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0. Bhv....--_--_ COLLECTIOMi
Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by Carey, Lea tf Blanchard, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
HORSE SHOE ROBINSON.
THE SBRGEANT AND HIS COMRADE PROJECT AN EXPEDITION WHICH FCRNISHES THE ENSIGN AN OPPORTUNITY OF ENJOYING THE PICTURESQUE.
As soon as David Ramsay had departed with the maiden for Musgrove's mill, Robinson ordered his own and Christopher Shaw's horse to be saddled, and another to be made ready for St. Jermyn. His next care was to determine upon a secure place of retreat,—reflecting that the news of the capture of the ensign must soon reach the British posts, and that the country would be industriously- Explored with a view to his rescue. A spot known to the woodsmen of this region by the name of the Devil's Ladder, which was situated in the defile of a mountain-brook that emptied into the Ennoree, occurred to Christopher Shaw as the most secret fastness within their reach. This spot lay some twenty miles westward of Ramsay's, accessible by roads but little known, and surrounded by a district which grew more wild and rugged the nearer it approached the defile.
Here it was supposed that the party might arrive by day-light the next morning, and remain for a few days at small risk of discovery; and thither, accordingly, it was resolved they should repair.
This being settled, Horse Shoe now procured a supply of provisions from mistress Ramsay, and then pro ceeded to arm himself with the sword and pistols of the ensign; whilst Christopher suspended across his body the sword of Goliath,—as the sergeant called the brand he had snatched up at Blackstock's—and also took possession of one of the captured muskets.
'If it don't go against your conscience, mistress Ramsay,'—said Horse Shoe, when the preparations for the journey were completed.—'I would take it as a favour,in case any interlopers mought happen to pop in upon you, if you would just drop a hint that you have hearn that Sumpter's people had been seen about these parts. It -would have an amazing good bearmg on the Tories:— Besides making them warry how they strayed about the woods, it would be sure to put the blood-hounds on a wrong scent, if they should chance to be sarching for the young ensign.—I know you women are a little ticklish about a fib,—but then it's an honest trick of the war sometimes. And to make you easy about it, it will be no more than the truth to say you did hear it,—for, you obsarve, I tell you so now.'
'But,'—replied the scrupulous matron,—'if they should ask me who told me—what should I answer?'—
'Why.'—said the sergeant, hesitating,—'just out with it—--tell 'em you hearn it from one Horse Shoe Robinson:—that '11 not make the news the worse in point of credit. And be sure, good woman, above all things, to remind David, when he gets back to-night, that the rank and file, in our prison yonder, are not to be turned loose before three o'clock in the morning.'
This last caution was repeated to Andy, who still performed the duty of a sentinel at the door of the out-house. All things being now arranged for their departure,.ensign St. Jermyn was brought from the chamber where he had been confined, and was invited to join the sergeant and Christopher at supper, before they set out. This meal was ably and rapidly discussed by the stout yeomen, and scarcely less honoured by the prisoner, whom the toils - and privations of the day had brought to the enjoyment of a good appetite.
With many cheering and kind expressions of encouragement from the sergeant, the young officer prepared to comply with the demands of his captors, and was soon in readiness to attend them. Robinson lifted him into his saddle with a grasp as light as if he was dealing with a boy, and then bound him by a surcingle to the horse's back, whilst he offered a good-humoured apology for the rigour of this treatment:—
'It is not the most comfortable way of riding, Mr. Ensign,'—he said with a chuckle,—'but fast bind, fast find, is a most an excellent good rule for a traveller in the dark. I hope you don't think I take any pleasure in oncommoding you, but it is my intention to lead your horse by the rein to-night,—and this friend of mine will keep in the rear. So, by way of a caution, I would just signify to you that if you should think of playing a prank, you will sartainly bring some trouble upon your head,—as one or another of us would, in that case, be obliged to fire. It is nothing more than military punctilium to give you a friendly warning of this.'
'You might dispense with this severity, I should think,'—replied the prisoner,—'upon my pledge of honour that I will make no effort to escape.'—
'I can take no pledge in the dark,'—returned Horse Shoe.—'Day-light mought make a difference. If we should happen to fall in with any of your gangs, I'm thinking a pledge wouldn't come to much more than a cobweb, when I should ax you to gallop out of the way . of your own people. Flesh is weak, as the preacher says; and, to my mind, it's a little the weaker when the arm is strong or the foot swift. Temptation is at the bottom of all backsliding. No, no, Mr. Ensign, you may get away—if you can; we'll take care of you whilst we're able—that's a simple understanding.'
Without further speech the party proceeded on their journey. They travelled as rapidly as was consistent with the ease of the prisoner, and the nature of the ground over which they had to move. For the first eight or ten miles, their route lay across a country with but few impediments, except such as arose from the unseasonable hour of the ride. After this they found the
VOL. II. 1*
toil and hazard of travel continually increasing. They had been retreating from the settled country towards a rough wilderness, which was penetrated only by an obscure road, so little beaten as to be scarce discernible in the faint star-light, and which it required all Christopher's skill in woodcraft to follow. Our travellers, consequently, often lost their way, and were obliged to get down from their horses and grope about to ascertain the path. The stars had shone all night through a cloudless firmament, but the deep shade of the forest thickened around the wanderers, and it was frequently with difficulty, even, that they could discern each other's figures.
They, reached, at length, the small stream upon whose banks, some miles above, was situated the place to which their steps were directed; and they were thus rendered more sure of their road, as they had only to follow the ascending course of the brook. The delays and impediments of the journey had nearly outrun the night, and whilst our travellers were yet some two or three miles from their destination, the first traces of morning began to appear in the east. The increasing light disclosed to them the nature of the scenery around. A limpid rivulet tumbled over a rocky channel, girt with a profusion of bush and briar,—amongst which were scattered a thousand wild-flowers that, renovated by the dew, threw forth a delicious perfume. A succession of abrupt hills, covered with the varied foliage of a rich forest-growth, bounded the brook on either side. Occasional rocks jutted above the heads of the travellers as they wound along the paths, worn by the wild cattle in the bottom of the dell.
Both Robinson and Shaw had dismounted when they entered this defile, and whilst the former led the horse of the prisoner, his companion preceded him to explore the doubtful traces of the road, which frequently became so obscure as to render it necessary to seek a passage in the bed of the stream. During all this progress, Horse Shoe's good nature and light-heartedness were unabated. He conversed with the prisoner in the same terms of friendly familiarity that he did with Shaw, and neglected