turn, execrable villain!" said he, "and defend yourself."
"In the name of the devil, who are you," cried De Villiers, as he turned towards his antagonist.
"I am the avenger of Miss Frazier's wrongs," said Charles. "Knowest thou that name?"
"By heavens, then, you are her lover, I suppose--- the destroyer of my bliss! Have at thee, then!" He hastily fired his pistol at Charles's breast, but the horse of the latter that moment raising his head, received the ball in his brain, and fell to the earth, while Charles's sword plunged into the neck of De Villiers's horse, which fell at the same time.
In another instant, the combatants were on thair feet, with their drawn swords in their hands, frowning terribly at each other, in all the desparation of deadly rage. They gazed not, they spoke not, but with fiery speed sprung to the attack. The sparks flew rapidly from their weapons, the motions of which could scarcely be discerned by the eye, while their sounds rang loudly and fearfully upon the ear. But they did not long continue to do so. By a sudden side stroke. Charles dashed his opponent's sword from its direction, as it was coming with a violent thrust towards him, and ran his own through De Villier's neck, who fell to the earth groaning and pouring forth a torrent of blood, which soon terminated his existence.
"So perish all the foes to virtue, and the oppressors of innocence!" cried Charles. "Maria is avenged! I at length have done something to deserve her!"
By this time, the French had all either fled, or submitted. Gilbert, and Archy Frazier, and Doctor Killbreath, who persisting in their refusal to discover Maria's concealment, had, for the purpose of being carried prisoners to the fort, been strongly pinioned, were now released, and Nelly and Mrs. Killbreath, soon recovered from the fright into which it is natural to suppose these violent proceedings had thrown them. The family now hailed Washington as their deliver from a ferocious and enraged enemy; and the ardour with which Gilbert and Nelly expressed, in their simple manner, their gratitude to God, and to him as God's instrument for their preservation, sunk deeply into his heart; and he resolved, if possible, to persuade them immediately to leave the Wilderness, where they could no longer enjoy safety, and make their residence for the future, within the pale of civilization and law.
Gilbert assented. "Ye hae, wi' the blessing o' God," said he, "delivered us frae the house of bondage, an' wherefore should we no submit to be guided by you to the land o' safety? for I trow we canna' bide langer here, let us gang whar' we will, unless we want to fa' into the pit o' destruction."
As Washington wished to proceed without more delay to the Great Meadows, lest the French should come out with their whole force from Du Quesne to attack him, Charles hastened to the cavern to inform Maria and her father of their victory, and the consent which all their friends had just given to accompany the troops to the inhabited country, and that the whole party now only awaited their joining them to set out for Dunbar's camp.
When Gilbert was informed that Tonnaleuka was the father of Maria, he manifested the most excessive joy. "Noo, Nelly," said he, "did I no tell ye mony a time that the prophet could na' be an Indian. He had aye owre muckle sense, an' gifts sae like a Christian, that he couldna' ha' talked better on what was richt an' wrang, an' what was true religion, gin he had been born at Maughrygowan."
"An' I aye had a notion," observed Nelly, "that the French officer, wha was sae affectionate to his wife, wad yin day or ither come back to look after his dochter."
Gilbert's horses were soon equipped for transporting his family from the Wilderness, where the repose he had long enjoyed was now not to be found, to the habitations of society, where, if he should be occasionally annoyed by the clamour of clashing interests, he should, at least, have the shield of law to protect, and the forms of religion to soothe his declining years.
The laird of Mackintosh, or, if the reader pleases, Tonnaleuka, soon arrived with his lovely daughter at Frazier's, and the whole party immediately set off for the camp at the Great Meadows, where they arrived in something less than two days. The day following Dunbar struck his tents, and the army, accompanied by our friends of the Wilderness, proceeded by easy stages to the fort at Will's Creek.
It was agreed upon by our party that they should remain here until a messenger, who was immediately despatched with a letter from Charles to his father, acquainting him with the state of his affairs, his prospects, and his wishes, and soliciting his concurrence in them---should return with an answer, which, from the complexion the case had now assumed, it was not doubted would be favourable. Although the army made but the delay of a few days at this place, Washington gratified his friends by remaining with them, until he should witness the ceremony that was to secure them to each other for ever.
To keep the reader no longer in suspense as to the fate of these two faithful lovers, we hasten to relate, that as soon as old Mr. Adderly received Charles's letter, he proceeded to Will's Creek, in order that he might, with his own eyes behold the charmer of the Wilderness, who had so entirely captivated his son's heart, as to cause him to reject some of the most splendid alliances in Philadelphia. The first sight of Maria removed his surprise at his son's preference, and the first conversation with her made him delighted with it, and he took the earliest occasion to observe to Charles,---
"It is no wonder, my son, that you became enamoured of this sweet blossom of the forest, and felt such an ardent desire to plant her in your bosom, and carry her to a more congenial air. I really give you credit for waiting with so much patience during the slow process of obtaining my consent."
