Read Chapter VII. of Wyandotte, free online book, by James Fenimore Cooper, on

        We are all here! 
        Father, mother,
        Sister, brother,
  All who hold each other dear. 
  Each chair is fill’d ­we’re all at home;
  To-night let no cold stranger come: 
  It is not often thus around
  Our old familiar hearth we’re found: 
  Bless, then, the meeting and the spot;
  For once be every care forgot;
  Let gentle Peace assert her power,
  And kind Affection rule the hour;
        We’re all ­all here.


Although most of the people retired to their dwellings, or their labours, as soon as the captain dismissed them, a few remained to receive his farther orders.  Among these last were Joel, the carpenter, and the blacksmith.  These men now joined the chief of the settlement and his son, who had lingered near the gateway, in conversation concerning the alterations that the present state of things might render necessary, in and about the Hut.

“Joel,” observed the captain, when the three men were near enough to hear his orders, “this great change in the times will render some changes in our means of defence prudent, if not necessary.”

“Does the captain s’pose the people of the colony will attack us?” asked the wily overseer, with emphasis.

“Perhaps not the people of the colony, Mr. Strides, for we have not yet declared ourselves their enemies; but there are other foes, who are more to be apprehended than the people of the colony.”

“I should think the king’s troops not likely to trouble themselves to ventur’ here ­the road might prove easier to come than to return.  Besides, our plunder would scarce pay for such a march.”

“Perhaps not ­but there never has yet been a war in these colonies that some of the savage tribes were not engaged in it, before the whites had fairly got themselves into line.”

“Do you really think, sir, there can be much serious danger of that!” exclaimed the major, in surprise.

“Beyond a question, my son.  The scalping-knife will be at work in six months, if it be not busy already, should one-half of your reports and rumours turn out to be true.  Such is American history.”

“I rather think, sir, your apprehensions for my mother and sisters may mislead you.  I do not believe the American authorities will ever allow themselves to be driven into a measure so perfectly horrible and unjustifiable; and were the English ministry sufficiently cruel, or unprincipled, to adopt the policy, the honest indignation of so humane a people would be certain to drive them from power.”

As the major ceased speaking, he turned and caught the expression of Joel’s countenance, and was struck with the look of intense interest with which the overseer watched his own warm and sincere manner.

“Humanity is a very pretty stalking-horse for political orations, Bob,” quietly returned the father; “but it will scarcely count for much with an old campaigner.  God send you may come out of this war with the same ingenuous and natural feelings as you go into it.”

“The major will scarce dread the savages, should he be on the side of his nat’ral friends!” remarked Joel; “and if what he says about the humanity of the king’s advisers be true, he will be safe from them.”

“The major will be on the side to which duty calls him, Mr. Strides, if it may be agreeable to your views of the matter,” answered the young man, with a little more hauteur than the occasion required.

The father felt uneasy, and he regretted that his son had been so indiscreet; though he saw no remedy but by drawing the attention of the men to the matter before them.

“Neither the real wishes of the people of America, nor of the people of England, will avail much, in carrying on this war,” he said.  “Its conduct will fall into the hands of those who will look more to the ends than to the means; and success will be found a sufficient apology for any wrong.  This has been the history of all the wars of my time, and it is likely to prove the history of this.  I fear it will make little difference to us on which side we may be in feeling; there will be savages to guard against in either case.  This gate must be hung, one of the first things, Joel; and I have serious thoughts of placing palisades around the Knoll.  The Hut, well palisaded, would make a work that could not be easily carried, without artillery.”

Joel seemed struck with the idea, though it did not appear that it was favourably.  He stood studying the house and the massive gates for a minute or two, ere he delivered his sentiments on the subject.  When he did speak, it was a good deal more in doubt, than in approbation.

“It’s all very true, captain,” he said; the house would seem to be a good deal more safe like, if the gates were up; but, a body don’t know; sometimes gates be a security, and sometimes they isn’t.  It all depends on which side the danger comes.  Still, as these are made, and finished all to hanging, it’s ’most a pity, too, they shouldn’t be used, if a body could find time.”

