There was no need of this caution, for he presented a man whose presence made me feel that I was a very little girl and should have been at home. He was over six feet tall, well formed and strongly built, with black hair and eyes, a long face, and heavy black whiskers. He was handsomely dressed, and his manner that of a grave and reverend seignior. A Russian count in a New York drawing room, then, when counts were few, could not have seemed more foreign than this man in that village parlor, less than two miles from the place of his birth.
He was the son of the old revolutionary soldier, with the unpronouncable name, who lived in the beautiful valley. This I knew at once, but did not, for some time, realize that it was he who rescued us from the black waters on that dark night, carried us to safety and light, and left us again in darkness. This incident, so much to me, he never could distinguish among the many times he had “helped Olever and his seminary girls out of scrapes,” and he never spoke of these adventures without that same laugh which I noticed when Father Olever thanked him.
He had elected me as his wife some years before this evening, and had not kept it secret; had been assured his choice was presumptuous, but came and took possession of his prospective property with the air of a man who understood his business. I next saw him on horseback, and this man of giant strength in full suit of black, riding a large spirited black horse, became my “black knight.”
My sister hated him, and my mother doubted him, or rather doubted the propriety of my receiving visits from him. His family were the leading Methodists of the township; his father had donated land and built a meeting-house, which took his name, and his house was the headquarters of traveling preachers. There was a camp-meeting ground on the farm; his mother “lived without sin,” prayed aloud and shouted in meeting, while the income and energy of the family were expended in propagating a faith which we believed false. A marriage with him would be incongruous and bring misery to both. These objections he overruled, by saying he was not a member of any church, would never interfere with my rights of conscience, would take or send me to my meeting when possible, and expect me to go sometimes with him. He proposed going up the Allegheny to establish saw-mills, and if I would go into the woods with him, there should be no trouble about religion. So there seemed no valid objection, and two years after our introduction we were married, on the 18th of November, 1836.
Then all was changed. I offended him the day after by shedding tears when I left home to go for a visit to his father’s house, and his sister had told him that I cried while dressing to be married. These offenses he never forgave, and concluded that since I cared so little for him, he would not leave his friends and go up the Allegheny with me. His services were indispensable at home, since his brother Samuel had gone into business for himself, and the next brother William was not seventeen, and could not take charge of the farm and mills. His mother was ready to take me into the family,—although the house was not large enough to accommodate us comfortably—the old shop in the yard could be fitted up for a school-room. I could teach and he could manage the estate.