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the Washington and Baltimore Battalion vious occasion there had occurred some (then commanded by the brave Colonel unpleasantness between the two, Reid Wm. H. Watson), and Sam C. Reid, a having censured Thomas for washing young lawyer from New Orleans, who his horse close to a spring, and, perhaps, had been adjutant of a Louisiana regi- the remembrance of it added to the bitment which had been disbanded as three terness of his sensitive feelings. months' men.
The next morning, the 16th, to the The daring and hazardous scouts surprise of Reid, he received a perempthrough the wild portions of Mexico to tory challenge, excluding any demand various towns in the interior, to obtain for an explanation or apology, which information of the enemy, as well as of the bearer stated would not be received. the roads and the country; the occa- Under these circumstances, the challenge sional skirmishes with detachments of was at once accepted, and the weapons the Mexican cavalry; and the common chosen were double-barreled shot-guns, risk of picket-guard duty, had woven loaded with buck and ball, at twenty ties of the strongest friendship among paces; the time and place to be left with McCulloch's men.
the seconds. An injunction of secrecy Young Thomas was not over twenty- was agreed upon to prevent any interfive, of medium stature and dark com- ference or arrest, and for this purpose plexion. He was of a daring and reck- the principals were not to involve any less nature, which he had exhibited on of the members of the company to act more than one occasion by risking his as seconds. life unnecessarily. Indeed, he seemed Reid was, perhaps, a year or two to court death. He was much dejected older than Thomas, and was of light at times, and wore a sad and melancholy complexion, tall, and well formed. He expression, which, it was whispered, had had been brought up in the school of been occasioned by an unfortunate love Southern chivalry, and was as magnanaffair. Whether this was true or not, imous as he was courageous. He had he was very retiring and reticent, and fought his first duel at New Orleans did not enter into the fun and jokes of with a noted duellist and bravo, whom the boys, although he and Reid seemed he wounded, the weapons being small much attached to each other.
swords. Besides, he naturally inherited On the morning of the 15th of Sep- the bravery of his father, who comtember, the whole army had arrived at manded the brig-of-war “General Armthe beautiful little town of Marin, situ- strong" at the memorable battle of Fayal, ated on a lovely plateau, and surrounded in 1814. Thus forced into a combat from on every side by wild mountain scenery which there was no receding, and which of unsurpassing grandeur, while far in could not be declined but with dishonor, the distant haze of the blue sky, rose young Reid had been compelled to acthe lofty peaks of the Sierra Madre. cept the challenge, however much he The main portion of the army had en- felt that there really was no cause for camped about two miles west of the demanding such a sacrifice. He had detown, near the head-waters of the San termined, therefore, to bring Thomas to Juan river, and about ten leagues from a sense of reason by compelling him to Monterey.
accept an explanation, or else to make That night Thomas and Reid were on the duel fatal to one or both the parties. picket duty with a detail of the Ran- Captain Randolph Ridgely, of Baltigers, when a heated discussion ensued as more, then commanding a battery of the to the advance position to be taken by United States Third Artillery, was one the guard. Some sharp retorts were of the noblest, coolest and bravest of made between the two friends, but men. He was known as the Chevalier nothing was thought of the matter at Bayard of the army, and was fairly the time, although the laugh of the boys worshipped by both men and officers. seemed very much to irritate Thomas, His opinion and decision in affairs of who was heard to remark: “There's a honor, no one dared dispute or question. way to settle such matters without fur. Reid accordingly rode over to Ridgely's ther words.” It appears that on pre- quarters, and entering his tent
pleasantly received, and invited to a will come alone, unattended, as I will camp-stool. Ridgely had been a class- bring a surgeon with me." mate of Reid's brother at West Point, With this understanding, Reid shook and was very friendly disposed. Reid hands with Ridgely, thanking him for then explained his situation, and the his kindness and friendship, and mountcircumstances which led to the challenge, ing his horse rode over to his camp to disclaiming any intention to offend make his final arrangements for the duel. Thomas, and asked Ridgely to become The sun went down behind the mounthis second.
