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before her mistress, embraced her knees, looked up into her face, and said in tones of earnest, deep affection, "Don't go, mist'ess, don't go! don't trust yerse'f 'long o' Admirable Cockburn and his hang-gallows sojers! Don't!"
"I must, Henny. It is the only chance of saving your brother."
Oh, dear me ! Oh! my heart's ready for to break; but, nebber mind, don't go, mist'ess-don't go ! Let him die, mist'ess-'tain't nothin' only but death, arter all; and Admirable Cockburn-save his 'funnel soul-can't do nuffin' 'tall but kill him. An', poor fellow! he hadn' long to live nohow, wid a 'sumption in his breas', an' so it on'y comes a little sooner an' a little deffunt like. Don't go, Miss Kate, dear; let him die. I'se his sister, and I'se been a mammy to him; but I sez so, an' he'd say so, too, brother Jack would, ef he could on'y speak 'long o' you! Sure he'd lay down his life willin', an' so would us all, sooner 'an you should fall in wid Admirable Cockburn."
"I know it, Henny; I know it. Don't talk to me any longer, though every word you say but fixes my resolution. to go."
"O Miss Kate! oh, don't, don't!" exclaimed Henny, clasping her knees and repeating all the arguments and intreaties she had used before. But Catherine was firm as sad.
If you mus' make an effort, sen' a messenger 'long of a note, Miss Kate. Dar! do dat-now dat's a good trought." "Ah, Heaven forbid! I have had enough of risking poor ignorant creatures, who cannot keep themselves out of danger."
"Well, den, Miss Kate, who is you gwine for to take 'long o' you, to wait on you, chile ?"
There, give me my hat, Henny."
"Yes, honey-who's you gwine to take wid you?"
I told you no one, Henny. Where are my gloves?" "Here dey is, honey. O mist'ess! dat's susanside, an' nothin' 'tall else. Take Jeemes 'long o' you; he's brave as a lion, comes to 'fendin' at you."
No, James would need rest and food on the journey-I shall require, I shall stop for neither; besides, there is not a horse here who could bear his weight continuously for so
long a journey. My strong little mountain-pony, I think, may carry my light weight to the journey's end with very little stopping."
"O Miss Kate! 'deed I shall pray for you.'
'Yes, do, Henny; that is the only way in which you can help me. Come, go out with me.”
Stay, mist'ess, stay one minute! I'se trought ob anoder trought.'
Long as you will go onattended, please don't be 'noyed at what I'm gwine to say.'
"Only be quick, Henny, that's all."
Well, den, 'long as you will go widout any 'fence or 'tection-"
"Except the Lord, Henny."
"Yes, honey, sure 'nough-'cept de Lord's-hadn't better put on-hem-a-hem-male boy's clothes ?”
Wouldn't it be more of a 'tection to you? Now, der's a suit in de house, you calls to min', as 'll just fit you—dem as 'longed to Miss Georgy, when she were a masqueradeplay-actorin' here wid de city folks one Christmas; dey'd you to a tee."
No, thank you, Henny."
You ain't mad 'long o' me for sayin' of it, is you, Miss Kate ?"
Poor girl! No, Henny."
Nor likewise 'noyed in your feelin's ?"
“No, no, you did but mistake," answered Catherine, getting into her saddle, while James held the pony and Henny affectionately arranged the riding-skirt around her feet and handed her the whip.
There, there, that will do. Good-bye, all of you," said Catherine feverishly.
Henny burst into loud wailing. Catherine paused, and laid her hand upon her shoulder, silencing her, while she said, "My poor girl, do not fear. I have committed myself to the Lord! I am in His hands. I trust in Him, else I should not dare do this, which seems to you so much like madness. I trust in Him, and no evil can befall me."
"But, O mist'ess, mist'ess! perish!"
if you should arter all
"If I perish, I perish-it will be no evil if the Lord permits it!"
"I doesn't b'lieve de Lord am gwine fur to 'mit it. I feels safe 'bout young mist'ess, I does. I b'lieves how ef Admirable Cockburn or any of his jail-birds was to come fur to 'sturve mist'ess, trustin' in Hebben as she does, how a thunderbolt would strike him down sooner 'an she as puts her trus' in de Lord should come to any harm," said James.
Yes, or a yethquake, if ne'ssary!" exclaimed the more ardent Henny. "I ain't 'feard for you no longer, mist'ess, dear. Hebben is wid you !"
Catherine waved her hand in adieu, gave reins to her pony, which bounded beneath her, and seemed to fly over the lawn. She was fevered, excited, "mad inspired "say either. Night was closing darkly around her, but its sedative shadows had no power to soothe her excited nerves-the dews were falling, but they had no efficacy to cool her fevered veins; a long journey lay before her, but its length could not discourage her; dangers were thickly strewn about her path, but they could not appall her: her only desire, her only anxiety, was to reach her destination in season, if possible, to rescue this boy from death, because he was dear to Cliftondearer than she herself, his wife, was, she now thought; and now her life itself seemed of little worth, since the hope that was life's earthly end was laid low. Her only remaining hope was to save this life-her only remaining fear to fail in doing so.
