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and afford a partial protection to those whose intention might be to gain the shore in secrecy.
Such evidently appeared to be the object of the barge which was now approaching. With equal caution and alacrity it was dropped in by the low black rocks, and drawn by the projecting points, into a small cove, which offered a convenient and secluded landing place. An individual stepped hastily from the boat, and after a few words between him and those that remained on board, uttered in a rapid but low tone, it drew out of the cove and disappeared. The person that now stood alone in the dull moonlight, was apparently quite youthful, of a slight frame, and, as far ns could be discovered, of an easy carriage, and a military air. He was dressed plainly. A dark surtout enveloped his person almost entirely, and was buttoned to his throat, and his neck was muffled in a slight silk handkerchief. Perhaps the keen observer might have discovered under its folds slight indications of a crimson color, but the particular dress was admirably concealed by the external garment. The stranger stood some moments, as if listening; he then looked up as though to see how the night was going—and around him with a visible air of anxiety. But his suspense was destined to last but a short time. He had paced the ground he occupied but a few times, when a person appeared leading a horse, himself mounted on another. Hardly a word was passed, and the stranger mounted, and both rode rapidly away towards the hills. They went on in silence—the one evidently with the sagacity of a guide—the other, as though he was only interested to follow. Not even a whisper was exchanged, and nothing but the fall of the horse's hoofs broke upon the stillness of the night. Their course lay through a partof the country extremely wild and romantic: and sleeping as it did under the calm light of the moon, at midnight, it was bard almost for the riders themselves to believe that it was a land, at that moment frowned upon by ruin, and trampled over by an unrelenting and exterminating foe. Many spots by which they wheeled in their rapid way bore deep marks of the rude spirit and the scathing hand of war— war in which they bore a part, and in the midst of whose momentary slumbers they were hastening to deeds of high import. But those riders had little to think of, and much to effect. Still urging forward their horses with all the speed which the path would admit of, they soon arrived at the point of their destination, and now halted before a small and solitary building, just without the American posts, on the borders of one of those ravines which reach away between the towering highlands of the Hudson.
Following the example of his conductor, the stranger dismounted. The horses were led away, and for a short time he was left alone, within the shade of the building. It seemed to be an uninhahited building; no light gleamed from its windows, and everything about it was gloomy. The stranger appeared to be impatient. His companion, however, soon joined him, and silently led the way towards a low door. Having entered, he made it secure, and requesting him to follow, he conducted the stranger along a narrow passage, by the side of the dwelling, faintly lighted by the moon, whose beams fell in by the small windows. Descending a few steps, he carefully opened a door, drew respectfully back, still holding it-in his hand, and motioned the stranger to enter. He did so, and it was gently closed upon him. He now stood in a low square room, slightly furnished, and with an unpaintcd wainscot, and a sanded floor. Here and there a coarse picture, in a black frame, under a triumphal arch of asparagus or evergreen, hung against the white wall; a few durable and heavy-fashioned chairs were stationed about, and over one of them was flung a dark military cloak. The rich hilt of a sword projected from it o'n one side, and over it hung a hat, such as was commonly worn at the period. Before the hearth sat a substantial table, and on it were scattered confusedly, papers that looked like documents—bundles of letters—and some separate, as though just opened, or about to be despatched ; and in the midst lay small rolls in the shape of maps and plans, that served to lend a grave and business-like air to the place. On one corner of the table, just separated from the papers, lay a brace of richly mounted pistols, and in close companionship stood a half emptied wine-glass, that seemed to proclaim some enterprise in hand, that required more effectual support to the spirit, than secrecy and arms together could afford. A fire blazed cheerfully in the tiled chimney, and threw a look of comfort over the whole room, as it played with a brilliant light against the ceiling, while the firm-closed shutters confined every particle of its rays to the four walls of the apartment. In front of the fire, and beside the table, sat an elderly personage, in deep study over one of the charts I have mentioned, which he had spread out before him, and gazed upon with an intense look of abstraction and anxiety. He looked up, with a start, as the stranger entered, and, hastily rising, approached him with an air of open satisfaction. A dark smile passed over his face as he extended his hand, and requested him to be seated. There was something striking about this individual. His countenance was that of a man who has long since surrendered himself to the sway of his passions, without the least resistance; and deep traces of their power upon him could be discerned as the light fell upon his features. There was about his expression the severity of one used to command, with the recklessness and abandonment which we cannot reconcile with good principles or a good heart. The contraction about his mouth, and the quick furtive glances of his dark eye, argued rapidity and determination, but betrayed a restless and designing spirit. Dark hair lay upon his pule temples, and curled round his low and crafty brow, while, over the whole mien, you could distinctlyjtrace the furrows worn there by evil and ungoverned feelings, partially losing themselves iu the flushed and bloated expression of the libertine. '1 he face was indeed in vivid contrast with that of the young stranger u ho sat opposite, whose noble and handsome countenance proclaimed at once the intelligent mind and the high and unsuspecting spirit. There was something even beautiful in his manly yet delicate features, and his lofty and expanded brow. His full eye beamed steadily and directly onward; and in his pale and anxious look you could trace all those effects which highly cultivated feeling and generous sensihility convey to the human countenance, and mingle with its minutest expressions. There was that about his face, moreover, which we have all observed, but can hardly define—something that unconsciously and yet immediately assures you that you are in the presence of a gentleman.