ains, gilding their peaks with crimson, “I have done him no wrong," said melting into gold. Not long after, the Reid, “and never had the slightest idea Queen of Night was slowly ascending of wounding or insulting him. I would the silvery stairway of the sky to her willingly have made any explanation, throne in mid-ocean. The drums had beat, or even an apology for any imaginary and the bugles sounded, their tattoo, insult that he may have conceived was which, perhaps, 'was to be the last that intended. What has spurred him on to would ever again be heard by the two this rash vindictiveness I am at a loss to young men who were so soon to meet in know. But it is now too late, and as deadly combat. Save the sentinels, the he has determined to force me into a camp had become hushed in slumber, and fight, it cannot be avoided—yet I do not not a sound was heard except an occawant to take his life.”
sional challenge by the guards. As the After listening to Reid's statement, time drew nigh, Reid mounted his horse, Ridgely seemed lost in thought for sev- and having obtained the countersign, eral moments; then, as if he had sud- passed out of the lines to the river San denly arrived at some conclusion, said: Juan. Crossing at the ford, and taking
“Well, Reid, to be frank with you, I up the bank, he soon came to the desigwill tell you that Herman Thomas was nated clump of mesquite trees, where he here not half an hour ago, and I have was challenged by Ridgely, the party agreed to act as his second. He is from having already arrived. Dismounting, my town, and is highly connected, and, and hitching his horse to a tree, Reid of course, I could not refuse him. Al- advanced and saluted the party. though he is somewhat rash, he is really Ridgely then, addressing the combata good-hearted, gallant fellow, but he is ants, said: fully impressed that he has been out- “Gentlemen, as you are both friends raged and grossly insulted by you in of mine, I have consented to act on this presence of the picket guard."
occasion as the arbiter between you in “I am very sorry I did not see you this duel, upon the only condition that first,” said Reid, as he slowly rose to each of you will now pledge your sacred leave Ridgely's tent to seek some other honor to obey my commands implicitly, friend.
and be governed by the terms and order “Sit down, Reid," said Ridgely, “and of the duel, which I will explain after I will tell tell you what I 'll do. As I you are placed in position. Will you know you both so well, if you will con- make this solemn pledge and abide by it?" sent, I will act as second for you both!" Both men firmly responded, “I will."
"I am perfectly willing," replied Reid, The ground was then stepped off by brightening up, "to put my life and Ridgely, and the choice of positions was honor in your hands."
won by Thomas. The young men were “Very well,” said Ridgely; "the then stationed, their loaded weapons esmoon will be well up by nine o'clock amined, and placed in their hands at a to-night, and half a mile up the river present-arms. from the ford, on the other side, is a The September moon, which was near clump of mesquite trees, which Thomas its full and already high up in the hearhas already mentioned as a secluded ens, shed its silver sheen upon the scene, spot. We will meet you there at that lighting up the dark chaparral bushes, time, if you do not object to the place, and the limpid waters of the San Juan, and I will send for Thomas at once and as it murmured along its winding banks inform him of the arrangement. You and seemed to chide the murderous in
tent of the men; while the peaks of the well as their courage. Both of the young surrounding mountains looming up in the men appeared as if every nerve distance, looked down as silent witnesses stretched to its utmost tension. But there of the coming combat. The shimmering was no pallor seen; no quiver of the facial moonlight fell upon the forms of the two muscles could be observed.
Each one young Rangers as they stood in the atti- stood as firm and resolute as Roman gladtude of deadly intent, revealing every iators, waiting for the signal of conflict, feature and expression of their faces. The which was to result in the death of one long curly, light brown hair of Reid, or both. falling back from his forehead, with his The night was very still. The foliage large blue eyes fixed upon his adversary, of the trees was stirred by the faintest bore an expression of firmness and sad- breeze, and the slightest sound was painness, in which was seen no trace of a fully audible, as the rich, clear voice murderous revenge: while the handsome of Ridgely, in measured tones, gave the features of Thomas were rigid and deter- solemn words of command. mined, and a wild brilliancy flashed from Gentlemen, are you ready?" his dark hazel eyes. Both appeared per- “Ready," was the response of both. fectly cool and self possessed.
