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THE



BORDERERS:



A TALE.



BY THE AUTHOR. OF

THE SPY," THE RED ROVER," " THE PRAIRIE,'

&c. &c. &c.



" But she ia dead to him, to all ;
Her lute hangs silent on the wall,
And on the stairs, and at the door,
Her fairy step is heard no more."

ROGERS.



IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. III.



LONDON:

HENRY COLBURN AND RICHARD BENTLEY,

NEW BURLINGTON-STREET.

1829.






LONDON i

ACKCLL AVD BATLIt, JOKVfOW'C-rOUKT, 7LECT-ITRKET



V-3



THE BORDERERS;



THE WEPT OF WISH-TON-WISH.



CHAPTER I.

" Oh ! when amid the throngs of men
The heart grows sick of hollow mirth,

How willingly we turn us then,
Away from this cold earth ;

And look into thy azure breast,

For scats of innocence and rest."

BBYAXT'S Skies.

THE day was the Sabbath. This religious
festival, which is even now observed in most of
the States of the Union with a strictness that is
little heeded in the rest of Christendom, was

VOL, III. B



<



- THE BORDEUERS.

then reverenced with a severity, suited to the
Austere habits of the colonists. The circum
stance that one should journey on such a day,
had attracted the observation of all in the ham
let ; but, as the stranger had been seen to ride
towards the dwelling of the Heathcotes, and
the times were known to teem with more than
ordinary interests to the Province, it was be
lieved, that he found his justification in sonic
apology of necessity. Still none ventured forth
t>> inquire into the motives of this extraordinary
\i-it. At the end of an hour, the horseman
was seen to depart as he had arrived, seemingly
urged on by the calls of some pressing emer
gency. He had in truth proceeded further
with his tidings, though the lawfulness of dis
charging even this imperious duty on the Sab.
both, hod been gravely considered in the coun
cils of those who had sent him. Happily they
had found, or thought they had found, in some
of the narratives of the sacred volume, a sum*-



THE BORDERERS. 3

cient precedent to bid their messenger pro
ceed.

In the mean time, the unusual excitement,
which had been so unexpectedly awakened in
the dwelling of the Heathcotes, began to sub
side in that quiet, which is in so beautiful ac
cordance with the sacred character of the day.
The sun rose bright and cloudless above the
hills, every vapour of the past night melting
before his genial warmth, into the invisible
element. The valley then lay in that species of
holy calm, which conveys so sweet and so forci
ble an appeal to the heart. The world pre
sented a picture of the glorious handy-work of
Him, who seems to invite the gratitude and
adoration of his creatures. To the mind yet
untainted, there is exquisite loveliness and even
God-like repose in such a scene. The universal
stillness permits the softest natural sounds to
be heard, and the buzz of the bee, or the wing
of the humming-bird reaches the ear like the
loud notes of a general anthem. This tempo-



4 THI HOEDEREBS.

rary repose is full of meaning. It sliould teach
how much of the beauty of this world's enjoy
ments, how much of its peace, and even \\o\\
much of the comeliness of nature itself, is (K
pendant on the spirit by which we are actuated.
When man reposes, all around him seems anx
ious to contribute to his rest, and when he
abandons the contentions of grosser interests, to
elevate his spirit, all living things appear to
unite in worship. Although this apparent >\ i
pathy of nature may be less true than ima_
tivc, its lesson is not destroyed, since it suflk i
cnlly shows that what man chooses to consul ei
good in this world is good, and that most of i;
strife and deformities proceed from his own
perversity.

The tenants of the valley of tin Wish-Ton-
Wish were little wont to <h>uirl) the ^uiet of
the Sabbath. Their error hy MI tin other ex-
ie, since they impaired the charities of lift
by endeavouring to raise man altogether above
the weakness of his nature. They substituted



THE BORDERERS. 5

the revolting aspect of a sublimated austerity,
for that gracious though regulated exterior, by
which all in the body may best illustrate their
hopes, or exhibit their gratitude. The peculiar
air of those of whom we write was generated by
the error of the times and of the country,
though something of its singularly rigid charac
ter might have been derived from the precepts
and example of the individual, who had the
direction of the spiritual interests of the parish.
As this person will have further connection with
the matter of the legend, he shall be more fami
liarly introduced in its pages.

