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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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On the evening succeeding the events
last detailed, in a room of a public house,
standing on the corner of Front and
Sycamore streets, were seated two individuals.
The room was the same which
had been occupied by Vandemore and
Cicely, some seven years before, and was
furnished much as then, with the exception
that the old carpet had given place
to a new and more costly one, and but
one bed remained. The room opened
with a view upon the river, and the windows
being thrown up, the soft breeze of
a beautiful summer's evening stole gently
in, and rustled the white hanging curtains.
Without, the scene was enchanting. At
a little distance, down a declivity, rolled
gently past the Ohio; the rays of the sun
flashing on its broad bosom, as on burnished
steel. On the opposite side could
be seen the village of Covington—its
few pretty cottages softly peeping forth
from a delightful grove of trees. Far in
the distance could be seen the green
wooded hills of Kentucky, reposing in the
soft, dreamy quiet of summer. No steam
boats were then plowing their way, as
now, through the waters; and, consequently,
there was not that bustle and
life on the levee, which marks the great
advancement of the present day; but all
was quiet—all was lovely.

Seated in a careless manner, before the
window, was one of the individuals mentioned,
apparently gazing at some object
on the opposite side of the river, which
the other, who stood by him, was pointing

The former was a man of middling, or,
if anything, a little below the middling
stature—well proportioned. There was
something very singular and very fascinating
in his countenance. His features
were regular and handsome, but strongly
marked with a powerful intellect. His
head was surmounted by a large wig,
clustering with curls, and powdered white.
Below this was a high, broad forehead—
full, and even prominent, particularly toward
the eyes, where were exhibited perceptive
faculties too large to belong to an
ordinary man. The features below the
nose were regular, and singularly expressive
of decision and command. But the
most singular of all were his eyes, of
which the pen must fail to convey an
adequate idea. To use the words of a
modern writer, in speaking of this individual,
“his eyes resembled the sharp
light of lightning imprisoned, and forever
playing in a cloud as black as night.”
To sum up, there was something terribly
fascinating in his gaze, which none, who
had come directly beneath his notice, had
ever been able to resist. To this might
be added a voice, soft and luring as the
tones of a Siren. He was one who knew
and understood every chord of the human

His dress was of the old English
fashion—not uncommon, at that day,
with people of note. His coat came down

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nearly straight in front to the waist, and
then suddenly turned off at an angle,
forming wide skirts, in which were large
pockets, covered by lapels. His waistcoat
came low, and joined with breeches,
which were united at the knees with long
hose by means of large silver buckles—
the latter serving as well for ornament as
use. His feet were encased in curious
made shoes—mounted, likewise, by silver
buckles. Around his neck was a white
cravat, tied with a studied grace, which
seemed to add more dignity to his general
bearing. He was sitting in an attitude
negligent, and graceful—partly side ways
on his chair—his feet crossed—his left
elbow resting on its back—his head, in
turn, partly resting on his forefinger and
thumb—and gazing, as before said, at
some object on the opposite side of the
river, which the other was pointing out.

The latter individual was small in stature,
rather plainly dressed, and very
ugly in appearance. There was, in every
expression of his features, a look of deceitful
cunning. His forehead was low,
covered by black matted hair; and his
eyes, small and black, peeped out from
under heavy brows, with the half-startled,
cunning, ferocious look of a cowardly villain.
His features were sharp and long—
particularly his nose—and were of a
deathly, sallow hue. He never laughed,
because he could not; but he often grinned,
displaying a decaying set of teeth,
which added to his otherwise hideous
aspect. He was a villain, for nature had
stamped him so that there was no denying
it; but then, he was a petite villain.
He would not plot against a government,
because he did not know enough; but
if there was any mean, or underhanded
work to be done, he was your tool. He
was one of those peculiar beings who
would fawn around you like a whipped
dog, with his sickly whining voice, if he
feared, or wished a favor of you; if, on
the contrary, he had you in his power,
he was a perfect tyrant, and would delight
in tormenting you, even to the death. At
the moment introduced, as before said,
he was pointing out something in the distance.

“There, there, right off there to the
right, where the smoke's coming up; jest
kinder behind you hill, your honerable
excellency can just see the top on 't.”

“That is where she lives, then, is it?”

