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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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Considerable sensation was created in
the house, by the appearance of the
strangers. The fine, noble, commanding
look of Edward Langley, contrasted forcibly
with the somewhat cringing, sinister,
revengeful expression on the dark countenance
of John Roberts, the traitor.
Both were conducted forward to the
stand occupied by the president, who,
addressing himself to Langley, said.

“We will record your name, if you

“Edward Langley.”


“Belle Farm, Kentucky.”

“We have been informed, Mr. Langley,”
pursued the president, “that you
wish to join our society.”

“If the object of this society is the extermination
of a band of outlaws, known
among themselves as the League of the
Miami—then, sir, you have been rightly
informed,” was the calm, dignified reply.

“And what cause, pray state to the
company, has led you, a stranger, to come
thus far, to join a society for the purpose
you avow?”

“My tale is soon told;” and Langley
proceeded to repeat the story he had told
to the man Green.

“And you say,” pursued the president,
“that this fellow, when taken, declared
that the girl had been seized by the
League of the Miami?”

“Yes, so he stated; and also that they
wanted to secure him; and he was on the
point of proceeding to give more information,
when the other, who had him in
charge, knocked him down, and, catching
him up in his arms, sped to the boat, and
shoved into the stream, before I had time
to overtake him, and thus he escaped me.
Rumors had before reached me, that in
the Great Miami Valley, there was such
a band of outlaws in existence; and only
a few days previous, a person from these
parts had confirmed these rumors, and
stated that already their deeds of infamy
had become so troublesome to the honest
settlers, that they had organized a society
for their extermination; and this society,
I then resolved, if it were possible, to
join. In my excited state of mind, I
kneeled upon the earth, and swore I
would not take peaceful rest, till I had
rescued the girl, and revenged myself,
for the foul daring of seizing her, on some
of those who had sanctioned her capture;
and now I am desirous to make that
oath good, and for this purpose am I

“Well, if we may believe your story—
and I see no reason for doubting it—I
think your wrongs entitle you to become
one of us,” rejoined the president. “Gentlemen,
shall we, or shall we not, admit
Edward Langley to membership?—let
us have your minds on the subject.”

This being decided in the affirmative,
without a dissenting voice, the chairman

“Edward Langley, do you believe in a

“I do.”

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“In a heaven for the good?”

“I do.”

“In a hell for the wicked?”

“I do.”

“Then hold up your right hand, in
acknowledgment that you swear, by that
God, as you hope for heaven, and dread
hell, that you will be true to us, in our
grave undertaking of ridding the country
of this accursed band of robbers, plunderers,
counterfeiters, incendiaries, kidnappers,
and murderers, self-styled the
League of the Miami.”

This being complied with, Langley was
forthwith declared to be a member. The
laws and regulations of the society were
then read to him by the secretary, and he
was called upon to sign the constitution—
which he did, in a bold, free, graceful

“You see,” said the president, in conclusion,
“by the reading of the constitution,
that your election to membership has
been somewhat illegal, inasmuch as the
said constitution expressly prohibits the
joining of any one who may not be known
to have lost a horse, or otherwise been
molested, prior to the organization of this
society; but as the spirit of it has reference
to persons living in this vicinity, and
was adopted in order to prevent any of
the League themselves gaining admittance,
it has been thought proper, by the
unanimous vote of those here assembled,
to waive the objectional point in your
particular case.”

“For which, Mr. President, and gentlemen,”
responded Langley, “I tender
you my heart-felt acknowledgements.”

He then took a seat near him, and the
chairman signified to Roberts that the
society was ready to hear what he had
to say.

“Mr. President,” responded the individual
addressed, “if I may be permitted,
I should like to ask the gentleman who
has just been admitted a member of the
society, one or two questions.”

“Do you object to this, Mr. Langley?”
inquired the chairman.

“I do not,” was the reply.

“Proceed, then,” rejoined the president
to Roberts.

“Will you please state what kind of a
looking person was the one you saw forcibly
taken away, and who declared that
the girl you mentioned was captured by
the League?”

“He was small in stature, and, as near
as I could judge, had ugly, villainous-looking
features,” replied Langley.