The Rev. Meek Wolfe was, in spirit, a rare
combination of the humblest self-abasement,
and of fierce spiritual denunciation. Like so
many others of his sacred calling, in the colony
he inhabited, he was not only the descendant of
a line of priests, but it was his greatest earthly
hope that he should also become the progenitor
of a race, in whom the ministry was to be per
petuated as severely, as if the regulated formula



D THE BOBDEREBS.

of the Mosaic dispensation were still in exist
ence. He had been educated in the infant
college of Harvard, an Institution that the emi
grants from England had the wisdom and enter
prise to found, within the first five and twenty
years of their colonial residence. Here this
scion of so pious and orthodox a stock, had
abundantly qualified himself for the intellectual
warfare of his future life, by regarding one set
of opinions so steadily, as to leave little reason
to apprehend he would ever abandon the most
trifiing of the outworks of his faith. No citadel
ever presented a niotv hopeless curtain to th*.
besieger, than did the mind of this zealot to the
efforts of conviction ; for on the side of his op
ponents, he contrived that every avenue should
be closed, by a wall blank as indomitable obsti
nacy could oppose. He appeared to think that
all the minor conditions of argument and reason
had been disposed of by his ancestors, and that
it only remained for him to strengthen the
many defences of his subject, and, now and



THE BORDERERS. 7

then, to scatter by a fierce sortie, the doctrinal
skirmishers who might occasionally approach his
parish. There was a remarkable singleness of
mind in this religionist, which, while it in some
measure rendered even his bigotry respectable,
greatly aided in clearing the knotty subject,
with which he dealt, of much embarrassing mat
ter. In his eyes, the strait and narrow path
would hold but few besides his own flock. He
admitted some fortuitous exceptions, in one or
two of the nearest parishes, with whose clergy
men he was in the habit of exchanging pulpits,
and perhaps, here and there, in a saint of the
other hemisphere, or of the more distant towns
of the colonies, the brightness of whose faith
was something aided, in his eyes, by distance,
as this opaque globe of ours is thought to appear
a ball of light to those who inhabit its satellite.
In short, there was an admixture of seeming
charity, with an exclusiveness of hope, an un-
weariness of exertion with a coolness of exterior,
a disregard of self, with the most complacent



8 THE BORDERERS.

security, and an uncomplaining submission to
u-mporal evils, with the loftiest spiritual pre-
U'tisions, that in some measure rendered him a
man as difficult to comprehend, as to describe.
At an early hour in the forenoon, a little boll,
tint was suspended in an awkward belfry
perched on the roof of the meeting-house, began
.MMIIIOM the congregation to the place of
worship. The call was promptly obeyed, and
ore the first notes had reached the echoes of th-
hills, the wide and grassy street was covered
with family groupes, all taking the same direc
tion. Foremost in each little party walked tin
austere father, perhaps bearing on his arm a
-in kk-d infant, or some child yet too young to
oiistain its own weight : while at a decent dis-
. lowed the equally grave matron, casting
oblique and severe glances at the little troop
around her, in whom acquired habits had yet
some conquests to obtain over the lighter
pulses of vanity. Where there was no cln
need support, or where the mother chose t



THE BORDERERS. 9

assume the office of bearing her infant in per
son, the man was seen to carry one of the heavy
muskets of the day ; and when his arms were
otherwise employed, the stoutest of his boys
served in the capacity of armour-bearer. But
in no instance was this needful precaution neg
lected, the state of the Province and the charac
ter of the enemy, requiring that vigilance should
mingle even with their devotions. There was
no loitering on the path, no light and worldly
discourse by the way, nor even any salutations,
other than those grave and serious recognitions
by hat and eye, which usage tolerated as the
utmost limit of courtesy on the weekly fes
tival.

