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of you. I shall not be easy until I hear that both the gates are hung -
that in the stockade, and that in the house, itself."

"It was my intention to commence to-day," returned the father, "but
your departure has prevented it. I will wait a day or two, to let your
mother and sisters tranquillize their minds a little, before we besiege
them with the noise and clamour of the workmen."

"Better besiege them with _that_, my dear sir, than leave them
exposed to an Indian, or even a rebel attack."

The major then went on to give some of his more modern military
notions, touching the art of defence. As one of the old school, he
believed his father a miracle of skill; but what young man, who had
enjoyed the advantages of ten or fifteen years of the most recent
training in any branch of knowledge, ever believed the educations of
those who went before him beyond the attacks of criticism. The captain
listened patiently, and with an old man's tolerance for inexperience,
glad to have any diversion to unhappy thoughts.

All this time Maud watched their movements from the loop, with eyes
streaming with tears. She saw Robert pause, and look back, again and
again; and, once more, she thrust out the handkerchief. It was plain,
however, he did not see it; for he turned and proceeded, without any
answering signal.

"He never _can_ know whether it was Beulah or I," thought Maud;
"yet, he may fancy we are _both_ here."

On the rocks, that overhung the mills, the gentlemen paused, and
conversed for quite a quarter of an hour. The distance prevented Maud
from discerning their countenances; but she could perceive the
thoughtful, and as she fancied melancholy, attitude of the major, as,
leaning on his fowling-piece, his lace was turned towards the Knoll,
and his eyes were really riveted on the loop. At the end of the time
mentioned, the young soldier shook hands hastily and covertly with his
companions, hurried towards the path, and descended out of sight,
following the course of the stream. Maud saw him no more, though her
father and Mr. Woods stood on the rocks quite half an hour longer,
catching occasional glimpses of his form, as it came out of the shadows
of the forest, into the open space of the little river; and, indeed,
until the major was within a short distance of the spot where he was to
meet the Indian. Then they heard the reports of both barrels of his
fowling-piece, fired in quick succession, the signals that he had
joined his guide. This welcome news received, the two gentlemen
returned slowly towards the house.

Such was the commencement of a day, which, while it brought forth
nothing alarming to the family of the Hutted Knoll, was still pregnant
with important consequences. Major Willoughby disappeared from the
sight of his father about ten in the morning; and before twelve, the
settlement was alive with the rumours of a fresh arrival. Joel knew not
whether to rejoice or to despair, as he saw a party of eight or ten
armed men rising above the rock, and holding their course across the
flats towards the house. He entertained no doubt of its being a party
sent by the provincial authorities to arrest the captain, and he
foresaw the probability of another's being put into the lucrative
station of receiver of the estate, during the struggle which was in
perspective. It is surprising how many, and sometimes how pure patriots
are produced by just such hopes as those of Joel's. At this day, there
is scarce an instance of a confiscated estate, during the American
revolution, connected with which racy traditions are not to be found,
that tell of treachery very similar to this contemplated by the
overseer in some instances of treachery effected by means of kinsmen
and false friends.

Joel had actually got on his Sunday coat, and was making his way
towards the Knoll, in order to be present, at least, at the anticipated
scene, when, to his amazement, and somewhat to his disappointment, he
saw the captain and chaplain moving down the lawn, in a manner to show
that these unexpected arrivals brought not unwelcome guests. This
caused him to pause; and when he perceived that the only two among the
strangers who had the air of gentlemen, were met with cordial shakes of
the hand, he turned back towards his own tenement, a half-dissatisfied,
and yet half contented man.

The visit which the captain had come out to receive, instead of
producing any uneasiness in his family, was, in truth, highly
agreeable, and very opportune. It was Evert Beekman, with an old
friend, attended by a party of chain-bearers, hunters, &c., on his way
from the "Patent" he owned in the neighbourhood - that is to say, within
fifty miles - and halting at the Hutted Knoll, under the courteous
pretence of paying his respects to the family, but, in reality, to
bring the suit he had now been making to Beulah for quite a
twelvemonth, to a successful termination.