Both personages appeared to be officers of distinction. The elder wore the full umform of an American general, and dashed his martial air with a good deal of the careless demeanor of fashionable life; while the younger, with much more elegance of manner, still retained a degree of military precision, that served to give fuller effect to the symmetry of his figure. He had now thrown aside his muffler, and surtout, and discovered the glittering dress of a British aide-de-camp. As would be expected of persons who had daring and desperate matters to employ them, the first salutations had hardly passed, when they came at once to the important occasion which had demanded their interview. * We are so far secure,' said the elder officer, after having cautiously examined the apartment; 'and now,' continued he, seating himself again, 'now we must be free.'
'My office first is to listen, then, I believe,' said his companion, with a faint smile.
'1 might tell you a long tale, I think,' returned the other, with a quick and scornful glance, 'were this ^he time and place; but it does not, hardly, befit: 1 will tell it at the head of armies, and not only to you, but to the world ; meanwhile, let me say how much better I feel this to be, than this dangerous, dull work of correspondence by pen and ink, despatching letters in haste and fear, and waiting for them in doubt ; indeed, I have hardly felt till this moment that the plan would carry: is Sir Henry sanguine?'
'He believes you sincere, and has every confidence in your courage and skill,' returned the young Englishman.
'As to the last, let time and the event prove it,' said the other hastily ; 'but as to the first,' continued he, losing himself at once in the dark and revengeful passion which seemed to actuate him like a demon, 'as to that, would to God he knew how much there has been to make me so in this business! Would that he knew the extent of that damnable injustice which has made me forget this land, and only remember the injuries I have received in it: I have but told him my feelings in my correspondence with him; he knows nothing of the history of my career hitherto. Sincere ! if there is any sincerity in a despairing spirit, I have it. How have my services been repaid! by a scanty starveling pittance, called national bounty. I have thrown away my fortune, my blood, and almost my life, in fighting you, my former enemies; and, wheu I turned to ask remuneration, how was I answered? by a trial for misconduct, and a public reprimand for my generosity. I have been frowned upon for doing my duty; and my exertions, the best 1 could make, have been paid for in reVilings. 1 have been insulted with office, for I have been laughed at when 1 asked for the humble means of supporting its dignity. I have traversed this thankless land from one end to the other, with a tireless step and zeal unquenchable, to do it service; and I have been paid in sneers, and told to hope for oblivion. I have been driven out from among them because I was not puritanical, and yet they talk of freedom and independence! Sincere! they have turned the milk of human kindness within me into gall, and now they shall find it out. The cursed ingratitude of this country will not be forgotten by me, while my arm has nerve enough to stiike home to the heart where it originates!'
The young Englishman gazed in silence on the vehement manner of his elder companion. His heart could never respond to the sentiments he had listened to, or own the principle which had engendered and threw them forth. But it was not a part of his business to repel them, or to alter the determination, to which the indulgence of them had brought their victim. On the contrary, he was there, to give direction to, and aid the execution of schemes, which had been conceived and ripened under |the influence of those dark and revengeful and desolating passions. 'If your plans,' said he, addressing his companion, 'are as well matured as your determinations of retaliating upon your ungrateful country, we have, indeed, every thing to hope from your agency—the stronghold must be ours.'
'Draw up, then—here I have it, palpably, on paper; and you shall hear my proposals in detail.'
So saying, he threw more wood upon his fire, offered to fill a glass for his companion, which was refused—replenished his own, and tossed it off; and having arranged his lights and papers, so as to give full survey of the ground, ne spread out his plan, motioned the British officer to his side, and in a low voice, accompanying his finger as it travelled over the surface before him, entered deep and devotedly into an explanation of his arrangements, and the modes he had employed of effecting the grand object of their interview.
Long and busy was their conference. Dark questions wore raised that it took time and fore-thought to answer; and objections roso as they went deeper into the subject, which it was no slight task to do away to mutual satisfaction. Often did both parties gaze, in a dreamy slain between perplexity and abstraction, over the paper before them. Silent and undecided, they frequently dismissed one point to make way lor another of equal difficulty, until the hours rolled insensibly away, and, before they were aware, night was disappearing before the gray light of the morning. At length, after a tedious and protracted examination of aoine particular which seemed to have an important bearing upon the enterprize in contemplation, when the elder officer rose to look forth and see how time had been improved, and what was still left lor their disposal, he announced to his startled companion, that day-break hud surprised them in the midst of their deliberations. To put the mutter beyond question, he threw open the little shutter enough to admit the cold light against the walls.
