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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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Some three or four days have passed
since the foregoing events, and we must
now turn again to the cave of the League.
It was a warm summer's evening, but
very dark, for a dense fog had settled
over the surrounding country, and not an
object, without the aid of artificial light,
could be distinguished at the distance of
two feet from the eye.

The cave, itself, was brilliantly lighted
by a large chandelier, constructed for the
purpose, and suspended from its ceiling
by a chain. Within, stood some fifty
dark figures—we say dark, for each one
was covered with a black gown, something
like a monk's, with the exception,
that in place of the cord suspending the
cross, each one wore around his waist a
leathern belt, in each of which were confined
two pistols and a knife. A hood
covered each of their heads, and a mask
concealed each of their features. They
stood, crowded together, motionless as
statues, forming a most impressive
group—while, save their deep breathing,
the silence seemed truly awful. On the
large flat stone—before noticed, as the
one whereon Burrand took the oath—
lay some object, covered with a dark
cloth; to which, judging from the position
of their heads, each eye was directed.

On the stone, or platform, stood three
figures; Gerolstein, tall and erect, in the
center; Jarvis and Pottenger on either
side. In front, on the ground, stood the
three who had borne Burrand hither, on
a previous occasion; while close behind
them ranged the four light bearers.

“Gerolstein was the only one present
who wore no mask. His features were
pale and haggard; his lips white, but
compressed, as with inward resolution for
some important event. His eyes, black
and piercing, had lost none of their
wonted fire; but there were dark livid
lines around them, that told his very soul
had been put upon the rack of agony.
His forehead was contracted with a stern
resolve—his cheeks seemed a little more
hollow—and the slight furrows time and
care had begun to trace on his cheeks,
seemed a little more deepened. Raising
his right hand, in a solemn, impressive
manner, while every breath was hushed,
he thus addressed the assemblage:

“Gentlemen, we have met—met on a
solemn, important occasion: one of our
number is no more,”—and he pointed to
the object before him. “One of our
number is no more; and, I fear, by our
hands, another must this night follow
him to eternity. Death, in any shape, is
solemn—is awful to contemplate; but
when it comes to us by the hand—the
act of another fellow creature—it ever
seems to me more awful. What the one
before us was, you all know. Like the
rest of us, he had his failings; but that
he was ever true to us—true to his oath—
his death has proven. He died a martyr
to the cause in which we are collectively,
individually engaged; and how soon it
may be our turn to undergo a like fate, no
one can tell. I fear our seizure of those
horses, was a rash act; for we have
drawn down a daring combination of men
upon us—headed by one, a hot-headed
Kentuckian, who fears nor man nor
devil—but who, for some supposed act
of ours, swears to have revenge. They
are determined to ferret us out; and our
only resource is now in flight, or fight.
Action of some kind—action is necessary.
Shall we stand the brunt of the

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peril? or shall we disperse? Of this we
must determine anon. To-night our first
duty is to consign to dust the remains of
one who died to save us. Let it be done
with honor; let our hearts pour forth praise
to his memory—for mark me, gentlemen,
I say no idle words, when I say he died to
save us—true to his oath! By an unfortunate
move—by a daring act, worthy of
a Spartan—in endeavoring to cover our
flight, he was taken. Life, which was dear
to him—dear as to any present—life, and a
free pardon, were offered him, if he would
renounce and denounce us. What was his
answer? It should be written in letters of
gold upon our constitution—

“ `Gentlemen, I am not—I never will
be a traitor! You have my answer.'

