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Some village Hampden, that with dauntless breast
Ir was thirty-three years after the interview which we have just related that an American army was once more arrayed against the troops of England; but the scene was transferred from the banks of the Hudson to those of the Niagara.
The body of Washington had long lain mouldering in the tomb; but as time was fast obliterating the slight impressions of political enmity or personal envy, his name was hourly receiving new lustre, and his worth and integrity each moment became more visible, not only to his countrymen, but to the world. He was already the acknowledged hero of an age of reason and truth; and many a young heart, amongst those who formed the pride of our army in 1814, was glowing with the recollection of the one great name of America, and inwardly beating with the sanguine expectation of emulating, in some degree, its renown. In no one were these virtuous hopes more vivid than in the bosom of a young officer who stood on the tablerock, contemplating the great cataract, on the evening of the 25th of July of that bloody year. The person of this youth was tall and finely moulded, indicating a just proportion between strength and activity; his deep black eyes were of a searching and dazzling brightness. At times, as they gazed upon the flood of waters that rushed tumultuously at his feet, there was a stern and daring look that flashed from them, which denoted the ardour of an enthusiast.
this proud expression was softened by the lines of a mouth, around. which there played a suppressed archness, that partook of feminine beauty. His hair shone in the setting sun like ringlets of gold, as the air from the falls gently moved the rich curls from a forehead, whose whiteness showed that exposure and heat alone had given their darker hue to a face glowing with health. There was another officer standing by the side of this favoured youth; and both seemed, by the interest they betrayed, to be gazing, for the first time, at the wonder of the western world. A profound silence was observed by each, until the companion of the officer that we have described suddenly started, and pointing eagerly with his sword into the abyss beneath, exclaimed
"See! Wharton, there is a man crossing in the very eddies of the cataract, and in a skiff no bigger than an egg-shell."
"He has a knapsack—it is probably a soldier," returned the other. "Let us meet him at the ladder, Mason, and learn his tidings."
Some time was expended in reaching the spot where the adven turer was intercepted. Contrary to the expectations of the young soldiers, he proved to be a man far advanced in life, and evidently no follower of the camp. His years might be seventy, and they were indicated more by the thin hairs of silver that lay scattered over his wrinkled brow, than by any apparent failure of his system. His frame was meagre and bent; but it was the attitude of habit, for his sinews were strung with the toil of half a century. His dress was mean, and manifested the economy of its owner, by the number and nature of its repairs. On his back was a scantily furnished pack, that had led to the mistake in his profession. A few words of salutation, and, on the part of the young men, of surprise, that one so aged should venture so near the whirlpools of the cataract, were exchanged; when the old man enquired, with a voice that began to manifest the tremor of age, the news from the contending armies.
"We whipped the red-coats here the other day, among the grass on the Chippewa plains," said the one who was called Mason; "since when, we have been playing hide-and-go-seck with the ships; but we are now marching back from where we started, shaking our heads, and as surly as the devil."
"Perhaps you have a son among the soldiers," said his companion, with a milder demeanour, and an air of kindness; "if so, tell me his name and regiment, and I will take you to him."
The old man shook his head, and, passing his hand over his silver locks, with an air of meek resignation, he answered"No; I am alone in the world!”
"You should have added, Captain Dunwoodie," cried his careless comrade, "if you could find either; for nearly half our army has marched down the road, and may be, by this time, under the walls of Fort George, for any thing that we know to the contrary."
The old man stopped suddenly, and looked earnestly from one of his companions to the other; the action being observed by the soldiers, they paused also.
"Did I hear right?" the stranger uttered, raising his hand to screen his eyes from the rays of the setting sun; "what did he call you?"
"My name is Wharton Dunwoodie," replied the youth, smiling.
The stranger motioned silently for him to remove his hat, which the youth did accordingly, and his fair hair blew aside like curls of silk, and opened the whole of his ingenuous countenance to the inspection of the other.
"'Tis like our native land!" exclaimed the old man with vehemence, "improving with time; - God has blessed both."
"Why do you stare thus, Lieutenant Mason?" cried Captain Dunwoodie, laughing a little; "you show more astonishment than when you saw the falls."
"Oh, the falls!—they are a thing to be looked at on a moonshiny night, by your aunt Sarah and that gay old bachelor, Colonel Single
ton; but a fellow like myself never shows surprise, unless it may be at such a touch as this."
The extraordinary vehemence of the stranger's manner had passed away as suddenly as it was exhibited, but he listened to this speech with deep interest, while Dunwoodie replied a little gravely —
"Come, come, Tom, no jokes about my good aunt, I beg; she is kindness itself; and I have heard it whispered that her youth was not altogether happy.
"Wuy, as to rumour," said Mason, "there goes one in Accòmac, that Colonel Singleton offers himself to her regularly every Valentine's day; and there are some who add, that your old great-aunt helps his suit."
"Aunt Jeanette!" said Dunwoodie, laughing; "dear good soul, she thinks but little of marriage in any shape, I believe, since the death of Dr. Sitgreaves. There were some whispers of a courtship between them formerly, but it ended in nothing but civilities, and I suspect that the whole story arises from the intimacy of Colonel Singleton and my father. You know they were comrades in the horse, as indeed was your own father."
"I know all that, of course; but you must not tell me that the particular, prim bachelor goes so often to General Dunwoodie's plantation merely for the sake of talking old soldier with your father. The last time I was there, that yellow, sharp-nosed housekeeper of your mother's took me into the pantry, and said that the colonel was no despisable match, as she called it, and how the sale of his plantation in Georgia had brought him—oh, Lord! I don't know how much."
"Quite likely," returned the captain; "Katy Haynes is no bad calculator."
They had stopped during this conversation, in uncertainty whether their new companion was to be left or not.
The old man listened to each word as it was uttered, with the most intense interest; but, towards the conclusion of the dialogue,
the earnest attention of his countenance changed to a kind of inward smile. He shook his head, and, passing his hand over his forehead, seemed to be thinking of other times. Mason paid but little attention to the expression of his features, and continued —
"To me, she is selfishness embodied!"
"Her selfishness does but little harm," returned Dunwoodie. "One of her greatest difficulties is her aversion to the blacks. She says, that she never saw but one that she liked."
"And who was he?"
"His name was Cæsar; he was a house-servant of my late grandfather Wharton. You don't remember him, I believe; he died the same year with his master, while we were children. Katy yearly sings his requiem, and, upon my word, I believe he deserved it. I have heard something of his helping my English uncle, as we call General Wharton, in some difficulty that occurred in the old war. My mother always speaks of him with great affection. Both Cæsar and Katy came to Virginia with my mother when she married. My mother was—"
"An angel!" interrupted the old man, in a voice that startled the young soldiers by its abruptness and energy.
"Did you know her?" cried the son, with a glow of pleasure on his cheek.
The reply of the stranger was interrupted by sudden and heavy explosions of artillery, which were immediately followed by continued volleys of small-arms, and in a few minutes the air was filled with the tumult of a warm and well-contested battle.
The two soldiers hastened with precipitation towards the camp, accompanied by their new acquaintance. The excitement and anxiety created by the approaching fight prevented a continuance of the conversation, and the three held their way to the army, making occasional conjectures on the cause of the fire, and the probability of a general engagement. During their short and hurried walk, Captain Dunwoodie, however, threw several friendly glances at the old man,