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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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Defend yourselves, men! we are
attacked!” thundered the clarion voice
of Gerolstein. “Discharge your arms at
the assailants, and follow me!”

Instantly a scattering fire was poured
forth in every direction upon the assailants,
who as promptly returned it; and
then, cheered on by the voice of Langley,
the latter bore down upon the outlaws,
with the intention of drawing them into a
hand to-hand combat. But in this they
were disappointed; for believing the most
prudent course to be the best, under the
present circumstances, Gerolstein was
determined on drawing off his men, and
making his escape with as little delay as
possible. Not that he was by any means
a coward; but he foresaw that to remain
and fight, would be to cause much blood-shed,
and lose a part, if not all, of his
men, who would doubtless either be killed
or taken prisoners; and he knew, also,
that if his own party equaled in numbers
the assailants, they would fight at a great
disadvantage, from having been so suddenly
surprised, and taken so much as it:
were off their guard; besides, for all he
knew to the contrary, his foes might outnumber
him as two to one; and from
having seen his forces, and planned their
mode of attack, every man would know
his place, and exactly what to do; and
thus victory, on their part, would be
almost a certain consequence. All this
Gerolstein took into consideration in a moment,
and issued his orders accordingly;
and in doing so, he proved himself a wise
commander; for under the favorable circumstances
in which the party of Langley
made the attack, the latter would certainly
have been successful.

“Follow me, men!” rang out the clear
voice of Gerolstein, the moment his party
had, according to orders, discharged their
pieces at the party approaching; and selecting
the weakest part of the surrounding
line of foes, he made for it with all
speed, followed by every one of his band.

In vain Langley sought to throw
himself, and some half-a-dozen of his
companions, in forward, and so turn the

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van, or impede the progress of the fugitives,
till the others could come up behind;
he could not reach the spot in time; and
those who stood before Gerolstein, perceiving
him coming with such speed, with
such a body of men at his heels, drew
back and left his path free; and in another
moment he had cleared the grove
with his shouting followers, and all were
rushing and tumbling down one of the
steep sides of the mountain.

“Halt!” shouted Langley; “it is
useless to follow them further; they have
escaped us, and it is a bloodless victory.”

“Not quite,” said one of the men, who
now began to gather around him, some of
them grumbling and cursing what they
termed their bad luck, “Not quite a
bloodless victory,” pursued the one who
had spoken, addressing Langley; “for
I've got a hole clean through my arm,
and the blood runs right smart.”

“It must be stanched,” returned Langley;
and undoing his neckerchief, he
approached and bound it tight around the
man's arm. “Are there any more
wounded?” he inquired.

“I've got the tip of my ear shot off,”
laughed one.

“And I've got a hole plum through my
beaver,” joined in another.

“Here's a hole through my coat,” said
a third.

“Another through my shirt,” chimed
in a fourth.

“And there was one bullet, as come so
near my head, I had to dodge it,” added
a fifth.

“Curses on the imps of Satan, to get
clear from us so easy!” said a harsh,
coarse voice, in a very different key from
the merry tones of the others.

“Yes, and — such a victory as
this!” grumbled another.

“Ef we could only hev let the heart's
blood out of two or three, I'd been better
satisfied,” chimed in a third.

“Ef ever I git so near'em agin,” said
a fourth, “without hurting anybody, I'll
jest squat down peaceable, and let any
man call me a liar.”

“Come, come, men,” interposed Langley—
“all this does not mend the matter;
they have escaped us, and before we can
wreak our vengeance on them, we must
find them again. By heavens! and this
reminds me what I had forgotten—which
is, that Roberts informed me, that if they
escaped us here, we had better set off at
once for Harlem's Cover; for if we found
them not there, we should be likely at
least to recover the stolen horses. Besides,
he gave me full particulars concerning
the place and the way to manage.”

“Good! good!” returned several
voices—“let us start at once for Harlem's

“But how are we to find it?” asked

“Follow me,” said Langley, “and I
think, if Roberts directed me right, I can
lead you thither.”

“Away, then!” said another voice—
“we have no time to lose.”

