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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHurricane Hurry - Chapter 22
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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 22 Post by :24HourCash Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1104

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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 22



With a proud confidence that we were sailing on to victory, and as all hoped and believed to bring the war to a conclusion, the squadron entered the Chesapeake on the evening of the 30th of December.

The Charon, however, did not make a good beginning. The lead was kept going, and with a fair and light breeze we were running quietly on. Suddenly, just as eight bells had struck, there was a shock felt--not a very violent one, happily--but the cause we knew too well; the ship was on shore on the Willoughby Shoal. The canvas was furled, and an attempt instantly made to get her off; but there did not then appear much chance of our efforts proving successful. We had been toiling away for two or three hours, and still the ship stuck fast.

"I don't like this here event by no means at all, Tom," I heard Nol Grampus observe to Tom Rockets.

Nol, though a sensible fellow in the main, was a thorough old salt, and with all the usual prejudices of his class.

"To my mind ill-luck has set in against us. I had a dream t'other night. I thought as how, while we was a-standing on under all sail, thinking ourselves all right and free from danger, far away from land, I saw a big fish--she was a whopper, depend on that--a-swimming along over the sea. I looked at her, and she opened her mouth and made right at the ship. Her upper jaw reached far up above the main-top mast truck, and the lower one, I'd no doubt, dipped far away down below her keel. Well, as I was a-saying, on she came, roaring away like a young porpoise, and heaving the foam right over our mast-heads. I knew what would happen, and so it did. Just as easily as the big shark in Port Royal harbour would swallow a nigger boy, she made a snap at the ship and bolted us all, masts and spars and hull, and I felt as how we was all a-being crunched up in her jaws. I woke with a start, which made me almost jump clean out of my hammock, all over in a cold sweat, and right glad I was to find that it wasn't true; but, d'ye see, Tom, as to going to sleep again, I couldn't for the life of me, but lay awake a-kicking up my toes and turning the matter over in my mind. Says I to myself, `There's some harm a-coming to the old barkie of some sort or other, or my name's not Nol Grampus. When we gets ashore this evening,' says I to myself, `this is the beginning on it,' and you'll see my words comes true, Tom."

There was not light enough to allow me to observe Rockets' countenance, but I felt very sure, from the exclamations in which he indulged, that he was taking in the whole matter with open-mouthed credulity, scarcely understanding that Grampus was only describing his dream, and that he had fully made up his mind that some dreadful accident was about to happen to the ship. The scene I have been describing took place during one of the cessations from labour, while the captain and first lieutenant and master were considering what means could next be adopted to get the ship afloat again. I was anxious that Nol's remarks should not be heard by the rest of the crew, for I knew by experience how greedily such an idea as the one he had expressed--that the ship was doomed--might be taken up by the crew, and perhaps produce the very event he had predicted. I was about to step forward and interfere, when the order was issued to carry out another anchor astern, and Grampus and his listener had to go about their duty. All night long we were toiling away, getting out all our anchors, starting the water, even lowering some of the guns into the boats.

"I told you so; I knew how it would be," I heard Grampus remark just as he happened to meet Tom, while I was passing. "Ill-luck has come to the ship, and ill-luck will stick to her, unless so be we gets a parson aboard and manages to heave him into the sea. That'll set things to rights again, may be."

