IN SCHOOL AND OUT;
THE CONQUEST OF RICHARD GRANT.
A Story for Young People.
AUTHOR OF "THE BOAT CLUB," "ALL ABOARD," "NOW OR NEVER," "TRY AGAIN," "POOR AND PROUD," "LITTLE BY LITTLE," "RICH AND HUMBLE," "THE RIVERDALE STORY BOOKS," ETC.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS. NEW YORK: LEE, SHEPARD AND DILLINGHAM. 1873.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by WILLIAM T. ADAMS, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AT THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY, 19 Spring Lane.
EDWARD JENKINS HOWE
IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED
BY HIS UNCLE.
THE WOODVILLE STORIES.
IN SIX VOLUMES.
A LIBRARY FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.
BY OLIVER OPTIC.
1. RICH AND HUMBLE. 2. IN SCHOOL AND OUT. 3. WATCH AND WAIT. 4. WORK AND WIN. 5. HOPE AND HAVE. 6. HASTE AND WASTE.
The second volume of the Woodville Stories contains the experience of Richard Grant, "in school and out." We are sorry to say that Richard had become a bad boy, and was in the habit of getting into the most abominable scrapes, some of which are detailed in the first chapters of this book. But he is not what is sometimes called a vicious boy, for he has many good qualities, which redeem him from absolute condemnation. There is something noble in his character, which is the germ of his ultimate salvation from the sins which so easily beset him.
Richard, like thousands of others, finds his strongest and most dangerous foe within his own heart; and the conquest he achieves is not a triumph of mind over matter, of force over force, but of principle over passion, of the good angels in the heart over the invading legion of evil ones.
Richard's experience is full of stirring incidents; and while the author hopes therein to realize the expectations of his partial young friends, he begs them to remember that these exciting events are only the canvas upon which he has endeavored to paint the great change wrought in the character of the hero. There is a moral in the story, and though the author has not attempted to "point" it, he hopes his young readers will feel it, even if they do not see it.
Again it affords me pleasure to acknowledge my indebtedness to my young friends for the kind reception given to my books. I trust that this, the twentieth volume of my "Stories for Young People," will not disappoint their hopes, or fail to improve their minds and hearts.
WILLIAM T. ADAMS.
DORCHESTER, Oct. 26, 1863.
CHAP. I. Richard Grant and Friend get into an awful Scrape. 11
CHAP. II. Richard jumps out of the Frying-pan into the Fire. 23
CHAP. III. Richard finds that no Chastening seemeth joyous. 35
CHAP. IV. Richard makes a tremendous Sensation at Woodville. 47
CHAP. V. Richard is determined to be revenged. 59
CHAP. VI. Richard gives another Illustration of Sleep-walking. 71
CHAP. VII. Richard kindles a Fire. 83
CHAP. VIII. Richard beholds how great a Matter a little Fire kindleth. 96
CHAP. IX. Richard goes to the Tunbrook Military Institute. 110
CHAP. X. Richard learns the meaning of Right About Face. 123
CHAP. XI. Richard goes through the Drill, and has a set-to in the Grove. 136
CHAP. XII. Richard does a "Big Thing" and takes the Consequences. 151
CHAP. XIII. Richard listens to a Homily on Fighting, and spends the Night in the Guard House. 166
CHAP. XIV. Richard does Guard Duty, and is captured by an Enemy. 180
CHAP. XV. Richard finds himself in the Hands of the Regulators. 194
CHAP. XVI. Richard becomes First Sergeant of Company D. 208
CHAP. XVII. Richard gives the Tunbrookers a Lesson in Boating. 220
CHAP. XVIII. Richard wins another Race, and Tunbrook is mutinous. 235
CHAP. XIX. Richard is determined, and some Allusion is made to "Watermelons." 247
CHAP. XX. Richard Visits Green Island, and the Regulators consider their Plans. 260
CHAP. XXI. Richard annihilates the Regulators, and the Story is concluded. 273
IN SCHOOL AND OUT;
THE CONQUEST OF RICHARD GRANT.
RICHARD GRANT AND FRIEND GET INTO AN AWFUL SCRAPE.
"Now, steady as she is," said Sandy Brimblecom, who lay upon the half-deck of the Greyhound, endeavoring to peer through the darkness of a cloudy night, which had settled deep and dense upon the Hudson, and obscured every object on the shore. "Steady as she is, Dick, and we shall go in all right."
"Ay, ay; steady it is," replied Richard Grant, who was at the helm.
"Port a little! Port a little!" added Sandy, a few moments after, as he discovered the entrance of a little inlet, which was the destination of the Greyhound.
"Shut up your head, Sandy!" replied Richard, in a low but energetic tone. "You might as well publish our plan in the newspaper as speak as loud as that."
"Port a little more," said the lookout forward.
"What's the use of hallooing port?" answered Richard, impatiently. "Don't you see the mainsail shakes now?"
"You will be on the rocks in half a minute more."
"Let her go about, then, and we will get a little farther to windward before we try to run in."
The Greyhound came over on the other tack, and stood away from the shore a considerable distance. The wind was very light, and the current was against them; so the progress of the boat was necessarily very slow.
"Now, Sandy Brimblecom," said Richard, when the boat had made a third of the distance to the opposite shore, "we might as well go back to Woodville, and go to bed, as to attempt to carry this thing through, if you are going to bellow and yell like a mad bull."
"I didn't think I spoke very loud," replied Sandy.
"Didn't think so!" sneered Richard. "Any one might have heard you clear across the river."
"O, no, Dick; not so bad as that."
"You spoke too loud, at any rate, and you might as well go up and tell 'Old Batterbones' what we are about as talk half so loud as you did."
"Come, Dick, you have said enough," replied Sandy, who did not relish all the reflections that were cast upon his conduct.
"You are as stupid as an owl; I thought you had some common sense."
"That'll do, Dick; I don't want any more of that kind of blarney; and if you don't shut up, you or I will get a black eye."
Richard did not seem to have much doubt which of them would obtain this ornamental tinting of the physiognomy, for he immediately changed his tone, and did not venture to apply any more unpleasant epithets to his companion. Sandy had obtained some reputation as a fighting character, and was virtually the champion of the ring among the boys in the vicinity of Whitestone.
"Now be more careful, this time, Sandy," said Richard, as he put the boat about upon the other tack.
"Don't give me any more lip, Dick, and I will do any thing you want," replied Sandy, mollified by the altered tones of his friend.
"Don't get mad; we have no time to quarrel, if we mean to put this thing through to-night."
"I am ready to put it through, but I have no notion of being treated like a slave or a fool," said Sandy, as he lay down upon the half-deck, and began to gaze into the gloom ahead of the boat. "Luff a little," he added, as he discovered the dim outline of the shore.
"Luff, it is."
This time, both boys spoke in a low tone, and the want of harmony which a few moments before had threatened to break up the enterprise, and end in a game of rough and tumble, was removed. The Greyhound, under the skilful management of Richard,—for there was not a better sailor of his years on the Hudson,—was thrown into the inlet without touching the rocks which lay at the entrance.
Sandy, with the painter in his hand, jumped ashore, and made fast to a small tree on the bank. Neither of the boys spoke a loud word, and Richard carefully brailed up the sails, so that their flapping should not attract the attention of any person who might be in the vicinity.
"Now, Dick, if you will follow me, I will lead you up to Old Batterbones' garden," whispered Sandy, when the sail boat had been properly secured.
"I will follow you. Have you got the bag?"
Richard followed his companion up the steep bank of the river, across a field, till they came to a fence, where they paused to reconnoitre.
"Now be careful, Sandy," whispered Richard, nervously, "for I wouldn't be caught in this scrape for the best hundred dollars that ever was."
"I don't want to be caught any more than you do," replied Sandy.
"Well, it won't make so much difference with you as it will with me."
"Won't it! Don't you think my neck is worth as much to me as yours is to you?"
"I don't mean that, of course. Your father is a carpenter, and people won't think half so much of it if you are caught, as they would in my case."
"My father never was in the Tombs if he is a carpenter," growled Sandy.
"That's mean," said Richard. "You know he was put there for nothing at all."
"It isn't half so mean as what you said. If you think you are so much better than I am, what did you ask me to come with you for?"
"I don't think I am any better than you are."
"Yes, you do; and you may go ahead with the game; I won't go any farther."
"Don't back out, Sandy. Have you got scared?"
"I'm not scared; you are too big for your boots."
"No, no, Sandy, I didn't mean any thing of the sort."
"Didn't you say it wouldn't make as much difference with me as with you, if we got caught?"
