They spent the day at a roadside tavern. After
breakfast Tim fell asleep. Morven was too agitated to either eat or sleep,
and passed the day thinking over the events of the past night and trying
to devise some plan for the rescue of the people in Virginia. Next morning
they started for the home of Miriam’s parents and stayed several days. Tim
became attached to one of the sisters and when Morven left he willingly
stayed behind. Morven’s intention was to go to the residence of Sir John
Johnson, in the expectation of finding the major there. As he neared his
destination he was startled by an Indian appearing and motioning him to
stop. The Indian, who spoke English, asked him his business in coming on
the property of Sir John. On being told, the Indian admitted the major had
not left, and calling another redman, who was lurking in the bush, spoke
to him in their own tongue. Pulling Morven’s sleeve he led the way.
Presently above the trees a spacious mansion appeared, which, as they
advanced, was seen to be protected by palisades flanked with blockhouses.
Given sufficient men to defend it, the place was impregnable to any foe
without artillery. Seated on the veranda Morven recognized the major in
conversation with a man whom he assumed to be the son of the renowned Sir
William, and who stepped forward to meet them. The Indian, in guttural
speech, I told how the visitor had come. Sir John, who spoke Mohawk
perfectly, replied, and was about to q:uestion Morven when the major came
up, and grasping his hand, introduced him as his protector when in danger.
Given a seat beside them, Morven told his story. The major was distressed
on hearing of the death of Miriam, blaming himself and what he called "the
cursed gold," as the cause. "We do not fully recognize the crisis we are
approaching," said Sir John, who was an exceedingly fluent speaker, "the
contest that has begun is not political, it is one of covetousness. True,
political reasons are given, but the actual motive of nineteen out of .
every twenty who are denouncing Britain is the
prospect of enriching them selves by robbing their opponents. The. farmers
of Massachusetts, unable longer to get a living out of their granite
hills, are swarming into New York, and other more fertile . provinces, and
acquire farms by denouncing their owners as Tories. Merchants in towns and
cities are having their property forfeited by so-called patriots under
color of legal process. The wealthiest men in Philadelphia are today
fleeing abroad for their lives, abandoning everything. Should the British
forces not hold New York, its best people will be in the same position.
'If you're a Tory; surrender what you own and get out,' is the language
applied to thousands whose only
crime is they will not join in a movement to sever connection with
Britain. This is the reason why the rebellion has so many in its favor."
Sir John paused, and Morven took the opportunity to
tell of his companions in Virginia and
his advice as to the possibility of rescuing them. On learning they were
Highlanders Sir John became interested. "Get them out of the clutches of
the villain who holds them, and who, I doubt not, prates about freedom,
and I will give them farms. I have scores of Highlanders on my estate, and
they are loyal to a man."
A discussion ensued as to how best
to get them free and convey them to New York, which was ended by a gong
sounding for dinner. Morven stayed over a fortnight, visiting the settlers
on the Johnson lands, and seeing the lots offered him. Of even greater
interest than his visits to the Highland families, was what he saw of the
Indian villages. Sir John lived like a chieftain of the past, with
hundreds of stalwart warriors ready at his call to follow him to the
field, the difference being that his clansmen were painted Indians, over
whom he exercised paramount influence and who unreservedly obeyed him. The
week before his visit ended, there was a review, preparatory to their
taking the field. The redmen, who despised the drill and tactics of the
whites, came on as if they were on the warpath, in single file, and formed
a line that seemed to Morven to be endless.
They did not march, but had the
loping step they assume when stealing through the bush, and as he marked
their lithe, sinewy forms, he saw how much better they were adapted for
warfare in a wooded country than the stiff, belted redcoats, and
understood the success of the French in the late war who had discarded
European systems and adopted the methods of the natives. A musket, a
tomahawk, and a knife formed the arms of each. Morven’s heart thrilled as
he heard at a distance the playing of a piper, but had to wait until the
last of the Indians passed, when a compact body of Sir John’s white
settlers came in sight, marching four abreast. They had no uniforms or
arms. The rear was brought up, by a score of mounted men—the heads of the
estate. After going through a few simple movements, they massed in front
of Sir John who was on horseback, attended by the major. Addressing the
Indians in their own language he quickly changed their stolid bearing into
enthusiasrn, carrying them with him and extorting shouts of approval.
Their chief, the celebrated Brant, followed, and altho’ Morven understood
not a word he said, he caught the drift of his sonorous oration from his
gesticulations, for his meaning was pictured in his attitudes. To the
whites under arms, Sir John said they were to bold them selves ready to
take the field at a day’s notice, for he knew not when a despatch would
reach him to join the king’s forces, which were on the march from Canada.
Before starting from Johnson hall,
Sir John asked Morven to call on the commandant of the garrison at New
York and acquaint him with what he saw and also of . the condition of
affairs at Albany. "If anything," he remarked, "will spur Lord Howe to
energetic action it is such a tale as you have to tell." The major, before
he left for Oswego, had handed him a letter to the commandant of the New
York garrison and insisted on his taking ten . guineas to aid in the
rescue of his friends in Virginia.
In a more hopeful state of mind than
he had known for a month, Morven started on his journey to New York, which
he trusted would lead to. Virginia. He had gone over a mile, when from the
top of a hill the road traversed he saw a cloud of dust approaching,
caused, he knew, by a troop of cavalry. Making for the bush he scrambled
up a higher hill for a better view, and could see the horsemen were the
advance guard of a little army. That it was a revolutionary force he knew
and its object could be none other than to entrap Sir John and his
followers. It must have been assembled secretly and moved quickly, for he
had left Sir John in full security, and unconscious of danger. He decided
in-. stantly that he would return and give the alarm. With speed acquired
on his native hills Morven sped onwards and bursting into the assembled
household told what he saw. With composure Sir John gave his orders, sent
out the few Indians who were available to act as skirmishers and made
provision for his own flight. Messengers were hurried away to warn
as many of his followers as they could reach to get ready for the field,
naming a rallying-place where they were to assemble and where he would
meet them. His orders were being obeyed when rifle-shots were heard.
"There go my faithful Mohawks— ever ready and ever true. Their skirmishing
fire will show the enemy they have failed in their plan of taking me by
surprise, cause them to concentrate their force and make preparation for
resistance. That will take time, and give us a few hours. Had they come
the day I had the muster, I would have faced them: all that can be done
now is cheat them of making me prisoner and put part of the plunder they
are counting upon out of the way."
The bustle and confusion were at
their height when an Indian rushed into the hall with the news that the
enemy were coming and would be in sight in a few minutes. Sir John buckled
on his sword, assumed his feathered hat, and turned to bid farewell to his
wife. She clung to him with all the ardor of true affection. "Keep up your
courage, Mary, I will soon return," he whispered. She shook her head. "We
may meet again but never here: you know those men will burn our home."
himself away Sir John and his few followers disappeared.
Hoping to be of some service, Morven had waited to
assist Lady Johnson. Sir John had entrusted to him the concealment of the
silver-plate. Causing a deep hole to be dug, the box, into which the
silver had been thrust, was lowered, covered with earth and then had the
heaviest articles available piled upon it. The sound of musketry, which
had been intermittent for an hour, now came nearer. The Indians as they
fell back, fired upon the advancing column, which replied by sending a hot
fire into the bush where its unseen assailants lurked. Arriving at the
clearance, on which Johnson hall stood, the Republican horsemen galloped
rapidly towards it and soon had it surrounded. Dismounting a party entered
the house and searched every room. Sir John was nowhere to be seen. Coming
into the drawing-room where Lady Johnson with her maids had gathered, the
officer demanded she tell where her husband was concealed. With dignity
the young wife (she had been married only three years) answered, "My
husband is not a fox to seek concealment at the approach of danger. He has
left for Canada to join the ap proaching army of his King."
The officer angry at the failure of
his expedition in its main puipose, to arrest Sir John, sharply said,
"Then if we cannot carry him back to Albany jail, we shall take you. You
are our prisoner."
"What! Do you make war on women?"
"When they connive to defeat the
purpose of the army of patriots they have to be disciplined."
"I ask no favor at the hands of such
patriots. I am ready to go to prison or to the scaffold for my King."
