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Emerson Bennett.

Forest and prairie, or, Life on the frontier online

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found the companions of his perilous expedition already
returned in safety.

This has truly been considered one of the most wonder-
ful adventures of a region teeming with adventure ; and to






A LEAP FOB LIFE. . 89

this day the pond in which the captain secreted himself
bears his name; while the rocky chasm of the Cuyahoga,
across which he made his desperate spring, is known far
and near by the name of "BRADY'S LEAP."

8*



IP there is any one who needs the philosophy of this
world's changes to make him wiser and better, by bringing
hope to his despair, or humility to his pride, let him take
a given number of individuals, and a given number of years
say twenty of each and observe the condition of the
different parties at the beginning and end of the time that
is named. The result in all cases will be astonishing in
many it will be wonderful.

If old enough, reader, think back twenty years, and see
where and how you stood in the world then, with nineteen
others, selected at random from all you then knew. Take
the names that first present themselves to your memory,
and write them down, with the condition and prospects of
each individual annexed ; and then, underneath, write the
condition and prospects of each at the present moment ;
and if you find not the result almost startling, and full of
moral philosophy, then has time dealt gently with you
and your friends, and you require not the lesson which

would otherwise be taught.
(90)



LOVE TKIUMPHANT. 91

Twenty names and twenty years ! Ah ! here they come
substance and shadow the living and dead ; but oh !
how great, how startling, the change between that time
and this the past and the present I

Foremost of the group, I behold a bright, gay, fascinat-
ing and beautiful little being, who seemed born to love
and be beloved. Her promise was a golden future of joy
her reality an early rest in the dark, cold grave. Nine-
teen years has her mortal form reposed in the quiet church-
yard, and few now living remember the name she bore.

Next I recall an aspiring youth proud, wealthy, and
ambitious bending his whole energies to academic honors
and collegiate distinction. His promise was a brilliant
career, with living applause and posthumous fame his
reality \i loss of sight, mental disease, and a suicide's
death.

The third comes up before me a poor, pale, blue-eyed
cripple, whom one loved, a few pitied, and the rest
despised. His promise was a short and miserable exist-
ence his reality an honorable position, great wealth, and
plenty of what the world calls friends.

And so I might go on, disposing of the number one by
one ; but there are two whose names rise together and
blend in my memory, and who may more properly fill the
limits of my space for theirs is a history "to point a
moral and adorn a tale."






92 LOVE TRIUMPHANT.

Twenty years ago, then, a slender, pale young man,
thinly but decently clad, was one cold, autumnal evening
hurrying his steps over the ground that divided his own
humble home from the large and somewhat aristocratic
dwelling of a neighbor. As he drew near the mansion,
which loomed up white, and seemingly 'cold and proud, in
the frosty, star-lit air, the pale features of the young man
flushed, and the hand that timidly knocked at the door
trembled not a little. The door, however, was almost
immediately opened, by a blooming, beautiful girl of
eighteen, who said, in a rather quick and apparently
excited tone :

" Ah I Walter so it is you ! Walk in !"

" I hope I see you well this evening, Mary !'' returned
the young msta, in a slightly tremulous tone, that seemed
to result from strong but partially suppressed emo-
tions.

"Yes, I am well," replied the girl, hurriedly, as she
closed the door and led the way to the sitting-room, where
she motioned her guest to be seated, though without show-
ing any inclination to sit herself. " You received my note,
I suppose ?" she interrogatively asserted, in a quick and
flurried manner, hastily turning her flushing features from
the keen scrutiny of him she addressed.

" Yes, Mary Ellsworth," replied the other, more slowly
and distinctly, " I received a line or two from you, saying



LOVE TRIUMPHANT. 93

all the family would be absent to-night except yourself,
and you desired to see me alone for a few minutes."

The young man paused, keeping his fine, hazel eyes
steadily fixed upon the other, who now, with averted head v
seemed much embarrassed and disconcerted. Stepping
forward a few paces, she dropped into a chair, and, still
without reply, appeared to busy herself in looking at the
jeweled rings on her fair, soft, lady-like-fingers.

" Mary," spoke young Walter Harwood, after an impres-
sive silence of more than a minute, " what is the meaning
of this ?"

She played nervously with her fingers, but still remained
silent.

