George Hooker Colton.

The American review : a Whig journal of politics, literature, art, and science (Volume 14) online

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" What tink were next ? De doctor seed he
were meetin' a hurricane, and come slow,
but on he did dome. He's pretty much of
a man, you know ; though he aint high, he's
made broad and put close together, so he
couldn't back out by sayin' he wan't no match.
Still all his uttermost could do in a riglar
scrimmage with such an unmarciful strong
giant of a gentleman as Marser Steve, would
be to make him enough wuss to tear him to
flinders. An' de doctor knew dat too, and
were sartain and sure that if de other should
once get fairly 'zaggerated, he mought as
well give hisself up for gone, without fendin'
a liek. I've seed many a fight of white folks
too, and it's a right nice sight, and some
people looks all the better for having their
noses smashed, and their eyes knocked up ;
but de doctor is such a quiet, civil sort of a
gentleman, I'd been sorry to a seen him in
such a fix."

"Come, old man," cried Herbert impa-
tiently, " stick to the point, and tell us what
happened. Did Middleton give ground ?"

" Not a bit, Marser ; he walked slowly on,
and looked de other right in the eye. It
was a queer kind of a look too, and I must
say I decline very much to the opinion that
there's somethin' more nor natural 'bout de
young doctor. You ricoUec', Miss Lucy,
laow he cured Delilah's child so suddint
when three other doctors give it up ; and
even old Aunty Pilzy, who come from
AftViky, and was as old when I was a boy —
dat's sixty years ago — as she are now; even
Aunt Pilzy said it were written in de moon
dat it must die ; but Dr. Middleton told her,
short like, ' Hold your tongue !' an' Pilzy's
sperrit wan't strong 'nough to stand his
sperrit, an' de child livedo

" But about the meeting at the tavern,
Uncle Ichabod?"

" Sure 'nuff, but I'll be on a trot now.



1851.



The Trenchard Property.



481



Well, afore de doctor got within two or three
yards or so of the door, Marser Steve made
a quick step forward with a hard grip ou
the switch, as if his fingers itched to use it.
Sandy Leach kept close along, but a little
behint. Marser Steve raised de whip half
up, and said, 'I b'lieve you's been makin'
slan'rous 'proaches against me ; come, out
with your 'pology ; I'm waitin'.' De doctor
kept his eye right agin his all de time, and
spoke in de same soft sort o' way as ever ;
and dat dem words of his'n should have
effeck is admonishin', and make me think
still more there mus' be somethin' sperritual
and witch-like 'bout him. Gracious, /
wouldn't unplease him for the airth !"
" But what did he say ?"
"Only four or half-a-dozen words, and
they had no consarn whatsomever wid the
matter. He said, ' Can you tell me, sir,
whether a black man walks like an Injun V
Now wasn't dat funny ? Anybody 'd have
thought it more like crazy people's talk ; but
it had de charm in it, and Marser Steve drop
his switch as if it war red-hot iron, though
he looked as fierce as ever. Misser Leach
touch him on the arm and whisper in his
ear, and den stepped between 'em and made
out as though he war partin' on 'em ; but I
could see it war all 'possum, for neder him
nor Marser Steve could a ris an arm so long
as de charm was on dat de doctor laid dar."
As the old black concluded his narrative,

his three listeners exchanged glances.

"A negro almost invariably turns out his
toes in walking," observed Francis Herbert,

in a low tone, " whilst the Indian keeps them
straight forward ; and no Indian ever had a

straighter tread than RandolphP

" And how were those tracks ?" inquired

one of the ladies.

" I do not know ; but the doctor must."
Old Ichabod observed them closely, but

only comprehended enough that was said to

puzzle him, without his gaining a clue to the

mystery.

" I must go to Delviton right away," said

Herbert.

" Not to do any thing about this we are

guessing atl" suggested Lucy.

" Of course not ; but I have my vote to

give."