"I deserve no credit," replied Charles, "on that account. Whatever is due to my forbearance in not making her permaturely my own, and depending on your indulgence afterwards for pardon, is altogether owing to her. Even at this moment her consent to make me happy depends upon yours."
"Then mine you shall have without another moment's delay," said his father. "Secure her as speedily as you can, Charles, for I really believe that she is a prize, and may heaven make you long happy together!"
"Thank you, thank you, my dear father!" cried Charles, and he could not avoid kissing the old gentleman's hand with rapture.
"I shall sign and seal articles, as to money matters, with the Laird this very night," observed the father.
"As you please, for that, father," returned Charles, with indifference---for he, at that moment, cared not a farthing for money matters.
In short, in a few days, the great object of all Charles's desires was obtained. His Maria was made his own; and the heart of Washington felt comfort in beholding safety and happiness thus secured to her for whose fate he had long felt such a warm and tender solicitude. He, the next day, bade the bridal pair an affectionate farewell, and returned to Mount Vernon; while they, with all their friends, proceeded to Philadelphia. Charles's mother was greatly delighted with her daughter-in-law. The sweet rose of the Wilderness was soon introduced into the first society in her country's capital, which she continued long to adorn; and, notwithstanding the seclusion of her early years, the natural excellence of her understanding, and the judicious culture it had received from her father, enabled her to acquit herself so well in every department of social life, that she soon acquired, and preserved through a long, useful, and agreeable intercourse with the busy world, the esteem and admiration of all who knew her.
Her father resided, cheerful and happy, under the same roof with her, enjoying amidst the luxury of ease and literary recreation, the satisfaction of her presence, and that of her children, for about twelve years, when he took his departure to join his long-lamented wife in the regions of immortality.
With respect to Gilbert Frazier, the benevolent intentions of Washington to bestow upon him a secure and comfortable residence in Virginia were disappointed.
"I thank you, colonel," said he, before the illustrious protector of himself and his family departed from Will's Creek; "I thank you, frae the very bottom o' my heart, for your kindness to me an' mine; baith for what ye hae done, an' what ye noo offer to do. But I canna gang to bide in Virginia, whar' there are sae mony black-a-moors, the very sicht of wham wad gar my flesh creep to look at. But I'm as thankful as gin I took your offer; an' I'll no forget, no, while my saul an' body hang thegither, I'll ne'er forget, to pray for blessings on your gude heart, as aften an' sincerely as I'll pray for my ain bairns"
Charles soon discovering that Gilbert's wishes were inclined towards his former residence on the Juniata, purchased it for him; and the kindhearted protectors of Maria's infancy, passed on one of the most engaging spots on that picturesque stream, the declining years of their lives in as much tranquillity, and almost as much contentment as they would have done at Maughrygowan itself. Their son Archy, married shortly after their re-settlement on this place, which he continued to cultivate until the death of the old people. It is said that he then sold this farm, (Paddy having relinquished all claim to it) and returned to his former residence in the Wilderness, to which he had always felt a partiality, and from the vicinity of which, the British arms had long before expelled the enemy who had occasioned his friends so much trouble. Here some casualty cut him off during the war of the Revolution, after which the family disposed of the place, and removed to the eastward of the Alleghany mountains, but to what neighbourhood I have been unable to ascertain. The place at Turtle Creek, however, bears, in honour of its original settler, the name of "Frazier's Field" to this day. As this name commemorates that of the first cultivator of the Western Wilds, it is to be hoped that no capricious, cold-hearted proprietor of the spot, will ever attempt to give another; or if it should be attempted, that the voice of society will resist the ungenerous innovation.
The future fortunes of Doctor Killbreath, afford nothing worth relating. He settled in the practice of his profession in some town near his father-in-law's residence, where he remained during life, and where it is probable that some of his posterity remain to the present day.
The reader will have observed that our friend Peter M'Fall does not appear on the scene from the time he returned to Philadelphia, after the battle of Fort Necessity. The reason was this. Shortly after his return to the city, he met with an Irish sea captain whose ship was about to sail for Cork. By the assistance of a few kindly glasses of grog, this captain suceeded in persuading Peter that there could be no harm in taking a trip across the Atlantic with him so see old Ireland once more, because it was as plain as the mizenmast, that he could at any time put his foot on board of a ship that would bring him back to his master, when he choosed to do so. Peter accordingly set sail for Cork; but he no sooner reached that port, than the British navy unfortunately happening at the time to be rather short of hands, he was hurried without his consent being asked, on board of a king's ship, which, although she shortly afterwards sailed for America, she was so unaccomodating as not to land him there. At length, by Peter's assistance, Great Britain having conquered her enemies, she very generously let him go about his business. He returned to Philadelphia, and was retaken into Charles's service; several months after which, in consequence of a series of events which we have not time to relate, he happened to see the fair Esther Gist, tripping along the streets. Och! his heart again warmed to her; he saluted her slyly, and put the question to her so nately that they were---married. He, and his wife, lived very comfortably together to a good old age, in Charles Adderly's service.