I was amused at the old man's recipe for averting the doom from the ship. It was not, however, new to me, for I had before heard a similar proposal made under like circumstances. Never did a set of men labour and toil more perseveringly than did our crew that night. Still the ship stuck fast. It became at last a matter of doubt whether we should have to throw all our guns overboard, and perhaps our provisions and ammunition; and if so, all hopes of gaining prize-money or of doing anything in the way of fighting was over for a long time to come. Captain Symonds of course was unwilling to resort to this alternative till the last. Grog was served out to all hands, and then we set to again with a will. Hour after hour passed; as yet the weather remained moderate, but we could not conceal from ourselves the disagreeable fact that, should it come on to blow, in the position in which we were placed, the ship would too probably be knocked to pieces. We were all so busily employed that the hours did not pass so heavily as they would otherwise have done. We were in constant movement ourselves, and had to keep the ship in constant movement to prevent her from forming a bed for herself in the sand. The tide, which was ebbing when we got on shore, at last turned and began to flow. Slow enough it came in to suit our impatience. At length dawn appeared. The crokers were of opinion that the clouds looked threatening. "If a gale springs up, the old ship will leave her bones here, that's very certain," I heard one or two of them remark. I watched the current as it came sweeping by us; the water was evidently rising round the ship. Again all the strain we could command was put on the hawsers. None but a seaman can understand the satisfactory sensations we experienced as her vast hulk yielded to our efforts. We felt that she was gliding off the bank. "She moves, she moves! hurrah, hurrah!" was shouted fore and aft. Her speed increased, round went the capstan right merrily. Again and again the men shouted. She was clear of the bank. One after the other the anchors were weighed, sail was made on the ship, and rapidly we glided up the mighty Chesapeake. We proceeded up as high as Newportneuse, and so suddenly and unexpectedly did we come on the enemy that a considerable number of merchantmen were unable to make their escape. As soon as we had brought up, the boats were lowered, and away we went in chase.

The moment the crews made out who we were, they cut their cables and ran, while we in hot speed went after them. Some few gave it up as a hopeless case and hauled down their colours; others ran on shore, and their crews set them on fire, or we did so, to prevent any one from benefiting by them. They were mostly loaded with Virginian tobacco. No one in the fleet wanted a good supply of the fragrant weed after that. We took or destroyed a dozen or more brigs and schooners. It might have been necessary, but it was cruel work, and I did not think it was the best way to make the planters of Virginia love us the more. Such was the way our expedition commenced operations.

Before I proceed I must recommend my readers to look at a map of Virginia bordering the southern or rather western side of the Chesapeake, and examine the scene of the operations which, under the directions of General Arnold, we were about to commence against the rebels. To the east will be found that large estuary of the Atlantic running nearly north and south, and known as Chesapeake bay, or gulf, or river. It forms the eastern boundary of Virginia. Flowing into it from the west the river Potomac bounds the State on the north, while a vast marsh, known by the unattractive name of the Dismal Swamp, separates it on the south from North Carolina. Between the Potomac and the Dismal Swamp several other rivers and creeks are to be found. The largest is James river, with Portsmouth and Gosport near the mouth. Running into it on the north is Hampton creek, on which stands the town of Hampton, and a little to the north of it again is York river and York Town, which was to become the scene of operations of a character most disastrous to the royal cause. York Town stands on an elbow of York river, between it and James river. Some way up James river is the town of Richmond, the capital of the State of Virginia. The country was, at the time of which I am speaking, as densely populated and as well cultivated as any part of the province of North America. The Dismal Swamp is an exception to the fertility of the surrounding country. It is a vast quagmire, composed of vegetable matter and the decayed roots of trees and plants. On the surface appear in rich luxuriance every species of aquatic plants, from the delicate green moss to the tall cypress. It covers, I was told, an area of a thousand square miles, and is forty miles long and twenty-five broad, having, however, in the centre, a lake of some size fringed to the very borders with dense masses of trees which extend even into the water itself. The water is perfectly level with the banks, and sometimes overflows them. Altogether, from its uninhabitable and impassable character, and the sombre appearance of its vegetable productions, it well deserves the name given to it.

The last day of the year 1780 had now arrived. Captain Symonds sent for me and informed me that I had had the honour of being selected for some important duty, and that he could fully rely on my carrying it out with my usual zeal, energy, and discretion. I bowed, and replied that I was always anxious to do my duty; but my heart, I confess, did beat rather quickly and anxiously in consequence of the possibility I at once saw of realising the hopes I had so long entertained, I need not, however, again revert to that subject.

"Some intelligent pilots are required to conduct the men-of-war and transports up James river, as also some guides are wanted for the army when they land," said my captain. "Now you see, Mr Hurry, as they won't come simply because they are wanted, you are to go on shore and catch them. Captain Hawthorne of the 80th Regiment, with two detachments, one from the Queen's Rangers and one of his own men, will accompany you. You will have altogether fully three hundred men. With their courage and discipline they will be a match for a thousand or two thousand rebels, and I expect that you will carry out your instructions with credit to yourself and advantage to the service."