He proceeded straightway to the village,

drinking in fresh vigor at every step from

the atmosphere, at once balmy and bracing,

which is peculiar to that fifth season unknown



to Hesiod, the Indian Summer, which springs
like a new Amphitrite from the beach of one
ocean, gives a fresh charm to the bright sis-
terhood as they trip across our western con-
tinent, and deserts them in the first rippling
wave of the other. He swung his arms in
the exhilaration of his spirit, and his breast
swelled with high thoughts. Then he felt
that he could do all tilings, and harder yet,
endure all things. He thought not of his
being an almost penniless dependent upon
the bounty of another, nor that he was master
of no profession, and at that time unqualified
for any one of the countless pursuits which
human ingenuity or necessity has devised ;
nor further, that he bore a brand of dishonor
which would probably adhere during life.
Nothing of all this passed through his mind,
but he blessed the beneficent Creator for a
glorious autumn day, and in the enjoyment
of the gift was happy.

In this buoyant mood he soon threaded the
woods, and crossed the rivulet which divided
to him nature from the world, quiet from
distraction, the green and golden hills of the
plantation from the brick and whitewash of
Delviton. The tavern grounds extended in
the rear to the skirt of the wood through
which he had passed, and indeed cut ofi" a
few of its trees. About half way from this
back fence to the dwelling and offices was a
nine-pin alley, and so far the throng of tav-
ern visitors frequently wandered. But Her-
bert w^as startled by hearing loud and angry
voices issuing from the very extremity of the
yard, and underneath the group of trees.
Instead, therefore, of keeping around the
grounds to the front, he leaped the fence,
and ran across the hillock which concealed
the cause of the sound from his view.

But to render our narrative intelligible,
we must go back a little in time, and follow
some of the movements of Mr. Trenchard.
The old gentleman had, as Herbert informed
the doctor, made a circuit of an additional
mile before entering the village ; and when,
he did reach it, he rode immediately into the
yard to the stable, for the purpose of having
his horse kept securely during his stay.
After he had dismounted, and just as he was
about to proceed to the tavern, he observed
a man coming in the direction of the stable-
Sandy Leach, for it was he, changed color
when he perceived whom he was so near
meeting, and turned off into the little grove
in the rear. Trenchard followed after very



482



The Trenchard Property.



December,



quickly, and had nearly overtaken liim,
when the object of his pursuit turned sud-
denly around and said :

" Sir, what have you to do with me ?"

Trenchard replied in a low, deep tone,
" Suppose I sought to do murder, how could
you complain?"

" Man ! ruffian !" exclaimed the other with
agitation; "keep off; I am armed."

" What the deuce do I care for your arms,
you paltry coward ! When did a Trenchard
ever fear any thing ? Do you remember
New-Orleans ? Don't you gasp for breath
at the recollection ?"

Leach's face did indeed assume a hvid hue,
but Trenchard continued :

" Do you remember the famine at Ha-
vana, when you brought a ship thither with
a cargo of grain, for which you had paid a
double price, and by the sale of which you
expected to make a quadruple profit ? Do
you remember how three large shij) loads
came in the day after, and how much you
lost in consequence ?"

" It reduced me for the time to beggary !"
ci-ied Leach. " But for that cursed mischance
I should now have been worth three hundred
thousand dollars. Yet you surely had no
hand in that?"

" There you are mistaken, sir ; nobody
else would have been willing to lose money
to ruin you. I was ; and I did not lose by
that transaction, for I gained revenge — some
revenge ; but there's more to be gained yet,
man !"

" Mr. Trenchard," rejoined Sandy, in hon-
eyed accents, " we are both advanced in years ;
neither of us can expect to live a great while
longer. You have done me a great deal of
hurt. I myself, I confess it, have wronged
you. Let us hold the score balanced ; let
us seek the pardon of Heaven, by pardoning
each other ; let us forget and forgive."

