The Maid-At-Arms eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about The Maid-At-Arms.

“Is aught amiss?” she asked, under her breath.

I turned and slowly traversed the upper hallway to her chamber door, she walking beside me in silence, striving to read my face.

“Let your maids disarm you,” I whispered; “then dress and tap at my door.  I shall be waiting.”

“Tell me now, cousin.”

“No; dress first.”

“It will take too long to do my hair.  Oh, tell me!  You have frightened me.”

“It is nothing to frighten you,” I said.  “Put off your armor and come to my door.  Will you promise?”

“Ye-es,” she faltered; and I turned and hastened to my own chamber, to prepare for the business which lay before me.

I dressed rapidly, my thoughts in a whirl; but I had scarcely slung powder-horn and pouch, and belted in my hunting-shirt, when there came a rapping at the door, and I opened it and stepped out into the dim hallway.

At sight of me she understood, and turned quite white, standing there in her boudoir-robe of China silk, her heavy, burnished hair in two loose braids to her waist.

In silence I lifted her listless hands and kissed the fingers, then the cold wrists and palms.  And I saw the faint circlet of the ghost-ring on her bridal finger, and touched it with my lips.

Then, as I stepped past her, she gave a low cry, hiding her face in her hands, and leaned back against the wall, quivering from head to foot.

“Don’t go!” she sobbed.  “Don’t go—­don’t go!”

And because I durst not, for her own sake, turn or listen, I reeled on, seeing nothing, her faint cry ringing in my ears, until darkness and a cold wind struck me in the face, and I saw horses waiting, black in the starlight, and the gigantic form of a man at their heads, fringed cape blowing in the wind.

“All ready?” I gasped.

“All is ready and the night fine!  We ride by Broadalbin, I think....  Whoa! back up! you long-eared ass!  D’ye think to smell a Mohawk?...  Or is it your comrades on the picket-rope that bedevil you?...  Look at the troop-horses, sir, all a-rolling on their backs in the sand, four hoofs waving in the air.  It’s easier on yon sentry than when they’re all a-squealin’ and a-bitin’—­This way, sir.  We swing by the bush and pick up the Iroquois trail ’twixt the Hollow and Mayfield.”

XIV

ON DUTY

As we galloped into Broadalbin Bush a house on our right loomed up black and silent, and I saw shutters and doors swinging wide open, and the stars shining through.  There was something sinister in this stark and tenantless homestead, whose void casements stared, like empty eye-sockets.

“They have gone to the Middle Fort—­all of them except the Stoners,” said Mount, pushing his horse up beside mine.  “Look, sir!  See what this red terror has already done to make a wilderness of County Try on—­and not a blow struck yet!”

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The Maid-At-Arms from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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