Page images




N the morning that succeeded practised soldier whom frequent frays have

the night in which Horse- taught wisdom, he resolved to reconnoitre shoe Robinson arrived at before he advanced upon a post that might Musgrove's the stout be in possession of an enemy. He therefore geant might have

might have been dismounted, fastened his horse in a fenceseen, about eight o'clock,' corner, where a field of corn concealed him leaving the main road from from notice, and then stealthily crept forNinety-Six, at the point ward until he came immediately behind one where that leading to Da- of the outhouses. From this position he was vid Ramsay's separated from enabled to satisfy himself that no danger was it, and cautiously urging his to be apprehended from his visit. He ac

way into the deep forest by cordingly approached and entered the dwellthe more private path into which he had ing, where he soon found himself in the entered. The knowledge that Innis was presence of its mistress. encamped along the Ennoree, within à Mistress Ramsay,” said he, walking up short distance of the mill, had compelled to the dame, who was occupied at a table, him to make an extensive circuit to reach with a large trencher before her, in which Ramsay's dwelling, whither he was now bent, she was plying some household thrift, “luck and he had experienced considerable delay in to you, ma'am, and all your house! I hope his morning journey by finding himself fre- you haven't none of these clinking and clatquently in the neighborhood of small forag- tering bullies about you that are as thick ing-parties of Tories, whose motions he was over this country as the frogs in the kneadobliged to watch for fear of an encounter. ing-troughs that they tell of ?'' He had once already been compelled to use Good lack, Mr. Horseshoe Robinson !" his horse's heels in what he called “fair exclaimed the matron, offering the sergeant flight," and once to ensconce himself a full her hand. “What has brought you here? half hour under cover of the thicket afford- What news? Who are with you? For ed him by a swamp.

He now, therefore, patience' sake, tell me !" according to his own phrase, “dived into the “I am alone,” said Robinson.

"And a little road that scrambled down through the little wettish, mistress," he added as he took woods toward Ramsay's with all his eyes off his hat and shook the water from it; "it about him, looking out as sharply as a fox has just sat up a rain, and looks as if it was on a foggy morning;” and, with this cir- going to give us enough on't. You don't cumspection, he was not long in arriving mind doing a little dinner-work on a Sunday, within view of Ramsay's house.

Like a

I see. Shelling of beans, I s'pose, is tanta


mount to dragging a sheep out of a pond, as if they owned the fee-simple of everything the preachers allow on the Sabbath. Ha, ha! on the plantation. And it made my blood Where's Davy ?"

rise, Mr. Horseshoe, to see them turn out in " He's gone over to the meeting-house on the yard and catch up my chickens and Ennoree, hoping to hear something of the ducks, and kill as many as they could string army at Camden; perhaps you can tell us about them, and I not daring to say a word, the news from that quarter ?"

though I did give them a piece of my

mind, Faith, that's a mistake, Mistress Ram- too." say, though I don't doubt that they are hard " Who is at home with you?" inquired upon the scratches by this time. But at the sergeant, eagerly. this present speaking I command the flying “Nobody but my youngest boy, Andrew," artillery. We have but one man in the answered the dame. “And then the filthy, corps, and that's myself; and all the gurs toping rioters—” she continued, exalting ber we have got is this piece of ordnance that voice. hangs in this old belt by my side,” pointing · What arms have you in the house ?"

'' to his sword, “and that I captured from the asked Robinson, without hecding the dame's enemy at Blackstock's.

I was hoping I rising anger. mought find John Rainsay at home: I have “ We have a rifle, and a horseman's pistol need of him as a recruit."

that belongs to John. They must call for “Ah, Mr. Robinson, John has a heavy life drink, too, and turn my house, of a Sunday of it over there with Sumter. The boy is morning, into a tavern—" often without his natural rest or a meal's “ They took the route toward Ninety-Six, victuals, and the general thinks so much of you said, Mistress Ramsay ??? him that he can't spare him to come home. Yes, they went straight forward upon I haven't the heart to complain as long as the road. But, look you, Mr. Horseshoe : John's service is of any account, but it does you're not thinking of going after them ?" seem, Mr. Robinson, like needless tempting • Isn't there an old field about a mile from of the mercies of Providence. We thought here on that road ?" inquired the sergeant, that he might have been here to-day; yet I still intent upon his own thoughts. am glad he didn't come, for he would have “ Certain," replied the hostess. " You been certain to get into trouble. Who should must remember the cobbler that died of drink come in this morning, just after my husband on the roadside ?" had cleverly got away on his horse, but a “There is a shabby, racketty cabin in the young cock-a-whoop ensign that belongs to middle of the field. Am I right, good woNinety-Six, and four great Scotchmen with him, all in red coats? They had been out “Yes." thieving, I warrant, and were now going “And nobody lives in it? It has no door home again. And who but they! Here to it?" they were swaggering all about my house, There ha'n't been a family there these and calling for this, and calling for that, as seven years.



man ?”

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

“I know the place very well,” said the “ Bless your soul, Mistress Ramsay, there sergeant, thoughtfully; "there is woods just aren't no danger about it. Don't take on so. on this side of it.''

It's a thing that is either done at a blow or * That's true,” replied the dame. “But not done, and there's an end of it. I want what is it you are thinking about, Mr. Rob- the lad only to bring home the prisoners for inson ?

me after I have took them." “ How long before this rain began was it “Ah, Mr. Robinson, I have one con althat they quitted this house ?''

ready in these wars, God protect him! And "Not above fifteen minutes.'

you men don't know how a mother's heart Mistress Ramsay, bring me the rifle and yearns for her children in these times. I canpistol both, and the powder-horn and bul- not give another,” she added as she threw lets.”

her arms over the shoulders of the youth “As you say, Mr. Horseshoe," answered and drew him to her bosom. the dame as she turned round to leave the " Oh, it ain't nothing,” said Andrew, in a room, “ but I am sure I can't suspicion what sprightly tone. " It's only snapping of a pisyou mean to do.”

tol, mother. Pooh! If I'm not afraid, you In a few moments the woman returned oughtn't to be.” with the weapons, and gave them to the "I give you my honor, Mistress Ramsay," sergeant.

said Robinson, “ that I will bring or send Where is Andy ?” asked Horseshoe. your son safe back in one hour, and that he The hostess went to the door and called sha'n't be put in any sort of danger what

Almost immediately afterward a somedever. Come, that's a good woman!" sturdy boy of about twelve or fourteen years You are not deceiving me, Mr. Robinof age

entered the apartment, bis clothes son ?” asked the matron, wiping away a tear. dripping with rain. He modestly and shyly You wouldn't mock the sufferings of a weak seated himself on a chair near the door, with woman in such a thing as this ?". his soaked hat flapping down over a face full On the honesty of a sodger, ma'am, of freckles, and not less rife with the expres- replied Horseshoe, “the lad shall be in no sion of an open, dauntless hardihood of cha- danger, as I said before, whatsomedever.”

Then I will say no more," answered the “How would


a scrummage, Andy, mother.—"But, Andy, my child, be sure to with them Scotchmen that stole your mother's let Mr. Robinson keep before you.” chickens this morning ?” asked Horseshoe. Horseshoe now loaded the firearms, and,

“I'm agreed,” replied the boy, "if you having slung the pouch across his body, be will tell me what to do."

put the pistol into the hands of the boy ; " You are not going to take the boy out on then, shouldering his rifle, he and his young any of your desperate projects, Mr. Horse-ally left the room. Even on this occasion, shoe?” said the mother, with the tears start- serious as it might be deemed, the sergeant ing instantly into her

eyes. “You wouldn't did not depart without giving some manifestake such a child as that into danger? tation of that light-heartedness which no dif

her son.



[ocr errors]

ficulties ever seemed to have power to con

whole batch is there at this very point of quer.

He thrust his head back into the time. We will go slowly along until we get room, after he had crossed the threshold, and to the other end of this wood, in sight of said with an encouraging laugh,

the old field, and then, if there is no one on " Andy and me will teach them, Mistress the lookout, we will open our first trench. Ramsay, Pat's point of war: we will sur- You know what that means, Andy ?" round the ragamuffins.”

" It means, I s'pose, that we'll go right " Now, Andy, my lad,” said Horseshoe, smack at them,” replied Andrew. after he had mounted Captain Peter, “ you

"Pretty exactly,” said the sergeant. must get up behind me.

Turn the lock of

"But listen to me. Just at the edge of your pistol down,” he continued as the boy the woods you will have to get down and sprang upon the horse's

rump, " and cover it put yourself behind a tree. I'll ride forwith the flap of your jacket, to keep the rain ward as if I had a whole troop at my off. It won't do to hang fire at such a time heels; and if I catch them, as I expect, as this."

they will have a little fire kindled, and, The lad did as he was directed, and IIorse- as likely as not, they'll be cooking some shoe, having secured his rifle in the same of

your mother's fowls." way, put his horse up to a gallop and took “Yes, I understand,” said the boy, the road in the direction that had been pur- eagerly. sued by the soldiers.

