The mob took a fancy to that new cry of Mary Cavendish’s, and every now and then the field rang with it. “Remember Nathaniel Bacon, remember Nathaniel Bacon!” It had a curious effect, through starting in a distant quarter, where some of the fiercest of the workers were grouped, then coming nearer and nearer, till the whole field rang with that wide overspread of human voice, above the juicy slashing of the tobacco plants.
We had been at work some little time when a tall woman in black on a black horse came up at a steady amble, her horse being old. She dismounted near me and her horse went to nibbling the low-hanging boughs of a locust nearby, and the moon shone full on her face, and I saw she was the Widow Tabitha Story, with that curious patch on her forehead. Down to the tobacco she bent and went to work stiffly with unaccustomed hands to such work, and then again rang that cry of “Remember Nathaniel Bacon!” And when she heard that, up she reared herself, and raised such a shrill response of “Remember Nathaniel Bacon!” in a high-sobbing voice, as I never heard.
And after that for a minute the field seemed to fairly howl with that cry of following, and memory for the dead hero, always Madam Tabitha Story’s voice in the lead, shrieking over it like a cat’s.
“Lord, have mercy on us,” said Parson Downs at my elbow. “She will have all England upon us, and wherefore could not the women have kept out of this stew?”
With that he went over to the widow and strove to quiet her, but she only shrieked with more fury, with Mistresses Longman and Allgood to aid her, and then—came in a mad rush upon us of horse and foot, the militia, under Capt. Robert Waller.
I have seen the same effect when a stone was thrown into a boil of river-rapids; an enhancement and marvellous entanglement of swiftness and fury, and spread of broken circles, which confused the sight at the time and the memory afterwards.
It was but a small body of horse and foot, which charged us whilst we were cutting the tobacco on the plantation of Laurel Creek, but it needed not a large one to put to rout a company so overbalanced by enthusiasm, and cider, and that marvellous greed of destruction. No more than seven gentlemen of us there were to make a stand, and not more than some twenty-five of the rabble to be depended upon.
As for me, the principal thought in my mind when the militia burst upon us, was the safety of Mary Cavendish. Straight to the door of the great house I rushed, and Sir Humphrey Hyde was with me. As for the other gentlemen, they were fighting here and there as they could, Captain Jaynes making efforts to keep the main body of the defenders at his back, but with little avail. I stood against the door of the house, resolved upon but one course—that my dead body should be the threshold over which they crossed to Mary Cavendish. It was but a pitiful