Cover

PREFACE.



The plot has thickened in the few short months that have intervened since the appearance of the first portion of our Manuscripts, and bloodshed has come to deepen the stain left on the country by the wide-spread and bold assertion of false principles. This must long since have been foreseen; and it is perhaps a subject of just felicitation, that the violence which has occurred was limited to the loss of a single life, when the chances were, and still are, that it will extend to civil war. That portions of the community have behaved nobly under this sudden outbreak of a lawless and unprincipled combination to rob, is undeniable, and ought to be dwelt on with gratitude and an honest pride; that the sense of right of much the larger portion of the country has been deeply wounded, is equally true; that justice has been aroused, and is at this moment speaking in tones of authority to the offenders, is beyond contradiction; but, while all this is admitted, and admitted not altogether without hope, yet are there grounds for fear, so reasonable and strong, that no writer who is faithful to the real interests of his country ought, for a single moment, to lose sight of them.


High authority, in one sense, or that of political power, has pronounced the tenure of a durable lease to be opposed to the spirit of the institutions! Yet these tenures existed when the institutions were formed, and one of the provisions of the institutions themselves guarantees the observance of the covenants under which the tenures exist. It would have been far wiser, and much nearer to the truth, had those who coveted their neighbors' goods been told that, in their attempts to subvert and destroy the tenures in question, they were opposing a solemn and fundamental provision of law, and in so much opposing the institutions. The capital error is becoming prevalent, which holds the pernicious doctrine that this is a government of men, instead of one of principles. Whenever this error shall so far come to a head as to get to be paramount in action, the well-disposed may sit down and mourn over, not only the liberties of their country, but over its justice and its morals, even should men be nominally so free as to do just what they please.


As the Littlepage Manuscripts advance, we find them becoming more and more suited to the times in which we live. There is an omission of one generation, however, owing to the early death of Mr. Malbone Littlepage, who left an only son to succeed him. This son has felt it to be a duty to complete the series by an addition from his own pen. Without this addition, we should never obtain views of Satanstoe, Lilacsbush, Ravensnest, and Mooseridge, in their present aspect; while with it we may possibly obtain glimpses that will prove not only amusing but instructive.


There is one point on which, as editor of these Manuscripts, we desire to say a word. It is thought by a portion of our readers, that the first Mr. Littlepage who has written, Cornelius of that name, has manifested an undue asperity on the subject of the New England character. Our reply to this charge is as follows: In the first place, we do not pretend to be answerable for all the opinions of those whose writings are submitted to our supervision, any more than we should be answerable for all the contradictory characters, impulses, and opinions that might be exhibited in a representation of fictitious characters, purely of our own creation. That the Littlepages entertained New York notions, and, if the reader will, New York prejudices, may be true enough; but in pictures of this sort, even prejudices become facts that ought not to be altogether kept down. Then, New England has long since anticipated her revenge, glorifying herself and underrating her neighbors in a way that, in our opinion, fully justifies those who possess a little Dutch blood in expressing their sentiments on the subject. Those who give so freely should know how to take a little in return; and that more especially, when there is nothing very direct or personal in the hits they receive. For ourselves, we have not a drop of Dutch or New England blood in our veins, and only appear as a bottle-holder to one of the parties in this set-to. If we have recorded what the Dutchman says of the Yankee, we have also recorded what the Yankee says, and that with no particular hesitation, of the Dutchman. We know that these feelings are by-gones; but our Manuscripts, thus far, have referred exclusively to the times in which they certainly existed, and that, too, in a force quite as great as they are here represented to be.


We go a little farther. In our judgment the false principles that are to be found in a large portion of the educated classes, on the subject of the relation between landlord and tenant, are to be traced to the provincial notions of those who have received their impressions from a state of society in which no such relations exist. The danger from the anti-rent doctrines is most to be apprehended from these false principles; the misguided and impotent beings who have taken the field in the literal sense, not being a fourth part as formidable to the right as those who have taken it in the moral. There is not a particle more of reason in the argument which says that there should be no farmers, in the strict meaning of the term, than there would be in that which said there should be no journeymen connected with the crafts; though it would not be easy to find a man to assert the latter doctrine. We dare say, if there did happen to exist a portion of the country in which the mechanics were all "bosses," it would strike those who dwelt in such a state of society, that it would be singularly improper and anti-republican for any man to undertake journeywork.


On this subject we shall only add one word. The column of society must have its capital as well as its base. It is only perfect while each part is entire, and discharges its proper duty. In New York the great landholders long have, and do still, in a social sense, occupy the place of the capital. On the supposition that this capital is broken and hurled to the ground, of what material will be the capital that must be pushed into its place! We know of none half so likely to succeed, as the country extortioner and the country usurer! We would caution those who now raise the cry of feudality and aristocracy, to have a care of what they are about. In lieu of King Log, they may be devoured by King Stork.




THE CHAINBEARER.




CHAPTER I.



"The steady brain, the sinewy limb, To leap, to climb, to dive, to swim: The iron frame, inured to bear Each dire inclemency of air; Nor less confirmed to undergo Fatigue's faint chill, and famine's throe."--Rockeby.

My father was Cornelius Littlepage, of Satanstoe, in the County of Westchester, and State of New York; and my mother was Anneke Mordaunt, of Lilacsbush, a place long known by that name, which still stands near Kingsbridge, but on the Island of Manhattan, and consequently in one of the wards of New York, though quite eleven miles from town. I shall suppose that my readers know the difference between the Island of Manhattan and Manhattan Island; though I have found soi-disant Manhattanese, of mature years, but of alien birth, who had to be taught it. Lilacsbush, I repeat therefore, was on the Island of Manhattan, eleven miles from town, though in the City of New York, and not on Manhattan Island.



Of my progenitors further back, I do not conceive it necessary to say much. They were partly of English, and partly of Low Dutch extraction, as is apt to be the case with those who come of New York families of any standing in the colony. I retain tolerably distinct impressions of both of my grandfathers, and of one of my grandmothers; my mother's mother having died long before my own parents were married.



Of my maternal grandfather, I know very little, however, he having died while I was quite young, and before I had seen much of him. He paid the great debt of nature in England, whither he had gone on a visit to a relative, a Sir Something Bulstrode, who had been in the colonies himself, and who was a great favorite with Herman Mordaunt, as my mother's parent was universally called in New York. My father often said it was perhaps fortunate in one respect that his father-in-law died as he did, since he had no doubt he would have certainly taken sides with the crown in the quarrel that soon after occurred, in which case it is probable his estates, or those which were my mother's, and are now mine, would have shared the fate of those of the De Lanceys, of the Philipses, of some of the Van Cortlandts, of the Floyds, of the Joneses, and of various others of the heavy families, who remained loyal, as it was called; meaning loyalty to a prince, and not loyalty to the land of their nativity. It is hard to say which were right, in such a quarrel, if we look at the opinions and prejudices of the times, though the Littlepages to a man, which means only my father and grandfather, and self, took sides with the country. In the way of self-interest, it ought to be remarked, however, that the wealthy American who opposed the crown showed much the most disinterestedness, inasmuch as the chances of being subdued were for a long time very serious, while the certainty of confiscation, not to say of being hanged, was sufficiently well established, in the event of failure. But my paternal grandfather was what was called a whig, of the high caste. He was made a brigadier in the militia, in 1776, and was actively employed in the great campaign of the succeeding year--that in which Burgoyne was captured, as indeed was my father, who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the New York line. There was also a Major Dirck Van Volkenburgh, or Follock, as he was usually called, in the same regiment with my father, who was a sworn friend. This Major Follock was an old bachelor, and he lived quite as much in my father's house as he did in his own; his proper residence being across the river, in Rockland. My mother had a friend, as well as my father, in the person of Miss Mary Wallace; a single lady, well turned of thirty at the commencement of the revolution. Miss Wallace was quite at ease in her circumstances, but she lived altogether at Lilacsbush, never having any other home, unless it might be at our house in town.



We were very proud of the brigadier, both on account of his rank and on account of his services. He actually commanded in one expedition against the Indians during the revolution, a service in which he had some experience, having been out on it, on various occasions, previously to the great struggle for independence. It was in one of these early expeditions of the latter war that he first distinguished himself, being then under the orders of a Colonel Brom Follock, who was the father of Major Dirck of the same name, and who was almost as great a friend of my grandfather as the son was of my own parent. This Colonel Brom loved a carouse, and I have heard it said that, getting among the High Dutch on the Mohawk, he kept it up for a week, with little or no intermission, under circumstances that involved much military negligence. The result was, that a party of Canada Indians made an inroad on his command, and the old colonel, who was as bold as a lion, and as drunk as a lord, though why lords are supposed to be particularly inclined to drink I never could tell, was both shot down and scalped early one morning as he was returning from an adjacent tavern to his quarters in the "garrison," where he was stationed. My grandfather nobly revenged his death, scattered to the four winds the invading party, and recovered the mutilated body of his friend, though the scalp was irretrievably lost.



General Littlepage did not survive the war, though it was not his good fortune to die on the field, thus identifying his name with the history of his country. It happens in all wars, and most especially did it often occur in our own great national struggle, that more soldiers lay down their lives in the hospitals than on the field of battle, though the shedding of blood seems an indispensable requisite to glory of this nature; an ungrateful posterity taking little heed of the thousands who pass into another state of being, the victims of exposure and camp diseases, to sound the praises of the hundreds who are slain amid the din of battle. Yet, it may be questioned if it do not require more true courage to face death, when he approaches in the invisible form of disease, than to meet him when openly arrayed under the armed hand. My grandfather's conduct in remaining in camp, among hundreds of those who had the small-pox, the loathsome malady of which he died, was occasionally alluded to, it is true, but never in the manner the death of an officer of his rank would have been mentioned, had he fallen in battle. I could see that Major Follock had an honorable pride in the fate of his father, who was slain and scalped by the enemy in returning from a drunken carouse, while my worthy parent ever referred to the death of the brigadier as an event to be deplored, rather than exulted in. For my own part, I think my grandfather's end was much the most creditable of the two; but, as such, it will never be viewed by the historian or the country. As for historians, it requires a man to be singularly honest to write against a prejudice; and it is so much easier to celebrate a deed as it is imagined than as it actually occurred, that I question if we know the truth of a tenth part of the exploits about which we vapor, and in which we fancy we glory. Well! we are taught to believe that the time will come when all things are to be seen in their true colors, and when men and deeds will be known as they actually were, rather than as they have been recorded in the pages of history.



I was too young myself to take much part in the war of the revolution, though accident made me an eye-witness of some of its most important events, and that at the tender age of fifteen. At twelve--the American intellect ever was and continues to be singularly precocious--I was sent to Nassau Hall, Princeton, to be educated, and I remained there until I finally got a degree, though it was not without several long and rude interruptions of my studies. Although so early sent to college, I did not actually graduate until I was nineteen, the troubled times requiring nearly twice as long a servitude to make a Bachelor of Arts of me as would have been necessary in the more halcyon days of peace. Thus I made a fragment of a campaign when only a sophomore, and another the first year I was junior. I say the first year, because I was obliged to pass two years in each of the two higher classes of the institution, in order to make up for lost time. A youth cannot very well be campaigning and studying Euclid in the academic bowers, at the same moment. Then I was so young, that a year, more or less, was of no great moment.



My principal service in the war of the revolution was in 1777, or in the campaign in which Burgoyne was met and captured. That important service was performed by a force that was composed partly of regular troops, and partly of militia. My grandfather commanded a brigade of the last, or what was called a brigade, some six hundred men at most; while my father led a regular battalion of one hundred and sixty troops of the New York line into the German intrenchments, the memorable and bloody day the last were stormed. How many he brought out I never heard him say. The way in which I happened to be present in these important scenes is soon told.



Lilacsbush being on the Island of Manhattan (not Manhattan Island, be it always remembered), and our family being whig, we were driven from both our town and country houses the moment Sir William Howe took possession of New York. At first my mother was content with merely going to Satanstoe, which was only a short distance from the enemy's lines; but the political character of the Littlepages being too well established to render this a safe residence, my grandmother and mother, always accompanied by Miss Wallace, went up above the Highlands, where they established themselves in the village of Fishkill for the remainder of the war, on a farm that belonged to Miss Wallace in fee. Here it was thought they were safe, being seventy miles from the capital, and quite within the American lines. As this removal took place at the close of the year 1776, and after independence had been declared, it was understood that our return to our proper homes at all, depended on the result of the war. At that time I was a sophomore, and at home in the long vacation. It was in this visit that I made my fragment of a campaign, accompanying my father through all the closing movements of his regiment, while Washington and Howe were manoeuvring in Westchester. My father's battalion happening to be posted in such a manner as to be in the centre of the battle at White Plains, I had an opportunity of seeing some pretty serious service on that occasion. Nor did I quit the army and return to my studies, until after the brilliant affairs at Trenton and Princeton, in both of which our regiment participated.



This was a pretty early commencement with the things of active life for a boy of fourteen. But in that war, lads of my age often carried muskets, for the colonies covered a great extent of country, and had but few people. They who read of the war of the American revolution, and view its campaigns and battles as they would regard the conflicts of older and more advanced nations, can form no just notion of the disadvantages with which our people had to contend, or the great superiority of the enemy in all the usual elements of military force. Without experienced officers, with but few and indifferent arms, often in want of ammunition, the rural and otherwise peaceful population of a thinly peopled country were brought in conflict with the chosen warriors of Europe; and this, too, with little or none of that great sinew of war, money, to sustain them. Nevertheless the Americans, unaided by any foreign skill or succor, were about as often successful as the reverse. Bunker Hill, Bennington, Saratoga, Bhemis's Heights, Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, were all purely American battles; to say nothing of divers others that occurred farther south: and though insignificant as to numbers, compared with the conflicts of these later times, each is worthy of a place in history, and one or two are almost without parallels; as is seen when Bunker Hill be named. It sounds very well in a dispatch, to swell out the list of an enemy's ranks; but admitting the number itself not to be overrated, as so often occurred, of what avail are men without arms and ammunition, and frequently without any other military organization than a muster-roll!



I have said I made nearly the whole of the campaign in which Burgoyne was taken. It happened in this wise. The service of the previous year had a good deal indisposed me to study, and when again at home in the autumn vacation, my dear mother sent me with clothing and supplies to my father, who was with the army at the north. I reached the head-quarters of General Gates a week before the affair of Bhemis's Heights, and was with my father until the capitulation was completed. Owing to these circumstances, though still a boy in years, I was an eye-witness, and in some measure an actor in two or three of the most important events in the whole war. Being well grown for my years, and of a somewhat manly appearance, considering how young I really was, I passed very well as a volunteer, being, I have reason to think, somewhat of a favorite in the regiment. In the last battle, I had the honor to act as a sort of aide-de-camp to my grandfather, who sent me with orders and messages two or three times into the midst of the fire. In this manner I made myself a little known, and all so much the more from the circumstance of my being in fact nothing but a college lad, away from his alma mater during vacation.



It was but natural that a boy thus situated should attract some little attention, and I was noticed by officers, who, under other circumstances, would hardly have felt it necessary to go out of their way to speak to me. The Littlepages had stood well, I have reason to think, in the colony, and their position in the new state was not likely to be at all lowered by the part they were now playing in the revolution. I am far from certain that General Littlepage was considered a corner-post in the Temple of Freedom that the army was endeavoring to rear, but he was quite respectable as a militia officer, while my father was very generally admitted to be one of the best lieutenants-colonel in the whole army.



I well remember to have been much struck with a captain in my father's regiment, who certainly was a character, in his way. His origin was Dutch, as was the case with a fair proportion of the officers, and he bore the name of Andries Coejemans, though he was universally known by the sobriquet of the "Chainbearer." It was fortunate for him it was so, else would the Yankees in the camp, who seem to have a mania to pronounce every word as it is spelled, and having succeeded in this, to change the spelling of the whole language to accommodate it to certain sounds of their own inventing, would have given him a most unpronounceable appellation. Heaven only knows what they would have called Captain Coejemans, but for this lucky nickname; but it may be as well to let the uninitiated understand at once, that in New York parlance, Coejemans is called Queemans. The Chainbearer was of a respectable Dutch family, one that has even given its queer-looking name to a place of some little note on the Hudson; but, as was very apt to be the case with the cadets of such houses, in the good old time of the colony, his education was no great matter. His means had once been respectable, but, as he always maintained, he was cheated out of his substance by a Yankee before he was three-and-twenty, and he had recourse to surveying for a living from that time. But Andries had no head for mathematics, and after making one or two notable blunders in the way of his new profession, he quietly sunk to the station of a chainbearer, in which capacity he was known to all the leading men of his craft in the colony. It is said that every man is suited to some pursuit or other, in which he might acquire credit, would he only enter on it and persevere. Thus it proved to be with Andries Coejemans. As a chainbearer he had an unrivalled reputation. Humble as was the occupation, it admitted of excellence in various particulars, as well as another. In the first place, it required honesty, a quality in which this class of men can fail, as well as all the rest of mankind. Neither colony nor patentee, landlord nor tenant, buyer nor seller, need be uneasy about being fairly dealt by so long as Andries Coejemans held the forward end of the chain; a duty on which he was invariably placed by one party or the other. Then, a practical eye was a great aid to positive measurement; and while Andries never swerved to the right or to the left of his course, having acquired a sort of instinct in his calling, much time and labor were saved. In addition to these advantages, the "Chainbearer" had acquired great skill in all the subordinate matters of his calling. He was a capital woodman, generally; had become a good hunter, and had acquired most of the habits that pursuits like those in which he was engaged for so many years previously to entering the army, would be likely to give a man. In the course of time he took patents to survey, employing men with heads better than his own to act as principals, while he still carried the chain.



At the commencement of the revolution, Andries, like most of those who sympathized with the colonies, took up arms. When the regiment of which my father was lieutenant-colonel was raised, they who could bring to its colors so many men received commissions of a rank proportioned to their services in this respect. Andries had presented himself early with a considerable squad of chainbearers, hunters, trappers, runners, guides, etc., numbering in the whole something like five-and-twenty hardy, resolute sharpshooters. Their leader was made a lieutenant in consequence, and being the oldest of his rank in the corps, he was shortly after promoted to a captaincy, the station he was in when I made his acquaintance, and above which he never rose.



Revolutions, more especially such as are of a popular character, are not remarkable for bringing forward those who are highly educated, or otherwise fitted for their new stations, unless it may be on the score of zeal. It is true, service generally classes men, bringing out their qualities, and necessity soon compels the preferment of those who are the best qualified. Our own great national struggle, however, probably did less of this than any similar event of modern times, a respectable mediocrity having accordingly obtained an elevation that, as a rule, it was enabled to keep to the close of the war. It is a singular fact that not a solitary instance is to be found in our military annals of a young soldier's rising to high command, by the force of his talents, in all that struggle. This may have been, and in a measure probably was owing to the opinions of the people, and to the circumstance that the service itself was one that demanded greater prudence and circumspection than qualities of a more dazzling nature; or the qualifications of age and experience, rather than those of youth and enterprise. It is probable Andries Coejemans, on the score of original station, was rather above than below the level of the social positions of a majority of the subalterns of the different lines of the more northern colonies, when he first joined the army. It is true, his education was not equal to his birth; for, in that day, except in isolated instances and particular families, the Dutch of New York, even in cases in which money was not wanting, were any thing but scholars. In this particular, our neighbors the Yankees had greatly the advantage of us. They sent everybody to school, and, though their educations were principally those of smatterers, it is an advantage to be even a smatterer among the very ignorant. Andries had been no student either, and one may easily imagine what indifferent cultivation will effect on a naturally thin soil. He could read and write, it is true, but it was the ciphering under which he broke down, as a surveyor. I have often heard him say, that "if land could be measured without figures, he would turn his back on no man in the calling in all America, unless it might be 'His Excellency,' who, he made no doubt, was not only the best, but the honestest surveyor mankind had ever enjoyed."