When the bell changed its tone, Meek ap
peared from the gate of the fortified house,
where he resided, in quality of castellain, on
account of its public character, its additional
security, and the circumstance that his studiou.-
hnbits permitted him to discharge the trust with
less waste of manual labour, than it would cost
B 3



10 THE BORDERERS.

the village, were the responsible office confided
to one of more active habits. His consort fol
lowed, but at even a greater distance than that
taken by the wives of other men, as if she felt
the awful necessity of averting even the remotest
possibility of scandal, from one of so sacred a
profession. Nine offspring of various ages, and
one female assistant, of years too tender to be a
wife herself, composed the household of t!u
divine ; and it was a proof of the salubrious air
of the valley, that all were present, since nothing
but illness was ever deemed a sufficient excuse,
for absence from the common worship. As this
little flock issued from the palisadoes, a female,
in whose pale cheek the effects of recent illness
might yet be traced, held open the gate for tin-
entrance of Reuben King, and a stout youth,
who bore the prolific consort of the former,
with her bounteous gift, into tin- citadel of tin
village ; a place of refuge that nothing but tlu
undaunted resolution of the woman prevented
her from occupying before, since more than half



THE BORDERERS. 11

of the children of the valley, had first seen the
light within the security of its defences.

The family of Meek preceded him into the
temple, and when the feet of the minister him
self crossed its threshold, there was no human
form visible without its walls. The bell
ceased its monotonous and mournful note,
and the tall, gaunt form of the divine moved
through the narrow aisle to its usual post,
with the air of one who had already more
than half rejected the burthen of bodily
incumbrance. A searching and stern glance
was thrown around, as if he possessed an in
stinctive power to detect all delinquents, and
then seating himself, the deep stillness, that
always preceded the exercises, reigned in the
place.

When the divine next showed his austere
countenance to his expecting people, its mean
ing was expressive rather of some matter of
worldly import, than of that absence of carnal



15? THE BORDEKEBS.

interest, with which he usually strove to draw
near to his Creator, in praver.

" Captain Content Heathcote," he said with
grave severity, after permitting a short pause

i waken reverence, " there has one ridden
through this valley, on the Lord's day, making
thy habitation his halting place*. Hath the
traveller warranty for this disrespect of the
Sabbath, and canst thou find sufficient reason
in hi* motive, for jxrmitting the stranger with
in thy gates to neglect the solemn ordi:
: d m the mount -

He ndeth on es|*-cial commission," an
swered Content, who had respectfully arisen
when thus addressed by name ; " for matter of
gra\ *t to the well-l>eing of the Colony

is contained in the subject of his errand "

" There is naught more deeply connected
with the well-being of man, whether resident
in this colony, or in more lofty empires, than

rrence to God's declared will," returned
Meek, but half appeased by the apology. " It



THK BOKDEREHS. 13

would have been expedient for one, who, in
common not only setteth so good an example
himself, but who is also charged with the
mantle of authority, to have looked with dis
trust into the pretences of a necessity that
may be only seeming.' 1

" The motive shall be declared to the people,
at a fitting moment ; but it hath seemed more
wise to retain the substance of the horseman's
errand, until worship hath been offered, with
out the alloy of temporal concerns.""
" Therein hast thou acted discreetly ; for a
divided mind giveth but little joy above. I
hope there is equal reason why all of thy
household are not with thee in the temple?"

Notwithstanding the usual self-command of
Content, he did not revert to this subject With
out emotion. Casting 'a subdued glance at the
empty seat, where she whom he so much loved
was wont to worship at his side, he said, in a
voice that evidently .struggled to maintain its
customary equanimity






14 TffE BORDERERS.

44 There has been powerful interest awakened
beneath my roof this day ; and it may be that
the duty of the Sabbath has been overlooked,
by minds so exercised. If we have therein
sinned , I hope He that looketh kindly on the
penitent will forgive! She of whom them
speakest, hath been shaken by the violence of
griefs renewed ; though willing in spirit, a
feeble and sinking frame is not equal to sup
port the fatigue of appearing here, even though
it be the house of God."

This extraordinary exercise of pastoral au
thority was uninterrupted, even by the breath
ings of the congregation. Any incident of an
unusual character had attraction for the inha
bitants of a village so remote ; but here was
deep, domestic interest, connected with breach
of usage and indeed of law, and all heightened
by that secret influence that leads us to listen,
with singular satisfaction, to those emotions in
others, which it is believed to be natural to
wish to conceal. Not a syllable that fell from



THE BORDERERS. 15

the lips of the divine, or of Content, not a
deep tone of severity in the former, nor a
struggling accent of the latter, escaped the
dullest ear, in that assembly. Notwithstanding
the grave and regulated air that was common
to all, it is needless to say there was pleasure
in the little interruption of this scene ; which,
however, was far from being extraordinary in
a community, where it was not only believed
that spiritual authority might extend itself to
the most familiar practices, but where few do
mestic interests were deemed so exclusive, or
individual feelings considered so sacred, that
a very large proportion of the whole neigh
bourhood might not claim a right to participate
largely in both. The Rev. Mr. Wolfe was
appeased by the explanation, and after allow
ing a sufficient time to elapse, in order that the
minds of the congregation should recover their
tone, he proceeded with the regular services of
the morning.