“The time must be found, and the gates be hung,” interrupted the captain, too much accustomed to Joel’s doubting, ’sort-o’-concluding manner, to be always patient under the infliction.  “Not only the gates, but the palisades must be got out, holes dug, and the circumvallation completed.”

“It must be as the captain says, of course, he being master here.  But time’s precious in May.  There’s half our plantin’ to be done yet, and some of the ground hasn’t got the last ploughin’.  Harvest won’t come without seed-time; for no man, let him be great, or let him be small ­ and it does seem to me a sort o’ wastin’ of the Lord’s blessin’s, to be hangin’ gates, and diggin’ holes for that ­the thing the captain mentioned ­when there’s no visible danger in sight to recommend the measure to prudence, as it might be.”

“That may be your opinion, Mr. Strides, but it is not mine.  I intend to guard against a visible danger that is out of sight, and I will thank you to have these gates hung, this very day.”

“This very day! ­The captain’s a mind to be musical about the matter!  Every hand in the settlement couldn’t get them gates in their places in less than a week.”

“It appears to me, Strides, you are ‘playing on the music,’ as you call it, yourself, now?”

“No, indeed, captain; them gates will have to be hung on the mechanic principle; and it will take at least two or three days for the carpenter and blacksmith to get up the works that’s to do it.  Then the hanging, itself, I should think would stand us in hand a day for each side.  As for the circumvalley, what between the cuttin’, and haulin’, and diggin’, and settin’, that would occupy all hands until after first hoein’.  That is, hoein’ would come afore the plantin’.”

“It does not appear to me, Bob, such a heavy job as Joel represents!  The gates are heavy, certainly, and may take us a day or two; but, as for stockading ­I’ve seen barracks stockaded in, in a week, if I remember right.  You know something of this ­what is your opinion?”

“That this house can be stockaded in, in the time you mention; and, as I have a strong reluctance to leave the family before it is in security, with your permission I will remain and superintend the work.”

The offer was gladly accepted, on more accounts than one; and the captain, accustomed to be obeyed when he was in earnest, issued his orders forthwith, to let the work proceed.  Joel, however, was excused, in order that he might finish the planting he had commenced, and which a very few hands could complete within the required time.  As no ditch was necessary, the work was of a very simple nature, and the major set about his portion of it without even re-entering the house.

The first thing was to draw a line for a trench some six or seven feet deep, that was to encircle the whole building, at a distance of about thirty yards from the house.  This line ran, on each side of the Hut, on the very verge of the declivities, rendering the flanks far more secure than the front, where it crossed the lawn on a gently inclining surface.  In one hour the major had traced this lines with accuracy; and he had six or eight men at work with spades, digging the trench.  A gang of hands was sent into the woods, with orders to cut the requisite quantify of young chestnuts; and, by noon, a load of the material actually appeared on the ground.  Still, nothing was done to the gates.

To own the truth, the captain was now delighted.  The scene reminded him of some in his military life, and he bustled about, giving his orders, with a good deal of the fire of youth renewed, taking care, however, in no manner to interfere with the plans of his son.  Mike buried himself like a mole, and had actually advanced several feet, before either of the Yankees had got even a fair footing on the bottom of his part of the trench.  As for Jamie Allen, he went to work with deliberation; but it was not long before his naked gray hairs were seen on a level with the surface of the ground.  The digging was not hard, though a little stony, and the work proceeded with spirit and success.  All that day, and the next, and the next, and the next, the Knoll appeared alive, earth being cast upward, teams moving, carpenters sawing, and labourers toiling.  Many of the men protested that their work was useless, unnecessary, unlawful even; but no one dared hesitate under the eyes of the major, when his father had once issued a serious command.  In the mean time, Joel’s planting was finished, though he made many long pauses while at work on the flats, to look up and gaze at the scene of activity and bustle that was presented at the Knoll.  On the fourth day, towards evening, he was obliged to join the general “bee,” with the few hands he had retained with himself.

