Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

writing and sending the above note to Sir William Gwynne ; for his terrified domestics found him that morning lying in the paved yard behind his house, horribly crushed and mangled. He had thrown himself, head foremost, out of the highest window !

*

非 *

The scene must once more shift to America. In the large room of an inn in New York, one Saturday evening in February, 1769, was collected together the usual miscellaneous assemblage of sailors, small tradesmen, and others fond of “noisy song and stirring draught.” It differed little from a crowded English taproom. Liquor circulated freely, and conversation, if such name it deserved, was brisk and boisterous. There were several recently arrived British sailors in the room, who about eight o'clock left to return to their respective vessels, leaving behind them two of their passengers. These men seemed silent and reserved, even beyond the proverbial taciturnity of Englishmen; and for upward of an hour had dřunk their liquor in quiet, without exchanging a syllable with any one about them. They continued drinking, however, till liquor opened the sluices of speech-at least of one-who took the opportunity of the other's temporary absence to inform a listening coterie that had gradually collected about the bench on which he sat, of the reason for his visiting America. This prudent person was no other than he who was first brought before the eye of the reader-Richard Forster, who had, during the seven or eight years which had elapsed, been elevated to the dignily of constable; and he told his gaping auditors that his and his companion's errand to America, in company with a 'torney and his clerk, was to discover a kidnapped Englishman of the name of Fowler!

“ I suppose there isn't any one here that knows Bill Fowler, or where he may be found ?" inquired the garrulous and foolish Englishman, whose simple intellects were getting more and more disturbed with what he was drinking. He repeated his question.

“Oh, you

"Hold your tongue, you idiot!" growled his comipanion, that moment returning, and resuming his seat by Forster ; " hold your tongue, you fool !” and his brother constable pinched him cruelly by the arm. Forster's question was answered in the negative by those around, who began to ask questions in their turn.

“Does any of you—” “St! st!" whispered his scowling companion, kicking Forster's shins under the table. But his tongue had been set going, and could not easily be stopped.

“Does any one know a fellow of the name of of-of-Le-Le-hang me, I've forgotten the name! What is it, Dobbes ?" he hiccoughed to his companion, who was smoking his pipe with prodigious energy.

fool! Don't speak to me. You de serve your tongue cut out of your head! Gentlemen," he continued, addressing those around,“ all that this silly chap has said is blather-mere moonshine. He's drunk! We have but come to America to-day, and for the purpose of settling in this town if we can." But his auditors' curiosity was excited, and could not be so easily allayed. One of them was-Francis Leroux himself; and the consternation with which he listened to the gabble of the English stranger may be imagined. He had only that afternoon come up to New-York to see whether there were any long-expected letters for him from England ; for his own letter had been long unanswered, and he was getting furious, and bent on mischief. He was too practised a villain to lose his presence of mind in such an emergency as that in which he now suddenly found himself placed. Drinking a little deeper from the glass that stood before him, he mingled with the throng around Forster, and with as indifferent a tone as he could assume, inquired, Why, what does your government intend to do with the knave ?" “ It has sent out us four gentlemen to seek these two men, Bill Fowler (who, would you believe it, is an old friend of mine) and

Le-Le-Le--what's his name?-back to England, The whole thing is discovered! 'Tis all known! This Bill Fowler is worth-"

“ Now, I'll tell thee what, thou exceeding ass !” exclaimed his companion, a huge fellow, flinging down his pipe, “if thou sayst one word more, I'll take thee into the street, and put my fist upon thee till thou art beaten sober again. Come away, you rascal !” and Dick was dragged out of the room, amid the jokes and laughter of the whole assemblage.

Neither joke nor laugh, however, fell from the quivering lip of Leroux. He presently left the inn, and made for the post where he had tied up his nag,

which he saddled, mounted, and rode at a smart pace out of the town, desirous of reaching his and Richard Fowler's residence as quickly as his horse would carry him. Two schemes suggested themselves to his busy thought as he rode along. The one was to make drunk, and then murder Fowler that very night, and then start for South America. The other to conceal him, by getting him to undertake a journey far inland, and keeping him there on one pretext of business or another, till * Leroux could make terms for himself by turning king's evidence and betraying his employers.