“Come on, then, one and all!” cried
Langley; and darting across the grove,
he rushed down the hill, on the side opposite
to that which the outlaws had

He was followed by each of the others,
and in another minute the grove was
cleared of human beings, and the last
one disappeared down the sloping side of
the mount. Leaving them to find their
way to Harlem's Cover, we will now return
to the fugitives.

Rushing down the hill in the manner
we have shown, Gerolstein and his men
came to a halt in a thick wood, about a
quarter of a mile from the place of attack;
and ascertaining they were not pursued,

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they forthwith held a short consultation,
as to what was best to be done.

“We are certainly betrayed,” said the
captain; “and oh! that I could find the
villain that has done it, and punish him
for his treachery!”

“I think after this, you can no longer
suspect me,” returned Roberts, boldly.

“I feel we have no right to, certainly,”
answered the captain; “for had you betrayed
us, it would have been natural for
you to have escaped when we fled—or,
rather, not to have joined us at all, knowing
we were about to be attacked, when
you would run the same risk of dying by
a chance bullet as the rest of us.”

“And I think the same thing,” rejoined
Jarvis. “I have known Roberts
long, and I do not believe he could be
guilty of an act so base as that of which
he has been suspected; but were it otherwise—
did I really think him guilty—my
hand should be the first to plunge a knife
to his heart.”

“I thank you, gentlemen,” replied
Roberts, evidently somewhat touched,
and, if truth must be told, feeling not a
little remorse for what he had done,
though well he knew it was now too late
to play the part of other than a villain:
“I thank you, gentlemen, for having so
promptly and honorably exonerated me
when convinced of my innocence.”

“And well you may,” grumbled Morford,
in a tone too low to reach the ears
of the traitor. And then he added aloud:
“If I remember rightly, John Roberts
has not yet answered the question asked
by the captain the moment before we were

“Well, well,” interposed Gerolstein, in
a decisive tone, “we cannot attend to that
matter now: another time we will hear
Mr. Roberts' explanation. At present we
must decide what to do, and that speedily,
and then act upon it at once.”

“If I might venture a suggestion,”
hesitated Roberts.

“Go on!” rejoined the captain.

“I should say,” pursued the other,
concluding the sentence, “that perhaps
we had better set out for Harlem's Cover,
and secure our horses, lest the villain who
has betrayed us, direct our foes thither,
and so all be lost.”

“Right! right!” cried the captain;
“and it is strange I should have overlooked
it so long as I have. We will
away at once; and if we make all haste,
I think we can reach there in an hour.
But one thing, gentlemen, I wish to caution
you about; and that is, in case we
fall in with the enemy, to avoid a conflict
if possible; and I will tell you wherefore:
If we are not betrayed by any of our
own party—and I know no reason, since
I come to think of it, why we should be—
the men we trade with have doubtless
given information; (and that, by-the-by,
accounts, too, for their not being present,)—
and this being the case, and
many of our members being regular settlers,
should any get killed, wounded, or
taken prisoners, they will be missed from
their dwellings, and so their connection
with us will become known, to the endangerment
of their safety, and that of their
families; besides, I would rather not get
into a skirmish, till after the regular
meeting of our body at the cave—which
will take place one week from the last
one—so that when all the members in
this part of the country shall be assembled
together, I can lay the whole matter
before them, and act as the wisdom of
the majority shall decide. What say you
to this, gentlemen?”

“I coincide with you,” replied Jarvis.

“And I also,” rejoined Roberts.

“And I! and I!” cried the majority of the others.

“So be it, then!” resumed Gerolstein;

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“and now let us away;” and taking the
lead himself, the whole party soon disappeared
after him.

It is not our intention to follow them
in their windings through the woods, and
so we will precede them to Harlem's
Cover, long enough to give a brief description
of the place.