It streamed into the apartment, as the obstacle was removed, and threw around it, and all the objects it contained, that dull equivocul glare which always uccompanies the sudden transition from darkness or lamplight to the beams of morning. The tapers, already dim, faded to a sickly color as the rays of day poured upon them, and the fire was desolately sinking in its ashes. But with a'still more singular effect did the light fall upon the worn and anxious faces of those who had there sat out the weary night, in those high vigils that task the spirit, and bear heavily upon tho frame. There was the exhausted look, the pale brow, and the clouded eye. Their occupation had been trying. It was the occupation of men who have undertaken a design fraught with important issues, and seriously involving the fortunes of a nation. Theirs had been an interchange of thought, between the fiery spirit, bent on base revenge, and ready for bloody and unlimited sacrifice, and the elevated soul, that acknowledged no feeling paramount to its duty—between traitorous purpose and high resolve—between unprincipled hate and unqualified bravery. It can hardly seem strange that their deliberations were slow, where their sympathies were so distant.
'This is indeed unfortunate,' said the younger, at last rising, and looking out where the horizon was already kindling with the coming sun; 'this looks rather foully upon the enterprize.'
'There is no alternative, till night gathers again,' said the other, with the readiness of one who seemed prepared for all events.
• You must remain in concealment, sir; the obscurity of evening will favor your retreat, and crown matters to our wishes. Meanwhile, under the protection of your pass, you may remain secure within the American posts.'
• No,' returned his companion; 'you will not urge it—you must al
low me to remain without the posts. I will remain where I am, till I can take the boat.'
'But this neutral ground will be our ruin,' answered the elder officer; 'you are aware that every rod of it is trampled daily by scouts on either side—our retreat must be immediate.
'I ask security of you, sir,' replied the other, in a calm but decided tone,' as near to the American lines as you will—but not within tbem. Even at this crisis, my feelings lead me to urge this request. 1 will consent to ahide only within reach of your protection—otherwise I remain here with myself, and good chance to befriend me.'
'There is no time to lose,' answered his companion, after a moment's consideration. 'I think it may be done—your request shall be complied with:' and, with au air of dissatisfaction, he thus closed the interview, and led the way into the morning light. Objects were still indistinctly visible around them, and the land yet lay in deep shadow under the hills. In a few moments they were prepared for departure. • We must return here to-night,' said he who had last spoken ; 'but at present we must say, " Good horses, bear us," and yonder mist is all in our favor.' So saying, they set forward over the uneven ground at a heedless and rapid rate. Where the British adjutant was secreted that day, it matters not to tell. It is enough to know that he lay concealed within the American lines, and that the faith of the American officer was forgotten, or disregarded. That crafty and evil-minded personage was not formed to appreciate the high and honorable principles which influenced his coadjutor; and when ho heard hitn deny all considerations of danger, and saw him reject what to him appeared to be the only sensible proposal that could be started under the emergency, he could refer his reluctance to no higher motive than obstinacy or fear. He did not conceive that on« who had gone so far in the legerdemain of war as to become an instrument of communicating with a disaffected officer of the enemy, in stealth and darkness, would hesitate to compromise his honor, as easily as himself did his principles—and he conceived it impossible that one who was deemed fit to become the channel of treasonous confidence, should revolt at the thought of becoming a spy. It was therefore with impatience he listened to his objections; and when he found he could not shake his resolution by appealing to his selfish considerations, he abruptly concluded with those nasty promises, which, when he made, he coolly determiu-ed never to fulfil.
The lingering day passed on. The sun at last sunk behind those hills, whose freedom was already bartered for, and its farewell light played on the sentinel's bayonet, as he traversed the walls of that fortress, whose surrender had been prompted by hate, and purchased by gold. The traitor looked towards them and smiled. His revengeful spirit was now reconciled. His hitter passions had feasted themselves on his already perfected retaliation. He saw glorious reward for his treachery, and hopeless confusion to the black ingratitude, which had called down this more glorious vengeance. He saw himself advanced for his perfidy, and the cause of liberty stricken here, to the heart, with a Brutus-like virtue, by one who had felt proudly, and fought bravely for it—but who gloried more than all in the hellish satisfaction with which he inflicted the blow. 'I will hid you farewell to-morrow,' said he, turning his kindling eyes towards the mountains, as these thoughts hurried through his bosom—' but I will leave a new standard to wave over your forests and waters.'
It was now night ; and again the lonely dwelling without the posts,