“These, my friends, were the last
sounds his lips ever uttered: alas! alas!
they can never speak again. A bullet—
guided by an accursed hand—sped upon
its course—pierced his brain, and his
noble spirit winged its flight—his account
with time was closed—closed forever.
Look at him, gentlemen,” continued he,
stooping and removing the pall from the
head—exhibiting a pale, ghastly countenance,
contorted with the spasms of
death, on which the light glared with a
horriffie effect—“look at him, gentlemen,
and look well, for it is your last—your
farewell gaze! You see before you one
who has gone—gone where all must soon
follow; for death spares none. Let us,
like him, die like men! Proceed with the

As he ceased, he again covered the
corpse, while the three men stepped forward,
slowly raised it to their shoulders,
and proceeded to the mouth of the cave;
followed next by the light-bearers, who
sprung their lanterns—though so dense
was the fog that their gleams pierced
but a little way—next by Gerolstein,
Jarvis, &c.; and, lastly, by the whole
company, two by two—with the exception
of three, left as guard. Tramping
on, with slow and measured tread, at a
little distance from the cave they entered
a hollow, where, beside an aged oak, was
dug a grave. Here, slowly, in gloomy
silence, they lowered the corpse into its
long, last resting place; when, each kneeling,
in turn—preceded by the Captain—
stirred, with his knife, the loose thrown-up
earth—rattling it upon the body—each
repeating as he did so:

“Farewell to thee, most noble, gallant
Harry! farewell—forever!”

This ceremony through, the three bearers
seized upon spades that were standing
by the grave, and, a moment more, the
body was covered from their sight. In
the same order the procession returned to
the cave.

“Arnold Melven, the prisoner and traitor,
let him be brought!” said the deep
voice of Gerolstein; “and the chair of

As he spoke, Pottenger placed upon
the platform, at one end, a rude oaken
chair; while, at the same time, from the
inner cave, Jarvis led forth Melven, pale
and trembling, and fixed him in a kneeling
position. He was stripped entirely
naked, and his hands bound behind him
by an iron chain. Hideous as he ever
looked, he now looked more hideous than
ever; for every feature was curled and
distorted with paltry cowardice, and his
knees fairly knocked together in absolute

“Oh! spare me! spare me! good,
kind gentlemen!” he ejaculated, while
his teeth chattered with the words he

“Silence! traitor!” said Gerolstein
fiercely; as, stepping upon the platform
he took his seat in the chair. “Arnold
Melven, you are accused of treachery.”

“Oh! it is false; it is, good, kind sir!

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[figure description] Page 102.[end figure description]

I—I'd never ha' dared to done such a
thing, good, noble Captain!” whined

“We shall see. Jarvis!”

“Your will, Captain.”

“Remove your mask, and answer the
questions propounded!”

Jarvis immediately obeyed—exhibiting
features calm and stern.

“Where did you arrest the prisoner?”

“On the bank of the Ohio.”



“What was he doing at the time?”

“Assisting in the abduction of a young

“How! Jarvis!” exclaimed Gerolstein,
starting, his features blanching to a
deadly white.

“I say true, Captain.”

“Gods! her name, Jarvis?—her name?”

“I did not learn it.”

“But you were in time?—he did not

“I was in time to arrest the prisoner,
but not to save the girl. She was borne
away by his two companions.”

“Where? where?”

“I know not.”

“Melven, speak! speak!” cried Gerolstein,
wildly,—“or, by the eternal
gods! you never speak again!” and he
drew from his belt a pistol.

“Wha-what shall I say?” stammered

“Say who the girl—where she was
taken—for what end?”

“I—I did'nt know her name; she
lived with—”

“Who? who?”

“Molly Magore.”

“Ha! wretch! villain! die!” shouted
Gerolstein, his face livid with passion, at
the same time cocking his pistol, and
taking deliberate aim at the other's

“I—I was bribed to do it,” cried
Melven, ghastly with terror.

The words saved him: the pistol of
Gerolstein was turned aside, by a sudden
jerk of the arm, just as his finger touched
the trigger; and the ball flattened against
the rock close by the traitor's head. Melven

“Who bribed you fool?” asked Gerolstein,
between his clenched teeth.

“Aaron Burrand.”

“Ha! Aaron Burrand! let him, if
present, stand forth and unmask!”

A figure immediately stepped forward;
and, withdrawing the hood and mask,
exhibited the features of Burrand, calm
and collected, over which hovered a bland

“Is this the man you accuse?” asked
Gerolstein of Melven.

Burrand immediately fastened his keen,
soul-piercing eyes upon Melven, with such
a look as made him shudder; but, knowing
all depended on his answer, he nerved
himself to the point, and replied:

“It is.”