“And the one who knocked him
down—what sort of a person was he?”

“A low, stout, square-built man, with
rather broad, full features.”

“Then I am right in my conjectures:
the two persons were Jarvis and Melven.
Mr. President, and gentlemen, I can so
far confirm Mr. Langley's statement, as
to say, that I was in the Cave of the
League when Jarvis brought this man
Melven in a prisoner, where he is now
confined to await his trial and execution.”

This announcement caused some little
sensation throughout the house; and the
president, addressing himself to Roberts

“What sort of a character does this
Melven bear among you?”

“He is generally considered a contemptible
wretch, sir; and it has long
been believed, by most of the League,
that the first favorable opportunity he
would turn traitor.”

“Would it be worth our while, think
you, to attempt his rescue?”

“I do not think it would, as he is of no
use to any one, and had better, for society,
be dead than alive. He is a villain by

“But perhaps he could tell us what

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has been done with the girl?” suggested
Langley, brightening up at the thought.

“No, I do not think he could; for, depend
upon it, whoever employed him,
would not trust him any farther with his
secret than was absolutely necessary.
And I must say—though my remark
prove in favor of the men I hate—that
I do not think this abduction was ever
sanctioned by the League, or I should
have heard of it. It is possible that
the villains who seized the girl may
belong to the League; but if so, I am
inclined to think they acted for themselves,
or for some person who has
promised a rich reward.”

“But for what object could the girl
have been taken?” said the president,

“The basest, undoubtedly,” rejoined
Edward; and his words trembled with
deep emotion. “But are you sure,” he
asked, addressing Roberts, whose
before the society had privately been
explained to him—“are you sure this
Melven knows nothing concerning the
girl? where she has been taken, for what
purpose, and so forth?”

“No, Mr. Langley, I am not positive,”
replied the other. “I only give it as my
opinion, knowing the man as well as I do.”

“Oh, I would that I could see him
myself!” rejoined Langley, not a little

“That will be difficult to do,” said
Roberts, “and can only be done by the
overthrow of the outlaws, as he is concealed
in their stronghold. But if it be
the wish of this society, I will guide you
all thither, on the night of Melven's trial,
and you will thereby have an opportunity
to rescue the culprit, and take revenge,
at the same time, on the assembled

“I move that this proposition be
adopted,” said Langley.

“I second it,” said Green.

It was now put to vote, and carried

“When will this trial take place?”
inquired the president.

“Soon,” replied Roberts; “I must
ascertain the precise time, and let you
know. Suffice, that it will not be to-night,
nor to-morrow night, as the captain
and his men have got as rauch business
on their hands as they can attend to; and
this brings me to the matter I wish to
communicate. The horses stolen last
night from Wilden's barn, have been
taken down to a place called Harlem's
Cover, about ten or fifteen miles below
here, where they will remain a couple of
days, for the purpose of coloring, and
otherwise altering, and also to prevent
you, whom the League suppose will be
out in search of them, from finding any
trace thereof.”

“And what do you mean by coloring?”
inquired the president.

“Why, the League has a way of so
coloring the hair of a horse, that you
would not know your own animal, should
you chance to see him. Out of a white
one, they will make a bay; and a dark
bay, sorrel, or brown, they will color a
beautiful, shiny black. If the horse has
shoes on him, by which you would know
his track, they will take them off, and put
on others in their place. This is generally
done at a place called Meizmer's
Cove. It is seldom they take a body of
horses together, as they did last night—
the more usual plan being, for one of the
party to watch his opportunity, and steal
from his nearest neighbor, ride the horse
away to the next neighbor that belongs
to the band, and then return home and
go to-bed, so that he may be found there
the next morning, and no suspicion fall
upon him. The next one does the same;
and so the horse is passed along the line,

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as one may say, until he reaches the
place of concealment, where he is kept
several days, or until all search for him
is over, and then he is taken across the
ford of the Ohio, in the night, perhaps in
company with a dozen others, rode down
through Kentucky into Tennessee, and so
up into Virginia, where all are finally
disposed of.”

“The atrocious scoundrels!” said the
president, bitterly, biting his nether lip in
vexation; “we will soon put a stop to
their infamous movements! But go on
with your story, Mr. Roberts—state what
you know of their intentions, and advise
us how to act.”

