Chapter 22

With regard to Teague whom we left in the hands of the mob, having been carted about the village, until the eyes of all were satiated with the spectacle, he was dismissed; but ordered to depart from what was called the survey, under the penalty of being seized again, and hanged on the liberty pole, to which they pointed at the same time, and on which there was a cross bar, which appeared to render it convenient for that purpose.


The unfortunate officer was not slow to take the hint, but as soon as he was out of their hands, made his way to the wilderness. There we shall leave him for the present, and return to the Captain, whom we left in the village, and who had been employed during the occasion, reasoning with the people, and endeavouring first to divert them from the outrage, and afterwards to convince them of the error of it, and the danger of the consequences. Instead of allaying their fervour, and convincing their judgments, it had begun to provoke, and irritate exceedingly; and gave birth to surmises that he was an accomplice of the excise officer, which in a short time grew into a rumour, that he meant to continue the inspection office, and substitute the North Briton as a deputy in the room of O'Regan, until his return. Under this impression, assembling next day, they proceeded to pull down the inspection office altogether, and to enquire for the Captain and his valet, that they might tar and feather them also.


The Captain having had a hint of this, and judging from the experiment he had made, that it was in vain to oppose the violence of the people, but rather to yield to it for the present, thought proper to withdraw from the village for a time, and take his route towards the mountains, where he might remain at some farm house, until a more peaceable state of things should take place.


He had travelled the greater part of the day, and towards evening when he began to think of taking quarters for the night, he came to a narrow valley at the foot of the mountain, with a small, but a clear and rapid stream running through the valley, which had the appearance in some parts of a natural meadow, there being intervals of grass plats of considerable extent, with hazel copses, and groupes of young trees. The tall timber on the height above, formed an agreeable shade, and ledges of stone, worn smooth by the water in some places, making small but perpendicular falls in the current of the water. Dismounting, and delaying a little in this spot, to let the horse take a mouthful of the grass, and deliberating whether if no habitation appeared, it might not be agreeable enough to take a bed there on the natural sward for the night; having a small quantity of provisions in Duncan's wallet, and a flask of whiskey, which they hastily put up at setting out.


At this instant, an aged and venerable looking man descended from the mountain, with a slender and delicately formed young lad accompanying him, having on his shoulder the carcase of a racoon, which he held by the hinder feet, and which probably had been cut out of a hollow tree, or taken in a trap, that afternoon.


The Captain thought with himself, that he would have no great objection to have an invitation from the old man and his son, as he supposed him to be, to go home with them and lodge for the night; taking it for granted from the appearance of understanding in the countenance, that they were of a grade of education above the bulk of the people of that country. It so happened, that after explanation had taken place, that he did receive an invitation, and went home with them.


The residence was romantic, situate on a small eminence on the north side of the valley, which running east and west, the sun struck it with his first beams, and the zephyrs, playing in the direct line of their course, fanned it in the summer heats. A small cascade at a little distance, with a sandy bottom, afforded a delightful bathing place: and the murmur of the falling water, in the silence of the night, was favourable to sleep.


It was a cabin of an oblong figure, perhaps twenty by twelve feet, consisting of two apartments, the one small, and serving as a kitchen, the other answering the purpose of hall, parlour, and bed room. The family consisted of the old man, the young lad his son, and an attendant who acted as cook, butler, and valet-de-chambre. Duncan having rubbed and combed the Captain's horse, and turned him loose to eat, was stowed away in the kitchen, while the racoon was barbecued for supper, and the Captain with the host, and his son, were pursuing the explanation of what they respectively were; being yet in a great degree unknown to each other.


It appeared that the old man was the Marquis de Marnessie, who had been an emigrant from France, a short time after the commencement of the present revolution, and had served some time in a corps of ten thousand men, which had been formed of the nobility, under the combined princes, against the republic. Having been under the necessity of abandoning his seats with precipitation, he had been able to carry with him but a few thousand livres. These had been reduced in supporting himself and friends in the service, and he had brought but a few hundred to America. This country he had been led to seek disgusted with the combined powers, when the stipulations of the convention of Pilnitz, began to transpire, and the object appeared to be, not so much to support the monarchy, as to divide the country: chagrined also with that neglect, and even contumely, experienced from the German princes who appeared to think with contempt of their services, and to repose their confidence alone, in their own forces, and discipline.


Coming to America, he had retired from the sea coast, both to be out of the way of the French democrats in the towns, and in order to occupy a less expensive residence. He had found this valley unappropriated by the state, a warrant for an hundred acres of which he obtained from the land office, at the low rate of fifty shillings; and having cleared a small spot, had made a garden, and cultivated what is called a patch of Indian corn, subsisting and amusing himself and his family, chiefly by trapping and hunting in the neighbouring mountain; wishing to forget his former feelings, and to live upon the earth, as regardless of its troubles as if buried under it. His cabin was neat and clean, with flooring of split timber, and stools made out of hewn logs. A few books, and half a dozen small paintings, a fuzee, and an old sword, being the only ornament of its walls.


Having supped on the barbecued racoon, they took bed upon the planks, each furnished with a blanket, being the only matrass, or covering with which they were provided.


A great deal of conversation had passed in the course of the evening; and considerable sympathy of mind had taken place on the part of the Marquis towards the Captain, considering him in the light of an emigrant with himself, having been obliged to abscond, from sans cullotte rage, and popular fervor, which, though not of the same height with that in France, yet was of the same nature, and different only in degree.


The invitation was given by the Marquis, and accepted on the part of the Captain, to remain in that retirement for some weeks, until matters were composed, and it might be safe for him to take his way again through the country, and return to his dwelling. Duncan took care of the horse, chopped wood, carried water, and assisted the French valet to barbecue racoons, young bears, squirrels, pheasants, partridges, and other game, that the traps, or fuzee and dog, of the Marquis and his son, accompanied by the Captain, could procure. Much conversation passed in the mean time, on the affairs of France; sometimes sitting on a rock on the side of the mountain, or under the shade of an elm tree in the grassy valley; or walking out to set a trap; at other times, in an evening in the cabin, when they had returned from the labour or amusements of the day. These conversations were chiefly in the French language, which the Captain spoke very well; but in relating any particulars of that conversation, we shall give it in English, to save the printer the trouble of having it translated. And we shall confine ourselves to a very few particulars, meaning rather to hasten to the action of the work, than to delay the reader in an episode, longer than is absolutely necessary to let some things be matured, that are next to take place.