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- [Sub The Tory's Daughter] - 60/72 -


you throw a few of those evergreen vines near you over your head and shoulders, to prevent your dress from attracting notice, and come here to help me read out the puzzle."

In compliance with the unexpected suggestion, the maiden instantly rose, and, preparing herself, as directed, cautiously advanced and seated herself at his side. The road they had recently quitted was in plain view, a little distance to the right, and continued distinctly visible as it swept round towards the broad Hudson, whose tranquil surface was gleaming with the reflected brightness of the low-descending sun. On each side of the road, till it disappeared over a distant swell, were scattered, at irregular intervals, the dwellings to which allusion has been made. Among the nearest and most respectable of these, stood, in a retired situation considerably to the east of the highway, the house presenting the questionable appearances to which Hart's attention had been directed. On one side of the spacious yard or lawn, in front of this building, stood, tied to a post, and impatiently pawing the ground, a noble-looking horse, equipped with a richly-caparisoned side-saddle; while near by, under the fence, sat, patiently smoking their pipes, three Indians, one of whom, as was evident by their contrasted bearing and accoutrements, was a chief, and the other two his attendants. Near the principal entrance was drawn up a two-horse team, having the appearance of awaiting the reception of persons about to depart on some journey. At length the family, consisting evidently of father, mother, and their children, slowly, and in seeming mournful silence, issued from the door, and approached the wagon, when the former, lifting the latter into the seats, again turned an anxious look towards the house, and, with his companion whose handkerchief was frequently applied to her eyes, stood lingering and hesitating, as if reluctant to part with some object of their solicitude still remaining behind. Presently the agitated couple returned to the door, and, with gestures of grief and supplication, appeared to be making a last appeal to one standing just within the entrance, whose partially disclosed form, and white fluttering decorations, proclaimed her to be a gayly-dressed female.

"It acts some like a funeral there," observed Bart, doubtfully; "but then those Indians, that seem to be waiting for some one--and that horse with the lady's saddle on him, which they appear to have the care of, and which looks, by the trim, like a British army horse--and----"

"Bart, do you know who lives there?" interrupted Sabrey, with a sudden start.

"A tory," replied the other; "but not a fighting one, I gathered. That's him and his wife standing before the door, I take it. His name is Me--something."

"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Sabrey. "I understand it all now. That lady, in the door, is dressed for her wedding--those before her are her brother and sister-in-law, pleading with her to go with them, instead of taking the questionable step she is evidently meditating. O, that I dared rush down to the side of her well-judging friends, and join them in dissuading her from listening to the ill-timed summons of her lover, and especially from going with such, an escort as the infatuated man appears to have sent for her!"

Although Miss Haviland was wholly unprepared for here finding the residence of her friend, Jane McRea, which she had supposed to be in another and more distant locality, yet her quick perceptions, in combining the past and present circumstances, had not misled her. It was, indeed, that lovely and hapless girl, passing through the last trial she was destined ever to be conscious of undergoing,--that of the distracting conflict of emotions produced by being now finally compelled to decide between the behests of prudence and of love,--between the advice and entreaties of confessedly kind and judicious relatives, and the opposing counsels and impassioned importunities of an idolized lover. Deeply and anxiously, that afternoon, had the thought of her situation engrossed the mind of our heroine, who both expected and dreaded to meet her on the way--expected, because her coming had been announced; and dreaded, not only on account of the pain it would occasion to witness her disappointment, and resist her entreaties, but also on account of the danger of the unintentional betrayal which would be likely to attend a meeting with that guileless creature of the affections and her probable escort. And it was now with the mingled emotions naturally called up by the associations of former friendship, the contrast between the circumstances of the past and present, together with fears and anxieties for the future, that Sabrey, after a few brief explanations to her attendant, resumed her observations of the scene before her, which she hoped, might still result in the triumph of wisdom over the delusive pleadings of love.

At length, she who had now become the principal object of solicitude in the family group, to which the attention of our concealed spectators had been directed, followed, with slow and hesitating steps, her still importuning friends into the yard, where, in her bridal robes of vestal white, and with her rich profusion of bright and wavy tresses hanging like a golden cloud over her shoulders, she stood at once a vision of loveliness and an object of commiseration. Again and again did those friends appear to renew their entreaties, at which the agitated girl seemed sometimes to waver, and at others to reply only with her tears; till at length the former, evidently wearied with their fruitless attempts, and despairing of success, ascended their vehicle, and drove off at a rapid pace, along the road to the south, without turning their heads to look behind them. Once, as she stood, like one bound by some fatal spell to the spot, wistfully gazing after the receding wagon, a momentary relenting appeared to come over the wretched maiden. She irresolutely ran forward a few paces, and, imploringly stretching forth her white arms, uttered a faint, sobbing cry of, "_Come back! O, come back!_" But the late appeal, which would have so gladdened the hearts of those for whom it was intended, was destined to be unheeded. The cry was lost in the din of their rattling wheels, as they urged on their horses, as if anxious to escape from the painful scene. And the poor girl, dropping her arms, and turning hopelessly away to a small tree near by, leaned against the trunk for support, and, for a while, seemed to yield herself wholly a prey to the wild grief which now burst forth from the dreadful conflict of emotions that was rending her distracted bosom. At length she appeared to be slowly regaining her self-possession, and now soon fully arousing herself, she advanced towards the Indians, and, by signs, signified her readiness to attend them. With eager alacrity, the horse was led up for her to the door-step; when, lightly throwing herself into the saddle, she immediately set forth along the road to the north, preceded by the chief, and followed by his dusky assistants.