I bowed, and the captain continued: "It is believed that the enemy have secured some of their vessels in Hampton creek. You are to find out where they are, and, if you can, take possession of them and bring them away. If not, burn or destroy them; at all events, acquaint yourself sufficiently with the country to enable you to lead an expedition up the creek to capture them. With regard to the inhabitants, you are to treat them with civility and in a conciliatory manner. If necessary, of course you will coerce them, but as much as possible show them that we come as friends rather than as foes."

Having assured the captain that I fully comprehended my directions, and would endeavour to carry them out to the full, I took my departure, to prepare for the expedition.

I had a hundred picked men with me, including Nol Grampus and Tom Rockets, whom I kept by me as my bodyguard. We got the soldiers all on shore by seven o'clock in the evening at Newportneuse, where I joined them with the blue-jackets. Meeting with no opposition, we were under the impression that our landing was unnoticed. Forming on the shore we began our march at about eight o'clock in good military order, the Rangers in front, the seamen in the centre, and the 80th in the rear, with advanced and flanking parties from the Rangers. I felt that we were in an enemy's country, that any moment we might be attacked, and that such precautions as we were taking were in no way derogatory to those who would desire to be considered brave men. Others, as will afterwards be seen, held a different opinion and suffered accordingly. Captain Hawthorne, however, fully agreed with me in the wisdom of adopting the precautions I proposed. We advanced in perfect silence, feeling our way, for we were ignorant of where the path we were following would lead us. Road, properly so-called, there was none. After proceeding half a mile or so through a tolerably open country we reached a thick wood, extending so far before us on either side that it was in vain to hope to pass round it. Whether or not it was full of lurking enemies we could not tell. There was nothing to be done but to penetrate through it. There was something solemn and rather depressing in the deep silence of that gloomy forest, with the tall gaunt trees towering above our heads and shutting out the sky itself from view. In some places it was so dark that we could scarcely discover our way, and as we marched on we went stumbling into holes and over fallen trunks of trees and branches, and more than once I found myself up to my middle in the rotten stem of some ancient monarch of the forest long recumbent on the ground. Some of the men declared that the wood was full of rattle-snakes, and that they heard them rattling away their tails as they went gliding and wriggling along over the ground, rather surprised at having their haunts invaded by the tramping of so many hundred feet. Others asserted that there were ghosts and hobgoblins and evil spirits of all sorts infesting the locality; indeed, I suspect that there was scarcely a man among them who would not more willingly have met a whole army of mortal enemies rather than have remained much longer in that melancholy solitude. Every moment I expected to hear the sharp crack of the enemy's rifles and to see the wood lighted up with the flashes, for I could scarcely suppose that they would allow us to pass through a place, where, without much risk to themselves, they might so easily molest us and probably escape scot-free. On we marched, or rather stumbled and groped our way, till at length we emerged from the wood into the clear light which the starry sky and pure atmosphere afforded us. We were now among fields and fences, which gave us intimation that some human habitations were not far-off. In a short time we saw before us a good-sized mansion standing in the middle of a farm, with various out-houses. Our first care was to draw up our men closely round it. Hawthorne and I, with about twenty followers, then approached the front door and knocked humbly for admission. Soon we heard the voice of a negro inquiring who was there.

"Some gentlemen who wish to see your master on important business," I answered.

"Ki! at this hour! Come again to-morrow, den; massa no see nobody to-night."

"It is business which cannot be put off," said I. "Open, Sambo, you rascal, or I shall be apt to break your head or your shins rather before long if you are not quick about it."

Still Sambo seemed to have his suspicions that all was not right, and very soon we heard somebody else come to the door and a discussion commence as to who we could be. Again I knocked and began to lose patience.

"Open, friend!" I exclaimed; "we are not robbers, nor are we officers of the law, but we have a matter in which we want your assistance, but cannot delay."