On the north bank of the Great Miami,
some five or six miles from Oaken Grove,
stood an old log cabin, completely surrounded
by woods; while immediately
around the house was a dense cluster of
bushes, which grew so high as almost to
screen it from observation. In fact, so
well was it concealed, that, should a
stranger chance to pass along a miserable
horse-path that wound about through the
woods, at the distance of a stone's throw
from it, ten to one he would not discover
it at all. To all appearance it was uninhabited;
but had you chanced to rap on
the only door it apparently contained at
the time of which we write, it is possible
a feeble old man would have opened it,
and in a dry. consumptive tone inquired
your business; and had you entered the
house, doubtless you would have found
an old crone sitting near a large, old fireplace,
and shivering, even in the summer
time, over a few decaying embers—both
man and woman looking like the last sad
wrecks of perishing mortality. The
house, too, you would have found to contain
little or no furniture; and had you
asked for food, ten to one you would have
been answered there was nothing but a
single crust of stale corn-bread in the
house, and that the occupants had no
idea where their next meal was to be procured.
Had you chanced to be a philanthropic
individual, with any loose
change in your possession, doubtless you
would have been induced to bestow a
part in alms; and then have gone on
your way rejoicing, that you were so
much better off than that poor, afflicted
old couple.

And you would have been deceived.

For the people in question were not as
old as they looked, the man had no consumption
but that of food and drink, the
old woman was not in reality any colder
than yourself, and there was plenty of
provision in the house, and that, too, of a
kind to have tempted an epicure. In
short, this place was neither more nor
less than Harlem's Cover; and had any
one shown you its mysteries, he would
have conducted you to the back wall, and,
by an ingenious contrivance, have lowered
a part of it in the form of a door;
and then, raising a trap door inside of the
house—from which, perhaps, he would
at first have been obliged to remove a
pile of brush, that completely concealed
it—he would have shown you a gentle
descent, leading to underground stables,
where, on certain occasions, you would
have found not less than twenty or thirty
horses, undergoing the process of coloring,
preparatory to being taken hence, at
the proper time, for the purpose of being
disposed of. Perhaps the whole inventive
faculties of ingenious and plotting
mankind, could not have contrived a
place more likely to deceive each and
every one who might see it, than thir
same Harlem's Cover—nor one where
you would be less disposed to seek information
concerning a stolen horse.

Suppose, for instance, you were well
mounted, and in hot pursuit of the thief
that had stolen your horse—that both of
you were riding hard, and he only some
fifteen rods in advance. Well, you both
come in sight of this old structure—if,
in fact, you could see it all—and riding
into a dense thicket, he should here disappear:
would you, in such a case, mistrust
he had taken refuge in that old
shanty? No, it would be the last place

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you would think of looking for him: and
yet there he would be in safety with your
horse, perhaps cracking jokes with this
old man and woman, or with some comrade,
over a bottle of wine, at the trick
he had played you; while you, beating
about the thickets of the forest, and finding
no trace of him you sought, would at
last be forced to give up the pursuit, and
perhaps be angry with yourself at your
stupidity and short-sightedness.

Such was Harlem's Cover; but this
was not the only place of the kind owned
and used by the League of the Miami.
We have said this band of outlaws extended
from what is now Lawrenceburgh,
Indiana, in a continued chain, to what
is now Urbana, Ohio; and at proper
distances, along the whole route, were
covers, similar to the one we have
described. But to return to the outlaws

Hurrying through the woods, and
knowing the nearest route to Harlem's
Cover, Gerolstein and his men soon
reached the latter place; and reconnoitering
the premises, to ascertain if there
were any foes about, and perceiving none,
the captain at last ventured to give three
peculiar raps on the rear wall of the old

“Who's there?” inquired a feeble
voice from within; and at the same time
the speaker appeared to be seized with a
very violent attack of coughing.

“Bonny Gray,” was the answer from

“What do you seek, Bonny Gray?”
responded the consumptive individual
from within.

“The stables of the League.”

Immediately there was a rattling of
chains and bolts inside, and then a portion
of the wall was lowered, something
like a drawbridge, over which Gerolstein
and his men passed into the house, when
it was quickly drawn up to its place, and
fastened as before.

“Well, Harlem, has there been any
strangers here to-night?” demanded

“None, Captain,” replied the old man,
now speaking in a strong, hearty tone,
that denoted his lungs in a sound, healthy
state. “But why do you inquire?—do
you expect any?”