By this time, the trench was dug, most of the timber was prepared, and the business of setting up the stockade was commenced.  Each young tree was cut to the length of twenty feet, and pointed at one end.  Mortices, to receive cross-pieces, were cut at proper distances, and holes were bored to admit the pins.  This was all the preparation, and the timbers were set in the trench, pointed ends uppermost.  When a sufficient number were thus arranged, a few inches from each other, the cross-pieces were pinned on, bringing the whole into a single connected frame, or bent.  The bent was then raised to a perpendicular, and secured, by pounding the earth around the lower ends of the timbers.  The latter process required care and judgment, and it was entrusted to the especial supervision of the deliberate Jamie, the major having discovered that the Yankees, in general, were too impatient to get on, and to make a show.  Serjeant Joyce was particularly useful in dressing the rows of timber, and in giving the whole arrangement a military air.

Guid wark is far better than quick wark,” observed the cool-headed Scotchman, as he moved about among the men, “and it’s no the fuss and bustle of acteevity that is to give the captain pleasure.  The thing that is well done, is done with the least noise and confusion.  Set the stockades mair pairpendic’lar, my men.”

“Ay ­dress them, too, my lads” ­added the venerable ex-serjeant.

“This is queer plantin’, Jamie,” put in Joel, “and queerer grain will come of it.  Do you think these young chestnuts will ever grow, ag’in, that you put them out in rows, like so much corn?”

“Now it’s no for the growth we does it, Joel, but to presairve the human growth we have.  To keep the savage bairbers o’ the wilderness fra’ clippin’ our polls before the shearin’ time o’ natur’ has gathered us a’ in for the hairvest of etairnity.  They that no like the safety we’re makin’ for them, can gang their way to ’ither places, where they ’11 find no forts, or stockades to trouble their een.”

“I’m not critical at all, Jamie, though to my notion a much better use for your timber plantation would be to turn it into sheds for cattle, in the winter months.  I can see some good in that, but none in this.”

“Bad luck to ye, then, Misther Sthroddle,” cried Mike, from the bottom of the trench, where he was using a pounding instrument with the zeal of a paviour ­“Bad luck to the likes of ye, say I, Misther Strides.  If ye’ve no relish for a fortification, in a time of war, ye’ve only to shoulther yer knapsack, and go out into the open counthry, where ye’ll have all to yer own satisfaction.  Is it forthify the house, will we?  That we will, and not a hair of the missuss’s head, nor of the young ladies’ heads, nor of the masther’s head, though he’s mighty bald as it is, but not a hair of all their heads shall be harmed, while Jamie, and Mike, and the bould ould serjeant, here, can have their way.  I wish I had the trench full of yer savages, and a gineral funeral we’d make of the vagabonds!  Och!  They’re the divil’s imps, I hear from all sides, and no love do I owe them.”

“And yet you’re the bosom friend of Nick, who’s anything but what I call a specimen of his people.”

“Is it Nick ye ‘re afther?  Well, Nick’s half-civilized accorthin’ to yer Yankee manners, and he’s no spicimen, at all.  Let him hear you call him by sich a name, if ye want throuble.”

Joel walked away, muttering, leaving the labourers in doubt whether he relished least the work he was now obliged to unite in furthering, or Mike’s hit at his own peculiar people.  Still the work proceeded, and in one week from the day it was commenced, the stockade was complete, its gate excepted.  The entrance through the palisades was directly in front of that to the house, and both passages still remained open, one set of gates not being completed, and the other not yet being hung.

