Chapter 25

In the mean time the opposition to the excise law, and disturbance in the survey, had alarmed the government. The militia had been called to suppress the insurrection. They had marched, and were within a short distance of the survey.

The Captain in the mean time having heard of this, and believing the army now to be within supporting distance, left the Marquis, and came to the village where the outrage had commenced. He was not wanting in explaining to the people, the illegality and great impolicy of their proceedings, as subversive of the government, and destructive of the first principle of a republican government.

His conduct, nevertheless, had been otherwise understood by the administration, and he was greatly obnoxious with the army and judiciary. When the troops had attained the point of destination, and the judicial examinations had been set on foot with regard to the conduct of individuals, it was always a principal question, What do you know of Captain Farrago? They had heard of his man Duncan, and thinking that he must be acquainted with the secrets of the Captain, orders were given to apprehend him, under the idea of a criminal.

The examinations were conducted with great despatch, many hands making light work, there being a vast number of assistant interrogators, and deposition-takers, in the capacity of journeymen, and apprentices. It was a good school for students of the law, and young clerks who came out on the expedition. It is true, they were not very capable of taking the true sense of what was stated in testimony, nor very careful to take down for and against; but the giving them a habit of asking questions, and spelling words was of more consequence to the public, than the doing justice to the people that had lived in a remote corner of the commonwealth.

Duncan having been arrested, was put under guard with several others. When he came to his examination, he was asked the following questions and made the following answers: Are you acquainted with John Farrago?

I hae a short acquaintance since I hae been in his service, about a month or twa.

Has he ever conversed with you on the subject of politics?

He wad na converse wi' me, he kens I dinna understand them.

Do you not know him to be an insurgent?

Indeed I dinna ken ony sik a thing. I believe he is no just vera right in the head, but I dinna believe he tuk any part in stirring up insurrection. He has gane about the kintra for some time past, in an odd way, wi' ane Teague O'Regan, an Irishman, that got to be a gauger, and came out to this kintra, to set up in the business, and made a' this broil; and since he parted wi' him, he has employed me in the like capacity, no much to my profit, if I am pursued, and put in fear o' my life and to hide three weeks in a glen for fear o' the mob, and now to be hanged for ha'ing been in the kintra; and what is mare, to be made a witness against the Captain, when I hae nathing to say o' him. The deel tak me, gin I swear a word to wrang my conscience. That is the short and the lang o'it. Sae ye need say na mare about it but gae to the examination o' some other body, for I hae told ye a' that I hae to say about it.

Duncan was dismissed, and the Captain himself; and falling into the hands of an assistant examiner of sense, his account and explanation was understood, and he acquitted from the suspicion of having swerved from the duty of a good citizen.