Father And Son

It was three soldiers, escaping from the rout of Braddock's forces, who

caught the alleged betrayer of their general and put him to the death.

They threw his purse of ill-gotten louis d'or into the river, and sent

him swinging from the edge of a ravine, with a vine about his neck and a

placard on his breast. And so they left him.

Twenty years pass, and the war-fires burn more fiercely in the vales of

Pennsylvania, but, too old to fight, the schoolmaster sits at his door

near Chad's Ford and smokes and broods upon the past. He thinks of the

time when he marched with Washington, when with two wounded comrades he

returned along the lonely trail; then comes the vision of a blackening

face, and he rises and wipes his brow. It was right, he mutters. He

sent a thousand of his brothers to their deaths.

Gilbert Gates comes that evening to see the old man's daughter: a smooth,

polite young fellow, but Mayland cannot like him, and after some short

talk he leaves him, pleading years and rheumatism, and goes to bed. But

not to sleep; for toward ten o'clock his daughter goes to him and urges

him to fly, for men are gathering near the house--Tories, she is

sure,--and they mean no good. Laughing at her fears, but willing to

relieve her anxiety, the old man slips into his clothes, goes into the

cellar, and thence starts for the barn, while the girl remains for a few

minutes to hide the silver.

He does not go far before Gates is at his elbow with the whispered words,

Into the stack-quick. They are after you. Mayland hesitates with

distrust, but the appearance of men with torches leaves no time for talk.

With Gilbert's help he crawls deep into the straw and is covered up.

Presently a rough voice asks which way he has gone. Gilbert replies that

he has gone to the wood, but there is no need for getting into a passion,

and that on no account would it be advisable to fire the stack. Won't we

though? cries one of the party. We'll burn the rebel out of house and

home, and thrusting his torch into the straw it is ablaze in an instant.

The crowd hurries away toward the wood, and does not hear the stifled

groan that comes out of the middle of the fire. Gates takes a paper from

his pocket, and, after reading it for the last time, flings it upon the

flame. It bears the inscription, Isaac Gates, Traitor and Spy, hung by

three soldiers of his majesty's army. Isaac Mayland.

From his moody contemplation he rouses with a start, for Mayland's

daughter is there. Her eyes are bent on a distorted thing that lies among

the embers, and in the dying light of the flames it seems to move. She

studies it close, then with a cry of pain and terror she falls upon the

hot earth, and her senses go out, not to be regained in woful years. With

head low bowed, Gilbert Gates trudges away. In the fight at Brandywine

next day, Black Samson, a giant negro, armed with a scythe, sweeps his

way through the red ranks like a sable figure of Time. Mayland had taught

him; his daughter had given him food. It is to avenge them that he is

fighting. In the height of the conflict he enters the American ranks

leading a prisoner--Gilbert Gates. The young man is pale, stern, and

silent. His deed is known, he is a spy as well as a traitor, but he asks

no mercy. It is rumored that next day he alone, of the prisoners, was led

to a wood and lashed by arms and legs to a couple of hickory trees that

had been bent by a prodigious effort and tied together by their tops. The

lashing was cut by a rifle-ball, the trees regained their straight

position with a snap like whips, and that was the way Gilbert Gates came

to his end.

Fatality Of Numbers Father Moody's Black Veil facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail