Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Public Domain Books

Chapter I: The Road to Richmond

This Book Is Inscribed
to the Memory Of
John Tyler Morgan
for Thirty Years
United States Senator
and Throughout the Course
of a Long Life
a Good Man and a Patriot

The tobacco-roller and his son pitched their camp beneath a gum tree upon the edge of the wood. It was October, and the gum was the colour of blood. Behind it rolled the autumn forest; before it stretched a level of broom-sedge, bright ochre in the light of the setting sun. The road ran across this golden plain, and disappeared in a league-deep wood of pine. From an invisible clearing came a cawing of crows. The sky was cloudless, and the evening wind had not begun to blow. The small, shining leaves of the gum did not stir, and the flame of the camp-fire rose straight as a lance. The tobacco cask, transfixed by the trunk of a young oak and drawn by strong horses, had come to rest upon the turf by the roadside. Gideon Rand unharnessed the team, and from the platform built in the front of the cask took fodder for the horses, then tossed upon the grass a bag of meal, a piece of bacon, and a frying-pan. The boy collected the dry wood with which the earth was strewn, then struck flint and steel, guarded the spark within the tinder, fanned the flame, and with a sigh of satisfaction stood back from the leaping fire. His father tossed him a bucket, and with it swinging from his hand, he made through the wood towards a music of water. Goldenrod and farewell-summer and the red plumes of the sumach lined his path, while far overhead the hickories and maples reared a fretted, red-gold roof. Underfoot were moss and coloured leaves, and to the right and left the squirrels watched him with bright eyes. He found the stream where it rippled between banks of fern and mint. As he knelt to fill the pail, the red haw and the purple ironweed met above his head.

Below him was a little mirror-like pool, and it gave him back himself with such distinctness that, startled, he dropped the pail, and bending nearer, began to study the image in the water. Back in Albemarle, in his dead mother’s room, there hung a looking-glass, but it was cracked and blurred, and he seldom gazed within it. This chance mirror of the woods was more to the purpose. The moments slipped away while he studied the stranger and familiar in the pool below him. The image was not formed or coloured like young Narcissus, of whom he had never heard, but he observed it with interest. He was fourteen, and old for his years. The eyes reflected in the stream were brooding, the mouth had lost its boyish curves, the sanguine cheek was thin, the jaw settling square. His imagination, slow to quicken, had, when aroused, quite a wizard might. He sank deeper amid the ironweed, forgot his errand, and began to dream. He was the son of a tobacco-roller, untaught and unfriended, but he dreamed like a king. His imagination began to paint without hands images of power upon a blank and mighty wall, and it painted like a young Michael Angelo. It used the colours of immaturity, but it conceived with strength. “When I am a man–” he said aloud; and again, “When I am a man–” The eyes in the pool looked at him yearningly; the leaves from the golden hickories fell upon the water and hid him from himself. In the distance a fox barked, and Gideon Rand’s deep voice came rolling through the wood: “Lewis! Lewis!”

The boy dipped the pail, lifted it brimming, and rose from his knees. As he did so, a man parted the bushes on the far side of the stream, glanced at the mossed and slippery stones rising from its bed, then with a light and steady foot crossed to the boy’s side. He was a young man, wearing a fringed hunting-shirt and leggins and a coonskin cap, and carrying a long musket. Over his shoulder was slung a wild turkey, and at his heels came a hound. He smiled, showing very white teeth, and drew forward his bronze trophy.

“Supper,” he said briefly.

The boy nodded. “I heard your gun. I’ve made a fire yonder beneath a black gum. Adam Gaudylock, I am well-nigh a man!”

“So you be, so you be,” answered the other; “well-nigh a man.”

The boy beat the air with a branch of sumach. “I want to be a man! But I don’t want to be a tobacco-roller like my father, nor–”

“Nor a hunter like me,” the other finished placidly. “Be the Governor of Virginia, then, or come with me and make yourself King of the Mississippi! I’ve watched you, boy! You’re growing up ambitious, ambitious as What’s-his-name–him that you read of?”

“Lucifer,” answered the boy–"ambitious as Lucifer.”