“State the particulars, and be quick!”

“Why, ye see, most truly noble Captain,
we happened to meet one day—I
don't exactly remember how—and got
into conversation, and says he to me, says
he, `If you'll find me a handsome young
lady, that's virtuous, and kidnap her, I'll
give you a hundred dollars, and make a
great man of you.' ”

“And you dared to find the one you

“He dared do more,” said Burrand,
in a calm voice, turning to Gerolstein.

“Well, sir, explain!”

“Oh! do not—do not listen to that
man!” cried Melven.

“Hold your peace, fool! Burrand,

“I say he dared do more—for he
dared to point her out, knowing there was

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[figure description] Page 103.[end figure description]

some secret connected with yourself,

“With me, sir? with me? how know
you that?”

“By his own words. He said you frequently
sent him to an old cottage, where
she resided, with money; which, by the
way, he did not deliver.”

“Did not deliver, say you? did not

“Such were his words—let him deny
them if he dare!”

“ 'Twere useless if he did. But of the

“Of the girl I know nothing, further
than what was said at the time. 'Tis
true, I made the proposition as he stated—
I do not deny it; but I do, most positively,
deny that I know anything further
of the girl. What I said was in jest.”

“Is this true, on your oath and honor,

“On my oath and honor it is true.”

“Enough! you may resume your

“Melven, where was this girl to have
been taken?”

“Why, on my oath and honor, Cap'en,
as true as there's a God—”

“Hush! profane not the name with
your blasphemous lips.”

“I swear to you, I's to take her a mile
down the river, and there Burrand was
going to be, and tell me what to do, and
where to convey her to next.”

“Do you know where she is now? and
who were your accomplices?”

“I don't, on my life. I just hired 'em
for the occasion.”

“Have you, Jarvis, any further testimony
to give, relative to the prisoner?”

“I have. After my seizure of Melven,
before we got into the boat, another came
upon us very much excited, and inquired
for the girl, what we'd done with her,
and the like. Before I could reply, Mel
ven sprang to him, commenced whining
like a puppy, and told him she had been
seized by the robbers, by the League
of the Miami, and that they were seizing
him also. I waited for nothing further;
but knocked him down—caught him up
in my arms—out sped the other to the
other to the boat, and brought him here.”

“You did well, nobly, Jarvis; and in
the name of the League, I thank you!
There is a mystery hanging over this girl
that must be fathomed. Have you any
conception of who was the individual that
joined you on the river?”

“None, unless the lover of the girl,
and the Kentuckian now so hotly in pursuit
of us.”

“Ha! yes, by the gods! it is so. That
accounts for it; he fancies we have abducted
the girl; all this we owe to our
friend Melven,” and his features grew
dark, his teeth ground together, and his
lips curled with suppressed passion.

A sudden thrill seemed to run through
the assemblage; and, in an instant, fifty
knives flashed the light from their polished
blades, while murmurs of “death to
the traitor” ran among them.

“Hold, gentlemen—bold!” said Gerolstein,
rising from his seat with dignity,
commanding silence with a wave of his
hand; “let me deal with him.”

Then turning to the prisoner—whose
features were of a sickly white, whose
every muscle was quivering with fright—
in a deep, firm tone, he said:

“Arnold Melven! prepare—prepare—
your sentence is death!”

The prisoner started, as by a sudden
spasm—his lower jaw fell ajar with horror;
while cold sweat started out, and
stood in large drops on all parts of his
body. Gerolstein continued:

“Prepare for eternity! no power on
earth can save you. You have, in the face
of Heaven and hell, perjured yourself,

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and broken your solemn oath. Ere ten
minutes expire, you will stand before
the bar of God—your body be cast forth,
a prey to the ravenous jaws of animals
that feed upon carrion—for to you, as a
traitor, we deny burial!”

“Oh God! Oh! good gentlemen—
mercy!” groaned Melven.