It is needless to recount the well known man-



16 BORDEIti

Her of the religious exercises of the Puritans,
l.nough of their forms and of their substance
has been transmitted to us, to render both man
ner and doctrine familiar to nio.-t of our
ders. We shall therefore confine our duty to a
relation of such portions of the ceremonies it
that which sedulously avoided every appear
of form can thus be termed, as have an im me
diate connection with the incident-

Thr divine had gone through the short open
ing prayer, had read the passage of holy writ, had
given out the verses of tin- psalm, ami nut!
joined in the strange nasal melody with which
his flock endeavoured to render it douhh
able, and had ended his long and fir
wrestling of the -pirit in ti colloquial jK-tition
of some forty minutes duration, m wh'u-h dir.it
allusion had been made not only to the subject
of his recent examination, but to divers other
familiar interest* of his parishioners, and all
without any departure from the usual xeal,
on his own part, or of the customary attcn-



THE BORDERERS. 1J

tion and grave decorum, on that of his people.
But when, for the second time, he arose to read
another song of worship and thanksgiving, a
form was seen in the centre, or principal aisle,
that, as well by its attire and aspect, as by
the unusual and irreverent tardiness of its ap
pearance, attracted- , general observation. In
terruptions of this nature were unfrequent, and
even the long practised and abstracted minis
ter paused for an instant ere he proceeded
with the hymn, though there was a suspicion
current among the more instructed of his parish
ioners, that the sonorous version was an effusion
of his own muse.

The intruder was Whittal Ring. The wit
less young man had strayed from the abode
of his sister, and found his way into that
general receptacle where most of the village
was congregated. During his former residence
in the valley there had been no temple, and
the edifice, its interior arrangements, the faces
of those it contained, and the business on



J8 THE BORDERERS.

which they had assembled, appeared alike
strangers to him. It was only when the
people lifted up their voices in the song of
praise, that some glimmerings of his ancient
recollections were discoverable in hisx inactive
countenance. Then, indeed, he betrayed a
portion of the delight which powerful sounds
can quicken, even in beings of his unhappy
mental construction. As he was satisfied,
however, to remain in a retired part of the
aisle, listening with dull admiration, even the
grave ensign Dudley, whose eye had once or
twice seemed ominous of displeasure, saw no
necessity for interference.

Meek had chosen for his ic\l, on that day,
a passage from the book of Judges : " And
the children of Israel did evil in the sight
of the Lord; and the Lord delivered tin in
. into the hands of Mulian seven years."
With this text the sublle-mimK d divine dealt
powerfully, entering largely into the mys
terious and allegorical allusions then so much



THE BOBDEliERS, 19

in vogue. In whatever manner he viewed
the subject, he found reason to liken the
suffering, bereaved, and yet chosen dwellers
of the colonies, to the race of the Hebrews.
If they were not set apart and marked from
all others of the earth, in order that one
mightier than man should spring from their
loins, they were led into that distant wilder
ness, far from the temptations of licentious
luxury, or the worldly-mindedness of those
who built their structure of faith on the sands
of temporal honours, to preserve the word in
purity. As there appeared no reason on the
part of the divine himself to distrust this
construction of the words he had quoted,
so it was evident that most of his listeners
willingly lent their ears to so soothing an
argument.

In reference to Midian, the preacher was
far less explicit. That the great father of
evil was in some way intended by this allu
sion could not be doubted ; but in what



30 THE BORDERERS.

manner the chosen inhabitants of those regions
were to feel his malign influence, was mat
ter of more uncertainty. At times, the greedy
ears of those who had long been wrought
up into the impression that visible manifes
tations of the anger, or of the love of Provi
dence, were daily presented to their eyes,
were flattered with the stern joy of believing
that the war which then raged around them
was intended to put their moral armour to
the proof, and that out of the triumph of
their victories were to flow honour and security
to the church. Then came ambiguous quali
fications, which left it questionable whether a
return of the invisible powers that had been
known to be to busy in the provinces, were
not the judgment intended. It is not to be
supposed that Meek himself had the clearest
mental intelligence on a point of this subtlety,
for there was something of misty hallucination
in the manner in which ho treated it, as will be
seen by jiis closing words.