" Mary," continued Walter, placing a chair and seating
himself in such a position that he could catch a partial
view of her features, " let me remind you exactly how we
stand in regard to each other; and then spak frankly,
and say why you sent for me 1"

He paused a moment, passing his hand rather quickly
and nervously along his high, white forehead, and up
through his dark, clustering hair, and then proceeded :

" I am four years your senior, Mary, and have loved you
from infancy. It was my delight as a child, when you
were a mere infant, to hold you in these arras ; and even
then, young as I was, and strange as it may seem, I often
prayed that I might grow up a strong man, and be ever



91 LOVE TRIUMPHANT.

able to support you and protect you through the journey
of life.

"We were playmates when little we grew up com-
panions and there was never a period of your life that I
did not love you, and daily pray to be loved in return.
But your father was rich, and mine was poor ; and as I
grew older, I learned to feel the distinction which existed,
and still exists, between the families of Ellsworth and Har-
wood ; though I will do you the justice to say, that I do
not believe you ever intentionally made me perceive the
difference I allude to; but I did see, know and feel it;
and though loving you almost to madness, I dared not
venture to tell you so, lest my motive might either be
thought mercenary, or myself too presumptuous, and thus
all my brightest hopes and fondest dreams be in an evil
moment blasted.

"But w%y dwell upon this which I have many times
told you already? Rather let me come to the point at
once.

" About one year ago then, Mary," the young man went
on, with deep feeling, while his listener grew deadly pale
and trembled violently, "such an opportunity presented
itself for declaring my passion, that to delay it longer
seemed flying in the very face of fortune; and carried
away by an almost uncontrollable impulse, I poured out
my very soul to your listening ear, and received in return






LOVE TRIUMPHANT. 95

such assurance of your affectionate regard, to call it by no
stronger term, that I went home the happiest being in the
wide, wide world. Ah ! Mary Mary you may not love
me now you may never have loved me but you will
never be so loved by another as you are by the poor,
miserable being who now addresses you.

"Well, I went home happy, as I have said but how
long did my happiness last ? The very next time I met
you, you seemed troubled and displeased ; the second time
you were dignified ; the third reserved ; the fourth cool ;
the fifth cold ; the sixth you scarcely noticed me ; and
then we ceased speaking altogether, and I have been an
unhappy being ever since. Now, after a long, painful
lapse, your note has brought me to you, and I have come
trembling with hope and fear. Oh I Mary dear Mary,
shall I venture to call you ? am I here to learn from your
lips that the past is forgotten ? and that henceforth I am
to be again enraptured with your esteem, your regard,
your "

" Hold 1" interrupted Mary, suddenly starting to her
feet, and speaking in a tone that betrayed great agitation :
"I have let you proceed too far, Mr. Harwood. In
short," she hurriedly went on, "I find, on examining
myself, I have not, do not, never can, esteem you as I
could wish ; and I sent for you to-night, for the purpose
of telling you so, calmly, and asking your forgiveness for



96 LOVE TKIUMPHAtfT.

my unintentional deception ; and to beg you will go and
forget me that you will go in a friendly spirit, and have
no harsh and bitter feelings rankling in your heart. I
would like your good opinion as a friend, and as a friend I
shall always be pleased to meet you ; but a warmer feeling
it is not in my power to bestow."

" Can this be true ? and am I thus suddenly made
wretched forever !" groaned young Walter Harwood, as he
buried his face in his hands, and rocked to and fro in an
indescribable agony of mind.

For a few minutes there was not another word spoken
the young man swaying to and fro and breathing heavily
-and the fair maiden watching him with features pale,
anxious and troubled.

"Mary," said Walter at length, raising a face so altered
and ghastly that his fair companion fairly started with
surprise and alarm, "answer me two questions, truly, as
God is your judge ! First, has either of your parents ever
brought to your view the difference between yourself as
an heiress, and myself as a poor and humble young
man ?"

"I cannot deny, Walter," returned Mary, in great
agitation, "that something has been said to me on the
subject."

" Secondly, then," pursued the other, "is there any one
you esteem, or love, more than vou do me ?'



LOVE TRIUMPHANT. 97

"I I would rather not answer that question !" re-
plied Mary, turning away her head in confusion.