The circumstance that Washington had practised the art of a surveyor for a short time in his early youth, was a source of great exultation with Andries Coejemans. He felt that it was an honor to be even a subordinate in a pursuit, in which such a man was a principal. I remember, that long after we were at Saratoga together, Captain Coejemans, while we were before Yorktown, pointed to the commander-in-chief one day, as the latter rode past our encampment, and cried out with emphasis--"T'ere, Mortaunt, my poy--t'ere goes His Excellency!--It would be t'e happiest tay of my life, coult I only carry chain while he survey't a pit of a farm, in this neighborhoot."



Andries was more or less Dutch in his dialect, as he was more or less interested. In general, he spoke English pretty well--colony English I mean, not that of the schools; though he had not a single Yankeeism in his vocabulary. On this last point he prided himself greatly, feeling an honest pride, if he did occasionally use vulgarisms, a vicious pronounciation, or make a mistake in the meaning of a word, a sin he was a little apt to commit; and that his faults were all honest New York mistakes and no "New England gipperish." In the course of the various visits I paid to the camp, Andries and myself became quite intimate, his peculiarities seizing my fancy; and doubtless, my obvious admiration awakening his gratitude. In the course of our many conversations, he gave me his whole history, commencing with the emigration of the Coejemans from Holland, and ending with our actual situation, in the camp at Saratoga. Andries had been often engaged, and, before the war terminated, I could boast of having been at his side in no less than six affairs myself, viz.. White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Bhemis's Heights, Monmouth, and Brandywine; for I had stolen away from college to be present at the last affair. The circumstance that our regiment was both with Washington and Gates, was owing to the noble qualities of the former, who sent off some of his best troops to reinforce his rival, as things gathered to a head at the North. Then I was present throughout, at the siege of Yorktown. But it is not my intention to enlarge on my own military services.



While at Saratoga, I was much struck with the air, position and deportment of a gentleman who appeared to command the respect, and to obtain the ears of all the leaders in the American camp, while he held no apparent official station. He wore no uniform, though he was addressed by the title of general, and had much more of the character of a real soldier than Gates who commanded. He must have been between forty and fifty at that time, and in the full enjoyment of the vigor of his mind and body. This was Philip Schuyler, so justly celebrated in our annals for his wisdom, patriotism, integrity, and public services. His connection with the great northern campaign is too well known to require any explanations here. Its success, perhaps, was more owing to his advice and preparations than to the influence of any one other mind, and he is beginning already to take a place in history, in connection with these great events, that has a singular resemblance to that he occupied during their actual occurrence: in other words, he is to be seen in the background of the great national picture, unobtrusive and modest, but directing and controlling all, by the power of his intellect, and the influence of his experience and character. Gates[1] was but a secondary personage, in the real events of that memorable period. Schuyler was the presiding spirit, though forced by popular prejudice to retire from the apparent command of the army. Our written accounts ascribe the difficulty that worked this injustice to Schuyler, to a prejudice which existed among the eastern militia, and which is supposed to have had its origin in the disasters of St. Clair, or the reverses which attended the earlier movements of the campaign. My father, who had known General Schuyler in the war of '56, when he acted as Bradstreet's right-hand man, attributed the feeling to a different cause. According to his notion of the alienation, it was owing to the difference in habits and opinions which existed between Schuyler, as a New York gentleman, and the yeomen of New England, who came out in 1777, imbued with all the distinctive notions of their very peculiar state of society. There may have been prejudices on both sides, but it is easy to see which party exhibited most magnanimity and self-sacrifice. Possibly, the last was inseparable from the preponderance of numbers, it not being an easy thing to persuade masses of men that they can be wrong, and a single individual right. This is the great error of democracy, which fancies truth is to be proved by counting noses; while aristocracy commits the antagonist blunder of believing that excellence is inherited from male to male, and that too in the order of primogeniture! It is not easy to say where one is to look for truth in this life.



[Footnote 1: It may not be amiss to remark, in passing, that Horace Walpole, in one of his recently published letters, speaks of a Horatio Gates as his godson. Walpole was born in 1718, and Gates in 1728.]



As for General Schuyler, I have thought my father was right in ascribing his unpopularity solely to the prejudices of provinces. The Muse of History is the most ambitious of the whole sisterhood, and never thinks she has done her duty unless all she says and records is said and recorded with an air of profound philosophy; whereas, more than half of the greatest events which affect human interest, are to be referred to causes that have little connection with our boasted intelligence, in any shape. Men feel far more than they reason, and a little feeling is very apt to upset a great deal of philosophy.



It has been said that I passed six years at Princeton; nominally, if not in fact; and that I graduated at nineteen. This happened the year Cornwallis surrendered, and I actually served at the siege as the youngest ensign in my father's battalion. I had also the happiness, for such it was to me, to be attached to the company of Captain Coejeman's, a circumstance which clinched the friendship I had formed for that singular old man. I say old, for by this time Andries was every hour of sixty-seven, though as hale, and hearty, and active, as any officer in the corps. As for hardships, forty years of training, most of which had been passed in the woods, placed him quite at our head, in the way of endurance.



I loved my predecessors, grandfather and grandmother included, not only as a matter of course, but with sincere filial attachment; and I loved Miss Mary Wallace, or aunt Mary, as I had been taught to call her, quite as much on account of her quiet, gentle, affectionate manner, as from habit; and I loved Major Dirck Follock as a sort of hereditary friend, as a distant relative, and a good and careful guardian of my own youth and inexperience on a thousand occasions; and I loved my father's negro man, Jaap, as we all love faithful slaves, however unnurtured they may be; but Andries was the man whom I loved without knowing why. He was illiterate almost to greatness, having the drollest notions imaginable of this earth and all it contained; was anything but refined in deportment, though hearty and frank; had prejudices so crammed into his moral system that there did not seem to be room for anything else; and was ever so little addicted, moreover, to that species of Dutch jollification, which had cost old Colonel Van Valkenburgh his life, and a love for which was a good deal spread throughout the colony. Nevertheless, I really loved this man, and when we were all disbanded at the peace, or in 1783, by which time I had myself risen to the rank of captain, I actually parted from old Andries with tears in my eyes. My grandfather, General Littlepage, was then dead, but government giving to most of us a step, by means of brevet rank, at the final breaking up of the army, my father, who had been the full colonel of the regiment for the last year, bore the title of brigadier for the remainder of his days. It was pretty much all he got for seven years of dangers and arduous services. But the country was poor, and we had fought more for principles than for the hope of rewards. It must be admitted that America ought to be full of philosophy, inasmuch as so much of her system of rewards and even of punishments, is purely theoretical, and addressed to the imagination, or to the qualities of the mind. Thus it is that we contend with all our enemies on very unequal grounds. The Englishman has his knighthood, his baronetcies, his peerages, his orders, his higher ranks in the professions, his batons, and all the other venial inducements of our corrupt nature to make him fight, while the American is goaded on to glory by the abstract considerations of virtue and patriotism. After all, we flog quite as often as we are flogged, which is the main interest affected. While on this subject I will remark that Andries Coejemans never assumed the empty title of major, which was so graciously bestowed on him by the Congress of 1783, but left the army a captain in name, without half-pay or anything but his military lot, to find a niece whom he was bringing up, and to pursue his old business of a "chainbearer."







CHAPTER II.



"A trusty villain, sir; that very oft, When I am dull with care and melancholy, Lightens my humors with his many jests." --Dromio of Syracuse.

It will be seen that, while I got a degree, and what is called an education, the latter was obtained by studies of a very desultory character. There is no question that learning of all sorts fell off sadly among us during the revolution and the twenty years that succeeded it. While colonies, we possessed many excellent instructors who came from Europe; but the supply ceased, in a great measure, as soon as the troubles commenced; nor was it immediately renewed at the peace. I think it will be admitted that the gentlemen of the country began to be less well educated about the time I was sent to college, than had been the case for the previous half-century, and that the defect has not yet been repaired. What the country may do in the first half of the nineteenth century remains to be seen.[2]



[Footnote 2: The reader will recollect that Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage must have written his account of himself and his times about the close of the last, or the beginning of this century. Since that time, education has certainly advanced among us; sophomores, pursuing branches of learning to-day that were sealed from seniors a few years since. Learning, however, advances in this country on the great American principle of imparting a little to a great many, instead of teaching a good deal to a few.--EDITOR.]



My connection with the army aided materially in weaning me from home, though few youths had as many temptations to return to the paternal roof as myself. There were my beloved mother and my grandmother, in the first place, both of whom doted on me as on an only son. Then aunt Mary almost equally shared in my affections. But I had two sisters, one of whom was older, and the other younger than myself. The eldest, who was called Anneke, after our dear mother, was even six years my senior, and was married early in the war to a gentleman of the name of Kettletas. Mr. Kettletas was a person of very good estate, and made my sister perfectly happy. They had several children, and resided in Dutchess, which was an additional reason for my mother's choosing that county for her temporary residence. I regarded Anneke, or Mrs. Kettletas, much as all youths regard an elder sister, who is affectionate, feminine and respectable; but little Katrinke, or Kate, was my pet. She again, was four years younger than myself; and as I was just two-and-twenty when the army was disbanded, she of course was only eighteen. This dear sister was a little, jumping, laughing, never-quiet, merry thing, when I had taken my leave of her, in 1781, to join the regiment as an ensign, as handsome and sweet as a rose-bud, and quite as full of promise. I remember that old Andries and I used to pass much of our time in camp in conversing about our several pets; he of his niece, and I of my younger sister. Of course, I never intended to marry, but Kate and I were to live together; she as my housekeeper and companion, and I as her elder brother and protector. The one great good of life with us all was peace, with independence; which obtained, no one, in our regiment at least, was so little of a patriot as to doubt of the future. It was laughable to see with how much gusto and simplicity the old Chainbearer entered into all these boyish schemes. His niece was an orphan, it would seem, the only child of an only but a half-sister, and was absolutely dependent on him for the bread she put into her mouth. It is true that this niece fared somewhat better than such a support would seem to promise, having been much cared for by a female friend of her mother's, who, being reduced herself, kept a school, and had thus bestowed on her ward a far better education than she could ever have got under her uncle's supervision, had the last possessed the riches of the Van Rensselaers, or of the Van Cortlandts. As has been substantially stated, old Andries's forte did not lie in education, and they who do not enjoy the blessings of such a character, seldom duly appreciate their advantages. It is with the acquisitions of the mind, as with those of mere deportment and tastes; we are apt to undervalue them all, until made familiarly acquainted with their power to elevate and to enlarge. But the niece of Andries had been particularly fortunate in falling into the hands she had; Mrs. Stratton having the means and the inclination to do all for her, in the way of instruction, that was then done for any young woman in New York, as long as she lived. The death of this kind friend occurring, however, in 1783, Andries was obliged to resume the care of his niece, who was now thrown entirely on himself for support. It is true, the girl wished to do something for herself, but this neither the pride nor the affection of the old chainbearer would listen to.



"What can the gal do?" Andries said to me significantly, one day that he was recounting all these particulars. "She can't carry chain, though I do believe, Morty, the chilt has head enough, and figures enough to survey! It would do your heart good to read the account of her l'arnin' t'at t'e olt woman used to send me; though she wrote so excellent a hant herself, t'at it commonly took me a week to read one of her letters; that is, from 'Respected Friend' to 'Humble Sarvent,' as you know them 'ere t'ings go."



"Excellent hand! Why, I should think, Andries, the better the hand, the easier one could read a letter."



"All a mistake. When a man writes a scrawl himself, it's nat'ral he shoult read scrawls easiest, in his own case. Now, Mrs. Stratton was home-taught, and would be likely to get into ways t'at a plain man might find difficult to get along wit'."



"Do you think, then, of making a surveyor of your niece?" I asked, a little pointedly.



"Why, she is hartly strong enough to travel t'rough the woots, and, the callin' is not suitaple to her sex, t'ough I woult risk her against t'e oldest calculator in t'e province."



"We call New York a State, now, Captain Andries, you will recollect."



"Ay, t'at's true, and I peg the State's pardon. Well, t'ere'll be scrambling enough for t'e land, as soon as the war is fairly over, and chainbearing will be a sarviceable callin' once more. Do you know, Morty, they talk of gifin' all of our line a quantity of land, privates and officers, which will make me a landholter again, the very character in which I started in life. You will inherit acres enough, and may not care so much apout owning a few huntret, more or less, but I own the idee is agreeaple enough to me."



"Do you propose to commence anew as a husbandman?"



"Not I; the pusiness never agreet wit' me, nor I wit' it. Put a man may survey his own lot, I suppose, and no offence to greater scholars. If I get t'e grant t'ey speak of, I shall set to work and run it out on my own account, and t'en we shall see who understants figures, and who don't! If other people won't trust me, it is no reason I shoult not trust myself."



I knew that his having broken down in the more intellectual part of his calling was a sore point with old Andries, and I avoided dwelling on this part of the subject. In order to divert his mind to other objects, indeed, I began to question him a little more closely than I had ever done before, on the subject of his niece, in consequence of which expedient I now learned many things that were new to me.



The name of the chainbearer's niece was Duss Malbone, or so he always pronounced it. In the end I discovered that Duss was a sort of Dutch diminutive for Ursula. Ursula Malbone had none of the Coejemans blood in her, notwithstanding she was Andries's sister's daughter. It seemed that old Mrs. Coejemans was twice married, her second husband being the father of Duss's mother. Bob Malbone, as the chainbearer always called the girl's father, was an eastern man of very good family, but was a reckless spendthrift, who married Duss the senior, as well as I could learn, for her property; all of which, as well as that he had inherited himself, was cleverly gotten rid of within the first ten years of their union, and a year or two after the girl was born. Both father and mother died within a few months of each other, and in a very happy moment as regards worldly means, leaving poor little Duss with no one to care for her but her half-uncle, who was then living in the forest in his regular pursuits, and the Mrs. Stratton I have mentioned. There was a half-brother, Bob Malbone having married twice, but he was in the army, and had some near female relation to support out of his pay. Between the chainbearer and Mrs. Stratton, with an occasional offering from the brother, the means of clothing, nourishing and educating the young woman had been found until she reached her eighteenth year, when the death of her female protector threw her nearly altogether on the care of her uncle. The brother now did his share, Andries admitted; but it was not much that he could do. A captain himself, his scanty pay barely sufficed to meet his own wants.



I could easily see that old Andries loved Duss better than anything else or any other person. When he was a little mellow, and that was usually the extent of his debaucheries, he would prate about her to me until the tears came into his eyes, and once he actually proposed that I should marry her.



"You woult just suit each other," the old man added, in a very quaint, but earnest manner, on that memorable occasion; "and as for property, I know you care little for money, and will have enough for half-a-tozen. I swear to you, Captain Littlepage"--for this dialogue took place only a few months before we were disbanded, and after I had obtained a company--"I swear to you, Captain Littlepage, t'e girl is laughing from morning till night, and would make one of the merriest companions for an olt soldier that ever promiset to 'honor and obey.' Try her once, lad, and see if I teceive you."



"That may do well enough, friend Andries, for an old soldier, whereas you will remember I am but a boy in years----"



"Ay, in years; but olt as a soldier, Morty--olt as White Plains, or '76; as I know from hafin seen you unter fire."



"Well, be it so; but it is the man, and not the soldier, who is to do the marrying, and I am still a very young man."



"You might do worse, take my word for it, Mortaunt, my dear poy; for Duss is fun itself, and I have often spoken of you to her in a way t'at will make the courtship as easy as carrying a chain on t'e Jarmen Flats."



I assured my friend Andries that I did not think of a wife yet, and that my taste ran for a sentimental and melancholy young woman, rather than for a laughing girl. The old chainbearer took this repulse good-humoredly, though he renewed the attack at least a dozen times before the regiment was disbanded, and we finally separated. I say finally separated, though it was in reference to our companionship as soldiers, rather than as to our future lives; for I had determined to give Andries employment myself, should nothing better offer in his behalf.



Nor was I altogether without the means of thus serving a friend, when the inclination existed. My grandfather, Herman Mordaunt, had left me, to come into possession at the age of twenty-one, a considerable estate in what is now Washington County, a portion of our territory that lies northeast from Albany, and at no great distance from the Hampshire Grants. This property, of many thousands of acres in extent, had been partially settled under leases by himself, previously to my birth, and those leases having mostly expired, the tenants were remaining at will, waiting for more quiet times to renew their engagements. As yet Ravensnest, for so the estate was called, had given the family little besides expense and trouble; but the land being good, and the improvements considerable, it was time to look for some return for all our outlays. This estate was now mine in fee, my father having formally relinquished its possession in my favor the day I attained my majority. Adjacent to this estate lay that of Mooseridge, which was the joint property of my father and of his friend Major--or as he was styled in virtue of the brevet rank granted at the peace--Colonel Follock. Mooseridge had been originally patented by my grandfather, the first General Littlepage, and old Colonel Follock, he who had been slain and scalped early in the war; but on the descent of his moiety of the tenantry in common to Dirck Follock, my grandfather conveyed his interest to his own son, who ere long must become its owner, agreeably to the laws of nature. This property had once been surveyed into large lots, but owing to some adverse circumstances, and the approach of the troubles, it had never been settled or surveyed into farms. All that its owners ever got for it, therefore, was the privilege of paying the crown its quit-rents; taxes, or reserved payments, of no great amount, it is true, though far more than the estate had ever yet returned.



While on the subject of lands and tenements, I may as well finish my opening explanations. My paternal grandfather was by no means as rich as my father, though the senior, and of so much higher military rank. His property, or neck, of Satanstoe, nevertheless, was quite valuable; more for the quality of the land and its position than for its extent. In addition to this, he had a few thousand pounds at interest; stocks, banks, and moneyed corporations of all kinds being then nearly unknown among us. His means were sufficient for his wants, however, and it was a joyful day when he found himself enabled to take possession of his own house again, in consequence of Sir Guy Carleton's calling in all of his detachments from Westchester. The Morrises, distinguished whigs as they were, did not get back to Morrisania until after the evacuation, which took place November 25, 1783; nor did my father return to Lilacsbush until after that important event. The very year my grandfather saw Satanstoe, he took the small-pox in camp and died.