“ I know well how to dispose of him," thought Leroux, as he rode slowly up a hill to ease his nag ; “and yet not have to charge myself with his murder. Poor Fowler! He is a harmless fellow, too-and what harm has he ever done me? But I've done too much against him already to stop now! Besides, Sir William Gwynne's last letter-and I've sworn to obey him! So, let me see how it might be done. Suppose I wait till to-morrow evening, and then ask Fowler quietly to drink with me at my little place in the Lake field. He is easy and simple, especially in the matter of drink, which I can make him swill till he knows not whether head or heels are uppermost. Then I will part with him; and to return home he must pass the Dorlbad, which is a rotten and dangerous bridge,

scarcely passable by daytime, and while sober-and there is a rushing stream underneath, with a thirty feet fall! Suppose I send him out, then, reeling, and nearly blind drunk--and shake hands with him at parting, telling him to take care of himself—(Lord, there can't be murder if I say that !) Well-he comes to the bridge-he staggers-his foot—his foot-his foot slips -I watch him from a distance-do not see him, there is a faint crash—and I am off that night for South—”.

Leroux's horse had been standing still, while these fearful thoughts passed through the head of its rider, who suddenly heard the clatter of horses' hoofs approaching from behind, at a smart pace; and, turning round his head, he found a small party of horsemen approaching him. He was a little surprised at this, for the road was lonely and unfrequented; but surprise gave way to a very different feeling, when, on being overtaken, one of the party stopped his horse beside him, and--another snatching hold of his bridle-seized him with the grasp of a Hercules by the collar, and in a rough English voice, said, “ Isaac Isaacs-thou art my man; and, dead or alive, I will have thee in England before thou art two month's older. I say,” he continued, tightening his vicelike hold; “hast forgotten what an English bulldog is, Isaac ?"

Confounded, as he well might be, with the suddenness of the seizure, and more so at hearing his real name spoken, the first time for many years, Isaacs, who was a very muscular man, swung his assailant nearly off his horse with a sudden jerk of his arm. tols were instantly levelled at his head.

“ Dost see what are before thee ?" inquired the man who had seized him, and still kept his hold. “They will teach thee reason !" "Why--are you Englishmen ?" growled Isaacs; "and is this the way—"

Ay, we are English--and stout men, too !" replied the brawny constable ; "and to show thee what stuff we are made of - if thou hast English blood enough left in thee to relish a round at bruising, (thou

Two pis

[ocr errors]

art a big fellow,) and wilt dismount, I will make thee swear a horse kicked thee, Isaacs !” shaking his huge fist at his prisoner. “Come! art for a turn ?". likely thing!” muttered Isaacs, without stirring a muscle.

“So ! thou wilt not fight un, eh? Well-to be sure thou hast lived in America, and forgotten our English ways. But we shall teach thee them, Master Isaacs !" he continued—and observing his prisoner with his hand in his bosom, trying to unclasp a knife, he aimed such a tremendous blow at the side of his head, that his prisoner would have fallen from his horse, had he not still been held by the left hand of the constable. Isaacs was completely stunned; and before he could recover himself, his arms were tied tightly together behind his back, and the rope passed once round his neck, in such a way, that if he struggled at all, he would find himself nearly choked.

“ Now look, Isaacs,” said the constable, standing over his slowly recovering prisoner, “I have often seen thy ugly face in Shropshire, and knew the sort of trade thou didst carry on, though mayhap thou knewest naught of me. I heard thee ask Dick Forster here, them questions at the inn! I saw thy face go white as a new-washed shirt! And now, to be short, having thus quietly taken thee, we will as quietly keep thee! Isaacs, an thou art for leaving America alive, do thou harken to me, and tell me where Bill Fowler is, or we'll hang thy great carcass on the first tree we come to ; which is the English way of doing things in America.

“Where is your warrant for all this?" growled Isaacs. “Here!" said the Englishman, taking a pistol out of his coat pocket; “sure this will be enough for thee! Isaacs, we be charged to bring home thee and Sir William Fowler Gwynne, by, fair means or foul, and we will, Isaacs !"

“ Well— let me know one thing. If I should show you where he is, safe and sound—will you release

« AnteriorContinuar »