Her path for many miles lay through the deep, interminable wilderness of forest that, rising and falling with the low mountain ranges, extended over more than half the county. Her path was so narrow, and the branches of the trees often so low and interlaced, that a single start of her horse, or a single moment's hesitation to bow her head, might have dashed her brains out against the intersecting branches of the trees; and in the deep darkness of the night, and in the despairing absence of her perceptive faculties, this danger beset her every instant. But she rode on, like a monomaniac, strangely heedless, and, like a somnambulist, strangely preserved. As night deepened, and lowered, and thickened around her in the awful depths of the wilderness, the distant howl of the hungry wolf, the nearer cry of the fierce wild cat, and once the more fearful whistle-signal
of some outlawed desperado, fell upon her ear; but even these appalling sounds struck no terror to a heart stunned by despair into insensibility to danger, and she rode on through these terrific perils, strangely unconscious, and strangely protected.
At length, as she descended the last steep, and drew near to the outskirts of the wilderness, the lights of the small village of L―― gleamed through the interstices of the woods, appearing and disappearing, jack-o'-lanternlike, until she emerged from the forest and came full upon the hamlet. It was so late at night that all the houses were shut and dark, and the only lights were those she had seen in the forest-the lights of the stage and post-office. She passed like a meteor through the gloomy street, eliciting only a "What the deuce was that?" from a loiterer in the stageoffice, who had seen her flight, and emerged again upon an open plain, over which her road lay for many miles. Another village gleamed up from the plains, was reached, passed, and left far behind with the same lightning-like speed.
She rode all night, less sensible to danger and fatigue than the hardy little mountain-pony that was carrying her light weight, but straining every nerve and sinew in the service. The night was deeply dark-the clouds thick, heavy, and lowering. She had no means of computing time or distance; but farms, and forests, and fields continued to loom, appear, and vanish, as she fled past them. She watched the east with feverish anxiety for day; but still mountain, meadow, and moorland came and went, as she approached and hurried by them, and still deep darkness hung like a pall over heaven and earth. Vainly she watched the east; for hamlet, village, or town in turn was seen, and reached, and left behind, and still a wall of dense blackness blocked up the orient.
A new and very serious danger threatened her every instant-her poor horse, fatigued nearly to death, was ready to fall, and she did not know it. He reeled and tottered, and stumbled and recovered himself many times, and she did not see or feel it; nay, she mechanically exerted every nerve and sinew to hold him up, and keep him on his feet, while totally unconscious of her own exertion-like a sleepwalker was she in her deep abstraction.
She was in a deep forest again riding for life, and the
veins in her arms were swelled out like cords, with straining to hold the horse up on his feet. She could no longer see the eastern horizon, but it was growing lighter, and she knew that morning was dawning. She rode on, and on, and on, and at length came out of the forest in time to see the level rays of the rising sun striking redly across the fields. The windows of a farmhouse flashing back the early light gleamed upon her vision, and, at the same time, her horse reeled and fell with her.
"Good Lord!" "Are you hurt ?” "Run here, Tim." "Call your mist'ess, Peter." 'Where are you hurt, lady? can you tell us ?"
Catherine awoke as out of a dream, to see many people around her all asking questions, and all attempting to extricate her from her saddle. She passed her hand across her brow, as was her wont when trying to dispel thought, and she looked at them in perplexity.
My Lord, I'm afraid she's very much hurt! Can you speak, lady? Where is your injury?" said the eldest man of the party at length, lifting her in his arms.
"I-no-I'm not hurt-not the least; is the horse?"
We don't know, ma'am. I'm sure it's a blessed thing you're not killed yourself," said another of the group, who, with several more, were trying to raise the pony upon his legs.
Pray put me down upon my feet. Thank you. not hurt. How far is Washington City from this place?" said Catherine, as she stood watching her horse.
"Good forty miles, lady. I don't think he's hurt; but, poor fellow he's trembling with fatigue," said the farmer, answering her, and then examining the horse, which was raised at last, and stood trembling and blowing.
"Can he take me to Washington to-day ?" asked Catherine, as she leaned against the fence for support.
"He? Ha, ha, ha! Why, look at him, lady! Besides, can you go there yourself, anyhow? Why, you're ready to drop now! Better go in and let the old woman put you to bed, and give you some breakfast."
"It is true I'm very stiff and weary-having ridden all night. But I must reach Washington without delay; there is one I care about under sentence of death. If I reach there in time, I may get a reprieve and save him. I must