The attachment between Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby was of a
character so simple, so sincere, and so natural, as scarce to furnish
materials for a brief episode. The young man had not made his addresses
without leave obtained from the parents; he had been acceptable to the
daughter from the commencement of their acquaintance; and she had only
asked time to reflect, ere she gave her answer, when he proposed, a day
or two before the family left New York.

To own the truth, Beulah was a little surprised that her suitor had
delayed his appearance till near the close of May, when she had
expected to see him at the beginning of the month. A letter, however,
was out of the question, since there was no mode of transmitting it,
unless the messenger were sent expressly; and the young man had now
come in person, to make his own apologies.

Beulah received Evert Beekman naturally, and without the least
exaggeration of manner, though a quiet happiness beamed in her handsome
face, that said as much as lover could reasonably desire. Her parents
welcomed him cordially, and the suitor must have been dull indeed, not
to anticipate all he hoped. Nor was it long before every doubt was
removed. The truthful, conscientious Beulah, had well consulted her
heart; and, while she blushed at her own temerity, she owned her
attachment to her admirer. The very day of his arrival they became
formally betrothed. As our tale, however, has but a secondary
connection with this little episode, we shall not dwell on it more than
is necessary to the principal object. It was a busy morning,
altogether; and, though there were many tears, there were also many
smiles. By the time it was usual, at that bland season, for the family
to assemble on the lawn, everything, even to the day, was settled
between Beulah and her lover, and there was a little leisure to think
of other things. It was while the younger Pliny and one of the Smashes
were preparing the tea, that the following conversation was held, being
introduced by Mr. Woods, in the way of digressing from feelings in
which he was not quite as much interested as some of the rest of the

"Do you bring us anything new from Boston?" demanded the chaplain. "I
have been dying to ask the question these two hours - ever since dinner,
in fact; but, somehow, Mr. Beekman, I have not been able to edge in an

This was said good-naturedly, but quite innocently; eliciting smiles,
blushes, and meaning glances in return. Evert Beekman, however, looked
grave before he made his reply.

"To own the truth, Mr. Woods," he said, "things are getting to be very
serious. Boston is surrounded by thousands of our people; and we hope,
not only to keep the king's forces in the Peninsula, but, in the end,
to drive them out of the colony."

"This is a bold measure, Mr. Beekman! - a very bold step to take against

"Woods preached about the rights of Cæsar, no later than yesterday, you
ought to know, Beekman," put in the laughing captain; "and I am afraid
he will be publicly praying for the success of the British arms, before

"I _did_ pray for the Royal Family," said the chaplain, with
spirit, "and hope I shall ever continue to do so."

"My dear fellow, I do not object to _that_. Pray for all
conditions of men, enemies and friends alike; and, particularly, pray
for our princes; but pray also to turn the hearts of their advisers."

Beekman seemed uneasy. He belonged to a decidedly whig family, and was
himself, at the very moment, spoken of as the colonel of one of the
regiments about to be raised in the colony of New York. He held that
rank in the militia, as it was; and no one doubted his disposition to
resist the British forces, at the proper moment. He had even stolen
away from what he conceived to be very imperative duties, to secure the
woman of his heart before he went into the field. His answer, in
accordance, partook essentially of the bias of his mind.

"I do not know, sir, that it is quite wise to pray so very willingly
for the Royal Family," he said. "We may wish them worldly happiness,
and spiritual consolation, as part of the human race; but political and
specific prayers, in times like these, are to be used with caution. Men
attach more than the common religious notion, just now, to prayers for
the king, which some interpret into direct petitions against the United

"Well," rejoined the captain, "I cannot agree to this, myself. If there
were a prayer to confound parliament and its counsels, I should be very
apt to join in it cordially; but I am not yet ready to throw aside
king, queen, princes and princesses, all in a lump, on account of a few
taxes, and a tittle tea."

"I am sorry to hear this from you, sir," answered Evert. "When your
opinions were canvassed lately at Albany, I gave a sort of pledge that
you were certainly more with us than against us."

"Well then, I think, Beekman, you drew me in my true outlines. In the
main, I think the colonies right, though I am still willing to pray for
the king."

"I am one of those, captain Willoughby, who look forward to the most
serious times. The feeling throughout the colonies is tremendous, and
the disposition on the part of the royal officers is to meet the crisis
with force."

