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HOME > Short Stories > The Peddler Spy > CHAPTER X. A NIGHT IN BONDS.
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Holmes stepped back and took a survey of the building. His practiced eye at once took in its strong points. The doors were of hewn oak, crossed by heavy iron clamps. On the inside, so Van Curter told them, were heavy bars of seasoned wood, tough and elastic as so much steel, set into iron rings upon either side of the door. These bars were four in number, at equal distances from each other. No common power could force one of these doors from its fastening. These entrances were two in number, one at the front and[90] one at the back. The windows were seven in number; two in front, two on each side, and one at the back of the house, fastened, like the doors, by solid wooden bars. These particulars they gained from Van Curter, who was angry at the young captain for refusing to yield. He determined to try him once more, but found him very obstinate. He then demanded that his daughter should be permitted to leave the house. This was refused at once.

“Let me understand you, Joseph. Do you mean to tell me, seriously, that you intend to keep my daughter in the house during the attack which will be made upon it?”

“I do.”

“Then by that act you at once cancel any trust between us.”

“Let it be as you say. I will make a new bond between us.”

“Will you let my daughter and her cousin go?”

“No, I will not.”


“I keep them as a safeguard. They are the tools by which we will drive these Yankees away from Good Hope. You will understand it better when you know that there is to be no childs’-play here—no fighting with cudgels, as we fought at Windsor. But, with bullet, knife and sword we will make the house good. Every ball from a rifle which enters this house will put the life of your daughter in jeopardy. Katrine also will be in danger, which is a pity, since she is beloved by worshipful Boston Bainbridge. Where is that godly youth? He should be here to defend her.”

At these words there was a slight commotion in the rear of the group, and a man strode forward and addressed the captain. It was Boston Bainbridge. But, what a change had taken place in him! His hair, before rugged and unkempt, was now allowed to fall loose upon his shoulders after the manner of the cavaliers. He was carefully and richly dressed; the belt which encircled his waist bore a long sword and a pair of pistols. His air was defiant, as seen in the gory light of the coming morning.

“You have called for Boston Bainbridge,” said he, “and he who hath borne that name for years now stands before you[91] in his own person, Lieutenant Robert Holmes. What is this I hear? Does yonder knave dare to make women a target for his protection? How now, sir; do you claim to be a man, and yet need a woman for a safeguard?”

“So Boston Bainbridge is dead, and one has arisen who is of my degree, and we may cross swords with honor. What care I for what man can say of me? I know my power. The fair Theresa is in my hands; Katrine is in those of Carl Anselm. Believe me when I say that they might better be in the hands of the devil. Draw off your men and leave the place, or we will do that which will make you and them wish they had never been born. Away, I say.”

The fearful threat implied in the words of Van Zandt startled his listeners; there was a quick glance from man to man, to see if every face looked as ghastly as each felt his own to be. The girls were in the power of this villain indeed. How could they be succored?

“Joseph,” said the commandant, in a pleading tone. “Remember that we have been friends for many years, and that I have ever listened kindly to your suit. You are jesting now. You would not harm my child. Throw open your doors and let us enter.”

“I will not. We will fight while a hope remains, and when that hope is gone, you shall have your daughter, as she will be then, not as she is now!”

“God’s curse upon you, villain. Do you not heed a father’s agony?”

“Not a whit. You have given up the work like a coward, and I no longer respect you.”

“This shall be answered at the sword’s point,” cried Van Curter, striking his hand upon his sword-hilt until it rung loudly in the scabbard.

“As you will. I fight no old man without teeth unless he forces it upon me. Your young friends there might take it off your hands.”

“And they shall!” cried Robert Holmes, Boston Bainbridge no more. “Or my right hand has forgot its cunning. Hark you, sir; dare you come out and fight me?”

“I hope I am not such a fool. What surety have I that I should ever see the inside of this house again?”


“My word.”

“Bah! The word of Boston Bainbridge!”

“Boston Bainbridge is dead. I stand here in his place, a man of honor and of family, and dare you to the fight.”

“It will not do,” replied the other. “I have the advantage now, and relinquish it I will not. Go your ways, Lieutenant Boston Bainbridge Holmes, spy and cheat that you are, and let us go ours. It will be better.”

The friends drew off and consulted for some time. There seemed no feasible way of getting into the house, with the fearful menace of Van Zandt before their eyes. It was fully concluded to appear to draw off from the house, and by underhand means to gain an entrance. This was communicated to the defenders of the house, and every one appeared to leave the spot. Leaving the window to the care of one of his men, the Dutch captain turned aside into the little room in which the girls were confined. They sat upon the bed, with their arms entwined about each other, weeping, for every word of the conversation without had come to their ears.

“Go into the next room, Katrine,” said Joseph, “and do me the favor to keep your ear from the crack. I wish to talk with Theresa.”

“I shall stay here,” replied Katrine.

“Fool!” was the uncomplimentary rejoinder. “Must I send for Carl Anselm to drag you out by force?”

“No, no!” pleaded the girl. “Any one but Carl.”

“I should please you if I sent for Bainbridge, only that worthy is dead.”

“Was it true,” said Katrine, turning her tearful eyes upon him. “Is he indeed dead? Tell me when and by whose hand. I heard you say that he was dead. Until then, I thought it was his voice.”

“He died by his own hand,” was the pitiless reply. “Boston Bainbridge is no more. The man whose voice you heard was Lieutenant Robert Holmes. Leave the room.”

Katrine obeyed, passing into the next apartment and closing the door. She took the precaution to bolt the door upon the inside, so that Carl, who had uttered fearful threats since she had been a prisoner, could not enter. He came soon and rattled at the door, but she would not let him in.


In the next room Joseph and Theresa stood face to face. There was a settled gloom upon the face of the man. His fate was following him so close that it appalled him. He begun to doubt if, after all, he should succeed in his undertaking. Ho grew desperate, as he looked at the girl, who was wonderfully calm in his presence.

“Why do you come?” she asked.

“I come to speak for your good, Theresa. I have told you many times that love for you had taken............
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