“Well, don’t spill the water, my kingling,” said the hunter good-naturedly. “Life’s not so strange as is the way folk look at it. You and I, now,–we’re different! What I care for is just every common day as it comes naturally along, with woods in it, and Indians, and an elk or two at gaze, and a boat to get through the rapids, and a drop of kill-devil rum, and some shooting, and a petticoat somewhere, and a hand at cards,–just every common day! But you build your house upon to-morrow. I care for the game, and you care for the prize. Don’t go too fast and far,–I’ve seen men pass the prize on the road and never know it! Don’t you be that kind, Lewis.”

“I won’t,” said the boy. “But of course one plays to win. After supper, will you tell me about New Orleans and the Mississippi, and the French and the Spaniards, and the moss that hangs from the trees, and the oranges that grow like apples? I had rather be king of that country than Governor of Virginia.”

The sun set, and the chill dusk of autumn wrapped the yellow sedge, the dusty road, and the pines upon the horizon. The heavens were high and cold, and the night wind had a message from the north. But it was warm beneath the gum tree where the fire leaped and roared. In the light the nearer leaves of the surrounding trees showed in strong relief; beyond that copper fretwork all was blackness. Out of the dark came the breathing of the horses, fastened near the tobacco-cask, the croaking of frogs in a marshy place, and all the stealthy, indefinable stir of the forest at night. At times the wind brought a swirl of dead leaves across the ring of light, an owl hooted, or one of the sleeping dogs stirred and raised his head, then sank to dreams again. The tobacco-roller, weary from the long day’s travel, wrapped himself in a blanket and slept in the lee of his thousand pounds of bright leaf, but the boy and the hunter sat late by the fire.

“We crossed that swamp,” said Gaudylock, “with the canes rattling above our heads, and a panther screaming in a cypress tree, and we came to a village of the Chickasaws–”

“In the night-time?”

“In the night-time, and a mockingbird singing like mad from a china tree, and the woods all level before us like a floor,–no brush at all, just fine grass, with flowers in it like pinks in a garden. So we smoked the peace pipe with the Chickasaws, and I hung a wampum belt with fine words, and we went on, the next day, walking over strawberries so thick that our moccasins were stained red. At noon we overtook a party of boatmen from the Ohio,–tall men they were, with beards, and dark and dirty as Indians,–and we kept company with them through the country of the Chickasaws and the Choctaws until we came to a high bluff, and saw the Mississippi before us, brown and full and marked with drifting trees, and up the river the white houses of Natchez. There we camped until we made out the flat-boat,–General Wilkinson’s boat, all laden with tobacco and flour and bacon, and just a few Kentucks with muskets,–that the Spaniards at Natchez had been fools enough to let pass! We hailed that boat, and it came up beneath the cottonwoods, and I went aboard with the letters from Louisville, and on we went, down the river, past the great woods and the strange little towns, and the cotton-fields and the sugar-canes, and the moss hanging like banners from taller trees than this gum, to New Orleans. And there the Intendant would have laid hands on our cargo and sent every mother’s son of us packing, but Miro, that was governor, stood our friend, being frightened indeed of what Kentucky might do if put to it! And there, on the levee, we sold that tobacco and flour and bacon; and the tobacco which we sold at home for shillings and pence, we sold at New Orleans for joes and doubloons. Ay, ay, and not one picayune of duty did we pay! Ay, and we opened the Mississippi!”

The speaker paused to take from his pouch several leaves of tobacco, and to roll them deftly into a long cigar. The boy rose to throw more wood upon the fire, then sat again at the trader’s feet, and with his chin in his hand stared into the glowing hollows.

“The West!” said Gaudylock, between slow puffs of smoke. “Kentucky and the Ohio and the Mississippi, and then Louisiana and all that lies beyond, and Mexico and its gold! Ha! the Mississippi open from its source–and the Lord in Heaven knows where that may be–to the last levee! and not a Spaniard to stop a pirogua, and right to trade in every port, and no lingo but plain English, and Mexico like a ripe apple,–just a touch of the bough, and there’s the gold in hand! If I were a dreamer, I would dream of the West.”

“Folk have always dreamed of the West,” said the boy. “Sailors and kings, and men with their fortune to make. I’ve read about Cortez and Pizarro,–it would be fine to be like that!”

“I thought you wanted to study law.”