Soft words often have an effect when rough ones would fail. The bolts were withdrawn, and, the door opening, a gentleman in a dressing-gown and slippers, his wig off, his waistcoat unbuttoned, and his whole appearance showing that he had made himself comfortable for the evening, stood, candle in hand, before us. He held up the light and peered before him into the darkness to ascertain who we could be. When his eye fell on our uniforms and the red-coats of the soldiers his countenance assumed a most ridiculously scared appearance, and with a groan of terror he let the candlestick fall from his hands. The expiring flame, as the candle reached the ground, showed me a female arm stretched out. It hauled him through a doorway, and the door was slammed and bolted in our faces. Directly afterwards we heard a window thrown up, and a voice exclaimed--

"Fly, Ebenezer, love! fly and hide thyself, or these red-coated villains will be the death of thee!"

We stood very quietly waiting the result. I knew pretty well what it would be. In two minutes a voice was heard outside the window--

"Oh, mercy, mercy! Bridget, let me in again, let me in!" it said. "The house is surrounded by armed men, and thy unhappy husband is truly caught in the snares of the enemy."

We had no time to spare, so I thought it best to catch our friend and see what we could make of him. I accordingly knocked at the door and desired to be admitted.

"Oh, mercy, mercy! oh dear, oh dear!" was the only answer I got.

"Well, my friends, I can wait no longer," I exclaimed, in a voice which showed that I would not be trifled with. "I have something to communicate to you, and if you come out peaceably it will save trouble, and be better for all parties. You have my word that no harm whatever is intended you."

There was some discussion inside. I knocked pretty loudly two or three times with the hilt of my sword. The hint was taken, and at length the door was slowly and cautiously opened, and the worthy farmer and his portly dame stood before us. I asked him his name.

"Ruggles," he answered, looking as if he did not love me certainly, "Ebenezer Ruggles, and that's my wife Bridget. And now, stranger, what is it you want of us?"

"Why, my friend, all I want you to do is to guide a party of his Majesty's troops and blue-jackets by the nearest and best road to the town of Hampton, and to give me such other information as I may reasonably require," I replied, somewhat sternly. "I have lost some time already, so put on your hat and great coat and come along."

"What! you are going to carry my husband off, are you? He'll not go; I tell you that he shan't!" exclaimed Mrs Bridget, walking up in front of him, like a turkey hen defending her young. "Whatever you want to know I'll tell you, but you shan't take away my good man from me. He'd catch his death of cold, I know he would. Here, Jeremiah! Boaz! Timothy! Luke! Sarah! Martha! Jane! come and stop your dear father from being shot, murdered, drowned, hung up as a Tory! Oh, dear, oh, dear! I don't know what will happen to him."

As she spoke, a number of children streamed in from an inner room, the smaller ones in their night-gowns, and all more or less in _deshabille_, as if they had been hurriedly summoned out of their beds. They looked at me, and the soldiers and sailors behind me, and then threw themselves shrieking and crying round their father's neck. As I knew that we should take very good care of the poor man, I could not stand this scene very long, and had at last to tell him that he must put an end to it, or that I must order the soldiers to separate him from his children and to carry him off by force.

"Oh, you cruel, hard-hearted slave of a tyrant!" exclaimed their mother, advancing boldly towards me; "you will not take him away--you will not-- you dare not! You'll have his life to answer for if you do."

"Come, come, madam," said I, "we must end this business at once. Your husband must accompany me at all events. No harm will happen to him, so don't be alarmed. Now, sir, put on your hat and accompany me."

I had a strong suspicion that she wished to gain time, and had perhaps sent off some one to try and bring down the enemy on us.

Again there was a furious chorus of hugging and shrieking and crying and kissing.

"Don't go--you shan't go--Papa, you mustn't go--we won't let you go-- hard-hearted, cruel tyrants!"

Such were the phrases which reached my ears, but Ebenezer Ruggles saw that I was in earnest, and, signing to his wife, she brought him a thick pair of shoes, a great coat, a stick and his hat, and then, in spite of the renewed cries of his children, he signified, in a manly, fearless way, that if we compelled him he would accompany us without resistance. I accordingly took him by the arm, and succeeded at last in separating him from his wife and children, and leading him out of the house. Even after we had got some distance off we heard the cries of poor Dame Bridget and her disconsolate brood. Ebenezer bore the trial very well.

