網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

we

CHAPTER LXXIII.

A SAD SPECTACLE.

not so.

distinct traces of corrugation. Wherever ‘scratched companions noticed my dejection, and, in their rude by his now elongated finger-nails, a whitish dandruffy but kind way, rallied me as we rode along. They surface was exhibited.

failed, however, to make me cheerful like themselves. The poor fellow had fared badly in the block- I could not cast the load from my heart. Try as I house; and three weeks of positive famine had played would, the presentiment lay heavy upon me, that all sad havoc with his outward man.

was not well. Starvation, however, but little affected his spirits. Alas, alas! the presentiment proved true-no, not Throughout all, he had preserved his jovial mood, true, but worse-- worse than my worst apprehensions and his light humour often roused me from my --worse even than that I had most feared. despondency. While gnawing the corn cob, and The news that awaited me was not of marriage, but washing down the dry maize with a gourd of cold of death--the death of my mother and worse than water, he would indulge in rapturous visions of death-horrid doubt of my sister's fate. Before hominy and hog-meat,' to be devoured whenever it reaching home, a messenger met me-one who told should please fate to let him return to the 'ole plan- an appalling tale. tayshun.' Such delightful prospects of future enjoy- The Indians had attacked the settlement, or rather ment enabled him the better to endure the pinching my own plantation--for their foray had gone no present-for anticipation has its joys. Now that further: my poor mother had fallen under their savage

were free, and actually heading homeward; knives ; my uncle too; and my sister? She had been now that his visions were certain soon to become carried off! realities, Jake's jovialty could no longer be kept I stayed to hear no more; but, driving the spurs within bounds; his tongue was constantly in motion; into my jaded horse, galloped forward like one his mouth ever open with the double tier of 'ivories' suddenly smitten with madness. displayed in a continuous smile ; while his skin seemed to be rapidly recovering its dark oily lustre.

Jake was the soul of our party, as we trudged wearily along; and his gay jokes affected even the staid old hunters, at intervals eliciting from both loud My rate of speed soon brought me within the peals of laughter.

boundaries of the plantation; and, without pausing For myself, I scarcely shared their mirth—only to breath my horse, I galloped on, taking the path now and then, when the sallies of my follower proved that led most directly to the house. It was not the irresistible. There was a gloom over my spirit, main road, but a wood-path here and there closed up which I could not comprehend.

with bars. My horse was a spirited animal, and It should have been otherwise. I should have felt easily leaped over them. happy at the prospect of returning home-of once I met a man coming from the direction of the more beholding those who were dear—but it was house—a white man-a neighbour. He made motions

as if to speak-no doubt, of the calamity. I did not It had been so on my first getting free from our stop to listen. I had heard enough. My eyes alone block-house prison ; but this was only the natural wanted satisfaction. reaction, consequent upon escape from what appeared I knew every turn of the path. I knew the points almost certain death. My joy had been short-lived: where I should first come in sight of the house. it was past and gone; and now that I was nearing I reached it, and looked forward-Father of mercy! my native home, dark shadows came over my soul; there was no house to be seen ! a presentiment was upon me that all was not Half-bewildered, I reined up my horse. I strained well.

my eyes over the landscape-in vain-no house. I could in no way account for this feeling, for I had Had I taken the wrong road, or was I looking in heard no evil tidings. In truth, I had heard nothing the wrong direction ? No-no. There stood the of home or of friends for a period of nearly two giant tulip-tree, that marked the embouchure of the months. During our long siege, no communication path. There stretched the savanna; beyond it the had ever reached us; and at St Marks we met but home-fields of indigo and maize; beyond these the slight news from the settlements of the Suwanee. dark wood-knoll of the hommock; but beyond this We were returning in ignorance of all that had last there was nothing---notliing I could recognise. transpired there during our absence-if auglit had The whole landscape appeared to have undergone transpired worthy of being known.

