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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 quarter of an hour after his disappearance,
Roberts emerged from the
opposite side of the brushwood into a
elearing, and, crossing this, he entered a
deep wood, in which he continued till he
came to a log cabin, near which stood a
barn, made of the same rude materials,
though with more open crevices. In the
dwelling a light was burning, the rays
of which penetrated through a small window
and some cracks in the door.

“Confound her!” muttered the ex-treasurer—
“why will she always sit up
for me, as if to see whether I come home
drunk or sober. I have told her a hundred
times not to be uneasy on my
account, but to go to bed, and sleep as
soundly as if I were by her side. But,
somehow, I cannot find it in my heart to
scold her for disobeying me, for I am
satisfied she does it because she loves
me; and, really, she is a good creature,
and never makes a word of complaint.
Well, well, I must not let her know I am
here now, or she will plead to have me
stay, and it comes hard to refuse her so
simple and natural a request.”

Saying this, the ex-treasurer cautiously
approached the rude barn, and opening
the door of a stable, he entered and led
forth a coal-black horse. Tying him to
a ring in the logs, he re-entered the
stable, and brought forth a bridle and
saddle; but just as he came out again,
the horse, from some cause, gave a loud
whicker. In a moment the door of the
dwelling was thrown open, and a female
came rushing out, bearing a light in her
hand, which she held above her head, so
as to enable her to distinguish objects
before her. We have said the house was
near the barn, and almost the first thing
her eyes fell upon, after leaving the former,
was the coal black horse. Roberts,
on seeing her, dodged within the stable;
but she caught a glimpse of his person,
and immediately called out, hastening
forward at the same time:

“John, dear John, is that you?”

“Yes,” replied the ex-treasurer, finding

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he was discovered, and issuing forth;
“yes, wife, it is I; but what are you
doing up this time of night?”

“Rather let me ask what you are doing
in the middle of the night, with that
horse. You know I never go to bed till
you come home, John; and I am really
hurt that you should come so near, and
think of setting off again without letting
me know of it.”

“Why, the fact is, wife, I am in a
great hurry, my business is very urgent,
and I was afraid that if you saw me, you
would detain me too long—perhaps seek
to prevent my going at all.”

“I would to God I could!” responded
the woman, with deep emotion. Then
approaching the other closely, she added,
in a soft, plaintive tone of true affection:
“Oh, John—dear John—my dear husband—
why will you not quit this terrible
life you are leading? I think of nothing
when you are away, but that I shall see
you brought home a corpse, or hear that
you have fallen into the hands of justice.
Oh, my God! my God! just think, my
dear husband, if such should be the case,
what would become of me and our little
child, that now lies sleeping so sweetly in
yonder dwelling!”

“But I am going to reform,” said
Roberts, turning his face away to conceal
his emotion.

“Ah! so you have said an hundred
times; and yet here you are, now, as
ready as ever to plunge on into new vices.
This will not endure, John, you may
depend it; and, oh! how I tremble for
the finale. Even now, the settlers are
arming against you and your party, and
ere long blood must flow. Oh! why
cannot you leave the party, and start at
once for some unknown region, where we
shall at least be safe! Oh! I would fly
with you, cheerfully, this very night—
would travel far, and endure every priva
tion—rather than reman here, with
such a terrible fate hanging over me!
But we should not have to suffer privation;
for we have money enough to last
us for a couple of years, even provided
we found nothing to do to get an honest
living; but—”

“Cease, wife,” interrupted the ex-treasurer,
“and you shall soon be gratified.
I have done with the League
forever,” he added, in a low whisper,
glancing cautiously around, to be certain
there were no listeners.

“Oh, this is glorious news!” cried his
wife, joyfully; “but whither are you
going, then, to-night?”

“To do a good deed.”

“What is it?”

“To save a fellow creature's life.”

“What mean you?”

“You know that Butterman, whom I
mentioned as the worst enemy of the

“Yes, I know of him. Well?”

“Well, it has been decreed that he
shall be murdered.”

“And you, John?”

“I am going to warn and save him.”

“Are you sincere?”

“I am.”

