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es led the inquirers to determine on a diligent search of the premises at the Highlands. The neighbourhood were indignant at this resolution; but their indignation at a supposed insult to the feelings of the man, who, with all his eccentricities, they adored, gave place to astonishment and horror at the discovery of the corpse of the stranger, in a secret cavern under the building, and the confession of colonel Alesworth, that he was the murderer of his guest.
The unhappy man was tried before the very person, whom he had adopted in infancy, and educated; he plead guilty, was condemned, and, notwithstanding all the exertions used to obtain a pardon-executed.
Then it was, that, upon examining the papers left by colonel Alesworth, the mystery which enveloped many of his actions, and the secret springs which gave impulse to others, were discovered. He had wedded at an early age, in England, a noble lady, whom, having plundered of her property, he left and came to America under the fictitious name of colonel Alesworth; this distressed lady, who had forfeited the favour of her friends in England by accepting his hand, was the mother of Edward!
When the colonel, who was himself the heir of a baronet in England, having assumed a fictitious name, came to America, he was followed hither by his broken hearted wife. Chance led her, in her search, to the mansion of her lord, who suspected her true history, and took measures to satisfy himself of it, and keep the secret from others. But vengeance slept not-for, haying lost his whole fortune at the gaming table, to the man whom he murdered, in the hope of concealing the fact, and preserving his property, be closed a life, full of specious deceit and bitter folly, by the sentence of his Such are the vicissitudes of fortune.
III. THE GRAVES OF THE FOREST.
There neither name nor emblems spread,
To me a neglected grave is a melancholy sight, for it speaks not only of the vanity of pride, but of the treachery of friendship and the forgetfulness of humanity. An over-shadowing willow, a little drooping flower, or even a cluster of mournful ivies, tells a soothing tale, while we recognize the tear of affection, and the tender cares of undying love as the organ of their growth.
I once paused on the banks of the Susquehanna, by the side of a small plain, which appeared to be crowded with the monuments of mortality, though far from any settlement which could have furnished to the tomb so many tenants; the spoil of a desperate battle was there deposited, unhonoured, save in the simple tale of the villager, recording their deeds of heroism.
There is no account of Augustus and his little band of martyrs, on the pages of history. More than seventeen years have rolled along since those shores where they are now immured, echoed to the peal of their musketry, and the savage shouts of victory. And at this distance from that period, even the faithfulness of memory but obscurely traces the event.
The settlers in the interior of the colony of Pennsylvania were rustics, living in a manner, as unadorned, as the rude forests which surrounded them. But in the little village of Haverhill, if the accomplishments of art were wanted to make life splendid, the beauties of nature were not sought in vain to make it sweet. Love had found its way into the silent hamlet, and the angel cheek of beauty smiled midst the solitudes of the forests, and breathed spells of happiness around. There was one sweet girl, the daughter of Mr. M. to whose nuptials the villagers had been invited in the evening of the day preceding the catastrophe, which peopled, in the end, this little spot with tenants.
She had given her heart to one, who, though born and bred among the mountains and woods of the desert, was as fond and fervent as the warmest; but in so doing,
she rejected the addresses of a foreigner and a stranger. Leroy, when the success of his rival was beyond a doubt, left the neighbourhood precipitately, and, without occasioning a suspicion of his intention, passed over the Susquehanna, to the encampment of a tribe of Indians. Having received intelligence of the time when Charlotte M. was to become the wife of Augustus, he prevailed upon the savages to attack the settlement with promises of large booty and no resistance.
Just as the villagers were gathering to the cottage of Mr. M. a horrid sound echoed along the vale, and a band of Indians, led on by Leroy, rushed from an adjoining wood upon them. The attack was too unexpected to allow of resistance, and a general fight and massacre ensued; the father, mother, and brother, perished; their cottage reduced to ashes, and the defenceless daughter remained a prisoner. Augustus had disap peared amid the tumult, none knew how.