a change. The gay white walls—the green jalousies This ignorance itself might have produced uncer--the cheerful aspect of home, that from that same tainty, doubt, even apprehension ; but it was not the spot had so often greeted me returning hungry and sole cause of my presentiment. Its origin was differ- wearied from the hunt-were no longer to be seen. ent. Perhaps the recollection of my abrupt departure The sheds, the negro-cabins, the offices, even the -the unsettled state in which I had left the affairs of palings had disappeared. From their steads I beheld our family—the parting scene, now vividly recalled thick volumes of smoke ascending to the sky, and -remembrances of Ringgold-reflections upon the rolling over the sun till his disc was red. wicked designs of this wily villain--all these may have heavens were frowning upon me. contributed to form the apprehensions under which I From what I had already learned, the spectacle was was suffering. Two months was a long period; many easy of comprehension. It caused no new emotion events could happen within two months, even in the either of surprise or pain. I was not capable of Barrow circle of one's own family. Long since it had suffering more. been reported that I had perished at the hands of the Again putting my horse to his speed, I galloped Indian foe; I was believed to be dead, at home, wher- across the fields towards the scene of desolation. ever I was known; and the belief might have led to As I neared the spot, I could perceive the forms of ill results. Was my sister still true to her word, so men moving about through the smoke. There emphatically pronounced in that hour of parting ? appeared to be fifty or a hundred of them. Their Was I returning home to find her still my loved motions did not betoken excitement. Only a few sister? Still single and free? or had she yielded to were moving at all, and these with a leisurely gait, maternal solicitation, and become the wife of the vile that told they were not in action. The rest stood in caitiff after all ?

groups, in lounging attitudes, evidently mere specWith such conjectures occupying my thoughts, no tators of the conflagration. They were making no wonder I was not in a mood for merriment. My attempt to extinguish the flames, which I now observed

The

CHAPTER LXXIV.

то

THE TRAIL.

hurried away.

mingling with the smoke. A few were rushing to around the corpse, and kissed the cold mute lips of and fro-most of them on horseback---apparently in her who had given me birth. the endeavour to catch some horses and cattle, that, having escaped from the burnt enclosure, were galloping over the fields neighing and lowing.

One might have fancied that the men around the fire were those who had caused it; and for a moment My grief was profound even to misery. The such an idea was in my mind. The messenger had remembrance of occasional moments of coldness said that the foray had just taken place—that very on the part of my mother--the remembrance more morning at daybreak. It was all I had heard, as I especially of the last parting scene-rendered my

anguish acute. Had we but parted in affection-in It was yet early-scarcely an hour after sunrise the friendly confidence of former years — my loss for we had been travelling by night to avoid the hot would have been easier to endure. But no; her hours. Were the savages still upon the ground ? last words to me were spoken in reproach-- almost in Were those men Indians ? In the lurid light, amidst anger-and it was the memory of these that now so the smoke, chasing the cattle--as if with the intention keenly imbittered my thoughts. I would have given of driving them off-the conjecture was probable the world could she have heard but one word-to enough.

know how freely I forgave her. But the report said they had gone away: how else My poor mother! all was forgiven. Her faults were could the details have been known ?- the murder of few and venial. I remembered them not. Ambition my mother, the abduction of my poor sister ? With was her only sin-among those of her station, alnost the savages still upon the ground, how had these facts | universal-but I remembered it no more. I remembeen ascertained ?

bered only her many virtues-only that she was my Perhaps they had gone, and returned again to mother. Never until that moment had I known low collect the booty, and fire the buildings ? For an dearly I loved her. instant, such fancies were before my mind.

It was no time to indulge in grief. Where was my They had no influence in checking my speed. I sister ? never thought of tightening the rein-my bridle-arm I sprang to my feet, as I gave wild utterance to the was not free; with both hands I was grasping the interrogatory. ready rifle.

It was answered only by signs. Those around me Vengeance had made me mad. Even had I been pointed to the forest. I understood the signs—the certain that the dark forms before me were those of savages had borne her away. the murderers, I was determined to dash forward into Up to this hour I had felt no hostility towards their midst, and perish upon the body of a savage. the red men; on the contrary, my sentiments had

I was not alone. The black was at my heels; and, an opposite inclination. If not friendship for them, I close behind, I could hear the clattering hoofs of the had felt something akin to it. I was conscious of the hunters' horses.

many wrongs they had endured, and were now endur. We galloped up to the selvidge of the smoke. The ing at the hands of our people. I knew that in the deception was at an end. They were not Indians or end they would be conquered, and must submit. I enemies, but friends who stood around, and who hailed had felt sympathy for their unfortunate condition. our approach neither with words nor shouts, but with It was gone. The sight of my murdered mother the ominous silence of sympathy.

produced an instantaneous change in my feelings; I pulled up by the fire, and dismounted from my and sympathy for the savage was supplanted by fierce horse: men gathered around me with looks of deep hostility. Her blood called aloud for vengeance, and meaning. They were speechless-no one uttered a my heart was eager to obey the summons. word. All saw that it was a tale that needed no As I rose to my feet, I registered vows of revenge. telling.

