Графични страници
PDF файл

only escaped that fate by stratagem. These considerations, with the approaching footsteps of his pursuers, roused him to new exertions; and he fled again before them.

11. A fragment of a wall, that had withstood the ravages made by war in the adjoining fences of wood, fortunately crossed his path. He hardly had time to throw his exhausted limbs over this barrier, before twenty of his enemies reached its opposite side. Their horses refused to take the leap in the dark, and amid the confusion of the rearing chargers and the execrations of their riders, Birch was enabled to gain a sight of the base of the hill on whose summit was a place of perfect security against the approach of any foe.

12. The heart of the peddler now beat high with hope, when the voice of Captain Lawton again rang in his ears, shouting to his men to give him room. The order was obeyed, and the fearless trooper rode at the wall at the top of his horse's speed, plunged the rowels in his charger, and flew over the obstacle like lightning, and in safety. The triumphant hurrahs of the men, and the thundering tread of the horse, too plainly assured the peddler of the emergency of his danger. He was nearly exhausted, and his fate no longer seemed doubtful.

13. "Stop, or die!" was uttered above his head, in fearful proximity to his ears.

Harvey stole a glance over his shoulder, and saw, within a bound of him, the man he most dreaded. By the light of the stars he beheld the uplifted arm and the threatening saber. Fear, exhaustion, and despair seized on his heart, and the intended victim suddenly fell at the feet of the dragoon. The horse of Lawton struck the prostrate peddler, and both steed and rider came violently to the earth. 14. As quick as thought Birch was on his feet again,

[graphic][merged small]

and with the sword of the discomfited dragoon in his hand. Vengeance seems but too natural to human passions. There are few who have not felt the seductive pleasure of making our injuries recoil on their authors; and yet there are some who know how much sweeter it is to return good for evil. All the wrongs of the peddler shone on his brain with a dazzling brightness. For a moment the demon within him prevailed, and Birch brandished the powerful weapon in the air; in the next, it fell harmless on the reviving but helpless trooper; and the peddler vanished up the side of the friendly rock.


15. "Help Captain Lawton there!" cried Mason, as he rode up, followed by a dozen of his men; and some of you dismount with me, and search these rocks; the villain lies here concealed."

"Hold!" roared the discomfited Captain, raising himself with difficulty to his feet; "if one of you dismounts, he dies; Tom, my good fellow, you will help me to straddle Roanoke again."

16. The astonished subaltern complied in silence, while the wondering dragoons remained as fixed in their saddles as if they composed part of the animals they rode.

"You are much hurt, I fear," said Mason, with something of condolence in his manner, as they re-entered the highway.

"Something so, I do believe," replied the Captain, catching his breath, and speaking with difficulty; "I wish our bone-setter was at hand to examine into the state of my ribs."

"Captain Lawton," said the orderly of his troop, riding to the side of his commanding officer, "we are now passing the house of the peddler spy; is it your pleasure that we burn it?"

"No!" roared the Captain, in a voice that startled the disappointed Sergeant; "are you an incendiary? would you burn the house in cold blood? Let a spark approach it, and the hand that carries it will never light another."

"There is life in the Captain, notwithstanding his tumble," exclaimed the sleepy cornet in the rear, as he was nodding on his horse. JAMES FENIMORE COOPER.

James Fenimore Cooper was born at Burlington, N. J., September 15, 1789. As a lad he studied for three years at Yale College, and then entered the navy, but resigned at the time of his marriage in 1811. He settled at Mamaroneck, Westchester County, N. Y., and in that neighborhood is laid the scene of "The Spy," the story from which our Lesson is taken. Harvey Birch, a peddler and the hero of the tale, is a spy in the service of Washington, but so well is this secret guarded that the truth is not revealed until after his death. In the meanwhile he is hated and hunted by both Americans and British. The story bristles with adventure, is written in graphic style, and perhaps more than any other of his many books made Cooper's reputation. Cooper died September 14, 1851.

Give synonyms for "detachment " (1); "conference" (1); "termination" (3); "shroud" (4); obscurity" (4); “ engrossed" (5); "incredible" (7); "ravages" (11); "complied" (16).

[ocr errors]


2. ma tūre'; a. perfect.

6. měl'low ing; v. softening. 2. be nig′ nĩ tỷ; n. goodness. 9. trăŋ'quil; a. peaceful.

The Last of the Signers.

1. Come to the window, old man! Come, and look your last upon this beautiful earth! The day is dying— the year is dying-you are dying; so light, and leaf, and life mingle in one common death, as they shall mingle in one resurrection.

2. Clad in a dark morning gown, that revealed the outline of his tall form, now bent with age once so beautiful

« ПредишнаНапред »