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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHurricane Hurry - Chapter 24
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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 24 Post by :24HourCash Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :911

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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 24



I was to have, I found, very little time for rest or reflection. This, I dare say, was the better for me. Scarcely had I breakfasted when I was again sent for to be despatched, as I was told, on special service. My satisfaction, however, was great indeed when I found that I was to be the bearer of a flag of truce to Hampton, with a letter to the patriot, or, as we called him, the rebel general commanding the district.

I was quickly ready to start. I should now be able to send a message to Madeline, to assure her of my safety, and perhaps to make arrangements to keep up a regular communication with her. On one point only was I somewhat puzzled. How could I speak of her without allowing it to be suspected that she had given me the warning by which I had escaped from the trap laid to catch me? I had heard of the stern treatment any of the rebels had received who had been found guilty of treachery towards their party, even from General Washington himself, and I knew not what construction might be put on Madeline's conduct should it be discovered. I determined, therefore, at all events to be very cautious how I spoke of having met her. These thoughts occupied my mind till I landed. I then hired a horse and a guide, and proceeded with Tom Rockets only as my companion, mounted on rather a sorry jade, towards Hampton. There were not many white men to be seen on the road. The negroes doffed their hats and always addressed me in a civil and friendly way.

Without any adventure I reached Hampton. Having then delivered my despatches I sought out the house of my new friends, the Langtons, where I hoped that I should be able to wait till the reply was ready. As soon as I entered the house I was shown into the drawing-room, where the ladies received me with the greatest kindness. Mrs Langton assured me that, from the way I had treated the inhabitants of Hampton the other night, I should always be received there as a friend. They insisted on having dinner got ready at once for me, and I found that they were collecting all sorts of eatables sufficient to load my horse as well as Rockets and our guides, which they thought might prove useful.

They had heard, I found, nothing of my expedition up the Nansimond river, and as no one could know that I was one of those engaged in it, I considered it prudent to say nothing about the matter, and I trusted that Madeline would remember that, unless she betrayed her secret, none of her friends were likely to discover it. In the course of conversation her cousins spoke frequently of her, and I sent her several messages. I hoped by their tenor that she would understand that I had not mentioned our having met. My great hope was that Mrs Langton, guessing how things stood, would invite her to come to Hampton, and that I might thus have the opportunity of meeting her, should I again be sent on shore with a flag of truce. None but those who have been knocking about for months and years together at sea among rough uncivilised men can fully appreciate the satisfaction which a sailor feels in spending a few brief hours under the soothing influence of refined female society.

It was with a feeling of undisguised annoyance that at last I received my despatches and had to mount my horse to return. No one would have supposed, as my friends bade me farewell, that I was serving on the side of their enemies, and yet I am certain that no more sincere patriots were to be found in America, only they had the sense not to confound the individual with the cause with which circumstances compelled him to side.