I stood not alone. 'Old Hickman and his fellow. I was myself the first to speak. In a voice so husky hunter were at my back, and fifty others joined their as scarcely to be heard, I inquired: Where?' voices in a promise to aid me in the pursuit.

The interrogatory was understood-it was antici- Black Jake was among the loudest who clamonred pated. One had already taken me by the hand, and for retribution. He too had sustained his loss. Viola was leading me .gently around the fire. He said was nowhere to be found-she had been carried off nothing, but pointed towards the hommock. Unre- with the other domestics. Some may have gone sistingly I walked by his side.

voluntarily, but all were absent-all who were not As we neared the pond, I observed a larger group dead. The plantation and its people had no longer than any I had yet seen. They were standing in a an existence. I was homeless as well as motherless. ring, with their faces turned inward, and their eyes There was no time to be wasted in idle sorrowing; bent upon the earth. I knew she was there.

immediate action was required, and determined upon. At our approach, the men looked up, and suddenly The people had come to the ground armed and ready, the ring opened—both sides mechanically drawing and a few minutes sufficed to prepare for the pursuit. back. He who had my hand conducted me silently A fresh horse was procured for myself; others for onward, till I stood in their midst. I looked upon the companions of my late journey; and after snatchthe corpse of my mother.

ing a breakfast lastily prepared, we mounted, and Beside it was the dead body of my uncle, and struck off upon the trail of the savages. beyond the bodies of several black men-faithful It was easily followed, for the murderers had been slaves, who had fallen in defence of their master mounted, and their horses' tracks betrayed them. and mistress.

They had gone some distance up the river before My poor mother !-shot-stabbed-scalped. Even crossing, and then swam their horses over to the in death had she been defeatured !

Indian side. Without hesitation, we did the same. Though I had anticipated it, the spectacle shocked The place I remembered well. I had crossed there me.

before-two months before-while tracking the steed My poor mother! Thoge glassy eyes would never of Oçeola. It was the path that had been taken by smile upon me again, those pale lips would neither the young chief. The coincidence produced upon me chide nor cheer me more.

a certain impression; and not without pain did I I could control my emotions no longer. I burst observe it. into tears; and, falling upon the earth, flung my arms It led to reflection. There was time, as the trail

was in places less conspicuous, and the finding it been perpetrated in revenge for past wrongs, endured delayed our advance. It led to inquiry.

at the hands of their pale-faced enemies—that the Had any one seen the savages ?-or noted to what like had occurred elsewhere, and was almost daily band they belonged ? Who was their leader?

occurring-why not on the banks of the Suwanee, Yes. All these questions were answered in the as in other districts of the country? In fact, it had affirmative. Two men, lying concealed by the road, been rather a matter of wonder, that the settlement had seen the Indians passing away–had seen their had been permitted to remain so long unmolested. captives, too; my sister – Viola — with other girls of Others—far more remote from the Seminole strongthe plantation. These were on horseback, each holds—had already suffered a like terrible visitation ; clasped in the arms of a savage. The blacks travelled and why should ours escape? The immunity had afoot. They were not bound. They appeared to go been remarked, and the inhabitants had become willingly. The Indians were Redsticks'-led by lulled by it into a false security. Oceola.