"I only meant that people would talk more about me than they would about you."
"Perhaps they would, and perhaps they wouldn't. In my opinion, I'm as good as you are, any day."
"Of course you are; I never doubted it. Come, Sandy, we've run together too long to fall out now."
"I don't want to fall out, or back out; but I don't want to be snubbed, every ten minutes, about my father's being a carpenter."
"I won't say another word, Sandy. I didn't mean any thing."
"All right, my boy. I don't live in a big house, and my father isn't rich; but I'm just as good as any other fellow, for all that. If you didn't mean any thing, I'm satisfied."
"If I thought you were not as good as I am, of course I shouldn't go with you."
This conversation was carried on in a very low tone, while the boys were seated by the fence. When Sandy's injured honor was healed, and the son of the rich broker of Woodville had acknowledged that the other was his equal, they were again ready to proceed with the business of the enterprise. Richard was not content with the homage which his companions could render without any sacrifice of self-respect, but he exacted the right not only to command them, but also to be indulged in the use of opprobrious epithets.
Sandy, as the "bully" of his circle, could not quietly submit to the domineering style of the rich man's son. He was willing, for the sake of sharing in the "loaves and fishes," which Richard had to distribute, to compromise far enough to be ordered in a gentlemanly way; but he would not tolerate any invidious comparisons. Richard had a fine boat, and Sandy was very fond of sailing, which made him sacrifice some portion of his dignity as the champion of the ring. Richard was usually well supplied with money, which was a scarce article with the son of the journeyman carpenter, and boys bow down to the Mammon of this world, as well as men.
Richard patronized Sandy because his hard fist and abundant muscle rendered him a powerful and influential person. It was easier to buy the champion than it was to whip him, and the broker's son had conquered the bully by paying for the oysters at Bob Bleeker's saloon in Whitestone, and by permitting him to use the Greyhound when he wished. Richard had a great respect for muscle. If Sandy Brimblecom's father had chosen to pursue his peaceful avocation in any other locality than Whitestone, Richard Grant might have been the champion of the "P.R." The advent of Sandy had produced a fight, in which Richard, though he behaved to the satisfaction of all his friends and supporters, was severely punished. His friends called it a drawn battle; but Richard did not think it advisable to have the question definitely settled, and Sandy was acknowledged as the champion.
Richard respected the boy he could not whip, and they had become friends, or, at least, associates. It is scarcely necessary to inform the intelligent young readers of this book, that the moral standard of both boys was very low; for those who can fight simply to find out which is "the better man," have a very inadequate conception of what constitutes true dignity and nobility of character. "Muscle" and "backbone"—fighting ability and courage—in a good cause, are to be respected, and men and boys will always pay them due homage; but fighting for its own sake is mean, low-lived business—the most vicious of vices.
Sandy was satisfied with the explanation of his patron, and rising from his seat under the fence, he looked over into the garden, and listened for any sounds which might indicate an obstacle in the way of the enterprise; but not a sound could be heard except the chirping of the crickets and the piping of the frogs. With a great deal of care, he climbed to the top of the fence, and then listened again.
"Does he keep a dog?" whispered Richard.
"I don't know; I don't care, either," replied Sandy, as he dropped from the fence into the garden.
Richard climbed over with the same caution which his companion had used, and after following him for some distance, reached a patch of watermelons, which appeared to be the destination of this night expedition.
"Get down on the ground!" whispered Sandy, who had already prostrated himself. "You will blow the whole thing if you stand up there."
"Open the bag, and let's fill it up quick!" replied Richard, as he picked a large melon from the vines, and handed it to the other.
"What's the use of picking such a melon in that?" snarled Sandy. "It isn't ripe. Can't you tell the ripe ones by the feeling?"
"No; I can't."
"Stick your thumb nail into them. Here, you take the bag, and I will pick them. We don't want to lug off melons that are good for nothing."
Richard took the bag, and placed the fruit in it as fast as Sandy gathered it. In a few moments the bag was full, and the young marauders commenced their retreat with all the haste which a proper caution would permit. The bag was large and heavy, and it required their united strength to carry it.
The garden proved to be something like an eel trap—it was easy enough to get into it, but very difficult to get out. Near the melon patch there was a piece of corn, by the side of which lay their path out of the enclosure. They had gone but a short distance when they heard a rustling in the corn behind them, and before they could make out the cause of the noise, a strong hand grasped the collar of each of them.
"We've caught you, my lads!" exclaimed one of the men, who had seized Richard.
It was an awful scrape: so thought the broker's son; and Sandy, notwithstanding the difference in their social standing, was of the same opinion.
RICHARD JUMPS OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE.
Richard Grant was the son of a rich man, but he was neither any better nor any worse for this circumstance. He had been in a great many sad scrapes before the one in which the reader now finds him. It was not the first time he had taken that which did not belong to him.
In his father's garden there was an abundance of watermelons, and he had always been plentifully supplied with all the fruits in their season. He had, therefore, no excuse for stealing melons. There could be no excuse, under any circumstances, for stealing. He did not need them; he did not even want them.
But Richard was fond of exciting adventures, and it was simply the love of fun which had prompted him to visit the garden of Mr. Batterman. I hope none of my young friends will think this even palliated his offence. If he did not have the motive which actuates the common thief, he was certainly more to blame than if he had needed or wanted the product of his theft. Stealing for fun cannot be any better than stealing from the love of gain, or to provide for one's necessities.
Richard Grant is the hero of this volume; but I shall not wink at any of his vices or inconsistencies on this account. That he may not be utterly despised, however, I may say of him that he had a great many redeeming qualities. He was generous to a fault, and his impulses were generally worthy and noble. He was ready to give to the needy, and to fight for the oppressed. He was kind-hearted, and nothing but the love of sport could induce him to violate the rights, or injure the feelings, of others. He lived upon excitement, and was not always very choice of the means which he used to procure it.
Richard's father had not been able to bestow that care upon his moral education which his temperament required. He needed discipline, and the want of it was seen in his daily life. Mr. Grant was conscious of the boy's needs, and he frequently talked to him about his vicious course; but words did not supply the want; he required a more active treatment.
Sandy Brimblecom was as little disturbed by his conscience as his more wealthy companion. As long as he could stand upon an equality with an heir of Woodville, he was satisfied to let all moral questions take care of themselves. The two boys who sailed in the Greyhound on the eventful night of their introduction to the reader, were well mated in every respect. Either was ready to follow the lead of the other, without asking whether he was doing right or wrong. If there was any fun to be had out of the enterprise, both were ready to engage in it.
They had got into a bad scrape this time, for Mr. Batterman had the reputation of being a very hard man. He had suffered a great deal from the depredations of fruit thieves. He carried on a large business in raising fruit and vegetables for the New York market. It was not pastime to him, but bread and butter—the means by which he supported his family and accumulated his property. Those who stole fruit from his gardens robbed him of so much of his income; and he was not in the humor to submit to these exactions.
In several instances he had taken these petty marauders before the courts, and caused them to be fined; but as this course did not remove the evil, he had taken the law in his own hands, and severely punished some of the juvenile offenders. For this reason, among the boys he was called "Old Batterbones," which was only a slight corruption of his real name.
Of course Richard and Sandy had no idea of being caught when they embarked in this plundering expedition. They had taken extraordinary precautions to prevent such a catastrophe; but the farmer was constantly on the watch, and they had fallen into the trap which he had set not specially for them, but for any who might invade his grounds with malicious intent.
The person who held Richard by the collar, and whose finger nails had already left their marks upon his neck, was no less a person than "Old Batterbones" himself; and from the manner in which he shook his prisoner, he seemed determined to make good his title to the sobriquet the boys had given him. The person who held Sandy in his grasp was the farmer's foreman, who fully sympathized with his employer in his views of discipline.
Richard struggled, and Sandy struggled; but they might as well have attempted to escape from the grip of an iron vise. The farmer and his man held them fast; and the more their prisoners squirmed, the more they shook them, and the more they seemed to enjoy the satisfaction of shaking and choking them.
"We've caught you, my lads," said Mr. Batterman several times.
"Let go of me," growled Richard, his anger fully aroused by the rough treatment he was receiving.
"I'll let go, you young villain, when I've done with you, but not before. I'll teach you to steal my melons; and then you can go home and tell your father how it is done," replied the farmer, as he twisted the cravat of the poor boy till he could hardly breathe.
Sandy, finding that any violent resistance was hopeless, submitted to his fate with the best grace he could command; but he only waited his chance for something to turn up that would afford him an opportunity to escape. He intended to use his wits, rather than his muscle, on this occasion; and his prudence saved him from some portion of the hard usage that was bestowed upon his companion in misery.