“I do; but I could be a great soldier, too.”

Gaudylock laughed. “You would trap all the creatures in the wood! Well, live long enough, and you’ll hear a drum beat. They’re restless, restless, yonder on the rivers! But they’ll need the lawyers, too. Just see what the lawyers did when we fought the British! Mr. Henry and Mr. Jefferson–”

The boy put forth a sudden hand, gathered to him a pine bough, and with it smote the red coals of the fire. “Oh!” he cried, “from morn till night my father keeps me in the fields. It’s tobacco! tobacco! tobacco! And I want to go to school–I want to go to school!”

“That’s a queer wanting,” said the other thoughtfully. “I’ve wanted fire when I was cold, and venison when I was hungry, and liquor when I was in company, and money when I was gaming, and a woman when the moon was shining and I wished to talk,–but I have never wanted to go to school. A schollard sees a wall every time he raises his head. I like the open.”

“There are walls in the forest,” answered the boy, “and I do not want to be a tobacco-roller! I want to study law!”

The hunter laughed. “Ho! A lawyer among the Rands! I reckon you take after your mother’s folk!”

The boy looked at him wistfully. “I reckon I do,” he assented. “But my name is Rand.”

“There are worse folk than the Rands,” said the woodsman. “I’ve never known one to let go, once he had man or beast by the throat! Silent and holdfast and deadly to anger–that’s the Rands. If Gideon wants tobacco and you want learning, there’ll be a tussle!”

“My father’s a tyrant!” cried the boy passionately. “If he doesn’t keep his hands off me, I’ll–I’ll kill him!”

Gaudylock took the cigarro from his lips. “You’re too fond of that word,” he exclaimed, with some sternness. “All the wolves that the Rands ever hunted have somehow got into their blood. Suppose you try a little unlearning? Great lawyers and great men and great conquerors and good hunters don’t kill their fathers, Lewis,–no, nor any other man, excepting always in fair fight.”

“I know–I know!” said Lewis. “Of course he’s my father. But I never could stand for any one to get in my way!”

“That’s just what the rattlesnake says–and after a while nobody does get in his way. But he must be a lonely creature.”

“Do you think,” asked the boy oddly,–"do you think I am really like that,–like a rattlesnake?”

Adam gave his mellow laugh. “No, I don’t. I think you are just a poor human. I was always powerfully fond of you, Lewis,–and I never could abide a rattler! There’s the moon, and it’s a long march to-morrow, and folks sit up late in Richmond! Unroll the blankets, and let’s to bed.”

The boy obeyed, and the two lay down with the fire between them. The man’s thoughts went back to the Mississippi, to cane-brakes and bayous and long levees; and the boy’s mind perused the road before him.

“When I get to Richmond,” he suddenly announced, “I am going to find a place where they sell books. I have a dollar.”

The hunter put his hand in his pouch, drew out a shining coin, and tossed it across the fire. “There’s another,” he said. “Good Spanish! Buy your Cęsars and your Pompeys, and when you are a lawyer like Mr. Jefferson, come West–come West!”

Men and beasts slumbered through the autumn night, waked at dawn, and, breakfast eaten, took again the road. Revolving cask, horses, dogs, and men, they crossed the wet sedge and entered the pine wood, left that behind and traversed a waste of scrub and vine, low hills, and rain-washed gullies. Chinquapin bushes edged the road, the polished nut dark in the centre of each open burr; the persimmon trees showed their fruit, red-gold from the first frosts; the black haw and cedar overhung the ravines; there was much sassafras, and along the plashy streams the mint grew thick and pungent-sweet. In the deep and pure blue sky above them, fleecy clouds went past like galleons in a trade-wind.