It was on a Saturday evening when the last palisade was placed firmly in the ground, and all the signs of the recent labour were removed, in order to restore as much of the former beauty of the Knoll as possible.  It had been a busy week; so much so, indeed, as to prevent the major from holding any of that confidential intercourse with his mother and sisters, in which it had been his habit to indulge in former visits.  The fatigues of the days sent everybody to their pillows early; and the snatches of discourse which passed, had been affectionate and pleasant, rather than communicative.  Now that the principal job was so near being finished, however, and the rubbish was cleared away, the captain summoned the family to the lawn again, to enjoy a delicious evening near the close of the winning month of May.  The season was early, and the weather more bland, than was usual, even in that sheltered and genial valley.  For the first time that year, Mrs. Willoughby consented to order the tea-equipage to be carried to a permanent table that had been placed under the shade of a fine elm, in readiness for any fête champêtre of this simple character.

“Come, Wilhelmina, give us a cup of your fragrant hyson, of which we have luckily abundance, tax or no tax.  I should lose caste, were it known how much American treason we have gulped down, in this way; but, a little tea, up here in the forest, can do no man’s conscience any great violence, in the long run.  I suppose, major Willoughby, His Majesty’s forces do not disdain tea, in these stirring times.”

“Far from it, sir; we deem it so loyal to drink it, that it is said the port and sherry of the different messes, at Boston, are getting to be much neglected.  I am an admirer of tea, for itself, however, caring little about its collateral qualities.  Farrel” ­turning to his man, who was aiding Pliny the elder, in arranging the table ­“when you are through here, bring out the basket you will find on the toilet, in my room.”

“True, Bob,” observed the mother, smiling ­“that basket has scarce been treated with civility.  Not a syllable of thanks have I heard, for all the fine things it contains.”

“My mind has been occupied with care for your safety, dear mother, and that must be my excuse.  Now, however, there is an appearance of security which gives one a breathing-time, and my gratitude receives a sudden impulse.  As for you, Maud, I regret to be compelled to say that you stand convicted of laziness; not a single thing do I owe to your labours, or recollection of me.”

“Is that possible!” exclaimed the captain, who was pouring water into the tea-pot.  “Maud is the last person I should suspect of neglect of this nature; I do assure you, Bob, no one listens to news of your promotions and movements with more interest than Maud.”

Maud, herself, made no answer.  She bent her head aside, in a secret consciousness that her sister might alone detect, and form her own conclusions concerning the colour that she felt warming her cheeks.  But, Maud’s own sensitive feelings attributed more to Beulah than the sincere and simple-minded girl deserved.  So completely was she accustomed to regard Robert and Maud as brother and sister, that even all which had passed produced no effect in unsettling her opinions, or in giving her thoughts a new direction.  Just at this moment Farrel came back, and placed the basket on the bench, at the side of his master.

“Now, my dearest mother, and you, girls” ­the major had begun to drop the use of the word ‘sisters’ when addressing both the young ladies ­“Now, my dearest mother, and you, girls, I am about to give each her due.  In the first place, I confess my own unworthiness, and acknowledge, that I do not deserve one-half the kind attention I have received in these various presents, after which we will descend to particulars.”

The major, then, exposed every article contained in the basket, finding the words “mother” and “Beulah” pinned on each, but nowhere any indication that his younger sister had even borne him in mind.  His father looked surprised at this, not to say a little grave; and he waited, with evident curiosity, for the gifts of Maud, as one thing after another came up, without any signs of her having recollected the absentee.

“This is odd, truly,” observed the father, seriously; “I hope, Bob, you have done nothing to deserve this?  I should be sorry to have my little girl affronted!”

“I assure you, sir, that I am altogether ignorant of any act, and I can solemnly protest against any intention, to give offence.  If guilty, I now pray Maud to pardon me.”

“You have done nothing, Bob ­said nothing, Bob ­thought nothing to offend me,” cried Maud, eagerly.

“Why, then, have you forgotten him, darling, when your mother and sister have done so much in the way of recollection?” asked the captain.

“Forced gifts, my dear father, are no gifts.  I do not like to be compelled to make presents.”

This was uttered in a way to induce the major to throw all the articles back into the basket, as if he wished to get rid of the subject, without further comment.  Owing to this precipitation, the scarf was not seen.  Fortunately for Maud, who was ready to burst into tears, the service of the tea prevented any farther allusion to the matter.