"Keep cool, Dick," said he, in a low tone, when he saw that his friend was wasting his strength and adding to his discomfort by useless resistance to the fiat of destiny.
Richard profited by this hint; and when he became calm and reasonable, the farmer relaxed his grasp, and permitted him to breathe with more freedom.
"Who are they, Bates?" asked the farmer of his foreman.
"I don't know them; it is so dark I can't make them out," replied Bates.
"We'll take them up to the barn, and see what they look like."
"They have been here before, I think," added the foreman. "I am pretty sure I saw them the other night."
"No, you didn't," said Richard, testily. "I never was here before."
"Perhaps you never was, my boys; but when chaps like you go far enough to steal, you don't stand about a lie or two to cover it up. Now, boys, you may take up that bag, and carry it to the barn."
"I won't carry it," said Richard, promptly.
"Won't you?" And the farmer again applied the twisting process to his cravat, till the boy's strength was almost gone from the choking sensation.
"Let go of me! You'll choke me to death!" gasped Richard, who had never before been so roughly handled.
"Will you carry the bag up to the barn, then?" demanded Mr. Batterman, as he eased off the pressure upon the prisoner's throat.
"No, I won't!" replied Richard.
"Now, I think you will," said the farmer, as he resumed the torture.
"Come, Dick, we may as well do it. It is no use to kick; we are in for it, and you had better make the best of it," interposed Sandy, who was disposed to get off as cheaply as he could.
"I won't touch the bag! I'll die first!" gasped Richard, whose rage had now reached the boiling point, and there was no more reason in him than in a mad dog.
"He's a hard one," suggested Bates.
"But he shall come to it, or I'll break every bone in his body," answered the farmer.
Richard, insane with passion, and choking with rage as well as from the discipline of Mr. Batterman, commenced a tremendous struggle for freedom and self-preservation. He sprang towards his captor in an ineffectual attempt to hit him, or to scratch out his eyes with his finger nails. Failing in his efforts in this direction, he began to use his heels as vigorously as a three-year old colt, and succeeded in planting two or three hard kicks upon the shins of the farmer.
Mr. Batterman was a large and powerful man, and the efforts of Richard were as puny as those of a lamb in the fangs of the lion. He foamed and struggled till his strength was exhausted, and his conqueror permitted him to drop upon the ground.
"You've killed him," said Sandy, very much alarmed at the apparent fate of his friend.
"If I have, that's his business, not mine," answered the farmer, without betraying any remorse at what he had done.
But Richard was not killed, or even very badly injured. The choking had deprived him of all his strength; but a few minutes' respite from persecution restored him in a great measure, and he attempted to get up, when he was promptly seized by the farmer again.
"Will you carry the bag up to the barn, or will you try some more of the same sort?" asked Mr. Batterman, in a tone which fully indicated his intention to resume his harsh treatment.
"I can't carry it," replied Richard, in an altered tone, which was, at least, suggestive of a "caving in" of his obdurate will.
"You carried it very well before you were caught, and perhaps you can again," sneered the farmer.
"Come, Dick, take hold of the bag," said Sandy. "It's no use."
"I wasn't brought up to do that kind of work," replied Richard, whose pride, quite as much as his self-will, prompted him to refuse to do the degrading office.
"Take your choice, and be quick," said Mr. Batterman, preparing to apply his disciplinary powers again. "Take hold of the bag at once, or I'll shake the life out of you."
Richard could not stand another dose of the farmer's exhausting medicine, and he sullenly seized the bag, while Sandy took hold of the other side. Bates and the farmer kept close to them, so that there was no chance to break away. After changing hands several times, they reached the barn, and placed the melons in the position designated by their tormentors.
"Now, who are you?" asked the farmer, when they had disposed of the bag.
"None of your business," answered Richard, in a low, sullen tone.
"You haven't got enough of it yet. Bates, bring the lantern, and fetch a cowhide with you, while you are about it."
Richard did not like the sound of this last order. It was ominous of a painful and degrading operation, a process of discipline to which he had never before been subjected. The idea of being whipped was almost as terrible as that of being shot through the head or heart.
"Will you tell me your name, young man?" demanded the farmer, when the foreman had gone. "Let me inform you in the beginning, that I am in no humor to be trifled with. You can answer me or not, just as you think best."
"I would rather not tell my name," replied Richard, in a subdued tone.
The son of the rich broker of Woodville had conscientious scruples on this point; for though he did not scruple to commit the theft, he was fully alive to the disgrace of being exposed. The good name, the worldly reputation of his family, seemed to be of more value than a conscience void of offence before Him who readeth all hearts. To speak of the sin of the act was but to utter trite and commonplace words, which could be found in any cheap catechism; but to mention the disgrace attending the exposure of that sin, was to touch him where he was keenly sensitive.
"You must tell me your name," said Mr. Batterman, firmly. "What is your name?" he added, turning to Sandy, whom he now held with one hand.
"Sanderson Brimblecom," answered he, for he had no family reputation to guard.
"Now, yours?" said he to Richard.
The broker's son made no reply. He had now too much respect for Mr. Batterman to irritate him with words, and too much respect for the name he bore to connect it with the theft he had committed. He waited in silence till Bates came with the lantern.
RICHARD FINDS THAT NO CHASTENING SEEMETH TO BE JOYOUS.
"Tell him who you are, Dick," said Sandy, when Bates appeared with the lantern. "What's the use of trying to cover up your name, when the light will blow the whole thing?"
"Well, Dick," added the farmer, adopting the name Sandy had used, "if you don't tell me who you are, I shall see what virtue there is in that cowhide."
"My name is Richard Grant," replied the broker's son, sullenly, and with the feeling that he had sacrificed all his manhood by giving up the point.
"Ah, then you are the son of Mr. Grant, of Woodville!" sneered Mr. Batterman. "I don't wonder you didn't want to tell your name, for stealing melons isn't a very respectable business."
"I am willing to pay for the melons, and let the matter drop where it is," said Richard, who was so far humbled as to be willing to compromise with the owner of the stolen fruit.
"I am not exactly willing to let the matter drop where it is. You are the son of a rich and respectable man, and you ought to know better than to steal; and I am going to give you a lesson which I hope you will profit by."
"I will pay double price for all the melons, if you will let me go."
"I wouldn't let you go if you would pay ten times the value of the melons. I want to teach you better than to steal; and when I've done with you, I don't believe you will want to steal any more of my fruit."
"What are you going to do?" demanded Richard, very much disturbed by the decided tones of the farmer.
"I'm going to give you a sound thrashing."
"No, you are not," said Richard, who would rather have died on the spot than submit to the humiliation of a flogging.
"You will see whether I am or not. It's no kind of use for me to take a rich man's son like you before the court. Your father would pay your fine, and you would laugh in your sleeve, and call it a good joke."
"You have no right to flog me," protested Richard.
"Perhaps I haven't; but I'm going to do it, if I have to suffer myself for it. I am going to have the satisfaction of curing you of stealing my melons."
Bates had taken hold of Sandy again, and Mr. Batterman prepared to make good his promise. By the light of the lantern Richard saw the hard face of the farmer. It was stern and forbidding, and he felt that he meant all he had said. How could the son of the owner of Woodville submit to the disgrace of being whipped? At home he was treated with respect and consideration. The servants took off their hats to him. His father, in his sternest moments, had never hinted such a thing as corporal punishment.
It seemed absolutely impossible for him to submit to the farmer's terrible remedy, but there was no way to avoid it. He had offered to compromise, but nothing would satisfy his relentless captor. The punishment was to be inflicted in the spirit of revenge rather than from a sense of duty, which made it all the more intolerable to think of. He was not to be whipped for his own or the public good, but to satisfy the malice and revenge of "Old Batterbones."
He decided not to submit to the infliction; but he might as well have decided not to let the sun rise on the following morning, or to stop the Hudson in its majestic flow to the sea. His own experience, so dearly bought in the garden, had shown him that he was utterly incapable of any successful resistance. He looked around him for the means of escape, and racked his brain for some expedient that would enable him to checkmate his unwieldy opponent; but he looked in vain, and thought in vain. There was nothing upon which to hang even the faintest hope of resistance or escape.
The farmer held him by the collar, and the terrible instrument of torture was raised over his head. It fell, and Richard writhed with the pain, not of the body alone, for the blow seemed to penetrate to his soul. It lacerated his pride, his self-respect, more than it did his legs. He trembled like an aspen leaf, as much from intense emotion as from the smart of the stroke.
