Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

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the scene around him.

" The devil blast you and Major Butler to boot ! " exclaimed
Curry, roused by Horseshoe s air of defiance. " To it, bully !
It shall be short work between us, and bloody," he shouted, as
he discharged a pistol shot at the sergeant s breast; which
failing to take effect, he flung the weapon upon the ground,
brandished his sword, and spurred immediately against his
challenger. The sweep of the broadsword fell upon the barrel
of Horseshoe s uplifted rifle, and in the next instant the broad
hand of our lusty yeoman had seized the trooper by the collar
and dragged him from his horse. The two soldiers came to the
ground, locked in a mutual embrace, and for a brief moment
a desperate trial of strength was exhibited in the effort to gain
their feet.

" I have you there," said Robinson, as at length, with a
flushed cheek, quick breath, and bloodshot eye, he rose from
the earth and shook the dragoon from him, who fell backwards
on his knee. " Curse you, James Curry, for a fool and villain !
You almost drive me, against my will, to the taking of your life.
I don t want your blood. You are beaten, man, and must say
so. I grant you quarter upon condition

" Look to yourself ! I ask no terms from you," interrupted
Curry, as suddenly springing to his feet, he now made a second
pass, which was swung with such unexpected vigor at the head
of his adversary that Horseshoe had barely time to catch the


blow, as before, upon his rifle. The broadsword was broken
by the stroke, and one of the fragments of the blade struck the
sergeant upon the forehead, inflicting a wound that covered his
face with blood. Horseshoe reeled a step or two from his
ground and clubbing the rifle, as it is called, by grasping the
barrel towards the muzzle, he paused but an instant to dash
the blood from his brow \vith his hand and then with one lusty
sweep, to which his sudden anger gave both precision and
energy, he brought the piece full upon the head of his foe with
such fatal effect as to bury the lock in the trooper s brain,
\vhilst the stock was shattered into splinters. Curry, almost
without a groan, fell dead across a ledge of rock at his feet.

" The grudge is done and the fool has met his desarvings,"
was Horseshoe s brief comment upon the event, as he gazed
sullenly, for an instant, upon the dead body. He had no time
to tarry. The rest of his party were still engaged with the
troopers of the guard, who now struggled to preserve the
custody of their prisoner. The bridle rein of Captain Peter had
been caught by one of the Rangers, and the good steed was
now quickly delivered up to his master, who, flinging himself
again into his saddle, rushed into the throng of combatants.
The few dragoons, dispirited by the loss of their leader and
stricken with panic at this strenuous onset, turned to flight,
leaving Butler in the midst of his friends.

" God bless you, major ! " shouted Robinson, as he rode up
to his old comrade, who, unarmed, had looked upon the
struggle with an interest corresponding to the stake he had in
the event. " Up, man here, spring across the pommel. Now,
boys, down the mountain, for your lives ! Huzza, huzza ! we
have won him back ! " he exclaimed, as, seizing Butler s arm,
he lifted him upon the neck of Captain Peter and bounded
away at full speed towards the base of the mountain, followed,
by Foster and his party.


The reader may imagine the poignancy of Mildred s emotions
as she sat beside Allen Musgrove and his daughter on the
knoll and watched the busy and stirring scene before her. The
center division of the assailing army was immediately in her
view on the opposite face of the mountain, and no incident of
the battle in this quarter escaped her notice. She could dis
tinctly perceive the motions of the Amherst Rangers, to whom
she turned her eyes with a frequent and eager glance as the
corps with which her brother Henry was associated, and when,
the various fortune of the fight disclosed to her the occasional
retreat of her friends before the vigorous sallies of the enemy
or brought to her ear the renewed and angry volleys of mus
ketry, she clenched Mary Musgrove s arm with a nervous
grasp and uttered short and anxious ejaculations that showed
the terror of her mind.

" I see Mister Henry yet," said Mary, as Campbell s troops
rallied from the last shock, and again moved towards the
summit. "I see him plainly, ma am for I know his green
dress and caught the glitter of his brass bugle in the sun. And
there now all is smoke again. Mercy, how stubborn are
these men ! And there is Mister Henry once more near
the top. He is safe, ma am."