" Enough I" rejoined Walter ; " I am answered. I knew
that Henry Wilder had been a somewhat regular visiter
here for the last six months ; but I did not allude to it
sooner, because I feared you would think me captious or
jealous. I understand all now !" he continued, rising and



presenting his hand, which the maiden took almost
mechanically. " Farewell I" he added, in a faltering voice,
his trembling form and quivering lips betraying his deep
and painful emotions. " Farewell, Mary Ellsworth ! it is
not likely we shall ever meet again. Yet one word of
caution before we part ! Beware of him I have named !
He is a mere adventurer, seeking you for your wealth.
He is not a true and honest man, and I speak from per-
sonal knowledge. Oh ! give him not your hand and heart,
as you value your peace and happiness ! which will always
be dear to him you now reject. God bless you, and
prosper you, and guard you from the misery I now suffer,
shall ever be the prayer of him who now bids you an
eternal adieu !"

Saying this, he gave the hand he held a strong, nervous
pressure, and rushed madly from the presence of the fair
being he so wildly worshipped ; who, for a few minutes,
remained as one speechless with a strange surprise, and

then gave way to her emotions in a flood of tears.

9



98 LOVE TRIUMPHANT.

A week later it was known to all in the vicinity, that
Walter Harwood had gone abroad, perhaps never to
return. Three months later, a gay bridal party assembled
at the mansion of 'Squire Ellsworth, to witness the beauti-
ful heiress give her hand to him against whom she had
been warned.

Nineteen years passed away a short period or a long
one, according as existence has proved bright or gloomy,
happy or miserable and in a Southern city, which shall
be nameless, the Governor of the State sat reading in his
library, when a servant in livery announced to his Excel-
lency that a lady in black most urgently craved a few
minutes audience.

"Conduct her. hither," replied the Governor; and as
she appeared, he rose, advanced a few paces, politely
handed her a seat, and resumed his own.

The lady, who was dressed in deep mourning, with a
black, heavy veil entirely concealing her features, trembled
violently, as she hurriedly but silently reached forward a
paper to his Excellency, which he quietly and courteously
received.

" This," he said, after a few minutes of silence, during
which he was engaged in unrolling and perusing a lengthy
document, " is a petition signed, .among others, by quite a
number of respectable and influential citizens praying for
the pardon of one Thomas Calcraft, lately convicted and



LOVE TRIUMPHANT. 99

sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of five years, for
the crime of forgery. Madam, what is this man to you ?"

"He is my husband, your Excellency," faltered the
woman, trembling nervously.

I am sorry for it, madam because it is hard for a man
of feeling to deny the petition of a wife in behalf of him
she has solemnly vowed to love and honor; but my sense
of duty becomes paramount to feeling, and I must refuse
your prayer. This man, though your husband, has no
redeeming antecedents, and I am sorry to say I do not
think he merits executive clemency !"

" Oh ! say not so, your Excellency !" cried the poor
woman, suddenly starting from her seat, and dropping down
upon her knees before the Governor. " He always meant
to do right; but he has been unfortunate; and in a moment
of insanity I can call it no less insanity caused by want,
and a husband's and father's desire to give bread to his
starving wife and children he wrote another man's name
to a note, and got it cashed, intending to take it up before
it came due; but was discovered, arrested, and is now
groaning out his life within the dark, gloomy walls of a
prison ! Oh I pardon him, your Excellency ! pardon him !
as you hope God to pardon you ; and I solemnly declare
to you, he shall immediately leave the State, and never
again offend against its righteous laws !"

While she was thus speaking, in a wild, impassioned



100 LOVE TRIUMPHANT.

strain, she impulsively threw back her heavy veil, and
revealed to the astonished gaze of her listener the pale,
careworn, but still beautiful features of a woman fast verg-
ing upon forty. At the sight of this face, the Governor
started back, clasped his hands, and, like one petrified
with amazement, kept his eyes riveted upon hers, without
further gesture or motion, and with even his breath sus-
pended.

" Do my eyes deceive me ! or do I behold in this kneel-
ing figure the once happy Mary Ellsworth ?" he exclaimed,
the moment her musical voice ceased.

" Just Heaven ! who spe&ks that name ?" almost shrieked
the kneeling petitioner, starting suddenly to her feet, clasp-
ing her temples with her hands, and fixing her eyes in wild
amazement upon the ruler of a State.