“There is, with us, for traitors, no
mercy. I once for you had merey; I
saved your life; you took the dreadful
oath, and have broken it. Instead of gratitude
for this, you have repaid me with
the foulest acts that lay in your power.
You have abused my confidence; you
have, through another, wounded my heart
with daggers more powerful than steel.
Your doom is now sealed: again I say,
prepare; for mercy, seek it in another
world. Time wears—let the gong sound
the summons of death.”

As he spoke, three heavy strokes, at
intervals of two seconds, were struck
upon the gong—which echoed through
the cavern with awful, terriffic sounds.
Every breath was still—every limb in
that vast assemblage was motionless: it
was the silence of death.

Melven turned his face upward; and,
with bloodless, quivering lips, seemed to
be praying—yet no sounds issued from
them—his very eyes looked glassy, as
though death was already at work within.
The whole scene was terribly sublime:
one, by those who witnessed it, never,
never to be forgotten. Gerolstein, pale
and erect, with firmly compressed lips,
stood at the other end of the platform—
eyeing the prisoner—while on his features
were the cold damps of inward commotion.
Over all the light streamed with a
yellow, sickly cast—as if that, too, partook
of the oppressive gloom.

“Jarvis!” called Gerolstein, at length,
in a heavy, guttural voice.

Jarvis stepped forward.

“Load that pistol, with a nicely balanced
charge; put in two balls, and be
quick!” As he spoke, he handed him
the pistol which he had previously discharged.
“Let Melven see the balls
entered, that he may be doubly sure
there is no escape from his irrevocable

Pouring in the powder, Jarvis stepped
upon the platform, and approaching Melven,
held before his already swimming
gaze the leaden messengers of death.
Then, dropping upon one knee—close to
the prisoner—holding in his left hand the
pistol, muzzle upward—in his right, the
balls—he dropped them in, and as they
glided down with a holow, deadening
sound, Melven shuddered with a cold

As he finished loading, Jarvis returned
the pistol to Gerolstein, and then took his
place among the group.

“Let the gong sound three times, at
exactly minute intervals.”

Again it echoed through the cave.

“The third sound, Melven, summons
you to another world—prepare!”

Melven writhed in agony. All was
silence. Again that heavy sound shook
the cavern.

“One minute more,” said Gerolstein,
in tremulous tones, as he slowly poised
the pistol with a deadly level toward the
head of Melven. The suspense to all was
terrible—past description—and many of
those dark forms, for the first time, felt a
thrill of secret fear.

“Mercy!” gasped Melven.

“Seek it in another world!” said the
deep voice of Gerolstein.

Crash went the gong—the pistol flashed—
the smoke curled upward—and
Melven fell upon his face without a
groan, bespattering the stone with his
blood. His soul was in eternity.

A pause of a moment ensued.

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“Thus perish traitors!” said Gerolstein,
solemnly. “Bear him hence!”

The three bearers covered the corpse
with a mantle, raised it in their arms, and
left the cave. Scarce a minute elapsed
ere they returned.

“Have you cast the body to the

“We have.”

“'Tis well. Thus, men, you see what
it is to break your oath. Thus you see
the doom of traitors. Heaven forefend
that I be ever called to do another act
like this, or witness such another scene!”
and he covered his face with his hands,
as if to shut out the horrid vision, while
his whole frame trembled. At length he
raised his head, and again resumed:

“At present, friends, our prospects are
gloomy. If we stand in a body, we must
fight. If we disperse, the storm may soon
blow over, and we be left again at liberty.
In this matter I cannot act, but with the
advice and consent of yourselves. At
this critical juncture, Burrand has made
me, and you, my friends, through me, a
proposition, which may not be lightly regarded.
As the gentleman is present, he
can best speak for himself.”