"Now, friend Ruggles," said I, "you must understand that, if you guide us right and play us no tricks, we will restore you safe to your wife and family, but if you lead us into any difficulty I shall be under the disagreeable necessity of shooting you through the head."

"Oh! if that's the case, then, I must tell you that you have come two miles out of the road to Hampton," quoth Mr Ruggles. "If you had gone on, you would have run your noses against a pretty strong force of our States' army, who would have made mince-meat of you, I guess."

"They must have been pretty strong to impede the progress of a thousand men," said I. "However, lead us by the best road and you shall be well rewarded."

"That's reasonable," said Ruggles; and forthwith turning round, away he trudged alongside me at the rate of nearly four miles an hour. He led us back right through the dark wood and into the open country, and at last we reached a fine broad open road. Along that we marched at a great rate. We soon, however, came to a house. We instantly surrounded it, and, very much to the surprise and alarm of the inhabitants, made them prisoners. I rather think that our friend Ruggles was not sorry to have a companion in his misfortunes. We soon had several. Every house we came to we surrounded, and had to capture the inhabitants, that they might not escape to give the alarm through the country. I cannot describe all the scenes that occurred. Some were rather amusing, as we knew that we were not going to injure the poor people. Others were painful, from the dreadful alarm into which both men and women were put when we appeared at their doors. Still greater was it when they found that they had to accompany us on our march.

The night was drawing on, and there were as yet no signs of the town for which we were bound. Every moment, of course, increased the probability of our being attacked, for, notwithstanding all our precautions, we scarcely hoped to have prevented some of the people getting off, who might give notice of our advance. I began to suspect that Mr Ruggles was playing us false. I told him so. He assured me that we were close upon Hampton. I cocked my pistol to his ear, to remind him what would be the consequence should he be playing us false. He stood firm, and my confidence in him was restored. In five minutes he asked me to halt my people, and assured me we were close upon the town. Just then the advanced guard fell back, and reported that they had suddenly found themselves at the entrance of a town. We accordingly formed our force into three divisions. One party went round to the other side, one remained where we then were, and a third, which I led, entered the town. Having made a rapid survey of the place, Captain Hawthorne and I placed a strong body of men at each end of the principal streets, and the outskirts of the town being at the same time strictly watched, we felt now that no one could escape or enter the place without our knowledge. These arrangements being made, we commenced a series of visits to the abodes of all the principal inhabitants. So silently had we proceeded that many of them were not aware that the town was in our hands, and their dismay may be more easily conceived than described when they found armed men knocking at their doors, and in some instances breaking them open. One of the first houses we visited was that of an oldish gentleman--the richest merchant, we were told, in the town. We knocked at first gently, and then louder and louder, till we heard some one coming along the passage, and a negro voice inquired who was there and what was wanted. The usual answer, "Your master--business of importance--quick--quick!" made the poor black without further consideration open the door, when in we rushed, and he, stepping back, tumbled head over heels, and upset two or three of the first men who got in. Amid shouts of laughter from us, and shrieks and cries from a whole posse of negroes who ran out from their own dormitories, we hurried up to the principal staircase. The hubbub, as well it might, roused the master of the house and his better half from their drowsy slumbers--so we concluded--for a gruff voice in tones irate began scolding away from the top of the stairs at the blacks, demanding why they made so terrific a noise--joined in occasionally by other far sharper notes.

"The blacks are not to blame, old gentleman," exclaimed Hawthorne, springing up the stairs. "How do you do! We call upon you at rather an unseasonable hour, I own, but our stay in the place is short you will understand. We will have a little conversation together on public affairs, and then I must trouble you for the keys of your stores, or an order for the delivery of such provisions as we may require, for which I am directed to offer you payment."

The old gentleman, not comprehending who we were, was almost struck down at first on hearing this address, but, after a time, recovering himself, he begged leave to slip on some more clothes, and promised that he would then come down into his sitting-room and speak to us.

We heard him and the sharp-voiced lady discussing matters up-stairs.

More than once Hawthorne had to sing out--

"We are in a hurry, sir--we are in a hurry," before his better half would let him appear.