“I cannot say whether I do or not,”
rejoined the other, in a manner that implied
he did not wish to be questioned
farther. “But how come on the horses,

“They are doing well, Captain, and
will soon be fit for service.”

“Do they take color well?”

“Beautifully; you would hardly know

The old man at once proceeded to remove
a pile of brush that concealed the
trap-door, while the old woman hurried
to get ready a lantern. In a short time
the door was raised; and taking the lead,
lantern in hand, old Harlem conducted
the whole party down below, and the
woman closed the trap after them, and
replaced the brush.

Scarcely had this been effected, when
the same peculiar knock which Gerolstein
had given, again sounded on the wall of
the house outside

“Who's there?” queried the old

“Bonny Gray,” was the reply.

“What do you seek, Bonny Gray?”

“The stables of the League.”

Again the bolts and chains rattled, the
broad, heavy door was lowered, and Edward
Langley, followed by his party,
entered the house.

“If I'd a known there was so many o'
ye, I'd a asked Captain Gerolstein's permit
afore I opened the door—for you're
all strangers to me,” said the old woman,

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as one after another came pouring in, to
the number of thirty, completely filling
the room. “But I 'spose it's all right,”
she added, eyeing Langley keenly, and addressing
herself to him; “for the captain
said something about another party coning,
and you gin the password correct.”

“It is all right,” replied Langley;
“but where is the captain now?”

“He's down below, with Mr. Harlem,
looking at the hosses—may be you came
to buy 'em.”

“Are his men with him?” demanded
Langley, without heeding the last question
of the old woman.

“Yes, they're all down there.”

“Then, comrades,” cried Langley,
“we have them! Are you ready?”

“All ready,” was the unanimous

“What d'ye mean?” screamed the
old woman, in alarm, as she saw one of
Langley's party hurriedly kick the brush
from off the door, while the rest examined
their arms.

At the same moment a voice shouted
from below:

“What ho! Mother Harlem!”

“Hush! betray us, and you die!”
said Langley, in a hoarse whisper, seizing
the old woman by the hair of her head,
and placing the cold muzzle of a pistol
against her face.

“What ho! Mother Harlem!” again
shouted the voice from below.

“What shall I say?” asked the
trembling old woman of Langley.

“Ask what he wants,” replied Langley.

The old woman did so; but she had to
strain her lungs to the utmost, to make
herself heard below.

“What is the disturbance I hear up
above?” returned the voice.

“Say some three or four of his men
have arrived, and are in high glee,”
whispered Langley.

The old woman gave the answer, as
directed, trembling all over at the same
time, and, in an under tone, begging
Langley, for God's sake, not to let any
of her friends be harmed. To Mother
Harlem's last answer, the voice below

“Open the door, then—we will come

“Do as he bids you!” said Langley,
releasing her; “but do not intimate our
presence as you value your life!”

Then motioning his men to draw back
as far from the door as possible, he silently
awaited the result. The old woman slowly
raised the trap, and, as she did so, the
head of a man came above the level of
the floor. On seeing such a body of enemies,
on all sides, he drew back suddenly,
and shouting, “Die traitoress!” discharged
a pistol he held in his hand, full into
the breast of Mother Harlem, who, uttering
a deep groan, fell back upon the floor,
weltering in her own blood.

“Quick! quick!” shouted the assassin,
who was no other than Gerolstein himself,
at the same time bounding down to the
stables—“close the inner door, men, and
hold it, till the horses can be removed!
for we are betrayed and surprised. But
I have sent the traitoress to be judged for
her deeds!” he added, bitterly, his eyes
flashing a wild light, as he shut to the
door with violence.

This door was at the foot of the descending
passage, was made of heavy
timber, and, when closed, it completely
barred the passage to the stables.

But it was closed none too soon, for the
safety of the horse-thieves; for the moment
the captain disappeared, Langley
sprang after him, shouting:

“Follow, comrades! we have them
now!” and rushing down the passage,
he came with all his might against the
door. “Quick! quick!” he cried, turning

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to his followers, who were now pressing
upon him—“some one run up above, and
get an axe which I observed standing in
the corner near the chimney! There is a
door here which they have bolted inside—
but I can quickly hew it away.”