To own the truth, the peace found us all very poor, as was the case with almost everybody in the country but a few contractors. It was not the contractors for the American army that were rich; they fared worse than most people; but the few who furnished supplies to the French did get silver in return for their advances. As for the army, it was disbanded without any reward but promises, and payment in a currency that depreciated so rapidly that men were glad to spend recklessly their hard-earned stock, lest it should become perfectly valueless in their hands. I have heard much in later years of the celebrated Newburgh letters, and of the want of patriotism that could lead to their having been written. It may not have been wise, considering the absolute want of the country, to have contemplated the alternative toward which those letters certainly cast an oblique glance, but there was nothing in either their execution or their drift which was not perfectly natural for the circumstances. It was quite right for Washington to act as he did in that crisis, though it is highly probable that even Washington would have felt and acted differently had he nothing but the keen sense of his neglected services, poverty, and forgetfulness before him in the perspective. As for the young officer who actually wrote the letters, it is probable that justice will never be done to any part of his conduct, but that which is connected with the elegance of his diction. It is very well for those who do not suffer to prate about patriotism; but a country is bound to be just, before it can lay a high moral claim to this exclusive devotedness to the interests of the majority. Fine words cost but little, and I acknowledge no great respect for those who manifest their integrity principally in phrases. This is said not in the way of personal apology, for our regiment did not happen to be at Newburgh at the disbandment; if it had, I think my father's influence would have kept us from joining the malcontents; but at the same time, I fancy his and my own patriotism would have been much strengthened by the knowledge that there were such places as Satanstoe, Lilacsbush, Mooseridge, and Ravensnest. To return to the account of our property.



My grandfather Mordaunt, notwithstanding his handsome bequests to me, left the bulk of his estate to my mother. This would have made the rest of the family rich, had it not been for the dilapidations produced by the war. But the houses and stores in town were without tenants who paid, having been mainly occupied by the enemy; and interest on bonds was hard to collect from those who lived within the British lines.



In a word, it is not easy to impress on the mind of one who witnesses the present state of the country, its actual condition in that day. As an incident that occurred to myself, after I had regularly joined the army for duty, will afford a lively picture of the state of things, I will relate it, and this the more willingly, as it will be the means of introducing to the reader an old friend of the family, and one who was intimately associated with divers events of my own life. I have spoken of Jaaf, a slave of my father's, and one of about his own time of life. At the time to which I allude, Jaaf was a middle-aged, gray-headed negro, with most of the faults, and with all the peculiar virtues of the beings of his condition and race. So much reliance had my mother, in particular, on his fidelity, that she insisted on his accompanying her husband to the wars, an order that the black most willingly obeyed; not only because he loved adventure, but because he especially hated an Indian, and my father's earliest service was against that portion of our foes. Although Jaaf acted as a body-servant, he carried a musket, and even drilled with the men. Luckily, the Littlepage livery was blue turned up with red, and of a very modest character; a circumstance that almost put Jaaf in uniform, the fellow obstinately refusing to wear the colors of any power but that of the family to which he regularly belonged. In this manner, Jaaf had got to be a queer mixture of the servant and the soldier, sometimes acting in the one capacity, and sometimes in the other, having at the same time not a little of the husbandman about him; for our slaves did all sorts of work.



My mother had made it a point that Jaaf should accompany me on all occasions when I was sent to any distance from my father. She naturally enough supposed I had the most need of the care of a faithful attendant, and the black had consequently got to be about half transferred to me. He evidently liked this change, both because it was always accompanied by change of scene and the chances for new adventures, and because it gave him an opportunity of relating many of the events of his youth; events that had got to be worn threadbare, as narratives, with his "ole masser," but which were still fresh with his "young."



On the occasion to which there is allusion, Jaaf and I were returning to camp, from an excursion of some length, on which I had been sent by the general of division. This was about the time the continental money made its final fall to nothing, or next to nothing, it having long stood at about a hundred dollars for one. I had provided myself with a little silver, and very precious it was, and some thirty or forty thousand dollars of "continental," to defray my travelling expenses; but my silver was expended, and the paper reduced to two or three thousand dollars, when it would require the whole stock of the latter to pay for Jaaf's and my own dinner; nor were the inn-keepers very willing to give their time and food for it at any price. This vacuum in my purse took place when I had still two long days' ride before me, and in a part of the country where I had no acquaintances whatever. Supper and rest were needed for ourselves, and provender and stabling for our horses. Everything of the sort was cheap enough, to be sure, but absolute want of means rendered the smallest charge impracticable to persons in our situation. As for appealing to the patriotism of those who lived by the wayside, it was too late in the war; patriotism being a very evanescent quality of the human heart, and particularly addicted to sneaking, like compassion, behind some convenient cover, when it is to be maintained at any pecuniary cost. It will do for a capital, in a revolution, or a war for the first six months, perhaps; but gets to be as worthless as continental money itself, by the end of that period. One militia draft has exhausted the patriotism of thousands of as disinterested heroes as ever shouldered muskets.



"Jaap," I asked of my companion, as we drew near to the hamlet where I intended to pass the night, and the comforts of a warm supper on a sharp frosty evening, began to haunt my imagination--"Jaap, how much money may you have about you?"[3]



[Footnote 3: This man is indiscriminately called Yaf, or Yop--York Dutch being far from severe.]



"I, Masser Mordaunt!--Golly! but dat a berry droll question, sah!"



"I ask, because my own stock is reduced to just one York shilling, which goes by the name of only a ninepence in this part of the world."



"Dat berry little, to tell 'e truit', sah, for two gentleum, and two large, hungry hosses. Berry little, indeed, sah! I wish he war' more."



"Yet, I have not a copper more. I gave one thousand two hundred dollars for the dinner and baiting and oats, at noon."



"Yes, sah--but dat conternental, sah, I supposes--no great t'ing, a'ter all."



"It's a great thing in sound, Jaap, but not much when it comes to the teeth, as you perceive. Nevertheless, we must eat and drink, and our nags must eat, too--I suppose they may drink, without paying."



"Yes, sah--dat true 'nough, yah--yah--yah"--how easily that negro laughed!--"But 'e cider wonnerful good in dis part of 'e country, young masser; just needer sweet nor sour--den he strong as 'e jackass."



"Well, Jaap, how are we to get any of this good cider, of which you speak?"



"You t'ink, sah, dis part of 'e country been talk too much lately 'bout Patty Rism and 'e country, sah?"



"I am afraid Patty has been overdone here, as well as in most other counties."



I may observe here, that Jaap always imagined the beautiful creature he had heard so much extolled and commended for her comeliness and virtue, was a certain young woman of this name, with whom all Congress was unaccountably in love at the same time.



"Well, den, sah, dere no hope but our wits. Let me be masser to-night, and you mind ole Jaap, if he want good supper. Jest ride ahead, Masser Mordaunt, and give he order like General Littlepage son, and leave it all to old Jaap."



As there was not much to choose, I did ride on, and soon ceased to hear the hoofs of the negro's horse at my heels. I reached the inn an hour ere Jaap appeared, and was actually seated at a capital supper before he rode up, as one belonging only to himself. Jaap had taken off the Littlepage emblems, and had altogether a most independent air. His horse was stabled alongside of mine, and I soon found that he himself was at work on the remnants of my supper, as they retreated toward the kitchen.



A traveller of my appearance was accommodated with the best parlor, as a matter of course; and having appeased my appetite, I sat down to read some documents that were connected with the duty I was on. No one could have imagined that I had only a York shilling, which is a Pennsylvania "levy," or a Connecticut "ninepence," in my purse; for my air was that of one who could pay for all he wanted, the certainty that, in the long run, my host could not be a loser, giving me a proper degree of confidence. I had just got through with the documents, and was thinking how I should employ the hour or two that remained until it would be time to go to bed, when I heard Jaap tuning his fiddle in the bar-room. Like most negroes, the fellow had an ear for music, and had been indulged in his taste, until he played as well as half the country fiddlers that were to be met.



The sound of a fiddle in a small hamlet, of a cool October evening, was certain of its result. In half an hour the smiling landlady came to invite me to join the company, with the grateful information I should not want for a partner, the prettiest girl in the place having come in late, and being still unprovided for. On entering the bar-room, I was received with plenty of awkward bows and courtesies, but with much simple and well-meaning hospitality. Jaap's own salutations were very elaborate, and altogether of a character to prevent the suspicion of our ever having met before.



The dancing continued for more than two hours, with spirit, when the time admonished the village maidens of the necessity of retiring. Seeing an indication of the approaching separation, Jaap held out his hat to me, in a respectful manner, when I magnificently dropped my shilling into it, in a way to attract attention, and passed it around among the males of the party. One other gave a shilling, two clubbed and actually produced a quarter, several threw in sixpences, or fourpence-half-pennies, and coppers made up the balance. By way of climax, the landlady, who was good-looking and loved dancing, publicly announced that the fiddler and his horse should go scot-free, until he left the place. By these ingenious means of Jaap's, I found in my purse next morning seven-and-sixpence in silver, in addition to my own shilling, besides coppers enough to keep a negro in cider for a week.



I have often laughed over Jaap's management, though I would not permit him to repeat it. Passing the house of a man of better condition than common, I presented myself to its owner, though an entire stranger to him, and told him my story. Without asking any other confirmation than my word, this gentleman lent me five silver dollars, which answered all my present purposes, and which, I trust, it is scarcely necessary to say, were duly repaid.



It was a happy hour to me when I found myself a titular major, but virtually a freeman, and at liberty to go where I pleased. The war had offered so little of variety or adventure, since the capture of Cornwallis and the pendency of the negotiations for peace, that I began to tire of the army; and now that the country had triumphed, was ready enough to quit it. The family, that is to say, my grandmother, mother, aunt Mary and my youngest sister, took possession of Satanstoe in time to enjoy some of its delicious fruits in the autumn of 1782; and early in the following season, after the treaty was signed, but while the British still remained in town, my mother was enabled to return to Lilacsbush. As consequences of these early movements, my father and myself, when we joined the two families, found things in a better state than might otherwise have been the case. The Neck was planted, and had enjoyed the advantage of a spring's husbandry, while the grounds of Lilacsbush had been renovated and brought in good condition by the matured and practised taste of my admirable mother. And she was admirable, in all the relations of life! A lady in feeling and habits, whatever she touched or controlled imbibed a portion of her delicacy and sentiment. Even the inanimate things around her betrayed this feature of their connection with one of her sex's best qualities. I remember that Colonel Dirk Follock remarked to me one day that we had been examining the offices together, something that was very applicable to this trait in my mother's character, while it was perfectly just.



"No one can see Mrs. Littlepage's kitchen, even," he said, "alt'ough she never seems to enter it, without perceiving"--or "perceifing," as he pronounced the word--"that it is governed by a lady. There are plenty of kitchens that are as clean, and as large, and as well furnished, but it is not common to see a kitchen that gives the same ideas of good taste in the table and about the household."



If this was true as to the more homely parts of the habitation, how much truer was it when the distinction was carried into the superior apartments! There, one saw my mother in person, and surrounded by those appliances which denote refinement, without, however, any of that elaborate luxury of which we read in older countries. In America we had much fine china, and a good deal of massive plate, regular dinner-services excepted, previously to the revolution, and my mother had inherited more than was usual of both; but the country knew little of that degree of domestic indulgence which is fast creeping in among us, by means of its enormously increased commerce.



Although the fortunes of the country had undergone so much waste during seven years of internal warfare, the elasticity of a young and vigorous nation soon began to repair the evil. It is true that trade did not fully revive, nor its connecting interests receive their great impulse, until after the adoption of the Constitution, which brought the States under a set of common custom-house regulations; nevertheless, one year brought about a manifest and most beneficent change. There was now some security in making shipments, and the country immediately felt the consequences. The year 1784 was a sort of breathing-time for the nation, though long ere it was past, the bone and sinew of the republic began to make themselves apparent and felt. Then it was that, as a people, this community first learned the immense advantage it had obtained by controlling its own interests, and by treating them as secondary to those of no other part of the world. This was the great gain of all our labors.







CHAPTER III.



"He tells her something, That makes her blood look out; good sooth, she is The queen of curds and cream."--Winter's Tale.

Happy, happy Lilacsbush! Never can I forget the delight with which I roamed over its heights and glens, and how I rioted in the pleasure of feeling I was again a sort of master in those scenes which had been the haunts of my boyhood! It was in the spring of 1784 before I was folded to the arms of my mother; and this, too, after a separation of near two years. Kate laughed, and wept, and hugged me, just as she would have done five years earlier, though she was now a lovely young woman, turned of nineteen. As for aunt Mary, she shook hands, gave me a kind kiss or two, and smiled on me affectionately, in her own quiet, gentle manner. The house was in a tumult, for Jaap returned with me, his wool well sprinkled with gray, and there were lots of little Satanstoes (for such was his family name, notwithstanding Mrs. Jaap called herself Miss Lilacsbush), children and grandchildren, to welcome him. To say the truth, the house was not decently tranquil for the first twenty-four hours.



At the end of that time I ordered my horse, to ride across the country to Satanstoe, in order to visit my widowed grandmother, who had resisted all attempts to persuade her to give up the cares of housekeeping, and to come and live at Lilacsbush. The general, for so everybody now called my father, did not accompany me, having been at Satanstoe a day or two before; but my sister did. As the roads had been much neglected in the war, we went in the saddle, Kate being one of the most spirited horsewomen of my acquaintance. By this time, Jaap had got to be privileged, doing just such work as suited his fancy; or, it might be better to say, was not of much use except in the desultory employments that had so long been his principal pursuits; and he was sent off an hour or two before we started ourselves, to let Mrs. Littlepage, or his "ole--ole missus," as the fellow always called my grandmother, know whom she was to expect to dinner.



I have heard it said that there are portions of the world in which people get to be so sophisticated, that the nearest of kin cannot take such a liberty as this. The son will not presume to take a plate at the table of the father without observing the ceremony of asking, or of being asked! Heaven be praised! we have not yet reached this pass in America. What parent, or grandparent, to the remotest living generation, would receive a descendant with anything but a smile, or a welcome, let him come when and how he will? If there be not room, or preparation, the deficiencies must be made up in welcomes; or, when absolute impossibilities interpose, if they are not overcome by means of a quick invention, as most such "impossibilities" are, the truth is frankly told, and the pleasure is deferred to a more fortunate moment. It is not my intention to throw a vulgar and ignorant gibe into the face of an advanced civilization, as is too apt to be the propensity of ignorance and provincial habits; for I well know that most of the usages of those highly improved conditions of society are founded in reason, and have their justification in a cultivated common sense; but, after all, mother nature has her rights, and they are not to be invaded too boldly, without bringing with the acts themselves their merited punishments.



It was just nine, on a fine May morning, when Kate



Littlepage and myself rode through the outer gate of Lilacsbush, and issued upon the old, well-known Kingsbridge road. Kingsbridge! That name still remains, as do those of the counties of Kings, and Queens, and Duchess, to say nothing of quantities of Princes this and that in other States; and I hope they always may remain, as so many landmarks in our history. These names are all that now remain among us of the monarchy; and yet have I heard my father say a hundred times, that when a young man, his reverence for the British throne was second only to his reverence for the Church. In how short a time has this feeling been changed throughout an entire nation; or, if not absolutely changed, for some still continue to reverence monarchy, how widely and irremediably has it been impaired! Such are the things of the world, perishable and temporary in their very natures; and they would do well to remember the truth, who have much at stake in such changes.



We stopped at the door of the inn at Kingsbridge to say good morning to old Mrs. Light, the landlady who had now kept the house half a century, and who had known us, and our parents before us, from childhood. This loquacious housewife had her good and bad points, but habit had given her a sort of claim on our attentions, and I could not pass her door without drawing the rein, if it were only for a moment. This was no sooner done, than the landlady in person was on her threshold to greet us.



"Ay, I dreamt this, Mr. Mordaunt," the old woman exclaimed, the instant she saw me--"I dreamt this no later than last week! It is nonsense to deny it; dreams do often come true!"



"And what has been your dream this time, Mrs. Light?" I asked, well knowing it was to come, and the sooner we got it the better.



"I dreamt the general had come home last fall, and he had come home! Now the only idee I had to help out that dream was a report that he was to be home that day; but you know, Mr. Mordaunt, or Major Littlepage, they tell me I ought now to call you--but you know, Mr. Mordaunt, how often reports turn out to be nothing. I count a report as no great help to a dream. So, last week, I dreamed you would certainly be home this week; and here you are, sure enough!"



"And all without any lying report to help you, my good landlady?"



"Why, no great matter; a few flying rumors, perhaps; but as I never believe them when awake, it's onreasonable to suppose a body would believe 'em when asleep. Yes, Jaaf stopped a minute to water his horse this morning, and I foresaw from that moment my dream would come to be true, though I never exchanged a word with the nigger."



"That is a little remarkable, Mrs. Light, as I supposed you always exchanged a few words with your guests."



"Not with the blacks, major; it's apt to make 'em sassy. Sassiness in a nigger is a thing I can't abide, and therefore I keep 'em all at a distance. Well, the times that I have seen, major, since you went off to the wars! and the changes we have had! Our clergyman don't pray any longer for the king and queen--no more than if there wasn't sich people living."



"Not directly, perhaps, but as a part of the Church of God, I trust. We all pray for Congress now."



"Well, I hope good will come out of it! I must say, major, that His Majesty's officers spent more freely, and paid in better money, than the continental gentlemen. I've had 'em both here by rijjiments, and that's the character I must give 'em, in honesty."



"You will remember they were richer, and had more money than our people. It is easy for the rich to appear liberal."



"Yes, I know that, sir, and you ought, and do know it, too. The Littlepages are rich, and always have been, and they are liberal too. Lord bless your smiling, pretty faces! I knowed your family long afore you knowed it yourselves. I know'd old Captain Hugh Roger, your great-grand'ther, and the old general, your grand'ther, and now I know the young general, and you! Well, this will not be the last of you, I dares to say, and there'll be light hearts and happy ones among the Bayards, I'll answer for it, now the wars are over, and young Major Littlepage has got back!"



This terminated the discourse; for by this time I had enough of it; and making my bow, Kate and I rode on. Still, I could not but be struck with the last speech of the old woman, and most of all with the manner in which it was uttered. The name of Bayard was well known among us, belonging to a family of which there were several branches spread through the Middle States, as far south as Delaware; but I did not happen to know a single individual of them all. What, then, could my return have to do with the smiles or frowns of any of the name of Bayard? It was natural enough, after ruminating a minute or two on the subject, that I should utter some of my ideas, on such a subject, to my companion.



"What could the old woman mean, Kate," I abruptly commenced, "by saying there would now be light hearts and happy ones among the Bayards?"



"Poor Mrs. Light is a great gossip, Mordaunt, and it may be questioned if she know her own meaning half the time. All the Bayards we know are the family at the Hickories; and with them, you have doubtless heard, my mother has long been intimate."



"I have heard nothing about it, child. All I know is, that there is a place called the Hickories, up the river a few miles, and that it belongs to some of the Bayards; but I never heard of any intimacy. On the contrary, I remember to have heard that there was a lawsuit once, between my grandfather Mordaunt and some old Bayard or other; and I thought we were a sort of hereditary strangers."



"That is quite forgotten, and my mother says it all arose from a mistake. We are decided friends now."



"I'm sure I am very glad to hear it; for, since it is peace, let us have peace; though old enemies are not apt to make very decided friends."