“God bless you, then, John, for the
noble act! Oh, you know not how happy
it makes me feel, to hear you talk in this
manner! And then will you leave this
part of the country, John?”

“I will leave as soon as I can accomplish
one thing,” whispered Roberts,
drawing his wife into the stable, so as to
render it certain that no one might by
any possibility overhear him.

“And that one thing?” asked his
wife breathlessly.

“The destruction of the League.”

“Good heavens! what mean you?”

“I mean,” said the other, savagely,
“that I have been shamefully treated,

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and that I will be revenged. I have been
abused, Mary, insulted and broke of my
office; and now, by the living Power! I
swear to have deep and lasting vengeance
on the accursed scoundrels!”

“Oh, John, do not talk so! If you
attempt to betray them, you will be killed,
I know you will; and then what will become
of me and our dear little child?
Oh, John, I beg you, I implore you, to
attempt nothing rash! Warn Mr. Butterman
of his danger, and then let us fly
together to some place of safety; but do
not attempt to turn traitor, or you will
certainly be killed!”

“I will not be cheated of my revenge,”
said Roberts, doggedly; “no I will not
be cheated of my revenge; so do not
urge me to relinquish my present purpose—
for all your prayers will prove
fruitless. Come, Mary, you are delaying
me, and I may be too late. Go into the
house, wife, and when I return, we will
talk this matter over more calmly.”

“But you are not going to betray the
League to-night, John?” said his wife,

“I am going to Butterman's to-night,
I told you,” answered the other evasively.

“But promise me you are not going to
betray the League to-night.”

“Well, then, I will not betray them
to-night,” returned the other. “There,
now, set your heart at rest, and go into
the house, for you have delayed me too
long already.”

“One kiss, first, John,” said his wife;
and bending down, he pressed his lips to
hers; when, as if fearful to remain longer,
lest her feelings should get the better of
her resolution, she tore herself away, and,
hurrying back to the house, entered and
closed the door behind her.

The ex-treasurer now hastened to bridle
and saddle his horse; then mounting him,
he was just on the point of riding away,
when he heard his name spoken in a low,
tender, melancholy tone. He turned on
his saddle, and beheld his wife standing
in the door.

“What is it, Mary?” he inquired.

“I shall sit up till you come home, dear

“But I may not be home to-night, my
dear wife,” he replied, touched by her
devotedness. “I pray you retire and
get rest! I will come back as soon as I

“No, John, I touch not the bed till
you return—you know this is my invariable

“Well, I will endeavor to be back
before morning,” replied the other; and
touching his horse with the spur, the fiery
animal bounded away, and the next
moment both horse and rider had disappeared
from the tearful eyes of the
devoted wife, who, retiring into the house,
took a seat by her sleeping child, to
await, in lonely watching, the return of a
criminal husband and father.

Oh, the devotion—the patient, untiring
devotion of woman! God bless her! She
may have faults, and frailties, and vices;
but her virtues more than cover all her
defects, and leave her second only to the

Not far distant from the Great Miami,
and about a mile below what is now a
little village called Venice, there stood a
log house, surrounded by woods, which
were only separated from the dwelling
by a few acres of cleared land. A rude
barn stood some ten rods away from the
house, and some ten rods beyond this was
a cluster of bushes, in the center of which
bubbled up a spring of clear, cold, excellent
water, forming a little run, or rivulet,
which rolled away across the clearing,
and at last mingled its waters with those
of the Miami. From the dwelling to this
spring was a path, formed by persons

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[figure description] Page 049.[end figure description]

passing over the ground to get water;
and from the barn to the rivulet, farther
on, was another path, made by the cattle
of the settler, as they passed to and fro
to quench their thirst. This dwelling,
barn, clearing, spring, cattle, &c., was the
property of Butterman, the same person
whom the League had decreed should be
poisoned, on account of the hostile attitude
which he had assumed toward the

Up the valley of the Miami was a horse-path—
it could hardly be termed road—
which led through a long, level, dense
forest—the trees being cut away the
width of a rod or more, but with the
stumps still protruding some two feet
above the ground. This horse-path ran
past the dwelling of Butterman; and on
the night in question, about two o'clock
in the morning, a solitary horseman, pursuing
this path, came to the clearing, and
reined his animal to a halt. Then dismounting,
he led him into a thicket, made
him fast to a tree, and returned to the
path, or road; but before emerging from
the wood into the clearing, he examined
everything before him in the most cautious
manner. Then, apparently satisfied
with his scrutiny, he glided quickly forward,
and soon stood at the door of Butterman's
dwelling, on which he bestowed
several heavy raps.