"You have a brother a captain of foot in one of the regiments of the
crown, colonel Beekman - what are his views in this serious state of

"He has already thrown up his commission - refusing even to sell out, a
privilege that was afforded him. His name is now before congress for a
majority in one of the new regiments that are to be raised."

The captain looked grave; Mrs. Willoughby anxious; Beulah interested;
and Maud thoughtful.

"This has a serious aspect, truly," observed the first. "When men
abandon all their early hopes, to assume new duties, there must be a
deep and engrossing cause. I had not thought it like to come to this!"

"We have had hopes major Willoughby might do the same; I know that a
regiment is at his disposal, if he be disposed to join us. No one would
be more gladly received. We are to have Gates, Montgomery, Lee, and
many other old officers, from regular corps, on our side."

"Will colonel Lee be put at the head of the American forces?"

"I think not, sir. He has a high reputation, and a good deal of
experience, but he is a humourist; and what is something, though you
will pardon it, he is not an American born."

"It is quite right to consult such considerations, Beekman; were I in
congress, they would influence _me_, Englishman as I am, and in
many things must always remain."

"I am glad to hear you say that, Willoughby," exclaimed the chaplain - "
right down rejoiced to hear you say so! A man is bound to stand by his
birth-place, through thick and thin."

"How do you, then, reconcile your opinions, in this matter, to _your_
birth-place, Woods?" asked the laughing captain.

To own the truth, the chaplain was a little confused. He had entered
into the controversy with so much zeal, of late, as to have imbibed the
feelings of a thorough partisan; and, as is usual, with such
philosophers, was beginning to overlook everything that made against
his opinions, and to exaggerate everything that sustained them.

"How?" - he cried, with zeal, if not with consistency - "Why, well
enough. I am an Englishman too, in the general view of the case, though
born in Massachusetts. Of English descent, and an English subject."

"Umph! - Then Beekman, here, who is of Dutch descent, is not bound by
the same principles as we are ourselves?"

"Not by the same _feelings_ possibly; but, surely, by the same
principles. Colonel Beekman is an Englishman by construction, and you
are by birth. Yes, I'm what may be called a _constructive_

Even Mrs. Willoughby and Beulah laughed at this, though not a smile had
crossed Maud's face, since her eye had lost Robert Willoughby from
view. The captain's ideas seemed to take a new direction, and he was
silent some little time before he spoke.

"Under the circumstances in which we are now placed, as respects each
other, Mr. Beekman," he said, "it is proper that there should be no
concealments on grave points. Had you arrived an hour or two earlier,
you would have met a face well known to you, in that of my son, major

"Major Willoughby, my dear sir!" exclaimed Beekman, with a start of
unpleasant surprise; "I had supposed him with the royal army, in
Boston. You say he has left the Knoll - I sincerely hope not for

"No - I wished him to go in that direction, at first, and to see you, in
particular; but his representations of the state of the country induced
me to change my mind; he travels by a private way, avoiding all the
towns of note, or size."

"In that he has done well, sir. Near to me as a brother of Beulah's
must always seem, I should be sorry to see Bob, just at this moment. If
there be no hope of getting him to join us, the farther we are
separated the better."

This was said gravely, and it caused all who heard it fully to
appreciate the serious character of a quarrel that threatened to arm
brother against brother. As if by common consent, the discourse
changed, all appearing anxious, at a moment otherwise so happy, to
obliterate impressions so unpleasant from their thoughts.

The captain, his wife, Beulah and the colonel, had several long and
private communications in the course of the evening. Maud was not sorry
to be left to herself, and the chaplain devoted his time to the
entertainment of the friend of Beekman, who was in truth a surveyor,
brought along partly to preserve appearances, and partly for service.
The chain-bearers, hunters, &c., had been distributed in the different
cabins of the settlement, immediately on the arrival of the party.

That night, when the sisters retired, Maud perceived that Beulah had
something to communicate, out of the common way. Still, she did not
know whether it would be proper for her to make any inquiries, and
things were permitted to take their natural course. At length Beulah,
in her gentle way, remarked - "It is a fearful thing, Maud, for a woman
to take upon herself the new duties, obligations and ties of a wife."