As to Paddy Frazier, about the time that his father re-entered upon the Juniata farm, he established himself as a merchant in the town of Carlisle, in the vicinity. He continued this business very prosperously, till the winter of 1776, when, hearing of the distresses under which the army of his favourite Washington at that trying crisis laboured, he abandoned his merchandise, collected about twenty smart fellows of the neighbourhood, well skilled in the use of the rifle, put himself at their head, and joined the hero of his country, about three days before the glorious attack upon Trenton, which turned the scale of the war in favour of the friends of freedom.
It would be tedious to recount the multiplicity of exploits performed by this sagacious and intrepid partisan and devoted follower of Washington, during the remainder of that memorable war. Washington, who well knew both the merits and defects of his character, kept him in constant employment at the head of scouting, foraging, manoeuvering, and harassing parties, for managing which, his genius was exactly suited; but he never elevated him to any important stationary command, as he was aware that such a situation would neither answer his inclination nor his talents, so well as one less dignified, but requiring more promptitude and activity. At length, having frequently received the thanks of his beloved commander, for the numerous and important services he had rendered his country during her tremendous struggle for national existence, he fell, bravely performing his duty, at the very close of that struggle, greatly lamented by him who best knew how to appreciate the utility of his active career. This happened during the attack upon the British lines at Yorktown. He was leading on his men, who had on that occasion exchanged their rifles for muskets and bayonets, to storm one of the British redoubts, when he received a ball in his breast. He staggered and fell. His party would have retired to carry him off; but waving his hand, he cried---
"Never mind me, my lads! push on---you know your duty."
Shortly before he expired, he heard that the redoubt was taken. "Carry me there," said he, "and let me die in it." He was obeyed, and laid on a British mattress. In a few minutes he felt the hand of death upon him.
"Tell Washington," said he to the bystanders, "that I die happy, for I die victorious, the death of a patriot soldier, worthy of having been his follower!" and he expired.
When this message was conveyed to the immortal chief, now leading on his conquering legions to their last and most glorious victory, he heaved a sigh, the memory of his youthful days, the image of the sweet rose of "The Wilderness," with whom the idea of the deceased soldier was so nearly connected, came, like an April sun, with melting influence, upon his soul, and he briefly said---
"Alas! a brave man is cut off in his prime!" but he mentally added---"so were my sweetest hopes once extinguished!"
The extinction of those youthful hopes of mutual affection and happiness in the possession of her whom he had loved with a fervour almost, perhaps altogether, beyond example, to which the father of his country here alluded, produced, indeed, upon his mind an effect which continued during the whole of his long and illustrious life. Never, after a dissapointment so deeply impressive upon his heart, and under which nothing but the strong sense of duty which he possessed in so remarkable a degree could have supported him, did he expect again to entertain the same feeling for female excellence, or enjoy the same delight in the contemplation of female charms. To no woman could he ever again expect to devote his affections so entirely and so rapturously. Hence he could spare more of his thoughts to the graver interests of mankind, he could devote more of his affections to his country; and since the intensity of love had now become exhausted from within his soul, he resolved to cherish patriotism as the passion from which, alone, he could derive the purest, the most manly, the most rational, and the most exalted delight. He never, it is true, forgot Maria, and the sweet feeling she had once excited in his bosom; but his country, and her welfare, were, for the future, the chief objects of his affection. Her joy should be his joy, her misery should be his misery, and for her benefit should he exercise the whole force of his powerful understanding, the full energies of his indefatigable perseverance, his invincible courage, and his pre-eminent wisdom.
His heart having suffered much, he became serious, and contemplative, even in the days of his youth; but he had done his duty, and hence he was blest with the consciousness of self-approbation, and with the possession of a magnanimous firmness, an independence, and a fearlessness in all his actions and intercourse with the world. Having parted with the only object that could engross his whole affections, and being naturally free from every close and selfish feeling, his heart regarded all men as his brothers, it cherished his country as his only mistress, and hearkened to his duty as his only master. In short, from the day on which it was forced to abandon the tender hopes of a youthful and enthusiastic love, it would be impossible to find an example of human nature having produced a heart more purely and entirely devoted to all the calls of philanthropy, patriotism and duty, and productive of actions more conducive to the benefit of the world, than the heart of Washington.