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Bennett, Emerson, 1822-1905 [1851], The league of the Miami. (Lorenzo Stratton, Cincinnati) [word count] [eaf470T].
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About ten o'clock on the same evening
that Cicely was made a prisoner, there
was an assemblage of a portion of the
League at the cave—or, as it was more
generally termed, Hamilton's Den. The
preceding night, after the initiation of
Burrand, as we have shown, had been
one of revelry; but the present one was
to be devoted to business only. In the
farther part of this cave, a chimney had
been constructed, by boring a hole
through a solid rock, that extended up
to the open air above. To this chimney
was fixed a furnace for melting the composition
of which the bogus or spurious
coin was manufactured; for, as we have
said, this band of horse-thieves was also
a band of counterfeiters. This farther
portion of the cave was separated from
the other by a wall of masonry, through
which was entrance by a stone door,
hung on heavy iron hinges—so that
those at work within could be completely
shut off from those in the first or larger
compartment. On the evening in question,
some five or six individuals were
collected in the front cave—as we shall
term it, by way of distinction—and, as
they were to await the arrival of others,
before proceeding with the business they
had on hand, they had concluded to
amuse themselves with cards till a sufficient
number should arrive. Accordingly
they divided themselves into two parties,
and seating themselves on the large, flat
stone, already mentioned, forthwith commenced
the exciting game of poker. The
division of their ill-gotten gains the evening
previous, had placed in the hands of
each a snug little sum, which, with many
of them, was soon to be squandered in
gambling and dissipation. At first, as is
usual in such cases, the bets were small;
but as they proceeded, each began to
venture a little more, and the games grew
more and more exciting. They had
gambled in this manner something like
an hour, when one of the party, a tall,

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sharp-featured, sinister individual, some
thirty years of age, arose, and in an indignant
tone exclaimed:

“I'll play no more.”

“Why, Roberts, what's the matter
now?” asked one of the two with whom
he had been betting.

“Matter enough!” answered the
other, surlily; “I have no desire to be

A hearty laugh from the others was
the only response to this bitter insinuation
against their honesty. But this only
tended to aggravate the dissatisfied player,
whose countenance flushed with anger, as
he continued, in a savage tone:

“Ay, laugh, and be—to ye!—but
when I play again, I am inclined to think
it will be with gentlemen.”

“You're inclined to think so, are
you?” rejoined one of the party, carelessly.
“Well,” he continued, in a cool,
cutting, sarcastic tone, “I'm inclined to
think that when you play again, there'll
he one in the party, at least, whose pretensions
to the honor of a gentleman will
fall considerably short of what such a
person should be;” and he closed with
a laugh, which was echoed by his companion.

“What do you mean, sir, by this insinuation?”
cried the one called Roberts,
clutching, with a nervous grasp, the haft
of a knife that was sticking in his belt.

“What do I mean?” said the other,
rising, and boldly confronting Roberts:
“what do I mean? Why, I mean exactly
what I said.”

“Do you dare to insinuate, sir, that I
am not a gentleman?”

You? I said nothing about you; but
if the coat fits, you may wear it. At all
events, I suppose I have as good a right
to insinuate that you are not a gentleman,
as you have to insinuate that my friend
here and I are swindlers.”

“And if I did so insinuate, I was not
far from the truth, I'm thinking.”

“Come, come,” said the third one,
rising also, “don't let us have any quarrelling
to-night; for the captain will soon
be here, and you know he has strictly
forbidden us to fight among ourselves.”

“I shall fight whom I please, nevertheless,”
rejoined Roberts, sullenly.

“And get your brains blowed out for
disobeying orders, eh?” returned the

“If my brains are not disturbed till the
captain blows them out, they will remain
in my head as long as I shall want
to use them,” was the reply.

“You don't know that—for the captain
is a man of strong passions, and
when once they are roused, he is apt to
make rather short work.”

“Better not try his hand on me!”
said Roberts, somewhat savagely.

“You didn't care to tell him so last
night, when he called for a settlement,
and you had some words together,” was
the rather nettling response.

“I didn't tell him, that's certain; but
if I live, and he lives much longer, I
may tell him something he will not be
overjoyed to hear,” returned Roberts,
biting his lips with vexation.

“And pray what will you tell him?”

“That is my business, Henry Morford.”

“And it may be mine, John Roberts,”
rejoined the other, “if you make free
with any more of your insinuating

“Make it your business now, if you
dare!” cried Roberts, with a burst of
fury, whipping out his knife as he spoke,
and throwing back his arm to give the
other a mortal blow.