Richard was no coward, but he would have begged off, if he could have done so with any prospect of success; but he might as well have pleaded with the ocean to hold back its destructive waves, as with Mr. Batterman to stay his hand, before his revenge was satisfied. Another and another blow fell. The pain was so severe that the culprit could not endure it, and the quick-falling strokes soon kindled a fire in his soul which neither prudence nor policy could check. It burst out in a raging flame of passion, which caused him to roar like a mad bull, and to kick, bite, and struggle like an imprisoned tiger.
All this resistance only added to the spite of his persecutor and he laid on the blows till his own strength failed him. In vain Sandy remonstrated with Richard upon the folly of his course, and begged him to keep cool, as though a severe flogging was one of the light afflictions of this world, that may be endured with patience by a philosophical temperament.
"Old Batterbones" had exhausted himself in the struggle. His "wind" was gone; and he gave up because he could do no more, rather than because he was satisfied with the extent of the punishment.
"There, Mr. Richard Grant, of Woodville, when you want to steal any more melons of mine, think of that," said the farmer, as he cast the culprit from him.
"You'll have to pay for this," groaned Richard, who felt as though he had endured all the tortures of the Inquisition.
"Perhaps I shall," puffed Mr. Batterman; "but if you have got enough to make you a wiser and a better boy, I shall be perfectly satisfied."
"I'll be revenged on you for this, if it costs me my life," exclaimed Richard, whose soul smarted even more than his body.
"Shut up, now!" said the farmer, angrily, "or I'll give you some more."
Richard did shut up, for the incident had developed a grain of discretion in his composition, if nothing better—though nothing better could be expected from a flogging inflicted in the spirit of malice.
"Now, my boy," said the farmer, turning to Sandy, when he had in some measure recovered his breath, "we will see what we can do for you. You are not a fool like the other fellow, and your wisdom will serve you a good turn."
Sandy made no remark in reply to this speech of Mr. Batterman. He had made up his mind to submit with all the philosophy he could bring to his aid. He had been flogged before. It was not a new institution to him, as it had been to his companion in iniquity. He looked upon a flogging as one of the necessary evils to which a fast boy must submit; and though he did not think it was all for the best, he was disposed to make the best of it. The thrashing was the gate by which he was to escape from a bad scrape.
The farmer bore less malice towards him than towards his friend. He had offered no resistance, and been measurably humble under the discipline of misfortune. The blows were lighter and less in number, and when a dozen strokes had been administered, Mr. Batterman was satisfied, and so expressed himself. At the same time he volunteered an opinion that Richard was the real sinner, and had led the other into the mischief—a position which Sandy took no pains to controvert.
But Sandy, though he was a philosopher, and an embryo man of the world, did not submit to his punishment in silence. He was not a Stoic, and every blow extorted from him a cry of pain, which was as politic as it was necessary. He labored to convince the farmer that he was suffering severely from the castigation, so that he might be the sooner satisfied with what had been done. Compared with that which Richard had received, his whipping was light. When it was finished, he was surprised that he had got off with so little; and he congratulated himself upon the strategy which had so sensibly diminished his portion.
"Now, boys, you can go. If you are satisfied, I am; and when you want to steal any more of my fruit, just remember my treatment of fruit thieves," said the farmer.
"You haven't seen the end of this yet," replied Richard, as he moved off, his skin and his proud spirit smarting in unison.
"You haven't seen the end of it either, if you don't keep a civil tongue in your head."
Richard was tempted to enter immediately upon the work of revenging himself for what he had suffered, and when the farmer spoke, he picked up a couple of stones, with the intention of throwing them at his tormentor; but Sandy, cool and self-possessed in the hour of tribulation, dissuaded him from this insane course.
"No use, Dick; drop the stones, and we will pay him off at another time, when we can do so without danger."
Richard listened to this prudent advice, and concluded to adopt it, though he was impatient to be revenged upon the farmer. He was not satisfied with Sandy. He had not been sustained in his resistance to the barbarous conduct of their captor. He thought his companion had been tame and mean-spirited, he had submitted so quietly to his punishment; and when they had got out of the hearing of Mr. Batterman, he roundly reproached him for his pusillanimous demeanor.
"I don't want to call you any hard names, Dick, but in my humble opinion, you were a downright fool," replied Sandy. "It's no sort of use to pound a stone wall with your naked fist. You don't hurt the wall any."
"I like to see a fellow show some spirit," growled Richard. "I thought you had some spunk; but you caved in, and took your flogging as meekly as though you had been one of the saints in Fox's Book of Martyrs."
"I don't know any thing about your martyrs, but I hadn't any notion of getting a double licking, as you did. You got four times as much as I did, just because you were fool enough to resist. If there had been any use in fighting, I would have fought as big as you did."
"I like to see a fellow stand by another when he gets into a scrape," whined Richard.
"Do you mean to say I didn't stand by you? Did I run away from you?" demanded Sandy, indignantly.
"You couldn't run away. The man held you fast, or you would have done so."
"It's very easy for you to talk. I did all I could to make you act like a reasonable fellow; but you were bound to be a fool, and you got all you bargained for."
Richard made no reply to his companion's taunts, for his philosophy was beginning to commend itself to his common sense, as he thought of the difference in the two floggings, and realized that it was all owing to his own stupidity. They walked along in silence, till they reached the Greyhound, but still with "thoughts too big for utterance."
"A pretty condition I am in to go home," said Richard, as he took his place at the helm.
"You will be all right in a day or two," replied Sandy, consolingly.
"What will my father say?"
"If you are fool enough to let him know about it, I don't care what he says."
"How can I help it? The blood is running down my legs now. My skin is all cut up."
"Wash off the blood, and don't let any body see your legs."
"I could kill Old Batterbones," added Richard, grating his teeth.
"We'll pay him off."
"I'll have my revenge, if I die for it."
"I'm with you there, Dick."
It was midnight when the Greyhound reached the pier at Woodville.
RICHARD MAKES A TREMENDOUS SENSATION AT WOODVILLE.
The mansion at Woodville was dark and silent when Richard stole cautiously up the walk which led from the pier to the house. Of course his father and the other members of the family supposed he was asleep in his chamber, where he had gone at an early hour to retire. He had locked his door as usual, and to make the deception more complete, he had pretended that he was not very well.
His chamber window opened upon the one-story addition which had been erected to afford room for a conservatory. On one end of the structure there was a trellis for the support of a grape vine. After he had locked his door, Richard had opened the window, crawled out upon the roof of the conservatory, and descended to the ground by the aid of the trellis.
He intended to return to his room by the same route, but it was now a more difficult matter than it had been when the family were all in the sitting room. Mr. Presby's room was next to his own, and the old gentleman was not a very sound sleeper. The difficulty of gaining access to his room was so great that he was tempted to sleep in the boat house, and not take the risk of being discovered; but the condition of his legs, still smarting severely from the chastisement he had received, would not permit him to do so. His wounds needed attention, and though he was no surgeon, he knew that a good washing in cold water, with the application of a simple remedy he had in his chamber, might ease the pain, and perhaps save him from serious consequences.
With a stealthy step he walked round to the conservatory, and with the utmost care commenced the ascent of the trellis. With all the precautions he could use, it was impossible to avoid making some noise, and he trembled lest the wakeful invalid should hear him. But he succeeded in gaining the roof without creating an alarm. Here he felt comparatively secure; but sometimes when we think we are safest we are in the greatest peril. The roof, wet with the dew of night, was very slippery; and when he reached up to open the window, his feet flew up beneath him, and he fell, with noise enough to rouse a deeper sleeper than Mr. Presby.
"Help! Help! Robbers! Thieves!" shouted the old gentleman, as he threw open his window.
The invalid's lungs did not seem to be at all affected, and there would have been no difficulty in hearing him all over the house, not to say all over the estate. Richard, taking advantage of the momentary confusion, threw open the window, and sprang into his room. Doors were opening in all parts of the house, and he could hear the hurried tread of the members of the household in the halls.
But Richard did not lose his self-possession, and hastily threw off his clothes. Placing himself at the open window, he joined in the cry which Mr. Presby still continued, and hallooed as lustily as his neighbor in the adjoining room. The house was in a complete uproar, and presently he heard the voices of his father and uncle Obed at his door.
"Richard," said Mr. Grant.
"Sir," replied the young scapegrace.
"Open the door."
"They are not in here, father; they are out doors. One of them just jumped off the conservatory,—at least, I think he did."
"Did you see them?" asked uncle Obed.
"No, I didn't see them, but I think I heard them."