The explanation given was that the main body of Such was the belief of those around me, founded the Indians had been occupied elsewhere, watching upon the report of the men who had lain in ambush. the movements of Scott's triple army; and, as our

It is difficult to describe the impression produced settlement was strong, no small band had dared to upon me. It was painful in the extrenie. I endea- come against it. voured not to believe the report. I resolved not But Scott was now gone—his troops had retired to give it credence, until I should have further within the forts-their summer quarters—for winter confirmation of its truthfulness.

is the season of campaigning in Florida; and the Oceola! O heavens! Surely he would not have Indians, to whom all seasons were alike, were now done this deed? It could not have been he?

free to extend their marauding expeditions against The men might have been mistaken. It was before the trans-border plantations. daylight the savages had been seen. The darkness This appeared the true explanation why an attack might have deceived them. Every feat performed by upon the settlement of the Suwanee had been so long the Indians—every foray made-was put down to deferred. the credit of Oceola. Oçeola was everywhere. Surely During the first burst of my grief, on receiving he had not been there?

news of the calamity, I accepted it as such : I and Who were the two men- the witnesses ? Not mine had merely been the victims of a general without surprise did I listen to the answer. They vengeance. were Spence and Williams /

But the moments of bewilderment soon passed; To my surprise, too, I now learned that they were and the peculiar circumstances, to which I have among the party who followed me-volunteers to aid alluded, began to make themselves apparent to my me in obtaining revenge for my wrongs !

mind. Strange, I thought; but stranger still that Arens First of all, why was our plantation the only one Ringgold was not there. He had been present at the that had been attacked ?-our house the only one scene of the conflagration ; and, as I was told, among given to the flames ?-our family the only one the loudest in his threats of vengeance. But he had murdered ? returned home; at all events, he was not one of the These questions startled me: and natural it was band of pursuers.

that they did so. There were other plantations along I called Spence and Williams, and questioned them the river equally unprotected—other families far closely. They adhered to their statement. They more noted for their hostility to the Seminole raceadmitted that it was dark when they had seen the nay, what was yet a greater mystery, the Ringgold Indians returning from the massacre. They could plantation lay in the very path of the marauders; as not tell for certain whether they were the warriors of their trail testified, they had passed around it to the 'Redstick' tribe, or those of the · Long Swamp.' reach our house; and both Arens Ringgold and his They believed them to be the former. As to who father had long been notorious for bitter enmity was their leader, they had no doubt whatever. It was to the red men, and violent aggressions against their çeola who led them. They knew him by the three rights. ostrich feathers in his head-dress, which rendered Why, then, had the Ringgold plantation been suffered him conspicuous among his followers.

to remain unmolested, while ours was singled out for These fellows spoke positively. What interest destruction ? Were we the victims of a particular could they have in deceiving me? What could it and special vengeance ? matter to them, whether the chief of the murderous It must have been so; beyond doubt, it was so. band was Oceola, Coa Hajo, or Onopa limself? After long reflection, I could arrive at no other con

Their words produced conviction—combined with clusion. By this alone could the mystery be solved. other circumstances, deep painful conviction. The And Powell-oh! could it have been he ?-my murderer of my mother-he who had fired my home, friend, a fiend guilty of such an atrocious deed? and borne my sister into a cruel captivity-could be Was it probable? was it possible ? No-neither. no other than Oceola.

Despite the testimony of the two men-vile All memory of our past friendship died upon the wretches I knew them to be—despite what they had instant. My heart burned with hostility and hate, seen and said-my heart refused to believe it. for him it had once so ardently admired.

What motive could he have for such special murder?

-ah! what motive? CHAPTER LXXV.

True, my mother had been unkind to him-more than that, ungrateful; she had once treated him

with scorn. I remembered it well--he, too, might There were other circumstances connected with the remember it. bloody affair, that upon reflection appeared peculiar But surely he, the noble youth-to my mind, the and mysterious. By the sudden shock, my soul had beau idéal of heroism-would scarcely have harboured been completely benighted ; and these circumstances such petty spite, and for so long ?-would scarcely had escaped my notice. I merely believed that there have repayed it by an act of such bloody retribution ? had been an onslaught of the Indians, in which my No-no-no. mother had been massacred, and my sister borne Besides, would Powell have left untouched the away from her home--that the savages, not satisfied dwelling of the Ringgolds ? of Arens Ringgold, one with blood, had added fire—that these outrages had of his most hated foes—one of the four men he had

TIE ALARM.

Upon the white sunshiny stone

Where Cousin Alick lies; Ah, sometimes, woe to him that lives!