But ere he had time to strike, the arm
was seized by a tall, dark figure, who
had just entered the cave, and the next

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moment the knife was wrenched from his
hand, and Roberts was sent staggering
forward into the center of the cave. With
a yell of fury, the latter turned to grapple
with the bold intruder, when to his astonishment,
he beheld in him the commanding
person of Gerolstein, who stood erect
before him, his dark eyes fixed piercingly
upon him, as if to read his very soul.
The other players, who, during the dialogue
just recorded, had paid little heed
to it, being intent upon their game, now
sprang to their feet, with faces expressive
of amazement, if not alarm, on beholding
the menacing looks exchanged between
their captain and Roberts.

“What means this?” demanded the
chief of the League, in a stern tone.
“What means this, John Roberts? Why
was your hand raised against Henry

“Because he insulted me,” replied the
other, sullenly. “How is this, Morford?
Did you insult him?—and if so, for what

“He insulted me first, Captain,” answered
Morford, respectfully.

“Explain yourself.”

“Why, we were seated on this stone,
here, taking a friendly game of poker,
when Roberts, not having as good luck
as he anticipated, and being a few dollars
the loser, suddenly started to his feet, and
declared he would play no more; and on
being questioned wherefore, he replied
that he had no desire to be swindled; and
on our laughing at his remark, he made
use of an oath, and said when he played
again it would be in the company of gentlemen,
or words to that effect; to which
I retorted by saying, that in the event of
his playing again, there would be one in
the party, at least, whose pretensions to
the honor of a gentleman would be apt to
fall short of what such a person should
be. Well, Captain, one word brought on
another, until my friend Billings here
started up, and begged us to have no-quarrel,
as it was expressly against your
orders, Captain. To this Roberts replied,
that he'd fight whom he pleased; and
during the conversation that ensued, he
threw out some rather dark hints respecting
yourself—or, at least, we so construed

“Ha! what did he say?” demanded

“That if you both lived much longer,
he might tell you something that you
would not be overjoyed to hear. I
asked him what he would tell you, and he
replied, that that was his business; and on
my rejoining it might be my business if
he made free with any more of his insinuating
threats, he made the exclamation
you heard, drawing his knife upon me at
the same time.”

“Yes, and if the Captain had stayed
away a little longer, I should have used
the knife to some purpose,” rejoined
Roberts, savagely.

“Silence, sir! how dare you talk in
this manner?” cried Gerolstein, a dark,
fierce expression sweeping over his,

“But I'm not going to be insulted without
being revenged,” muttered Roberts.

“Silence!” again roared the Captain,
drawing a pistol from his belt. “Silence,
I say! Dare to speak again, till you are
addressed by me, and, by—! I'll send a
bullet through your brains! It is well
for you, sir, you did not use the knife, or
I, in duty bound, should have made a
startling example of one who has been
elevated to the office of Treasurer of the
League. Your conduct, sir, has been
unbecoming to that degree, that, as a
punishment, I shall not only declare you
no longer an officer, but I shall insist that
you crave pardon of the present company
for having disturbed that social order

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which it has been my desire to have maintained
since it has been my fortune to be
your commander.”

“And suppose I refuse?” inquired
Roberts, in a low, dogged tone.

“Then, by heavens! will I have you
arrested and tried for mutiny!” replied
Gerolstein, sternly.

“There is no alternative, then?”

“None, sir, none—nor shall I wait
here long in dalliance.”

“Gentlemen, one all,” said Roberts,
smothering his rage as much possible,
but almost choking in the effort, so that
his utterance was thick and harsh: “Gentlemen,
one and all,” he continued, “I
humbly crave your pardon for being the
cause of a disturbance here this evening;”
and he made a low bow, as if in mockery,
and which all who saw, felt to be intended
as such—though, no one, of course, had
any right to find fault there with.

As Roberts raised his head, after
making that low obeisance, his small,
black, piercing eyes for a moment encountered
the eyes of Morford; and a terrible
expression of sinister intent passed over
his features; and muttering something to
himself, he turned away; and retreating
to the farther wall of the cave, he leaned
against it, and gave vent to his feelings in
curses too low to reach the ears of any of
the party.

