“’Mistress has gone clean ‘stracted,’ began the African, ’because young Miss Caroline—’
“‘What of her?—speak out, in the fiend’s name!’ exclaimed Captain Edwards, evincing much greater emotion than he had hitherto betrayed.
“‘You stop me, sir; I must tell my story in my own way,’ replied Pompey.
“‘Proceed with it, then, with a murrain to you,’ said Lieutenant Brown, impatiently, ’or, by heaven, I’ll beat it out of you with the flat of my sword.’ “‘Well, then,’ cried the negro, angrily, ’the tory Captain Lewis came to our house last night with some sodgers, and carried off Miss Caroline.’
“‘The unhung villain!’ muttered Captain Edwards, from between his clenched teeth; and then, compelling himself to speak more calmly, he said, ’Brown, my dear fellow, return directly to the camp, and meet me at Stophel’s tavern, with Sergeant Watkins and a dozen trusty soldiers. The scoundrel cannot escape me—I know every tory haunt between here and the Hudson; I must go to the house, and console the afflicted Mrs. Williams.’
“The subaltern struck his spurs into the flank of his steed, and hastened to execute the orders of his superior. The captain rode up the lane, and having reached the house, threw his bridle to a servant, and entered without ceremony. As he had anticipated, he found Mrs. Williams in an indescribable state of grief; her health was delicate, and this unexpected calamity had prostrated her. After offering a few encouraging words, which produced but a very slight effect, he remounted his horse and rode to the place of rendezvous. Here he met Lieutenant Brown, a sergeant, corporal, and ten privates, all finely armed and equipped, and prepared to brave any danger and incur any hazard, in the service of a commander in whom they had the most unbounded confidence. He instantly placed himself at their head, and proceeded on his expedition.
“It was now dark. Their road lay along the margin of a small stream, bounded on the one side by half cultivated fields, and on the other by a thick gloomy forest, in which the death-like stillness of its dark bosom was only broken by the occasional howl of wild beasts.
“After pursuing their course for some distance along the bank of this rivulet, now traversing the ground on its very margin, and then again carried by the windings of the path miles from the stream, they came to a sharp angle in the road, on turning which, the captain, being a short distance in advance of his troops, discovered a figure slightly defined, but yet bearing some resemblance to the human species, stealing along the side of the path, apparently wishing to avoid observation.
“Striking his spurs into his horse, and drawing his sword at the same time, the captain had the person completely in his power before the other had time to offer either flight or resistance.
“‘For whom are you?’ was demanded by Captain Edwards, in no gentle accents.