" Forget and forgive !" echoed Trenchard ;
" you do well to couple the terms. Sandy,
Sandy, I could forgive were it possible to
forget ; but, treacherous villain ! I have a
MEMORY ! I will follow you up to the last ;
no peace nor pardon shall you have ! My
revenge would be incomplete were you to
die calmly. Scoundrel, hypocrite, perjured
liar, viper, adder, most loathsome of reptiles,
for ever I will hate you !"

"And d'ye think," said the other, speak-
ing through his teeth, " that I cannot hate
also % You have enjoyed your revenge ; you



shall taste mine. See who's the best at the
game."

" Blood-sucking Leach ! low-born and
lower-hved rascal, I scorn and defy you !"

" Ha, ha ! defy me, do you ?"

"Yes, I do defy you. You have twice
tried to kill me, once when I was sick, and
last at night ; but you can't succeed ! How
you chuckled when you were on the roof ;
your joy sounded in your voice. But, Alex-
ander Leach, / live ! Stingless scorpion, I
hve to trample you under my heel '"

" You heard my voice, do you say ?"
Leach cast a searching glance around to as-
certain that no listeners were nigh. " You
heard my voice. Now, what words did that
voice say ? What person was addressed ?
Was it a black man's name that was called ?
tell me that ! Was it Jim's ? Was it not
that of some one nearer to you ? was it
not "

" Hold !" cried Trenchard, in a voice of
thunder ; then he added, almost whispering,
" I heard indeed too much. I mean, I
dreamed I heard it ; for never could he who
bears that name have joined in a vile, cow-
ardly assassination. Impossible ! it cannot
be."

" You heard "

" Alexander, hush ! Say not that it was
he, or I'll grind you to ashes !"

" Stephen Trenchard, you say I wronged
you, and heap bitter names on me. You
have an excellent memory for all this. Your
wife, so beautiful, so beloved, died the first
year of her marriage, killed by your cruelty —
killed by her husband. Ha, ha, ha ! And
you say I was at the bottom of all this ! a
ridiculous notion, truly. Ha, ha ! Well,
you don't remember, I suj^pose, how you had
treated me before that ? You had a sister.
Alexander Leach, a poor man, of a poor fam-
ily, wasn't good enough for her. No ! So
you married her to Brewster Randolph ; and
what a fine youth has sprung from that
happy marriage ! A nice young man, in
truth, who hangs up his own dear uncle, his
namesake too ! Stephen chokes Stephen !
Ha, ha !"

Colonel Trenchard, violently enraged
drew a knife and sprang, with almost the
vigor of youth, at the breast of his enemy ;
but Leach, too wary not to foresee such a
consequence, stepped suddenly back, drew a
pistol, and fired. Trenchard tottered for-
ward, made a second vehement plunge with



1851.



The Trenchard Property.



48J



his weapon, but not reaching his mark, fell
at full length, whilst the knife was buried to
the handle in the hard clay.

Leach leaned over the wounded man, and
said in a soft, hypocritical tone, " You are
studying forgiveness now, I hope, sir. Don't
scorn me, Mr. Trenchard, don't scorn me
now ; pray don't I"

" Villain !" exclaimed Trenchard, raising
himself on one arm; "Villain ! I abominate
you — yes, I loathe, I scorn you still ! I be-
lieve you have killed me. Leach." Here his
eyes rolled in their sockets so dreadfully that
even the hardened wretch before him was
struck with affright. " I believe you have
killed me. Hear my last words : I die ; but
if ever the dead revisit the earth, your bed,
Alexander Leach, shall be sleepless." As
the last word left his lips, he sank back ; but
he soon revived, and his countenance wore a
less death-like expression.