“Well, to-night, if the scheme of the
League succeeds, there will be several
horses stolen from the vicinity of Hamilton.
These horses will be ridden down
to Harlem's Cover, and placed with those
stolen last night; and to-morrow night
the League will meet, by appointment, in
a place called the Oaken Grove, where
several persons, who are in the habit
of buying their spurious money—but
who do not belong to the League—will
meet them, to transact their unlawful

“How many of the League will be
present?” inquired the President of the
Anti-League Society.

“I do not know. It will be optional
with the members to come or not. Doubtless
there will be some fifteen or twenty
of the party there.”

“Why do they not meet at the cave—
or, as you have termed it, in speaking of
it to me—Hamilton's Den?”

“Because that is their stronghold, and
private resort; it is where the bogus
money is coined, and the blank bank
notes are filled up; and it would not do
to have that known to strangers, lest some
of them might betray the secret, and so
endanger the safety of the band.”

“Is this cave, then, so private?”

“It is, I believe, known only to the
members of the League; and so well is
it secreted by natural means, that were
you to pass over the very spot, unless
searching particularly for it, you would
not discover it. It is formed in a side
hill, and all around it are trees and undergrowth—
and even the very mouth of it
is concealed by a cluster of bushes.”

“You say you can lead us to it?”

“Not only that I can, but that I will,
if I am spared and prospered.”


“On the night of Melven's trial.”

“And how are you to ascertain when
that night will be?”

“By going back to the band, and
mingling with them.”

“But if we allow you to go back, what
proof have we that you will not betray

The features of Roberts instantly
flushed, and for a moment or two he
looked at the president indignantly, and
his dark eyes flashed.

“Have I not done enough,” he said,
angrily, “by placing my own life in
jeopardy, two nights in succession, to
convince you that I will prove true to

“Pardon me, Mr. Roberts!—but how
are we to know that all you have done is
not a mere scheme of your own party,
for finding out our secret, and having us
at an advantage?”

“Can you not judge by my actions,
and the verifying of my words last

“But that proves nothing. In the first
place, you state that a man is coming to
poison my spring, and I, of course, go
out to shoot him. Well, I miss my aim,
he runs, and I naturally follow. Well, in
running a few miles, he draws me into an
ambuscade, I am fired on, and in turn I

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[figure description] Page 081.[end figure description]

flee for my life, and, but for accidentally
running among my friends, I might have
lost it. Some things in this affair are a
little curious, and I have been puzzled to
understand them. In the first place, this
man, being a giant in strength, could
have handled me as easily as I could
handle a child. Well, then, why did he
run? In the second place, I saw it
clearly demonstrated myself, when Jake
Wilden took after him, that he could run
faster than I. This being the case, why
did he not run out of my sight, unless it
were a previous design to draw me into
that ambushment? Answer these questions,
Mr. Roberts.”

“Surely, I cannot say how it happened
that he did so,” replied the other; “but
this I can truly say, and I cail God to witness
the assertion, that I was, and am still,
innocent of there being any design beyond
that of poisoning your spring—otherwise
I should have mentioned it. But let
me ask you a question or two! In the first
place, allowing the whole to have been a
plan to entrap you, and that I was sent to
you to inform you exactly what I did, do
you not think it all very bunglingly managed
for men who are in the habit of
doing business with a more than usual
amount of cunning and sagacity? Look
at it, and see for yourself! Here comes
a man, rouses you up in the middle of
the night, and tells you your spring is
going to be poisoned. Well, does he
know that you will get up on his mere
say-so, and go out with your rifle to
watch for the villain? Granted he
thought you would, does it follow that
this same poisoner has no desire to live?—
that he will go deliberately to the spot
where he knows you are concealed, and
allow you to take a shot at him—merely
for the purpose, in case you miss your
aim, that he, by running, may draw you
into a trap?—when, too, as you yourself
have acknowledged, he could, then and
there, have handled you as you could
handle a child? And then again, supposing
all this so, what reason could he
have had before coming there, to suppose
that, even if you did follow him, that you
would continue the chase for miles, in the
night, alone? And, finally, let me ask
you, seriously, trusting you will answer
me candidly, if there was anything in the
man's manner, as he approached the
spring, that led you to believe he knew
of, or even mistrusted, your presence?”

