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- [Sub The Tory's Daughter] - 2/72 -
say you, Mr. Peters,--will the horses hold out to do it?" he added, addressing the young man of the repulsive look, who had charge of the team, us before mentioned.
"They _must_ do it, at all events, Squire Haviland," replied Peters. "Sheriff Patterson, here," he continued, glancing at the hard-featured man before described, "has particular reasons for being on the ground to-night. I must also be there, and likewise friend Jones, if we can persuade him to forego his intended stop at Brattleborough; for, being of a military turn, we will give him the command of the forces, if he will go on immediately with us."
"Thank you, Mr. Peters," replied Jones, smiling. "I do not covet the honor of a command, though I should be ready to go on and assist, if I really believed that military forces would be needed."
"Military forces needed for what?" asked Haviland, in some surprise.
"Why, have you not heard, Squire Haviland," said the sheriff, "that threats have been thrown out, that our coming court would not be suffered to sit?"
"Yes, something of the kind, perhaps," replied Haviland, contemptuously; "but I looked upon them only as the silly vaporings of a few disaffected creatures, who, having heard of the rebellious movements in the Bay State, have thrown out these idle threats with the hope of intimidating our authorities, and so prevent the holding of a court, which they fear might bring too many of them to justice."
"So I viewed the case for a while," rejoined Patterson; "but a few days ago, I received secret information, on which I could rely, that these disorganizing rascals were actually combining, in considerable numbers, with the intention of attempting to drive us from the Court-House."
"Impossible! impossible! Patterson," said the squire; "they will never be so audacious as to attempt to assail the king's court."
"They are making a movement for that purpose, nevertheless," returned the former; "for, in addition to the information I have named, I received a letter from Judge Chandler, just as I was leaving my house in Brattleborough, yesterday morning, in which the judge stated, that about forty men, from Rockingham, came to him in a body, at his house in Chester, and warned him against holding the court; and had the boldness to tell him, that blood would be shed, if it was attempted, especially if the sheriff appeared with an armed posse."
"Indeed! why, I am astonished at their insolence!" exclaimed the squire. "But what did the judge tell them?"
"Why the judge, you know, has an oily way of getting along with ugly customers," replied the sheriff, with a significant wink; "so he thanked them all kindly for calling on him, and gravely told them he agreed with them, that no court should be holden at this time. But, as there was one case of murder to be tried, he supposed the court must come together to dispose of that; after which they would immediately adjourn. And promising them that he would give the sheriff directions not to appear with any armed assistants, he dismissed them, and sat down and wrote me an account of the affair, winding off with giving me the directions he had promised, but adding in a postscript, that I was such a contrary fellow, that he doubted whether I should obey his directions; and he should not be surprised to see me there with a hundred men, each with a gun or pistol under his great-coat. Ha ha! The judge is a sly one."
"One word about that case of murder, to which you have alluded, Mr. Patterson," interposed Jones, after the jeering laugh with which the sheriff's account was received by Haviland and Peters, had subsided. "I have heard several mysterious hints thrown out by our opponents about it, which seemed to imply that the prosecution of the prisoner was got up for private purposes; and I think I have heard the name of Secretary Brush coupled with the affair. Now, who is the alleged murderer? and where and when was the crime committed?"
"The fellow passes by the name of Herriot, though it is suspected that this is not his true name," responded the sheriff. "The crime was committed at Albany, several years ago, when he killed, or mortally wounded, an intimate friend of Mr. Brush."
"Under what circumstances?"
"Why, from what I have gathered, I should think the story might be something like this: that, some time previous to the murder, this Herriot had come to Albany, got into company above his true place, dashed away a while in high life, gambled deeply, and, losing all his own money, and running up a large debt to this, and other friends of Brush, gave them his obligations and absconded. But coming there again, for some purpose, a year or two after, with a large sum of money, it was thought, which had been left or given him by a rich Spaniard, whose life he had saved, or something of the kind, those whom he owed beset him to pay them, or play again. But he refused to play, pretending to have become pious, and also held back about paying up his old debts. Their debts, however, they determined to have, and went to him for that purpose; when an affray arose, and one of them was killed by Herriot, who escaped, and fled, it seems, to this section of the country, where he kept himself secluded in some hut in the mountains, occasionally appear-ing abroad to preach religion and rebellion to the people, by which means he was discovered, arrested, and imprisoned in Westminster jail, where he awaits his trial at the coming term of the court. And I presume he will be convicted and hung, unless he makes friends with Brush to intercede for a pardon, which he probably might do, if the fellow would disgorge enough of his hidden treasures to pay his debts, and cease disaffecting the people, which is treason and a hanging matter of itself, for which he, and fifty others in this quarter, ought, in justice, to be dealt with without benefit of the clergy.--What say you, Squire Haviland?"
