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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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Somewhat back from the little village
of Covington, there stood, at the time of
which we write, a rude log hut, owned
and tenanted by a single person, a
woman some forty years of age. On
the evening in question, she was seated
on a rough made chair, before a fire,
which, blazing on the hearth, threw flickering
shadows upon her weather-beaten,
strongly-marked countenance. She was
bent a little over—her elbows resting on
her knees—her fingers interlocked—
gazing upon the flame with a listless, half
sleepy look. The inside of this cottage
exhibited much cleanliness, but was rough
and homely. A bed stood in one corner,
covered with a patched quilt. In another
corner was an old fashioned dresser, on
which were ranged a few pewter dishes,
some crockery ware, and at the foot of
which were a few pots and kettles. Along
one side of the wall hung various articles
of female apparel, a rude broom, one or
two willow baskets, &c., &c. Over head,
suspended by two wooden hooks, was a
very neat rifle, one of the hooks also sustaining
a pouch and powder-horn. We
must not forget to mention a clock, then
a much rarer piece of furniture than now,
which adorned one portion of the apartment,
and whose steady, solemn tick, was
the only sound now audible. The floor
was plain, but very white, from being often
scoured, and was graced with an old
arm-chair, just such a piece of furniture
as we never see without being reminded
of the couplet.

“I love it, I love it, and who shall dare
To chide me, for loving that old arm-chair.”

One or two other chairs, a rough loom,
a foot-wheel, a spinning-wheel, a dealtable,
a sort of stand to work by, on which
was a candle, a stocking half knit, evidently
just laid down, completed the
general appearance of the place. This,
by the way, was the only room in the
house, if we except a rude half attic,
entered by a ladder at one end.

The only tenant of this building—that
is the only human tenant (for a large

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cabby cat lay dozing on the hearth)—
was the individual seated before the fire,
and whom we shall designate by the
appellation of Molly Magore.

Molly Magore, as before said, was about
forty; but for the matter of that, she might
have been taken for sixty, so much so had
trouble and exposure, amused themselves
by drawing furrows upon her countenance.
There was in the expression of her countenance
nothing of greatness, but a great
deal of goodness. Her features were decidedly
ugly, and, but for this expression
of goodness, might have been pronounced
hideous. Her hair of a tow, or flaxen
color, was combed up and back from the
sides and front of her head, was twisted
together, and was then quirled round and
fastened on the top by an old three-toothed
comb. By this operation many of the
hairs had been pulled out, especially in
front, above the forehead, giving it a
rather rough, stumpy appearance. Her
eyebrows were light like her hair, and
very thin; but her skin was dark and
bronzed from exposure. Her eyes were
oblique, of a pale blue, and of that peculiar
cast which requires something very
extraordinary to make flash. Her face,
from the forehead to the chin, formed a
half semi, or quarter circle; and the lower
part of the nose—which, by the way, was
short, and turned up—found its position
about half way on the arch. She was a
little sunken about the mouth, for most
of her teeth had decayed. Add to this a
rather wrinkled skin, rough and coarse,
and you have a pretty good idea of her
features. But ugly as they were in form,
there was something about them that
would at once interest you. Her eyes
looked mild, and a softened expression
seemed to rest on her countenance. Her
dress consisted of a frock of coarse, red
woollen, with short sleeves, which left the
lower part of her brawny arms bare. A
large check apron was fastened around
her waist by a tow string, and her feet
were covered with thick brogans.

Molly Magore, in some respects, was a
very singular woman. In the first place,
she took great delight in doing good secretly,
but seemed to take an equal delight
in openly appearing in the worst
light possible. Her manners to a stranger
were rough and boorish; and it was
only when excited by some tale of suffering,
that the feelings of her heart were
truly displayed. She was also very eccentric,
and would sit for hours in the
position we have introduced her, without
noticing external objects. To account for
this singularity, we must leave to those,
if there be such, who can account for the
various workings of the human heart; we
merely state the fact.

It now becomes necessary for us, before
proceeding further, to give a brief history
of this woman, which we shall make as
brief as possible.