Ordering her to be to be removed to the lawn, the
commander gave the hall up to be plundered by his followers. In a moment
all was confusion, every room crowded with rapacious men. In the midst of
the disorder an officer appeared. "Colonel Dayton, there is not a bit of
plate or jewelery to be found."
"Is that so, then we shall learn where it is hid."
Advancing towards Lady Johnson he demanded to know
where the valuables were concealed. She smiled and said she did not know.
The colonel insisted. "Why, you are unreasonable; you do not expect me to
assist in robbing my own house?"
"Ten gold pieces to any of you women who will tell," he
shouted to the maids who cowered round their mistress. They shook their
heads. When the hall was stripped of everything of value that could be
found, and the plunder covered the lawn, fire was set to it. As the flames
wreathed upwards the colonel remarked it would never conceal another
traitor—one Tory nest had been destroyed. While the main body remained to
carry out their orders to burn the houses of Sir John’s tenants, a small
party left for Albany, taking Lady Johnson, who was kept a prisoner there
for six months.
Morven, who had watched the destruction of the hall
from the adjoining bush, was joined by an Indian, whom he had met
frequently and knew only by the name of John Blanket. "Come, can do no
more here," and following him Morven was led through the woods to a
comfortable log-house, the home of the Indian’s parents. He was hospitably
received and as he watched their domestic life he was impressed, as he had
been repeatedly during his visit, with the difference between the
saturnine and relentless ferocity of the Indian on the war-path, and the
kindliness and affection that marks their home-life. All eyes were turned
in the direction of Johnson hall and as the smoke from it grew less fresh
columns burst forth from different points near it. "They are burning out
the Highlanders," said John Blanket.
"Where will they and their families go?" asked Morven.
"The men are away by this time to join Sir John—the
women and children will have to suffer."
"God help them," said Morven, "this is dreadful.
Burning the homes of the kindly people I visited last week."
Blanket shook his head. "The Yankees will pay for this.
Sir John will come back and have his revenge."
All night the sky was lit up for miles by the fires
from scores of farms, everything that would burn having the torch set to
Morven’s talk with this intelligent Indian, who had
attended school when a boy, was not all about what was happening. He told
him of his friends in Virginia and of what he had arranged with Sir John
Johnson about getting lots of land for them, and how this irruption of the
enemy made the contract useless. In the morning Morven was preparing to
resume his journey to New York.
"Come with me," said Blanket, as he took his own rifle
and handed Morven another. As they tramped together Morven was repeatedly
called on to take note of the landmarks. The path chosen led over much
rough land, until, gaining the top of a hill, they came in sight of a
vale, which ran northwards. Apparently, at some distant period, the bed of
a lake, of which a brook was the only remnant, there was a stretch of flat
land between it and the heights which bounded the valley. In the far
distance there was the glimmer of a lake. "How would this do?" asked the
Morven gazed long and keenly at the scene. Nothing
better could be desired for the settlement he had fondly hoped for. "Who
owns this?" he at length asked.
"The widow of our old white chief; you can see her."
Descending the hill, Morven traversed the valley and he found it even
better than he expected. The bush was composed of large trees, so widely
set apart that a wagon could drive between them, while the banks of the
brook were grassy. That the soil was rich the size of the trees indicated.
The Indian pointed out that, from its sequestered situation, lying north
of the Mohawk valley and on the edge of the Adirondack wilderness, the
Whigs would not be apt to trouble them unless they gave special offence.
The next day Morven sought out the owner, who was as remarkable in
intellect and character as her brother, Chief Brant. Sir William Johnson
had married her
as his second wife, and, despite her origin, she did
credit to his high position. She received Morven’s proposal favorably.
"You know," she said, "what is mine today may not be tomorrow, but the
land is at your service, and I shall be glad to have Highlanders as my
tenants." Morven saw the danger, yet how could he better himself? Where
could he go to find homes for the people whom he hoped to rescue where
they would be safe from the partizans of the revolution? The picture of
that little valley possessed imagination, and to it he was resolved he
should lead his people. He thanked her ladyship, and accepted her offer.
Strong in the faith that a way would open to enable him
to accomplish his purpose he set out for New York. That New York was in
the hands of the British he took for granted, as the movements of Lord
Howe on Long Island could have no other end, but as he went on his way he
learned differently, and willingly tarried wherever he could find work.
Assuming the character of a carpenter looking for employment he escaped
suspicion. Twice he was held by committees of vigilance, whom he satisfied
by his straightforward story—that he was going to the seaboard to seek for
friends. Staying a week here and a fortnight there he saw much of what was
going on of the persecution of those who would not fall in with the
revolution. One night never left his memory, that of the richest man of
the village he was staying in, taken out of his bed, coated with tar and
feathers, and borne on a rail up the main-street
crowded with people who cheered and jested. Following the old man was a
girl, his grandchild, crying, amid her sobs, to let grandpa go. The crime
of the old man was his sending a letter to his daughter in New York, in
which he had made some uncomplimentary remarks about his Whig neighbors.
The letter, by the faithlessness of its carrier, had got into the hands of
When he heard the American troops had left New York
Morven pushed on without delay. The bad news they had received had relaxed
the vigilance of the Republican outposts, and he had no difficulty in
reaching the British lines. Once within them he was forwarded with all
speed to headquarters as a supposed bearer of despatches. It was late in
the day when he got to New York, but being still light he went direct to
the commandant’s residence, and sent in his letter. The secretary came
downstairs and told Morven the general could not see him, as he was
preparing to attend a ball. Returning next day at the hour set by the
secretary Morven found a number of people waiting to see the general. They
were kept so long that several grew tired and left, their places being
taken by others. It was wearing into the afternoon when the secretary
opened the door and beckoned to Morven, whom he led into a spacious room.
The general, in full uniform, was seated at the table
gazing out of a window at the movements of a troop of cavalry.
"This is the man who has come from Sir John Johnson
with a letter asking that you see him as he can give valuable information
of what is going on in the Albany district."
Without turning his head, the general petulantly asked,
"What has the fellow to say?"
"Both Sir John and your messenger, the major, have sent
by me several messages they considered of value."
The general turned and stared at him. "Ha, a civilian.
Fellow, do you not know that you should only speak when I address you?"
"Sir," was Morven’s reply," "I know naught about
military etiquette, but I have much information that it is in the King’s
interest his officers should know, and I also wish to beg help to rescue
certain of his subjects held as slaves on the Potomac."
With a contemptuous shrug the general turned to his
secretary. "Strainer, what is the Potomac?"
"It is a river."
"River! ah, refer the fellow to the admiral."
At that moment a servant announced his horse was
waiting at the door; when the general put on his cocked hat and stalked
out. A minute later, Morven, looking out on the street, saw him mount his
horse, his aides fall in, and the troop of cavalry gallop after as his
escort. The secretary went on writing. "Here," he said, "is a letter to
the port-captain, who may be able to do something for your friends in
Grasping the big letter Morven left. Donald Bane was
waiting for him on the street. "What did the general do?" he asked. Morven
was too indignant at his reception to answer. They walked straight to the
office of the port-captain. An old sailor, who acted as orderly, on
receiving the letter, led them directly into his presence. The captain was
in his shirt-sleeves, smoking a long clay pipe. On observing Donald’s
empty sleeve, a kindly look relaxed his stern face, and he motioned to the
orderly to give them chairs. After glancing over the letter, he questioned
his visitors until he understood how matters stood and then abruptly
"What do you want me to do?"
"To instruct the captains of the cruisers off the
Virginia capes to give them passage to New York."
"What benefit would that be, seeing these people are
far up the river where no ship-of-war can go?"
"We will see to getting them down to the mouth of the
Potomac if you promise a cruiser will be in waiting."
"I will have to see Strainer before I can promise."
Taking the address of Donald, he told them he would
send word in a few days. Early on the third day the orderly knocked at
their door, and said that the captain was waiting to see them before he
went to breakfast. "His majesty’s ships along the coast are doing a good
deal to help fleeing loyalists to save their lives from the rebels," said
the captain as they hurried into the office. "However, none are near
Chesapeake bay at present. A yacht with despatches for our friends in
Virginia and Carolina is going to sail at noon today, and if big enough to
hold your friends she could receive them."