"I agree with you fully," replied the squire. "But to return to Judge Chandler's communication: what steps have you taken, if any, in order to sustain the court in the threatened emergency?"
"Why, just the steps that Chandler knew I should take--sent off one messenger to Brush, there on the ground at Westminster; another to Rogers, of Kent; and yet another to a trusty friend in Guilford, requesting each to be on, with a small band of resolute fellows; while I whipped over to Newfane myself, fixed matters there, and came round to Bennington to enlist David Redding, and a friend or two more; as I did, after I arrived, last night, though I was compelled to leave them my sleigh and horses to bring them over, which accounts for my begging a passage with you. So, you see, that if this beggarly rabble offer to make any disturbance, I shall be prepared to teach them the cost of attempting to put down the king's court."
"Things are getting to a strange pass among these deluded people, that is certain. I cannot, however, yet believe them so infatuated as to take this step. But if they should, decided measures should be taken--such, indeed, as shall silence this alarming spirit at once and forever."
"I hope," observed Miss Haviland, who had been a silent but attentive listener to the dialogue, "I hope no violence is really intended, either on the part of the authorities or their opponents. But what do these people complain of? There must be some cause, by which they, at least, think themselves justified in the movement, surely. Do they consider themselves aggrieved by any past decisions of the court?"
"O, there are grumblers enough, doubtless, in that respect," answered the sheriff. "And among other things, they complain that their property is taken and sold to pay their honest debts, when money is so scarce, they say, that they cannot pay their creditors in currency--just as if the court could make money for the idle knaves! But that is mere pretence. They have other motives, and those, too, of a more dangerous character to the public peace."
"And what may those motives be, if it be proper for me to inquire, sir?" resumed the fair questioner.
"Why, in the first place," replied the sheriff, "they have an old and inveterate grudge against New York, whose jurisdiction they are much predisposed to resist. But to this they might have continued to demur and submit, as they have done this side of the mountain, had New York adopted the resolves of the Continental Congress of last December, and come into the _American Association_, as it is called, which has no less for its object, in reality, than the entire overthrow of all royal authority in this country. But as our colony has nobly refused to do this, they are now intent on committing a double treason--that of making war on New York and the king too."
"Well, I should have little suspected," remarked Haviland, "that the people of this section, who have shown themselves commendably conservative, for the most part, had any intention of yielding to the mob-laws of Ethan Allen, Warner, and others, who place the laws of New York at defiance on the other side of the mountains; and much less that they would heed the resolves of that self-constituted body of knaves, ignoramuses, and rebels, calling themselves the Continental Congress."
"Are you not too severe on that body of men, father?" said Miss Haviland, lifting her expressive eye reprovingly to the face of the speaker. "I have recently read over a list of the members of the Congress; when I noticed among them the names of men, who, but a short time since, stood very high, both for learning and worth, as I have often heard you say yourself. Now, what has changed the characters of these men so suddenly?"
"Why is it, Sabrey," said the old gentleman, with an air of petulance, and without deigning any direct answer to the troublesome question,--"why is it that you cannot take the opinion of your friends, who know so much more than you do about these matters, instead of raising, as I have noticed you have lately seemed inclined to do, questions which seem to imply doubts of the correctness of the measures of our gracious sovereign and his wise ministers?"
"Why, father," replied the other, with an ingenuous, but somewhat abashed look, "if I have raised such questions, in relation to the quarrel between the colonies and the mother country, I have gone on the ground that the party which has the most right on its side would, of course, have the best reasons for its measures; and as I have not always been able to perceive good reasons for all the king's measures, I had supposed you would be proud to give them."
The old gentleman, though evidently disturbed and angry at this reply, did not seem inclined to push the debate any further with his daughter. The other gentlemen, also, looked rather glum; and for many moments not a word was spoken; when the other young lady, who had not yet spoken, after glancing round on the gentlemen in seeming expectation that those better reasons would be given, at length ventured to remark,--
"Well, for my part, it is enough for me that my friends all belong to
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