I left Hawthorne and him to settle matters while I with my men proceeded to other houses. We had given strict orders that no violence whatever was to be used towards any of the inhabitants, and I fully believe that the lieutenants and midshipmen under us did their best to repress anything of the sort. Still it was necessary to keep a watch on all parties. Of course I was obeying the orders I had received in what I did, and had no choice; but, at the same time, I must own that I felt excessive repugnance in thus having to disturb and frighten out of their senses the inhabitants of a quiet town, who had in no way done anything to offend us. I resolved, however, to make amends to them by every means in my power, by treating them with the utmost delicacy and kindness. We had already seized on a dozen or more of the principal people, and marched them off to the square in the centre of the town, where they were kept under a strong guard as hostages for the good behaviour of the rest, and as a guarantee for our safety while we remained in the place. Not slight was the alarm and agitation when they were told that the instant any attempt was made, either by any of their fellow-townsmen or by any of the enemy's troops outside, to re-take the place, their lives would be forfeited, while a pistol was kept presented at the head of each of them to carry this threat into execution. Having, in my rounds, visited the square, and comforted our prisoners as much as I could venture to do, I again went on with my domiciliary visits. At the next house at which I stopped the door was instantly opened by the black servant.

"Oh, massa officer! oh, massa officer! you frighten de poor young ladies till all die!" he exclaimed as we entered the hall. "Oh, ki! oh, ki! dey kick and squeal on de sofa like little pigs going to have dey throat cut. Oh, ki! oh, ki! what shall we do?"

"Where are the ladies?" I asked. "I will try what I can do to banish their alarm."

"Dis way, den, sare--dis way," said the negro, ushering me in a great hurry into a large and handsomely-furnished room, lighted by several candles. There were several sofas. On two of them lay two ladies, apparently in hysterics, while several other ladies and female attendants, black and brown, were bending over them and applying restoratives.

"There, sir! that is what you and your people have done!" exclaimed an elderly and rather portly lady, turning round and advancing towards me while she pointed at the younger females, whom I took to be her daughters, on the sofa.

Some of my men were following me. When the ladies saw them they shrieked louder than ever, so I ordered them all to go outside the house with the exception of Tom Rockets, and then addressed myself to the lady who had thus spoken to me--

"I regret excessively the cruel necessity thus imposed on me, madam," said I, "but accept the honour of an officer and a gentleman that no harm shall be done to any member of your family. Let me entreat the young ladies to calm their fears. My people are under perfect command, as you may have seen by the way they obeyed my orders, so that you need be under no apprehension either from them."

"I'll trust you, sir; I'll trust you," said the lady, frankly putting out her hand. "There is something in your countenance and manner which assures me that you speak the truth."

I could only bow to this pretty compliment--I hope it was deserved. These words had great effect in calming the agitation of the young ladies, and in a few minutes they were able to dismiss the negro girls and the scent bottles and the plates of burnt feathers, and to sit up and enter into conversation. The room was still too dark to enable me to see much of their countenances, but I thought their voices sounded very pleasant and sweet, and I pictured them to myself as very charming young ladies.

"The hour is somewhat unusual for tea," observed the lady of the house, "but I doubt not after your long march you will find it refreshing."

I thanked the lady very much, and assured her that I should particularly enjoy a cup of tea. She accordingly gave the order to an attendant slave, and in a short time a whole troop of black girls came in with urn and teacups and candles, and in a twinkling a table was spread, and all the party drew round it.

As I was approaching the tea-table, I started and stood like one transfixed, for there appeared before me, with the light of a candle falling full on her countenance, a young lady the very image of Madeline Carlyon. "It must be her," I thought; and yet my heart told me that it could not be, for she did not appear to recognise me. The young lady, however, saw my confusion, and looked up with an inquiring glance at my countenance. Women have, I suspect, very sharp eyes in discovering where anything connected with the heart of the opposite sex is concerned, and are generally equally clever in concealing what is passing in their own. She kept looking at me, and I looked at her for a minute or more without speaking. More than once I made a move towards her as if the lady I saw before me must be Madeline, and then the expression of her countenance showed me I was mistaken.