THE BORDERERS. 21

" To imagine that Azazel regardeth the long-
suffering and stedf astness of a chosen people, with
a pleasant eye," he said, " is to believe that the
marrow of righteousness can exist in the carrion
of deceit. We have already seen his envious
spirit raging in many tragical instances. If re
quired to raise a warning beacon to your eyes,
by which the presence of this treacherous enemy
might be known, I should say, in the words of
one learned and ingenious in this craftiness, that
' when a person, having full reason, doth know
ingly and wittingly seek and obtain of the devil,
or any other god besides the true God Jehovah,
an ability to do or know strange things, which
he cannot, by his own human abilities, arrive
unto,' that then he may distrust his gifts and
tremble for his soul. And, oh ! my brethren ,
how many of ye cling, at this very moment, to
those tragical delusions, and worship the things
of the world, instead of fattening on the famine
of the desert, which is the sustenance of them



2-2 THE BORDERERS.

that would live for ever. Lift your eyes upward,
my brethren n

*' Rather turn them to the earth !" interrupted
a deep, authoritative voice, from the body of tht
church ; " there is present need of all your fa
culties to save life, and even to guard the taber-
nacle of the Lord !"

Religious exercises composed the recreation of
the dwellers in that distant settlement. When
they met in companies to lighten the load of lii'e,
prayer and songs of praise were among the usual
indulgences of the entertainment. To tlu-i
sermon was like a gay scenic exhibition in other
and vainer communities ; and none listened to
the word with cold and inattentive ears. In
literal obedience to the command of the preach 1 1 .
and sympathising with his own action, every eye
in the congregation had been turned towards the
naked rafters of the roof, when the unknown
tones of him who spoke broke the momentary
delusion. It is neediest to soy that, by a com-



THE BORDERERS. &J

mon movement, they sought an explanation of
this extraordinary appeal. The divine became
mute, equally with wonder and with indignation.

A first glance was enough to assure all pre
sent that new and important interests were likely
to be awakened. A stranger of grave aspect,
and of a calm but understanding eye, stood at the
side of Whittal Ring. His attire was of the
simple guise and homely materials of the coun
try. Still he bore about his person enough of
the equipments of one familiar with the wars of
the eastern hemisphere to strike the senses. His
hand was armed with a shining broadsword,
such as were then used by the cavaliers of Eng
land ; and at his back was slung the short cara
bine of one who battled in the saddle. His mien
was dignified, and even commanding ; and there
was no second look necessary to show that he
was an intruder, of a character altogether differ
ent from the moping innocent at his side.

" Why is one of an unknown countenance
come to disturb the worship of the temple ?" de-



24 THE BORDERERS.

manded Meek, when astonishment permitted ut
terance. " Thrice hath this holy day been pro
faned by the foot of the stranger, and well may
it be doubted whether we live not under an evil
agency/'

" Arm, men of the Wish-Ton-Wish, arm.
and to your defences ! "

A cry arose without that seemed to circle
the whole valley, and then a thousand whoops
rolled out of the arches of the forest, and ap
peared to meet in one hostile din above the de
voted hamlet. These were sounds that had
been too often heard, or too often described,
not to be generally understood. A scene of
wild confusion followed.

Each man, on entering the- church, had depo
sited his arms at the door, and thither niont of
the stout borderers were now seen hastening to
resume their weapons. Women gathered their
children to their sides, and the wails of horror
and alarm were beginning to break through the
restraints of habit



TIIE BOBDEEEES. 25

" Peace !" exclaimed the pastor, seemingly
excited to a degree above human emotion.
" Ere we go forth, let there be a voice raised
to our heavenly Father. The asking shall be
as a thousand men of war battling in our
behalf!"

The commotion ceased, as suddenly as if a
mandate had been issued from that place to
which their petition was to be addressed. Even
the stranger, who had regarded the preparations
with a stern but anxious eye, bowed his head,
and seemed to join in the prayer with a devout


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