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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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The exclamation of Langley, given at
the close of the preceding chapter, was
true. Gerolstein and his party, with the
exception of Morford only, had again
escaped their pursuers, with all the
horses; and enraged at this, no sooner
did the latter find they were gone, than
one of them proposed to fire the dwelling
of old Harlem. The proposition was acceded
to with shouts; and rushing to the
house, they set it on fire; and the moment
Langley issued from the tunnel, it was in
full blaze.

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“Quick!” pursued Edward—“let us
drag this fellow along with us, and join
the others, and then I will question him
in the presence of all;” and at once proceeding
to carry out his suggestion, all
three soon drew near to the burning
building, around which stood between
twenty and thirty men—shouting, laughing,
and cursing, according to the peculiar
feelings excited in their breasts, at witnessing
the work of their hands.

“If the old woman wasn't killed when
that fellow fired, I guess she thinks the
heat of hell is near her now,” laughed

“Then I'spose she's in her element,”
rejoined another, laughing also.

“Wish we'd a thought to fired the
building in the first place,” grumbled a
third, “and then the cussed horse-stealers
would have found hot work, and no

“Yes,—'em! that was an oversight,”
said a fourth.

“But where's our leader?” cried one,
suddenly. “I have not seen him since
we entered the stables. God send he be
not harmed!”

“Ah! here he comes! here he comes!”
rejoined another; “and Bob Wilden's
with him; and they've got one of the
imps in tow, as I'm a living man.”

“Hurrah! hurrah!” shouted a number
of the others, as, by the light of the
burning building, they beheld Langley
and Wilden approaching with their prisoner;
and they began to gather round the
new-comers, uttering exclamations of

“The—horse-stealer! let's hang
him!” cried one.

“Cut his bloody heart out!” said

“Let's heave him into the fire!” vociferated
a third.

“Stop!” roared Bob; “stand back!
don't a man of ye touch him!—he's my
property.—I catched him—and, by—!
I'll be the feller to butcher him when the
time comes.”

“Why don't you do it now, then?”
said one.

“Hold! gentlemen,” interposed Langley;
“before you attempt anything rash,
let me put a few questions to him.”

By this time the whole party had sursounded
the prisoner, who, standing in the
center, with pale features and compressed
lips, looked from one to another, with a
calm, determined air. Turning to him,
Langley continued:

“Will you tell me your name?”

“Henry Morford,” was the bold,
straight-forward answer.

“How long have you been connected
with the League of the Miami?”

“Some four or five years.”

“How many members compose the

“I decline answering.”

“But your life depends upon it!”

“How so?—have you not vowed to
take my life already?”

“But if you will answer, truly, all
questions we may ask you, your life may
perhaps be spared.”

“I will freely answer any question you
may ask, provided it does not concern any
but myself.”

“But it will concern those with whom
you have an unrighteous connection.”

“Then I cannot answer.”

“You are obstinate.”

“Call it what you will—I am indifferent
as to terms.”

“What's the use of fooling with him?”
interposed one; “you can't make nothing
out of him; better finish him at once.”

“Yes, by—! them's my sentiments,”
rejoined Wilden, drawing a pistol.

“Stay! gentlemen—give me time!”
said Langley. “I wish to question him

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further:” and then to the prisoner:
“Did you know that, two or three nights
since, a girl was abducted from a place
called Covington, in the state of Kentucky,
opposite to Cincinnati?”

“No, I know nothing about it.”

“It was said she was captured by the
League of the Miami.”

“Who said so?”

“One of your own party.”

I never heard of it, and believe it to
be a false statement.”

“Strange!” said Langley—“that
none of your party seem to know anything
about it. Come! to find what has
become of this girl, is of the utmost consequence
to me; and if you give me the
information I seek, I will pledge myself,
that not only no harm shall be done to
you, but that you shall be set at liberty,
and have one hundred dollars as a

“I could not give you the information
if I would—I would not if I could.”

“Then you are a villain, and intend to
remain so.”

“Granted! are you much my superior?”

“Oh,—him! let him die!” again
interposed Robert Wilden.

“One question more,” said Langley.
“Will you save your own life by betraying
your comrades in crime?”

“Gentlemen, I am not, I never will be
a traitor—you have my answer!” was
the calm, determined reply of Morford.

“To h-l with you then!” cried Wilden;
and as the words passed his lips, he
raised his pistol and fired.

The ball took effect in the head of the
outlaw, the blood gushed forth, and sinking
down, with barely a groan, he expired.
Langley turned away with a shudder, and
there were few of the spectators that
looked on unmoved.