The army, with their guns, ammunition, and stores, had now safely disembarked, and were on their march up the banks of James river. The first lieutenant of the Charon, with a detachment of our men, had accompanied them. I was therefore selected in his place to take command of a party consisting of a hundred seamen and marines from the different ships of war, and to go on shore and forage for the squadron. The marines were commanded by a Lieutenant Brown, and I had two navy lieutenants besides under me. No duty I could have been ordered to perform would have been more distasteful, yet I had no choice but to obey and carry it out to the best of my ability. Having landed at Newportneuse, we began our march at eight o'clock in the morning into Elizabeth County. Not having been brought up like some of my Highland friends in the art of levying black mail on my lowland neighbours, I could not help feeling as if I had suddenly turned into a robber when I found myself entering a farm-yard, and, without a word of explanation, quietly collecting the cattle and pigs, or sheep or poultry, and driving them off. We marched about ten miles inland as rapidly as we could, and then, facing about, swept the country before us. On espying a farm we surrounded it, and then, rushing in, we took prisoners all the negroes we could find, and made them drive out the cattle and sheep. The pigs and poultry we killed and placed them in some carts, which, with the horses, we carried off. Having possessed ourselves of everything of value in the farm, notwithstanding the indignant protestations of the farmer's wife, for the farmer himself was away with the army, I suspect, we proceeded onto the next farm. This was owned by an old man with several sons, we were informed by one of the negroes. The sons were all fine young men, and were either in the militia or belonging to some irregular troops. We expected to find only the old man at home, but as we drew near the outbuildings a fire was opened on us from some loop-holes in the walls. As I had no fancy to have my men shot down I led them rapidly round to the front and charged into the farm-yard, over some slight barricades which had been hastily thrown up. At the same moment a dozen to twenty men rushed out of some sheds on one side and attempted to drive off a herd of cattle from a pen near at hand. I, with Rockets and some of my people, followed them so closely that they were compelled to leave the cattle to defend themselves. Most of them seemed inclined to continue their flight, but an old man, whom I took to be the owner of the farm, exerted himself to rally them, and shouting, "On, friends, on! Drive back the robbers!" charged up towards us. I was rather ahead of my men. Some of his people fired. I suspect the muskets of the rest were not loaded. Before I had time to defend myself the old man had his bayonet through my leg, and had I not used my cutlass pretty smartly the rest would have finished me or carried me off prisoner before my men could come to my rescue. When they did come up, they quickly put the rebels to flight, and I was not sorry to find that his friends had dragged off the brave old man without his receiving any injury. We were taught a lesson by this, to be more cautious in future when plundering the farms, lest they might be found fortified and prepared to receive us. My wound was bad enough to prevent me from walking. Hunting about, we found a horse and a saddle fitted to him, by which means I was able to continue my progress. On arriving at several farms we found that, although no attempt was made to defend them, all the cattle had been driven off and the pigs and poultry concealed. Now and then the grunting of a pig or the cackling of a hen betrayed the dust-hole or cellar in which they were imprisoned. The men were, in most instances, absent, but the women seldom failed to abuse us in no measured terms for our behaviour, nor could I help feeling that we deserved everything, that was said against us. My men, I must say, behaved very well. In no instance did they offer any violence to the villagers, and when they were abused they only laughed and retaliated with jokes, which, if not refined, were harmless.

We continued our foraging labours, (some people might have called them our depredations), till about three o'clock in the afternoon, when I judged that it was necessary to commence our retreat. From the experience I had gained I felt pretty certain that we should be harassed on our march by the enemy. I therefore formed my people in the best order I could for defence. Our six butchers, with their axes, saws, and knives, marched ahead as an advanced guard. We had collected in all fifty-seven head of cattle and forty-two sheep. These were driven by thirty negroes and closely surrounded by the seamen, who formed the centre. In the rear came the marines to cover our retreat, while on each flank I placed four marines, who were occasionally relieved from the rear. Brown laughed at my precautions, and said that they were absurd and useless, and so I found did my lieutenants, but I knew that I was right, and kept to my plan.

Had the country been open our progress would have been easy, but instead of that it was thickly wooded, so that our order of march was constantly broken. I kept riding about, doing all I could to keep the people and the cattle together; but every now and then where the wood was thickest I could see an ox, or a cow, and a couple of sheep, slyly impelled by a cunning negro, stealing away between the trees; and perhaps, while I sent some of the seamen in pursuit of them, others would break away in an opposite direction. Of course, when the negroes were overtaken, they always pretended to be endeavouring by lusty strokes to drive the animals back to us, and there was little use in attempting to punish them. Besides this inconvenience, every now and then, whenever we had to pass any hilly or broken ground behind which an enemy could find shelter, we were certain to be saluted with a shower of rifle-balls. At first I attempted to retaliate by sending some of the marines in pursuit, but by the time they got up to the spot from whence the shots were fired no enemy was to be seen, and I was only too glad to get them back without having them cut off. This showed me that our enemies, though persevering, were not numerous.

Considering all the difficulties I had to encounter, it is not surprising that when we arrived at the place of embarkation our stock had been reduced to forty-three head of cattle, with a proportionate diminution in our sheep, though our two carts with the pigs and poultry arrived all safe. We embarked at seven o'clock in the evening on board some vessels sent to carry us and the result of our foraging expedition, to our respective ships. I had not lost a man, and with the exception of my own hurt, no one was wounded. I felt sure that my success was attributable to the dispositions I had made, and the careful way I had effected my retreat, and that seeing me so well prepared to receive them had prevented the enemy from attacking me. I expressed myself to this effect when I returned on board, but was only laughed at for my pains, and asked what I had to fear from a few despicable rebel boors, whom a volley would in an instant put to flight.