At last I was aware that I was making myself somewhat remarkable or, as some of my friends would have said, very ridiculous; so, trying to overcome my agitation, I drew my chair to the table and sat down. I watched the young lady, and observed that she still cast an inquiring glance at me, as much as to say, "For whom do you take me?" On the strength of this I thought I would venture to inquire if she was in any way related to Madeline. Just as I was going to speak, a cup of tea was handed to me. I first emptied half the contents of the sugar-bason into it, then said I took very little sugar, and asked for a spoonful. Then I threw off the tea as if it were a doctor's dose, and passed my cup for some more. At last I mustered courage to look across the table and to say, "I beg pardon--I fear that I must have appeared very rude, but your resemblance to a young lady whom I know is so very striking that I should suppose you to be her sister if I was not aware that she has none."

"Then you must be Mr Hurry!" she said quickly. "I am considered very like my cousin, Madeline Carlyon. She has spoken to me about you--of your kindness and generosity--oh, how very fortunate!"

The countenances of all the party were turned towards me, and they looked at me with an expression of interest and pleasure. The elder lady got up and, taking my hand, exclaimed--

"We welcome you indeed most cordially, Mr Hurry. Our kinswomen have spoken most warmly of you, and we consider ourselves most happy in having met you, though you come in the guise of an enemy."

I had not said all this time who I was, it must be understood. It made my heart bump away very hard when I found the manner in which Madeline had spoken of me to her relatives. I made as suitable a reply as I could to all the complimentary things which were said to me; and then, as soon as I could, I inquired in a trembling voice where Madeline Carlyon then was, and how she was. I felt very sure that my secret was out, and that there was no use in disguising my sentiments.

"She is now residing with her father not very far away from here. They were, however, to stay with some friends in the neighbourhood, and we are not quite certain where they may be at this present moment," answered the elder lady. "We will, depend on it, take care to let her know that we have seen you, and she will rejoice to hear of the courteous way in which you treated us, even when you were unaware who we were."

I expressed my thanks, and then remarked that even then I did not know their names.

"Langton is my name," said the lady. "These are my daughters, and that young lady is my niece, and the other is her sister. They are Carlyons. Grace is indeed very like her cousin, and some curious mistakes have occurred in consequence."

I need not repeat more of our conversation. In a few minutes I felt perfectly at home, and I must own had almost forgotten the errand on which I had come to the place. Tea was over, and I was about to ask for paper and a pen to write to Madeline when the sound of a bugle recalled me to the stern reality of my duties. I started up. I longed to send a message to Madeline--yet what could I say? I felt that all reserve must be thrown to the winds. I took Mrs Langton's hand: "Tell her--tell her that I am true," I exclaimed. "Oh, that this dreadful war were brought to an end!"

Again the bugle sounded; Tom Rockets put his head in at the door. He had been carried off to be tended on by the slaves below.

"We must be off, sir," said he; "the red-coats are forming outside, and from what I can make out there is likely to be a scrimmage."

I shook the ladies warmly by the hand. In vain I endeavoured to get them to tell me where they believed Madeline Carlyon then was. One spoke, then another; mentioning the names of different places, which of course I did not know, nor could I conceive by their descriptions in what direction they were to be found. Several shots were heard; again the bugle sounded. I dared not remain another moment. I tore myself away, still ignorant of a point I would have given much to ascertain, and rushed out. My own men had formed outside the house; the other different parties who had been carrying on the examination of the town were hurrying into the square from all quarters. Some of them brought us the information that our advanced guard was attacked.

"Then the hostages must answer for it," said Captain Hawthorne.

The no-little-alarmed old gentlemen we had in our power entreated that they might be allowed to try and stop the attack. We, of course, were glad enough of this, and we let them go to the front in charge of a strong body of our men. In a short time they returned, well contented to find that the attack had been made merely by a hundred volunteers or so, who on finding our strength had retreated. We knew, however, that they would not go far-off, and felt the unpleasant assurance that we should, in all probability, be continually harassed during the whole of our march back, and perhaps even have to fight our way through a crowd of active enemies.