" How earnestly," said Mildred, unconsciously speaking aloud
as she surveyed the scene, " Oh. how earnestly do I wish this
battle was done ! I would rather, Mr. Musgrove, be in the
midst of yonder crowd of angry men, could I but have their
recklessness, than here in safety to be tortured with my present

" In God is our trust, madam," replied the miller. " His arm
is abroad over the dangerous paths, for a shield and buckler
to them that put their trust in him. Ha ! there is Ferguson s
white horse rushing, with a dangling rein and empty saddle,
down the mountain through Campbell s ranks; the rider has


fallen, and there, madam there, look on it ! is a white flag
waving in the hands of a British officer. The fight is done.
Hark, our friends are cheering with a loud voice ! "

" Thank Heaven thank Heaven ! " exclaimed Mildred, as
she sprang upon her feet. " It is even so ! "

The loud huzzas of the troops rose upon the air ; the firing
ceased ; the flag of truce fluttered in the breeze ; and the con
federated bands of the mountaineers, from every quarter of the
late battle, were seen hurrying towards the crest of the moun
tain and mingling amongst the ranks of the conquered foe.
Again and again the clamorous cheering of the victors broke
forth from the mountain top and echoed along the neighboring

During this wild clamor and busy movement a party of
horsemen were seen, through the occasional intervals of the
low wood that skirted the valley on the right, hastening from
the field with an eager swiftness towards the spot where
Mildred and her companions were stationed.

As they swept along the base of the mountain and approached
the knoll they were lost to view behind the projecting angles of
the low hills that formed the ravine, through which, my reader
is aware, the road held its course. When they reappeared it
was in ascending the abrupt acclivity of the knoll and within
fifty paces of the party on the top of it.

It was now apparent that the approaching party consisted
of Stephen Foster and three or four of the Rangers led by
Horseshoe Robinson, with Butler still seated before him as
when the sergeant first caught him up in the fight. These
were at the same moment overtaken by Henry Lindsay, who
had turned back from the mountain at the first announcement
of victory to bring the tidings to his sister.

Mildred s cheek grew deadly pale and her frame shook as
the cavalcade rushed into her presence.


" There take him ! " cried Horseshoe, with an effort to
laugh, but which seemed to be half converted into a quaver by
the agitation of his feelings, as, springing to the ground, he
swung Butler from the horse, with scarce more effort than
he would have used in handling a child ; " take him, ma am. I
promised myself to-day that I d give him to you. And now
you ve got him. That s a good reward for all your troubles.
God bless us but I m happy to-day."

" MY HUSBAND ! MY DEAR HUSBAND !" were the only artic
ulate words that escaped Mildred s lips, as she fell senseless
into the arms of Arthur Butler.


[William Gilmore Simms was born at Charleston, South Carolina,
in 1 806. He received but a limited education, and at the age of twelve
became apprenticed to a druggist. But as this occupation did not
appeal to him, he began at eighteen the study of law. This profes
sion he abandoned in a short time to become editor of a newly estab
lished literary magazine, and from this time on he devoted his entire
time to literary work. He was a most prolific writer and not only
produced numerous volumes of poetry and fiction but edited one
short-lived periodical after another and contributed to various others.
The war made the close of his life a sad one. His home was partly
burned in 1 862, and in 1 865 it, together with his fine library, was
entirely destroyed. During the years of the war his wife and several
of his children died. He found also that the public was beginning to
lose its relish for the type of story he wrote. The words of the
epitaph he left behind at his death in Charleston in 1870 suggest the
essentially brave spirit of the man, " Here lies one who, after a
reasonably long life, distinguished chiefly by unceasing labors, has
left all his better work undone."

To attempt an enumeration of Simms s many volumes is impos
sible, the total being, according to one count, above eighty. Suffice
it to say that besides fiction he wrote numerous volumes of dramas,



criticism, biography, history, and other forms of writing. The re
sult of this literary endeavor is summed up in the words of Professor
W. P. Trent: "Although he left behind little that is permanent, he
did write half a dozen or more romances of colonial and Revolu
tionary Carolina that are interesting and valuble for the light they
throw upon an important period of Southern history."]


