Chapter 12

This being the annual election, the Captain apprehensive that Teague might be taken up in the borough, as the people are ever fond of new things, and the late gift of a dollar in the sale of the drugs, had made him popular; though what he sold for a dollar was not more in the apothecaries shops than a few cents; apprehensive of trouble, I say, as on former occasions, when he had seen less of the world, and was not so well qualified for a representative, the Captain thought proper to withdraw the bog-trotter for a day or two from the village, and take a journey in the country, where his merits were less known, and there was less danger of his being kidnaped for such a purpose.

But whether owing to themselves, or to the times, the office of a judge, happening to be extremely obnoxious; there was danger of being taken for one of them in their rambles; and therefore it became necessary to be on their guard, more especially on account of the bog-trotter; so as not to go near an assembling of people, whether for the sake of an election, or for other purposes.

With all his caution, and circumspection, keeping the bog-trotter in the middle of the road; and warning him against what might happen; nevertheless, going too near a place where a poll was holden, the unfortunate scavenger, as I may call him, was recognized by some present, as having been upon the bench. The rumour soon went out, that one of the ci-devant judges was making his escape, and the populace were called to apprehend the fugitive. Teague, denial being, in his way of thinking, a main point in the law, even had it been the case, was ready to swear by the holy poker, and the fathers, and every oath that could be put to him, and with great truth, that he had never been upon a bench in his life; nor had been in the capacity of a judge, or justice, since the day that he came into the country.

“Thy speech bewrayeth thee,” said one of the people called Quakers; “I saw thee on the bench; and heard thee give thy charge to the grand jury.”

By the bye he was mistaken; for it was a Scotch judge that had given the charge; but he mistook one brogue for the other.

But the Quaker was believed, and the bog-trotter stood convicted.

Yes, said the multitude, he has the very physiognomy of a judge; you may see it in his face. Hang him at once, and be done with his judge-ship.

A rope-maker brought a new cord, with which never man had been hung, and throwing it over the limb of a tree, was about to attach the other end to the neck, when the sudden squall of a pig, that some one had hit with a stick, drew off the eyes of the multitude, and the attention of the man that held the halter; and the bog-trotter seeing an opening, made a sudden spring, and escaped from the crowd. He was pursued but a little way; no one chusing to tire himself, not understanding that any reward had been proffered by the government for the taking up a judge.

The Captain seeing Teague clear, and running now almost out of sight, began to expostulate with the multitude, and upbraid them for this violence.

Do you call in question the right of the people, said one of them, to hang their officers?

But are you the people? said the Captain. A few mad caps get together, and call themselves the people; and talk of the majesty of the people. You do not appear to be a very discerning people, to take my bog-trotter for a judge; nor can your majesty be deemed very gracious, and merciful, that would hang him up, not giving time to say his prayers, or to have the conversation of a clergyman. Had he been a spy come into your camp, in the war, on the eve of an engagement, you could not have showed signs of greater dispatch in taking away life, than in this instance.

Captain, said a man that knew him, do not think so hard of these young men; they had no intention of hanging him outright.

But even half-hanging, said the Captain, is no pleasant sport to him that is the subject of it.

With that turning round his horse, he left the ground, and returned to the village; reflecting with himself on the danger of wandering far from the place of his abode; or at least venturing where he was not known; lest he might be mistaken for a judge also, and brought to a hasty end by the limb of a tree, as was near being the case with his unfortunate bog-trotter, a short time ago, in the place which he had just quitted; and which he never wished to see again.