The tobacco-roller was a taciturn man, and the boy, his son, never thought of disburdening his soul to his father. Each had the power to change for the other the aspect of the world, but they themselves were strangers. Gideon Rand, as he rode, thought of the bright leaf in the cask, of the Richmond warehouse, and fixed the price in his mind. His mind was in a state of sober jubilation. His only brother, a lonely, unloved, and avaricious merchant in a small way, had lately died, and had left him money. The hundred acres upon the Three-Notched Road that Gideon had tilled for another were in the market. The money would buy the land and the small, dilapidated house already occupied by the Rands. The purchase was in train, and in its own fashion Gideon’s sluggish nature rejoiced. He was as land-mad as any other Virginian, but he had neither a lavish hand nor a climbing eye. What he loved was the black earth beneath the tobacco, and to walk between the rows and feel the thick leaves. For him it sufficed to rise at dawn and spend the day in the fields overseeing the hands, to come home at dusk to a supper of corn bread and bacon, to go to bed within the hour and sleep without a dream until cockcrow, to walk the fields again till dusk and supper-time. Church on Sunday, Charlottesville on Court Days, Richmond once a year, varied the monotony. The one passion, the one softness, showed in his love for horses. He broke the colts for half the county; there was no horse that he could not ride, and his great form and coal-black locks were looked for and found at every race. The mare that he was riding he had bought with his legacy, before he bought the land on the Three-Notched Road. He was now considering whether he could afford to buy in Richmond a likely negro to help him and Lewis in the fields. With all the stubbornness of a dull mind, he meant to keep Lewis in the fields. Long ago, when he was a handsome young giant, he had married above him. His wife was a beautiful and spirited woman, and when she married the son of her father’s tenant, it was with every intention of raising him to her own level in life. But he was the stronger, and he dragged her down to his. As her beauty faded and her wit grew biting, he learned to hate her, and to hate learning because she had it, and the refinements of life because she practised them, and law because she came of a family of lawyers. She was dead and he was glad of it,–and now her son was always at a book, and wanted to be a lawyer! “I’ll see him a slave-driver first!” said Gideon Rand to himself, and flecked his whip.

On the other side of the cask Adam Gaudylock whistled along the road. He, too, had business in Richmond, and problems not a few to solve, but as he was a man who never sacrificed the present to the past, and rarely to the future, he alone of the three really drank the wine of the morning air, saw how blue was the sky, and admired the crimson trailers that the dewberry spread across the road. When his gaze followed the floating down from a milkweed pod, or marked the scurry of a chipmunk at a white oak’s root, or dwelt upon the fox-grape’s swinging curtain, he would have said, if questioned, that life in the woods and in an Indian country taught a man the use of his eyes. “Love of Nature” was a phrase at which he would have looked blank, and a talisman which he did not know he possessed, and it may be doubted if he could have defined the word “Romance.” He whistled as he rode, and presently, the sun rising higher and the clear wind blowing with force, he began to sing,–

     “From the Walnut Hills to the Silver Lake,
                 Row, boatmen, row!
     Danger in the levee, danger in the brake,
                 Row, boatmen, row!
     Yellow water rising, Indians on the shore!”

Lewis Rand, perched upon the platform before the cask, his feet dangling, his head thrown back against the wood, and his eyes upon the floating clouds, pursued inwardly and with a swelling heart the oft-broken, oft-renewed argument with his father. “I do not want to go to the fields. I want to go to school. Every chance I’ve had, I’ve learned, and I want to learn more and more. I do not want to be like you, nor your father, nor his father, and I do not want to be like Adam Gaudylock. I want to be like my mother’s folk. You’ve no right to keep me planting and suckering and cutting and firing and planting again, as though I were a negro! Negroes don’t care, but I care! I’m not your slave. Tobacco! I hate the sight of it, and the smell of it! There’s too much tobacco raised in Virginia. You fought the old King because he was a tyrant, but you would make me spend my life in the tobacco-field! You are a tyrant, too. I’m to be a man just as you’re a man. You went your way; well, I’m going mine! I’m going to be a lawyer, like–like Ludwell Cary at Greenwood. I’m not afraid of your horse-whip. Strike, and be damned to you! You can break every colt in the country, but you can’t break me! I’ve seen you strike my mother, too!”

     “Way down in New Orleans,
       Beneath an orange tree,
     Beside the lapping water,
       Upon the old levee,
     A-laughing in the moonlight,
       There sits the girl for me!”

sang Gaudylock.

     “She’s sweeter than the jasmine,
       Her name it is Delphine.”