Sandy Leach, who was stricken with hor-
ror so long as he believed he had expired,
also recovei'ed his faculties. " Yes, Trench-
ard," he hissed, " no son of mine should call
you uncle, and now you have a nephew of
other begetting, though of my training, to
be sure ; a handsome, gallant fellow, strong
as Goliath too ! Do you recollect how easily
he doubled you up in that rope ? Don't
grumble and grieve now, my dear fellow ;
it was not Sandy Leach, but Stephen Ran-
dol]>h, that tried to murder you the night of
the ] 5th of September."

" Traitor I scoundrel ! what have you told ?
AVould you betray me ?" The s]>eaker was
Randolph, who, in seeking his boon com-
panion, had stumbled on this scene and over-
heard Leach's last declaration. " I have told
you," he added vehemently, " what to expect ;
take that !" He raised his arm in anger,
and as Leach held up the pistol to ward oft'
the blow, wrenched it from him, presented
it, drew the trigger, and, the second barrel
having been cocked in the struggle, dis-
charged it into the owner's side. Leach fell
to the earth with a groan. " Heaven save
me !" exclaimed Randolph, shuddering ; " I
believe I am doubly a murderer."

A great throng of men now rushed in,
drawn by some vague rumor of a fight, as
well as by the pistol shots.

" There he is — Stephen Randolph — seize
him !" cried Leach, with labored and broken
utterance. "Seize him! he has slain — me
— me — and — Trenchard.^''

VOL. VIII. J.'0. VI. NEW SERIES,



Randolph's despairing words had been
heard and partly misinterpreted, and the
declaration of Alexander Leach, a person of
popular character and well esteemed, ap-
peared to fix the deepest guilt upon the un-
fortunate young man. Jt deserves to be
remarked, too, that his conduct at the
meeting with Middleton in the morning had
excited much doubt, if not suspicion.

Jack Chapman, who hap[)ened to be fore-
most of the crowd, addressing his compan-
ions, said grufflj^ "That business of the hoots
was never cleared up, was it ? And to my
certain knowledge, it was a lying charge that
black Jim had any hand in the hang-
ing "

" Mind your own business, sir !" cried
Randolph, striking him. But young Chap-
man, a stout, able-bodied man, was as hot-
tempered as Randolph himself, and raising
a cudgel, struck his powerful antagonist to
the ground with a blow. Not content with
this, when Randolph had got upon one knee,
and in the struggle to rise had thrown over
one of the most burly of his assailants, lie
I rushed forward, knocked him a second time
prostrate, and manifested his purpose to pro-
ceed to measures still more extreme. The
mob around, excited to a pitch of fury,
seconded him heartily, with violent gestures
and imprecations against the "murderer."

It was at this moment that Francis Her-
bert entered. In the confusion, lie noticed
not the bloody forms of Loach and his guar-
dian, but saw before him, stretched out and;
senseless, Stephen Randolph, about to be
trampled upon, and perhajjs slain. He
rushed forward and placed his own person
between the angry multitude and their jJro-
posed victim.

" Stand out of the v.-ay !" shouted Jack
Chapman.

" I will not, to see a defenseless person
murdered."

"Mr, Herbert, you endanger yourself to.
no purpose. Move away, sir," reiterated the
other.

" Kick him out of the road ! knock him:
down !" roared the crowd behind.

" Why are yo\i standing for such as him,
Jack 3" said David Chipman, the father,
endeavoring to push the new-comer aside ;,
but the thrust was so vigorously returned,,
that the old man went down upon hands and;
knees.

At this the younger Chapman swung Ina.
33



484



The Trcnchard Proiierty.



December,



club high above his shoulder, as if to decide
the matter at once. To ward off a blow like
that which had felled the Herculean Ran-
dolph, Uerbert had only his umbrella. The
crowd instantly ceased their various noise,
and even Dave Chapman, who was again on
his feet, held his breath to watch the descent
of that fearful hickory staff. Jack himself
caught the infectious pause, and said :

" Frank Herbert ! I would not hurt you if I
could help it ; but do not stop the path any
longer. That man is a murderer — the mur-
derer of your guardian !"