[The incidents are supposed to take place in the region of
Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1715, when the Yemassee Indians,
who had been friendly
to the English of South
Carolina, joined with the
Spaniards in making war
upon them.

The story opens with
Captain Gabriel Harrison
(who is really Governor
Craven of South Carolina
in disguise) learning of
the plans of the Indians
and endeavoring to succor
the white people from the
impending general mas
sacre. Captain Harrison
is particularly interested
in saving his sweetheart, Bess Matthews, and her father, a
Puritan preacher. He urges them either to go to Charleston
or to go to the neighboring blockhouse for safety, but the
preacher declines to do so, insisting that the Indians intend
no mischief. Captain Harrison urges the other frontiersmen



to preparations, and the old blockhouse is repaired and made
ready for a siege.

When the English try to buy additional land from the Indians,
Sanutee, one of the older chiefs, and a few others refuse to as
sent to the sale, and succeed in having the chiefs who did con
sent condemned to become outcasts. Among these is Occon-
estoga, a young chief and the son of Sanutee, who, with the
aid of his mother, Matiwan, makes his escape to the whites.
Made reckless by drink, Occonestoga consents to return to his
people in order to spy upon them for the English. He is caught
and condemned to an accursed death. In a thrilling scene his
mother kills him in order that he may not die ignominiously.

As Occonestoga had failed to return, Captain Harrison goes
himself to spy upon the Indians and is captured. Matiwan, the
mother of Occonestoga, aids him to escape from prison because
he had shown kindness to her son. Shortly after this the
Indians, aided by the Spaniards and certain pirates, begin war
fare on the whites and bring torture and devastation upon such
of the settlements as had not heeded Captain Harrison s warn
ing. Bess Matthews and her father are saved from the Indians
by Chorley, a Spaniard, who has fallen in love with her, though
he virtually holds them as his prisoners. The Indians shortly
afterwards concentrated their forces on the blockhouse, the
attack on which is described in the selection that follows.]

The inmates of the Block House, as we remember, had been
warned by Hector of the probable approach of danger, and
preparation was the word in consequence. But what was the
preparation meant ? Under no distinct command, everyone
had his own favorite idea of defense, and all was confusion in
their councils. The absence of Harrison, to whose direction all
parties would most willingly have turned their ears, was now of
the most injurious tendency, as it left them unprovided with any


head, and just at the moment when a high degree of excitement
prevailed against the choice of any substitute. Great bustle and
little execution took the place of good order, calm opinion,
deliberate and decided action. The men were ready enough to
fight, and this readiness was an evil of itself, circumstanced as
they were. To fight would have been madness then ; to protract
the issue and gain time was the object, and few among the
defenders of the fortress at that moment were sufficiently
collected to see this truth. In reason, there was really but a
single spirit in the Block House sufficiently deliberate for the
occasion. That spirit was a woman s the wife of Granger.
She had been the child of poverty and privation; the severe
school of that best tutor, necessity, had made her equable in
mind and intrepid in spirit. She had looked suffering so long
in the face that she now regarded it without a tear. Her parents
had never been known to her, and the most trying difficulties
clung to her from infancy up to womanhood. So exercised, her
mind grew strong in proportion to its trials, and she had learned
in the end to regard them with a degree of fearlessness far
beyond the capacities of any well-bred heir of prosperity and
favoring fortune. The same trials attended her after marriage,
since the pursuits of her husband carried her into dangers
to which even he could oppose far less ability than his wife.
Her genius soared infinitely beyond his own, and to her teachings
was he indebted for many of those successes which brought him
wealth in after years. She counseled his enterprises, prompted
or persuaded his proceedings, managed for him wisely and
economically, in all respects proved herself unselfish ; and, if
she did not at any time appear above the way of life they had
adopted, she took care to maintain both of them from falling
beneath it a result too often following the exclusive pursuit
of gain. Her experience throughout life, hitherto, served her
admirably now, when all was confusion among the councils of