Morven expressed his thanks and the captain said his
orderly would see them sent on board. Donald was overjoyed until he saw
the yacht, when he whispered Morven, she was too small to hold half of
"Hush," replied Morven, "say nothing; it is a last
On the evening of the second day the yacht was off Cape
Charles. "How do you want landed?" asked the skipper. "If I send you
ashore in a boat rowed by blue jackets, the rebels may put you in jail as
"We must run the risk," answered Morven, and so next
day, the yacht being well into the river, Donald and Morven were put
ashore at a lonely spot, out of sight of all houses. On striking a road
they thought they had escaped being seen. In this they were mistaken, for
from the moment the yacht was sighted she had been watched, and a party
was hurriedly made up to arrest the two men they saw landed, and into
whose ranks Donald and Morven walked. Taken to a little village, whose chief building was a com
bined store and tavern, they were searched, nothing being found except
their money, and then questioned. Morven gave the name of the yacht and of
her skipper. Knowing she was coming this way, he had asked for passage for
himself and his companion. They agreed his story was a fair-sounding one,
but they did not know anything about him, when Morven remarked that one of
them had met him before. "Don’t you remember the young man who came to you
with a letter when your ship, the Jasper Daggett, was lying off Boston
light?" he asked his chief questioner. The man started, looked closely,
and recognized Morven.
"I do: you brought a letter that changed my port and
got me a return cargo."
"And do you not remember my asking if your ship ever
went into the Potomac, and telling you I had friends there I would like to
"To be sure I do, and my getting you into the tavern
and telling them to give you a hot supper, for you were cold. It is all
right; you are no spy."
Released Donald went and found a schooner was loading
at the landing for the upper Potomac and expected to be ready next day.
When she sailed, both Donald and Morven were on board. As knowing the
ground, Morven left his friend to make. arrangements. They were simple. He
was going to land Morven a mile or so below the place where the Men and
their families dwelt, and he was to arrange for their stealing away on the
barge which Donald, who would go ahead, expected to hire. The winds were
not favorable and the sail took longer than they counted on. At
break-of-day Morven was awakened by Donald telling him to get ready.
The boat had no cargo for a landing they were
approaching and nobody was to be seen. Going close enough for him to leap,
Morven went on shore and sought the cover of the scrubby bush. Cautiously
stepping he made his way upwards until he came to a large clearance and
recognized the place Donald had described. He saw the row of huts that
sheltered the Men and their children, watched their coming out, and,
finally, when a bell rang, men and boys trooping off to their day’s work.
Some he recognized, but so terribly changed that he shuddered. To get
unobserved to the huts to reveal his presence and errand perplexed him,
for they were in full view of the manager’s residence and he would be seen
if he dared to approach them. He watched for an opportunity all forenoon
but none presented itself. Women and children moved about, none, however,
straying his way. In the middle of the day the heat grew overpowering, and
everybody disappeared indoors. . He saw a slave-girl come out of the
manager’s house, close the one or two shutters that had been left open for
light and then draw the door after her. He waited until he felt sure all
were enjoying their mid-day nap. Creeping, at times crawling, along the
river bank, availing himself of whatever cover there was, he gained the
hut nearest the river. Door and window were closed to keep out the beat.
Lifting the latch he quietly stepped in. "Is that you my dear child?"
asked a voice in Gaelic. Dazzled by the sunshine he had left Morven could
not see at first. When he did he saw an old woman seated beside
the bed, and recognized her. "Auntie McNeish, don’t you see who I am?"
"See! I have not seen a face for four years. Come near,
and let me feel you."
She passed her hands gently over Morven’s face. "The
voice sounded like that of a lad I knew well, but this is the face of a
big man. I know you not."
"People grow old, auntie. The lad you knew may be grown
a man. Who was the lad?"
"Morven, who was cruelly treated and who we all
"No, auntie, he did not die. I am he, and I
am come to save you all."
Astonished she sank back in her chair, then clasping
her hands and raising her sightless eyes, Morven heard her pouring out
thanks to God. "Long have I waited for this hour and now, when Salvation
has come to those I love, I am ready to join those who await me beyond the
"Nay," replied Morven, "you shall live to walk from the
house of bondage." He then quickly told her of his plan. She was to tell
the Men when they returned for the night of his presence, and to gather in
her house an hour after dark, when he would meet them. "Must you go so
soon?" she asked as she heard him rise. "If I was discovered all would be
"I know you are Morven, but there is a new
generation who doubt everybody, and they have had sorrowful reason to do
so. Have you no token that will convince those who doubt you? Our people,
often deceived, are full of evil suspicions."
Morwen pulled from his breast a book. "Do you know
that?" She felt it, she opened it, she smelt it. "It is fragrant with
peat-reek and with the memory of the saint who owned it; I know it, this
is the psalm-book the minister gave you. Often did I handle it on the ship
as the last link of the chain that had been broken. This book is proof
"Do you not grow weary sitting here all alone?"
"Alone! you do not know what you say. I am never alone.
My mind goes back to Scotland and I recall everything that happened to me
from childhood. All my old friends and those who were dearer to me than
friends, come trooping round me. I hear the sounding waves, I feel the
caller breeze on my cheeks, I hear the peesweep on the muir, and the
skirlin of Sandy’s pipes ayont the hill. Then, whiles I am sitting in the
kirk, seeing all the folk, and hearing the minister give out the psalm.
And when these fade and are gone in the gloaming, my Saviour comes, and oh
the comfortable hours I spend with him. I am poor and useless, am like
seaweed the tide of time leaves to dry and rot on the shore, but Christ
does not despise me and he is the comfort of my life."
"Do you never think over what has happened since you
came to America?"
"Hush, God forbid! What has our life here been save
sorrow and trials beyond belief?"
Pressing her hand Morven left as cautiously as he had
come, and regained his place of concealment. He watched if his visit had
been discovered, and was satisfied it had not when he saw the inmates
begin to move again about the manager’s house.
The evening star had set before Morven started. Altho a
dark night he moved as carefully as before. On gaining the house, the door
opened to let him in, and his hand was grasped. The interior was so
intensely dark he could see nothing, though sensible the room was crowded.
In a low voice he told of the plan Donald and he had formed for their
escape, and asked if they were ready. The conversation so far had been
subdued, but at that question the eagerness of the response, that they
were, was startling. Morven told them the success of the plan depended on
their being prompt and secret. They were to be ready to move the following
night—the inmates of each hut to walk out with their little belongings
when the barge reached the landing. There must be no lights and no noise.
A voice came from the darkness, "What about the bloodhounds?" and another
voice replied the young men would look to them. Morven stole away to his
place of concealment, leaving the Men to complete arrangements.
The next day all went as before, the men to work in the
fields, the women and children clustering round the huts. Not a sign was
given to arouse suspicion, but hope glowed in every heart. Donald had gone
to a landing a few miles farther up the river, where boats tied up when
nights were dark or stormy, confident he could hire one that would call.
When the sun set nobody went to bed, all remained in their huts waiting
for the boat. Morven came, and spoke with the Men in the dark, and a
lookout was sent to watch for the boat. He was told the hounds that
nightly roamed round the buildings had been caught by looped ropes thrown
over their necks and their throats cut while choking. It had been done
without a single yell. There had been no light in the Overseer’s house for
quite a while. The night grew chill and a thin mist swept from the river.
It was a weary wait before a young man came with the word they could make
out the coming boat. It was being poled, and was silently brought
alongside the landing. Then from each hut glided the people, who, without
word or sign, made for the barge and got aboard. The two young men named
to wait ashore to the last, and go through each house to find that no one
was forgotten, came aboard, saying none were left. The ropes were cast-off
and the boat moved into the current. The sweeps were got out, and men
tugged at them as became men venturing their lives to be free. When the
night was drawing to the end, and it grew light enough to recognize one
another, Donald, who stood by the helm was hugged, and had his one arm
nearly pulled out of joint with the heartiness of those who wrung his
hand. They were a sorry looking lot of people, in rags and the slavemark
of utter hopelessness stamped on their faces.
They told how when the Men caine back from prison they
had brought the infection of yellow-fever, and had it not been that frost
came one night they would have all perished, for in three days seven died.
On the rebellion breaking out a change was made in their treatment. The
young men were often asked to join the army, but not one would enlist.
Said one of the Men, "We were proud it was so, though we dared not say so.