"But we never were--that is, my grandfather never was an enemy of anybody; and the whole matter was amicably settled just before he went to Europe, on his unfortunate visit to Sir Harry Bulstrode. No--no--my mother will tell you, Mordaunt, that the Littlepages and the Bayards now regard each other as very decided friends."



Kate spoke with so much earnestness that I was disposed to take a look at her. The face of the girl was flushed, and I fancy she had a secret consciousness of the fact; for she turned it from me as if gazing at some object in the opposite direction, thereby preventing me from seeing much of it.



"I am very glad to learn all this," I answered, a little dryly. "As I am a Littlepage, it would have been awkward not to have known it, had I accidentally met with one of these Bayards. Does the peace include all of the name, or only those of the Hickories?"



Kate laughed; then she was pleased to tell me that I was to consider myself the friend of all of the name.



"And most especially of those of the name who dwell at the Hickories?"



"How many may there be of this especially peaceful breed? six, a dozen, or twenty?"



"Only four; so your task will make no very heavy demand on your affections. Your heart has room, I trust, for four more friends?"



"For a thousand, if I can find them, my dear. I can accept as many friends as you please, but have places for none else. All the other niches are occupied."



"Occupied!--I hope that is not true, Mordaunt. One place, at least, is vacant."



"True; I had forgotten a place must be reserved for the brother you will one day give me. Well, name him, as soon as you please; I shall be ready to love him, child."



"I may never make so heavy a draft on your affections. Anneke has given you a brother already, and a very excellent one he is, and that ought to satisfy a reasonable man."



"Ay, so all you young women say between fifteen and twenty, but you usually change your mind in the end. The sooner you tell me who the youth is, therefore, the sooner I shall begin to like him--is he one of the Bayards?--un chevalier sans peur et sans reproche?"



Kate had a brilliant complexion, in common; but, as I now turned my eyes toward her inquiringly, more in mischief, however, than with the expectation of learning anything new, I saw the roses of her cheeks expand until they covered her temples. The little beaver she wore, and which became her amazingly, did not suffice to conceal these blushes, and I now really began to suspect I had hit on a vein that was sensitive. But my sister was a girl of spirit, and though it was no difficult thing to make her change color, it was by no means easy to look her down.



"I trust your new brother, Mordaunt, should there ever be such a person, will be a respectable man, if not absolutely without reproach," she answered. "But, if there be a Tom Bayard, there is also a Pris Bayard, his sister."



"So--so--this is all news to me, indeed! As to Mr. Thomas Bayard, I shall ask no questions, my interest in him, if there is to be any, being altogether ex officio, as one may say, and coming as a matter of course; but you will excuse me if I am a little curious on the subject of Miss Priscilla Bayard, a lady, you will remember, I never saw."



My eye was on Kate the whole time, and I fancied she looked gratified, though she still looked confused.



"Ask what you will, brother--Priscilla Bayard can bear a very close examination."



"In the first place, then, did that old gossip allude to Miss Priscilla, by saying there would be light hearts and happy ones among the Bayards?"



"Nay, I cannot answer for poor Mrs. Light's conceits. Put your questions in some other form."



"Is there much intimacy between the people of the 'Bush and those of the Hickories?"



"Great--we like them exceedingly; and I think they like us."



"Does this intimacy extend to the young folk, or is it confined to the old?"



"That is somewhat personal," said Kate, laughing, "as I happen to be the only 'young folk' at the 'Bush, to maintain the said intimacy. As there is nothing to be ashamed of, however, but, on the contrary, much of which one may be proud, I shall answer that it includes 'all ages and both sexes;' everybody but yourself, in a word."



"And you like old Mr. Bayard?"



"Amazingly."



"And old Mrs. Bayard?"



"She is a very agreeable person, and an excellent wife and mother."



"And you love Pris Bayard?"



"As the apple of mine eye," the girl answered with emphasis.



"And you like Tom Bayard, her brother?"



"As much as is decent and proper for one young woman to like the brother of another young woman, whom she admits that she loves as the apple of her eye."



Although it was not easy, at least not easy for me, to cause Kate Littlepage to hold her tongue, it was not easy for her to cause the tell-tale blood always to remain stationary. She was surprisingly beautiful in her blushes, and as much like what I had often fancied my dear mother might have been in her best days as possible, at the very moment she was making these replies as steadily as if they gave her no trouble.



"How is all this then, connected with rejoicings among the people of the Hickories, at my return? Are you the betrothed of Tom Bayard, and have you been waiting for my return to give him your hand?"



"I am not the betrothed of Tom Bayard, and have not been waiting for your return to give him my hand," answered Kate, steadily. "As for Mrs. Light's gossipings, you cannot expect me to explain them. She gets her reports from servants, and others of that class, and you know what such reports are usually worth. But, as for my waiting for your return, brother, in order to announce such an event, you little know how much I love you, if you suppose I would do any such thing."



Kate said this with feeling, and I thanked her with my eyes, but could not have spoken, and did not speak, until we had ridden some distance. After this pause, I renewed the discourse with some of its original spirit.



"On that subject, Katrinke, dear," I said, "I trust we understand each other. Single or married, you will ever be very dear to me; and I own I should be hurt to be one of the last to learn your engagement, whenever that may happen. And now for this Priscilla Bayard--do you expect me to like her?"



"Do I! It would be one of the happiest moments of my life, Mordaunt, when I could hear you acknowledge that you love her!"



This was uttered with great animation, and in a way to show that my sister was very much in earnest. I felt some surprise when I put this feeling in connection with the landlady's remarks, and began to suspect there might be something behind the curtain worthy of my knowledge. In order to make discoveries, however, it was necessary to pursue the discourse.



"Of what age is Miss Bayard?" I demanded.



"She is two months my senior--very suitable, is it not?"



"I do not object to the difference, which will do very well. Is she accomplished?"



"Not very. You know few of us girls who have been educated during the revolution, can boast of much in that way; though Priscilla is better than common."



"Than of her class, you mean, of course?"



"Certainly--better than most young ladies of our best families."



"Is she amiable?"



"As Anneke, herself!"



This was saying a great deal, our eldest sister, as often happens in families, being its paragon in the way of all the virtues, and Anneke's temper being really serenity itself.



"You give her a high character, and one few girls could sustain. Is she sensible and well-informed?"



"Enough so as often to make me feel ashamed of myself. She has an excellent mother, Mordaunt; and I have heard you say, often, that the mother would have great influence with you in choosing a wife."



"That must have been when I was very young, child, before I went to the army, where we look more at the young than at the old women. But, why a wife? Is it all settled between the old people, that I am to propose to this Priscilla Bayard, and are you a party to the scheme?"



Kate laughed with all her heart, but I fancied she looked conscious.



"You make no answer, young lady, and you must permit me to remind you that there is an express compact between you and me to treat each other frankly on all occasions. This is one on which I especially desire to see the conditions of the treaty rigidly enforced. Does any such project exist?"



"Not as a project, discussed and planned--no--certainly not. No, a thousand times, no. But I shall run the risk of frustrating one of my most cherished hopes, by saying, honestly, that you could not gratify my dear mother, aunt Mary, and myself, more than by falling in love with Pris Bayard. We all love her ourselves, and we wish you to be of the party, knowing that your love would probably lead to a connection we should all like, more than I can express. There; you cannot complain of a want of frankness, for I have heard it said, again and again, that the wishes of friends, indiscreetly expressed, are very apt to set young men against the very person it is desired to make them admire."



"Quite likely to be true as a rule, though in my case no effect, good or bad, will be produced. But how do the Bayards feel in this matter?"



"How should I know! Of course, no allusion has ever been made to any of the family on the subject; and, as none of them know you, it is im--that is, no allusion--I mean--certainly not to more than one of them. I believe some vague remarks may have been ventured to one--but----"



"By yourself, and to your friend Pris?"



"Never"--said Kate, with emphasis. "Such a subject could never be mentioned between us."



"Then it must have been between the old ladies--the two mothers, probably?"



"I should think not. Mrs. Bayard is a woman of reserve, and mamma has an extreme sense of propriety, as you know yourself, that would not be likely to permit such a thing."



"Would the general think of contracting me, when my back was turned?"



"Not he--papa troubles himself very little about such things. Ever since his return home, he has been courting mamma over again, he tells us."



"Surely, aunt Mary has not found words for such an allusion!"



"She, indeed! Poor, dear aunt Mary; it is little she meddles with any one's concerns but her own. Do you know, Mordaunt, that mamma has told me the whole of her story lately, and the reason why she has refused so many excellent offers. I dare say, if you ask her, she will tell you."



"I know the whole story already, from the general, child. But, if this matter has been alluded to, to one of the Bayards, and neither my father, mother, nor aunt Mary, has made the allusion on our side, and neither Mr. Bayard, his wife, nor daughter, has been the party to whom the allusion has been made on the other, there remain only yourself and Tom to hold the discourse. I beg you to explain this point with your customary frankness."



Kate Littlepage's face was scarlet. She was fairly caught, though I distrusted the truth from the moment she so stammered and hesitated in correcting her first statement. I will own I enjoyed the girl's confusion, it made her appear so supremely lovely; and I was almost as proud of her, as I tenderly loved her. Dear, dear Kate; from my childhood I had my own amusement with her, though I do not remember anything like a harsh expression, or an unkind feeling, that has ever passed, or indeed existed, between us. A finer study than the face of my sister offered for the next minute, was never presented to the eye of man; and I enjoyed it so much the more, from a strong conviction that, while so deeply confused, she was not unhappy. Native ingenuousness, maiden modesty, her habit of frank dealing with me, and a wish to continue so to deal, were all struggling together in her fine countenance, forming altogether one of the most winning pictures of womanly feelings I had ever witnessed. At length, the love of fair-dealing, and love of me, prevailed over a factitious shame; the color settled back to those cheeks whence it had appeared to flash, as it might be, remaining just enough heightened to be remarked, and Kate looked toward me in a way that denoted all the sisterly confidence and regard that she actually felt.



"I did not intend to be the one to communicate to you a fact, Mordaunt, in which I know you will feel a deep interest, for I had supposed my mother would save me the confusion of telling it to you; but, now, there is no choice between resorting to equivocations that I do not like, and using our old long-established frankness."



"The long and short of which, my dear sister, is to say that you are engaged to Mr. Bayard?"



"No; not as strong as that, brother. Mr. Bayard has offered, and my answer is deferred until you have met him. I would not engage myself, Mordaunt, until you approved of my choice."



"I feel the compliment, Katrinke, and will be certain to repay it, in kind. Depend on it, you shall know, in proper season, when it is my wish to marry, and shall be heard."



"There is a difference between the claims of an elder and an only brother, and of a mere girl, who ought to place much dependence on the advice of friends, in making her own selection."



"You will not be a 'mere girl' when that time comes, but a married woman yourself, and competent to give good counsel from your own experience. To return to Tom, however; he is the member of his family to whom the allusion was made?"



"He was, Mordaunt," answered Kate, in a low voice.



"And you were the person who made it?"



"Very true--we were talking of you, one day; and I expressed a strong hope that you would see Priscilla with the eyes with which, I can assure you, all the rest of your family see her. That was all."



"And that was quite enough, child, to cause Tom Bayard to hang himself, if he were a lover of the true temper."



"Hang himself, brother! I am sure I do not understand why?"



"Oh! merely at the palpable discouragement such a wish would naturally convey to the brother of the young lady, since he must have seen you were willing to connect the two families by means other than giving him your own hand."



Kate laughed; but as she did not look much confused, or at all alarmed, I was induced to believe that more important encouragement than could be afforded by means of her wish of marrying me to her suitor's sister had been given Master Tom, and that my disapproval of the gentleman would cause her more concern than she chose to avow. We rode on, however, some little distance, without either's offering to renew the discourse. At length, as became my sex, I spoke.



"When am I to see this paragon young man and paragon young woman, Kate, since see both I must?"



"Not paragon young man, brother; I am certain I have called him by no such name; Tom Bayard is a good fellow; but I do not know that he is by any means a paragon."



"He is a good-looking fellow in the bargain, I take it for granted?"



"Not so much so as you are yourself, if that will gratify your vanity."



"It ought to, coming from such a quarter; my question is still unanswered, notwithstanding."



"To own the truth to you, Mordaunt, I expect we shall find Tom Bayard and Pris at Satanstoe, to dine with my grandmother. She wrote me word, a day or two since, that both are asked, and that she hoped both would accept."



"The old lady is then in the plot, and intends to marry me, will ye, nill ye? I had thought this visit altogether a scheme of my own."



Kate again laughed, and told me I might make my own observations on that point, and judge for myself. As for the visit, I had only accidentally favored a project of others. The conversation now changed, and for several miles we rode along, conversing of the scenes of the war, without adverting to the Bayards or to marriages.



We were within half a mile of the gate of the Neck, and within a mile of the house, when we met Jaap returning to Lilacsbush, and carrying some fruit to my mother, after having discharged his commission of an avant-courier. From Kate's remark I had discovered we had been invited by letter to take this excursion, though the ceremony of sending the negro across with his message had been observed for reasons that were not very natural under the circumstances. I made no remark, however, determining to see and judge for myself.



As a matter of course, we drew our reins, and stopped to exchange a few words with the black.



"Well, Jaap, how did the Neck look, after so long an absence?" I inquired.



"It look, sah, no means as well as ole Missus, who do look capital, for such a lady! Dey do won'ers with 'e Neck, sah, if you just believe all young nigger say. But what you t'ink, Masser Mordy, I hear at 'e tavern, where I jist stop, sah, to water ole Dick?"



"And to get a sup of cider for old Jaap"--hereupon the negro laughed heartily, though he had the impudence neither to own nor to deny the imputation, his weakness in favor of "wring-jaw" being a well-established failing--"Well, what did you hear, while taking down the usual mug?"



"I on'y get half a mug, dis time, sah; ole, ole Missus nebber forgettin' to give me jist as much as I want. Well, sah, while old Dick drink, 'e new landlady, who come from Connetick, you know, sah, she say to me, 'Where you go, ole color' gentleum?' Dat war' civil, anyhow."



"To which you answered----"



"I answer her, sah, and say I go to Satanstoe, whar' I come from, long time 'go."



"Whereupon she made some observation or other--well, what was it?--You keep Miss Littlepage waiting."



"Lor' bless her, sah--it my business to wait on Miss Katrinke, not her business to wait on me--why you speak so droll, now, Masser Mordy?"



"Never mind all that, Jaap, what did the new Connecticut lady say, when you told her you were going to Satanstoe, the place where you had come from, a long time ago?"



"What she say, Masser Mordy, sah!--she say great foolishness, and make me mad. 'What you call by dat awful name?' she say, making face like as if she see a spook. 'You must mean Dibbleton,' she say--'dat 'e way all 'e people as is genteel call 'e Neck?' Did you ebber hear 'e like, sah?"



"Oh! yes; I heard the like of it, as soon as I was born; the attempt to change the name of our old place having existed now, these thirty years. Why, some people call Hellgate, Hurlgate; after that, one may expect anything. Do you not know, Jaap, a Yankee is never satisfied, unless he is effecting changes? One half his time he is altering the pronunciation of his own names, and the other half he is altering ours. Let him call the place what he will, you and I will stick to Satanstoe."



"Dat we will, sah--gib 'e debbil his due, sah; dat an ole sayin'. I'm sure anybody as has eyes, can see where his toe hab turn up 'e sile, and shape it he own way--no dibble dere, sah."



Thus saying, Jaap rode on, my sister and myself doing the same, pursuing the discourse that had thus accidentally arisen among us.



"Is it not odd, brother, that strangers should have this itching to alter the name of my grandmother's place?" said Kate, after we had parted from the black. "It is a homely name, certainly; but it has been used, now, a good deal more than a century, and time, at least, should entitle it to be let alone."



"Ay, my dear; but you are not yet aware of the desires, and longings, and efforts, and ambition of a 'little learning.' I have seen enough, in my short career, to know there is a spirit up among us, that calls itself by the pretending title of the 'spirit of improvement,' which is likely to overturn more important things than the name of our poor Neck. It is a spirit that assumes the respectable character of a love of liberty; and under that mask, it gives play to malice, envy, covetousness, rapacity, and all the lowest passions of our nature. Among other things, it takes the provincial pretence of a mock-refinement, and flatters an elegance of thought that is easiest attained by those who have no perceptions of anything truly elevated, by substituting sqeamishness and affectations for the simplicity of nature, and a good tone of manners."







CHAPTER IV.



Beat. "Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner." Bene. "Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains." Beat. "I took no more pains for these thanks, than You take pains to thank me; if it had been painful, I would not have come."--Much Ado About Nothing.

In the porch of the house at Satanstoe stood my dear grandmother and the notable Tom Bayard, to receive us. The first glance at the latter told me that he was a "proper man;" and by the second, I got the pleasing assurance that he had no eye, just then, but for Kate. This was pleasant to know, as I never could have been happy in consenting to yield that dear girl to any but a man who appreciated her worth, and fully admired her beauty. As to my dear "ole, ole" grandmother, who was not so very old neither, being still under seventy, her reception of us was just what I had ever found it; warm, affectionate, and gentle. She called my father, the general, Corny, even when she spoke to him in a room full of company; though, for that matter, I have heard my mother, who was much more of a woman of the world, having lived a great deal in society, do the same thing, when she thought herself alone. I have read some priggish book or other, written no doubt by one who knew men only through pages like his own, decry such familiarities; but I have generally found those the happiest families, and at the bottom, the best toned, where it was Jack, and Tom, and Bob, and Dick, and Bess, and Di. As for your Louisa Adelinas, and Robert Augustuses, and all such elaborate respect, I frankly declare I have a contempt for it. Those are the sort of people who would call Satanstoe, Dibbleton; Hellgate, Hurlgate; and themselves accomplished. Thank heaven, we had no such nonsense at Lilacsbush, or at the Neck. My father was Corny; my mother, Anneke; Katrinke, Kate; and I was Mordy, or Mord; or, when there was no hurry, Mordaunt.



Tom Bayard met my salutations frankly, and with a gentleman-like ease, though there was a slight color on his cheek which said to me, "I mean to get your sister." Yet I liked the fellow's manner. There was no grasping of the hand, and coming forward to rush into an intimacy at the first moment we met; but he returned my bow graciously and gracefully, and his smile as he did so seemed to invite farther and better acquaintance.



Now I have seen a man cross a whole room to shake hands at an introduction to an utter stranger, and maintain a countenance the whole time as sombre as if he were condoling with him on the loss of his wife. This habit of shaking hands dolefully is growing among us, and is imported from some of our sister States; for it is certainly not a New York custom, except among intimates; and it is a bad usage in my opinion, as it destroys one of the best means of graduating feelings, and is especially ungraceful at an introduction. But alas! there are so many such innovations, that one cannot pretend to predict where they are to stop. I never shook hands at an introduction, unless it were under my own roof, and when I wished to denote a decidedly hospitable feeling, until after I was forty. It was thought vulgar in my younger days, and I am not quite certain it is not thought so now.