the men. She descended to the court below, where they made
a show of deliberation, and, in her own manner, with a just
knowledge of human nature, proceeded to give her aid in their
general progress. Knowing that any direct suggestion from a
woman, and under circumstances of strife and trial, would
necessarily offend the amour propre of the nobler animal and
provoke his derision, she pursued a sort of management which
an experienced woman is usually found to employ as a kind of
familiar a wily little demon, that goes unseen at her bidding
and does her business, like another Ariel, the world all the while
knowing nothing about it. Calling out from the crowd one of
those whom she knew to be not only the most collected, but
the one least annoyed by any unnecessary self-esteem, she was
in a moment joined by Wat Gray son, and leading him aside,
she proceeded to suggest various measures of preparation and
defense, certainly the most prudent that had yet been made.
This she did with so much unobtrusive modesty that the worthy
woodman took it for granted all the while that the ideas
were properly his own. She concluded with insisting upon
his taking the command.

" But Nichols will have it all to himself. That s one of our
difficulties now."

" What of that ? You may easily manage him, Master
Gray son."

" How ? " he asked.

" The greater number of the men here are of the Green
Jackets ? "

"Yes "

" And you are their lieutenant next in command to Captain
Harrison, and their first officer in his absence ? "

" That s true."

" Command them as your troop exclusively and don t mind
the rest."


" But they will be offended."

"And if they are, Master Grayson, is this a time to heed
their folly when the enemy s upon us ? Let them. You do
with your troop without heed to them, and they will fall into
your ranks they will work with you when the time comes."

" You are right," was the reply ; and immediately going
forward, with a voice of authority, Grayson, calling only the
" Green Jackets " around him, proceeded to organize them
and put himself in command, as first lieutenant of the only
volunteer corps which the parish knew. The corps received the
annunciation with a shout, and the majority readily recognized
him. Nichols alone grumbled a little, but the minority was too
small to offer any obstruction to Grayson s authority, so that he
soon submitted with the rest. The command, all circumstances
considered, was not improperly given. Grayson, though not
overwise, was decisive in action ; and, in matters of strife,
wisdom itself must be subservient to resolution. Resolution in
trial is wisdom. The new commander numbered his force,
placed the feeble and the young in the least trying situations,
assigned different bodies to different stations, and sent the
women and children into the upper and most sheltered
apartment. In a few moments things were arranged for the
approaching conflict with tolerable precision.

The force thus commanded by Grayson was small enough ;
the whole number of men in the Block House not exceeding
twenty-five. The women and children within its shelter were
probably twice that number. The population had been assembled
in great part from the entire extent of country lying between
the Block House and the Indian settlements. From the Block
House downward to Port Royal Island there had been no
gathering to this point, the settlers in that section, necessarily,
in the event of a like difficulty, seeking a retreat to the fort on
the island, which had its garrison already, and was more secure,


and in another respect much more safe, as it lay more contiguous
to the sea. The greater portion of the country immediately
endangered from the Yemassees had been duly warned, and
none but the slow, the indifferent, and the obstinate but had
taken sufficient heed of the many warnings given them and put
themselves in safety. Numbers, however, coming under one
or other of these classes had fallen victims to their folly or
temerity in the sudden onslaught which followed the first
movement of the savages among them, who, scattering them
selves over the country, had made their attack so nearly at
the same time as to defeat anything like unity of action in
the resistance which might have been offered them.

Grayson s first care in his new command was to get the
women and children fairly out of the way. The close upper
apartment of the Block House had been especially assigned
them, and there they had assembled generally. But some few of
the old ladies were not to be shut up, and his own good Puritan
mother gave the busy commandant no little trouble. She went
to and fro, interfering in this, preventing that, and altogether
annoying the men to such a degree that it became absolutely
necessary to put on a show of sternness which, in a moment of
less real danger and anxiety, would have been studiously for
borne. With some difficulty, and the assistance of Granger s
wife, he at length got her out of the way, and, to the great
satisfaction of all parties, she worried herself to sleep in the
midst of a Psalm, which she crooned over to the dreariest tune
in her whole collection. Sleep had also fortunately seized upon
tfte children generally; and but few in the room assigned to the
women were able to withstand the approaches of that subtle
magician. The wife of the trader, almost alone, continued
watchful thoughtful in emergency, and with a ready degree of
common sense to contend with trial and to prepare against it.
The confused cluster of sleeping forms, in all positions and of