Mr. Grant seemed to be satisfied with the information he had gained, and retired from the door. Richard lighted his lamp, and waited impatiently for the disturbance to subside; but he had to wait a long time, for every body about the place had been thoroughly waked up. Mr. Presby went down to the sitting room, where, after a thorough search had been made, the family and the servants had collected to compare notes, and ascertain to what extent the supposed robbers had been successful in their enterprise.
Richard's two sisters, Bertha and Fanny, were there, and both of them very much terrified. Mr. Grant soon pacified them with the assurance that no one had been injured, and that there was no further danger. But Richard was not there, and his absence was noticed. He and Mr. Presby had been the only persons who had heard the robbers, and they had created the alarm. The old gentleman told his story, and Richard's testimony was very much needed to complete the chain of evidence. One of the men servants was sent up to request him to join the party.
"Tell them I don't feel very well, and have gone to bed again," replied Richard, when the man delivered his message.
But this was the most dangerous answer he could have returned; for Mr. Grant, followed by uncle Obed and Mr. Presby, hastened up stairs to ascertain the nature of his illness.
"What ails you, Richard?" demanded his father, in the tones of sympathy and kindness.
"Nothing particular; only I don't feel just right," replied the young midnight marauder, terribly alarmed as he thought of the probable consequences of this visitation.
"Well, open the door, and let me see what I can do for you," added his father.
"I don't want any thing done. I shall be well enough in the morning."
"You had better open the door, Richard; I want to see you about the robbers."
"I can't; I am in bed."
"Don't get up then," said Mr. Grant, more anxious than at first for the health of his son. "I have a key that will open the door."
These words struck terror to the soul of the guilty youth, and he sprang out of bed with all the haste he could command. One terror filled his mind—that his father might see his bleeding, lacerated limbs; and he did, what guilty persons often do, the stupidest thing of which the circumstances would admit. He had blown out the light when he heard them coming, and now in the darkness he pulled on his pants, forgetting that the bed clothes would as effectually hide his injured members as the garment.
He had hardly clothed himself in this partial manner before his father succeeded in opening the door. By the aid of the light which uncle Obed carried, the head and front of the melon expedition was revealed to the visitors, standing in the middle of the room, half clothed and wholly scared.
"Why, Richard! What ails you? Where have you been?" demanded Mr. Grant, as he and the others gazed with astonishment at the sorry figure which the male heir of Woodville presented.
If Richard had attempted to dress himself in the light, he would have rejected the muddy pants he now wore, and consigned them to the deepest depths of the clothes-press. He had rolled in the moist earth of the melon patch, while under the discipline of Mr. Batterman, till his clothes were plastered with mud. His face was begrimed with the rich black mould of the garden, through which the tears of anger and resentment he had shed, under the influence of their natural gravity, had furrowed passages down his checks.
In the simple but eloquent language of Mrs. Green, the housekeeper of Woodville, who had followed the party up stairs, to offer her services in the capacity of nurse, Richard was "a sight to behold." He had retired from the sitting room, and bade the family good night before nine o'clock, looking like a decent person. His pants were in good condition then; certainly, if they had been in their present plight, it would have been noticed.
The first impulse of the visiting party was to laugh at the extraordinary appearance he presented; but a stronger feeling of interest and sympathy overruled the inclination, and the culprit was spared this humiliation. Richard was almost as much astonished as they were, for he had not regarded a thing so trivial as his personal experience, in the excitement and terror of the hour.
While the party were scrutinizing him with surprise and anxiety, he happened to glance at the looking glass on the bureau. Then he saw his hair tangled and matted with mud and filth; then he saw his dirty, tear-furrowed cheeks; and then he saw his befouled and torn pants. In the choice language of the boys, it seemed to him that "the cat was out of the bag" beyond the possibility of recovery.
"What ails you, Richard? What under the sun has happened?" asked Mr. Grant again, for the terrified boy made no reply to the first question.
But Richard was an old head, and he had no notion of being defeated in the present contest of words or ideas. He stood like a statue in the middle of the floor, and made no reply to the interrogatories.
"Where have you been?" said his father. "Can't you speak?"
"I don't know," replied Richard, with a bewildered look, as he glanced with a vacant stare at his soiled garments.
"Don't know where you have been?"
"That's very singular," said uncle Obed.
"Have you been up since you went to bed?" demanded Mr. Grant.
"I don't know," replied Richard, vacantly, as though the whole matter was as much a mystery to him as to the others.
"Where were you when the alarm was given?"
"Out on the roof of the conservatory."
"On the roof!" exclaimed his father. "How came you there?"
"I don't know," answered Richard, shaking his head.
"Don't you know any thing about it?"
"No, sir. I woke up, and heard some one halloo, Robbers! thieves! I was close by the window, and I jumped in, and hallooed with the rest of them."
"Were you standing on the roof?"
"No, I was flat on my face."
"I see," interposed Mr. Presby, holding up his hands with astonishment, "I understand it all. The poor boy is a sleep walker."
"Richard?" said Mr. Grant, who had never known his son to do such a thing before.
"Yes, sir; your boy is unquestionably a somnambulist. He has been wandering about the garden, and rolling in the mud, in his sleep. There have been no robbers or thieves here to-night. The poor boy fell on the roof; that was what waked him up; and the noise of his fall was what caused me to give the alarm."
"Very singular," added uncle Obed.
"I never had any suspicion that he got up in his sleep," said Mr. Grant.
"There are instances on record of persons addicted to the practice who have followed it for years, without discovery. Now, if you will come to my room, I will read you several accounts, given by competent medical authority, of cases just like this," observed Mr. Presby.
But none of the party, at that hour of the night, were disposed to consult the authorities on the subject. If they had looked on the table in Richard's room they might have found there a yellow-covered pamphlet novel, entitled "Sylvester Sound, the Somnambulist." It is a very curious and amusing account of the antics of a sleep-walker, describing the wonderful feats he performed in his slumbers, without having the least idea of what he was doing.
The ingenious young rogue had been reading the book that very day, and in the drama of the "Midnight Alarm," played at Woodville, he had chosen for himself the part of Sylvester Sound. While his father went for a hammer and nails, to secure the window, Richard removed his telltale trousers, and jumped into bed.
RICHARD IS DETERMINED TO BE REVENGED.
Mr. Grant nailed up the window in Richard's room, so that when he should again walk in his sleep, he might not be exposed to the peril of breaking his neck by falling off the roof of the conservatory. When this important work was accomplished, the party retired. Mr. Presby was a philosopher, and his library had not been a merely ornamental appendage of his house. He had read a great deal, and thought a great deal; and mesmerism, biology, psychology, somnambulism, and kindred subjects, had each in its turn been considered, and a conclusion reached.
Mr. Presby, therefore, was not disposed to return to his bed when the excitement had subsided. So splendid an illustration of the phenomenon of sleepwalking was enough to kindle his enthusiasm. He tried to draw uncle Obed into a discussion on the topic, but the latter was too sleepy. Mr. Grant made a home question of the matter, and did not care to indulge in any philosophical inquiries. One after another the family retired, till the old gentleman was left alone, and then, in despair, he resorted to the "authorities" as he termed his books, and read till the inmates of the hennery began to sound the morning call.
Richard did not come down stairs the next morning till nine o'clock, when Mr. Grant and uncle Obed had both gone to the city. He was so stiff that he could hardly walk; but he had washed himself clean, and thrown aside the soiled garments he had worn on the expedition.
Already the story of Richard's wonderful doings in his sleep had been circulated all over the estate, and when he limped into the breakfast room, every body supposed he was suffering from the injuries he had received during his nocturnal ramble. Mr. Presby, whose researches were not yet completed, had taken pains to tell the people of the house, that somnambulists were peculiarly sensitive in regard to their involuntary rambles, and, very much to the surprise of Richard, no one even alluded to the events of the night.
There was upon the faces and in the actions of all with whom he came in contact, an expression of abundant sympathy. He was treated with increased kindness and consideration by the family and by the servants. When he had eaten his breakfast, the thought occurred to him that something which might betray him had been left on the Greyhound, and he hastened down to the pier to remove any such evidence.
As he passed the boat house he heard the voices of Mr. Presby and Ben in the building. The former had by no means slept off his enthusiasm in the cause of science; and as soon as the dew was off the grass, he commenced exploring the premises, in search of any appearances that might throw new light upon the conduct of the "poor boy" during his midnight ramble. He recalled the dirty and foul condition of the patient when discovered in his room, and he examined all the vile and filthy places in the neighborhood, for the marks of some terrible struggle that might have taken place between the sleep-walker, and any real or imaginary demon.