"Very well," said I. "If any of you have to perform the same work, and do not take similar precautions, depend on it you will have to rue your neglect."

"Oh, nonsense," was the answer. "We know what the fellows are made of. They are not worth powder and shot."

Greatly to my annoyance, the very next day I was again directed to land with the same number of men for the same object. It was satisfactory to know that the way I conducted the expedition was approved of, but yet I would gladly have got off the duty. Just then, finding that a flag of truce was to be sent to Hampton, I solicited the commodore to allow me to go on that service.

"Yes," he replied. "The inhabitants are acquainted with you; and when you make your appearance they will understand our dispositions are friendly."

I was much flattered by this compliment, and still more pleased to gain the object I had in view. The commodore told me to direct Lieutenant Fallock, second lieutenant of the Iris, to take charge of the foraging party in my place. I earnestly advised him to use the same precautions I had on the previous day, assuring him, from the experience I had had in the numerous expeditions I had commanded in America, that the people would never attack a force if well prepared for resistance, and that the wise principle the people adopted was only to fight when they could obtain some material advantage. Fallock smiled scornfully. I found that Lieutenant Brown of the marines had been talking to him and telling him of my over-cautious and tedious way of retreating, as he called it. I found afterwards that Brown had advised him to take only forty marines as amply sufficient to defeat any number of the enemy likely to assemble to attack them. The officers who had accompanied me had also told him that, as we had not seen more than twenty rebels in arms at a time, he was not at all likely to encounter more than that number, though it was improbable that any would venture to attack him. Having urged the point as strongly as I could, I proceeded on my mission while Fallock and his party prepared for their expedition.

"Don't be afraid, Hurry," said Brown, whom I met as I went down the side, "we shall return in whole skins, and bring you back a good supply of beef and mutton."

I hired a horse and proceeded as before, without any particular adventure, to Hampton. Having delivered my message to the proper authorities I went to the Langtons.

I own that as I approached the house my heart beat many times quicker than usual, for I could not help persuading myself that Madeline might have gone there. When the door was opened by the black servant I tried to discover by his countenance whether my hopes were likely to be realised.

"Is there anybody here?" I asked with a trembling voice.

"Oh, yes; dere be all do young ladies and Madame Langton all at home. Glad see you, sare," was the answer I got.

I did not venture to ask more. The drawing-room door was opened. I held my breath. Her likeness was there, but she was not. I dared not ask for her, and I too soon found that my hopes were vain.

I found myself, however, received by the family as an old friend. They had heard from Madeline. She had, with the wisdom which I felt sure belonged to her, not mentioned having seen me. They had, however, from other sources heard of the expedition up the Nansimond river, and of the courteous way, as they expressed it, in which the English had behaved while in possession of Mrs Elbank's house. It was reported, however, naturally enough, that though the boats had got off, nearly all the people in them had been killed or wounded. I assured my friends that on this point they were under a mistake; but as I did not like to dwell on the subject for fear of betraying myself, I left them still unconvinced that they were in error.

As I was wishing my friends good-bye, a gentleman came in to whom I was introduced. When he heard who I was, he begged that I would delay my departure for a few minutes, saying that he would have the pleasure of accompanying me part of the way. Having delivered a message to the Langtons he left the house, requesting that I would remain till his return. His name, my friends told me, was Sutton, and they added that he was a friend of Colonel Carlyon's. When I heard this, all sorts of ideas rushed into my head, and I could not help hoping that the meeting would be productive of some important consequence, yet how that was to be I could not tell. Mr Sutton soon returned booted and spurred for a journey.

"Perhaps I may go farther than I at first proposed," he observed, as we mounted and rode out of the town. "I am glad to meet you, Mr Hurry, for I have heard of you for some time past, and you have won the regard of many patriots by the way in which you have on several occasions behaved towards those who have fallen into your power. I, with the sentiments I entertain, can only wish that you served a better cause, at the same time that I would not seek to induce you, as an officer bearing his Majesty's commission, to swerve from the allegiance you owe him."

When Mr Sutton said this I could not help feeling that he wished to try me, so I considered some time before I replied. I then said--

"This barbarous war must some day be brought to an end, and then without any sacrifice of principle I may be able not only to express the feelings I entertain for the people of America, but to act according to them."