" Of Mr. Trenchard ? Good heavens !
Where is he ? But," added Herbert, firmly,
" if Randolph were ten times a murderer,
you have the law."

"Don't talk of law!" interrupted one in
the centre of the crowd. " If we let him up
now, he'll get off, and every body will be
afraid to say any thing. He deserves it all ;
why shouldn't he have it ? So hurrah, boys,
let's clear the track ! There, he's moving
now ; he'll be uj) ; let's into him !"

The mob, excited afresh, pressed close to-
gether, and bore Chapman forward against
the slight but undaunted champion of
mercy.

" My friends !" said Herbert, in a firm,
deep tone, " hear me one instant. You say
this man has committed murder ?"

" He has," answered many voices.

"Well, now, suppose that one of you had
■committed such a crime — and if you scout
at the supposition, just consider how near
you all are to it at this very moment ! Sup-
pose that this man, Randolph, who is now
prostrate here, should be stricken with a
mortal hurt, and that you, John Chapman,
should be charged with murder for having
•slain him ; what would you claim as your
right ? What, but a fair trial by an im-
panelled jury ? My friends — gentlemen — I
tell you, and your own hearts tell you, if
you are only calm enough to listen, that he
who takes away that breath which God alone
can bestow, sins to the peril of his own soul,
unless the Almighty himself gives the au-
thority; and to none does God give it, but
to those that execute the law. Let him be
tried ; and who, in that case, would consti-
tute the jury ? Some of yourselves ; and
are you afraid of your own quiet judgment ?
Or if not of yourselves, of other true Virgin-
ians, surely, who hate murder as much as
jou. He has killed Mr. Trenchard — did



any body see him do it?" Herbert paused,
but no reply broke the profound stillness.
" Is Mr. Trenchard killed ?"

" Ay," said the elder Chapman ; " yonder
he lies under that tree, shot bad enough to
die, and Steve had the pistol in his hand
when we came."

" Did no one, then, see Colonel Trenchard
shot?"

"Yes, sir, I seed it from the stable window."

There was a simultaneous turning of heads
in the direction of the speaker, who was no
other than the black hostler of the tavern,

"I seed it all. Colonel Trenchard and
Misser Leach fou't; and Marster Sandy shot
the Colonel, and Marster Stephen shot Mars-
ter Sandy."

" Don't you lie, you black rascal I"

"It's no lie at all, Marster Jack, but fac'
an' truth. I seed just what I tell, and
nothin' more and nothin' shorter."

This account at once put a new face upon
the matter ; and though Randolph had re-
covered from the stun and regained his feet,
no one felt inclined to molest him. The
younger Chapman stepped up, extending
his hand, and said in a frank tone, " Don't
bear a grudge, Steve ; you oughtn't to have
struck me, you know."

But Randolph, without listening to the
apology or taking note of any one, with, a
haughty air, turned his back upon the scene.

Trenchard and Leach were severally re-
moved to their homes ; the former receiving
the sedulous attentions of his ward.



CHAPTER VIII.

Dr. Middleton could not be found, but
several other physicians who were called into
the mansion declared themselves unable to
ascertain the precise situation of the ball.
There was much reason to fear that it was
lodged in the neighborhood of the lungs, in
which case it could scai'cely be hoped that
Colonel Trenchard would survive twenty-
four hours ; yet at evening he seemed to suf-
fer little pain, and was in the possession of
his faculties. After remaining with him till
a late hour and perceiving no change in his
condition, the medical gentlemen adminis-
tered an opiate and withdrew. Herbert and
a friendly neighbor undertook to attend upon
him till morning, arranging together that
the latter should recline upon a pallet in an



1851.



The Trenchard Property.



485



adjoining room, ready to give his assistance
■when called upon by the other.

Herbert sat by the bedside whilst his
guardian slumbered uneasily for some hours.
About two or three o'clock in the morning,
the wounded man awoke and asked for water.
AVhen he had emptied the tumbler which
Frank brought him, he again lay in silence
and without motion for a considerable space
of time, but not, as before, asleep.