And blessed he that dies !

O Cousin Robert, hot, hot tears,

Though not the tears of old, Drop, thinking of your face last night,

Your hand's pathetic fold: A young man's face—so like, so like

Our mothers' faces fair; A young man's hand, so firm to hold,

So resolute to dare.

sworn to kill? This of itself was the most improbable circumstance connected with the whole affair.

Ringgold had been at home--might have been entrapped in his sleep-his black retainers would scarcely have resisted; at all events, they could have been overcome as easily as ours.

Why was he permitted to live? Why was his house not given to the flames?

Upon the supposition that Oceola was the leader of the band, I could not comprehend why he should have left Arens Ringgold to live, while killing those who were scarcely his enemies.

New information, imparted to me as we advanced along the route, produced new reflections. I was told that the Indians had made a hasty departurethat they had, in fact, retreated. The conflagration had attracted a large body of citizen soldiery-a patrol upon its rounds-and the appearance of these, unexpected by the savages, had caused the latter to scamper off to the woods. But for this, it was conjectured other plantations would have suffered the fate of ours-perhaps that of Ringgold himself.

The tale was probable enough. The band of marauders was not large-we knew by their tracks there were not more than fifty of them and this would account for their retreat on the appearance even of a smaller force. The people alleged that it was a retreat.

This information gave a different complexion to the affair-I was again driven to conjectures-again forced into suspicions of Oçeola.

Perhaps I but half understood his Indian nature; perhaps, after all, he was the monster who had struck the blow.

Once more I interrogated myself as to his motivewhat motive ?

Ha! my sister, Virginia — O God! could love -passion

The Indyens! Indyens! Indyens!'

I thought you good—I wished you great;

You were my hope, my pride:
To know you good, to make you great,

I once had happy died;
To tear the plague-spot from that heart,

Place honour on that brow,
See old age come in crowned peace,

I almost would die now;
Would give-all that's now mine to give,

To have you sitting there,
The Cousin Robert of my youth-

A beggar with gray hair.
O Robert, Robert, some that live

Are dead, long ere grown old :
Better the pure heart of our youth

Than palaces of gold.
Better the blind faith of our youth

Than doubt, which all truth braves :
Better to mourn—God's children dear,

Than laugh-the devil's slaves. O Robert, Robert, life is sweet,

And love is countless gain, Yet if I think of you, my heart

Is stabbed with sudden pain :

COUSIN ROBERT. O Cousin ROBERT, far away

Among the lands of gold, How many years since we two met?

You would not like it told.

O Cousin Robert, buried deep

Amid your bags of gold, I dreamt of you but yesternight,

Just as you were of old.

And as in peace this holy eve

I close our Christmas-doors, And kiss good-night o'er sleeping heads

Such bonny curls ! like yoursI fall upon my bended knees

With sobs that choke each word* On those who err and are deceived

Have mercy, O good LORD!'

You own whole leagues-I, half a rood

Behind my quiet door:
You have your lacs of gold rupees,

And I my children four.

THE INK OF THE ANCIENTS.

Your tall barques dot the dangerous seas,

My ship's come home'-to rest Safe anchored from the storms of life

Upon one faithful breast.

And it would cause nor start, nor sigh,

Nor thought of doubt or blame, If I should teach our little son,

Our Cousin Robert's name.

In a letter from Mr Joseph Ellis, of Brighton, addressed to the Society of Arts' Journal, he states that, by making a solution of shellac with borax, in water, and adding a suitable proportion of pure lamp-black, an ink is producible which is indestructible by time or by chemical agents, and which, on drying, will present a polished surface, as with the ink found on the Egyptian papyri. He made ink in the way described, and proved, if not its identity with that of ancient Egypt, yet the correctness of the formula which has been given him by the late Mr Charles Hatchett, F.R.S.

That name-however wide it rings,

I oft think, when alone, I rather would have seen it graved

Upon a church-yard stone

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster

Row, London, and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH. Also sold by William ROBERTSON, 23 Upper Sackville Street, Dublin, and all Booksellers.

POPULAR !

WLITERATURE

$ cience and Arts.

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

No. 230.

SATURDAY, MAY 29, 1858.