"Well said, sir," he answered; "we must all eagerly look forward to that time, and, from the way you speak, I feel sure that no temptations would induce you to quit the cause you serve, however much you may sympathise with those opposed to it."

"I trust not, sir," said I firmly. "The path of honour is a very clear one; I have always endeavoured to walk in it."

"I know you have, and perhaps you may wonder why I just now volunteered to accompany you. Thus far I will tell you: I wished to make your acquaintance, and I also considered that I might be of some service to you. Although you bear a flag of truce, so great is the exasperation against all those serving in arms under the traitor Arnold, that I thought it possible you might be insulted, if not injured, by some of the more ignorant country people."

I thanked Mr Sutton for his kindness, though I suspected that he had other reasons for wishing to accompany me which he did not explain. Of course I could not ask them. He did not mention the names of either Colonel Carlyon or his daughter, and, much as I longed to do so, I could not bring myself to speak of them to one who to me, at all events, was a perfect stranger. He soon also began to talk of affairs in general, and proved himself a very well-informed man and an entertaining companion. I could not help fancying at times that he was endeavouring to draw me out, and to assure himself of what my sentiments really were. We passed several parties of armed men, but when they saw him they doffed their hats, or saluted him in military style, with every mark of respect. When within about a mile of our usual landing-place he reined in his horse.

"I can go no farther with you," he said; "I have no wish to fall into the power of any of Arnold's followers. Farewell, Mr Hurry. We may meet again, perhaps, before long, and when we meet I trust that it will be as we now part--as friends."

I made a suitable reply; and then, turning his horse's head, he put the animal into a full gallop, and was soon out of sight. It was late when I got on board. A gloom, such as is always felt after a disaster has occurred hung over the ship. The foraging party, or rather a remnant of them, had just returned. They had a melancholy tale to tell. Mr Fallock had taken the same road I had gone on my expedition, and had succeeded in collecting a considerable number of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry--indeed, forage of all sorts. All went successfully with him and his party till they commenced their return. Instead, however, of marching in the proper order I had proceeded, the cattle were not kept well together, and the men were allowed to scatter about, and, when any of the animals strayed, to follow them to a considerable distance from the main body. The seamen and marines thought it very good fun, and went shouting and laughing along, the officers totally forgetting that they were in an enemy's country. They had proceeded some few miles without being molested, and were congratulating themselves on their own wisdom, and on my folly in having taken so many unnecessary precautions, when suddenly the crack of a rifle was heard--then another and another-- and a band of horsemen were seen galloping up and cutting down the stragglers, who in vain attempted to make a successful resistance. Lieutenant Brown, calling to the men near him, charged the enemy, but the horsemen, wheeling about, left the ground clear for a body of footmen, who, as he advanced, opened a heavy fire on him. He was seen to fall, as were many of those with him; the rest attempted to fly, but the horsemen were upon them, and, with the exception of one man who got back to the main body, they were all cut down, or compelled to yield themselves prisoners. Another small party had, in the meantime, attacked the rest of the stragglers, and had prevented them from falling back on the main body, while the greater part of the cattle were dispersed and driven off. Lieutenant Fallock had, while this was going forward, called in all the remaining seamen and marines round him, and presented as bold a front as he could to the enemy. In spite of his diminished numbers, and the feeling that he had been, in consequence of his own want of forethought and foolhardiness, surprised by an enemy he despised, he fought with the greatest coolness and bravery. Even in numbers he saw that the Americans were inferior to what his party had been at the commencement of the attack, but now he had lost several of the seamen and the greater part of the marines, and the people with him were falling thickly from the bullets of the concealed riflemen. His only chance of escape was to retreat in close order, and as rapidly as he could till he got out of the wood. This he did, facing about, and delivering his fire whenever an enemy appeared. Outside the wood he made a bold stand, and drove back his foes, keeping up a hot fire on them till he found that his ammunition was almost expended. Then once more he retreated. He had escaped without a hurt, though several shots had passed through his clothes, and many of his people were wounded. With the remnant he at last succeeded in reaching the landing-place, where the boats were in waiting for him.