Leaving our friends to effect an entrance
as best they may, let us precede them
into the stables. A large excavation had
been made within, and fitted up with
stalls, to the number of forty. On one
side was a place for hay, and grain, and
near it a well, whence water was procured
for the animals to drink. The whole
place was walled up on all sides, with the
exception of the passages for entrance
and exit. The latter was at the farther
end, and was a sort of tunnel, under
ground, to the river Miami, where it
came out into the water through a steep

This answered the double purpose of
passing the horses out or in, and also had
the advantage of concealing their foot-prints—
for the water here was so shallow
that, unless just after heavy rains,
they could be conducted down the bed
of the stream some quarter of a mile.
Around the mouth of this channel grew
a cluster of bushes, partly natural and
partly artificial, which completely concealed
it—so that a person who knew
nothing about it, would never think of
searching there for anything mysterious
or unusual. In describing the place to
Langley—how to obtain admittance and
the like—Roberts had neglected, either
intentionally or otherwise, to mention the
tunnel; and therefore, when Langley
found the horse-thieves in the stables, he
believed there was no egress for them
but through the very passage he and his
men now guarded. And under this supposition,
the reader will naturally infer
that he must be a bold man, thus to rush
recklessly on, and, as it were, beard the
lion in his very den. And such Edward
Langley was. She whom he prized more
than life, had been stolen away by
ruffians, and he was determined to
avenge her wrongs—and terribly too—
even though he should sacrifice his own

At the moment Langley rushed against
the door, Gerolstein shouted to his men:

“Quick, now, good fellows! we have
no time to spare! Take out the horses,
and let us mount and away, before we
are called to defend ourselves against our
blood-thirsty assailants! Already I hear
their leader shouting for an axe, and soon
will they be upon us!”

Every man sprang to a horse; and so
fast did they work, that scarcely had the
last sentence passed the lips of Gerolstein,
ere every horse was bridled, and
those nearest the tunnel were already in
the act of going through it. We say
every man sprang to a horse; but we
must except old Harlem, who, from the
moment Gerolstein uttered the words,
“But I have sent the traitoress to be judged
for her deed,” had never taken his
eyes off the Captain of the League, and
who now, planting himself directly in the
path of the latter, demanded to know
what he meant by what he said, at the
same time repeating the sentence just

For a single instant, Gerolstein looked
the old man fiercely in the eye; and then,
believing him to be less innocent than he
seemed—but not feeling sufficiently satisfied
of his guilt to justify himself in inflicting
the punishment due to a traitor—he
raised his fist, as quick as lightning, and
struck him full in the face. The old man
fell with a groan, and the blood spirted
from his nose and mouth. He lay senseless,
and never moved but a few times
afterward. In ten minutes his spirit had
fled its mortal tenement, and, with all its

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unrepented sins, stood in the presence of
its Maker, ready for judgment.

At this moment the strokes of the axe
sounded on the door, and soon the heavy
timbers began to give way before it.

“Quick, men! some of you come here
and defend this place till the horses can
be got out!” cried Gerolstein; and stepping
over the body of old Harlem, he
sprung to the door, and began to place
some loose planks against it, in the form
of props.

Roberts, Morford, Jarvis, and one or
two others, hurried to his assistance,
while the rest labored hard to get the
horses through the tunnel. The lantern
brought down by Harlem, and which was
now hanging on a hook, was the only
light in the stables; and consequently the
tunnel was so dark, that one could not
see his hand before him. Add to this the
fact, that only one horse could enter the
tunnel at a time—and that then the place
was so narrow and small, that his sides and
back occasionally rubbed, causing him to
be very fractious—and it will readily be
perceived, that to enter and pass out between
twenty and thirty horses, was an
undertaking requiring several minutes for
its accomplishment.

Meanwhile, Langley worked fiercely
upon the door with his axe; and in a
very short time he had destroyed the
fastenings of the bolts, so that nothing
prevented his entrance to the stables save
the props, which were kept in their places
by Gerolstein and his assistants.