We had no cause to love King George or any other German king but we would
not help the enemies of Old Scotland in seeking separation from the land
we loved, and we despised the men who were talking so loudly about
independence who yet held us in bondage. One recruiting-sergeant brought
with him a keg of whiskey, which he opened in the overseer’s kitchen and
invited us all to come in and have a drink, but none went. We had cause to
hate rum it had led us into slavery."
What most impressed Morven was the number who spoke
English and the change in the young people —those whom he had known as
boys now men and girls women. Among the old he missed many, mostly of the
men. Their joy over their escape knew no bounds and to the difficulties of
the future, which weighed on Morven’s spirits, they gave not a thought. On
one point he had no misgiving, they could not be overtaken. He knew
pursuit by the river was hopeless, but there was a possibility of a rider
going across country reaching a lower port in time to secure a boat to
intercept them. As the sun increased in strength a breeze sprung up, sails
were hoisted, and that danger every hour grew less, for the boat made good
speed. The arrangement he had made with the captain of the yacht was, on
the sixth day, to sail up the river and keep on until he met them. This
was the sixth day and Morven had no doubt he was now beating up the
Potomac. The day passed without her coming in sight, and towards nightfall
the breeze that had helped them so well died away, and, later on, gave
place to one from the east. The anchor had to be dropped, and the coming
of the yacht awaited. It was late in the night before a green light was
sighted, when a lantern at the end of a pole was swung from the barge. So
guided, the yacht steered alongside and the People, who had been eagerly
waiting, before she was lashed, clambered into her. The skipper was
surprised at their number, for they more than filled his deck, so that the
hatches had to be lifted and women and children crowded into the hold.
With the ebbing tide the barge drifted down stream, for her destination
was the mouth of James river, while the yacht remained at anchor During
the night the breeze fell and a dead calm followed. With sunrise a light
breeze sprang up, the anchor was heaved and the yacht ran quickly down the
In due course they reached Chesapeake bay and headed
for the gap. Morven was pleased to see everything going so well when the
skipper motioned him to come aft "You see that brig ahead?" he ask ed.
Morven nodded. "Well, I’m afraid she’s up to mischief. Were she what she
looks, an honest merchantman, she would take this wind to carry her to
Baltimore. Instead, she has kept dodging back and forth as if waiting till
we come up, and always keeping the windward side."
"There is no war outside the colonies," answered
Morven, "so she cannot be from over the sea. She may want to speak us."
"There are French and Spanish captains who do not need
the authority of a declaration of war to seize vessels smaller than
themselves. If she prove to be a privateer can we rely on your crowd to
"Yes, not a man but will die rather than go back to
"All right, we leave you to do with them as you can,
and give you the few cutlasses we have on board. My mate and I will stay
here, and with our muskets pick off the men round the helm. The five
sailors will be needed to look to the sails."
Morven determined on his plan. The women and children
were told to get into the hold and stay there. The Men, they were alas,
now few, were posted behind the deck - house with the order to take care
of boarders. The young men were got in line behind the weather bulwark to
follow Morven. Both were cautioned to keep concealed, so that the crew of
the brig would not suspect there were more than the small crew they saw
pulling at the ropes. The yacht held on her course, while the brig made a
short tack to keep the weather-guage. On wearing she was nearly abreast,
when she came down on the yacht with foaming bows, elewing her sails to
reduce her speed. In her fore-rigging about half-a-dozen sailors were
clinging ready to jump aboard the yacht. A port dropped and a cannon sent
a ball across the bows of the yacht, when her captain shouted to let go
her mainsail, and she came up in the wind. Down swooped the brig, and as
her side grated boarding irons were thrown and the sailors in the rigging
sprang to her deck. They were instantly grappled by the Men. At the same
time Morven with a shout leaped on the brig, with his youthful followers.
The men who had remained on the brig were unprepared for attack, and, in
their astonishment, threw up their hands for quarter. While this was
passing the muskets of the skipper and mate rang out in quick succession,
and when Morven rushed aft, he saw the bodies of three men lying on the
little quarter-deck, one that of the steersman. It was all over in five
minutes. The skipper of the yacht joined him to examine the prize. The
brig was seen to be armed with six carronades. The crew were French, and
the only one who could speak English was the cook, a darkey from Jamaica.
He said he had joined from a prize the ship had captured off Savannah.
That man, pointing to one of the corpses, is an American, and it was he
who fitted out the ship as a privateer. The crew were told he had a
commission from the United States congress, and, if captured, they would
be treated as prisoners-of-war and not as pirates.
They had in a week taken two British merchant vessels,
which were sent back as prizes, which accounted for the smallness of the
crew. The yacht they looked on as easy prey and had not prepared
for fight. The skipper issued his orders rapidly. The People whom he had
as passengers would be placed on the brig, with his boatswain in charge,
while he would make all sail for New York, where he was overdue. He
hesitated over what he should do with the crew of the brig. To take them
with him was out of the question, to leave them on the might lead to her
recapture. "What would you do, Morven?"
"I would give them their long boat and send them
"Better than they deserve, but the best that can be
done. If taken to New York they would be hanged as pirates."
The longboat was got into the water and the Frenchmen
eagerly jumped into her, glad to escape with their lives. The black cook
remained. Staying only long enough to make a hurried search of the cabin
of the brig, the skipper returned to the yacht with the log-book and what
money and papers he had found. Getting under way the yacht speedily passed
the capes. When the people were disposed of in their new quarters, Morven
turned to placing the brig in order, and faced the unwelcome duty of
geting rid of the corpses. Donald was told to see them rolled in canvas
and dropped in the sea. Before it became dark the brig had cleared the bay
and was steering north for New York.
The capture of the brig struck Morven as a windfall
that solved the difficulty that had been perplexing him for weeks, where
the money was to come from to convey the People when they got to New York
to the valley that was waiting for them. His first expectation was, that
the commander of the forces at New York would see to that, but his
reception by him had dashed that plan. The brig was valuable, she would
fetch a good price, and the Men would be entitled to a share of it. He
went to his bunk happy that so unexpected a way had been found out of the
difficulty, and in that he rested secure.
On entering New York harbor many ships of war and
transports were found, and the brig anchored at the place signalled to
her. On stepping ashore, Morven made for the port-captain’s office. On the
gallery in front of it he found the captain seated with a number of
officers surveying the vessels that were lying in the harbor before them,
among them the brig. Morven was warmly welcomed and complimented on the
part he played in the capture of the brig, for the yacht had arrived ahead
by a day and her skipper told what had happened. "A tidy boat," remarked
the port-captain, "that will be useful for coast service."
Morven told the captain of the people on board, how
they were destitute, lacking even clothes, that there were no means to
convey them to the lands secured for them, so that immediate payment of
their share of prize-money was needed. The captain replied there was no
prize-money coming to them, and was sorry for it; only those enlisted in
the King’s service were entitled to prize-money.
"That cannot be so in this case," urged Morven, "We not
only captured the brig, but saved the yacht. Surely something is due us
for such service."
"By rights you ought to get a share; but there are the
King’s regulations and there is no getting round them. The prize-money of
the brig goes to the crew of the yacht."
The other officers confirmed this. Morven left,
perplexed and sick-at-heart. He walked the streets, angry at the injustice
done his People, and thinking what next he should do. The chimes of
Trinity warned him the day was wearing on and he turned down a lane which
he knew must take him to the harbor. As he walked along there came out of
a drinking-place a number of soldiers. Linking arms they filled the width
of the lane and drove the people who were on it before them. On they came,
shouting and singing. Morven was in no mood to give way to them, and,
instead of retracing his steps to Broadway, kept right on, arid presently
was face to face with the line of swaggering redcoats. Disregarding the
shout of one of their number, "Turn back—the King’s soldiers hold the
highway," he stood for them to open their line to let him pass. The
soldier nearest him caught Morven by the collar and tried to pull him
down. On the impulse of the moment, Morven caught him, pitched him aside,
and walked on. Another soldier ran after him with clenched fists and
shouting he was a damned colonial, out of whom he would punch the treason.
In a flash Morven had him by the shoulders and left him sprawling on the
road. His comrades, too tipsy to make haste to catch him, contented
themselves with sending after him curses and derisive cries.
On reaching the landing-place, Morven found no boat to
take him to the brig and sat down until one should appear. While waiting,
somebody touched his arm and turning he saw a man in a blue coat with
brass buttons. "You are my prisoner" said the man.