In the little old-fashioned drawing-room, as of late years my good grandmother had been persuaded to call what was once only the best parlor, we found Miss Priscilla Bayard, who for some reason that was unexplained, did not come to the porch to meet her friend. She was in truth a charming girl, with fine dark eyes, glossy hair, a delicate and lady-like form, and a grace of manner that denoted perfect familiarity with the best company of the land. Kate and Pris embraced each other with a warmth and sincerity that spoke in favor of each, and with perfect nature. An affected American girl, by the way, is very uncommon; and nothing strikes me sooner, when I see my own countrywomen placed at the side of Europeans, than the difference in this respect; the one seems so natural, while the other is so artificial!



My own reception by Miss Bayard was gracious, though I fancied it was not entirely free from the consciousness of having, on some idle occasion, heard her own name intimately connected with mine. Perhaps Kate, in their confidential moments, may have said something to this effect; or I may have been mistaken.



My grandmother soon announced that the whole party was to pass the night at Satanstoe. As we were accustomed to such plans, neither Kate nor myself raised the least objection, while the Bayards submitted to orders, which I soon discovered even they were not unused to, with perfect good will and submission. Thus brought together, in the familiarity of a quiet and small party in a country house, we made great progress in intimacy; and by the time dinner was over, or by four o'clock, I felt like an old acquaintance with those who had so lately been strangers to me, even by name. As for Bayard and my sister, they were in the best of humors from the start, and I felt satisfied their affair was a settled thing in their own minds; but Miss Priscilla was a little under constraint for an hour or two, like a person who felt a slight embarrassment. This wore off, however, and long before we left the table she had become entirely herself; and a very charming self it was, I was forced to admit. I say forced; for spite of all I had said, and a certain amount of good sense, I hope, it was impossible to get rid of the distrust which accompanied the notion that I was expected to fall in love with the young lady. My poor grandmother contributed her share, too, to keeping this feeling alive. The manner in which she looked from one to the other, and the satisfied smile that passed over her countenance whenever she observed Pris and myself conversing freely, betrayed to me completely that she was in the secret, and had a hand in what I chose to regard as a sort of plot.



I had heard that my grandmother had set her heart on the marriage of my parents a year or two before matters came round, and that she always fancied she had been very instrumental in forming a connection that had been as happy as her own. The recollection, or the fancy of this success most probably encouraged her to take a share in the present scheme; and I have always supposed that she got us all together on that occasion in order to help the great project along.



A walk on the Neck was proposed in the cool of the evening; for Satanstoe had many a pleasant path, pretty vista, and broad view. Away we went, then, the four of us, Kate leading the way, as the person most familiar with the "capabilities." We were soon on the shore of the Sound, and at a point where a firm, wide beach of sand had been left by the receding waters, rocks fringing the inner boundary toward the main. Here one could walk without confinement of any sort, there being room to go in pairs, or all abreast, as we might choose. Miss Bayard seeming a little coy, and manifesting a desire to keep near her friend, I abandoned the intention of walking at her side, but fell behind a little, and got into discourse with her brother. Nor was I sorry to have this early opportunity of sounding the party who was likely soon to become so nearly connected with me. After a few minutes, the conversation turned on the late revolution, and the manner in which it was likely to influence the future fortunes of the country. I knew that a portion of the family of my companion had adhered to the crown, losing their estates by the act of confiscation; but I also knew that a portion did not, and I was left to infer that Tom's branch belonged to the latter division of his name, inasmuch as his father was known to be very easy in his circumstances, if not absolutely rich. It was not long, however, before I ascertained that my new friend was a mild tory, and that he would have been better pleased had the rights we had sought, and which he was willing enough to admit had been violated, been secured without a separation of the two countries. As the Littlepages had actually been in arms against the crown, three generations of them, too, at the same time, and the fact could be no secret, I was pleased with the candor with which Tom Bayard expressed his opinions on these points; for it spoke well of the truth and general sincerity of his character.



"Does it not strike you as a necessary consequence of the distance between the two countries," I remarked in the course of the conversation, "that a separation must, sooner or later, have occurred? It is impossible that two countries should long have common rulers when they are divided by an ocean. Admitting that our separation has been a little premature, a circumstance I should deny in a particular discussion, it is an evil that every hour has a tendency to lessen."



"Separations in families are always painful, Major Littlepage; when accompanied by discussions, doubly so."



"Quite true; yet they always happen. If not in this generation, in the next."



"I do think," said Tom Bayard, looking at me a little imploringly, "that we might have got along with our difficulties without casting aside our allegiance to the king."



"Ay, that has been the stumbling-block with thousands; and yet it is, in truth, the very weakest part of the transatlantic side of the question. Of what avail is allegiance to the king, if parliament uses its power in a way to make American interests subservient to those of England? A great deal may be said, that is reasonable, in favor of kingly power; that I am ready enough to allow; but very little that renders one people subject to another. This thing called loyalty blinds men to facts, and substitutes a fancied for a real power. The question has been, whether England, by means of a parliament in which we have no representative, is to make laws for us or not; and not whether George III. is to be our sovereign, or whether we are to establish the sovereignty of the people."[4]



[Footnote 4: [This short dialogue is given in the text, because it is found in Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage's manuscript, and not because the state of feeling in this country to-day has any connection with the opinions expressed. The American nation, as a whole, is now as completely emancipated from English political influence, as if the latter never had an existence. The emancipation is too complete, indeed, the effect having brought with it a reaction that is, on many points, running into error in a contrary direction; the third of our manuscripts having something to do with these excesses of opinion. But Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage appears to have some near glimmerings of the principles which lay at the root of the American revolution, though the principle itself does not appear to have been openly recognized anywhere at the time. The king of England was originally king of America, as he was king of Ireland, and king of Scotland. It is true, there was no American flag, the system excluding the colonies from any power on the ocean; then each colony existed as independent of the others, except through their common allegiance. The revolution of 1688 slowly brought parliament into the ascendant; and by the time George III. ascended the throne, that ascendancy had got to be almost undisputed. Now, America had no proper connection with parliament, which, in that day, represented England and Wales only; and this was a state of things which made one country dependent on the other, a subserviency of interests that clearly could last only so long as the party governed was too weak to take care of itself.]]



Bayard bowed, civilly enough, to my remark, and he changed the subject. Sufficient had been said, however, to satisfy me that there would be little political sympathy between us, let the family tie be drawn as close as it might. The girls joined us before we had got altogether into another vein of discourse, and I was a little chagrined at finding that Kate entered rather more into her admirer's views of such subjects than comported with the true feelings, as I fancied, of a Littlepage, after all that had passed. Still, as I should have liked the woman I loved to agree with me in opinion as much as possible in everything, I was not disposed to judge harshly of my sister on that account. On the other hand, to my surprise, I found Miss Priscilla a zealous, and, to say the truth, a somewhat blind patriot; condemning England, the king, and the efforts of parliament with a warmth that was only equal to that with which she defended everything, act, measure, principle, or policy, that was purely American.



I cannot say I had as much tolerance for the patriotism of Miss Bayard as I had for the petit treason of my sister. It seemed natural enough that Kate should begin to look at things of this nature with the eyes of the man she had made up her mind to marry; but it looked far more like management in her friend, who belonged to a tory family, to volunteer so freely the sentiments of one she could not yet love, inasmuch as until that day she had never even seen him.



"Is it not so, Major Littlepage?" cried this lovely creature, for very lovely she was, beyond all dispute; and feminine and delicate, and lady-like, and all I could have wished her, had she only been a little less of a whig, and a good deal more of a tory; her eyes sparkling and flashing, at the same time, as if she felt all she was saying from the very bottom of her heart--"Is it not so, Major Littlepage?--America has come out of this war with imperishable glory; and her history, a thousand years hence, will be the wonder and admiration of all who read it!"



"That will somewhat depend on what her history may prove to be, between that day and this. The early history of all great nations fills us with admiration and interest, while mightier deeds effected by an insignificant people are usually forgotten."



"Still, this revolution has been one of which any nation might have been proud!"



As it would not have been proper to deny this I bowed, and strayed a little from the rest of the party, under the pretence of looking for shells. My sister soon joined me, when the following short conversation passed between us.



"You find Pris Bayard a stanch whig, Major Littlepage," commenced my warm-hearted sister.



"Very much so; but I had supposed the Bayards excessively neutral, if not absolutely the other way."



"Oh! that is true enough of most of them, but not with Pris, who has long been a decided whig. There is Tom, now, rather moderate in his opinions, while the father and mother are what you call excessively neutral; but Pris has been a whig almost as long as I have known her."



"Almost as long! She was, then, a tory once?"



"Hardly; though certainly her opinions have undergone a very gradual change. We are both young, you will remember; and girls at their first coming out do very little of their own thinking. For the last three years, certainly, or since she was seventeen, Pris has been getting to be more and more of a whig, and less and less of a tory. Do you not find her decidedly handsome, Mordaunt?"



"Very decidedly so, and very winning in all that belongs to her sex--gentle, feminine, lady-like, lovely, and withal a whig."



"I knew you would admire her!" cried Kate, in triumph, "I shall live to see my dearest wish accomplished!"



"I make no doubt you will, child; though it will not be by the marriage of a Mr. Littlepage to a Miss Bayard."



I got a laugh and a blush for this sally, but no sign of submission. On the contrary, the positive girl shook her head, until her rich curls were all in motion, and she laughed none the less. We immediately joined our companions, and by one of those crossings over and figurings in, that are so familiar to the young of the two sexes, we were soon walking along the sands again, Tom at Kate's side, and I at that of Priscilla Bayard's. What the other two talked about I never knew, though I fancy one might guess; but the young lady with me pursued the subject of the revolution.



"You have probably been a little surprised, Major Littlepage," she commenced, "to hear me express myself so warmly in favor of this country, as some of the branches of my family have been treated harshly by the new government."



"You allude to the confiscations? I never justified them, and wish they had not been made; for they fall heaviest on those who were quite inoffensive, while most of our active enemies have escaped. Still it is no more than is usual in civil wars, and what would surely have befallen us, had it been our fortune to be the losing party."



"So I have been told; but, as no loss has fallen on any who are very near to me, my public virtue has been able to resist private feeling. My brother, as you may have seen, is less of an American than I am myself."



"I have supposed he is one of the 'extremely neutral;' and they, I have thought, always incline a little in favor of the losing party."



"I hope, however, his political bias, which is very honest, though very much in error, will not materially affect him in your good opinion. Too much depends on that, for me not to be anxious on the subject; and being the only decided whig in the family, I have thought I would venture to speak in behalf of a very dearly beloved brother."



"Well," I said to myself, "this is being sufficiently managing; but I am not quite so unpractised as to be the dupe of an artifice so little concealed! The deuce is in the girl; yet she seems in earnest, looks at me with the good faith and simplicity of a sister who feels even more than she expresses, and is certainly one of the loveliest creatures I ever laid eyes on! I must not let her see how much I am on my guard, but must meet management with management. It will be singular, indeed, if I, who have commanded a company of continentals with some credit, cannot get along with a girl of twenty, though she were even handsomer, and looked still more innocent than this Pris Bayard, which would be no easy matter, by the way."



The reader will understand this was what I said to myself, and it was soon uttered, for one talks surprisingly fast to himself; but that which I said to my fair companion, after a moment's hesitation, was very different in language and import.



"I do not understand in what way Mr. Bayard can be affected by my opinion, let it be for or against him," I answered, with just as much innocency of expression, according to my notion of the matter, as the young lady herself had thrown into her own pretty countenance, thereby doing myself infinite credit, in my own conceit; "though I am far from judging any man severely, because he happens to differ from me in his judgment of public things. The question was one of great delicacy, and the most honest men have differed the widest on its merits."



"You do not know how glad I am to hear you say this, Mr. Littlepage," returned my companion, with one of the sweetest smiles woman ever bestowed on man. "It will make Tom completely happy, for I know he has been sadly afraid of you, on this very point."



I did not answer instantly; for I believe I was watching the traces of that bewitching smile, and speculating against its influence with the pertinacity of a man who was determined not to be taken in. That smile haunted me for a week, and it was a long time before I fully comprehended it. I decided, however, to come to the point at once, as respects Bayard and my sister, and not be beating the bush with indirect allusions.



"In what manner can my opinion influence your brother, Miss Bayard?" I asked, as soon as I was ready to say anything. "To prevent misconceptions, let me beg of you to be a little more explicit."



"You can hardly be ignorant of my meaning, I should think!" answered Priscilla, with a little surprise. "One has only to look at the couple before us, to comprehend how your opinion of the gentleman might have an influence on himself, at least."



"The same might be said of us, Miss Bayard, so far as my inexperienced eye can tell. They are a young couple, walking together; the gentleman appearing to admire the lady, I will confess; and we are a young couple walking together, the gentleman appearing to admire the lady, or he does no credit to his taste or sensibility."



"There," said I to myself again, "that is giving her quite as good as I received; let me see how you take that."



Pris took it very well; laughing, and blushing just enough to make her appear the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes on. She shook her head very much as my sister had done not long before, and disclaimed the analogy, first in her manner, and next with her tongue.



"The cases are very different, sir," she answered. "We are strangers to each other, while Tom Bayard and Kate Littlepage are acquaintances of years' standing. We do not love each other in the least; not a bit, though we are inclined to think very well of each other, on account of the interest we take in the couple before us, and because I am the intimate friend of your only sister, and because you are the only brother of my intimate friend. There, however," and she now spoke with emphasis, "our interest ceases, never to be increased beyond a friendly regard, that I trust will grow up out of our respective merits and respective discernment. It is very, very different with the couple before us;" here, again, the flexible girl spoke with extreme feeling; every tone and cadence of her voice denoting lively sensibility. "They have been long attached, not admirers of each other, as you call it, Major Littlepage, but attached; and your opinion of my brother just at this moment, is of the last importance to him. I hope I have at last made myself understood?"



"Perfectly; and I intend to be just as explicit. In the first place I enter a solemn protest against all that you have said about the 'other couple,' with the exception of the interest we each feel in the brother or sister. Next, I proclaim Kate Littlepage to be her own mistress, so far as her brother Mordaunt is concerned, and lastly, I announce that I see or know nothing in the character, connections, fortune, person, or position of her suitor, Thomas Bayard, of the Hickories, Esquire, that is in the least below her pretensions or merits. I hope that is sufficiently satisfactory?"



"Entirely so; and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for it. I will own I have had some little apprehensions on the subject of Tom's political opinions; but those removed, nothing else can remain to create the smallest uneasiness."



"How is it possible that any of you could consider my notions of so much importance, when Kate has a father, a mother, and a grandmother living, all of whom, as I understand things, approve of her choice?"



"Ah, Mr. Littlepage, you are not conscious of your importance in your own family, I see. I know it better than you appear to know it yourself. Father, mother, grandmother, and sister, all think and speak of Mordaunt alike. To hear the general converse of the war, you would suppose that he had commanded a company, and Captain Littlepage the regiment. Mr. Littlepage defers to Mordaunt's taste, and Mordaunt's opinions, and Mordaunt's judgment, even in housekeeping and hemstitching. Kate is forever saying, 'my brother says this,' 'my brother writes that,' 'my brother does t'other;' and as for the old lady here at the 'Toe,' she would hardly think her peaches and cherries could ripen, unless Mordaunt Littlepage, the son of her son Corny Littlepage--by no accident does she ever call him 'general,'--were on the face of the earth to create an eternal sunshine!"



Was there ever a girl like this! That speech was made too, in the quietest, most gentle, lady-like manner possible. That the young lady had spirit and humor enough, was very apparent; and for a moment I doubted whether both were not accompanied by the most perfect simplicity of character, and the most perfect good faith. Subsequent remarks and occurrences, however, soon revived all my original distrusts.



"This is a vivid picture of family weaknesses, that you have so graphically drawn, Miss Bayard," I answered; "and I shall not easily forget it. What renders it the more lively and pointed, and the more likely to be relished by the world, is the fact that Mordaunt so little deserves the extreme partiality of the friends you have mentioned."



"The last feature forms no part of my picture, Major Littlepage, and I disown it. As for the world, it will never know anything about it. You and I are not the world, nor are we at all likely ever to be the world to each other; I wish you particularly to understand that, which is the reason I am so frank with you on so short an acquaintance. I tell you your opinion is of the last importance to Tom; as your sister would not marry him, did she believe you thought in the least ill of him."



"And she would, did I think well of him?"



"That is a question a lady must answer for herself. And now we will say no more on the subject; for my mind is easy since I find you entertain no political hostility to Tom."



"Men are much less apt to entertain such feelings, I fancy, after they have fairly fought out a quarrel, than when they only talk over its heads. Besides, the winning party is commonly the least rancorous, and success will make us whigs forgiving. I give you my honor, no objection will be raised against your brother, by me, on account of his opinions of the revolution. My dear mother herself has been half a tory the whole war; and Kate, I find, has imbibed all her charity."



A singular, and, as I found, a painful smile, crossed the sweet face of Priscilla Bayard, as I made this remark; but she did not answer it. It seemed to me she was now desirous of quitting the subject entirely, and I immediately led the discourse to other things.



Kate and I remained at Satanstoe several days, and Tom Bayard was a daily visitor; the distance between the Neck and the Hickories being no great matter. I saw the young lady twice during the interval; once, by riding over to her father's residence with that express object; and once when she came across on horseback to see her friend. I confess I was never more at a loss to understand a character than I was that of this young woman. She was either profoundly managing, or as innocent and simple as a child. It was easy to see that her brother, my sister, my grandmother, and, as I fancied, the parents of the young lady herself, were anxious that I should be on as good terms as possible with Pris, as they all called her; though I could not fathom her own feelings on the subject. It would have been unnatural not to have loved to gaze on her exceeding beauty, or not to have admired her extremely graceful and feminine manner, which was precisely all that one could wish it to be in the way of ease and self-possession, without being in the least free or forward; and I did gaze on the one, and admire the other, at the very moment I was most disposed to distrust her sincerity, and to believe her nature the very perfection of art. There were times when I was disposed to fancy this Pris Bayard as profound and skilful an actor as one of her sex, years, and condition in life could well become, without falling altogether; and there were moments, too, when she seemed to be instinct with all the sensitive and best qualities of her sex.



It is scarcely necessary to say I remained heart-whole, under such circumstances, notwithstanding the obvious wishes of my friends, and the young lady's great advantages! A man no more falls blindly in love when he distrusts anything amiss, than he sees anything amiss when he is blindly in love. It has often been a matter of surprise to me, how often and how completely the wisest of the earthly races conspire to deceive themselves. When suspicions are once excited, testimony is not needed; condemnation following much as a logical induction, though founded on nothing better than plausible distrusts; while, on the other hand, where confidence exists, testimony is only too apt to be disregarded. Women, in particular, are peculiarly apt to follow the bias of their affections, rather than of their reasons, in all cases connected with guilt. They are hard to be convinced of the unworthiness of those who belong to them through the affections, because the affections are usually stronger with them than their reasoning powers. How they cling to their priests, for instance, when the cooler heads and greater experience of men condemn, and that merely because their imaginations choose to adorn the offenders with the graces of that religion which they venerate, and on which they rely? He is a shrewd man who can draw the line between the real and the false in these matters; but he is truly a weak one who disregards evidence, when evidence is complete and clear. That we all have our sins and our failings is true, but there are certain marks of unworthiness which are infallible, and which ought never to be disregarded, since they denote the existence of the want of principle that taints a whole character.