Shoulder - arms : Present - arms : Ridgely now approached, taking a posi- Aim!" tion midway between the two, with a The air seemed stifled with breathless six-shooter in his hand, while the surgeon suspense, for on the next order hung the stood off at a proper distance.
lives of the two adversaries. "Gentlemen," said Ridgely, “ you will “ Recover-arms :" continued Ridgely; come to an order-arms, and pay particu- Shoulder-arms : Advance ten paces : lar attention to the instructions I now Forward-march !" give. You will first be asked, if you are This unexpected order, to the surprise ready? The order will then be given you, of both, brought the two Rangers face to as you now stand, to shoulder-arms. face. Next, to present-arms. Then, aim, fol- Order-arms,” cried Ridgely, aplowed by the word, fire. If after the first proaching the young men. fire, neither should be mortally wounded, Gentlemen,” said he, “you have botlı a second fire may be demanded by either shown the highest courage, and proved party. But let me impress it upon you yourselves brave and gallant men, and I both, that after the word, aim, instead of declare the honor of both of you has been giving the word, fire, I may say, recover- fully maintained and vindicated. There
You will, therefore, keep your is no reason why this misunderstanding fingers well off the trigger, until you get should not now be amicably terminated.” the word, fire. The party deviating from Then, turning to Thomas, he these orders in any manner I shall shoot “Reid has declared that he never indown. Do you both clearly understand tended to offend you. Shake hands!” the instructions?"
This was a test of their magnanimous Each replied in a firm tone, “ Yes." manhood which required equal, if not
'Very well, then," continued Ridgely, more moral courage, perhaps, than the "I will now first put you through the risk of life. Each of the young men form, that there may be no mistake made. gradually raised his hand, as if in doubt
Gentlemen, are you ready?” the other would receive it, until they met Ready,” answered the combatants. in a fir
grasp. Shoulder-arms: Present arms: Aim: The party then rode back to Ridgely's Recover-arms · Order-arms,' the tent, where the now reconciled friends words of command given, and promptly were mutually congratulated on the hapobeyed.
py termination of a bloodless duel. "Now, gentlemen, you will prepare to Thus, by the chivalrous, brave and receive the final orders of command, and noble nature of Randolph Ridgely, who you will strictly observe the injunction, had so deservedly won the reputation of not to fire before you get the word.” being " sans peur, sans reproche,” two
The perilous moment of intense anxiety lives were saved that might have been had now arrived, that tried men's souls as otherwise wantonly sacrificed.
Poor Thomas afterwards gallantly fell terey, he was accidentally killed in the mortally wounded at the taking of the plaza of that city, after its surrender, by Bishop's Palace, at the battle of Mon- his horse falling with him while under terey, as brave a soldier as ever faced an
full gallop. enemy
Sam Reid," as he is familiarly called Randolph Ridgely, who graduated at by his friends, is still living, and in spite West Point, in 1837, was brevetted cap- of age, retains the same jovial, genial tain for distinguished services at the bat- reputation as a bon ami and accomplished tles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, gentleman which distinguished him in on the 8th and 9th of May, 1846. After his younger days, having attained an heroically serving his battery at Mon- eminent position in his legal profession.
“ AS THROUGH A GLASS.”
AM bed-ridden. The world, to my me, or as the light shifts when the day bodily eyes, is bounded by the four dies or when mists and rain hang a magic sides of a window sash, across which veil between them and me.
And yet I I have caused my bed to be placed. know, when I choose to know-but I The picture is limited in scope, perhaps, oftener prefer to ignore the fact—that this but the landscape is very lovely, and not lovely stretch of meadows is bounded on without human interest, too, for human three sides by this widespread old Dutch figures make their entrances and exits town; that it is only the three apple-trees now and then, with suggestions of their in my neighbor's back-yard that hide from little dramas, while there are always the sight the busy streets whose discords cattle browsing near or far, the birds fly- penetrate the leaves to my open window ing across, and the ceaseless cawing of the on warm days; that the pine woods whose crows. In the lower left-hand corner of depths seem to hide the secrets of the the pane a grass-grown lane winds into primeval forest are but a clump of trees sight, keeping an appearance of directness left standing just on the hither side of until it reaches, about midway up the the long rows of cheap cottages where glass, the bars that let into a field. On the city has pushed out a new street. I a little further is a stile, and from there know, too, that this municipal octopus the lane becomes a somewhat wayward will some day stretch its great feelers path straggling through several fields right across my picture, and where those and along by a rushing little brook, mild-eyed Alderneys are cropping the last which presently it crosses, and at length lingering tid-bits of second-growth clover, melts away, near the upper sash, into back-yards will plant the weekly linen a pine wood nearly a quarter of a mile and all the sordid details of poverty's away.