“It is held on the other side by the
bandits,” the voice of Langley was now
heard saying, in an excited tone. “Now,
comrades, altogether, rush upon it, and
see if we cannot force it!”

The rush was made, but still the door
stood firm.

“Ha! I have it!” cried Langley again.
“I will cut away the hinges;” and
immediately the strokes of the axe were
heard by the outlaws guarding the opposite

“They will soon force it,” said Gerolstein,
in a whisper: “it will be impossible
to hold out much much longer. Ha!”
he added, looking behind him—“the last
horse is just disappearing. Good! now
let them come! what need we care? A
farewell volley, comrades, and then for
flight! Quick, now, put your pistols to
the crevices, and fire!”

The order was obeyed; and the groans,
yells, and curses that followed, announced
they had not been without effect. The
next moment a rush was made against
the door, it gave way with a crash,
and several of the foremost of the assailants,
among whom was Langley himself,
were precipitated upon the ground of the

“Fly!” shouted Gerolstein, and he
darted forward to the tunnel, followed
closely by all but Morford, who paused
an instant to extinguish the light of the

That moment proved fatal to his escape;
for Robert Wilden, who was close behind,
clasped him in his huge arms, and, with
a demoniac yell of vengeance, threw him
violently upon the earth; while all the
others, with the exception of Langley, who
at this moment came up, passed on in
pursuit of the fugitives, fairly making the
cave hideous with their shouts of fury.
Drawing his knife, young Wilden was
about to plunge it into the heart of his
victim, when Langley grasped his arm,
and, in a voice of thunder, cried:


“Who dar's stop Bob Wilden doing
his duty?” exclaimed that individual,
bounding to his feet, and turning fiercely
upon Langley.

“Do not, at least kill him, till I have
asked him some questions?” returned the

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other, at the same time taking hold of
Morford, to prevent his escape.

“What questions hev you got to ask?”
queried the other, in a dogged tone.

“Questions of vast importance.”

“Be quick about it, then, for as sure's
my name's Bob Wilden, this here feller's
got to die right sudden, and no mistake!”

“But not here, and in this manner,
for that would be murder!” pursued
the other. “Let us at least give him a

“Ay, ay—that's just what Butterman
said about the villian as killed brother
Jake. It won't do, Mr. Langley—it
won't do! I tell you this here thief has
got to die, if for nothing else than for this
here hole, which, jest as like as not, he
made—if he didn't, no thanks to him;”
and turning up his shirt sleeve, he showed
his arm all bloody, where a ball, fired by
Gerolstein and his party, had passed
through the fleshy part of it.

“Well, let us at least conduct him outside,
and first ascertain what has become
of the others!”

“I'm agreed to that; but as sure's
I'm a sinner, I tell you he's got to die.”

During this colloquy, Morford, expecting
death every moment, did not open his
lips; but with a sullen look, watched
every expression and movement of his
captors, ready to make his escape, should
a favorable opportunity present itself.

“Were any of our party dangerously
wounded?” inquired Langley of Wilden;
as, one on either side of Morford, they
began to move along toward the tunnel.

“Can't say for sartin,” replied the
other; “but if I'm not mistaken, I stumbled
over somebody lying on the ground
soon after we broke in here. Yes,” he
added, turning round and looking back—
for the lantern, still hanging on the hook,
faintly lighted the place—“yes, thar he
is yit.”

“Ah! I see!” replied Langley; “and
I must go back to him; for none of our
party must be left to perish here—or,
perishing, must not be left here unburied.”

He accordingly went back; while Wilden,
disarming Morford, and holding him
firmly in his vice-like grasp, conducted
him through the tunnel. Before they had
gained the other end, Langley rejoined
them, and said:

“It is an old man, and he is evidently
dead. Probably he was knocked down
and trampled on by some of our men, in
rushing after the others;” and as he said
this, all three came to the bushes; and,
carefully parting them, issued forth into
the bed of the Great Miami.

At the same moment a bright light
flashed in their eyes, and loud and prolonged
shouts were heard coming from
the direction of the old shanty.

“By heavens!” cried Langley, looking
in that direction: “see! our men
have fired the old building, and the
flames are already bursting through the

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