CHAPTER V.



"He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway between him and Benedick; the one is too like an image, and says nothing; and the other, too like my lady's eldest son, evermore tattling."--Beatrice.

The very day my sister and I left Satanstoe, there was an interesting interview between my grandmother and myself, that it may be well to relate. It took place in the cool of the morning, before breakfast, indeed, and previously to the appearance of any of the rest of the party; for Tom Bayard and his sister had again ridden across the country to pass the night and see us off. My grandmother had requested me to meet her thus early, in a sort of little piazza, that modern improvements had annexed to one end of the old buildings, and in which we both appeared accordingly with the utmost punctuality. I saw by a certain sort of importance that my good grandmother wore in her countenance, that she had weighty matters on her mind, and took the chair she had set for me with some little curiosity to learn what was to follow. The chairs were placed side by side, or nearly so, but looking different ways, and so close together that, when seated, we were quite face to face. My grandmother had on her spectacles, and she gazed wistfully through them at me, parting the curls on my forehead, as had been her wont when I was a boy. I saw tears rolling out from behind the glasses, and felt apprehensive I might have said or done something to have wounded the spirit of that excellent and indulgent parent.



"For heaven's sake, grandmother, what can this mean?" I cried. "Have I done anything amiss?"



"No, my child, no; but much to the contrary. You are, and ever have been, a good and dutiful son, not only to your real parents, but to me. But your name ought to have been Hugh--that I will maintain long as I live. I told your father as much when you were born; but he was Mordaunt mad then, as, indeed, he has remained pretty much ever since. Not that Mordaunt is not a good name and a respectable name, and they say it is a noble name in England, but it is a family name, and family names are not for Christian names, at the best. Hugh should have been your name, if I could have had my way; and, if not Hugh, Corny. Well, it is too late for that now, as Mordaunt you are, and Mordaunt you must live and die. Did any one ever tell you, my child, how very, very like you are to your honored grandfather?"



"My mother, frequently--I have seen the tears start into her eyes as she gazed at me, and she has often told me my family name ought to have been Mordaunt, so much do I resemble her father."



"Her father!--Well, Anneke does get some of the strangest conceits into her head! A better woman, or a dearer, does not breathe--I love your mother, my child, quite as much as if she had been born my own daughter; but I must say she does get some of the strangest notions into her head that mortal ever imagined. You like Herman Mordaunt! You are the very image of your grandfather Littlepage, and no more like Herman Mordaunt than you are like the king!"



The revolution was then, and is now, still too recent to prevent these constant allusions to royalty, notwithstanding my grandfather had been as warm a whig as there was in the colonies, from the commencement of the struggle. As for the resemblance spoken of, I have always understood I was a mingled repetition of the two families, as so often happens, a circumstance that enables my different relatives to trace such resemblances as best suit their respective fancies. This was quite convenient, and may have been a reason, in addition to the fact of my being an only son, that I was so great a favorite with the females of my family. My dear old grandmother, who was then in her sixty-ninth year, was so persuaded of my likeness to her late husband, the "old general," as he was now called, that she would not proceed in her communications until she had wiped her eyes, and gratified her affections with another long and wistful gaze.



"Oh, those eyes!" she murmured--"and that forehead!--The mouth, too, and the nose, to say nothing of the smile, which is as much alike as one pea is like another!"



This left very little for the Mordaunts, it must be owned; the chin and ears being pretty much all that were not claimed for the direct line. It is true my eyes were blue, and the "old general's" had been as black as coals; my nose was Grecian, and his a most obtrusive Roman; and as for the mouth, I can only say mine was as like that of my mother's as a man's could well be like a woman's. The last I had heard my father say a thousand times. But no matter; age, and affection, and the longings of the parent, caused my grandmother to see things differently.



"Well, Mordaunt," the good old lady at length continued, "how do you like this choice of your sister Kate's? Mr. Bayard is a charming young man, is he not?"



"Is it then a choice, grandmother? Has Kate actually made up her mind?"



"Pshaw!" answered my grandmother, smiling as archly as if she were sixteen herself--"that was done long ago--and papa approved, and mamma was anxious, and I consented, and sister Anneke was delighted, and everything was as smooth as the beach at the end of the Neck, but waiting for your approbation. 'It would not be right, grandmother, for me to engage myself while Mordaunt is away, and without his even knowing the gentleman; so I will not answer until I get his approbation too,' said Kate. That was very pretty in her, was it not, my child? All your father's children have a sense of propriety!"



"Indeed it was, and I shall not forget it soon. But suppose I had disapproved, what would have followed, grandmother?"



"You should never ask unpleasant questions, saucy fellow; though I dare to say Kate would at least have asked Mr. Bayard to wait until you had changed your mind. Giving him up altogether would be out of the question, and unreasonable; but she might have waited a few months or so, until you changed your mind; and I would have advised her so to do. But all that is unnecessary as matters are; for you have expressed your approbation, and Kate is perfectly happy. The last letter from Lilacsbush, which Jaap brought, gives the formal consent of your dear parents--and what parents you have, my child!--so Kate wrote an acceptance yesterday, and it was as prettily expressed a note as I have seen in many a day. Your own mother could not have done better in her young days; and Anneke Mordaunt worded a note as genteelly as any young woman I ever knew."



"I am glad everything has gone right, and am sure no one can wish the young couple more happiness than I do myself. Kate is a dear, good girl, and I love her as much as a brother can love a sister."



"Is she not? and as thorough a Littlepage as ever was born! I do hope she will be happy. All the marriages in our family have proved so hitherto, and it would be strange if this should turn out differently. Well, now, Mordaunt, when Kate is married, you will be the only one left."



"That is true, grandmother; and you must be glad to find there will be one of us left to come and see you, without bringing nurses and children at his heels."



"I!--I glad of anything of the sort! No, indeed, my child; I should be sorry enough did I think for a moment, you would not marry as soon as is prudent, now that the war is over. As for the children, I dote on them; and I have ever thought it a misfortune that the Littlepages have had so few, especially sons. Your grandfather, my general, was an only son; your father was an only son; and you are an only son; that is, so far as coming to men's estates are, or were concerned. No, Mordaunt, my child, it is the warmest wish of my heart to see you properly married, and to hold the Littlepages of the next generation in my arms. Two of you I have had there already, and I shall have lived the life of the blessed to be able to hold the third."



"My dear, good grandmother!--what am I to understand by all this?"



"That I wish you to marry, my child, now that the war is ended; that your father wishes you to marry; that your mother wishes you to marry; and that your sister wishes you to marry."



"And all of you wish me to marry the same person? Is it not so?"



My grandmother smiled, but she fidgeted; fancying, as I suspected, that she had been pushing matters a little too fast. It was not easy, however, for one of her truth and simplicity of character to recede after having gone so far; and she wisely determined to have no reserves with me on the subject.



"I believe you are right, Mordaunt," she answered, after a short pause. "We do all wish you to fall in love as soon as you can; to propose as soon as you are in love; and to marry Priscilla Bayard, the instant she will consent to have you."



"This is honest, and like yourself, my dear grandmother; and now we both know what is intended, and can speak plainly. In the first place, do you not think one connection of this sort, between families, quite sufficient? If Kate marry the brother, may I not be excused for overlooking the attractions of the sister?"



"Priscilla Bayard is one of the loveliest girls in York Colony, Mordaunt Littlepage!"



"We call this part of the world York State, now, dearest grandmother. I am far from denying the truth of what you say;--Priscilla Bayard is very lovely."



"I do not know what more you can wish, than to get such a girl."



"I shall not say that the time will not come when I may be glad to obtain the consent of the young lady to become my wife; but that time has not yet arrived. Then, I question the expediency, when friends greatly desire any particular match, of saying too much about it."



My poor grandmother looked quite astounded, like one who felt she had innocently done mischief; and she sat gazing fondly at me, with the expression of a penitent child painted in her venerated countenance.



"Nevertheless, Mordaunt, I had a great share in bringing about the union between your own dear parents," she at length answered; "and that has been one of the happiest marriages I have ever known!"



I had often heard allusions of this nature, and I had several times observed the quiet smile of my mother, as she listened to them; smiles that seemed to contradict the opinion to which my grandmother's mistaken notions of her own influence had given birth. On one occasion (I was still quite a boy), I remember to have asked my mother how the fact was, when the answer was, "I married your father through the influence of a butcher's boy;" a reply that had some reference to a very early passage in the lives of my parents. But I well know that Cornelius Littlepage, nor Anneke Mordaunt, was a person to be coaxed into matrimony; and I resolved on the spot, their only son should manifest an equal independence. I might have answered my grandmother to this effect, and in language stronger than was my practice when addressing that reverend parent, had not the two girls appeared on the piazza at that moment, and broke up our private conference.



Sooth to say, Priscilla Bayard came forth upon me, that morning, with something like the radiance of the rising sun. Both the girls had that fresh, attractive look, that is apt to belong to the toilets of early risers of their sex, and which probably renders them handsomer at that hour, than at any other part of the day. My own sister was a very charming girl, as any one would allow; but her friend was decidedly beautiful. I confess I found it a little difficult not to give in on the spot, and to whisper my anxious grandmother that I would pay proper attention to the young lady, and make an offer at the suitable time, as she advanced toward us, exchanging the morning salutations, with just enough of ease to render her perfectly graceful, and yet with a modesty and retenue that were infinitely winning.



"Mordaunt is about to quit me, for the whole summer, Miss Bayard," said my grandmother, who would be doing while there was a chance; "and I have had him out here, to converse a little together, before we part. Kate I shall see often during the pleasant season, I trust; but this is to be the last of Mordaunt until the cold weather return."



"Is Mr. Littlepage going to travel?" inquired the young lady, with just as much interest as good breeding demanded, and not a particle more; "for Lilacsbush is not so distant, but he might ride over once a week, at least, to inquire how you do."



"Oh, he is going a great, great distance, and to a part of the world I dread to think of!"



Miss Bayard now looked really startled, and a good deal astonished, questioning me with her very fine eyes, though she said nothing with her tongue of Coejemans, who bears this appellation, and who has contracted to get the necessary surveys made, though he fills the humble post of a 'chainbearer' himself, not being competent to make the calculations.



"How can a mere chainbearer contract for a full survey?" asked Tom Bayard, who had joined the party, and had been listening to the discourse. "The chainbearers, in general, are but common laborers, and are perfectly irresponsible."



"That is true, as a rule; but my old friend forms an exception. He set out for a surveyor, but having no head for sines, and co-sines, and tangents, he was obliged to lower his pretensions to the humbler duty he now discharges. Still, he has long contracted for jobs of this nature, and gets as much as he can do, hiring surveyors himself, the owners of property having the utmost confidence in his measurements. Let me tell you, the man who carries chain is not the least important member of a surveying party in the woods. Old Andries is as honest as noon-day, and everybody has faith in him."



"His true name is Coejemans, I think you said, Major Littlepage?" asked Priscilla, as it struck me assuming an air of indifference.



"It is, Andries Coejemans; and his family is reputable, if not absolutely of a high caste. But the old man is so inveterate a woodsman, that nothing but patriotism, and his whig propensities, could have drawn him out into the open country. After serving most gallantly through the whole war, he has gone back to his chains; and many is the joke he has about remaining still in chains, after fighting so long and so often in the cause of liberty."



Priscilla appeared to hesitate--I thought her color increased a little--then she asked the question that was apparently uppermost in her thoughts, with surprising steadiness.



"Did you ever see the 'Chainbearer's niece, Dus Malbone?"



This question not a little surprised me; for, though I had never seen Ursula, the uncle had talked so much to me of his ward, that I almost fancied she was an intimate acquaintance. It often happens that we hear so much of certain persons, that we think and speak of them as of those we know; and had Miss Bayard questioned me of one of my late comrades in the service, I should not have been a whit more startled than I was at hearing her pronounce the familiar name of Dus Malbone.



"Where, in the name of all that is curious, did you ever hear of such a person!" I exclaimed, a little inconsiderately, since the world was certainly wide enough to admit of two young women's being acquainted, without my consent; more especially as one of them I had never seen, and the other I had met, for the first time, only a fortnight before. "Old Andries was always speaking to me of his niece; but I could not suppose she was an acquaintance of one of your position in life!"



"Notwithstanding, we were something more than school-fellows;--for we were, and I trust are still very, very good friends. I like Dus exceedingly, though she is quite as singular, in her way, as I have heard her uncle described to be, in his."



"This is odd! Will you allow me to ask one question? You will think it singular, perhaps, after what you have just told me--but curiosity will get the better of my manners--is Dus Malbone a lady--the equal and companion of such a person as Miss Priscilla Bayard?"



"That is a question not so easily answered, perhaps; since, in some respects, she is greatly the superior of any young woman I know. Her family, I have always heard, was very good on both sides; she is poor, poor even to poverty, I fear now." Here Pris. paused; there was a tremor in her voice, even, and I detected tears starting to her eyes. "Poor Dus!" she continued--"she had much to support, in the way of poverty, even while at school; where she was, indeed, as a dependent, rather than as a boarder; but no one among us all, could presume to offer her favors. I was afraid even to ask her to accept a ribbon, as I should not hesitate to do to Kate here, or any other young lady with whom I was intimate. I never knew a nobler-minded girl than Ursula Malbone, though few persons understand her, I think."



"This is old Andries over again! He was poor enough, heaven knows; and I have known him actually suffer, in order to do his duty by this girl, and to make a proper appearance at the same time, as a captain in the New York line; yet none of us, not even my father, could ever induce him to borrow a single dollar. He would give, but he would not receive."



"I can believe this readily, it is so like Dus! If she has her peculiarities, she has noble qualities enough to redeem of Coejemans, who bears this appellation, and who has contracted to get the necessary surveys made, though he fills the humble post of a 'chainbearer' himself, not being competent to make the calculations."



"How can a mere chainbearer contract for a full survey?" asked Tom Bayard, who had joined the party, and had been listening to the discourse. "The chainbearers, in general, are but common laborers, and are perfectly irresponsible."



"That is true, as a rule; but my old friend forms an exception. He set out for a surveyor, but having no head for sines, and co-sines, and tangents, he was obliged to lower his pretensions to the humbler duty he now discharges. Still, he has long contracted for jobs of this nature, and gets as much as he can do, hiring surveyors himself, the owners of property having the utmost confidence in his measurements. Let me tell you, the man who carries chain is not the least important member of a surveying party in the woods. Old Andries is as honest as noon-day, and everybody has faith in him."



"His true name is Coejemans, I think you said, Major Littlepage?" asked Priscilla, as it struck me assuming an air of indifference.



"It is, Andries Coejemans; and his family is reputable, if not absolutely of a high caste. But the old man is so inveterate a woodsman, that nothing but patriotism, and his whig propensities, could have drawn him out into the open country. After serving most gallantly through the whole war, he has gone back to his chains; and many is the joke he has about remaining still in chains, after fighting so long and so often in the cause of liberty."



Priscilla appeared to hesitate--I thought her color increased a little--then she asked the question that was apparently uppermost in her thoughts, with surprising steadiness.



"Did you ever see the 'Chainbearer's' niece, Dus Malbone?"



This question not a little surprised me; for, though I had never seen Ursula, the uncle had talked so much to me of his ward, that I almost fancied she was an intimate acquaintance. It often happens that we hear so much of certain persons, that we think and speak of them as of those we know; and had Miss Bayard questioned me of one of my late comrades in the service, I should not have been a whit more startled than I was at hearing her pronounce the familiar name of Dus Malbone.



"Where, in the name of all that is curious, did you ever hear of such a person!" I exclaimed, a little inconsiderately, since the world was certainly wide enough to admit of two young women's being acquainted, without my consent; more especially as one of them I had never seen, and the other I had met, for the first time, only a fortnight before. "Old Andries was always speaking to me of his niece; but I could not suppose she was an acquaintance of one of your position in life!"



"Notwithstanding, we were something more than school-fellows;--for we were, and I trust are still very, very good friends. I like Dus exceedingly, though she is quite as singular, in her way, as I have heard her uncle described to be, in his."



"This is odd! Will you allow me to ask one question? You will think it singular, perhaps, after what you have just told me--but curiosity will get the better of my manners--is Dus Malbone a lady--the equal and companion of such a person as Miss Priscilla Bayard?"



"That is a question not so easily answered, perhaps; since, in some respects, she is greatly the superior of any young woman I know. Her family, I have always heard, was very good on both sides; she is poor, poor even to poverty, I fear now." Here Pris. paused; there was a tremor in her voice, even, and I detected tears starting to her eyes. "Poor Dus!" she continued--"she had much to support, in the way of poverty, even while at school; where she was, indeed, as a dependent, rather than as a boarder; but no one among us all, could presume to offer her favors. I was afraid even to ask her to accept a ribbon, as I should not hesitate to do to Kate here, or any other young lady with whom I was intimate. I never knew a nobler-minded girl than Ursula Malbone, though few persons understand her, I think."



"This is old Andries over again! He was poor enough, heaven knows; and I have known him actually suffer, in order to do his duty by this girl, and to make a proper appearance at the same time, as a captain in the New York line; yet none of us, not even my father, could ever induce him to borrow a single dollar. He would give, but he would not receive."



"I can believe this readily, it is so like Dus! If she has her peculiarities, she has noble qualities enough to redeem a thousand foibles. Still, I would not have you to think Ursula Malbone is not an excellent creature in all respects, though she certainly has her peculiarities."



"Which, doubtless, she has inherited from the Coejemans, as her uncle, the Chainbearer, has his peculiarities, too."



"The Malbones have none of the blood of the Coejemans," answered the lady, quickly; "though it is respectable, and not to be ashamed of. Dus Malbone's mother was only half-sister to Captain Coejemans, and they had different fathers."



I thought Pris. looked a little confused, and as if she were sorry she had said so much on the subject at all, the instant she had betrayed so much intimacy with the Malbone genealogy; for she shrunk back, plucked a rose, and walked away smelling the flower, like one who was indisposed to say any more on the subject. A summons to breakfast, however, would otherwise have interrupted us, and no more was said about the Chainbearer, and his marvellous niece, Dus Malbone. As soon as the meal was ended, our horses were brought round, and Kate and I took our leave, Jaap having preceded us as usual, an hour or more, with our luggage. The reader is not to suppose that we always moved in the saddle, in that day; on the contrary, my mother had a very neat chaise, in which she used to drive about the country, with a mounted postilion; my father had a phaeton, and in town we actually kept a chariot; for the union of the Mordaunt and Littlepage properties had made us very comfortable, and comfortably we lived. But young ladies liked the saddle twenty-five years ago, more than they do to-day; and Kate, being a capital horse-woman, like her mother, before her, we were often out together. It was choice, then, and not necessity, a little aided by bad roads, perhaps, that induced us to ride across to Satanstoe so often, when we wished to visit our grandmother.