"For what?" asked Morven in astonishment.
"For assaulting the King’s servants. Follow me— if you
make trouble I shall call help."
Morven walked beside the man to a house near the
Battery. Entering they came into a large room, with a magistrate seated at
one end listening to evidence against a ragged fellow evidently charged
with disorderly conduct while drunk. He was quickly disposed of, and the
magistrate asked, "Anything more today?"
"Yes, your honor, I have a prisoner here guilty of
assaulting the King’s soldiers. As I saw him com mit the deed there was no
need of a warrant," and he went on to describe Morven’s conduct in the
The magistrate turned to Morven. "In these days of
rebellion, disrespect towards the King’s soldiers is a most serious
offence, and to preserve the peace of the town has to be severely dealt
with. What have you to say for yourself?"
Morven related how he was walking down the lane, when
the soldiers blocked his passage, and one of them laid violent hands upon
him, as his coat, shirt, and tie would show. In self-defence he had pushed
him down and went on his way. Another soldier followed to strike him, when
he again had to defend himself. All the soldiers had been drinking and
were a menace to the King’s subjects."
"Do you claim to be a loyalist?"
"I do," answered Morven, "and have suffered much at the
hands of the Whigs."
"What proof can you give of your principles?"
Morven gave the name of the port—captain. The
magistrate was perplexed. "The soldiers being drunk, as you allege, is no
excuse for your assaulting them. The King’s uniform must be respected and
by your own admission you insulted it. However, as you allege yourself to
be a loyalist I shall remand you until tomorrow to permit of enquiry."
To Morven’s remonstrance that his presence was required
at once on board a ship, the magistrate answered by leaving the bench, and
the officer, who had never left his side, took hold of him and led him
into a room where he was searched, and then taken to a cell, so abominably
filthy that he dare not sit, much less lie down. The hours crept on, the
only sound being when a prisoner was brought to be locked up. Several were
drunk, but occasionally one was heard weeping over his fate or another
protesting his innocence. The bells were ringing for 6 o’clock when the
door opened and the officer appeared. "What are you willing to pay to get
out now?" he asked abruptly.
"I have broken no law and ought to have my liberty
"That is not the way we do here. The port-captain
certifies to your loyalty and you will be acquitted tomorrow, but is it
not worth your while to give something to get out of this place right
Morven hesitated, for it looked like submitting to
imposition. "Come," said the officer, "be quick, I want to go to supper.
Say you will give me a pound." Morven nodded and followed into the room
where he had been searched. The clerk produced his purse and watch, and
with it a bill of costs, which included a fee to the magistrate.
Evidently the money in his purse had been counted, for, including the
pound to the officer, it took everything in it except two shillings and
the coppers. All he had heard of the extortion of crown officials, of
their fees, their combining to rob those who fell within their
power, their making their offices hereditary, and of their adding office
to office, rushed upon him, and Morven realized how those who wore the
King’s cloth had been the King’s worst enemies, for their conduct had helped to foster the discontent that had ended in armed
Securing a boatman to row him to the brig, Morven was
surprised to see a sloop alongside and the People moving into it. Donald
was superintending the change. "What does this mean?"
"Never mind just now; I will tell
you again. If you have anything in the brig go and fetch it."
In half an hour the sloop cast off and was sailing up
the Hudson, for there was some wind and the tide was
making. "Donald, tell me how you managed this?"
"When we boarded the brig, there were three dead men at
the stern. The blue-jackets from the yacht went through their pockets, and
then pitched the corpses into the lee scupper, leaving them for us to
bury, and they were left there until we were on our course to New York,
and the yacht was out of sight. I sent boys for bits of old canvas and
three cannon balls and while they were away I turned over the bodies and
straightened them. It was then I noticed the one whom the cook called the
American agent had a wide belt round his waist, and feeling it found it
was hollow and full of coin. Cutting it quickly off I slipped it under my
coat. We sewed the bodies decently in canvas and, putting shot at their
feet, dropped them overboard. When I went to my cabin I examined the belt
and found it full of guineas, likely the coin the rascal got when he made
prizes of the two merchant-ships. With that money I hired this sloop and
bought food for the journey. There are as many gold pieces over as will
buy what we need to begin bush-farming. I will give it you when we are
‘No," said Morven, "the money is honestly yours. Had
you not discovered the belt, the gold would have gone to the bottom of the
Atlantic. You shall have the spending of it for the good of our People."
On reaching the American lines a boat came off to
examine the sloop, but when the officer saw what a poverty-stricken lot of
passengers she had, and was told they were immigrants on their way to the
valley of the Mohawk; he passed them at once, and there were no more
interruptions. The winds being mostly westerly there was much tacking, and
twice the boat tied up at little towns overnight. At these places Donald
bought clothing for those most in need, as well as food. When the boat had
got as far as the depth of water would permit, we landed. Donald hired
wagons to carry those who could not walk, and we started on the road for
Every care being taken to keep by ourselves and nothing
done to excite suspicion, we were left alone, the Americans glad to see
such a beggarly looking lot of people moving past their neighborhood. It
was a toilsome journey, but no whisper of complaint was heard, for hard as
the road was it led to freedom. As we advanced, Morven learned, by
cautious enquiries, that Sir John Johnson and the men of his tenantry were
in Canada, while the women and children were dispersed all over the
country. Whigs occupied their farms. The Indians had vanished. If one was
seen he was shot at sight.
When the point was come to where the road had to be
left, the wagons were sent back, and Morven led the company through the
woods to the little valley he had destined for us. Everybody was pleased
with it, and at once set to work. Our training in Virginia came in well.
We had learned how to use tools and cultivate the soil, and best of all,
to work regular hours each day had become to us a second nature. We had a
new motive for exertion, in that we were now working for our own profit
and not for that of a stranger planter. We felled trees, built shanties,
grubbed the soil, and even sowed some winter rye and wheat. Before snow
came we were further advanced than other settlers we found south of us,
lacking our industrious habits, who had arrived in the spring. It was
Donald who bought axes and other tools and who bargained for the food that
tided us over until our first crop was ready to harvest. During the winter
soft wood trees were felled and sawn into planks and boards.
The first summer was the happiest of our lives. There
was scarcity of food and many necessaries we had to do without, but with
all the pinching and paring there was no grumbling. Instead, each one of
us was pleasant with his neighbor and what he had he shared with his
neighbor without grudging. It may have been the deep joy of having
regained our freedom, or it may have been the knowledge we could only
succeed by helping one another, that spread the happy spirit over us all,
or it may have been both, but that summer, though many of the grown-up
people had often one meal a day that the children and the aged might have
enough, was looked back upon as the brightest and most joyous we knew. As
the season advanced and Mother Earth began to yield her increase of what
we had sown, the pinch lessened. We had a bountiful harvest, and when it
was stored we felt rich. It was that fall the settlement had its first
marriage. The couple had loved from childhood, but would not marry in
Virginia. It was the first chance for a merrymaking since we left Scotland
and the whole of us, young and old, joined to make the most of it. Malcolm
McKillop had finished his barn, the biggest yet built, and it was agreed
the marriage should be there. It was emptied and Morven boarded it for the
occasion. There was difficulty in getting a minister, for we were all of
one mind that a rebel was out of the question. There was a German
settlement twenty miles south of us that had a minister and he agreed to
come. The road was worse than he counted on, and he was long in coming,
but we did not mind, for there was plenty adoing. Oh the pranks that were
played on the young couple while waiting for the minister, the lassies
washing the bridegroom’s feet and the lads pretending to steal the bride,
sending groom and his bestman on a goose hunt all over the settlement.
When the minister arrived we all agreed it would be no marriage unless the
couple were "cried," and so we took him out of doors and he cried them
three times in German, for he had only a few words of English and no
Gaelic, and it was hoped the squirrels and crows took notice. When he had
married them, and we were sorry the minister used a book to do so, he made
out the "lines" for the bride and left to sleep in the house of Auntie
McNeish. Then the fun began in real earnest, and the floor was cleared. We
sorely missed a piper, and had it not been that our lads had been taught
to play the fiddle by an old darky on the plantation, we would have had no
music. The spirit that had slept from the sorrowful hour we had set foot
in Virginia came to life that night, and we lived again in the Highlands.