The next day, when I went on shore to inquire for Brown, I found that he had just died of his wounds. Nine marines were killed, eleven were taken prisoners unhurt, and several more were found on the ground wounded, while of those who got off very few escaped unhurt. Such was the termination of this foraging expedition--the disaster arising entirely from the folly of the officers, who would persist, as many had before done, in despising their enemy, and refusing to take the proper precautions to guard against surprise. This is only one of many instances of a similar folly which I observed throughout the American war. I speak of military officers especially. There is something in the character of Englishmen which makes them over-confident and foolhardy, and they will require to be taught by some very severe lessons before they learn the importance of caution. This want of caution in an officer, when entrusted with the lives of brave men, is a very great fault, and shows great folly and an unfitness for command. The vice, I am happy to say, is not so prevalent generally in the navy. Most spirited and dashing enterprises are undertaken, and are successful, for the very reason that forethought is employed and proper precautions are taken to ensure success. Young officers are too apt to mistake want of caution for spirit and bravery, and to despise those who are careful and anxious for the lives as well as for the health of those entrusted to their care. I am now an old man, but I find these sentiments penned in my journal, written at the time of the occurrence I have described, and they have been still more and more impressed by the experience of fifty years. Since then a long, long catalogue of melancholy disasters might be chronicled, all contributing to sully the glory of the British arms, which have arisen from those two causes--the neglect of proper precaution, and a foolish conceited contempt of the enemy.

Where a subject is matter of history I need but briefly touch on it and I have therefore often skimmed over subjects of far more importance than those I have described. I will now give a sketch of the proceedings of the troops under General Arnold, and the mode in which the ships of war were employed in assisting them. Having marched up James river, supported by some small ships of war, as I have before mentioned, the general reached Burds Landing on the 6th of January, and from thence, with only fifteen hundred men, pushed on to Richmond, the capital of Virginia--a distance of no less than one hundred and forty miles from the Capes of Virginia. He defeated all the forces sent against him, and arriving in that city, destroyed or brought off large quantities of stores, provisions, ammunition and some guns and stand of arms, returning to Burds Landing with the loss only of three killed and fifteen wounded. This was one of the most important expeditions undertaken into the interior of the country, for all the stores I have mentioned were destined for the supply of the southern army of the rebels opposing Lord Cornwallis in the Carolinas. It was followed up on the 12th by an expedition headed by Colonel Simcoe, who with his own corps surprised two hundred rebel militia and killed or took prisoners about fifty of them. On the 14th the troops moved to the town of Smithfield, where they captured forty hogs-heads of tobacco. On the 15th the troops evacuated Smithfield, and the squadron moved down to Newportneuse. On the following day that very active officer, Colonel Simcoe, was engaged in a skirmish with the rebels, the result of which was that he made prisoners of an officer and fifteen privates of a militia regiment. The occupation of Portsmouth had now, I found, been determined on. It stands on a southern branch of that estuary called Hampton Roads, into which James river empties itself. Between it and Smithfield is the Nansimond river with Mackey's Mills situated on its bank, about half-way up, while higher still on the West Branch was the house belonging to Mr Elbank, where I found Miss Carlyon on the night I and my party so narrowly escaped being cut off. The moment the above information reached me, and I ascertained the direction the army was to march, I became alarmed lest they should pass near Mr Elbank's house and take possession of it. I knew too well what had occurred on former occasions, and if it was known to have been occupied by Colonel Carlyon, it would too probably be destroyed, and the inmates alarmed and inconvenienced, if not insulted and injured. I had every reason to believe that Miss Carlyon was still there with her friends, unless our visit to the place had been a warning to them to quit it. What could I do to save her? I thought rapidly over the subject. I was not long in coming to a resolution. I must find some means of communicating with her. Could I trust any one with the message? No--at every risk I must go myself. Any personal danger was of course not to be taken into consideration, and I reflected that the cause I served could, not be injured by any information I could give her. Besides this, in a public point of view, I and those under my command, in our late expedition up the Nansimond, owed her a debt of gratitude for the warning she had given us, which we, to the best of our power, were bound to repay. Sometimes I thought that I would go openly to the commodore and ask his leave to go up the river to Mr Elbank's, and then again I was afraid that by some means or other Miss Carlyon's name might become known, and that her party might hear that she had given the information by which my companions and I had been preserved from the ambush laid for us. That would expose her to an annoyance to which I would on no account subject her. I easily persuaded myself that I alone could properly go. Perhaps the prospect of seeing her biassed me. I knew that I could depend on assistance. Although O'Driscoll had been less cordial with me since the night of our expedition, in consequence of the way I had spoken to him, I knew that he would be delighted to accompany me if I asked him; so of course would Tom Rockets. We had picked up, some time before, a light, fast-pulling canoe, which a couple of hands could send along at a great rate. The use of this I could command. How to get leave to quit the ship for a night was the difficulty. Without leave I could not go. Neither would I tell a falsehood to obtain leave. I resolved, therefore, to go frankly to Captain Symonds, to plead my constant good conduct, and to beg that he would trust me and O'Driscoll and one man away from the ship to carry out a matter of importance. I went to him accordingly. He hesitated a good deal, as I knew he would. He asked to have the matter more fully explained to him. I told him that I would rather not explain it--that should it fail, no blame might be attached to him.