Gerolstein paid no further attention to
Roberts, than to eye him somewhat suspiciously
for a moment or two; and then
calling for the register, he opened it to
the place where John Roberts was recorded
as treasurer, and drew his pen
across the name, inserting that of Henry
Morford just below—thus giving Roberts
deadly insult, not only by turning him
out of office, but also by appointing the
man he now bitterly hated in his place.
True, this appointment amounted to
nothing unless confirmed by a majority
of the band; but Gerolstein felt confident
this would be done, as the new candidate
was very popular with the League
whereas the suspicious conduct of the ex-treasurer,
of late, had lost him many
friends, and rendered him out of favor

While this was taking place, the company
present was fast augmenting by new
arrivals; and in the course of half an hour,
not less than thirty members of the League
were present. As twenty constituted a
quorum, Gerolstein mounted the platform,
called the company to order, and declared
the meeting open for the transaction of business.
The first proceeding was for the
secretary to read the minutes of the last
meeting, and the second to elect Henry
Morford treasurer, in the place of John
Roberts, removed. This done, the Captain
called the name of Ira Pottenger.

“Here,” answered a voice; and a man,
some thirty years of age, of small stature,
symmetrically formed, with every limb
well rounded and lithe, and of a fair
countenance, that for want of beard
looked youthful, stepped forward, and
waited to be addressed again.

This personage was called the Runner
of the League; and his business was to
spy out horses that could easily be captured,
sketch on paper the position of the
place, the manner of proceeding, and
minutely note down all the danger attendant
thereupon, and forward the same to
the Captain with as little delay as possible.
And well might he be called the
runner; for he seldom rode; and for
fleetness of foot and endurance, he could
only be matched by the animals on which
he bestowed so much attention. Moreover,
he was refined and polished to a
high degree, and had the confidence of
nearly all the settlers throughout that
region of country; and being considered
an excellent judge of horse-flesh, was

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[figure description] Page 044.[end figure description]

often commissioned by them to purchase
just such animals as they wanted. He
rarely failed to please in the exercise of
his judgment in this manner, and never
failed to give the League such information
afterward, that the beasts so procured for
others became their stolen property.

“Well, Pottenger,” said the Captain,
addressing him, “what news in the way
of business?”

“I have just come down the Miami,
Captain,” answered the runner, “and have
the good fortune to inform you that a
drove of a dozen horses will lodge this
night in Wilden's barn, about fifteen
miles above here, and near what is called
the Old Fork. These horses, I understand,
belong to as many different settlers,
who have commissioned Wilden to take
them off and sell them, for fear they
may be stolen. They first applied to me;
but I declined, on the plea that I had
more business on my hands than I could
attend to. The fact is,” continued Pottenger,
with a peculiar smile, “I had
much rather buy horses for them, than
sell; for there is this difference: that
whereas in buying I bring the horses into
the country, so in selling I would have to
take them out of it; and as taking them
out of the country is a particular feature
of the association to which I belong, I
had much rather the society would do it
on their own responsibility—more especially,
as in lieu of a small commission,
I thereby get a share of the proceeds.”

“Bravo! bravo!” cried several voices.

“Well,” pursued the Captain, “you
say that a dozen horses are this night
stabled in Wilden's barn—now tell us
how we are to manage to secure them!”

“We shall have to work cautiously,”
replied the runner; “for without doubt,
the barn will be closely watched. There
are Wilden, his two big-fisted, Herculean
sons, and one or two others—all of whom
will pass the night either in the house or
the barn, to my certain knowledge; and
how many more there may be, is more
than I can tell. As I am acquainted
with all these persons, I have thought
that the better way would be for me to
go there myself to-night, and manage the
matter according to circumstances. If
there is any one stationed in the barn, I
will find it out, by applying there first;
and in that case, I will withdraw them
for a few minutes, on one pretence or
another, during which time two or three
of our party can slip into the barn and
plug the touchholes of their rifles, so that
they will be perfectly harmless. Then
they can hide themselves in such a manner
as to be ready to overpower the
guard, or not, as circumstances may dictate.
Perhaps it will be as well to gag
and bind the watchers, and then lead off
the horses quietly; but in case this can
not be effected, the party that enters the
barn must cut them loose, and turn them
out, and let those outside catch them as
best they can.”

“I am a little fearful this is too bold a
move,” rejoined the captain, “and may
excite the settlers too much against us.
Already they begin to be troublesome;
and one, in particular, swears vengeance
against us.”

“You allude to Butterman, I presume?”
said Pottenger.

“I do.”