We were ourselves again. Fingers snapped, and men jumped high and cried
"Hoich" who never expected to join in fling or reel All our trials were
forgotten and when Angus and his wife, the oldest couple we had, took the
floor to show us how to dance the Highland Fling our shouts and cheers
were like to raise the roof. Oh, it was joyous, all innocent, all
friendly, all of one heart and mind. And we had songs, the fine old Gaelic
songs, some so funny and some so sad, with no singer equal to Morven, for
he put his heart into whatever he did. And such a supper, oatcake and
cheese, the first since we left Scotland, the crowdy and the white and
black puddings, the singed sheepshead and the haggis! And after supper
Roddy, the tailor, danced Ghillie Callum, and had to do it three times,
and then the reels began. It was Scotland again and we were sorry when
daylight came and ended our merry gathering. Oh, it was a great splore.
The second harvest had been reaped when Auntie McNeish
fell ill. While Morven was resting after a laborious day, a boy came in
haste with the message that she wanted to see him. He went at once, for he
suspected the end had come. Her chair had been moved to the grass in front
of the door and Eppie was seated at her feet. The slant rays of the
October sun fell on her face and Morven saw a change had taken place.
"I sent for you for I am going away, Morven, and I had
a token to leave you."
"Surely not, auntie; you will stay with us a while
"No, my hour has come, and why should I wish to tarry?
The Friend I have talked with so many years I will now see."
"We are not tired of you, auntie; your words are good
"And I am not tired of you; all have been good to me,
past all my deservings."
"Even in Virginia?"
"Even there I knew of the goodness of my God, and
thanked and praised Him. You, Morven, I would hearten in your work. A
great deliverance for our people has been wrought, and I trust
you will not grow
weary with them. I hear of evil days having come, of strife and bloodshed
around us—do not desert them."
"That I shall not," said Morven.
"It is the promise of a man of honor. I will now give
you something I never showed from the hour I got it." Thrusting her hand
into her bosom, she held out to him something wrapped in a silken rag.
Unrolling it, he found a large silver brooch.
"When Prince Charlie was being hunted as if he were a
wild beast, he and Locheil came to the house where I was a servant. There
was word of a French ship being off the coast waiting to receive them and
they wanted to get across to the next loch. It was night, but to tarry
might mean capture. There was no man in the house, just my mistress and
myself. I offered to row them and we got into the boat. Locheil took the
oars and I steered, for the night was dark with driving showers, but I
knew the landmarks. As we neared the other side of the loch and the course
to where we were to land was plain, I took the oars, for Locheil’s
strength had been spent with his wounds and his long wandering. On leaving
the boat, I led the way across the strip of land to within sight of the
loch they sought. I turned to go. The prince shook my hand, saying he had
nought to reward me save words of thanks. Locheil unclasped the brooch
from his plaid. "It is the last bit I have of any value. I will not need
it more, for we will be on board ship within an hour. Take it, lassie, as
proof of my gratitude," and he turned away. Morven, be as true to the task
to which God has called you as the gentle Locheil was to his prince."
She sank back exhausted with speaking so much. "Morven,
sing to me." As Morven sang psalm after psalm, the people came from their
shanties and joined. During a pause, as they were watching the sun sink
beyond the woods, the dying woman, who had lain as in a trance, whispered,
"Eppie, do not cry. When I was born into the world my father rejoiced that
I had come. I am about to be born into a better world and have assurance
that the Father I have known so long, though I have never seen Him, but
soon shall, will welcome me. We are twice born, and the second birth, if
we have washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb, should be the gladdest
hour of our lives. In a little while I will no longer be poor, frail,
sightless woman, for I will leave this wornout body to be returned to
earth, while I, in glorified body, shall see all I have loved and lost and
abide with them forever."
Morven signed to kneel and poured out his heart in
prayer. When they rose, the spirit had gone.
That was the lightest of the afflictions that befell
the settlement. In the spring it became known Sir John Johnson was lurking
in the neighborhood, enlisting a regiment to take part in the coming
campaign. Despite all Morven’s warnings, a number of our young men stole
away to join him. Then there were rumors of fighting and not all who left
us came back; they had fallen on the battle-field. Of those who did return
to the settlement five were suffering from wounds, and of these one died
before the new year. News of how the war was going was difficult to get,
but Morven learned enough to satisfy him the day was lost. No braver
armies had Britain ever placed in the field but they were commanded by
court favorites, whose recommendation was their titles and family
influence. Had General Fraser been in command instead of Sir John Burgoyne
the disgrace of Saratoga would have been spared us and we would not have
mourned for two of our lads. Calamity followed calamity, we thought, when
we heard the King of France had acknowledged the new republic, had given
its congress a loan of money, and was going to help them by sea and
land—this he did not from love of the republic but from hatred of Britain.
Seeing an opportunity of crushing an old enemy, Spain had joined France,
and was preparing a second armada to invade England. Fighting to beat off
these enemies from her shore, Britain was unable to maintain her armies in
America, which was more necessary than ever seeing they had now to face
the rebels and the French combined. These latter years of the war were the
worst for us, for irregular fighting took the place of campaigns, and
bands of Whigs and Loyalists alternately ravaged each others settlements.
The raids that came nearest us, were those of Sir John on his old estate
and of Brant on the Whigs who had taken up their abode on the lands of his
tribe. In one of his raids Sir John came to the ruins of Johnson hall and
took the opportunity to dig up the silver-plate that had lain for four
years concealed. Dividing it up among forty of his soldiers, it was safely
conveyed back to Canada to once again grace his table, for his lady had
taken up house in Montreal.
It was after Brant’s raid, when fifty-three families
had their homes burned, that Murdoch Cameron found two children. His cow
had failed to appear for two days and he rose before sunrise and went in
search of her. After a long and weary tramp he found her tracks and,
following them, got up with her, pleased enough to recover her. On his
homeward way Murdoch saw his dog smelling round a tree and then bark in a
joyful way. Murdoch whistled for him, but he did not leave the spot, but
kept barking and jumping round as if pleased with what he had found.
Murdoch went over to see what it was. Collie wagged his tail and came to
his master as if to lead him to the spot. Beneath an oak, in a bed of
leaves, lay two children asleep, clasped in each other’s arms. Murdoch
stooped and by the shaft of sunlight that fell on their faces, saw by
their hollow cheeks, tracked with tears, that they were in the last stage
of starvation. He shook the boy, who was the older, and he opened his eyes
to close them again. "It is the stupor of death," said Murdoch to himself,
"and they must have something to revive them." A bush-farmer is never at a
loss. Stripping a wide sheet of bark from a birch tree he twisted it into
a cone and going to his cow milked her. Lifting the boy by his left arm
and resting his limp body on his knee, he raised the cone to his lips. As
the warm milk touched his tongue his mouth opened and he drank his fill.
Replenishing the cone, he took the other child, and did the same by her.
As he gazed on her sweet face his heart went out to her and he pressed her
to his bosom, for she reminded him of a girl bairn he had buried in
Virginia. The boy was sitting up, with collie licking his face, but it was
long before the wandering senses of the girl came back. When her eyes did
open and they met those of Murdoch beaming down on her, she cried "Pa" and
tried to raise her head to kiss him. "I am not your pa, my dear one, but I
shall be as one to you," and he cuddled her in his arms. It was a slow
journey homeward, for both had to be carried. It was nightfall when the
lowing of the cow brought his wife to the door.
"You have found the cow," she shouted to Murdoch
approaching in the dark.
"I have found more than her. I have found the bairn we
lost, and God has given us with her a pretty boy," and he put them both in
The word soon went over the settlement of Murdoch
finding two children in the bush, and early next morning his house was
crowded. Mrs Cameron proudly welcomed each new-corner and led them to the
settle where the two children lay asleep, with Collie watching over them.
