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- [Sub The Tory's Daughter] - 3/72 -
the loyal party; and whatever might be said, I know I should always feel that they were in the right, and their opposers in the wrong."
"And in that, Jane, I think you are wise," responded Jones, with an approving smile. "The complaints of these disaffected people are based on mistaken notions. They are too ill informed, I fear, to appreciate the justice and necessity of the measures of our ministers, or to understand very clearly what they are quarrelling about."
"Ah, that is it," warmly responded Haviland. "That is what I have always said of them. They don't understand their own rights, or what is for their own good, and should be treated accordingly. And I think some of our leading men miss it in trying to reason with them. Reason with them! Ridiculous! As if the common people could understand an argument!"
"You are perfectly right, squire," responded Peters, with eager promptness. "My own experience among the lower classes fully confirms your opinion. My business, for several years past, has brought me often in contact with them, in a certain quarter; and I have found them not only ignorant of what properly belongs to their own rights and privileges, but jealous and obstinate to a degree that is excessively annoying."
"Friend Peters probably alludes to his experience in the great republic of Guilford," said Jones, archly.
"There and elsewhere," rejoined the former; "though I have seen quite enough of republicanism _there_, for my purpose. One year, the party outvoting their opponents, and coming into power, upsets every thing done by their predecessors. The next year the upsetters themselves get upset; and all the measures they had established are reversed for others no better; and so they go on from year to year, forever quarrelling and forever changing."
"And yet, Peters," resumed Jones, banteringly, "I doubt whether _you_ have been much the loser by their quarrels."
"How so, Mr. Jones?" asked Haviland, who noticed that Peters had answered only by a significant smile.
"Why, you know, Squire Haviland," replied Jones, "that I have been on to attend several of the last sessions of your court, as the agent of Secretary Fanning, [Footnote: Edward Fanning, secretary to Governor Tryon, New York, before the revolution, obtained, by an act of favoritism from his master, a grant of the township of Stratton, which, in 1780, Fanning having been appointed a colonel of a regiment of tories, was confiscated, and re-granted, by the legislature of Vermont, to William Williams and others. Kent, afterwards Londonderry, which had been granted to James Rogers, who has been introduced, and who became a tory officer, was also, in like manner, confiscated and re-granted.] to see to his landed interests in this quarter. Well, friend Peters, here, who has gone considerably into land speculations east of the mountains, you know, had brought, it seems, several suits for the possession of lands, mostly in this same Guilford; and among the rest, one for a right of land in possession of a sturdy young log-roller, whom they called Harry Woodburn, who appeared in court in his striped woollen frock, and insisted on defending his own case, as he proceeded to do with a great deal of confidence. But when he came to produce his deed for the land he contended was his own, it was found, to his utter astonishment, to bear a later date than the one produced by Peters. This seemed to settle the case against him. But he appeared to have no notion of giving up so; and, by favor of court, the further hearing of the case was deferred a day or two, to enable him to procure the town records, which, he contended, would show the priority of his deed. So he posted back to Guilford for the purpose; but, on arriving there, found, to his dismay, that the records were nowhere to be found. One of the belligerent parties of that town, it seems, had broken into the clerk's office, stolen the records, and buried them somewhere in the ground. The fellow, therefore, had to return, and submit to a judgment against him. Still, however, he clung to his case, and obtained a review of it, in expectation that the records would be found before the next court. But the poor fellow seemed doomed to disappointment. At the next court, no records were forthcoming; and though he defended his case with great zeal, he was thrown in his suit again; when he concluded, I suppose, to yield to his fate without further ado."
"Not by any means," said Peters, in a tone of raillery. "He has petitioned for a new trial; and the question is to come on at this court."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Jones, laughing. "Well, I must confess I have never seen so much dogged determination exhibited in so hopeless a case. And I really could not help admiring the fellow's spirit and uncultured force of mind, as much misapplied as, of course, I suppose it to have been. Your lawyer, Stevens, really appeared, once or twice, to be quite annoyed at his home thrusts; while lawyer Knights, or Rough-hewn Sam, as they call him, who, either from a sly wish to see his friend Stevens bothered, or from a real wish to help Harry, volunteered to whisper a few suggestions in his ear occasionally, sat by, and laughed out of his eyes, till they ran over with tears, to see a court lawyer so hard pushed by a country bumpkin."
"Pooh! you make too much of the fellow," said Peters, with assumed contempt. "Why, he is a mere obstinate boor, whose self-will and vanity led him to set up and persevere in a defence in which he knows there is neither law nor justice."
