Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > The Peddler Spy > CHAPTER VIII. “THERE’S MANY A SLIP ’TWIXT THE CUP AND THE LIP.”
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】
CHAPTER VIII. “THERE’S MANY A SLIP ’TWIXT THE CUP AND THE LIP.”
Van Curter and his men made good time in their march to Windsor, and at four o’clock in the afternoon they were encamped behind the three hills. Hardly had they settled themselves to wait for night, when Carl Anselm came in. His face[71] was disfigured by the knife-cut; the blood lay in thick clots about it, and his small eyes sparkled with vicious fire under his heavy brows. He made his way at once to the place where Van Zandt sat, under a large maple tree.

“Welcome, Carl,” said the captain. “In the name of the saints, what is the matter with your face?”

“I have taken the mark in your service,” replied the other, angrily. “Come away from the rest and I will tell you how.”

The captain followed him to a retired spot, then called upon him to speak.

“I waited in the path for the coming of your enemy until I became weary and fell asleep; their voices woke me as they came, and I started up so quickly that the bush stirred. He was not alone.”

“Ah-ha!”

“No; that cursed spy—for he is nothing better—Bainbridge, was with him. Sturm and wetter! I will have his heart’s blood upon my own account.”

“On with your tale, quick. You fired, did you not?”

“Yes. As the bush stirred, Bainbridge called out to his companion, and he jumped; if he had not done it, a ball would have been in his heart. My curse upon the meddler.”

“Then he escaped?” demanded the other, hoarsely.

“Escaped. Not fully, for my ball struck him on the arm, and there was blood starting through his clothing. Before I could look, that devil, whom we call the peddler, was upon me with an open knife. I had mine in my hand, and made a blow at him. He is quick as a cat; he dodged the knife, and struck at me. You see the result. I lay that wound up against him. I shall do him mischief yet.”

“What did you do then?”

“I saw that he was not what he seemed, and more than a match for me, I dropped the knife and ran for my horse, I had tied him in a ravine by the river-side. Curse the Yankee, he was like a greyhound; if there had been twenty rods more to run I should be a dead man; but I got to my horse and was off.”

“It is a total failure, then?”

[72]

“Not so. Before, I worked only for you; now I work for both. I have an account with the man who calls himself Boston Bainbridge.”

“You might have had before, if you had any eyes. You love Katrine, the cousin of Theresa.”

The young man turned upon him with a quick look. “Who told you that?” he said.

“It matters not.”

“Why do you bring her into the conversation?”

“Have you no eyes? Why, man, the other night, while Barlow stood at the window of my willful maid, whispering in her ear, whom think you stood at that of Katrine?”

“Who?”

“Boston Bainbridge.”

“You know this to be true? It is not a trick to make me more surely your friend?”

“I saw it myself.”

“Ah.” Carl stopped, and with his knife-blade stabbed the earth at his feet. “Would that I had him here,” he cried, “would that I knelt upon his breast as I kneel upon the earth. He is my enemy until death.”

“You never knew this?”

“I knew that she was proud, and would not listen to me. I hoped for better things; I thought that a lover’s persistency would bring about the desired end, and this is the re—result.”

His countenance became as that of a fiend; in the heat of his passion the blood gushed anew from his wounded face. He caught some of it in his hand, and cast it from him, crying passionately:

“Let this blood witness against him.” After that he was calmer.

“We will work together, my master; much may be done where there is a good heart in the cause. I am with you, body and soul.”

“The compact is made. By knife, cord and bullet, I will be true to you in this business.”

“So let it be,” responded Carl.

“Have you seen Wampset?”

“Yes. Before nightfall he will be here with a hundred men.”

[73]

“Well done. The English power shall be swept from this river; our enemies shall be—where?”

“It matters little so that they cumber the earth no more. It is time Wampset were here.”

“You are sure he will keep his appointment?”

“The promise of an Indian is sure. He will keep his word.”

“Did you look over the block-house and note the entrances?”

“Yes. There are eighteen men in all, now that this spy and Barlow are here; the whole is under the command of William Holmes; his second in command is his brother, who is away in Boston.”

“His brother?”

“Yes.”

“I never heard of such a man until I came here.”

“Few have; he is seldom seen; people who live in this region know that there is such a man as Robert Holmes. He tramps the forest, makes treaties with the Indians, and prepares the country for the next inroad of Yankees. No man can put his finger on him and say, ‘This is Robert Holmes,’ and yet, he is a fixed fact. The people in Windsor have great faith in him, but are non-committal about him.”

“He is a mystery, then?”