Poor, humble, and ugly as she looks,
Molly Magore had been raised in affluence.
Born of wealthy parents in the
State of New York, she had had, in early
life, all the advantages of society and education
which such a position could bestow.
Life, with her, until arrived at the age of
sixteen, had glided sweetly along, like the
even current of a beautiful stream. Every
wish of her heart had been divined and
gratified. Her father, formerly a merchant,
had retired from business, rich.
He was a stern, morose man, who said
but little to any one, and who disliked his
daughter because she was not handsome.
This he never openly avowed; and as he
was ever willing to gratify her slightest
wish, she rarely ever gave it a thought.
Her mother was a very different being.
She was mild, gentle, affectionate, and
loved her daughter tenderly. She was,
besides, a pious lady; and she instilled

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into her daughter's mind those noble precepts
of christianity, which come up, in
after years, from the wells of memory,
and shed a hallowed influence around the
soul. How many who have launched into
the wide, stormy sea of dissipation, have
been checked in mid-career, have been
saved, by the recollections of a pious mother's
prayers and holy teachings. How
much, mothers of our country, depends
upon the training of your children! To
you is consigned a nation's welfare! To
you will posterity turn with blessings or
reproaches, as you in good or evil dispose
of the sacred trusts the Almighty has
consigned to your charge. Let this solemn
truth be impressed upon you, that
you may thereby act in righteous judgment!

At the age of sixteen, the mother of
Mary Ellington (otherwise Molly Magore)
closed her accounts with time, and passed
to the abodes of the blest—first blessing
and giving her only child much parental
advice—advice which she treasured—
advice which bore her up in after years
through many heart-rending trials—advice
which finally saved her from the
dread abyss of crime.

We have said that her father was stern
and morose in his disposition while his
wife was living; after her death he became
still more so; and his daughter,
whom he never loved, he now as much
as possible avoided; and she wept for her
mother in silence, alone, without sympathy.
Thus a year passed in dull, gloomy
monotony with the daughter, at the end
of which time the father married, and
brought his new wife home. This seemed
for Molly a final blow; for her step-mother
was a woman proud, tyrannical, and jealous
of authority; and being persuaded
by a young man who often visited there,
whom she held in good esteem, and who
in return professed to love her with true
devotion, she finally eloped, and they
were married. This was a sufficient plea
for her father to disown her, which he accordingly
did; and her husband, who was
seeking money only in this alliance, finding
himself disappointed in his high expectations,
abused, and at last deserted
her. Thus at the age of eighteen, without
friends—without money—without
hope—she who had been reared in affluence
was thrown upon the world, a creature
to be pitied. We say without friends, for
she was too proud to let her former associates
know of her degraded condition.

Had she been like many of her sex, she
would have drooped under the blow, or
have plunged into crime, and ended her life
in miserable dissipation. But hers was the
spirit of the oak which defies the storm.
She remembered a mother's teachings—
she sought consolation in the God of the
friendless, and grappled with the world
without a repining thought. She hired
herself to a farmer, and though unacquainted
with the business, she, with
ready tact, soon learned all the useful occupations
appertaining thereto, and worked
with an honest zeal that won her high
regard. Her former history she kept
a secret; and though the persons with
whom she lived would gladly have known
more of her, yet they never ventured to
question her on that point. Thus years
rolled on, and thus Molly Magore (for
such the name she had assumed, and ever
after adhered to,) passed her time in her
daily routine of business, laying aside her
hard earnings for a future period.

At length she concluded to leave the
farm, and visit the great emporium of the
western continent—the city of New York.
Accordingly she packed her few things
together, took a friendly leave of the good
people with tears in her eyes, while they,
as much affected, wished her a happy
destiny. Arrived in New York, she soon

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procured a situation in one of the most
wealthy mansions of the city, as governess,
and future instructor of a then little
girl. A short time after, the child, about
two years of age, was missing and had
never been heard of since, although the
strictest search had been instituted and
kept up for a long period. Molly was at
once arrested as the murderess, or accessory
kidnapper of the child, while the
parents themselves went nearly crazy
in consequence of the loss. She was
tried, but as nothing could be proven
against her, she was finally acquitted; not,
however, (as generally happens in such
cases,) until her character had been ruined.
This was another terrible blow to
the poor creature, for we scarcely need
inform the reader she was innocent.
Molly had borne many trials with fortitude
and patience; but to be accused of
crime, and such a crime—to be dragged
to the bar of justice—upheld to the
world—pointed at with the finger of
scorn—was too much; her reason tottered,
deserted her, and for several days
she wandered about the streets of New
York a harmless maniac. But the
strength of her constitution saved her—
gave her reason an ascendancy; and falling
in with some emigrants soon after,
she, in company with them, journeyed to
the West. Here, after much additional
suffering and privation, she at last succeeded
in settling down in the little cottage
just described—having purchased it, and
some ten acres of land adjoining, with the
hard-earned money of former years.