“Who's there?” inquired the voice
of a man from within.

“A friend,” was the reply from without.

“What's wanting?”

“I wish to see Mr. Butterman on important
business, that will not brook

A small window opened near the door,
and the head of a man peered cautiously

“I am the person you have named,”
said the same voice. “What is it you
want with me?”

“To save your life. Let me in, and I
will tell you more.”

“Are you alone?”

“I am?”

“One minute;” and then the head
was withdrawn, the window closed, and
immediately after the door slightly opened,
and the same voice continued: “Comein;
but if you mean treachery, remember
there is a loaded pistol pointed at your

“If there is any treachery meant, it is
not toward you, Mr. Butterman,” replied
the stranger; and as he spoke, he stepped
boldly into the house, the door of which
was instantly shut and bolted, and both
host and guest were in utter darkness.

“You must pardon me, stranger, for
these precautions,” said Butterman;
“but if you know anything about me,
you know that I live in danger of having
my life taken at any moment.”

“I know all about it,” rejoined the
stranger, “and it is because I have heard
your life menaced, that I am here to-night,
to put you on your guard.”

“Indeed, sir!—then I am very much
indebted to you,” replied Butterman, cordially.
“Here, sit on this stool, and I
will strike a light.”

“No, better that our conference be in
darkness; and then, if enemies are about,
they will not be so likely to be put on
their guard.”

“Proceed, then, and let me know in
what manner my life is threatened.”

“I suppose,” said the stranger, “you
are aware there is a band of horse-thieves
in this vicinity?”

“Yes, I am aware there is set of scoundrels,
who live by plundering honest
people in every way they can. They
have annoyed me not a little, in stealing
two excellent horses, and poisoning as
good a yoke of cattle as ever drew a plow
through fallow; and I've sworn a solemn

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[figure description] Page 050.[end figure description]

oath, to either destory their league, or
lose my own life in the attempt.”

“They already know of your intentions;
and in return, they have decided
to put you out of the way,” rejoined the

“I do not doubt it, sir, in the least,”
said Butterman; “for it is perfectly natural
they should not like me any too well,
seeing as how I am at the head of a large
party, already banding together for their
extinction. But how, if I may inquire,
came you to know that they have decided
on taking my life?”

“Because I overheard a plan to that
effect this very night.”

“Indeed! and in what way are they
to effect their diabolical object?”

“By poisoning your spring.”

“So, so! and when is this to be

“It may be done to-night, and it may
not be done till to-morrow night; but rest
assured it will be done ere long.”

“Oh, I should like to be present, and
send a ball through the cursed head of
the fiend who attempts it!” rejoined
Butterman through his shut teeth.

“Watch your spring, then, and an opportunity
will soon be presented to you,
to take vengeance on one of the villains
that belong to the League.”

“But, pardon me, if I inquire how you
came to overhear this devilish design, and
where the conversation was held?”

“That I cannot tell you to-night,” replied
the other; “but if you will tell me
where the party of which you are at the
head is to meet next, and also the time, I
will endeavor to be present, and give you
such information as may lead to the surprisal
and overthrow of the whole band.”

“But you must recollect,” replied
Butterman, after a slight pause, “that
you are a stranger to me; and as you
refuse me your confidence, I am in duty
bound to refuse you mine, seeing I have-no
evidence that you are not a spy—pardon
the word!—sent here from the outlaws
themselves, to find out all about our
proceedings, so as to be able to take us
at an advantage.”