“You have told me, major,” observed captain Willoughby, “that your old regiment has a new colonel; but you have forgotten to mention his name.  I hope it is my old messmate, Tom Wallingford, who wrote me he had some such hopes last year.”

“General Wallingford has got a light-dragoon regiment ­general Meredith has my old corps; he is now in this country, at the head of one of Gage’s brigades.”

It is a strong proof of the manner in which Maud ­Maud Willoughby, as she was ever termed ­had become identified with the family of the Hutted Knoll, that, with two exceptions, not a person present thought of her, when the name of this general Meredith was mentioned; though, in truth, he was the uncle of her late father.  The exceptions were the major and herself.  The former now never heard the name without thinking of his beautiful little playfellow, and nominal sister; while Maud, of late, had become curious and even anxious on the subject of her natural relatives.  Still, a feeling akin to awe, a sentiment that appeared as if it would be doing violence to a most solemn duty, prevented her from making any allusion to her change of thought, in the presence of those whom, during childhood, she had viewed only as her nearest relatives, and who still continued so to regard her.  She would have given the world to ask Bob a few questions concerning the kinsman he had mentioned, but could not think of doing so before her mother, whatever she might be induced to attempt with the young man, when by himself.

Nick next came strolling along, gazing at the stockade, and drawing near the table with an indifference to persons and things that characterized his habits.  When close to the party he stopped, keeping his eye on the recent works.

“You see, Nick, I am about to turn soldier again, in my old days,” observed the captain.  “It is now many years since you and I have met within a line of palisades.  How do you like our work?”

“What you make him for, cap’in?”

“So as to be secure against any red-skins who may happen to long for our scalps.”

“Why want your scalp?  Hatchet hasn’t been dug up, atween us ­ bury him so deep can’t find him in ten, two, six year.”

“Ay, it has long been buried, it is true; but you red gentlemen have a trick of digging it up, with great readiness, when there is any occasion for it.  I suppose you know, Nick, that there are troubles in the colonies?”

“Tell Nick all about him,” ­answered the Indian, evasively ­“No read ­ no hear ­don’t talk much ­talk most wid Irisher ­can’t understand what he want ­say t’ing one way, den say him, anoder.”

“Mike is not very lucid of a certainty,” rejoined the captain, laughing, all the party joining in the merriment ­“but he is a sterling good fellow, and is always to be found, in a time of need.”

“Poor rifle ­nebber hit ­shoot one way, look t’other?”

“He is no great shot, I will admit; but he is a famous fellow with a shillaleh.  Has he given you any of the news?”

“All he say, news ­much news ten time, as one time.  Cap’in lend Nick a quarter dollar, yesterday.”

“I did lend you a quarter, certainly, Nick; and I supposed it had gone to the miller for rum, before this.  What am I to understand by your holding it out in this manner? ­that you mean to repay me!”

“Sartain ­good quarter ­just like him cap’in lent Nick.  Like as one pea.  Nick man of honour; keep his word.”

“This does look more like it than common, Nick.  The money was to be returned to-day, but I did not expect to see it, so many previous contracts of that nature having been vacated, as the lawyers call it.”

“Tuscarora chief alway gentleman.  What he say, he do.  Good quarter dollar, dat, cap’in?”

“It is unexceptionable, old acquaintance; I’ll not disdain receiving it, as it may serve for a future loan.”

“No need bye’m-by ­take him, now ­cap’in, lend Nick dollar; pay him to-morrow.”

The captain protested against the sequitur that the Indian evidently wished to establish; declining, though in a good-natured manner, to lend the larger sum.  Nick was disappointed, and walked sullenly away, moving nearer to the stockade, with the air of an offended man.

“That is an extraordinary fellow, sir!” observed the major ­“I really wonder you tolerate him so much about the Hut.  It might be a good idea to banish him, now that the war has broken out.”

“Which would be a thing more easily said than done.  A drop of water might as readily be banished from that stream, as an Indian, from any part of the forest he may choose to visit.  You brought him here yourself, Bob, and should not blame us for tolerating his presence.”