"She should _not_ do it, Beulah, unless she feels a love for the
man of her choice, that will sustain her in them. You, who have
_real_ parents living, ought to feel this fully, as I doubt not you

"_Real_ parents! Maud, you frighten me! Are not _my_ parents
_yours?_ - Is not all our love common?"

"I am ashamed of myself, Beulah. Dearer and better parents than mine,
no girl ever had. I am ashamed of my words, and beg you will forget

"That I shall be very ready to do. It was a great consolation to think
that should I be compelled to quit home, as compelled I must be in the
end, I should leave with my father and mother a child as dutiful, and
one that loves them as sincerely as yourself, Maud."

"You have thought right, Beulah. I do love them to my heart's core!
Then you are right in another sense; for I shall _never_ marry. My
mind is made up to _that_"

"Well, dear, many are happy that never marry - many women are happier
than those that do. Evert has a kind, manly, affectionate heart, and I
know will do all he can to prevent my regretting home; but we can never
have more than _one_ mother, Maud!"

Maud did not answer, though she looked surprised that Beulah should say
this to _her_.

"Evert has reasoned and talked so much to my father and mother,"
continued the _fiancée_, blushing, "that they have thought we had
better be married at once. Do you know, Maud, that it has been settled
this evening, that the ceremony is to take place to-morrow!"

"This is sudden, indeed, Beulah! Why have they determined on so
unexpected a thing?"

"It is all owing to the state of the country. I know not how he has
done it - but Evert has persuaded my father, that the sooner I am his
wife, the more secure we shall _all_ be, here at the Knoll."

"I hope you love Evert Beekman, dearest, dearest Beulah?"

"What a question, Maud! Do you suppose I could stand up before a
minister of God, and plight my faith to a man I did not love? - Why have
you seemed to doubt it?"

"I do not doubt it - I am very foolish, for I know you are conscientious
as the saints in heaven - and yet, Beulah, I think _I_ could scarce
be so tranquil about one I loved."

The gentle Beulah smiled, but she no longer felt uneasiness. She
understood the impulses and sentiments of her own pure but tranquil
nature too well, to distrust herself; and she could easily imagine that
Maud would not be as composed under similar circumstances.

"Perhaps it is well, sister of mine," she answered laughing, though
blushing, "that you are so resolved to remain single; for one hardly
knows where to find a suitor sufficiently devoted and ethereal for your
taste. No one pleased you last winter, though the least encouragement
would have Brought a dozen to your feet; and here there is no one you
can possibly have, unless it be dear, good, old Mr. Woods."

Maud compressed her lips, and really looked stern, so determined was
she to command herself; then she answered somewhat in her sister's
vein -

"It is very true," she said, "there is no hero for me to accept, unless
it be dear Mr. Woods; and he, poor man, has had one wife that cured him
of any desire to possess another, they say."

"Mr. Woods! I never knew that he was married. Who can have told you
this, Maud?"

"I got it from Robert" - answered the other, hesitating a little. "He
was talking one day of such things."

"What things, dear?"

"Why - of getting married - I believe it was about marrying relatives - or
connections - or, some such thing; for Mr. Woods married a cousin-
german, it would seem - and so he told me all about it. Bob was old
enough to know his wife, when she died. Poor man, she led him a hard
life - he must be far from the Knoll, by this time, Beulah!"

"Mr. Woods! - I left him with papa, a few minutes since, talking over
the ceremony for to-morrow!"

"I meant Bob - - "

Here the sisters caught each other's eyes, and both blushed,
consciousness presenting to them, at the same instant, the images that
were uppermost in their respective minds. But, no more was said. They
continued their employments in silence, and soon each was kneeling in

The following day, Evert Beekman and Beulah Willoughby were married.
The ceremony took place, immediately after breakfast, in the little
chapel; no one being present but the relatives, and Michael O'Hearn,
who quieted his conscience for not worshipping with the rest of the
people, by acting as their sexton. The honest county Leitrim man was
let into the secret - as a great secret, however - at early dawn; and he
had the place swept and in order in good season, appearing in his
Sunday attire to do honour to the occasion, as he thought became him.