“He must be silenced!” put in another
of the party. “We have already poisoned
his cattle; and as this only makes him
worse, by—! I am for poisoning him

“I do not like to resort to such extreme
measures, if it can possibly be avoided,”
replied Gerolstein. “Murder is horrible
enough on its own account; but the death
of a settler, by poison, would make all
the others furious against us; and ten to

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[figure description] Page 045.[end figure description]

one, but it would be the means of breaking
up the League.”

“There would, of course, be one enemy
the less,” answered the other; “and
he, too, one of the most energetic and
vindictive. I am for strong measures;
and such as cannot be silenced by threats,
I am for having silenced in some other

“What say you to this, comrades?”
asked the Captain; “for of course I
shall be guided by the will of the majority—
though I warn you that I think
the poisoning of Butterman will be dangerous
to our safety as a body.”

“Why, I'm of the opinion,” growled a
harsh-featured ruffian, “that when a man
openly sets himself up as our enemy—'
specially when such a man's as dangerous
as this here one—that the sooner
he's stopped off the better. Besides, if
we pizen his well, and he dies, I don't see
no way as how anybody can prove who
done it; and as long as nobody can't do
nothing but suspect us, why, I don't see
as how we can be any woss off 'an we is
now. As for thar breaking on us up—
why, that's something I don't believe in,
no how; for git us all together, we could
lick a regiment.”

“I'm jest o' the opinion o' Ben
Thrasher,” spoke up another hang-dog
looking ruffian, who measured six feet
four inches in stature.

“Well,” resumed Gerolstein, “I will
put it to vote, whether we shall poison
Butterman's spring or not.”

The vote being taken, was decided in
the affirmative, and Ben Thrasher was
duly deputized to put half a pound of arsenic
in the spring from which Butterman
was known to procure water for himself
and family.

“This point being carried,” said the
Captain, “we will proceed with the other
business, and have it settled immediately;
for if we do anything to-night, in the way
of procuring horses, (stealing he thought
to be too severe a term to use,) it is high
time we were on the move. You have
said, Pottenger,” he continued, again
addressing that individual, “how you
would manage the affair, in case you
found a party in the barn—now tell us
what you will do in case you do not.”

“Why, if there are none on the watch,”
returned the runner, “the affair can be
managed easily enough. I will go to the
house to procure lodging for the night;
and ten minutes after I have entered, if
all remains quiet, the party in waiting can
open the stables, lead out the horses, and
be off with them.”

“This matter being settled, then, let
us set out forthwith,” rejoined the Captain.
“Is this to your minds, gentlemen?”

“Ay! ay!—yes! yes!” cried some
twenty voices, in chorus.

At this moment a voice outside of the
cave was heard saying:

“Come along with ye, I say! or,
by—! I'll make short work with ye.”

“Oh, don't! don't! good Mr. Jarvis!—
don't!” whined another speaker. “Jest
let me go now, and I'll gin ye all I'm
worth—every cent I've got—I will, 'pon
my honor!”

“Ha!” exclaimed the captain, “whom
have we here?” and as he spoke, Jarvis
entered the cave, dragging Melven along
with him. “So, then,” continued Gerolstein,
“my order has been obeyed, and
you have secured the traitor;” and he
fixed a piercing and significant glance
upon the latter.

“Oh, good Mr. Captain!” cried the
wretch, looking fearfully around, and sinking
down on his knees, in abject terror,
before Gerolstein. “Oh, good Mr. Gerolstein!
I ain't no traitor—'pon my
sacred word and honor I ain't—if—”

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“Silence, sir!” thundered the chief,
with a look of pitiful contempt. “If you
are not a traitor, you are a coward, and
I hardly know which of the two is the
worst. Well, Jarvis, what think you of
Arnold Melven?” pursued Gerolstein,
addressing that individual.

“I boldly pronounce him a dastardly
traitor, and I stand ready to bear witness
against his perfidious acts!” was the
prompt reply.

“Enough! his ease shall be attended
to so soon as we get time. Other important
business calls us away to-night. Secure
him in the inner cave, charge the
molders to guard against his escape, and
then come with us, for we have work on
hand for all!”

Five minutes later, the whole party
issued forth from the cave, and, separating,
so as not to be seen in a body, each
took a different course, but with the understanding
that all should rendezvous in
the vicinity of Ralph Wilden's.

Roberts was the last to quit the cave;
and having seen all the others depart, he
moved slowly away, in a different direction,

“Disgrace and treat me with contumely,
eh? Oh! but I will be revenged!
revenged!” and clenching his hand, and
making a gesture of indignation, he
entered a dense brushwood and disappeared.

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