Under these circumstances Hawthorne and I agreed that we should, without a moment's delay, commence our march. It was now about two o'clock in the morning. We had performed the service we had come on, and gained all the information we required. We had ascertained that the surrounding country would supply us amply with provisions; that the vessels which had taken refuge in the creek could not be cut out without a strong force, and that the people were, if not actually in arms against us, far from favourable to the royal cause, as Arnold had led us to suppose they would be. We had also distributed large numbers of his address. Discharging some of the more elderly of our prisoners, we began our march, carrying with us the younger men and those whom we had picked up on the way. We soon found that our retreat was to be anything but pleasant. Scarcely had we got clear of the town when the crack of rifles showed us that an enemy was in our rear. Our road led us through numerous woods more or less dense. We had got to about the centre of the first, when on either flank bright jets of flame were seen darting out like the flashes of fire-flies from among the trees. I could almost have fancied that they were fire-flies had not the flashes been accompanied by sharp reports, and had we not felt the bullets whizzing about our ears. By proceeding, however, in the careful way in which we made our advance, we kept the enemy at bay, and they saw that we were not a force to be trifled with. It would have been useless barbarity to have punished our prisoners for what they could not help, but we told them that we should hold them responsible if any serious attack was made on us. Still it was somewhat provoking to have our men hit without being able to go in pursuit of our nimble adversaries, for, of course, they were off and away the instant we made a movement towards them. Thus we proceeded as rapidly as the nature of the ground would allow. Whenever we reached the habitation of one of our prisoners, we thanked him for the assistance he had afforded us, and allowed him to remain, on his undertaking not only not to act against us that day, but to do his best to prevent his countrymen from attacking us. This was very judicious; for although, I believe, fresh skirmishers came on, the old ones gradually withdrew, and thus we never had, at a time, any very large force with which to contend. Several of our men had been wounded, but none had been killed that we were aware of. However, when, at seven o'clock in the morning, we reached the place of debarkation, we found that, exclusive of the wounded, one seaman and six soldiers were missing. What had become of them we could not tell, but as they were not seen to fall, it is more than probable that they deserted to the enemy. When I returned on board the Charon, Captain Symonds was pleased to say that the general was highly satisfied with the way the expedition had been conducted. Whatever may be thought of General Arnold, I may here remark that he was a first-rate soldier and a clever man, as was proved by all the expeditions he planned and the exploits he performed.

Thus ended the year 1780. Who could then tell the important events the following one was to bring forth?

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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 23 Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 23

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 23
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE ADVANCE OF ARMY UP JAMES RIVER.--I COMMAND A FLOTILLA OF BOATS UP NANSIMOND RIVER.--A DARK NIGHT.--SURROUND A HOUSE.--INTERVIEW WITH MADELINE.--WARNED OF PLAN TO CAPTURE US.--O'DRISCOLL AT HOME.--RAPID PULL FOR LIBERTY.--MACKEY'S MILLS.--PEOPLE WIDE-AWAKE.--HOT FIRE.-- REGAIN SHIP. The new year of 1781 commenced with the advance of the whole army, under General Arnold, up the banks of the James river, protected by three ships of war--the Charlestown, Bonetta, and Swift. No attack was made on us; indeed, there was no force of the enemy, it was believed, in the neighbourhood in any way capable of impeding our progress.

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 21 Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 21

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 21
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE PUT INTO CORK HARBOUR.--SAIL WITH CONVOY.--CAPTURE OF THE COMPTE D'ARTOIS.--ARRIVE OFF CHARLESTON.--BRITISH TROOPS MADE PRISONERS.--SAIL FOR NEW YORK.--HEAR OF MADELINE THROUGH MY HOSTESS THE DUTCH WIDOW.-- RECEIVE GENERAL ARNOLD AND HIS MEN ON BOARD FLEET.--IN COMMAND OF ARROW.--REACH THE CHESAPEAKE.--HEAR OF HURRICANE IN THE WEST INDIES.-- LOSS OF THUNDERER, 74, AND OTHER SHIPS. Instead of at once proceeding on her voyage across the Atlantic, the old Charon was, we found, ordered to put into Cork harbour. We arrived at that port on the 11th of August, 1780, and found there HM's ships Lennox, Bienfaisant, Licorne, and Hussar,