“I brought him, sir, because I found he recognised me even in this dress, and it was wise to make a friend of him.  Then I wanted a guide, and I was well assured he knew the way, if any man did.  He is a surly scoundrel, however, and appears to have changed his character, since I was a boy.”

“If there be any change, Bob, it is in yourself.  Nick has been Nick these thirty years, or as long as I have known him.  Rascal he is, or his tribe would not have cast him out.  Indian justice is stern, but it is natural justice.  No man is ever put to the ban among the red men, until they are satisfied he is not fit to enjoy savage rights.  In garrison, we always looked upon Nick as a clever knave, and treated him accordingly.  When one is on his guard against such a fellow, he can do little harm, and this Tuscarora has a salutary dread of me, which keeps him in tolerable order, during his visits to the Hut.  The principal mischief he does here, is to get Mike and Jamie deeper in the Santa Cruz than I could wish; but the miller has his orders to sell no more rum.”

“I hardly think you do Nick justice, Willoughby,” observed the right-judging and gentle wife.  “He has some good qualities; but you soldiers always apply martial-law to the weaknesses of your fellow-creatures.”

“And you tender-hearted women, my dear Wilhelmina, think everybody as good as yourselves.”

“Remember, Hugh, when your son, there, had the canker-rash, how actively and readily the Tuscarora went into the forest to look for the gold-thread that even the doctors admitted cured him.  It was difficult to find, Robert; but Nick remembered a spot where he had seen it, fifty miles off; and, without a request even, from us, he travelled that distance to procure it.”

“Yes, this is true” ­returned the captain, thoughtfully ­“though I question if the cure was owing to the gold-thread, as you call it, Wilhelmina.  Every man has some good quality or other; and, I much fear, some bad ones also. ­But, here is the fellow coming back, and I do not like to let him think himself of sufficient consequence to be the subject of our remarks.”

“Very true, sir ­it adds excessively to the trouble of such fellows, to let them fancy themselves of importance.”

Nick, now, came slowly back, after having examined the recent changes to his satisfaction.  He stood a moment in silence, near the table, and then, assuming an air of more dignity than common, he addressed the captain.

“Nick olé chief” he said.  “Been at Council Fire, often as cap’in.  Can’t tell, all he know; want to hear about new war.”

“Why, Nick, it is a family quarrel, this time.  The French have nothing to do with it.”

“Yengeese fight Yengeese ­um?”

“I am afraid it will so turn out.  Do not the Tuscaroras sometimes dig up the hatchet against the Tuscaroras?”

“Tuscarora man kill Tuscarora man ­good ­he quarrel, and kill he enemy.  But Tuscarora warrior nebber take scalp of Tuscarora squaw and pappoose!  What you t’ink he do dat for?  Red man no hog, to eat pork.”

“It must be admitted, Nick, you are a very literal logician ­’dog won’t eat dog,’ is our English saying.  Still the Yankee will fight the Yengeese, it would seem.  In a word, the Great Father, in England, has raised the hatchet against his American children.”

“How you like him, cap’in ­um?  Which go on straight path, which go on crooked?  How you like him?”

“I like it little, Nick, and wish with all my heart the quarrel had not taken place.”

“Mean to put on regimentals ­hah!  Mean to be cap’in, ag’in?  Follow drum and fife, like olé time?”

“I rather think not, old comrade.  After sixty, one likes peace better than war; and I intend to stay at home.”

“What for, den, build fort?  Why you put fence round a house, like pound for sheep?”

“Because I intend to stay there.  The stockade will be good to keep off any, or every enemy who may take it into their heads to come against us.  You have known me defend a worse position than this.”

“He got no gate,” muttered Nick ­“What he good for, widout gate?  Yengeese, Yankees, red man, French man, walk in just as he please.  No good to leave such squaw wid a door wide open.”

“Thank you, Nick,” cried Mrs. Willoughby.  “I knew you were my friend, and have not forgotten the gold-thread.”