The patient seeker after the hidden truths of science had been to the pigsty, to learn whether he had been wrestling with the pigs; he had looked into the cow yard, the horse stables, and the dog kennels for information upon the dark subject; he had patiently explored the cornfield and the potato patch, and every dirty hole he could find; but not a single fact or hint could he obtain to assist him in solving the difficult problem.
In the course of his investigations he had reached the department of Ben, the boatman. He had carefully noted the appearance of the earth on the banks of the river, and, quite fatigued by his unusual exertions, he had seated himself in the boat house, where Ben was at work.
"Have you noticed any thing unusual about the boats, Ben?" asked the old gentleman, after he had given the boatman a full exposition of his views on somnambulism.
"Yes, sir; I noticed that the Greyhound was in a very dirty, slovenly condition this morning. She wasn't so last night, when I looked at her," replied the boatman.
"The white seats in the standing room were covered with black mud, and upon the edges there were stains of blood."
"Blood?" queried the philosopher.
"Yes, sir, blood; I have seen blood in my day, and I know what it looks like."
"Can it be possible! Blood! What could have happened to the poor boy?"
"I don't know, sir."
"It is really awful. There is no knowing what the poor boy may have suffered."
"He got back all right, for the boat was made fast, as usual, to her moorings."
"The poor fellow must have been off somewhere in the boat, in his sleep."
"May be he did, sir," answered Ben, respectfully.
"O, there can be no doubt about it. Isn't it a wonder that he wasn't drowned?"
"Mr. Richard, knows how to handle a boat as well as any boy of his years on the river."
"Yes, but you forget that he was asleep all the time."
"Perhaps he was, sir," said Ben, who did not seem to appreciate Mr. Presby's philosophy.
"But he did not get all that mud and filth upon him while he was in the boat."
"No, sir, of course he didn't; for I wash down the boat every time she is used, and she was as neat as a new pin when I looked into her at sundown last night."
"Then he must have landed somewhere," added the logical Mr. Presby.
"No doubt of that, sir."
"Where do you suppose he landed?"
"I haven't the least idea."
"Do you suppose you could find out by sailing up and down the river, and examining the shore?"
"Well, sir, if you could tell which way the wind is by looking into the ship's coppers, perhaps you might."
"I feel a very deep interest in the poor boy's welfare," added Mr. Presby, who did not admire Ben's coldness on the subject; "and if you could obtain any information that would throw light on this singular affair, you might confer a great favor on the youth."
"I'll do any thing I can, sir, to find out about it; and if you want to go up and down the river and examine the shore, I'll pull the boat for you."
Mr. Presby accepted this offer, and Richard kept behind the boat house till they had embarked. The roguish author of all these scientific inquiries listened to the old gentleman's remarks on sleep-walking in general, and the phenomena of his own case in particular, till the boat disappeared in the cove above the pier. He then jumped into his skiff, and pulled off to the Greyhound.
Ben had carefully removed all the stains of dirt and blood, and the boat now bore no testimony against him. Whatever the boatman might have thought, he certainly said nothing, and was even willing to countenance Mr. Presby's theory in explanation of the absence of the boat, and of her dirty appearance.
Though Richard had every reason to be satisfied with the success which had attended his representation of the character of a somnambulist, he could not banish the doubts and fears that haunted him. Some unlucky mischance might betray him; "Old Batterbones" or Bates might tell the story; Sandy might be entrapped into an exposure of the affair; indeed, there were so many ways by which the secret might come out, that he was far from satisfied with the prospect before him.
He was a high-spirited young man, and prided himself upon his healthy body and well-developed muscle, and the idea of being pitied as a person having an infirmity upon him was far from grateful to his sensibilities. He did not much admire Mr. Presby's inquiring mind, and thought he was an "old fool" to trouble himself about what did not concern him. He did not care to be the subject of his meditations. Being watched, pitied, and made the object of a physiological study, were almost as bad as being caught in the act of stealing melons.
But above all considerations of his own safety or his own comfort was the reflection that he had been whipped—unjustly and cruelly whipped—by such a person as "Old Batterbones." All the bad boys hated and despised him, and he felt that Woodville had been outraged in the person of its male heir. These thoughts rankled in his soul, and he was thirsting for revenge. He was determined to have satisfaction for the injuries that had been heaped upon him. Already the dim outline of a purpose whose execution would secure him ample vengeance was presented to his mind.
While these dark thoughts were passing through his brain, he discovered the boat, with Mr. Presby and Ben, returning to the pier. Not caring to encounter the scrutiny, or answer the questions of the philosopher, he hoisted the sails, and cast off the moorings of the Greyhound. He was anxious to see Sandy Brimblecom, and ascertain whether he had been discovered when he went home. Sailing over to Whitestone, he found Sandy on the wharf, and took him into the boat.
"Did you get into the house all right?" asked Richard as the Greyhound receded from the wharf.
"I did, but I got caught for all that. My mother had missed me, and about one o'clock, after I had got into bed, the old man came up to my chamber to see if I was there."
"Of course you pretended to be sound asleep."
"I did; but it wouldn't go down. The old man asked me where I had been. I told him I had been over to see you."
"Did you, indeed?" sneered Richard. "And the next thing he will do will be to go to my father, and ask him if you were at our house. My folks know I went to bed before nine o'clock. You have got me into a pretty scrape."
"No, I haven't. The old man won't ask any more questions; but he was mad as thunder with me for staying out so late. It's all right now, Dick; you needn't give yourself any trouble about it."
"I shall not do that, whatever happens."
Richard then described the happy "dodge" by which he had thrown dust in the eyes of all the inmates of Woodville. Sandy was much amused at the account, and expressed a decided admiration for the wonderful genius of his companion, and even went so far as to request the loan of the remarkable work which had suggested the expedient. He would like to read that book, though he was not in the habit of doing such things.
"See there, Sandy," said Richard, as he pulled up his pants, and exhibited to his friend the wales and broken skin upon his legs.
"That's hard," replied Sandy, as he shook his head. "The old villain laid it on well."
"He did, and he shall pay dearly for it," added Richard, as he compressed his lips and ground his teeth. "I'll be revenged upon him if it costs me my life."
"I'm with you there, Dick."
"It shall be the worst night's work for Old Batterbones that ever he did."
"What are you going to do, Dick?"
"Will you stand by me, Sandy?" demanded Richard, earnestly.
"Certainly; to be sure I will. But, Dick, we mustn't burn our own fingers," said his prudent companion. "What are you going to do?"
In low tones, Richard detailed the scheme into which his outline of a purpose had grown, and when they parted at noon, the arrangements were all completed.
RICHARD GIVES ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF SLEEP-WALKING.
For six or seven nights following the expedition to the watermelon patch of Mr. Batterman, Richard Grant did not "walk in his sleep." The parental solicitude of his father prompted him to set a watch for several nights; and Mr. Presby, who was still anxious to pursue his scientific investigations, slept with one eye open, that he might be in readiness to avail himself of the reappearance of the phenomenon.
The philosopher's hint that sleep-walkers are sensitive to any allusion to their infirmity, had prevented him and Mr. Grant from informing the subject of their precautions of the steps they had taken to observe his movements, and Richard was entirely unconscious that vigilant eyes were upon him while he slept, or while he ought to sleep.
But Richard was too lame and sore from the effects of his flogging to indulge again so soon in the luxury of "sleep-walking." He had not been questioned in regard to the blood upon the seats of the Greyhound, for, being asleep when the stains were made, of course he would know nothing about them. Mr. Presby explained his inactivity and want of energy upon philosophical principles, and every body seemed to be satisfied.
The salve which the sufferer applied to his wounded members healed the bruises in a few days, and he was again in condition to pursue his wonted sports and pleasures. After the lapse of a week, as the patient exhibited no further signs of the malady, the watch was discontinued; but Mr. Presby was too enthusiastic in the cause of science to abandon the case so soon. He sat up in his chamber till midnight, with his ears wide open, to catch the slightest indication of a movement on the part of his interesting subject.
Every day, Richard and Sandy met; and they never failed to renew the mutual pledges they had made to be revenged upon "Old Batterbones." The plan was discussed and amended till no further improvement could be made; and by this time Richard was so far recovered from his injuries as to enable him to take the leading part in its execution. The night was appointed for the purpose, and it was agreed that the boys should meet at a point just below Whitestone, where Richard was to take Sandy into the Greyhound, and proceed to the inlet where they had before landed.