They had been near death, an hour or two more would have put them past
recovery, and it was quite a while before the boy was strong enough to
tell us how they had come to be where they had been found. They had not
been lost. While all were sleeping at home, the boy said, there was a loud
yell, the door was burst in, and painted men filled the house. Father
picked up a chair and hit one over the head, when they killed him. While
the scuffle was going on in the dark, mother dropped me and Jenny out of
the back window, and told us to run, and there was a big light and our
house was on fire. We heard a cry that sounded like mother— just one. We
waited for her until it was daylight. The Indians were all gone; we saw
them go to the next farm. We went up to our house, it was all smoking. We
saw father lying near the door, and mother, all black, in a corner. Jenny
was afraid, but I went up to her, and her head was bloody and no hair. And
Jenny and I cried till we got sick and slept. ~. When I woke, I told Jenny
the Indians might come back and kill us too and we had better go. I found
in the milk-house the bread-jar with a loaf in it and I took it and we
went to the bush and walked away. And we walked lots of days, maybe a
year, and. we were so tired, and hungry and came to no house, and Jenny
said I was strong and could travel, to leave her and save myself, she
would just lie down and die and be with mother. I said I would not leave
her, that God was in the bush just the same as in our home, and we fell
asleep, and I was dreaming father was stroking my face the way he used to
do and had me on his knee, and I wakened and saw it was that man.
"That was me," cried Murdoch, "and God help us, neither
you nor Jenny shall want father or mother so long as my good wife and I
Our settlement was so remote from the road and, indeed,
so little known, that no party of raiders came near us, and we went on
sowing and reaping. It was a dark day to us when the word came that the
war was over, that the surrender at Yorktown had caused the King to seek
peace, and we wondered what would be the fate of us who were on the
defeated side. There were months of anxiety, ending in grievous
disappointment when it was learned all we had to rely on was a promise by
congress that its influence would be used with the legislatures of the
several States to see that the loyalists would be dealt with justly. That
pledge, we feared, was worthless, and experience proved it was. The excuse
given for the breaking of this solemn engagement with Britain was, that
those who made it and signed the treaty, had, under the constitution, no
power to dictate to the State legislatures. These legislatures had no
mercy. The loyalists were robbed of their property, tarred and feathered,
imprisoned, and hounded to death. Morven knew full well the turn of his
People would come and waited with drawn breath for their sentence. The
state of suspense in which we lived had the effect of stopping all
improvements. If we had to give up our lots there was no sense in our
making them of more value to the Republicans who would take possession of
them. There were daily talks among ourselves, but never did man or woman
suggest we ought to try and make friends with the vic torious party in the
hope of keeping our properties. There was just one mind among us, that we
would take no oath of allegiance to the Republic, and as to where we would
go when compelled to leave there was no choice but to try and reach
Canada. There was not a day that summer on which some preparation was not
made for what we all felt would be a long and dangerous journey. Morven
and Donald had many a talk by themselves, and we knew they were trying to
gather all the information they could about Canada and the best way to get
to it. We were satisfied we would have to move that fall, but the warning
came sooner than looked for, and before we had harvested all our crops.
It was late in August Morven was crossing the woods at
the head of the settlement, when he heard the crackling of footsteps
behind him. He turned to see who it was, and his heart sank as he recog
nized in the stranger an Albany lawyer, who, after glancing him over,
abruptly said— "From the description supplied to me I take you to be the
party I have come to see. You are the fellow who passes by the name of
Morven, and who is agent for this settlement?"
"I am, and you are lawyer Hoover of Albany, for I have
seen you in court and heard you speak at Whig meetings."
Hoover—You are correct, only I am now the Honorable
Douw Hoover. I have ridden from Albany, and it has been a weary ride, to
arrange with you, as the reputed leader of the settlement, for the change
you must have been expecting. The lands of’ the people you represent are
included in the Confiscation Act of New York State, and I have been
commissioned by the Governor to see to the seizure and transfer of these
lands in due form to their new and rightful owners. Here are copies of the
documents that certify this, and, for their own sakes, I hope the People
will quietly obey the orders they contain and obviate the use of force. To
effect a peaceable transfer I have come in person instead of sending an
officer with a posse comitatus.
Morven - I do not wish to read them. I take your word
for having authority and that our farms are confiscated. One winter, when
out of work, I often visited the Albany court-room and heard you plead. As
a lawyer, I ask you if it is justice to rob us of our land?"
Hoover—Robbery! Is that the word you use regarding a
solemn deliverance of our New York Legislature? What could you and your
traitorous crew expect? You refused to take the oath of allegiance when
proclamations were posted. Instead, you made war on the American people,
and joined with the Indians in their hellish deeds. Justice! Were justice
done you, the hangman’s rope would be the due of every mother’s son of
you. The commonwealth, in its benign clemency, spares you your worthless
lives on condition that you leave the country.
Morven—Are we not part of the American people? Of
course we are? How then could we make war on them? When the first gun was
fired at Lexington not half of the people of America were for separation
and we resisted. The struggle that ended at Yorktown was not between
Britain and America. It was a civil war, waged between two sections of the
people of these colonies, with Britain aiding the party who were for
continuing the government as it was. It was brother against brother,
father against son, who fought, and the loyalist side lost. I deny that we
loyalists ever made war on the American people. We stood for the old way,
for things as they were, and it was you who were for changing them and
used the sword to force your opinions on us.
HOOVER—Never mind what was true when the patriots of
Lexington dared to withstand the tyrant. The strong fact of the case, and
the only one that concerns you, is, that the progress of events so
convinced all right-minded people that they came round to support the
glorious party of freedom— MORVEN —Not all. Tens of thousands of the best
class of Americans are being compelled to leave the country which is just
as much their country as yours.
It is reported one hundred thousand loyalists have left
Hoover—They are the despicable enemies of our noble
republic and may be thankful they are allowed to leave.
Morven—You have stripped them of all they possessed:
they go forth penniless to seek new homes.
Hoover—It is the law of nations, that the property of
rebels becomes confiscate to the state.
Morven—They are not rebels to the government of their
fathers or to the government that had been established in this land for
nigh two centuries. You reproach myself and my people for refusing to
change our allegiance. Could we turn against the land of our birth? The
wretch who, for gain, forswears the land of his fathers and turns his hand
against it, is a traitor to the best instincts of human nature.
Hoover—See here, law is law and has to be obeyed. The
sovereign people of these United States decided on independence, and
whoever, at the proper time, refused to take the oath of allegiance to it
is a rebel and to be treated as rebels deserve.
Morven-—Look out on that plain at our feet. You see men
and women cutting grain, Hark, you may hear the song they sing in Scotland
when harvesting. These people found that plain a forest They felled the
trees, they brought it into cultivation, they built those houses—every
improvement you see is the fruit of their industry. Is it right that,
because you, and a number like you, rebelled against the government these
people found established when they came to America, and have substituted
one of your own device in its place, that you should rob them of their
homes? Why should a change in form of government deprive them of the
property they created by their labor?
Hoover—They had their option. Had they united with the
sovereign people in resisting the tyrant George they would not now be
Morven—So; it is a crime, then, not to think as you
decree; a crime to be punished by being robbed of what they own and
expelled from the country.
Hoover—Certainly, that is the law, and you get off
easily, for seeing part of you bore arms against the republic and all of
you gave aid and comfort to its enemies, your lives as well as your
property are justly forfeit.
Morven—In your declaration of independence you affirm
all men are born free and equal. Why, then, question our right to think
for ourselves? Is it in accordance with the doctrine you take as the base
of your republic, that we could not form an opinion as to the government
we preferred? Because of our opinion that we wished no change in the
government you rob us of the property that is ours. Is that either freedom
Hoover—You are quibbling with eternal truths. In
congress assembled the representatives of the sovereign people of the
United States of America decided what was to be the government, and
whoever rejected that government is a traitor and deserves a traitor’s
sentence and a traitor’s treatment.
Morven—There is no freedom in that. Whoever thinks
differently from you is to be treated as a criminal and stripped of what
he possesses. That is a forcing of men’s consciences. You say I quibble.
What about Washington, Jefferson, Lee, Harrison, Carroll, and a host of
your leading men declaring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to
be the inalienable right of all men, when they own slaves?
Hoover—The term "men" applies to whites alone. All
jurisconsults so define it.