I kissed my dear old parent very affectionately at parting, for I was to see her no more that summer; and I got her blessing in return. As for Tom Bayard, a warm, brotherly shake of the hand sufficed, inasmuch as it was pretty certain I should see him at Lilacsbush before I left home. Approaching his sister, who held out her hand to me, in a friendly manner, I said as I took it--



"I hope this is not the last time I am to see you before I start for the new countries, Miss Bayard. You owe my sister a visit, I believe, and I shall trust to that debt for another opportunity of saying the unpleasant word 'farewell.'"



"This is not the way to win a lady's heart, Mordaunt," cried Kate, gayly. "It is only fifteen miles from your father's door to the Hickories, you ought to know, sir; and you have a standing invitation to darken its door with your military form."



"From both my father and brother"--put in Priscilla, a little hastily. "They will always be happy to see Major Littlepage, most certainly."



"And why not from yourself, Miss Prude," added Kate, who seemed bent on causing her friend some confusion. "We are not now such total strangers to each other as to render that little grace improper."



"When I am mistress of a house of my own, should that day ever arrive, I shall take care not to lose my reputation for hospitality," answered Pris., determined not to be caught, "by neglecting to include all the Littlepage family in my invitations. Until then, Tom's and papa's welcomes must suffice."



The girl looked amazingly lovely all the time, and stood the smiles of those around her with a self-possession that showed me she knew perfectly well what she was about. I was never more at a loss how to understand a young woman, and it is very possible, had I remained near her for a month longer, the interest such uncertainty is apt to awaken might have sent me away desperately in love. But Providence had determined otherwise.



During our ride toward the 'Bush, my sister, with proper blushes and a becoming hesitation, let me into the secret of her having accepted Tom Bayard. They were not to be married until after my return from the north, an event that was expected to take place in the ensuing autumn.



"Then I am to lose you, Kate, almost as soon as I find you," I said, a little despondingly.



"Not lose me, brother; no, no, not lose me, but find me, more than ever. I am to be transplanted into a family whither you will soon be coming to seek a wife yourself."



"Were I to come, what reason have I for supposing it would be successful?"



"That is a question you have no right to ask. Did I even know of any particular reason for believing your reception would be favorable, you cannot believe me sufficiently treacherous to betray my friend. Young ladies are not of the facility of character you seem to suppose, sir; and no method but the direct one will succeed. I have no other reason for believing you would succeed than the facts that you are an agreeable, good-looking youth, however, of unexceptionable family and fortune, living quite near the Hickories, and of a suitable age, temper, habits, character, etc., etc., etc. Are not these reasons sufficient to encourage you to persevere, my brave major?"



"Perseverance implies commencement, and I have not yet commenced. I scarcely know what to make of your friend, child; she is either the perfection of nature and simplicity, or the perfection of art."



"Art! Pris. Bayard artful! Mordaunt, you never did a human being greater injustice; a child cannot have greater truth and sincerity than Tom's sister."



"Ay, that's just it; Tom's sister is ex officio perfection; but, you will please to remember that some children are very artful. All I can say on the subject at present is, that I like Tom, and I like his parents; but I do not know what to think of your friend."



Kate was a little offended, so she made me no answer. Her good humor returned, however, before we had gone far, and the rest of our ride passed pleasantly enough, no allusions being made to any of the name of Bayard; though, I dare say, my companion thought a great deal of a certain Tom, of that name, as I certainly did of his handsome and inexplicable sister.



At the Kingsbridge Inn we had another short brush with that untiring gossip, its landlady.



"A pleasant time it has been over at the 'Toe, I dares to say," exclaimed Mrs. Light, the instant she thrust her head out of the door; "a most agreeable and amusing time both for the young gentleman and for the young lady. Mr. Thomas Bayard and Miss Pris. Bayard have been with you, days and days, and old Madam Littlepage is delighted. Oh! the 'Toe has always been a happy house, and happy faces have I long been used to see come out of it, and happy faces do I see to-day! Yes, yes; the 'Toe has always sent happy, contented faces down the road; and a happy roof it has been, by all accounts, these hundred years."



I dare say this was all true enough. I have always heard that the old place contained contented hearts; and contented hearts make happy faces. Kate's face was happiness itself, as she sat in the saddle listening to the crone; and my countenance is not one of ill-nature. The "'Toe was ever a happy house!" It recalls old times, to hear a house thus familiarly spoken of; for a set is rising up among us which is vastly too genteel to admit that any one--man, woman, child, or Satan, ever had a member so homely as a 'Toe.







CHAPTER VI.



"They love their land, because it is their own, And scorn to give aught other reason why; Would shake hands with a king upon his throne, And think it kindness to his majesty; A stubborn race, fearing and flattering none, Such are they nurtured, such they live and die; All but a few apostates, who are meddling With merchandise, pounds, shillings, pence and peddling." --Halleck.



A day or two after my return to Lilacsbush, was presented one of these family scenes which are so common in the genial month of June, on the shores of the glorious old Hudson. I call the river the old Hudson, for it is quite as old as the Tiber, though the world has not talked of it as much, or as long. A thousand years hence, this stream will be known over the whole earth; and men will speak of it as they now speak of the Danube and the Rhine. As good wine may not be made on its banks as is made on the acclivities of the latter river; but, even to-day, better, both as to quality and variety, is actually drunk. On this last point, all intelligent travellers agree.



There stands a noble linden on the lawn of Lilacsbush, at no great distance from the house, and necessarily within a short distance of the water. The tree had been planted there by my grandmother Mordaunt's father, to whom the place once belonged; and was admirably placed for the purposes of an afternoon's lounge. Beneath its shade we often took our dessert and wine, in the warm months; and thither, since their return from the army, General Littlepage and Colonel Dirck Follock used to carry their pipes, and smoke over a campaign, or a bottle, as chance directed the discourse. For that matter, no battle-field had ever been so veiled in smoke, as would have been the case with the linden in question, could there have been a concentration of all the vapor it had seen.



The afternoon of the day just mentioned, the whole family were seated beneath the tree, scattered round, as shade and inclination tempted; though a small table, holding fruits and wine, showed that the usual business of the hour had not been neglected. The wines were Madeira and claret, those common beverages in the country; and the fruits were strawberries, cherries, oranges and figs; the two last imported, of course. It was a little too early for us to get pines from the islands, a fruit which is so common in its season as to be readily purchased in town at the rate of four of a good size for a dollar. But, the abundance, and even luxury, of a better sort of the common American tables, is no news; viands, liquors and fruits appearing on them, that are only known to the very rich and very luxurious in the countries of Europe. If the service were only as tasteful, and the cooking as good with us, as both are in France, for instance, America would be the very paradise of the epicure, let superficial travellers say what they please to the contrary. I have been abroad in these later times, and speak of what I know.



No one sat at the table, though my father, Colonel



Dirck, and I were near enough to reach our glasses, at need. My mother was next to me, and reasonably close; for I did not smoke, while aunt Mary and Kate had taken post just without the influence of the tobacco. On the shore was a large skiff, that contained a tolerably sized trunk or two, and a sort of clothes-bag. In the first were a portion of my clothes, while those of Jaap filled the bag. The negro himself was stretched on the grass, about half-way between the tree and the shore, with two or three of his grandchildren rolling about, at his feet. In the skiff was his son, seated in readiness to use the sculls, as soon as ordered.



All this arrangement denoted my approaching departure for the north. The wind was at the south, and sloops of various degrees of promise and speed were appearing round the points, coming on one in the wake of another, as each had been able to quit the wharves to profit by the breeze. In that day, the river had not a tenth part of the craft it now possesses; but still, it had enough to make a little fleet, so near town, and at a moment when wind and tide both became favorable. At that time, most of the craft on the Hudson belonged up the river, and they partook largely of the taste of our Dutch ancestors. Notable travellers before the gales, they did very little with foul winds, generally requiring from a week to a fortnight to tide it down from Albany, with the wind at all from the south. Nevertheless, few persons thought of making the journey between the two largest towns of the state (York and Albany), without having recourse to one of these sloops. I was at that moment in waiting for the appearance of a certain "Eagle, of Albany, Captain Bogert," which was to run in close to Lilacsbush, and receive me on board, agreeably to an arrangement previously made in town. I was induced to take a passage in this vessel from the circumstance that she had a sort of after-cabin that was screened by an ample green curtain, an advantage that all the vessels which then plied on the river did not possess; though great improvements have been making ever since the period of which I am now writing.



Of course, the interval thus passed in waiting for the appearance of the Eagle was filled up, more or less, by discourse. Jaap, who was to accompany me in my journey to Ravensnest, knew every vessel on the river, as soon as he could see her, and we depended on him to let us know when I was to embark, though the movements of the sloop herself could not fail to give us timely notice of the necessity of taking leave.



"I should like exceedingly to pay a visit to old Mrs. Vander Heyden, at Kinderhook, Mordaunt," said my mother, after one of the frequent pauses that occurred in the discourse. "She is a relation, and I feel a great regard for her; so much the more, from the circumstance of her being associated in my mind with that frightful night on the river, of which you have heard me speak."



As my mother ceased speaking, she glanced affectionately toward the general, who returned the look, as he returned all my mother's looks, with one filled with manly tenderness. A more united couple than my parents never existed. They seemed to me ordinarily to have but one mind between them; and when there did occur any slight difference of opinion, the question was not which should prevail, but which should yield. Of the two, my mother may have had the most native intellect, though the general was a fine, manly, sensible person, and was very universally respected.



"It might be well, Anneke," said my father, "if the major were to pay a visit to poor Guert's grave, and see if the stones are up, and that the place is kept as it should be. I have not been there since the year '68, when it looked as if a friendly eye might do some good at no distant day."



This was said in a low voice, purposely to prevent aunt Mary from hearing it; and, as she was a little deaf, it is probable the intention was successful. Not so, however, with Colonel Dirck, who drew the pipe from his mouth, and sat attentively listening, in the manner of one who felt great interest in the subject. Another pause succeeded.



"T'en t'ere ist my Lort Howe, Corny," observed the colonel, "how is it wit' his grave?"



"Oh! the colony took good care of that. They buried him in the main aisle of St. Peter's, I believe; and no doubt all is right with him. As for the other, major, it might be well to look at it."



"Great changes have taken place at Albany, since we were there as young people!" observed my mother, thoughtfully. "The Cuylers are much broken up by the revolution, while the Schuylers have grown greater than ever. Poor aunt Schuyler, she is no longer living to welcome a son of ours!"



"Time will bring about such changes, my love; and we can only be thankful that so many of us remain, after so long and bloody a war."



I saw my mother's lips move, and I knew she was murmuring a thanksgiving to the power which had preserved her husband and son through the late struggle.



"You will write as often as opportunities occur, Mordaunt," said that dear parent, after a longer pause than usual. "Now there is peace, I can hope to get your letters with some little regularity."



"They tell me, cousin Anneke"--for so the colonel always called my mother when we were alone--"They tell me, cousin Anneke," said Colonel Dirck, "t'at t'ey actually mean to have a mail t'ree times a week petween Alpany and York! T'ere ist no knowing, general, what t'is glorious revolution will not do for us!"



"If it bring me letters three times a week from those I love," rejoined my mother, "I am sure my patriotism will be greatly increased. How will letters get out from Ravensnest to the older parts of the colony--I should say state, Mordaunt?"



"I must trust to the settlers for that. Hundreds of Yankees, they tell me, are out looking for farms this summer. I may use some of them for messengers."



"Don't trust 'em too much, or too many"--growled Colonel Dirck, who had the old Dutch grudge against our eastern brethren. "See how they behav't to Schuyler."



"Yes," said my father, replenishing his pipe, "they might have manifested more justice and less prejudice to wise Philip; but prejudices will exist, all over the world. Even Washington has had his share."



"T'at is a great man!" exclaimed Colonel Dirck, with emphasis, and in the manner of one who felt certain of his point. "A ferry great man!"



"No one will dispute with you, colonel, on that subject; but have you no message to send to our old comrade, Andries Coejemans? He must have been at Mooseridge, with his party of surveyors, now near a twelvemonth, and I'll warrant you has thoroughly looked up the old boundaries, so as to be ready for Mordaunt to start afresh as soon as the boy reaches the patent."



"I hope he has not hiret a Yankee surveyor, Corny," put in the colonel, in some little alarm. "If one of t'em animals gets upon the tract, he will manage to carry off half of the lant in his compass-box! I hope olt Andries knows petter."



"I dare say he'll manage to keep all the land, as well as to survey it. It is a thousand pities the captain has no head for figures; for his honesty would have made his fortune. But I have seen him tried, and know it will not do. He was a week once making up an account of some stores received from head-quarters, and the nearest he could get to the result was twenty-five per cent. out of the way."



"I would sooner trust Andries Coejemans to survey my property, figures or no figures," cried Colonel Dirck, positively, "than any dominie in New England."



"Well, that is as one thinks," returned my father, tasting the Madeira. "For my part, I shall be satisfied with the surveyor he may happen to select, even though he should be a Yankee. Andries is shrewd, if he be no calculator; and I dare to say he has engaged a suitable man. Having taken the job at a liberal price, he is too honest a fellow not to hire a proper person to do the head-work. As for all the rest, I would trust him as soon as I would trust any man in America."



"T'at is gospel. Mordaunt will haf an eye on matters too, seein' he has so great an interest in the estate. T'ere is one t'ing, major, you must not forget. Five hundred goot acres must be surveyed off for sister Anneke, and five hundred for pretty Kate, here. As soon as t'at is done, the general and I will give each of the gals a deet."



"Thank you, Dirck," said my father, with feeling. "I'll not refuse the land for the girls, who may be glad enough to own it some time or other."



"It's no great matter now, Corny; put, as you say, it may be of use one day. Suppose we make old Andries a present of a farm, in his pargain."



"With all my heart," cried my father, quickly. "A couple of hundred acres might make him comfortable for the rest of his days. I thank you for the hint, Dirck, and we will let Mordaunt choose the lot, and send us the description, that we may prepare the deed."



"You forget, general, that the Chainbearer has, or will have his military lot, as a captain," I ventured to remark. "Besides, land will be of little use to him, unless it might be to measure it. I doubt if the old man would not prefer going without his dinner, to hoeing a hill of potatoes."



"Andries had three slaves while he was with us; a man, a woman, and their daughter," returned my father. "He would not sell them, he said, on any consideration; and I have known him actually suffering for money when he was too proud to accept it from his friends, and too benevolent to part with family slaves, in order to raise it. 'They were born Coejemans,' he always said, 'as much as I was born one myself, and they shall die Coejemans.' He doubtless has these people with him, at the Ridge, where you will find them all encamped, near some spring, with garden-stuff and other small things growing around him, if he can find open land enough for such a purpose. He has permission to cut and till at pleasure."



"This is agreeable news to me, general," I answered, "since it promises a sort of home. If the Chainbearer has really these blacks with him, and has hutted judiciously, I dare say we shall have quite as comfortable a time as many of those we passed together in camp. Then, I shall carry my flute with me; for Miss Priscilla Bayard has given me reason to expect a very wonderful creature in Dus, the niece, of which old Andries used to talk so much. You remember to have heard the Chainbearer speak of such a person, I dare say, sir; for he was quite fond of mentioning her."



"Perfectly well; Dus Malbone was a sort of toast among the young men of the regiment at one time, though no one of them all ever could get a sight of her, by hook or by crook."



Happening to turn my head at that moment, I found my dear mother's eyes turned curiously on me; brought there, I fancy, by the allusion to Tom's sister.



"What does Priscilla Bayard know of this Chainbearer's niece?" that beloved parent asked, as soon as she perceived that her look had attracted my attention.



"A great deal, it would seem; since she tells me they are fast friends; quite as great, I should judge from Miss Bayard's language and manner, as Kate and herself."



"That can scarcely be," returned my mother, slightly smiling, "since there the principal reason must be wanting. Then, this Dus can hardly be Priscilla Bayard's equal."



"One never knows such a thing, mother, until he has had an opportunity of making comparisons; though Miss Bayard herself says Dus is much her superior in many things. I am sure her uncle is my superior in some respects; in carrying chain, particularly so."



"Ay, but scarcely in station, Mordaunt."



"He was the senior captain of the regiment."



"True; but revolutions are revolutions. What I mean is, that your Chainbearer can hardly be a gentleman."



"That is a point not to be decided in a breath. He is, and he is not. Old Andries is of a respectable family, though but indifferently educated. Men vastly his inferiors in birth, in habits, in the general notions of the caste, in the New England States, are greatly his superiors in knowledge. Nevertheless, while we must all admit how necessary a certain amount of education has become, at the present time, to make a gentleman, I think every gentleman will allow hundreds among us have degrees in their pockets with small claims to belong to the class. Three or four centuries ago, I should have answered that old Andries was a gentleman, though he had to bite the wax with his teeth and make a cross, for want of a better signature."



"And he what you call a chainbearer, Mordaunt!" exclaimed my sister.



"As well as late senior captain in your father's regiment, Miss Littlepage. But, no matter, Andries and Dus are such as they are, and I shall be glad to have them for companions this summer. Jaap is making signals, and I must quit you all. Heigho! It is very pleasant here, under this linden, and home begins to entwine its fibres around my heart. Never mind; it will soon be autumn, and I shall see the whole of you, I trust, as I leave you, well and happy in town."



My dear, dear mother had tears in her eyes, when she embraced me; so had Kate, who, though she did love Tom Bayard most, loved me very warmly too. Aunt Mary kissed me, in her quiet but affectionate way; and I shook hands with the gentlemen, who accompanied me down to the boat. I could see that my father was affected. Had the war still continued, he would have thought nothing of the separation; but in that piping time of peace it seemed to come unseasonably.



"Now don't forget the great lots for Anneke and Katrinke," said Colonel Dirck, as we descended to the shore. "Let Andries pick out some of the best of the lant, t'at is well watered and timbered, and we'll call the lots after the gals; that is a goot idea, Corny."



"Excellent, my friend. Mordaunt, my son, if you come across any places that look like graves, I wish you would set up marks by which they may be known. It is true, a quarter of a century or more makes many changes in the woods; and it is quite likely no such remains will be found."



"A quarter of a century in the American forests, sir," I answered, "is somewhat like the same period in the wanderings of a comet; lost, in the numberless years of its growth. A single tree will sometimes outlast the generations of an entire nation."



"You wilt rememper, Mordaunt, that I wilt haf no Yankee tenants on my estate. Your father may lease 'em one-half of a lot, if he please; but I will not lease t'other."



"As you are tenants in common, gentlemen," I answered, smiling, "it will not be easy to separate the interests in this manner. I believe I understand you, however; I am to sell the lands of Mooseridge, or covenant to sell, as your attorney, while I follow out my grandfather Mordaunt's ideas, and lease those that are not yet leased, on my own estate. This will at least give the settlers a choice, and those who do not like one plan of obtaining their farms may adopt the other."



I now shook hands again with the gentlemen, and stepping into the skiff, we pulled away from the shore. Jaap had made this movement in good season, and we were compelled to row a quarter of a mile down the river to meet the sloop. Although the wind was perfectly fair, it was not so fresh as to induce Mr. Bogert to round-to; but throwing us a rope, it was caught, when we were safely transferred, bag and baggage, to the decks of the Eagle.