"Well, the poor thing has settled it at last," observed Bart, drawing a long breath. "But I aint so sure that those red characters, who appear to feel so crank at having got her started, will be allowed to get far with their prize, without seeing trouble."

"Why, sir?" asked Sabrey, wiping away the sympathetic tears that had started to her cheeks at what she had been witnessing--"why do you make such a remark?"

"Well, it may not amount to any thing, be sure," replied the other. "But having had one eye on the lookout, during this affair at the house, I noticed, a while ago, some five or six scores, slying along on the other bank of the river, over there, and crossing in a boat, and entering the woods on this side. By their appearance, I think they must be Continentals from our army below; and if it is these Indians they have been spying out, and are after, they will waylay them along here somewhere, likely."

"O, if they could but take her from these creatures, and send her to her friends!" said the former, with emotion.

"Yes, but I hope they won't attempt it," said Bart; "for if these Redskins, who are probably to have a smart price for getting her safe to camp, should find themselves about to be robbed of her, there's no telling what they would do."

At this juncture, their attention was arrested by the sounds of footsteps approaching in the road from the north; and, the next moment, a second party of Indians, headed by a tall, fierce looking chief, emerged into view, and advanced nearly to the edge of the woods; when the chief, beholding the other party coming on with their charge, suddenly halted, and stood awaiting their approach, with an air of doubt and disappointment, and with looks that plainly bespoke his jealous fears of losing the reward, which, it appeared, the short-sighted lover, in his impatience at the delay that had occurred, had offered him also to bring off his betrothed. The bold and arrogant air of the newly-arrived party, standing in the middle of the road, and seemingly intending to dispute the path, caused the others, as they now came up, to pause, as if for parley or explanation; when a fierce and angry debate arose between the rival chiefs, in which the new comer, with dark scowls and menacing gestures, demanded the exclusive possession of the lady, which the other, at first mildly, and then in a tone of defiance, persisted in refusing. At length the latter, under the pretence of wishing to obtain water, but with the real object, probably, of avoiding a collision till some compromise could be effected, approached the alarmed maiden, and led her horse out into a little opening in the bushes on the left, where a cool and inviting spring was seen bursting from beneath the wide-spreading roots of a stately pine-tree standing in the background; and here leaving her under the shade of the tree, still sitting on her horse, he and his attendants gathered round the spring for the purpose of quenching their thirst. At this instant, white streams of smoke, followed by the startling reports of muskets, suddenly burst from a neighboring thicket, and the band of concealed scouts, with challenging hurrahs, were seen springing from their coverts, and rapidly gliding from tree to tree towards the spot. The astonished and unprepared Indians, who had escaped death only by the distance from which the missiles of their assailants had been discharged upon them, all, with one accord, slunk instantly away into the surrounding bushes.

Scarcely had they disappeared, however, before the tall chief, whose ill-omened appearance and conduct we have noted, again darted out into the opening; when, with a quick, wild glance around him, and a yell of fiendish triumph, he rapidly whirled his arm aloft, and, the next instant, the glittering tomahawk was seen, like a shooting gleam of light, swiftly speeding its way on its death-doing errand.

One solitary, piercing shriek, suddenly cut short, and sinking into an appalling groan, rose from the fatal spot; while the white robes of the victim, like the ruffled pinions of some struck bird, came fluttering to the ground. The deed was done and the spirit of the beauteous and unfortunate Jane McRea had left its mangled tenement and fled forever! [Footnote: From the various published accounts of the massacre of Miss McRea, we have followed, in our illustrations of that melancholy tragedy, as far as our limits and plan permitted us to carry them, the one deemed by us the most probable. By way of finishing the details of the horrible scene, however, it may be proper here to state, that Captain Jones, the strangely infatuated lover, having despatched, for the reward of a barrel of rum, one party of Indians after her, and then a second one, for the same reward, had started to meet her, when, encountering the murderer with the scalp,


[Sub The Tory's Daughter] - 60/72

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