“Frankly, I confess there was not,”
replied Butterman; “and since you have
stated the matter so fully and clearly, I
must confess I see it in a different light;
though I shall still have to say, I think
there was something very curious in the
man's actions. So far as that is concerned,
however, I am willing to exonerate
you; but still all this does not make
us safe, in allowing you liberty to pass
from one party to the other.”

“Since I am suspected and despised,
by men who claim to be honest—and
merely, too, from a desire to turn honest
myself—I regret I did not remain with
those with whom I am leagued, or leave
the country without giving information to
any one,” replied Roberts, bitterly.

“Well, you certainly cannot blame us
for desiring security against betrayal, since
your very presence here is either to deceive
us or to betray others into our hands.”

“What security do you want? Here,
take my money!” and Roberts, indignantly
flung a well-filled purse upon the
platform, at the feet of the president.
“It is all I have,” he continued, “and
if you think that is security, take it!”

“It is not sufficient security for us to
trust our lives in your hands.”

“Then, by heavens! you may hunt
out the horse-thieves yourselves!” cried
the other, in rage.

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“Stop! not so fast—for your bragadocia
will be of no avail here!” replied
the president, sternly. “Either you are
what you profess to be, or you are not.
If you are, you will not scruple to give
us the security we want. If not, we shall
take measures to make you feel that we
are in earnest in our desire for vengeance
against those who have wronged us.”

“What means this implied treachery?”
demanded Roberts, turning deathly pale.
“I came here in good faith, and I now
ask to be set at liberty, and allowed to go
my own way—since, as I plainly see,
my word will not be taken!”

“You came here, sir,” rejoined Butterman,
sternly, “with the avowed purpose
of betraying your comrades into our
hands. This opportunity you sought.
We did not go to you, but you came to
us, and forced yourself on us, as it were;
and all we now ask, since our secret is in
your possession, is that you will give us
security that you will do faithfully what
you have promised—otherwise, let me
tell you, once for all, to cut the matter
short, you will be detained a prisoner,
will be tried before this body, and, if
found guilty, will be taken out and hung
at such place as may be designated by
your judges.”

“My God!” cried the man, in alarm—
“already I feel I begin to reap the reward
of my treachery.”

“Traitors may be used for a certain
purpose,” replied Butterman; “but they
will ever be despised by all honest, or
dishonest men—for they are truly the
lowest grade of villains that exist.”

“What then shall I do?” pursued
Roberts, cold perspiration starting out
and standing in large drops on his features.
“I have given you my purse—
the only security I have to give—what
more can I do?”

“I will tell you. You have informed
me, privately, you have a wife and child—
we will take them as hostages of your
good faith to us. If you prove true, they
shall be set at liberty, your money be
restored to you, and, in addition, we will
make you up a purse of one hundred
dollars. If you prove false, your wife
and child shall suffer for your conduct.”

“I accept the terms,” replied Roberts;
“and the more willingly, because I have
been fearful, in case the League should
discover my meditated treachery, they
might, if I escaped them, vent their rage
on my innocent family; and with you,
gentlemen, (bowing to the company) I
know they will be safe.”

“This matter settled, then, we will
dispatch a messenger, forthwith, to fetch
them here. Mr. Munger, draw up a
paper from Roberts to his wife, commanding
her presence, and let him sign

As soon as this was done, and the
messenger was dispatched on his errand,
arrangements were discussed for falling
upon the bandits, on the following night,
at Oaken Grove, and endeavoring to kill
and capture as many as possible. It
was at last settled that Edward Langley
should be the leader of a daring party
for that purpose, and that Roberts should
be the one to direct their steps thither.
Meantime, as soon as his wife and child
should appear as hostages, he was to be
allowed to return to his companions in
crime, and so lull all suspicion.

After some farther business arrangements,
not sufficiently important to be
mentioned here, the meeting broke up;
but still Roberts was detained a prisoner,
until the arrival of his wife and child,
which occurred during the night, and
then he was set at liberty.

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