"There must be blame if I allow you to leave the ship ignorant of where you are going, and any ill results from your expedition," he answered.

I saw that he was right.

"Well, sir, then, as you desire it, I will tell you my object, and leave it to your generosity to allow me to accomplish it," I answered, lifting up my head and looking boldly at him, for I felt relieved of a difficulty. I told him briefly the state of the case.

"I do not hesitate a moment in giving you leave, and for such an object will gladly share the blame, if blame there be," he replied with a well-satisfied look.

It was amusing to witness O'Driscoll's delight at the thoughts of the expedition.

"Arrah! now, that's just as it should be!" he exclaimed; "and, my dear boy, now, if you could but clap the sweet girl into the boat and pull off with her, you'd be placing her out of danger, plaising yourself and doing the right thing."

I did not argue the subject with him, as I had already done so in vain, but I let him run on. From the alacrity with which he set about our preparations it might have been supposed that he was the person most interested in the result. A light boat was easily procured. Rockets was of course ready to accompany us. We resolved to go without arms, but to wear our uniforms that we might not be accused of being spies. I wrote a letter, which I kept in my pocket, addressed to Colonel Carlyon, informing him that my object in visiting the house where he was residing was to request him to remove his family and friends from it, lest it should become the scene of strife between the contending parties. Should we be taken prisoners I intended to show this and to claim his assistance to obtain our release. We left the ship early in the evening, and with a fair wind our light skiff flew quickly over the water towards the mouth of the Nansimond river. I never saw O'Driscoll in such high feather. Had I been inclined to be in low spirits he would have kept them up. Commend me to such a companion in all cases of this sort, he joked, he told good stories, he sang and rattled on without cessation. It was sufficiently dark when we neared the mouth of the river to enable us, with our sail lowered, to enter without much chance of being seen from the shore. Though the wind was fair, of course after that we could not venture to carry sail, so we took it by turns to steer while the other two pulled. Lights were glimmering in Nansimond as we passed, but we gave the town a wide berth, and then had little to apprehend except from a stray boat, till we got up to Mackey's Mills. We kept a sharp look-out, to avoid any boat crossing or coming down the stream. As we glided by the mills we could hear voices of people speaking in them, but we kept near the opposite bank, and no one, we fancied, saw us. Of course our oars were muffled, and as we sat as low as we could in our little boat, very sharp eyes would have been required to make us out. As long as there was a flood-tide we got on very well, but it was high water before we got to Mackey's Mills, and in a short time a strong current set against us. It was hard work in some spots pulling against it; not that I minded that, but I was anxious to hurry on to perform my mission and to assure myself that Miss Carlyon had retired to a place of safety. We had just got into the broader part of the stream, when, as I peered through the darkness ahead, I fancied I saw a large object coming right down upon us. I instantly steered the boat over to the north shore, and in a whisper told O'Driscoll and Rockets to cease pulling. I was but just in time, for immediately after a large boat full of people hove in sight. We could hear them talking, and we made out that they expected an attack that very night from the English. Had they seen us they would probably have supposed we had been sent in advance, and would have shot us all down. The circumstances made us consider how we should manage to return, for they would certainly be on the look-out for us. Other boats also would be coming down, which we might have some difficulty in avoiding. Still, what I had undertaken I was determined to accomplish. We pulled on without stopping. No other boat was seen. At length we reached what we believed to be the place where we had landed on the night when I had met Miss Carlyon. I knew it by the peculiar outline of the trees--otherwise it might have been easily passed. O'Driscoll agreed with me that I was right; so, running in under the bank, we effectually concealed our boat in the bushes, and, clambering up, stood on the open ground with the house we were in search of at no great distance from us. After a short consultation O'Driscoll consented to remain near the boat with Rockets, while I proceeded alone to the house. If I was well received I was to summon him. My heart beat pretty fast as I approached the door. It did not occur to me till my hand was actually on the knocker that it was nearly midnight, and that in all probability the family would be in bed. However, I knocked with tolerable distinctness, and then waited the result. I saw lights gleaming at the windows, and before long a voice in negro accents asked who was there and what was wanted.