“One which we can not unravel. Some of our people swear that Robert Holmes is only a name for a devil, who has taken up his abode at Windsor. I begin to think it is half right, for who but a devil could exert such an influence over Yankees?”

“Phew, such talk as that will do for other men than us; as for this imaginary potentate, if there is such a man, we probably shall meet him to-night, and try the virtue of cold steel upon him. I wonder Wampset is not here; he is not a man to shirk his appointment. Who comes there? Is this the way they keep guard?”

An Indian, gliding forward like a stealthy ghost, at that moment appeared before him. At the first look, Van Zandt knew him; it was one of the men who belonged to the band of Wampset—his messenger, a light, active fellow, with a cunning face.

[74]

The first salutation of the captain was sharp and to the point, “Where is Wampset? It is long since the chief was known to linger on the war-trail.”

“Wampset has not lingered. But, he can not come to the aid of his young friend. The Hawk hovers with outspread wings above his tree-top. Shall not the Eagle guard his own nest first?”

“What mean you?”

“Sassacus has sent Mennewan upon the war-trail. A dog who had eaten bread in our lodges told the Pequods that the Eagle rested his tired wings upon the banks of the great river. The Pequods are very mad for the scalp of Wampset, and his band are known in every lodge in the nation. They are very brave.”

“How do you know this?”

“The band had painted their faces for war and set forth. Near the river-side they met the Fox. He is the son of Miantonomah, sachem of the Narragansetts. The Fox is very cunning, and he loves Wampset. He has sworn to have the scalp of Sassacus. He told us that he had been in the Pequod lodges, and they were on the way. They did not know that he was with them. None are so cunning as the Fox.”

“What did he do then?”

“What could he do? Should he leave his little ones a prey to the tomahawks of the Pequods?”

This was unanswerable, and Van Zandt could only mutter curses on the unlucky fate which had worked against him. If he had only known the truth, fate would not have had the curses on that day. But, curses would do no good. Wampset was by this time half way back to his camp, and the Fox, who had done his work well, was back in Windsor, reporting to his employer the success of the stratagem. As the reader has no doubt surmised by this time, the coming of the Pequods was a coinage of the brain of Boston, who hoped by this to send the Indians back to their camp. The ruse succeeded to a charm, and deprived the Dutch of their allies.

There was nothing for it but to take the place without help, and Carl, in company with Captain Van Zandt, set out to reconnoiter the position. It was now growing dark, and they advanced with caution. All about the stockade was still.[75] The silence, in fact, was so profound as to be suspicious. Van Zandt, a practiced Indian-fighter, had his suspicions of such quiescence. He advanced carefully. There was only one light in the stockade. That was a fire in the center, around which sat four or five of the garrison. They were all stalwart men, for Captain Holmes brought no others into the wilderness. The spy could see through the chinks that their arms lay beside them, and ready to take up at a moment’s notice.

In the mean time, Carl had stolen round to the other side of the building, and looked through the chinks in the logs. The cabin in which the officers lived stood close at hand, and through another orifice in the logs, the young German could see the interior. There were three men in the cabin—Barlow, Captain Holmes and Boston. They sat upon stools, by the side of a wooden table, talking eagerly in low tones. From the place where he stood, it was impossible for Carl to hear a word. But, to his astonishment, he saw that Boston not only took an active part in the conversation, but his opinion was listened to with great deference. Carl’s blood boiled in his veins. Since the last night, an intense hatred of the peddler had grown up in his heart. This was the man who had stolen the heart of Katrine. He should die.

He drew a pistol from his pocket, and leveled it through the chinks. The light of a candle upon the table glimmered along the barrel. He pulled the trigger. The hammer came down upon the flint without a report. The priming had been shaken out of the pan in coming from the camp. With a muttered invective Carl slipped behind the logs of the stockade and felt for his powder-flask. He had left it in the camp! The passion of the man was fearful to see. He ran back to find his captain, and lead him to the spot. The moment his eye rested upon the group he put a pistol into the hand of Carl. “Hold,” he said, as that person was about to fire. “Don’t do it. We must get nearer, and hear what they say.” The stockade was about twelve feet high, but the corners were rough, and stood out about six inches from the rest of the work, forming a sort of ladder. Van Zandt took the lead, climbed over, and dropped down into the work, between the wall and the cabin.

[76]

The conversation continued; but, to the rage of the two spies, it was now carried on in whispers. It was impossible to hear a word. Twice Car............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading
   
 

Login into Your Account

Email: 
Password: 
  Remember me on this computer.
Tools

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2014 wenovel.com, All Rights Reserved