No, you don't,” replied Horseshoe, “but As soon as our adventurers had gained a you will when you hear what I am going to wood at the distance of about half a mile say. If I get at them onawares, they'll be the sergeant relaxed his speed and advanced mighty apt to think they are surrounded, at a pace but little above a walk.

and will bellow like fine fellows for quarters, “Andy,” he said, we have got rather a and thereupon, Andy, I'll cry out, “Stand ticklish sort of a job before us, so I must fast l' as if I was speaking to my own men; give you your lesson, which you will under- and when you hear that, you must come up stand better by knowing something of my full tilt, because it will be a signal to you plan. As soon as your mother told me that that the enemy has surrendered. Then it these thieving villains had left her house will be your business to run into the house about fifteen minutes before the rain came and bring out the muskets as quick as a rat on, and that they had gone along upon this runs through a kitchen ; and when you

have road, I remembered the old field up here, done that, why all's done. But if and the little log hut in the middle of it; hear any popping of firearms—that is, inore and it was natural to suppose that they had than one shot, which I may chance to let off just got about near that hut when this rain —do you take that for a bad sign and get came up, and then it was the most supposable away as fast as you can heel it. You comcase in the world that they would naturally prehend ?"} go into it as the driest place they could find. "Oh yes," replied the lad; "and I'll do what

* So now, you see, it's my calculation that the you want, and more too, maybe, Mr. Robinson.”


you should


an inch !”


Captain Robinson, remember, Andy; | man that budges a foot from that there you must call me 'captain' in the bearing fireplace shall have fifty balls through his of these Scotsmen."

body." “I'll not forget that, neither,” answered " To arms !” cried the young officer who

! Andrew.

commanded the squad inside the house. By the time these instructions were fully “Leap to your arms, men! Why do you impressed upon the boy, our adventurous stand, you villains ?” he added as he perforlorn hope, as it may fitly be called, had ceived his men hesitate to move toward the arrived at the place which Horseshoe had corner where the muskets were piled. designated for the commencement of active “I don't want your blood, young man," operations. They had a clear view of the said Robinson, coolly, as he still levelled his

. old field, and it afforded them a strong as- rifle at the officer, “nor that of your people, surance that the enemy was exactly where but, by my father's son, I'll not leave one of they wished him to be when they discovered you to be put upon a muster-roll if

you move smoke arising from the chimney of the hovel. Andrew was instantly posted behind a tree, Both parties now stood for a brief space and Robinson only tarried a moment to make eying each other in a fearful suspense, dur

, the boy repeat the signals agreed on, in order ing which there was an expression of mixed to ascertain that he had them correctly in his doubt and anger visible on the countenances memory. Being satisfied from this experi- of the soldiers as they surveyed the broad ment that the intelligence of young Ramsay proportions and met the stern glance of the might be depended upon, he galloped across sergeant; whilst the delay also began to the intervening space, and in a few seconds raise an apprehension in the mind of Robinabruptly reined up his steed in the

very door- son that his stratagem would be discovered. way of the hut. The party within was gath- “Upon him, at the risk of your lives !"

” ered around a fire at the farther end, and in cried the officer, and on the instant one of the corner opposite the door were four mus- the soldiers moved rapidly toward the farther kets thrown together against the wall. To wall; upon which the sergeant, apprehending spring from his saddle, thrust himself one the seizure of the

the seizure of the weapons, sprang forward pace inside of the door, and to level his rifle in such a manner as would have brought his at the

group beside the fire, was a movement body immediately before them, but a decayed which the sergeant executed in an instant, plank in the floor caught his foot and he fell shouting at the same time,

to his knee. It was a lucky accident, for “Surrender to Captain Robinson of the the discharge of a pistol by the officer planted Free Will Volunteers and to the Continen- a bullet in the log of the cabin which would tal Congress, or you are all dead men !- have been lodged full in the square

breast of Halt!” he vociferated, in a voice of thun- the gallant Horseshoe if he had retained his der, as if speaking to a corps under bis perpendicular position. His footing, however, command. “File off, cornet, right and was recovered almost as soon as it was lost. left, to both sides of the house. The first and the next moment found him bravely posted

« PreviousContinue »