Tales of the Chesapeake eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 252 pages of information about Tales of the Chesapeake.

“The old sign faded out.  The clock-maker’s sight grew dim, but his apprehensions of the everlasting love and occupation were clearer and more confident to the end.

“One day they found him in the graveyard of the London Tract, by the side of the spot where his wife was interred, worn and asleep at the ripe age of three-score.

“The mill teams and the farm wagons stopped in the road, and the country folks gathered round in silence.

“‘Run down at last,’ said one.  ’If there are heavenly harps and bells, he hears them now!’”

And there they hear the ticking, the preaching of this faithful life, under the old stone, sending up its pleasant message yet.  The stone is perishing like a broken crystal, but the memory of the diligent and useful man beneath it rings amongst the holy harmonies of the country.  Though dead, he yet speaketh!

THE IMP IN NANJEMOY.

    Dull in the night, when the camps were still,
    Thumped two nags over Good Hope Hill;
    The white deserter, the passing spy,
    Took to the brush as the pair went by;
    The army mule gave over the chase;
    The Catholic negro, hearing the pace,
    Said, as they splashed through Oxon Run: 
    “Dey ride like de soldiers who speared God’s Son!”
    But when Good Friday’s bells behind
    Died in the capital on the wind,
    He who rode foremost paused to say: 
      “Herold, spur up to my side, scared boy! 
    A word has rung in my ears all day—­
      Merely a jingle, ‘Nanjemoy.’”

    “Ha!” said Herold, “John, why that’s
    A little old creek on the river.  Surratt’s
    Lies just before us.  You halt on the green
    While I slip in the tavern and get your carbine!”
    The outlaw drank of the whiskey deep,
    Which the tipsy landlord, half asleep,
    Brought to his side, and his broken foot
    He raised from the stirrup and slashed the boot. 
    “Lloyd,” he cried, “if some news you invite—­
    Old Seward was stabbed in his bed to-night. 
    Lincoln I shot—­that long-lived fox—­
    As he looked at the play from the theatre box;
    And it seemed to me that the sound I heard,
      As the audience fluttered, like ducks round decoy,
    Was only the buzz of a musical word
      That I cannot get rid of—­’Nanjemoy.’”

    “Twenty miles we must ride before day,
    Cross Mattawoman, Piscataway,
    If in the morn we would take to the woods
    In the swamp of Zekiah, at Doctor Mudd’s!”
    “Quaint are the names,” thought the outlaw then,
    “Though much I have mingled with Maryland men! 
    I have fever, I think, or my mind’s o’erthrown. 
    Though scraped is the flesh by this broken bone,
    Every jog that I take on this road so lonely,
      With thoughts, aye bloody, my mind to employ,
    I can but say, over and over, this only—­
      The drowsy, melodious ‘Nanjemoy.’”

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Project Gutenberg
Tales of the Chesapeake from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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