" Mary," he groaned, " it is Walter Harwood you see
before you the once poor, penniless man, who always
loved you better than his own life, but whose suit you
rejected, and whose existence your rejection has ever since
rendered miserable; for though the Governor of a State,
Mary, and blessed, as men call it, with honors, wealth and
power, I am at heart a lonely, wretched being, who lives
because it is a duty, and with only the hope of finding
happiness in a better world. Would to God we had
never met again 1"

The interview between these two beings, after a lapse



LOVE TRIUMPHANT.;. ]

of nineteen years, was, if any thing, more painful than the
one already recorded. She freely told him of all her
troubles and sorrows ; how her parents, having been
induced to sell their property to enable her husband to
enter into some speculation, had soon been stripped of
all, and had died in poverty ; how her husband had since
squandered all he could lay his hands on, and then, falling
into habits of dissipation, had gradually sunk lower and
lower, till crime had been added to his other faults and
errors, and he was now, under the assumed name of
Thomas Calcraft, suffering the penalty of broken laws ;
and, finally, how she herself, deserting him never, had,
through good and evil report, in weal and woe, wealth
and poverty, happiness and misery, clung to him as a
guardian angel might cling to the wicked for his sal-
vation.

" Oh ! had you only so loved me, Mary !" groaned
Governor Harwood, as he buried his face in his hands,
and gave vent to his emotions in scalding tears. " It is
well," he added, in a solemn tone, "that we can think
God orders for the best ! or else this life of trial and
tribulation would not always be supportable."

When poor Mary Wilder left the presence of the
Governor, it was with the assurance that her husband
should soon receive a pardon, and the belief that herself
and his Excellency would never meet again ou earth.



102 LOV*: TRIUMPHANT.

But "man proposes and God disposes." That night
Thomas Calcraft, alias Henry Wilder, committed suicide,
by hanging himself to the bars of his cell ; and beside
his dead body Mary Ellsworth and Walter Harwood met
again.

The sequel may be told in a few words. One year later,
the even round of twenty years, Governor Harwood was
united, by the holy rite of marriage, to his first and only
love ; and it is the earnest prayer of all who know them,
that their future may be blessed with a happiness that
their past has never known.

Oh, what a strange world is this to him who sits down
to note the changes of a few revolving years 1



TOWARD the close of the last century, there lived in the
interior of Virginia, in the very heart of the Allegheny
mountains, a strange, eccentric woman, who bore the sou-
briquet of Mad Ann, but whose rightful name was Ann
Bailey. She was a native of Liverpool, England, and in
her younger, and perhaps better, days, had been the wife
of a British soldier. How she found her way to this
country, and why she chose to spend the remainder of her
life in the backwoods of the frontiers, going on lonely jour-
neys through the dark, heavy forests, and exposing herself
to hardships and perils innumerable, was never probably
known to many, perhaps to none beside herself.

During the wars of the early white settlers with their
savage foes, Ann Bailey performed much efficient service
for the frontier, in carrying messages between distant forts,
over long and dangerous routes, as between Fort Young
and Point Pleasant a distance, as the way led, of some
two hundred miles, up steep mountains and down dark

valleys, through deep woods and dense thickets, and across

(103)



104: MAD ANN.

rocky and dashing streams, and streams that could only be
passed by swimming.

But Ann Bailey seldom went afoot and alone. She was
the owner of a remarkable horse, an animal almost as
sagacious as its singular rider. This beast she had named
Liverpool, in honor of her birth-place, and she bestrode
him in the fashion of a man.

She was a short, dumpy woman, with large, muscular
limbs, and a full, bluff, coarse, masculine countenance ; and
her dress was such an odd mixture of the two sexes, that
one would have been puzzled from her appearance, espe-
cially when mounted in the manner described, to say to
which she belonged. She disdained a gown, as being alto-
gether too feminine for her taste ; but after putting on
buckskin breeches, with leggins and moccasins, she effected
a sort of compromise, by adding a linsey-woolsey petticoat;
which was in turn again partially overlaid by the regular
hunting-frock of the, opposite sex; and her head, with its
coarse, bushy hair, in that condition which nature must
perforce display it when untouched by a comb, was sur-
mounted by a raccoon cap.

Thus dressed, and armed with a rifle, tomahawk, and
hunting knife weapons which she could use with the skill
and strength of the best woodsman of the day Ann
Bailey, though a woman, was no mean antagonist against
either wild beasts or savages.