Morven—And we Tories are to be classed with negroes in
being denied life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because of our
opinion that we preferred connection with the Motherland to your newly
fledged government! Your declaration of independence has strange
limitations—one of color, another of opinion. Affecting an exclusive zeal
for liberty, you use the sacred word to rob and hound those who do not
think as you do. Drop this veil of words, Mr Hoover, and say flatly and
plainly those you represent covet our farms and homes, and having the
power on your side you are going to have then, but do not rob us with the
words independence and equality in your mouths. We may have to submit to
robbery, but, for heaven’s, sake, spare us hypo crisy. We did no wrong in
standing for British connection: we had a right to our opinion and to
defend it. We have been beaten, we recognize you as victors, we renounce
all idea of further resistance, and giving our pledged word that we will
live quietly, ask to be left alone on the farms we have redeemed from the
Hoover—I love to hear you Tories speak so
sweetly when you have been licked and cannot help yourselves. You snakes
in the grass who sought to betray our glorious cause to our oppressors,
you wolves who pounced on the weak when you found a chance, showing no
mercy even to sucklings; you pretenders to manhood, who were not ashamed
to have merciless Indian savages as your allies; you beg now for mercy and
you shall have the measure of mercy you dealt out to the inhabitants of
Schoharie, of Wyoming and Cherry valleys. Rights you ask, you shall have
the rights you fought to deny us patriots. Had you won the day, how would
we have been treated? Answer, you miserable Tory. You cannot. Get out of
our way before vengeance for your deeds overtakes you.
Morven—I answer with a clear conscience. I do
not believe in war and never sought any man’s life. None of the people
whose homes you mean to seize had anything to do with Indians. The young
men who enlisted fought fairly in the open. It is false that the British
government would have harmed you had they won the day. General after
general made it known that if you laid down your arms, there would be at
once issued a proclamation of amnesty and oblivion.
Hoover—And we scorned the offer for we knew we could
whip your generals and set up for ourselves among the nations of the
world—the latest born and the best.
Morven—You did not whip our generals. You were on the
point of giving in, when France and Spain joined their forces to yours and
gave you the victory you had failed to win alone. Nice allies of a free
republic, the crowned tyrants of France and Spain!
Hoover—Our glorious cause was so palpably just, and the
course of Britain so execrable, that even the despots of Europe could not
refuse us their aid.
Morven—Then you are determined to have our farms?
Hoover—That is the decree of the legislature and I am
commissioned to carry it out. If your People do not go quickly and
quietly, I will fetch soldiers who will drive you into the northern
wilderness at the point of the bayonet.
Morven—Put yourself in the place of any one of these
farmers, and tell me, with such an order in your ears, how you would feel?
Hoover—That is impossible for me to do, as I cannot
conceive of my being a traitor to our glorious republic.
Morven—But you were a traitor when you rose in
rebellion against the government of the land.
Hoover—Read our declaration of independence, and learn
that when sufficient cause is given it is a duty to throw off the yoke of
a detested government. Study the enumeration of abuses and usurpations
that justified tearing down the flag that had become the symbol of tyranny
and giving to the winds of heaven our starry symbol, studded with stars
snatched from the sky to which all look, that the hour of the emancipation
of humanity had arrived.
Morven—Speaking as man to man, let your conscience, if
not your lips, admit that Britain has not deserved the treatment she has
received at your hands. She nourished your colonies in their youth, her
war-ships guarded your coasts in time of war, her help was ready when
French or Indians raided your borders. It was you who forced her, sorely
against her will, into the seven years’ war. It was for your sake she sent
fleets and armies to overthrow French dominion on this continent. She
lavished millions of treasure and the lives of thousands of her soldiers
to take away that standing menace to your peace, that obstacle to your
expansion, and when she had accomplished the gigantic task and asked you
to pay a trifling part of the cost, you refused and called it patriotism
to repudiate a just debt. Had the French power remained in America you
would never have sought separation from Britain. When her strong arm was
no longer needed to protect you, you stabbed the bosom that had nursed
Hoover—You benighted Tory, you are ignorant of
constitutional law. There were grave questions of jurisprudence involved
in Britain’s methods of attempting to collect taxes without our consent.
Morven - And so, because the creditor took a wrong
method, you repudiated a just debt! The letter to be obeyed, not the
spirit. Easier to throw tea into saltwater than meet your obligations.
What admirable patriotism, to exact all the benefits you could wring from
the Motherland by pledges to share her outlay, and then, when enjoying the
benefits she obtained for you, button your pockets! I tell you, Mr Hoover,
you are now doing to individuals what you have done to the Motherland. You
even refuse to pay the merchants for the goods you bought from them
because they are Tories. How can a nation prosper that starts with
Hoover—Congress did right to declare these claims of
British merchants illegal. Would you have us help our enemies by paying
them their accounts and so enabling them to crush us? No, sir; our acts of
confiscation and of repudiation were justifiable means to secure public
Morven—Quibbles may satisfy your conscience, but a day
will come when you shall answer Him who thundered, "Thou shalt not steal."
Your appeals to what your congress, legislatures, and courts have decreed
will then prove a flimsy shield. By brute force you can drive the people I
speak for from their farms, you can hunt them into yonder mountains to
perish, but you cannot escape the retribution of broken moral laws.
Hoover—Stop that. As an agent and representative of the
legislature and executive of tlre State of New York I demand whether you
are going to obey its order passed in due form?
Morven —You may go back to your masters and tell them
we have the spirit of true men and ask of them no favor. We will abandon
to them the vine yard they covet.
Hoover—What assurance do you give me; what pledge you
will keep your word?
Morven—Know this, you are dealing with Highlanders and
the Highlander whose word is not as good as his oath or written bond is no
better than one of your patriots who traffics in his principles for gain
and wordly advancement.
Hoover—I pass by your insults to decide this business
at once. When and where do you go?
Morven—We go to that true North where virgin soil
awaits us to build a new nation which will cherish the name of the land
whence we came—a nation where honor shall be the boast of its people and
not riches, where trickery shall be held in contempt and oppression shall
not put forth its claws from under the cloak of freedom, where no man
shall be held to be a mark for plunder because of his opinions, and where
the humblest and poorest shall not cry in vain for justice. Forms of
government go for nothing where the people seek not each other’s good and
the spirit of brotherhood does not fold its arms around all humanity.
Hoover—How beautiful! And when do you saints propose to
leave. for your frozen, paradise?
Morven—Not a day later than is needed to prepare for so
long a journey.
Hoover—Fix a date.
Morven - I cannot, there are women and children to be
considered. Be sure of this, we shall not delay Ieaving a land that has
fallen under the control of a government that sanctions robbery. Your
new-born nation starts with the taint of thievery and thieves will prey on
its vitals for generations to come.
Hoover—Too long have I listened to your insults, and
will bear no more. Call you me a thief?
Morven—You are a lawyer. What do you call a man who
takes what belongs to another? You are joined in a conspiracy to steal our
farms and what-ever else we own.
Hoover—Were you not a cursed Tory I would challenge
you, but that would be too much honor to you. I will kick and spit upon
you, and make you swallow your words.
Purple with rage, Hoover rushed towards Morven, who
lifted him bodily and pitched him into a bed of forest litter. Hoover
rose, drew a pistol, and fired, missing Morven., who wrenched the pistol
from his hand and another he made a move to draw, when he .had again
thrown him on his back.
Morven—Get up; know that a Highlander takes not
vengeance on a fallen foe. Go back to your masters in Albany and say to
them, the Highlanders whose farms they covet will rather perish of cold
and hunger in the wilderness than forswear the land of their birth.
So saying Morven turned away to seek solitude in the
deeper parts of the forest, for he was sorely troubled by this new trial.
Just when the People were doing well, came this order to abandon all. On
him fell the responsibility of guiding them, of seek ing new homes in a
country where they would have to begin life anew, but where they would be
free to enjoy what they earned. The task looked to be beyond his strength
and as he considered the difficult ties in the way his agitation grew. At
times, he writhed in indignation at the injustice done them, at others his
distress became acute as he thought of the sufferings of the women and
children, of the ailing and the aged, in the journey they must take and
the uncertainty of their accomplishing it. Hour after hour passed as he
tramped under the trees, sometimes helpless and despairing; then the mood
changed, and he became desperate and determined not to give in. He smote
his breast with his clenched fists, he flung his arms wildly upwards, and
finally, in bitterness of spirit, fell prone on the earth. Night was
coming when, composed in spirit, he knelt under an oak and humbly
committed the People be loved to God and asked help beyond his own. Know
ing he probably would be arrested and tried for what had passed between
him and Hoover, before he went to bed that night he wrote out all that has