The day wore on, the land grew level, and the clearings more frequent. Stretches of stacked corn appeared like tented plains, brown and silent encampments of the autumn; and tobacco-houses rose from the fields whence the weed had been cut. Blue smoke hung in wreaths above the high roofs, for it was firing-time. Now and then they saw, far back from the road and shaded by noble trees, dwelling-houses of brick or wood. Behind the larger sort of these appeared barns and stables and negro quarters, all very cheerful in the sunny October weather. Once they passed a schoolhouse and a church, and twice they halted at cross-road taverns. The road was no longer solitary. Other slow-rolling casks of tobacco with retinue of men and boys were on their way to Richmond, and there were white-roofed wagons from the country beyond Staunton. Four strong horses drew each wagon, manes and tails tied with bright galloon, and harness hung with jingling bells. Whatever things the mountain folk might trade with were in the wagons,–butter, flour, and dried meat, skins of deer and bear, hemp, flaxseed, wax, ginseng, and maple sugar. Other vehicles used the road, growing more numerous as the day wore into the afternoon, and Richmond was no longer far away. Coach and chaise, curricle and stick-chair, were encountered, and horsemen were frequent.

In 1790 men spoke when they passed; moreover, Rand and Gaudylock were not entirely unknown. The giant figure of the one had been seen before upon that road; the other was recognized as a very able scout, hunter, and Indian trader, restless as quicksilver and daring beyond all reason. Men hailed the two cheerily, and asked for the news from Albemarle, and from Kentucky and the Mississippi.

“Mr. Jefferson is coming home,” answered Rand; and “Spain is not so black as she is painted,” said the trader.

“We hear,” quoth the gentleman addressed, “that the Kentuckians make good Spanish subjects.”

“Then you hear a damned lie,” said Gaudylock imperturbably. “The boot’s on the other foot. Ten years from now a Kentuckian may rule in New Orleans.”

The gentleman laughed, settled back in his stick-chair, and spoke to his horse. “Mr. Jefferson is in Richmond,” he remarked to Rand, and vanished in a cloud of dust.

The tobacco-cask and its guardians kept on by wood and stream, plantation, tavern, forge, and mill, now with companions and now upon a lonely road. At last, when the frogs were at vespers, and the wind had died into an evening stillness, and the last rays of the sun were staining the autumn foliage a yet deeper red, they came by way of Broad Street into Richmond. The cask of bright leaf must be deposited at Shockoe Warehouse; this they did, then as the stars were coming out, they betook themselves to where, at the foot of Church Hill, the Bird in Hand dispensed refreshment to man and beast.


Chapter I: The Road to Richmond  •  Chapter II: Mr. Jefferson  •  Chapter III: Fontenoy  •  Chapter IV: The Two Candidates  •  Chapter V: Monticello  •  Chapter VI: Rand Comes to Fontenoy  •  Chapter VII: The Blue Room  •  Chapter VIII: Cary and Jacqueline  •  Chapter IX: Expostulation  •  Chapter X: To Althea  •  Chapter XI: In the Garden  •  Chapter XII: A Marriage At Saint Margaret’s  •  Chapter XIII: The Three-Notched Road  •  Chapter XIV: The Law Office  •  Chapter XV: Company to Supper  •  Chapter XVI: At Lynch’s  •  Chapter XVII: Fairfax and Unity  •  Chapter XVIII: The Green Door  •  Chapter XIX: Monticello Again  •  Chapter XX: The Nineteenth of February  •  Chapter XXI: The Cedar Wood  •  Chapter XXII: Major Edward  •  Chapter XXIII: A Challenge  •  Chapter XXIV: The Duel  •  Chapter XXV: Old Saint John’s  •  Chapter XXVI: The Trial of Aaron Burr  •  Chapter XXVII: The Letter  •  Chapter XXVIII: Rand and Mocket  •  Chapter XXIX: The River Road  •  Chapter XXX: Homeward  •  Chapter XXXI: Husband and Wife  •  Chapter XXXII: The Brothers  •  Chapter XXXIII: Greenwood  •  Chapter XXXIV: Fairfax Cary  •  Chapter XXXV: The Image  •  Chapter XXXVI: In Pursuit  •  Chapter XXXVII: The Simple Right  •  Chapter XXXVIII: M. De Pincornet  •  Chapter XXXIX: Unity and Jacqueline  •  Chapter XI: The Way of the Transgressor

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Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston
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