MAD ANN. 105

She likewise had a few other qualifications, which belong
almost exclusively to the sterner sex. She could swear
like a trooper, drink whiskey like a bar-room lounger, and
box with the skill of a pugilist. She was withal rather
intelligent, could read and write, and could narrate her
wild adventures, trials and sufferings, with a power and
pathos that alternately thrilled, charmed, and deeply
affected her sympathizing listeners, the simple and single-
minded settlers among whom she made her home.

Her strange appearance and eccentric ways led the
mountaineers to bestow on her the appellation of Mad
Ann but they loved rather than feared her, and she was
always a welcome guest beneath their sheltering roofs and
at their humble boards.

One cold, autumnal night, when the frosty breeze swept
sharp and keen over the high mountains and through
the deep valleys around the almost isolated station of Fort
Young, and while most of its inmates were sitting half
dreamily before their blazing log fires, there came a series
of loud, impatient knocks upon the gate of the pallisades.
For the moment these sounds startled all, both old and
young for in that lonely region those were days of peril
to the little band of pioneers who had boldly ventured
thither and the arrival of a stranger was an event to be
followed by a feeling of peace and security, or by a general



106 MAD ANN.

excitement and alarm, according to the report of the new-
comer of good or evil tidings.

" Who's there ?" challenged the sentry on duty.

" Mad Ann !" returned a loud, gruff voice.

All had listened eagerly for the response, and breathed
freer when it was heard though the news might still be
either good or bad and several of both sexes went forth
into the area, to meet and welcome the messenger.

As the sentry threw open the gate, the heroine of a
thousand perils, astride of her coal-black palfrey, and with
her rifle over her shoulder and her knife and tomahawk
in her belt, rode quietly into the station, and, without
deigning a reply to the dozen eager questions concerning
the news, dismounted deliberately, and strode silently into
the largest cabin of the row which formed one side of the
station.

As she came to the light of the fire, however, there arose
several quick exclamations of surprise and alarm, from
those who were there and those who followed her ; for it
was immediately discovered that her face (and much of her
person) was covered with blood, which was even then
slowly oozing and dropping down from a long, ugly gash
that crossed the upper portion of the left temple and
extended from her forehead to her ear.

" Good heavens ! what's happened ?" exclaimed one.
" There must be Injuns about I" cried a second.



MAD ANN. 107

" Is there danger for us ?" demanded a third.

" Speak 1" almost shouted a chorus of excited voices.

Mad Ann gave no heed to any, however ; but taking the
best seat in front of the fire, she bent partly over it, and,
with hands extended to the cheerful blaze, and eyes fixed
steadily upon the glowing coals, proceeded to warm her-
self with the indifference of one who was not aware of being
in the least degree an object of interest.

But those around her were too much excited to remain
quiescent ; and though fully aware that her eccentricity
would keep her silent till the whim seized her to talk, they
still continued to importune her to reveal what all were so
anxious to know.

" See here, folks," exclaimed Mad Ann, at length, draw-
ing the back of her large, rough hand across her face, to
clear away some of the blood, and looking ghastly and
hideous, as she turned her eyes glaringly around upon the
group, who instinctively drew back a pace, as if fearful of
a sudden assault : " See here, folks," she repeated, slowly
and deliberately, but adding a wicked oath " if you don't
know me well enough to know that I won't tell you any
thing till I get ready, you don't know me as well as you
ought to, and I'll just keep my mouth shut for a month to
1'arn you."

" Look you, Ann," replied a large, strong, robust man,
the commander of the garrison, " if this here matter only



108 MAD ANN.

consarned you, we'd give you two months, and say nothing;
but if thar's Injuns about, we ought to know it at once, and
be gitting ready to defend ourselves."

"Put up Liverpool, and fodder him well, and fetch me
some whiskey, quick 1" rejoined the strange woman, turn-
ing again to the fire, and deigning no reply to the last
speaker.

Knowing that the shortest way to her favor lay in obey-
ing her instructions, two or three of the group bestirred
themselves actively ; and presently it was announced that
Liverpool was in the best of quarters, and that Mrs. Ann
Bailey would much honor her friends by drinking their
healths, the speaker at the same time presenting her a
pewter cup containing nearly half a pint of her favorite
beverage.

Mad Ann seized the cup, looked steadily at its contents


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Online LibraryEmerson BennettForest and prairie, or, Life on the frontier → online text (page 5 of 22)