“He very good,” answered the Indian, with an important look.  “Pappoose get well like not’ing.  He a’most die, to-day; to-morrow he run about and play.  Nick do him, too; cure him wid gold-thread.”

“Oh! you are, or were quite a physician at one time, Nick.  I remember when you had the smallpox, yourself.”

The Indian turned, with the quickness of lightning, to Mrs. Willoughby, whom he startled with his energy, as he demanded ­

“You remember dat, Mrs. cap’in!  Who gib him ­who cure him ­um?”

“Upon my word, Nick, you almost frighten me.  I fear I gave you the disease, but it was for your own good it was done.  You were inoculated by myself, when the soldiers were dying around us, because they had never had that care taken of them.  All I inoculated lived; yourself among the number.”

The startling expression passed away from the fierce countenance of the savage, leaving in its place another so kind and amicable as to prove he not only was aware of the benefit he had received, but that he was deeply grateful for it.  He drew near to Mrs. Willoughby, took her still white and soft hand in his own sinewy and dark fingers, then dropped the blanket that he had thrown carelessly across his body, from a shoulder, and laid it on a mark left by the disease, by way of pointing to her good work.  He smiled, as this was done.

Olé mark,” he said, nodding his head ­“sign we good friend ­he nebber go away while Nick live.”

This touched the captain’s heart, and he tossed a dollar towards the Indian, who suffered it, however, to lie at his feet unnoticed.  Turning to the stockade, he pointed significantly at the open gateways.

“Great danger go t’rough little ’olé,” he said, sententiously, walking away as he concluded.  “Why you leave big ’olé open?”

“We must get those gates hung next week,” said the captain, positively; “and yet it is almost absurd to apprehend anything serious in this remote settlement, and that at so early a period in the war.”

Nothing further passed on the lawn worthy to be recorded.  The sun set, and the family withdrew into the house, as usual, to trust to the overseeing care of Divine Providence, throughout a night passed in a wilderness.  By common consent, the discourse turned upon things noway connected with the civil war, or its expected results, until the party was about to separate for the night, when the major found himself alone with his sisters, in his own little parlour, dressing-room, or study, whatever the room adjoining his chamber could properly be called.

“You will not leave us soon, Robert,” said Beulah, taking her brother’s hand, with confiding affection, “I hardly think my father young and active enough, or rather alarmed enough, to live in times like these!”

“He is a soldier, Beulah, and a good one; so good that his son can teach him nothing.  I wish I could say that he is as good a subject:  I fear he leans to the side of the colonies.”

“Heaven be praised!” exclaimed Beulah ­“Oh! that his son would incline in the same direction.”

“Nay, Beulah,” rejoined Maud, reproachfully; “you speak without reflection.  Mamma bitterly regrets that papa sees things in the light he does. She thinks the parliament right, and the colonies wrong.”

“What a thing is a civil war!” ejaculated the major ­“Here is husband divided against wife ­son against father ­brother against sister.  I could almost wish I were dead, ere I had lived to see this!”

“Nay, Robert, it is not so bad as that, either,” added Maud.  “My mother will never oppose my father’s will or judgment.  Good wives, you know, never do that.  She will only pray that he may decide right, and in a way that his children will never have cause to regret.  As for me, I count for nothing, of course.”

“And Beulah, Maud; is she nothing, too?  Here will Beulah be praying for her brother’s defeat, throughout this war.  It has been some presentiment of this difference of opinion that has probably induced you to forget me, while Beulah and my mother were passing so many hours to fill that basket.”

“Perhaps you do Maud injustice, Robert,” said Beulah, smiling.  “I think I can say none loves you better than our dear sister ­or no one has thought of you more, in your absence.”

“Why, then, does the basket contain no proof of this remembrance ­not even a chain of hair ­a purse, or a ring ­nothing, in short, to show that I have not been forgotten, when away.”

“Even if this be so,” said Maud, with spirit, “in what am I worse than yourself.  What proof is there that you have remembered us?