Elated with the success of his villany, Leroy accompanied the heart-broken Charlotte, and her cruel captors, a long day's march, and they lighted their fires for the night, at the going down of the sun, on the spot now covered with so many graves. When the Indians had assembled, Leroy addressed them in language to this effect:
My friends, you listened to my proposals; I have guided you to victory; I have but one request to make, that captive girl I claim for my services; give her to me, that I may revenge myself for the injury she has When my rancour is satisfied, I will yield her up to the fate you choose to consign her to." The Indians heard him with careless approbation, and the tumult of his feelings flashed from his eyes and curled upon his lip, as he turned towards his victim.
At this moment, a bullet whistled by his head. It was Augustus and a chosen band of friends, who had armed themselves and followed the assassins, and in an instant they were in the midst of their enemies. A dreadful slaughter followed. The savages triumphed, and not one of that little company of heroes escaped.
Augustus was among the prisoners, and Charlotte was
still uninjured. When the Indians found their victory complete, they proceeded to despatch all the captives who had thus fallen into their power; but when they came to Augustus, Leroy again interfered. 66 My friends," said he, "give him also up to me; he shall first witness what will be to him far worse than death." After much persuasion they consented, and Leroy sat down to brood over the revenge he now seemed sure of; but having drank deeply, a sudden drowsiness came over him, and he sunk to sleep.
Augustus had watched the dawning of hope, and now looked eagerly around to see if any moved. All was still, save the murmurs of the breeze, the heavens were cloudless, and the moon was just hiding herself behind the trees; he listened—a deep and long drawn sigh fell softly on his ear; it was from Charlotte's bosom, and roused him from his apathy. With one effort he loosed his arms, and soon regained his liberty to liberate his fair companion in suffering, was an easy task, and before the sun arose, they were beyond the reach of pursuit.
The bones of Leroy are buried in one of these graves of the forest, for his savage confederates, suspecting him of having favoured the escape of their prisoners, tormented him to death.
IV. NEW-ENGLAND SUPERSTITIONS.*
In that almost insulated part of the state of Massachusetts, called old colony, or Plymouth county, and particularly in a small village adjoining the shire town, there may be found the relics of many old customs and superstitions, which would be amusing, at least to the antiquary. Among others of less serious cast, there was, fifteen years ago, one which, on account of its peculiarity and its consequence, I beg leave to mention.
It is well known to those who are acquainted with
*This and the two following articles are a part of a series of tales published in the United States Gazette, entitled, "NewEngland Superstitions," and they are the only numbers of the series, which the editor could procure. ED.
that section of our country, that nearly one half of its inhabitants die of a consumption, occasioned by the chilly humidity of their atmosphere, and the long prevalence of easterly winds. The inhabitants of the village (or town, as it is there called) to which I allude, were peculiarly exposed to this scourge; and I have seen, at one time, one of every fifty of its inhabitants gliding down to the grave, with all the certainty which characterises this insiduous foe of the human family.
There was, fifteen years ago, and is perhaps at this time, an opinion prevalent among the inhabitants of this town, that the body of a person, who died of a consumption, was by some supernatural means, nourished in the grave of some one living member of the family; and that during the life of this person, the body retained in the grave all the fulness and freshness of life and health.
This belief was strengthened by the circumstance, that whole families frequently fell a prey to this terrible disease.
Of one large family in this town, consisting of fourteen children, and their venerable parents, the mother and the youngest son only remained; the rest within a year of each other had died of the consumption.
Within two months from the death of the thirteenth child, an amiable girl of about sixteen years of age, the bloom, which characterized the whole of this family, was seen to fade from the cheek of the last support of the heart-smitten mother, and his broad flat chest was Occasionally convulsed by that powerful deep cough, which attends the consumption in our Atlantic states.
At this time, as if to snatch one of this family from an early grave, it was resolved, by a few of the inhabitants of the village to test the truth of this tradition which I have mentioned, and which the circumstances of this afflicted family seemed to confirm. I should have added, that it was believed, that if the body thus supernaturally nourished in the grave, should be raised, and turned over in the coffin, its depredation upon the surviver would necessarily cease. The consent of the mother being obtained, it was agreed that four persons,