Saying this, Gerolstein again took his
seat; while Burrand stepped upon the
platform—threw off his mask—his hood—
his gown—and stood revealed before the
assembly in the alluring trappings of an
officer of rank—well knowing the favorable
impression such would make on the
minds of his audience. His features,
ever handsome, were bright and animated;
his eyes sparkled with lofty
thought; and there seemed a noble dignity
in his whole bearing, as, with the
majestic gesture of a true orator, he thus
addressed them:

“Gentlemen of honor, I am proud to
say I rank one among you; and, prouder
still, am I, of the distinguished privilege
allowed me of addressing you on the
present occasion. Permit me then, gentlemen,
as a brother, to freely, candidly
speak; not as to the cold and selfish
world—but as to friends whose interests
are in mine own bound up. I would lay
my heart open to you—not for its good
qualities, but that I in return might win
your noble confidence—your disinterested
affection. Life, my friends, is compounded
of many parts—all tending—all forming
one general whole—to be by its possessor
used as doth become his thinking best,
till death steps in and crumbles all to
nothingness. The object, then, of life, is
enjoyment; and in the sum of life's enjoyment,
lies the amount of happiness
bequeathed to man. The question then,
how shall we enjoy it most? each answers
to the dictates of his feelings. But with
you, my brothers, I fancy I can perceive
kindred spirits with mine own. You pant
for glory—fame—and for immortal renown.
You would do deeds that shall
hereafter live upon the mighty tablets of
history, and be familiar on the tongues of
millions yet unborn. You would be
spoken of as the great—the good—the
brave—whose very statues should, in
after ages, be bound with rosy wreaths—
perchance made gods, for men of weaker,
though of mighty minds, to worship. You
would have men, even of the present day,
bowing before you, their lords and masters;
and you would ride in chariots of
luxuriant ease, and sit in marble halls,
each on a princely throne. You would
have servants, of rich livery, to herald
you with sounding titles, that should not
shame a princely, kingly ear. All this is
easy; all this you can have—all this I
aim for. But put yourselves under my
guidance—give me the helm—and I
will pilot you clear of the present shoals
that surround you, and land you in the
haven of glorious immortality. With

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you, as I said before, I will be candid;
therefore start not when I say, I am seeking
to overthrow the present government,
and establish one to my own liking. Liberty,
the great watchword of which politicians
prate so loudly, is but an empty
sounding name, that carries its charm but
into weaker minds. With me, and with
yourselves, I trust, 'tis but a bubble,
which makes show without the substance.
But say, my friends, you will be great,
and I will point you to a glorious end—
to the liberty worthy of gods!”

Burrand ceased, placed his hand upon
his heart, and made a low obeisance;
while the cave echoed with a universal

“Long live Colonel Burrand!”

At this moment a figure, pale and
breathless, rushed into the cave.

“How now, Sezmond?” cried Gerolstein,
starting to his feet. “How now,
Sezmond? what is the meaning of this?”

“We are again pursued, Captain; a
party is close upon us!”

“Quick! quick! extinguish the lights!”

In an instant all was total darkness.

“Let us disperse, silent and speedy,”
said Gerolstein, in a low, hurried voice.
“I would avoid meeting them; there is
blood enough upon our hands already.
Speedy, men! speedy!”

Scarce a minute elapsed ere the cave
was cleared, and those dark forms were
standing without, wrapt in a mantle darker
than their own—the mantle of night.

A shout was heard—a body of men
rushed forward—and, some of the more
daring, entered the cave.

“They are gone!” cried the voice of
Langley; “by Heaven! they are gone.”

“The fault is not mine,” returned
another voice—“I directed you right;
they were here when I left.”

“Ha!” said Gerolstein, in a fierce
whisper, who was standing at a little
distance—“another traitor, Jarvis, by
the gods! 'Tis that accursed Roberts,
as I am a living man!”

“It is,” returned Jarvis. “Stay you
here, a moment, Captain,” and he suddenly
moved away.

“What is to be done, Roberts?” inquired
the voice of Langley, as he came
out of the cave.

“I know not,” replied the other, “unless
we seize upon the Captain.”

“Where can he be found?”


At this instant a flash, for a moment,
dispelled the darkness—exhibiting a number
of forms, and a man of low stature
standing by the side of Roberts; the report
of a pistol rang on the air; and the
traitor fell forward upon his face. Jarvis
had shot him in the head. All, for a
moment, stood aghast at the boldness of
such an act. Jarvis, taking advantage of
this, quickly rejoined Gerolstein, and both
fied; while the others, with a cry of vengeance,
started in pursuit—a seemingly
hopeless chase.

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