"Frank," he said at length, "read me
some chapters from the Bible."

The young man read several passages
from the epistles, the account of our Saviour's
crucifixion, and two or three Psalms.

Trenchard listened with profound atten-
tion, and when he paused, said : " Read me
that chapter which tells how we ought to
treat our enemies."

Herbert accordingly read the sermon on
the mount, and some other passages in the
gospels inculcating forgiveness of injuries.

"Frank," said Trenchard, when he had
ended, "you have studied a good deal; tell
me, do you think the spirit ever visits the
earth after death ?"

"I know not, sir. I have not, myself,
ever seen sufficient reason to believe that it
is so ; yet without the declaration of Deity,
no man may presume positively to deny
it."

" Francis, I tokl Alexander Leach yester-
day that when I died I meant to haunt his
couch and break his slumbers. In my heart
I felt determined, if it were possible, to dog
his footsteps even by day, so that in the
thickest crowds a ghostly form should ever
be at his elbow. I purposed that every
night, though he might fence himself in the
innermost room of his house, and doubly
bolt the door, — I purposed that though
every other creature were asleep unmolested,
he should awake in horror and feel the
clutch of skeleton fingers upon his guilty
throat ! Was not that a wicked thought to
think, and a wicked word to say? I may
die to-night, and I would not have a hea-
then's death. Yet, Frank, though 1 know I
have been a bitter foe to those who have
done me wrong, have I ever forsaken a
friend ? Surely, villains Hke Leach are not
to be loved ?"

"But, sir," replied the young watcher,
" do you not remember a sentence that I
read just now : ' If ye love them that love
you, what thank have ye V "

" Yes, Frank, those very words have been



ringing in my ears ever since you read
them.''

"And then, Mr. Trenchard, our Saviour,
notwithstanding the infinite blessing of re-
demption he has ])urchased for us, gives us
no wai'rant so much as to 2'>'>'c^y for the for-
giveness of God in any higher degree than
we ourselves forgive those who have tres-
passed against us."

"Am I, then," said Trenchard with a sup-
pressed groan, " certainly a reprobate and
castaway, unless I pardon Leach ?"

" Oh, sir, what am I that you ask me such
questions ? The Bible is a common guide
for us all."

" Frank — Frank — but — ithurts me to talk."

"And you know, sir, the doctor forbade
your speaking."

" My head feels dull too, and my eyelids
heavy."

" This is probably the effect of the opiate,
sir."

" Well, Francis, listen to me ; I want to
speak it out before I die. I forgive — yes,
I forgive him without reserve — from my
heart — Alexander Leach ; and so may God
in his mercy forgive me !"

His head sank back upon the pillow from
which he had raised it to assist his labored
enunciation, and such a solemn stillness at
once pervaded the apartment, that Herbert
thought the spirit must have left its tene-
ment ; yet when the young man bent over
him in deep anxiety, to catch, if possible,
the sound of breathing, Trenchard opened
his eyes for an instant, and said :

" I am not dead, Frank ; not — yet."

Afterwards he dropped into a deep slum-
ber, which was not broken when the morning
rays fell upon his bed. Mr. Mercer and a
number of other friends stood or sat in dif-
ferent parts of the chamber. The physi-
cians were expected, but had not arrived.
His pulse was very full, and his respiration
difficult and attended with noise.

At length he awoke, coughing violently.
Suddenly there was a gush of blood from his
mouth, which streamed over his breast. All
were struck with consternation. One of the
physicians, who entered at the instant, de-
clared, as well by his countenance as by
words, that there was no ho])e, and that his
very moments were numbered.

Trenchard spoke with a countenance in-
deed ghastly and appalling, for an attendant,
in endeavoring to wipe away the blood from
his lips and chin, had besmeared his whole



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