As the western sun slants over house-keeping. But why do I care? I my picture it seems a thousand miles shall not live to see it, for the goodly at least from the streets and the busy acres will hardly get into the clutches of ways of men. I lose myself every the real-estate agents before I have enday beneath the shadow of these mys- tered on the long rest, and meanwhile I am terious pines, and the faint line of hills grateful to the obstinate owner who has beyond are the Rocky Mountains, the so long preserved to me my landscape. Alps, or the blesed hills that bound A staunch old Dutch woman, with all the land of Beulah, as the mood seizes the obstinacy of tha’ inheritance, Madame Suydam always stoutly refused to sell lie by my window. Night and morning an inch of the farm of her forefathers. the farm-boy drives the cows down the Intact it came to her, and intact she lane, through the bars, and across by the would leave it, if the city taxes demand winding path to the pasture, and I follow half the yearly increase. The homestead him for a field, but I go on farther than I cannot see, because the wall of my house they. As the cows turn into the pasture and the bed-head inconveniently inter- lot, and the boy comes whistling home vene, but it is said to be a huge white- again, I keep on by the brown-eyed washed structure of limestone, in the brook, over the foot-bridge, and so on to North-River Dutch style. I like to fancy the edge of my pine trees where the faint it resembles its owner, with her square, afterglow of sun-down sets them in black sturdy back and white-capped head. I relief against the sky. Just there nestles wander with her every day as she tramps a tiny house, and as the lamp is lit I am back and forth across my picture about saved from the disappointment of losing her business, now to the hen-house, then its outlines in the gathering darkness. to the barns, and so back across the gar- All through the night, sometimes, I keep den to the kitchen door. Her face is broad vigil with the poor wife and mother who and dark, with a mild and even amiable sits by that light, sewing on little garexpression, but there is stamped upon herments and waiting for dreaded footsteps features--or is it in the eyes?-a look of that come stumbling home toward mornindomitable obstinacy such as one seldom ing. It is here that poor Annie Suydam encounters save in one of her race. The waits for the forgiveness and help that nation that has for centuries sat behind never come across the fields from the old its great dykes resisting the untiring whitewashed stone house. I can only siege of the ocean has absorbed into blood sigh out my sympathy, for the doors of and bone and muscle the birthmarks of the mother's heart and home that closed the ancestral struggle.
against her had each their lintels set in You might kill and burn a Hollander, stone, and nothing short of a batteringbut his stubbornness would remain in his ram could gain entrance for her through ashes, and I dare say, if scattered, they either. It would be difficult to say what would fly against the wind.
the poor girl could have done in her sad So it came about that when Madame plight, with thetwin babies on her hands, Suydam's only child disobeyed and de- if it were not for a sum of money suffified her by running away and marrying cient for the family necessities that was a rather ne'er-do-well dry-goods clerk, sent her every month through a Western the door of the maternal heart, as well as lawyer. Annie said it probably came the old divided oak with the brass knock- from an eccentric old uncle who lived er that did service for the maternal home, “out there somewhere." All this the banged shut against the young sinner, minister's wife told me, for I knew neither and no amount of persuasion from well- Madame Suydam nor her daughter. She meaning friends could open either en- also told me of a mysterious basket that trance. It was of no avail that the was left almost every week on the doorminister came and prayed with the old step, containing all sorts of comforts and lady to soften the hard heart, or that his luxuries: cakes and apples; once, when wife came year after year to plead the Annie was ill, a bottle of wine; little poor girl's sufferings as matters went garments for the twins and various dainfrom bad to worse. The husband lost his ties for the table. Of this donation there position and took to drinking, and the was no explanation, save it must be the wife had hard work to get food for the gift of a kind friend too delicate to offer two little mouths that now increased the openly what could be accepted thus withfamily needs; but still the old widowed out obligation. mother in her great empty house would One day in late autumn I lay drinknot yield an inch to the undutiful daugh- ing in the loveliness of the tremulous, ter. “She made her bed, let her lie on haze-covered landscape, and watching it; I told her how it would be.” That was Madame Suydam pick hops. The old all she would ever say.
white horse, guided by the farm-boy, This story is much in my mind as I was ploughing the garden. Presently