Price 1.d.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

bloomed in our household for ten years. My heart OUR LOST PET.

softens as I recall her. Her memory is green still; The besoin d'aimer is perhaps one of the least mean of and I may yet, for a newer generation, write a human weaknesses. Many are the troubles it causes Biography of our Rose. to all of us, and yet we would fain not quite get rid Since her day, we have both had several pets, en of it, and are, on the whole, rather more respectable passant-confiding cats who followed us home through people with it than without it. For the unfortunate London streets, as they always have a trick of doing ; man to whom even his wife is only

eccentric cats who, changing their natures, would A little better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse ; bring it to the master with an unfailing faithfulness;

go shooting in the forests, 'point' the game, and for the forlorn old maid who, dying without heirs, sea-borne cats, cherished during half a voyage, and endows hier twelve parrots with enough to make the then missed-after which rumoured to have been seen fortune of more than one poor family, it is at least a floating away, helplessly mewing, for a quarter of a degree better to be fond of something, be it only a mile astern. Yet we never had but one pet who at brute beast, than nothing. And many a brute beast all supplied the place of the never-forgotten Rose. is capable of being raised, by education, attention, of him I am now about to tell. and kindness, to an affectionate rationality which He was the first-born of his mother, but in nowise makes it quite as pleasant company, alas! as a great like her—she being the ugliest, stupidest, and most many human beings.

untender of feline animals. Her very kittens she This is not meant to be an essay in defence of would carry into damp corners and under grates, and pets-often most intolerable nuisances to everybody there forsake them, to be trodden to death or shovelled but the possessor-pet dogs (perhaps the most un- unwittingly on the back of the fire: nay, with some bearable), pet birds, fowls, rabbits, monkeys—and the she is reported to have done as the New Zealand long line of domesticated quadrupeds and bipeds, | husband did with the wife whom he couldn't keep and down to the featherless biped, the child-pet, or the was too fond of to part with—she is reported to have charity-pet, whose lot is the most cruel-kind of any. eaten them. Peace to her manes! Nothing in her I am only going to tell a very plain and simple story life ever became her like the leaving of it. about a lost pet of ours, who cost us the usual But her son was quite a different character. His amount of pain which all who are guilty of the beauty was his least merit. In kittenhood he had afore-named human weakness must consent to such winning ways that he was continually asked endure.

to tea in the parlour; cradled in apron-pockets, We-that is, myself and the sharer in my loss— gowns, and shirt-fronts ; taught to walk on the table, are not universally benevolent. We do not take to and educated with a care and distinction which could our bosoms every walking, hopping, and creeping thing. not but make him the most gentlemanly of cats. We are eclectic in our tastes, and though we hope we And such he grew. There was a conscious 'finewould treat civilly and kindly every creature alive, young-fellowism' in the very arch of his back, and still, we have never had any particular interest in curve of his handsome tail. His tail, we always said, more than one sort of pets, and that is cats.

was his weak point-a pardonable vanity. He seemed I hope the gentle reader will not here immediately to take a conscious pride in it, as a fashionable lay down this paper in a 'mood of calm contempt; or Antinous might in his curls, his hands, or his whiskers. if he has done so, may I respectfully request him For his morals, they were as unexceptionable as his to take it up again ? I assure him that he shall appearance. IIe was rarely heard to mew, even for meet with nothing insanely extravagant, or senti. his dinner; and as for theft, I remember the sublime mentally maudlin; that his prejudices will be treated indignation of his first friend and protector, the cook, with deference, and himself regarded as a person who when one day I suggested shutting the pantry-door: is simply mistaken-nothing more. He never could He steal! He never would think of such a thing !' have had a pet cat.

Have I sufficiently indicated his mental and moral We have had-many: the fact that a cat's nine lives perfections ? Add to these a social and affectionate do not equal one human being's, necessitating that disposition, remarkable even in parlour-educated cats, plural. Otherwise, we would have kept faithful to and a general suavity of manner which made him this day unto our first favourite ‘Muff'— fallen in considerate to the dog, and patronisingly indifferent with at the age of three-or his successor, our veri- to the fowls-and what more need be said of him, table first-love, Rose ; Rose, the flower of cats, who except his name?

« 上一頁繼續 »