It was a very difficult matter for Richard to get out of the house without detection. If he could succeed in opening his door, and walk through the long halls of the mansion without attracting the attention of any of its numerous inmates, he could hardly expect to unlock any of the outer doors with safety. After much reflection, he decided that it would be the better way to go out as he had gone before—over the roof of the conservatory, and down the trellis.
With the proper tools, therefore, he had removed the nails with which his father had secured the window of his chamber. He had then skilfully adjusted them, so that they appeared to be as his father had left them, though he could easily pull them out. At ten o'clock he retired as usual, but the hour of meeting was one o'clock, for the young rascals had come to the conclusion that their purpose could be better executed in the small hours of the morning, when the farmer and his man would probably be asleep.
Richard waited impatiently till he heard the clock strike twelve. There had been no noise in the chamber of Mr. Presby for some time, and he concluded that the old gentleman must be asleep. He had gone to bed as usual, in order to remove any suspicion in case he should find it necessary to act the part of the sleep-walker again. He rose and dressed himself for the expedition, using the utmost care to avoid disturbing the slumbers of the troublesome philosopher in the adjoining room.
Every thing worked to his entire satisfaction, and he was not conscious that he had made the slightest noise. The nails were removed from the window; but, though he had taken the precaution to oil the sash where it slid up and down, it creaked a little, in spite of all the care he could use. He was satisfied that the noise could not wake Mr. Presby, and he continued his operations. Leaving the window open, as a somnambulist would naturally be expected to do, he crept softly over the roof, and reached the trellis without accident.
As yet there was no appearance of an interruption; but the first bar of the trellis, upon which he placed his foot, creaked and snapped. As the noise, so far as he could see, attracted no notice, he resumed his attempt, and reached the ground without any further impediment, real or imaginary.
With stealthy step he retreated from the house till there was no longer any danger of being discovered. Quickening his pace, he soon reached the pier, and with the skiff boarded the Greyhound. The night was certainly favorable for the execution of dark deeds. The midnight assassin, the incendiary, or the burglar would have rejoiced in its darkness, its dense black clouds, and its fitful winds.
Richard Grant still felt the cowhide of his enemy tingling upon his legs, and still felt its iron piercing his soul. The injury he had received a week before, rankled in his bosom as it had the hour after it had been inflicted. Neither the time that had elapsed, nor the peril attending his present enterprise, in any degree moderated the spirit of revenge that burned in his soul.
As soon as he had secured the skiff at the buoy to which the sail boat was moored, he opened the door of the stern locker, and drew forth a small bottle. He shook it to satisfy himself that the contents were safe, and then restored it to the place from which he had taken it. He then examined his pockets to assure himself that some other article necessary for his purpose was all right. No mistakes or omissions had been made, and he proceeded to hoist the mainsail. He then cast off the moorings, and hoisted the jib. The wind was too fresh to permit the Greyhound to carry all sail, and even with what he had set, she put her rail under the water at the first forward impulse.
One less skilful and courageous than Richard would have been terrified by the fierce waves and the gloom of the night, especially if bound upon an errand of evil and crime; but he held the tiller with a steady hand, and heeded not the spray that broke upon the half-deck of the Greyhound. A few moments in such a breeze were sufficient to carry him over the river to the place of rendezvous. The point was as familiar to him as the pier at Woodville; and as soon as he could obtain a view of the dark outline of the shore, he ran the boat alongside the point, with as little difficulty as though it had been broad daylight.
Sandy Brimblecom was not there, and an expression of anger escaped from the lips of Richard, when he found that the partner of his iniquitous scheme might possibly fail him. He gave the signal whistle with which they were in the habit of calling each other; but there was no reply. The clocks on the churches in Whitestone struck one, and Richard waited half an hour after he heard them—half an hour, which seemed like half a day to him.
He was afraid that Sandy's heart had failed him, or that his father had discovered him; and Richard decided to proceed alone with the enterprise. Disgusted at the failure of his associate, he pushed off from the point. As he did so, he discovered another boat a short distance up the river, moving off from the shore. He watched it for a moment, till it disappeared in the gloom. It was not a common thing to see sail boats out at such an hour, and on such a night as this was; but he concluded that it was some gardener taking his produce to an early market, and he gave himself no uneasiness.
Just as he lost sight of the boat, he heard the familiar whistle of Sandy. Putting the Greyhound about, he ran under the lee of the point, and his friend leaped on board. Richard immediately put off again, and shaped the course of the boat for the inlet near the garden of "Old Batterbones."
"You are late, Sandy," said Richard, in reproachful tones.
"Can't help it. I got asleep, and didn't wake up," replied Sandy, with a long gape.
"Asleep! What did you go to sleep for? I haven't been asleep."
"I didn't mean to, but I was so sleepy I couldn't help it."
"You came pretty near spoiling your share of the fun. I had just cast off, and was going to put the thing through alone."
"I wish you had," answered Sandy, in a tone which did not please his companion any better than the words themselves.
"What do you mean?"
"It's a bad scrape we are getting into, and I wish we were well out of it. If I hadn't promised to go, I wouldn't have any thing to do with it."
"Old Batterbones licked you as well as me."
"I know that, and I should like to pay him off for it; but I don't believe it will do to go in quite so steep as we are going."
"You are chicken-hearted, Sandy. I thought you had more grit than that."
"I think I have got as much as you have, but I don't believe it will pay to rub your nose on a grindstone. Your nose will get the worst of it."
"You can back out, if you want to," added Richard, in an indifferent tone.
"I don't want to back out. I agreed to go, and I am going, if I have to be hung for it. I only say, it is a bad scrape."
"No scrape at all, Sandy. I don't calculate to get found out."
"You didn't calculate to before, but you did; and Old Batterbones got more fun out of the scrape than you did. Perhaps he will this time."
"If you are afraid, Sandy, back out, and we will go home again."
"I'm not afraid: don't use that word to me again, Dick. If I had been afraid, I shouldn't come, of course."
By this time the Greyhound was off the little inlet, near Mr. Batterman's garden, and, as a matter of prudence, all conversation was suspended. The boat shot into the inlet, and was made fast to the same tree as on the former occasion. As the business of these hopeful youths was not with the melon patch, they took a different road this time.
They had gone but a short distance before the rushing of a boat through the water was heard. They paused and Richard saw a sail, which he believed he had seen before that night, pass by the mouth of the inlet. He caught but a glance of it, as it cut a tangent along the small circle of his vision.
"I don't like the looks of that boat, Sandy," whispered Richard, as the sail disappeared in the gloom.
"What is any one sailing about the river at this time of night for?"
"I don't know," added Sandy, who did not seem to be at all alarmed at the appearance of the boat.
"I think I have seen her before to-night," continued Richard.
"If you are afraid, we will both back out, and then neither can twit the other."
"I'm not afraid; come along. I've no notion of backing out." And Richard moved on, followed by his reluctant associate.
When they had ascended the hill, they carefully walked all over the grounds to satisfy themselves that the farmer and his man were not keeping vigil over the melons; but they could neither see nor hear any thing that betokened the presence of a human being. Satisfied with this survey of the ground, Richard led the way to the barn, where he had received his terrible flagellation. The memories of the place were not pleasant, and they intensified the hatred he bore the owner of the premises, and fanned the flame of vengeance that was burning in his soul.
The barn was an old building, and very much out of repair. It contained the farmer's horses and oxen, his wagons, his hay, and other produce. On the side nearest to the river, some of the boards had been forced partly off by the pressure of the hay; and against one of these places Richard sat down upon the ground.
"Pull out some of the hay, Sandy," whispered Richard, as he drew from his pocket the bottle which he had taken from the locker of the boat.
Sandy hinted something about backing out again; but a sneer from Richard silenced him, and he obeyed the order. While he was doing so, Richard walked round the barn to satisfy himself that no one was near. They were alone, and the wicked work proceeded.
RICHARD KINDLES A LITTLE FIRE.
Sandy continued to pull out the hay from behind the board, till Richard, who, as engineer, conducted the operations, directed him to suspend his labors. The contents of the bottle were poured upon the heap of loose hay.
"What's that, Dick?" asked Sandy.
"Spirits of turpentine. I intend to make sure work of it," answered Richard.
"I wouldn't use that stuff," added Sandy.
"To tell the truth, Dick, I was in hopes the fire wouldn't burn."
"I believe you are a fool, Sandy Brimblecom. Have you come clear over here, in the dead of the night, to kindle a fire that will not burn?"
"I don't like the idea of setting the barn on fire," whispered Sandy, in an earnest tone. "What do you suppose they will do with us, if we should get found out?"
"We shall not get found out."
"We shall be sent to the state prison—at least I shall."