“Well, sir,” replied the other, coldly,
“if you don't choose to believe I came
here as a friend, and not as a dastardly
spy, there is certainly no harm done, and
I have the honor to wish you a very good

“Stay!” said Butterman, as the other
placed his hand upon the door to draw
back the bolts. “I see you are offended,
sir, and I am sorry for it; but just place
yourself in my position, take everything
into consideration, and then say if you
would be willing to tell everything to a
stranger whose face you had never seen.
True, you may say you came here as a
friend, to warn me against danger; and
the very fact of your so doing should be
proof sufficient that you mean me well;
but how am I to know that you came here
for such a purpose, unless you give me
other evidence than what you so far have
done? The story you have told me about
the design to poison my spring, may have
been invented to cloak a sinister design
in reality; and without other proof than
you have given to the contrary, I ask
you, candidly, if placed in my situation,
you would not do exactly as I have

“Frankly, then,” replied the other,
“I think I should; but notwithstanding,
I can give you no farther evidence of my
sincerity to-night; and so, if you do not
tell me where and when your next meeting
is to be held, I cannot be there to
give you the important information of
which I spoke.”

“You will tell me nothing to-night,

“No, I am pledged not to do so.”

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“Well, let me see! let me see!” said
the other, musingly. “It must be
managed in some way or other. Ah,
methinks I have it! Could you call here
to-morrow night, just at sundown?”

“I know of nothing to the contrary.”

“Well, do so, and you will find me
leaning against the north-east corner of
the house; you will approach me, and
say, `Poison does not always produce
death;' and then I shall know that you
are the same person, and I will then give
you my confidence more freely.”

“Be it so, then,” replied the stranger,
as he proceeded to unbolt the door.
“Meantime, Mr. Butterman, keep your
eye upon the spring; and if you see a
large, brawny, villainous-looking man
approach and throw something into it,
fear not to let him have the contents
of your rifle. Adieu, until to-morrow
night;” and opening the door as he
spoke, the stranger issued forth; and,
after looking cautiously around him, he
retraced his steps to his horse, mounted
him, and rode away, leaving Butterman
to ponder upon his mysterious warning.

And Butterman did ponder upon it,
seriously, for something like half an hour,
during which time he busied himself in
striking a light, dressing himself, and repriming
his rifle. Then he stepped close
to the bed, from which he had risen, and
called his wife by name. Three times
he spoke to her; but getting no reply,
he took hold of and shook her; and as
she aroused from a deep sleep, he said:

“Betsey, I am going out to watch by
the spring, and I want you to get up and
fasten the house.”

“Why, Hiram, what has occurred,
that you are going out this time of

Butterman proceeded, in a brief manner,
to explain, how a stranger had called
and warned him that an attempt would
soon be made to poison the spring whence
they procured their water, and that he
was going to ensconce himself in the
thicket, and be ready with his rifle to
shoot down the poisoner.

“But it may all be a trick to get you
out,” replied the other, “so that the villains
can murder you.”

“It may be,” was the reply; “but
you know, Betsey, that I am afraid of
nothing human; and if any one attempts
foul play with me, they perhaps will
come off second best.”

“But I am afraid to have you go,

“Pshaw, wife! give yourself no uneasiness.
Come, get up and fasten the
door, for to go I am resolved;” and
without waiting for, or heeding the entreating
reply of his wife, Butterman
turned away, and advancing to the door,
opened it, and went out.

Then taking the path that led to the
spring, he approached it cau'iously, and
in a few moments he was safely coneealed
in the covert of the bushes.

Mrs. Butterman followed him as far as
the door, where she waited till she saw
him disappear in the thicket; then closing
and bolting it, she returned to her bed;
but it was more than an hour before her
eyes again grew heavy with slumber.

At length, just as she was settling into
that dreamy state between sleeping and
waking, she was startled by the sharp
crack of a rifle; and bounding from the
bed, she rushed to the window and threw
it up The view was toward the spring;
and looking in that direction, she had
barely time to catch an indistinct glimpse
of two figures darting across the clearing
in the direction of the nearest wood, the
one apparently in pursuit of the other,
ere both disappeared behind a gentle
swell of land. She uttered a loud cry,

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and called the name of her husband;
but no answer was returned; and she
saw the figures no more; for the swell of
land hid them from her sight till they
became buried in the wood. With such
feelings of a wife and mother as can
better be imagined than described, she
closed the window, and, throwing herself,
half dead with fear and dread, upon a
seat, burst into tears.

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