“Yes, your honerable excellency,”
returned the other, with a low bow.

“Are you sure she is perfectly virtuous,
Mr. Melven?”

“I'd swear my life on 't, Colonel—I,
mean your honerable excellency—for
I've seen her close to.”

“How did you find her out?”

“Why, ye see, arter your honerable
excellency said you'd give me a hundred
dollars, besides making me a great
man, if I'd entrap a virtuous woman for

“Hush! man, not so loud.”

“I beg your pardon, your honerable
excellency,” continued Melven, lowering
his voice, “you see, the subject excites
me. Well, arter that, you see, I set myself
a thinking, and I thought of all the
young ladies as I's acquainted with; and,'
pon my honor, your excellency, therewasn't
one on 'em as would do.”

“I anticipated as much,” said the
other, with a smile.

“Fact! by the holy hokey!” returned
Melven, grinning, for he fancied he had
said something very witty.

“Well, well, how then?”

“Why, I set to thinking agin, and I
thought of this ere gal I'm telling ye
about; says I, `she's the one—she'll
do—she'll suit his honerable excellency;'
I did, by Jupiter!”

“How knew you anything of her?”

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“Why, ye see—but that's a secret.”

“Ah! a secret!” thought Burrand.
“A secret! I must know it.”

“Well, friend Melven,” said he, in a
soft voice, with a bland smile—turning
his head a little round, and resting his
dark, fascinating eyes upon the former—
“I suppose you are not afraid to confide
to me your secret? Friends should be
open to each other; is it not so, Mr.

“I—I suppose it is, your excellency—
but then—”

“But then”—repeated the other,
interrupting him—“do you doubt my
honor, friend Melven?—I, who am secretly
doing so much for you?—I, who,
some day, intend to make you my private
secretary, with an enormous salary; can
you doubt me? this is not right, Melven—
it is not, indeed;” and he carried his
handkerchief to his eyes.

Melven was deceived. Elated at this
show of friendship—his mind not being
strong enough to comprehend deeper villainy
than his own—he was drawn, at
once, into the net.

“O, well then, seeing as how we're
such warm friends, your excellency, I
don't mind telling ye.”

“Make a clean soul, my dear Melven.”

“I will, your excellency. Well, ye
see, I belong to the League, and—”

“The League!” exclaimed the other,
with a slight start—“what League?”

“The League of the Miami, your excellency.”

“So, so,” mused Burrand, “this grows
interesting. Well,” said he, turning to
the other, “proceed; but first, tell me
if there are any of my name among

“Never heard of any, your honor.”

“'Tis well,” thought the other, “he
as not aware that I am a member; he
could not have been present last evening.”

“Go on, Mr. Melven,” he resumed,
aloud; “tell me how you came to join

“Why, ye see, your honor, it might
be a long story, but I'll jest make it
a short one. Ye see, jest arter I come
out o' jail—”

“You were in jail, then!” interrupted
the other.

“Ye-yes, yo-your honor,” stammered
Melven, confusedly—“some false witnesses—”

“O, ah! I understand: you were innocent,
of course.”

“Yes, your most honorable excellency”—
said the other, greatly relieved—“in
course I was. Well, jest arter I got out
of jail, I took a tramp into the country;
and somehow, I don't 'xactly know how,
I run right agin a whole squad of fellers;
and they said I'd found out their secret;
and some was for killing me, right straight
off; but I begged for my life like fun;
and then one of 'em—a tall stern man—
said if I'd jine 'em, and take the oath, I
might live; so, you see, I jined; for I'd
ha' jined the devil for the sake of my life.”

“I believe you,” said the other.

“Fact—by the holy hokey!” and again
Melven grinned.

“Well, well, what then?”

“O, then I had fat living among 'em;
you see we used to buy hosses”—

Buy them, did you?”

“Yes, your honor, we buy'd 'em; only
it didn't take but one on us to make a

“Exactly—I understand. But concerning
this girl; how came you to know
of her?”