"A messenger with important information for Colonel Carlyon or his daughter," I answered. "I come alone, as a friend, tell your master."

"Admit him," said a voice.

The door was opened and I entered. Before me stood an officer in uniform, with a brace of pistols in his belt and a sword by his side, evidently prepared for service. I threw open my own cloak to show what I was, and followed the officer into a well-lighted room on one side of the passage. Supper was on the table, and another gentleman was in the room. I instantly recognised him as my companion on my ride from Hampton.

"Ah, Mr Hurry, I am glad to see you!" he exclaimed in a cordial tone, stretching out his hand. "I little expected to meet you again so soon. What brings you here?"

Now I was prepared to warn Miss Carlyon and her lady friends of danger, but I had no intention of giving information to a stranger of the movements of the British army. I felt myself placed at once in a dilemma. I need have had no scruples on the subject, as the enemy often knew as much about the matter as anybody else. I hesitated before replying.

"I came to give some information to Colonel Carlyon, on which I expected that he and his daughter only would act," I answered. "I have never met Colonel Carlyon. Do I see him now?"

"You do," said the officer to whom I had first spoken. "I am Colonel Carlyon, and I am glad to welcome you, sir, to thank you for the inestimable service you have more than once rendered those dearest to me. Whatever you have to communicate you may say freely before this gentleman, my most intimate friend."

Feeling that I might trust to them, I, without further delay, told them the object of my adventure.

"You have not come alone, though," he remarked, after thanking me cordially for the information I had given him.

I told him that O'Driscoll and Rockets were waiting for me at the boat. He insisted on sending for them, and in a very short time they made their appearance, and while the negro took care of my follower, we were soon pleasantly seated at supper. I, as may be supposed, was hoping that I might have an opportunity of seeing Madeline. At last I mustered courage to ask for her. Her father hesitated, I thought, before he replied. At length he said--

"Yes, she will indeed wish to thank you personally for the risk you have run, and the exertion you have made for her sake; but I know not whether your meeting can be productive of advantage to either of you. A wide gulf separates one from the other. I know not how it can be crossed. I would rather, sir, that you would not insist on this interview."

He spoke, it seemed to me, in a stiff and constrained manner. I could only repeat what I had before said to Madeline. "This war must before long come to an end, and then I will come and claim her for my wife," I answered boldly.

"Well spoken, sir," said Mr Sutton, turning to me. "With my opinions, I can only regret that you have to wait till the war is terminated. I can answer for it that Madeline would not forgive us if we sent you away without letting you see her. When you have finished supper, if you go into the drawing-room, you will probably find her there."

My heart gave a jump, and as to putting another mouthful down my throat I found it impossible. I got up and hurried into the room I had before met her in. She was there. The old negro had taken good care to tell her of my arrival. I will not describe our meeting, and all we said, and the hopes we indulged in. I was amply repaid for what I had done for her sake. Her father and Mr Sutton were, I found, about to start on some expedition, but the news I brought them made them alter their plans. The time too soon arrived that I must take my departure. It was with a pang I left her, not knowing when the uncertain chances of war would again allow us to meet.

"Remember, should you ever desire to quit the standard you now serve under, you will be welcomed in a land of freedom, and we shall not expect you to turn your arms against your former comrades," said Mr Sutton, as he wished me farewell.

I felt very much inclined to quarrel with him for the remark. It sounded strangely like asking me to turn traitor to my country, and I was glad that Colonel Carlyon did not repeat the remarks of his friend. We left the family about to prepare for their departure in the morning, while we returned to the river. O'Driscoll said nothing till we had once more taken our seats in the boat, and then he expressed his disappointment at what he called the tameness of the result of our expedition.