Thus, by suffering, had she learned to
feel for the unfortunate; thus, by suffering,
one by one had those wrinkles been
traced in her countenance: and, thus,
reader, have we made you somewhat acquainted
with her history, which, to the
development of our tale, was important
for you to know. Now to proceed.

Molly sat in the position we have introduced
her for an hour, without showing
any signs of life, other than by her breathing,
while the old clock ticked on, and
finally struck nine: about which time a
loud rap was heard at the door.

“Come in,” said Molly, gruffly, without
looking up.

The door opened, and the stranger
introduced in the preceding chapter entered.
Molly turned her face partly
round, measured him from head to foot
with a half contemptuous look, as one
would measure an inferior antagonist, and
then mutely pointed to a vacant chair.

The stranger obeyed the gesture, and
as he seated himself, said:

“Your name, I believe, is Molly Magore?”

“You can believe what you please,

“Am I not right?”

“If you are, what of it?”

“Why, then, I have particular business
with you.”

“Say on.”

“I have heard you represented as a
woman who is ever ready to do a good

“Umph! People lie often without

“But are they not right in this respect?”

“That is for you to find out.”

“You answer strangely.”

“You question likewise.”

The stranger mused a moment, bit his
lips, and seemed puzzled how to proceed,
while a half angry look partly clouded
his features. At length he resumed:

“I have called to know if you will take
charge of a young girl?”

Molly suddenly started, turned her
face full upon the stranger, and eyed him
steadily some moments before making a

“Take charge of a young girl, sir,”

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repeated she, slowly, “take charge of a
young girl! are you mocking me? Do
you know—but no, no,” continued she,
lowering her voice, “what could he
know?” and her whole features underwent
a singular change.

The stranger noticed this, but without
appearing to do so, again resumed:

“Yes, I have a young child, a very
interesting little girl, about ten years of
age, whom I wish to consign to your care,
as I have business which calls me away.
She is a beautiful being, you will love
her, you cannot help it. Alas!” sighed
he, “poor child! save myself, she is
without a protector, I may say without a

“No, no, no! not without a friend,”
cried Molly, energetically, her rough,
ugly features glowing with a compassionate
look, truly wonderful to behold; “not
without a friend, sir—say not that—I
will be her friend. I feel I love her
already—the poor unfortunate!” and
Molly passed her hand across her eyes.

“Ah! now I know you for the being
you have been represented,” said the
stranger, joyfully; “now I shall have no
fears for her safety; you will be a mother
to her.”

Molly made no answer; but rising, she
paced the floor with rapid strides, repeating
to herself, “The poor unfortunate!”
Suddenly she made a halt.

“Your name, stranger?”


“The child's?”


“Your daughter?”

“She calls me father.”

“Cicely Vandemore—'tis a pretty
name—I love the name,” said Molly,
again resuming her walk. “Cicely
Cicely,” repeated she, musingly, “tis
the same, 'tis the same—singular

“Well,” said the stranger, or Vandemore,
rising, “I suppose it is settled;
you will take the child?”

“I will.”

“But how about the pay?”

“What pay, sir?” inquired Molly,
again halting.

“For taking care of the child.”

“I ask nothing.”

“But I shall be gone a long time; perchance
years—perchance”—he paused,
as if loth to repeat, and then added—

Again Molly looked at him steadily.

“Forever, said you? can you leave
your child forever?”

“But I know not what may happen.”

“True, true; rest easy, then, while I
live she shall share with me; and yet,”
added she, “if you have money to spare,
a little would not come amiss.”

“I have none at present—I go to gain
money; fear not but that you shall be

“Rest easy for me.”

“Can I confide to you a secret?”

“You can act your pleasure.”

“Will you swear to keep it?”

“I never swear.”

“Well, well,” said Vandemore, smiling,
“you are a singular woman; a very
singular woman.”

“You echo others.”

“Well, I am not afraid to trust you, at
all events; to-morrow, at the hour of
mine, I shall be here with Cicely, I shall
then place in your hands a sealed packet,
with the request that you will deposit it
in some secure place, and not open it, nor
allow Cicely to do so, save one of these
three provisos shall come to pass: First,
her death. Second, your death. Third,
her arrival at the age of eighteen, which
will occur on the 13th of June, 1806.”

“Your request shall be adhered to.”

“Thank you! and now I will take my

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leave. To-morrow I shall be here at
nine, precisely, Adieu.”

“Good night,” returned Molly; and
as the stranger disappeared, she resumed
her position before the fire, muttering to
herself—“the poor unfortunate child!”

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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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