“This,” answered the major, laying before his sisters two small packages, each marked with the name of its proper owner.  “My mother has her’s, too, and my father has not been forgotten.”

Beulah’s exclamations proved how much she was gratified with her presents; principally trinkets and jewelry, suited to her years and station.  First kissing the major, she declared her mother must see what she had received, before she retired for the night, and hurried from the room.  That Maud was not less pleased, was apparent by her glowing cheeks and tearful eyes; though, for a wonder, she was far more restrained in the expression of her feelings.  After examining the different articles, with pleasure, for a minute or two, she went, with a quick impetuous movement, to the basket, tumbled all its contents on the table, until she reached the scarf, which she tossed towards the major, saying, with a faint laugh ­

“There, unbeliever ­heathen ­is that nothing?  Was that made in a minute, think you?”

This!” cried the major, opening the beautiful, glossy fabric in surprise.  “Is not this one of my father’s old sashes, to which I have fallen heir, in the order of nature?”

Maud dropped her trinkets, and seizing two corners of the sash, she opened it, in a way to exhibit its freshness and beauty.

“Is this old, or worn?” she asked, reproachfully.  “Your father never even saw it, Bob.  It has not yet been around the waist of man.”

“It is not possible! ­This would be the work of months ­is so beautiful ­you cannot have purchased it.”

Maud appeared distressed at his doubts.  Opening the folds still wider, she raised the centre of the silk to the light, pointed to certain letters that had been wrought into the fabric, so ingeniously as to escape ordinary observation, and yet so plainly as to be distinctly legible when the attention was once drawn to them.  The major took the sash into his own hands altogether, held it opened before the candles, and read the words “Maud Meredith” aloud.  Dropping the sash, he turned to seek the face of the donor, but she had fled the room.  He followed her footsteps and entered the library, just as she was about to escape from it, by a different door.

“I am offended at your incredulity,” said Maud, making an effort to laugh away the scene, “and will not remain to hear lame excuses.  Your new regiment can have no nature in it, or brothers would not treat sisters thus.”

“Maud Meredith is not my sister,” he said, earnestly, “though Maud Willoughby may be.  Why is the name Meredith?”

“As a retort to one of your own allusions ­did you not call me Miss Meredith, one day, when I last saw you in Albany?”

“Ay, but that was in jest, my dearest Maud.  It was not a deliberate thing, like the name on that sash.”

“Oh! jokes may be premeditated as well as murder; and many a one is murdered, you know.  Mine is a prolonged jest.”

“Tell me, does my mother ­does Beulah know who made this sash?”

“How else could it have been made, Bob?  Do you think I went into the woods, and worked by myself, like some romantic damsel who had an unmeaning secret to keep against the curious eyes of persecuting friends!”

“I know not what I thought ­scarce know what I think now.  But, my mother; does she know of this name?”

Maud blushed to the eyes; but the habit and the love of truth were so strong in her, that she shook her head in the negative.

“Nor Beulah? ­She, I am certain, would not have permitted ‘Meredith’ to appear where ‘Willoughby’ should have been.”

“Nor Beulah, either, major Willoughby,” pronouncing the name with an affectation of reverence.  “The honour of the Willoughbys is thus preserved from every taint, and all the blame must fall on poor Maud Meredith.”

“You dislike the name of Willoughby, then, and intend to drop it, in future ­I have remarked that you sign yourself only ‘Maud,’ in your last letters ­never before, however, did I suspect the reason.”

“Who wishes to live for ever an impostor?  It is not my legal name, and I shall soon be called on to perform legal acts.  Remember, Mr. Robert Willoughby, I am twenty; when it comes to pounds, shillings, and pence, I must not forge.  A little habit is necessary to teach me the use of my own bona fide signature.”

“But ours ­the name is not hateful to you ­you do not throw it aside, seriously, for ever!”

Yours!  What, the honoured name of my dear, dearest father ­of my mother ­of Beulah ­of yourself, Bob!”

Maud did not remain to terminate her speech.  Bursting into tears, she vanished.