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- Capitola The Madcap - 40/61 -
get through, Old Ezy will be here."
Capitola complied, and they left the room together.
The overseer came in while they were at breakfast, and with his hair standing on end, listened to the account of the capture of the outlaw by our heroine.
"And now saddle Fleetfoot and ride for your life to Tip-Top and bring a pair of constables," were the last orders of Old Hurricane.
While Mr. Ezy was gone on his errand, Major Warfield, Capitola and Mrs. Condiment remained below stairs.
It was several hours before the messenger returned with the constables, and with several neighbors whom interest and curiosity had instigated to join the party.
As soon as they arrived, a long ladder was procured and carried up into Capitola's chamber, and let down through the trap-door. Fortunately it was long enough, for when the foot of the ladder found the floor of the cellar, the head rested securely against the edge of the opening.
In a moment the two constables began singly to descend, the foremost one carrying a lighted candle in his hand.
The remaining members of the party, consisting of Major Warfield, Capitola, Mrs. Condiment, and some half dozen neighbors, remained gathered around the open trap-door, waiting, watching, and listening for what might next happen.
Presently one of the constables called out:
"Major Warfield, sir!"
"Well!" replied Old Hurricane.
"He's a-breathing still, sir; but seems badly hurt, and may be a- dying, seeing as he's unsensible and unspeakable. What shall we do long of him?"
"Bring him up! let's have a look at the fellow, at any rate!" exclaimed Old Hurricane, peremptorily.
"Just so, sir! but some of the gem-men up there'll have to come down on the ladder and give a lift. He's a dead weight now, I tell your honor!"
Several of the neighbors immediately volunteered for the service, and two of the strongest descended the ladder to lend their aid.
On attempting to move the injured man he uttered a cry of pain, and fainted, and then it took the united strength and skill of four strong men to raise the huge insensible form of the athlete, and get him up the ladder. No doubt the motion greatly inflamed his inward wounds, but that could not be helped. They got him up at last, and laid out upon the floor a ghastly, bleeding, insensible form, around which every one gathered to gaze. While they were all looking upon him as upon a slaughtered wild beast, Capitola alone felt compassion.
"Uncle, he is quite crushed by his fall. Make the men lay him upon the bed. Never think of me; I shall never occupy this room again; its associations are too full of horrors. There, uncle, make them at once lay him upon the bed."
"I think the young lady is right, unless we mean to let the fellow die," said one of the neighbors.
"Very well! I have particular reasons of my own for wishing that the man's life should be spared until he could be brought to trial and induced to give up his accomplices," said Old Hurricane. Then, turning to his ward, he said:
"Come along, Capitola. Mrs. Condiment will see that your effects are transferred to another apartment."
"And you, friends," he continued, addressing the men present, "be so good, so soon as we have gone, to undress that fellow and put him to bed, and examine his injuries while I send off for a physician; for I consider it very important his life should be spared sufficiently long to enable him to give up his accomplices." And so saying, Old Hurricane drew the arm of Capitola within his own and left the room.
It was noon before the physician arrived. When he had examined the patient he pronounced him utterly unfit to be removed, as besides other serious contusions and bruises, his legs were broken and several of his ribs fractured.
In a word. It was several weeks before the strong constitution of the outlaw prevailed over his many injuries, and he was pronounced well enough to be taken before a magistrate and committed to prison to await his trial. Alas! his life, it was said, was forfeit by a hundred crimes, and there could be no doubt as to his fate. He maintained a self-possessed good-humored and laughingly defiant manner, and when asked to give up his accomplices, he answered gaily:
That treachery was a legal virtue which outlaws could not be expected to know anything about.
Capitola was everywhere lauded for her brave part in the capture of the famous desperado. But Cap was too sincerely sorry for Black Donald to care for the applause.
A FATAL HATRED.
"Oh, heaven and all its hosts, he shall not die!"
"By Satan and his fiends, he shall not live! This is no transient flash of fugitive passion, His death has been my life for years of misery, Which, else I had not lived, Upon that thought, and not on food, I fed, Upon that thought, and not on sleep, I rested, I came to do the deed that must be done, Nor thou, nor the sheltering angels could prevent me."
The United States army, under General Scott, invested the city of Mexico.
A succession of splendid victories had marked every stage of their advance, from the seacoast to the capital. Vera Cruz had fallen; Cerro-Gordo had been stormed and passed: Xalapa taken; the glorious triumph of Churubusco had been achieved. The names of Scott, Worth, Wool, Quitman, Pillow and others were crowned with honor. Others again, whose humble names and unnoticed heroism have never been recorded, endured as nobly, suffered as patiently, and fought as bravely. Our own young hero, Herbert Greyson, had covered himself with honor.
The war with Mexico witnessed, perhaps, the most rapid promotions of any other in the whole history of military affairs.
The rapid ascent of our young officer was a striking instance of this. In two years from the time he had entered the service, with a lieutenant's commission, he held the rank of major, in the--Regiment of Infantry.
Fortune had not smiled upon our other young friend, Traverse Rocke-- partly because, being entirely out of his vocation, he had no right to expect success; but mostly because he had a powerful enemy in the Colonel of his regiment--an unsleeping enemy, whose constant vigilance was directed to prevent the advancement and insure the degradation and ruin of one whom he contemptuously termed the "gentleman private."
Now, it is known that by the rules of military etiquette, a wide social gulf lies between the Colonel of the regiment and the private in the ranks.
Yet, Colonel Le Noir continually went out of his way to insult Private Rocke, hoping to provoke him to some act of fatal insubordination.
And very heavy was this trial to a high spirited young man like Traverse Rocke, and very fortunate was it for him that he had early been imbued with that most important truth, that "He who ruleth his own spirit is greater than he who taketh a city."
But, if Colonel Le Noir crossed the gulf of military etiquette to harass the poor young soldier, Major Greyson did the same thing for the more honorable purpose of soothing and encouraging him.
And both Herbert and Traverse hoped that the designs of their Colonel would be still frustrated by the self-command and patience of the young private.
Alas! they did not know the great power of evil! They did not know that nothing less than Divine Providence could meet and overcome it.
They fondly believed that the malignity of Le Noir had resulted in no other practical evil than in preventing the young soldier's well- merited advancement, and in keeping him in the humble position of a private in the ranks.
They were not aware that the discharge of Traverse Rocke had long ago arrived, but that it had been suppressed through the diabolical cunning of Le Noir. That letters, messages and packets, sent by his friends to the young soldier, had found their way into his Colonel's possession and no further.
And so, believing the hatred of that bad man to have been fruitless of serious, practical evil, Herbert encouraged his friend to be patient for a short time longer, when they should see the end of the campaign, if not of the war.
It was now that period of suspense and of false truce between the glorious 20th of August and the equally glorious 8th of September, 1847--between the two most brilliant actions of the war, the battle
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