"And yet, Mr. Peters," observed Miss Haviland, inquiringly, "the young man must have known that he was making great expense for himself, in obtaining delays and new trials, in the hope that the lost records would be found. If he was not very confident those records would have established his right, why should he have done this?"
"O, that was a mere pretence about the records altering the case, doubtless," replied Peters, with the air of one wishing to hear no more on the subject.
"It may have been so," rejoined the former, doubtfully; "but I should have hardly inferred it from Mr. Jones's description of the man and his conduct."
"Nor I," interposed the other lady, playfully, but with considerable spirit. "Mr. Jones has really excited my curiosity by his account of this young plough-jogger. I should like to get a sight of him--shouldn't you, Sabrey?"
But the latter, though evidently musing on the subject, and mentally discussing some unpleasant doubts and inferences which it seemed to present to her active mind, yet evaded the question, and turned the conversation, by directing the attention of her companion and the rest of the company to a distant object in the wild landscape, which here opened to their view. This was the tall, rugged mountain, which, rising from the eastern shore of the Connecticut, was here, through an opening in the trees, seen looming and lifting its snowy crest to the clouds, and greeting the gladdened eyes of the way-worn travellers with the silent but welcome announcement that they were now within a few miles of the great river, and in the still more immediate vicinity of their intended halting-place--the thriving little village which was then just starting into life, under the auspices of the man from whom its name was derived--the enterprising Colonel Brattle, of Massachusetts.
Having now the advantage of a road, which, as it received the many concentrating paths of a thicker settlement, here began to be comparatively firm, the travellers passed rapidly over the descending grounds, and, in a short time, entered the village. As they were dashing along towards the village inn, at a full trot, a man, with a vehicle drawn by one horse, approaching in an intersecting road from the south, struck into the same street a short distance before them. His whole equipment was very obviously of the most simple character,--a rough board box, resting on four upright wooden pins inserted into a couple of saplings, which were bent up in front for runners--the whole making what, in New England phrase, is termed a _jumper_, constituted his sleigh. And this vehicle was drawn by a long switch-tailed young pony, whose unsteady gait, as he briskly ambled along the street, pricking up his ears and veering about at every new object by the way-side, showed him to be but imperfectly broken. The owner of this rude contrivance for locomotion was evidently some young farmer from the neighboring country. But although his dress and mode of travelling seemed thus to characterize him, yet there was that in his personal appearance, as plain as was his homespun garb, which was calculated to command at once both attention and respect. And as he now rose and stood firmly planted in his sleigh, occasionally looking back to watch the motions of the team behind him, with his long, toga-like woollen frock drawn snugly over his finely-sloping shoulders and well-expanded bust, and closely girt about at the waist by a neatly-knotted Indian belt, while the flowing folds below streamed gracefully aside in the wind, he displayed one of those compact, shapely figures, which the old Grecian sculptors so delighted to delineate. And in addition to these advantages of figure, he possessed an extremely fine set of features, which were shown off effectively by the profusion of short, jetty locks, that curled naturally around his white temples and his bold, high forehead.
"Miss McRea--Jane," said Jones, turning round to the amiable girl, and tapping her on the shoulder, with the confiding smile and tender playfulness of the accepted lover, as he was,--"Jane, you said, I think, that you should like to get a sight of that spunky opponent of Mr. Peters, whom we were talking of a little while since--did you not?"
"O, yes, yes, to be sure I did," replied the other briskly; "but why that question, just at this time?"
"Because, if I do not greatly mistake, that man who is pushing on before us, in yon crazy-looking establishment, is the self-same young fellow. Is it not so, Peters?"
"I have not noticed him particularly, nor do I care whether it is he or not," answered Peters, with an affected indifference, with which his uneasy and frowning glances, as he kept his eye keenly fixed on the person in question, but illy comported. "Well that is the fellow--that is Harry Woodburn, you may rely on it, ladies," rejoined Jones, gayly, as he faced about in his seat.
Both young ladies now threw intent and curious glances forward on the man thus pointed out to them, till they caught, as they did the next moment, a full and fair view of his personal appearance; when they turned and looked at each other with expressions of surprise, which plainly indicated that the object of their thoughts was quite a different person from what they had been led to expect.
"His dress, to be sure, _is_ rather coarse," observed Miss Haviland to her companion, in a low tone; "but he is no boor; nor can every one boast of--" Here she threw a furtive glance at Peters, when she appeared to read something in his countenance which caused her to suspend the involuntary comparison which was evidently passing in her mind, and to keep her eye fixed on his motions.
The arrogant personage last named, wholly unconscious of this
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