A mother as tender as Mrs. Willoughby, could not resign the first claim
on her child, without indulging her tears, Maud wept, too; but it was
as much in sympathy for Beulah's happiness, as from any other cause.
The marriage in other respects, was simple, and without any
ostentatious manifestations of feeling. It was, in truth, one of those
rational and wise connections, which promise to wear well, there being
a perfect fitness, in station, wealth, connections, years, manners and
habits, between the parties. Violence was done to nothing, in bringing
this discreet and well-principled couple together. Evert was as worthy
of Beulah, as she was worthy of him. There was confidence in the
future, on every side; and not a doubt, or a misgiving of any sort,
mingled with the regrets, if regrets they could be called, that were,
in some measure, inseparable from the solemn ceremony.

The marriage was completed, the affectionate father had held the
weeping but smiling bride on his bosom, the tender mother had folded
her to her heart, Maud had pressed her in her arms in a fervent
embrace, and the chaplain had claimed his kiss, when the well-meaning
sexton approached.

"Is it the likes of yees I wish well to!" said Mike - "Ye may well say
_that_; and to yer husband, and childer, and all that will go
before, and all that have come after ye! I know'd ye, when ye was
mighty little, and that was years agone; and niver have I seen a cross
look on yer pretthy face. I've app'inted to myself, many's the time, a
consait to tell ye all this, by wor-r-d of mouth; but the likes of
yees, and of the Missus, and of Miss Maud there - och! isn't she a swate
one! and many's the pity, there's no sich tall, handsome jontleman to
take _her_, in the bargain, bad luck to him for staying away; and
so God bless ye, all, praist in the bargain, though he's no praist at
all; and here's my good wishes said and done."

Chapter X.

Ho! Princes of Jacob! the strength and the stay
Of the daughters of Zion; - now up, and away;
Lo, the hunters have struck her, and bleeding alone
Like a pard in the desert she maketh her moan:
Up with war-horse and banner, with spear and with sword,
On the spoiler go down in the might of the Lord!


The succeeding fortnight, or three weeks, brought no material changes,
beyond those connected with the progress of the season. Vegetation was
out in its richest luxuriance, the rows of corn and potatoes, freshly
hoed, were ornamenting the flats, the wheat and other grains were
throwing up their heads, and the meadows were beginning to exchange
their flowers for the seed. As for the forest, it had now veiled its
mysteries beneath broad curtains of a green so bright and lively, that
one can only meet it, beneath a generous sun, tempered by genial rains,
and a mountain air. The chain-bearers, and other companions of Beekman,
quitted the valley the day after the wedding, leaving no one of their
party behind but its principal.

The absence of the major was not noted by Joel and his set, in the
excitement of receiving so many guests, and in the movement of the
wedding. But, as soon as the fact was ascertained, the overseer and
miller made the pretence of a 'slack-time' in their work, and obtained
permission to go to the Mohawk, on private concerns of their own. Such
journeys were sufficiently common to obviate suspicion; and, the leave
had, the two conspirators started off, in company, the morning of the
second day, or forty-eight hours after the major and Nick had
disappeared. As the latter was known to have come in by the Fort
Stanwix route, it was naturally enough supposed that he had returned by
the same; and Joel determined to head him on the Mohawk, at some point
near Schenectady, where he might make a merit of his own patriotism, by
betraying the son of his master. The reader is not to suppose Joel
intended to do all this openly; so far from it, his plan was to keep
himself in the back-ground, while he attracted attention to the
supposed toryism of the captain, and illustrated his own attachment to
the colonies.

It is scarcely necessary to say that this plan failed, in consequence
of the new path taken by Nick. At the very moment when Joel and the
miller were lounging about a Dutch inn, some fifteen or twenty miles
above Schenectady, in waiting for the travellers to descend the valley
of the Mohawk, Robert Willoughby and his guide were actually crossing
the Hudson, in momentary security at least. After remaining at his post
until satisfied his intended prey had escaped him, Joel, with his
friend, returned to the settlement. Still, the opportunity had been
improved, to make himself better acquainted with the real state of the
country; to open communications with certain patriots of a moral

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperWyandotte → online text (page 13 of 38)