Captain Bogert was smoking at the helm, when he returned my salute. Removing the pipe, after a puff or two, he pointed with the stem toward the group on the shore, and inquired if I wished to say "good-by."



"Allponny"--so the Dutch were wont to pronounce the name of their town in the last century--"is a long way off," he said, "and maype you woult like to see the frients ag'in."



This business of waving hats and handkerchiefs is a regular thing on the Hudson, and I expressed my willingness to comply with the usage, as a matter of course.[5] In consequence, Mr. Bogert deliberately sheered in toward the shore, and I saw the whole family collecting on a low rock, near the water, to take the final look. In the background stood the Satanstoes, a dark, woolly group, including Mrs. Jaap, and two generations of descendants. The whites were weeping; that is to say, my dear mother and Kate; and the blacks were laughing, though the old lady kept her teeth to herself about as much as she exposed them. A sensation almost invariably produces laughter with a negro, the only exceptions being on occasions of singular gravity.



[Footnote 5: Such were the notions of Mr. Mordaunt Littlepage, at the commencement of this century, and such his feeling shortly after the peace of 1783. Nothing of the sort more completely illustrates the general change that has come over the land, in habits and material things, than the difference between the movements of that day and those of our own. Then, the departure of a sloop, or the embarkation of a passenger along the shore, brought parties to the wharves, and wavings of handkerchiefs, as if those who were left behind felt a lingering wish to see the last of their friends. Now, literally thousands come and go daily, passing about as many hours on the Hudson as their grandfathers passed days; and the shaking of hands and leave-takings are usually done at home. It would be a bold woman who would think now of waving a handkerchief to a Hudson River steamboat!--EDITOR.]



I believe, if the truth were known, Mr. Bogert greatly exulted in the stately movement of his sloop, as she brushed along the shore, at no great distance from the rocks, with her main-boom guyed out to starboard, and studding-sail boom to port. The flying-topsail, too, was set; and the Eagle might be said to be moving in all her glory. She went so near the rocks, too, as if she despised danger! Those were not the days of close calculations that have succeeded. Then, an Albany skipper did not mind losing a hundred or two feet of distance in making his run; whereas, now, it would not be an easy matter to persuade a Liverpool trader to turn as much aside in order to speak a stranger in the centre of the Atlantic; unless, indeed, he happened to want to get the other's longitude.



As the sloop swept past the rocks, I got bows, waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and good wishes enough to last the whole voyage. Even Jaap had his share; and "good-by, Jaap," came to my ears, from even the sweet voice of Kate. Away we went, in stately Dutch movement, slow but sure. In ten minutes Lilacsbush was behind us, and I was once more alone in the world, for months to come.



There was now time to look about me, and to ascertain who were my companions in this voyage. The skipper and crew were as usual the masters; and the pilots, both whites, and both of Dutch extraction, an old wrinkled negro, who had passed his life on the Hudson as a foremast hand, and two younger blacks, one of whom was what was dignified with the name of cabin-steward. Then there were numerous passengers; some of whom appeared to belong to the upper classes. They were of both sexes, but all were strangers to me. On the main-deck were six or eight sturdy, decent, quiet, respectable-looking laborers, who were evidently of the class of husbandmen. Their packs were lying in a pile, near the foot of the mast, and I did not fail to observe that there were as many axes as there were packs.



The American axe! It has made more real and lasting conquests than the sword of any warlike people that ever lived; but they have been conquests that have left civilization in their train instead of havoc and desolation. More than a million of square miles of territory[6] have been opened up from the shades of the virgin forest, to admit the warmth of the sun; and culture and abundance have been spread where the beast of the forest so lately roamed, hunted by the savage. Most of this, too, has been effected between the day when I went on board the Eagle, and that on which I am now writing. A brief quarter of a century has seen these wonderful changes wrought; and at the bottom of them all lies this beautiful, well-prized, ready and efficient implement, the American axe!



[Footnote 6: More than two millions at the present day.]



It would not be easy to give the reader a clear notion of the manner in which the young men and men of all ages of the older portions of the new republic poured into the woods to commence the business of felling the forests, and laying bare the secrets of nature, as soon as the nation rose from beneath the pressure of war, to enjoy the freedom of peace. The history of that day in New York, which State led the van in the righteous strife of improvement, and has ever since so nobly maintained its vantage-ground, has not yet been written. When it is properly recorded names will be rescued from oblivion that better deserve statues and niches in the temple of national glory, than those of many who have merely got the start of them by means of the greater facility with which the public mind is led away in the train of brilliant exploits, than it is made sensible of the merits of those that are humane and useful.



It was not usual for settlers, as it has become the practice to term those who first take up and establish themselves on new lands, to make their journeys from the neighborhood of the sea to the interior, other than by land; but a few passed out of Connecticut by the way of New York, and thence up the river in sloops. Of this character were those found on board the Eagle. In all, we had seven of these men, who got into discourse with me the first day of our passage, and I was a little surprised at discovering how much they already knew of me, and of my movements. Jaap, however, soon suggested himself to my mind, as the probable means of the intelligence they had gleaned; and, on inquiry, such I ascertained was the fact.



The curiosity and the questioning propensities of the people of New England, have been so generally admitted by writers and commentators on American character, that I suppose one has a right to assume the truth of these characteristics. I have heard various ways of accounting for them; and among others, the circumstances of their disposition to emigrate, which brings with it the necessity of inquiring after the welfare of friends at a distance. It appears to me, however, this is taking a very narrow view of the cause, which I attribute to the general activity of mind among a people little restrained by the conventional usages of more sophisticated conditions of society. The practice of referring so much to the common mind, too, has a great influence on all the opinions of this peculiar portion of the American population, seeming to confer the right to inquire into matters that are elsewhere protected by the sacred feeling of individual privacy.



Let this be as it might, my axe-men had contrived to get out of Jaap all he knew about Ravensnest and Mooseridge, as well as my motives in making the present journey. This information obtained, they were not slow in introducing themselves to me, and of asking the questions that were uppermost in their minds. Of course, I made such answers as were called for by the case, and we established a sort of business acquaintance between us, the very first day. The voyage lasting several days, by the time we reached Albany, pretty much all that could be said on such a subject had been uttered by one side or the other.



As respected Ravensnest, my own property, my grandfather had requested in his will that the farms might be leased, having an eye to my children's profit, rather than to mine. His request was a law to me, and I had fully determined to offer the unoccupied lands of that estate, or quite three-fourths of the whole patent, on leases similar in their conditions to those which had already been granted. On the other hand, it was the intention to part with the lots of Mooseridge in fee. These conditions were made known to the axe-men, as my first essay in settling a new country; and, contrary to what had been my expectation, I soon discovered that these adventurers inclined more to the leases than to the deeds. It is true, I expected a small payment down, in the case of each absolute sale, while I was prepared to grant leases, for three lives, at very low rents at the best; and in the cases of a large proportion of the lots, those that were the least eligible by situation, or through their quality, to grant them leases without any rent at all, for the first few years of their occupation. These last advantages, and the opportunity of possessing lands a goodly term of years, for rents that were put as low as a shilling an acre, were strong inducements, as I soon discovered, with those who carried all they were worth in their packs, and who thus reserved the little money they possessed to supply the wants of their future husbandry.



We talked these matters over during the week we were on board the sloop; and by the time we came in sight of the steeples of Albany, my men's minds were made up to follow me to the Nest. These steeples were then two in number, viz.: that of the English church, that stood near the margin of the town, against the hill; and that of the Dutch church, which occupied an humbler site, on the low land, and could scarcely be seen rising above the pointed roofs of the adjacent houses; though these last, themselves were neither particularly high nor particularly imposing.







CHAPTER VII.



"Who is that graceful female here With yon red hunter of the deer? Of gentle mien and shape, she seems For civil halls design'd; Yet with the stately savage walks, As she were of his kind."--Pinckney.



I made little stay in Albany, but, giving the direction to the patent to the axe-men, left it the very day of our arrival. There were very few public conveyances in that early day, and I was obliged to hire a wagon to transport Jaap and myself, with our effects, to Ravensnest. A sort of dull calm had come over the country, after the struggles of the late war; but one interest in it appearing to be alive and very active. That interest, fortunately for me, appeared to be the business of "land-hunting" and "settling." Of this I had sufficient proof in Albany itself; it being difficult to enter the principal street of that town, and not find in it more or less of those adventurers, the emblems of whose pursuit were the pack and the axe. Nine out of ten came from the Eastern or New England States; then the most peopled, while they were not very fortunate in either soil or climate.



We were two days in reaching Ravensnest, a property which I had owned for several years, but which I now saw for the first time. My grandfather had left a sort of agent on the spot, a person of the name of Jason Newcome, who was of my father the general's age, and who had once been a school-master in the neighborhood of Satanstoe. This agent had leased extensively himself, and was said to be the occupant of the only mills of any moment on the property. With him a correspondence had been maintained; and once or twice during the war my father had managed to have an interview with this representative of his and my interests. As for myself, I was now to see him for the first time. We knew each other by reputation only; and certain passages in the agency had induced me to give Mr. Newcome notice that it was my intention to make a change in the management of the property.



Any one who is familiar with the aspect of things in what is called a "new country" in America, must be well aware it is not very inviting. The lovers of the picturesque can have little satisfaction in looking even on the finest natural scenery at such moments; the labor that has been effected usually having done so much to mar the beauties of nature, without having yet had time to supply the deficiencies by those of art. Piles of charred or half-burned logs: fields covered with stumps, or ragged with stubs; fences of the rudest sorts, and filled with brambles; buildings of the meanest character; deserted clearings; and all the other signs of a state of things in which there is a manifest and constant struggle between immediate necessity and future expediency, are not calculated to satisfy either the hopes or the tastes. Occasionally a different state of things, however, under circumstances peculiarly favorable, does exist; and it may be well to allude to it, lest the reader form but a single picture of this transition state of American life. When the commerce of the country is active, and there is a demand for the products of new lands, a settlement often presents a scene of activity in which the elements of a thriving prosperity make themselves apparent amid the smoke of fallows, and the rudeness of border life. Neither, however, was the case at Ravensnest when I first visited the place; though the last was, to a certain extent, its condition two or three years later, or after the great European war brought its wheat and ashes into active demand.



I found but few more signs of cultivation, between the point where I left the great northern road and the bounds of the patent, than had been found by my father, as he had described them to me in his first visit, which took place a quarter of a century earlier than this of mine. There was one log tavern, it is true, in the space mentioned; but it afforded nothing to drink but rum, and nothing to eat but salted pork and potatoes, the day I stopped there to dine. But there were times and seasons when, by means of venison, wild-fowl and fish, a luxurious board might have been spread. That this was not the opinion of my landlady, nevertheless, was apparent from the remarks she made while I was at table.



"You are lucky, Major Littlepage," she said, "in not having come among us in one of what I call our 'starving times'--and awful times they be, if a body may say what she thinks on 'em."



"Starvation is a serious matter at any time," I answered, "though I did not know you were ever reduced to such difficulties in a country as rich and abundant as this."



"Of what use is riches and abundance if a man will do nothing but fish and shoot? I've seen the day when there wasn't a mouthful to eat in this house, but a dozen or two of squabs, a string of brook trout, and maybe a deer, or a salmon from one of the lakes."



"A little bread would have been a welcome addition to such a meal."



"Oh! as for bread, I count that for nothin'. We always have bread and potatoes enough; but I hold a family to be in a desperate way, when the mother can see the bottom of the pork barrel. Give me the children that's raised on good sound pork, afore all the game in the country. Game's good as a relish, and so's bread; but pork is the staff of life! To have good pork, a body must have good corn; and good corn needs hoeing; and a hoe isn't a fish-pole or a gun. No, my children I calkerlate to bring up on pork, with just as much bread and butter as they may want!"



This was American poverty as it existed in 1784. Bread, butter, and potatoes, ad libitum; but little pork, and no tea. Game in abundance in its season; but the poor man who lived on game was supposed to be keeping just as poor an establishment as the epicure in town who gives a dinner to his brethren, and is compelled to apologize for there being no game in the market. Curious to learn more from this woman, I pursued the discourse.



"There are countries, I have read," I continued, "in which the poor do not taste meat of any sort, not even game, from the beginning of the year to its end; and sometimes not even bread."



"Well, I'm no great hand for bread, as I said afore, and should eat no great matter of it, so long as I could get pork," the woman answered, evidently interested in what I had said; "but I shouldn't like to be without it altogether; and the children, especially, do love to have it with their butter. Living on potatoes alone must be a wild animal sort of a life."



"Very tame animals do it, and that from dire necessity."



"Is there any law ag'in their using bread and meat?"



"No other law than the one which forbids their using that which is the property of another."



"Good land!" This is a very common American expression among the women--"Good land! Why don't they go to work and get in crops, so they might live a little?"



"Simply because they have no land to till. The land belongs to others, too."



"I should think they might hire, if they couldn't buy. It's about as good to hire as it is to buy--some folks (folk) think it's better. Why don't they take land on shares, and live?"



"Because land itself is not to be had. With us, land is abundant; we have more of it than is necessary, or than will be necessary, for ages to come; perhaps it would be better for our civilization were there less of it, but, in the countries of which I speak, there are more people than there is land."



"Well, land is a good thing, I admit, and it's right there should be an owner to it; yet there are folks who would rather squat than buy or hire, any day. Squatting comes nat'ral to 'em."



"Are there many squatters in this part of the country?"



The woman looked a little confused, and she did not answer me, until she had taken time to reflect on what she should say.



"Some folks call us squatters, I s'pose," was the reluctant answer, "but I do not. We have bought the betterments of a man who hadn't much of a title, I think likely; but as we bought his betterments fairly, Mr. Tinkum"--that was the husband's name--"is of opinion that we live under title, as it is called. What do you say to it, Major Littlepage?"



"I can only say that naught will produce naught; nothing, nothing. If the man of whom you purchased owned nothing, he could sell nothing. The betterments he called his, were not his; and in purchasing them, you purchased what he did not own."



"Well, it's no great shakes, if he hadn't any right, sin' Tinkum only gi'n an old saddle, that warn't worth two dollars, and part of a set of single harness, that I'd defy a conjuror to make fit any mule, for the whull right. One year's rent of this house is worth all put together, and that twice over, if the truth must be said; and we've been in it, now seven years. My four youngest were all born under this blessed roof, such as it is!"



"In that case, you will not have much reason to complain, when the real owner of the soil appears to claim it. The betterments came cheap, and they will go as cheap."



"That's just it; though I don't call ourselves much of squatters, a'ter all, seein' we have paid suthin' for the betterments. They say an old nail, paid in due form, will make a sort of title in the highest court of the state. I'm sure the laws should be considerate of the poor."



"Not more so than of the rich. The laws should be equal and just; and the poor are the last people who ought to wish them otherwise, since they are certain to be the losers when any other principle governs. Rely on it, my good woman, the man who is forever preaching the rights of the poor is at bottom a rogue, and means to make that cry a stalking-horse for his own benefit; since nothing can serve the poor but severe justice. No class suffers so much by a departure from the rule, as the rich have a thousand other means of attaining their ends, when the way is left clear to them, by setting up any other master than the right."



"I don't know but it may be so; but I don't call ourselves squatters. There is dreadful squatters about here, though, and on your lands too, by the tell."



"On my lands? I am sorry to hear it, for I shall feel it a duty to get rid of them. I very well know that the great abundance of land that we have in the country, its little comparative value, and the distance at which the owners generally reside from their estates, have united to render the people careless of the rights of those who possess real property; and I am prepared to view things as they are among ourselves, rather than as they exist in older countries; but I shall not tolerate squatters."



"Well, by all I hear, I think you'll call old Andries, the Chainbearer, a squatter of the first class. They tell me the old chap has come back from the army as fierce as a catamount, and that there is no speaking to him, as one used to could, in old times."



"You are, then, an old acquaintance of the Chainbearer?"



"I should think I was! Tinkum and I have lived about, a good deal, in our day; and old Andries is a desp'ate hand for the woods. He surveyed out for us, once, or half-surveyed, another betterment; but he proved to be a spiteful rogue afore he got through with the business; and we have not set much store by him ever sin' that time."



"The Chainbearer a rogue! Andries Coejemans any thing but an honest man! You are the first person, Mrs. Tinkum, I have ever heard call in question his sterling integrity."



"Sterling money doesn't pass now, I conclude, sin' it's revolution times. We all know which side your family was on in the war, Major Littlepage; so it's no offence to you. A proper sharp lookout they had of it here, when you quit college; for some said old Herman Mordaunt had ordered in his will that you should uphold the king; and then, most of the tenants concluded they would get the lands altogether. It is a sweet thing, major, for a tenant to get his farm without paying for it, as you may judge! Some folks was desp'ate sorry when they heern tell that the Littlepages went with the colonies."



"I hope there are few such knaves on the Ravensnest estate as to wish anything of the sort. But, let me hear an explanation of your charge against the Chainbearer. I have no great concern for my own rights in the patent that I claim."



The woman had the audacity, or the frankness, to draw a long, regretful sigh, as it might be, in my very face. That sigh expressed her regrets that I had not taken part with the crown in the last struggle; in which case, I do suppose, she and Tinkum would have contrived to squat on one of the farms of Ravensnest. Having sighed, however, the landlady did not disdain to answer.



"As for the Chainbearer, the simple truth is this," she said. "Tinkum hired him to run a line between some betterments we had bought, and some that had been bought by a neighbor of our'n. This was long afore the war, and when titles were scarcer than they're gettin' to be now, some of the landlords living across the water. Well, what do you think the old fellow did, major? He first asked for our deeds, and we showed them to him; as good and lawful warrantees as was ever printed and filled up by a 'squire. He then set to work, all by himself, jobbing the whull survey, as it might be, and a prettier line was never run, as far as he went, which was about half-way. I thought it would make etarnel peace atween us and our neighbor, for it had been etarnel war afore that, for three whull years; sometimes with clubs, and sometimes with axes, and once with scythes. But, somehow--I never know'd how--but somehow, old Andries found out that the man who deeded to us had no deed to himself, or no mortal right to the land, any more than that sucking pig you see at the door there; when he gi'n right up, refusing to carry out another link, or p'int another needle, he did! Warn't that being cross-grained and wilful! No, there's no dependence to be put on the Chainbearer."



"Wilful in the cause of right, as glorious old Andries always is! I love and honor him all the better for it."



"La! Do you love and honor sich a one as him! Well, I should have expected suthin' else from sich a gentleman as you! I'd no idee Major Littlepage could honor an old, worn-out chainbearer, and he a man that couldn't get up in the world, too, when he had hands and feet, all on 'em together on some of the very best rounds of the ladder! Why, I judge that even Tinkum would have gone ahead, if he had been born with sich a chance."



"Andries has been a captain in my own regiment, it is true, and was once my superior officer; but he served for his country's sake, and not for his own. Have you seen him lately?"



"That we have! He passed here about a twelvemonth ago, with his whull party, on their way to squat on your own land, or I'm mistaken. There was the Chainbearer himself, two helpers, Dus and young Malbone."



"Young who?" I asked, with an interest that induced the woman to turn her keen, sunken, but sharp gray eyes, intently on me.



"Young Malbone, I said; Dus's brother, and the youngster who does all old

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