all sorts and sizes, that hour, in the apartment so occupied, was
grotesque enough. One figure alone, sitting in the midst and
musing with a concentrated mind, gave dignity to the ludicrous
grouping the majestic figure of Mary Granger, her dark
eye fixed upon the silent and sleeping collection in doubt and
pit\-, her black hair bound closely upon her head, and her
broad forehead seeming to enlarge and grow with the busy
thought at work within it. Her hand, too strange association
rested upon a hatchet. . . .

The watchers of the fortress, from their several loopholes,
looked forth, east and west, yet saw no enemy. All was soft in
the picture, all was silent in the deep repose of the forest. The
night was clear and lovely, and the vague and dim beauty with
which, in the imperfect moonlight, the foliage of the woods
spread away in distant shadows or clung and clustered together
as in groups, shrinking for concealment from her glances,
touched the spirits even of those rude foresters. With them
the poetry of the natural world is a matter of feeling ; with the
refined it is an instrument of art. Hence it is, indeed, that the
poetry of the early ages speaks in the simplest language, while
that of civilization, becoming only the agent for artificial en
joyment, is ornate in its dress and complex in its form and

The night wore on, still calm and serene in all its aspects
about the Block House. Far away in the distance, like glimpses
of a spirit, little sweeps of the river in its crooked windings
flashed upon the eye, streaking with a sweet relief the somber
foliage of the swampy forest through which it stole. A^single
note the melancholy murmur of the chuck-will s-widow,
the Carolina whippoorwill broke fitfully upon the silence, to
which it gave an added solemnity. That single note indicated
to the keepers of the fortress a watchfulness corresponding with
their own, of another living creature. Whether it were human


or not whether it were the deceptive lure and signal of the
savage or, in reality, the complaining cry of the solitary and sad
night bird which it so resembled, was, however, matter of nice
question with those who listened to the strain.

"They are there they are there, hidden in that wood,"
cried Grayson ; " I 11 swear it. I ve heard them quite too
often not to know their cunning now. Hector was right after
all, boys."

" What, where ? " asked Nichols.

"There, in the bush to the left of the blasted oak now
down to the bluff and now by the bay on the right. They
are all round us."

" By what do you know, Wat ? "

" The whippoorwill that is their cry their signal."

" It is the whippoorwill," said Nichols, " there is but one
of them ; you never hear more than one at a time."

" Pshaw ! " responded Grayson, " you may hear half a
dozen at a time, as I have done a thousand times. But that is
from no throat of bird. It is the Indian. There is but a single
note, you perceive, and it rises from three different quarters.
Now it is to the Chief s Bluff and now it comes immedi
ately from the old grove of scrubby oak. A few shot there
would get an answer."

" Good ! that is just my thought let us give them a broad
side and disperse the scoundrels," cried Nichols.

" Not so fast, Nichols you swallow your enemy without
asking leave of his teeth. Have you inquired first whether we
have powder and shot to throw away upon bushes that may be
emptyT" now exclaimed the blacksmith, joining in the question.

" A prudent thought, that, Grimstead," said Grayson ; " we
have no ammunition to spare in that way. But I have a notion
that may prove of profit. Where is the captain s straw man
here, Granger, bring out Dugdale s trainer."



The stuffed figure . . . was brought forward, the window
looking in the direction of the grove supposed to shelter the
savages was thrown open, and the perfectly indifferent head
of the automaton thrust incontinently through the opening.
The ruse was completely successful. The foe could not well
resist this temptation, and a flight of arrows, penetrating the
figure in every portion of its breast and face, attested the
presence of the enemy and the truth of his aim. A wild and
shuddering cry rang through the forest at the same instant

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 9 of 35)