"I shall, if you are; we shall both be in the same boat, and if one goes down the other must."
"I don't know about that," said Sandy; "your father is rich, and he will get you off. I shall have to stand all the racket."
"Shut up, Sandy! I have gone too far to back out now," added Richard, decidedly, as he took a bunch of matches from his pocket.
"Hold on a moment, Dick, before it is too late. It will be cheaper to do our thinking now than it will be after the barn is burned down."
"I have done all the thinking I care to do already. The die is cast, Sandy. I won't back out now, and you shall not."
"It's too bad to burn up the horses and oxen in the barn. That's cruel. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't say a word."
"Very well; we will go round and turn out the horses and oxen. I don't want to burn them any more than you do."
"But the noise will wake the farmer and his man."
"No, it won't. I have thought a great deal about the animals, and it goes right against my grain to hurt them, especially the horses."
"I don't want to burn the barn, any way."
"You are a coward and a fool, Sandy."
"It's easy enough for you to say so, when you know your father has money enough to buy up Old Batterbones, if we get into any scrape."
"Come, no more whining, Sandy; I'm going to get the horses and oxen out, and then I'm going to burn the barn."
"I'm off, then."
"Very good; but if I get into trouble, I will blow on you."
This consideration staggered Sandy, and he concluded to stay and see the end of the wicked enterprise. The house of Mr. Batterman was at a considerable distance from the barn, and there was but little danger that the humane policy of the young incendiaries would expose them to any additional peril.
Richard, followed by Sandy, entered the barn, and turned all the animals loose. They drove them into a lot where they could not get near the fire. The only thing that had weighed upon the mind of the broker's son, in the prosecution of his mad enterprise, was now removed, and he returned to the place where he had prepared the materials for starting the conflagration. Again Sandy stated his objections, and urged Richard to abandon the scheme; but the latter, without any reply to this remonstrance, drew a card of matches across a stone, and applied the burning mass to the hay which had been saturated with turpentine.
The heap of combustible matter suddenly blazed up, lighting all the fields around them. The work had been surely done, and it was too late for Sandy to urge any more of his objections.
"Come, Sandy, the work is done. Now use your legs," said Richard, as he started at the top of his speed towards the inlet where the Greyhound lay.
Sandy's legs did not fail him on this emergency, for he soon outstripped his companion. They had gone but a few rods, when both were appalled at the discovery of two men, who were running towards the fire with all their might—which was not saying much, for both of them seemed to be old and stiff, and incapable of making very good time even on so pressing an emergency as the present.
The guilty boys were filled with terror. The shock was so great that it seemed to deprive them of their strength, and they found their legs giving out under them.
"We are caught, Dick," gasped Sandy, when he could regain breath enough to speak.
"No, we are not; come along. Don't stop here," answered Richard, who was beginning to recover his self-possession.
They ran as fast as their weakened limbs would permit, till they reached the bank of the river. Richard jumped into the boat and hoisted the sails, while Sandy cast off the painter, and they were soon standing out from the shore before the fresh breeze. Neither of them spoke for some minutes, for neither of them had breath enough left in his body to do so.
"The fire don't burn," said Richard, when the boat had gone far enough to enable him to see over the high bank of the river.
"Don't it?" asked Sandy, hoarsely, for the terror and exhaustion of the awful moments through which he had just passed seemed to have choked up his throat, and deprived him of his voice.
"No; it is as dark up there as it was before we landed."
"I am glad of it," gasped Sandy, who was beginning to breathe a little easier.
"I'm not," added Richard, firmly. "We shall only have the job to do over again."
"If you ever catch me in such a scrape as this again, you may let me know it when you do."
"You might as well have the game as the name."
"I don't know about that. I am glad the barn didn't burn. Are you sure the fire has gone out?"
"No doubt of it. There isn't enough to light your cigar."
"I suppose those men put it out. Who do you think they were?"
"I don't know, and I don't care. I wish they had been somewhere else. They have spoiled my night's work."
"I am glad they have; and I thank them with all my heart for what they have done."
"I don't; you might as well be hung for an old sheep as a lamb. If we are caught it will be all the same with us as though we had burned the barn."
"Who do you suppose the men were?"
"I haven't the least idea. I don't care."
"Yes, you do care, Dick. What's the use of talking in that way? You don't want to be found out any more than I do."
"I know that, but we are not found out; and that isn't all—we shall not be."
"I should like to be satisfied on that point."
"The men didn't take any notice at all of us, and I am certain they did not see us."
"They couldn't help seeing us, Dick. The fire lit up the whole field, so that it was as light as broad day."
"Suppose they did see us; they couldn't tell who we were. Keep a stiff upper lip, Sandy, and it will be all right."
"I can only hope for the best, but I shall be scared at my own shadow for a month to come," added Sandy, in whose nature a vein of candor appeared to be suddenly developed, for he was not in the habit of acknowledging that he was afraid of any thing.
"You don't talk a bit like Sandy Brimblecom," sneered Richard; "and you act more like an old woman than a fellow of any spunk."
"Humph! I'll bet you are as scared as I am, only you won't own it."
"I don't know what fear means, Sandy."
"O, you can brag; but when a fellow can go and set a man's barn afire, without wincing, he's worse than I am; that's all I've got to say."
"Worse than you are!" said Richard. "Didn't you agree to the whole thing? Didn't you go in for paying off Old Batterbones? Didn't you come down here to burn the barn with me?"
"I did, but I didn't want to come."
"What did you come for, then?"
"Because I agreed to come."
"You're not the fellow I took you to be. You joined me in the affair, and then, at the last moment, you begin to whine like a sick monkey."
"I'm not so far gone that I can burn a man's barn without feeling it."
"You haven't got the pluck of a mosquito."
"You've said about enough on that tack, Dick Grant," replied Sandy, who did not relish the reflections cast upon his courage.
"I shall say what I think best."
"No, you won't! I'm sorry for what I've done, and I'm willing to own it; but I won't take any sauce from you or any other fellow."
"You can talk big enough," sneered Richard.
"Shut up, or I'll bat you over the head."
"Just put me ashore, Dick Grant, and you and I will part company."
Both boys felt that enough had been said, and the conversation was discontinued by mutual consent. Richard, notwithstanding his bravado, was no better satisfied with himself than Sandy. Though he had spoken of "doing the job over again," he had not the slightest idea of repeating the experiment. The shock which the discovery of the two men had given him, was too much even for his strong nerves; and though he was not willing to confess it, he was sorry for what he had done. The terror of being found out had damped the spirit of revenge. The excitement of the affair had passed away, and like his companion in wickedness, visions of public trial, of the house of correction, or the state prison, began to flit before him.
He was not sorry that the barn had been saved from destruction; and the only pleasant reflection in connection with the whole transaction was, that he had insisted upon saving the horses and the oxen. It was with Richard as it is with all who commit crimes. They are led on by the spirit of revenge, or some other strong motive. There is a kind of excitement which urges them on till the wicked deed is committed. Then the criminal excitement subsides; the hour of reflection comes, burdened also with the fear of discovery. To some extent, crime is its own punishment; at least, it is so with those who have not become hardened in iniquity.
Richard brought the Greyhound up to the point where he had taken Sandy on board. He did not like to part with him in anger, for, to a certain extent, he sympathized with him in his penitential confession. But, more than this, he was afraid Sandy might revenge himself upon him for the reproaches he had uttered.
"Let's not quarrel, Sandy," said Richard, as he laid the boat alongside the landing place.
"I don't want to quarrel, but I won't be picked upon by you," replied Sandy, with spirit.
"I'll take it all back. Let's be friends again. We have failed to do what we intended, and perhaps it will be just as well for us."
"I'm glad you are coming to your senses. Do you mean to try it again?"
"We won't burn the barn, Sandy, but we must pay off Old Batterbones in some other way."
"I'll do it. I'll hook his apples, pull out the linchpins of his wagon, throw a dead cat into his well, or any thing of that sort, with you, but I won't attempt to burn any man's barn again. No, never!"
"We'll fix him yet, Sandy. When shall I see you again?"
"I shall be round the wharf to-morrow."
"I'll see you there. Good night to you, Sandy."
"Good night, Dick."
Boys don't usually bid each other good night after they have been doing wicked deeds; and Richard's parting salutation was a peace-offering, rather than the kindly wish of a friend.
Sandy made his way up to Whitestone, and Richard again pushed off upon the troubled waters of the Hudson. The Greyhound leaped over the waves as though she was in haste to get out of the disgraceful business in which she had been employed. Richard heard the clocks in Whitestone striking three, as he grappled his moorings and made fast to them.