"Arrah, now, I thought we should have had some little fun at all events," he exclaimed. "I was waiting to see you appear with the lady in your arms, and to have the old colonel with his pistols popping away after us while we were pulling like fury for life and liberty down the river; and after all to have it end in a quiet pleasant supper, and some matter-of-fact conversation, is very provoking. However, your friends gave us some capital Burgundy, and that is some consolation."

In this strain the eccentric Hibernian ran on till I had to hint that it would be wiser not to speak, lest we might be overheard by any of the enemy. He then told me that Colonel Carlyon and Mr Sutton had given him a pass that, should we fall in with any of their party, we might not be stopped. We, however, proceeded as cautiously as before, for we had no wish that our expedition should become known. We got as far as Mackey's Mills without meeting with any adventure. As before, we gave it a wide berth, for we could hear the sound of voices, and it appeared evidently occupied by a body of men. However, as long as they all kept talking together they were less likely to discover us. We paddled, therefore, quickly and cautiously on, but without any apprehension of being found out. We had almost lost sight of the mill, and were congratulating ourselves on getting clear altogether, when the stillness of the night was broken by a loud sharp voice exclaiming--

"There they go! Give it them, lads, give it them! After them, after them!"

The next moment a sharp fire of musketry was opened on us, the flashes, however, showing that we had passed the spot where our enemies were posted. The balls, however, fell round us unpleasantly thick. Then again there was another volley, and, by the flash of the pieces, we could see a number of men hurrying into a boat, with, we had no doubt, the intention of pursuing us. Our skiff pulled well. O'Driscoll and Rockets, who were rowing, bent manfully to their oars. Away we flew over the water, and though the troops on the shore still continued to fire, the bullets happily flew wide of us. We had a good start of the pursuing boat. From the glimpse we got of her she was of some size, but if, as we hoped, she was heavy in proportion to her size, that would be in our favour. At all events, all we could do was to pull away with all our might, and to keep a straight course down the river. We could hear the shouts of our pursuers, and of the people hailing them from the shore. They only induced us to make greater exertions to keep ahead of them. On we dashed. In a short time we felt sure that we were already distancing them. Their voices grew fainter and fainter. We got into the broad part of the river. We had now another chance of escape. Should they be overtaking us, we might slip on one side, and in the darkness and eagerness of the chase they would probably pass by without observing us. Still that was not our wish. We wanted to get out of the river without being questioned. On we went, till we could neither see nor hear anything of our pursuers. At last a few lights here and there of some midnight watchers were seen glimmering from the town of Nansimond. We glided by it. We reached the mouth of the river, and not till then did we slacken our speed. I then relieved O'Driscoll at the oar. I was duly grateful for the exertions he had made for me, but I evidently did not hold a high place in his estimation.

"Ah, you English boys don't understand how to do things!" he observed, with a sigh. "In ould Ireland we'd have managed an affair of the sort very differently."

Just at daylight we got on board our ship--I, at all events, being very well contented with the result of our expedition. I afterwards heard that the Americans stated that they had pursued and chased a large British flotilla out of the river with only a couple of boats, and that we had lost twenty men in killed and wounded. From so slight a source does many a tale of wonder spring.

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Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25 Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE OPERATIONS UNDER COLONEL SIMCOE.--SENT TO MACKEY'S MILLS.--MY FRIEND'S HOUSE SACKED.--COLONEL CARLYON TAKEN PRISONER.--RENDER HIM A SERVICE.-- TROOPS EMBARK AT NIGHT.--MY LOYALTY QUESTIONED.--MILLS BURNT.--IN COMMAND OF RATTLESNAKE.--SAIL WITH PRIZES.--A WINTRY VOYAGE.--NEW YORK ONCE MORE.--SERVE ON BOARD CHATHAM.--MISMANAGEMENT OF THE WAR.--REJOIN CHARON. I must endeavour to get on more rapidly than heretofore with my account of public matters. On the 18th of January the British army marched from Smithfield southward, and the squadron moved down to Newportneuse. Among the most active of the English officers was Colonel Simcoe. On the 16th he surprised and took prisoners an American

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.