“O, 'zactly—the gal—I'd forgot. Why,
ye see, one day the tall stern man, the
Captain, comes to me, and says he, `Arnold,
can you keep a secret?' `Well, I

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reckon,' says I. `Well,' says he, `I've
saved your life, for you'd ha' been killed
as sure as guns,' says he, `if it hadn't
been for me.' `I know it,' says I. `Well,
now,' says he, `I want you to do me a
favor. Here are a hundred dollars I
want you to carry and give to an old
woman as lives in Covington, Kentucky,
whose name is Molly Magore, and then
come right away, and don't answer no
questions. Mind if you see a young gal,
as is there:' he did, by Jupiter!”

“Ha! here is mystery,” thought the
other. “Well, you went and delivered
the money, of course?”

“I went, as your honor says, but I
didn't deliver no money.”

“How so?”

“Why, I managed so I could see the
old lady, and thinks I to myself, `she's
getting along well enough, so I'll jest
keep this ere money, in case I should
want it:' I did, by the holy hokey!”

“Well, did the captain learn of it?”

“Not he! I's not green enough for
that; no indeed, by thunder!” and again
he grinned.

The other turned his head away, moment—
while his lip curled in evident disgust—
and then said:

“Were you sent again?”

“I reckon—a number of times; so,
your honor sees, I had a good chance o'
seein the gal; and arter your honor made
me that fine offer, I thought she was the
gal for you.”

“How will you succeed in securing

“Why, last night, I's thinking 'bout it,
and I come down to the river, and I
looked across, and I thought I seen her,
with her lover, sitting on a log; and so,
your honor, I got a boat, and paddled
over there; and I heara her say she was
`too poor to marry him,' and all that;
and I watched 'em to old Molly's, and
saw 'em part; and, `by the holy hokey,'
says I, `he'll never trouble her agin;
and she'll git sad; and she'll come and
sit on the old log agin, at night; and then
I'll fix it, and nab her, your honor, and
take her wherever your excellency says:'
I will, by Jupiter!”

“But if you should be followed?”

“O, your honor, I'll put 'em on the
wrong track; I'll tell 'em `the robbers
have got her;' and then I'll turn and
blow the whole party, and get a great
reward for it; and then they'll be caught
and hanged; and then I'll come and
serve your honor.”

“Well, go on,” said the other, with a
singular smile; a smile, which, had Melven
comprehended, he would have trembled
ere he did; “go on—execute your
scheme; it is well laid—it must succeed.
When will it take place, think you?”

“I think I can manage it to-night, your

“So soon?” said the other, rising—
“well, be it so. Now mark me: have a
boat in readiness, and so soon as you have
conveyed her to it, row directly down the
stream, where I will meet you, with another
boat, a mile below. Do you un

“Yes, your honor.”

Fail me, and your life shall answer!”
and that dark eye turned its fiery gaze upon
him—burning, as 'twere, his very soul.

Melven started—turned pale—trembled
like an aspen; such a look he had
never seen before.

“Wha-what means your honerable
excellency?” cried he, sinking upon his
knees, in abject terror.

“The League—your oath—broken!”
said the other, in a terrible voice; terrible
from its calmness, and deep gutteral
sound; while those burning eyes were
again fixed upon the other, as he gave the
counter-sign—“I am a member!”

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“Oh! save me! save me! dear, good,
kind sir!” cried the abject wretch, in
pitying tones, laying his head at the
other's feet.

The other looked at him for a moment
in perfect contempt—the contempt a
brave man feels for a coward—and then
said, peremptorily:

“Up, fool! and get thee gone! but
remember—the girl—this night—remem
ber!” and, as the other disappeared, he
muttered to himself, “He will comply,
for he dare not disobey. When he has
done my bidding, then the fates may have
him. O, man!” continued he—“weak,
foolish man! with the more mighty minds
thou art as toys—as playthings—which
we use, and throw aside at pleasure. The
day will come—I see it in the future—
when I shall be a king, and ye shall be
my slaves. Then will I ride upon your
necks, and ye shall servile be unto your
mighty master. Woman, thou weak and
simple thing, whom half the world adores
and prizes for thy virtues, which exist but
in a name!—thou, too, art made, as lesser
men, the playthings for great spirits. Thy
virtues all are but as frothy mushrooms,
which spring up in the night, for goodly
outward show, but cannot bear the scorching
light of day.”

And musing thus, we leave one, for a
time, whose bold and startling deeds did
make a nation tremble—whose name
stands black upon the lasting page of

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