“Come,” said Langley, “let us leave
this spot of crime and blood!” and he
walked rapidly away, followed by all the
others, with the exception of Wilden, who
remained as if rooted to the ground,
gazing upon the ghastly and bloody visage
of his victim.

“Well, he deserved it!” he muttered
to himself, as if holding an argument
with his own conscience; “for Jake was
killed by one of his party, and I've only
fairly revenged him.”

Saying this, he turned slowly away,
and took the direction pursued by his
comrades—the last of whom could just
be discerned, by the light of the burning
building, entering a dense thicket, wherein
they soon disappeared. As Wilden quitted
the corpse of Morford, a tall figure,
that had been watching the whole proceedings
from a thick copse close behind,
glided back into the woods; and, making
a rapid circuit, entered the thicket through
which Wilden was about to pass, unperceived
by the latter, and before that individual
had reached its outer border. On
gaining the thicket, Wilden paused and
looked back, repeating to himself:

“Yes, he deserved it!”

These were the last intelligible words
that ever issued from his lips. As he
spoke them, he turned, and disappeared
into the brushwood. A moment or two
after, a deep groan might have been
heard, mingling with the sound of the
roaring and crackling of flames, as though
a spirit was wailing over the destruction
and death which prevailed on that ill-fated
ground. Presently the tall figure that
had glided into the thicket in advance of
Wilden, again made his appearance, on
the side next to the burning building,
holding in his hand a knife, from which
the warm, red blood of a human being
was dripping. With long hasty strides
he approached the body of the unfortunate
Morford, and, halting by its side,
exhibited, by the lurid light of the fire,

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a pale, stern face, compressed lips, and
eyes gleaming like those of a wild beast.
For a few moments he stood looking
down upon the bloody corpse, motionless
and mute, as one lost in a painful abstraction.
Then his stern visage assumed a
look of deep melancholy; and brushing
a tear from his eye, he said, in a mournful

“Alas! Henry Morford, thou art gone,
and I must soon follow thee! Yes, I feel
a presentiment of my doom. Thou wert
a noble fellow, Henry Morford!—and if
I, at one time, wronged thee in thought,
may God forgive me!—for that thou
wert true to us, and to thy oath, thy sad,
deplorable fate here announces. From
yonder cover I witnessed all, and know
thou died as became a man. Ah! would
that all had been like thee! then this
calamity had not befallen us. But,” he
continued, his eyes suddenly kindling with
gleams of ferocity, “I trust I have sent
the vile traitors to their account, and that
henceforth we shall be too much for our
foes! At least, noble Harry, I have revenged
thee on thy damnable assassin!
This knife, Harry, is red with his heart's
blood; and in yonder thicket his gory
careass is lying, where none but the
howling wild beasts of the wilderness shall
find it. And they shall come,” he added,
with increasing vindictiveness, both in
tone and manner—“they shall come, and
tear off his vile flesh, piece by piece, until
his bones shall lie naked, to bleach in the
open air!—while thou, noble Harry, shalt
be interred with honor, to rest in quiet,
till summoned from thy grave for the final

Then, after another pause, he continued:

“Oh! that I were done with this wild
life of crime! I tire of it; and I must
beg to be released ere my term of office
expires. Once it would have suited me;
but now I sicken at the sight of blood,
and long to be done with such a terrible
calling. If I could be released, and steal
away, where none would know me, and
have one— But no! no! that cannot
be—for she is too good, and pure, to be
the associate of such as I! Well, well,
I must take the consequences of my
crimes. But what could that young man
have meant, by inquiring for a stolen
girl?—stolen, too, from the very place
where she resides! I must inquire into
this—I must—

“What ho! who comes?” he suddenly
exclaimed, interrupting himself, and looking
toward the nearest thicket.

“Friends!” was the answer; and
immediately Jarvis, Roberts, and one
other, issued forth, and approached their

“What news?” cried Gerolstein.

“All have escaped in safety,” was the

“All but one,” returned Gerolstein,
mournfully; and he pointed to the body
of Morford.

“Good God! who did this?” exclaimed

“A wretch, whose body lies in yonder
thicket,” replied Gerolstein, fiercely.

“Poor fellow!” sighed Roberts, looking
down upon the mortal remains of his
most bitter enemy. “Poor fellow! I pity
and forgive him;” and he turned away,
apparently to hide his grief, but in reality
to indulge in a secret joy: and he muttered
to himself: “Now am I safe.”

“How did this happen?” inquired

“I saw it all, and will tell you all about
it,” replied Gerolstein; “but not here;
for our enemies may return at any moment.
Come, let us take up the body, and

Complying with the captain's request,
all lent a hand to raise the body of
Morford; and in a few minutes all had

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disappeared. Further we shall not follow
them, but proceed to shift the scene.

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