Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter XIX: Monticello Again

The night was hot and dark when Rand, riding Selim, left the town and took the Monticello road. He forded the creek, and the horse, scrambling up the farther side, struck fire from the loose stones. Farther on, the way grew steep, and the heavy shadow of the overhanging trees made yet more oppressive the breathless night. The stars could hardly be seen between the branches, but from the ground to the leafy roof the fireflies sparkled restlessly. Rand thought, as he rode, of the future and the present, but not of the past. It was so old and familiar, this road, that he might well feel the eyes of the past fixed upon him from every bush and tree; but if he felt the gaze, he set his will and would not return it. For some time he climbed through the thick darkness, shot with those small and wandering fires, but at last he came upon the higher levels and saw below him the wide and dark plain. In the east there was heat lightning. Here on the mountain-top the air blew, and a man was free from the dust of the valley. He drew a long breath, checked Selim for a moment, and, sitting there, looked out over the vast expanse; but the eyes of the past grew troublesome, and he hurried on. It was striking nine when a negro opened the house gate for him and, following him to the portico, took the horse from which he dismounted. Light streamed from the open door, and from the library windows. Except for a glimmer in the Abbé Correa’s room, the rest of the house was in darkness. If Mrs. Randolph and her daughters were there, they had retired. He heard no voices. In the hot and sulphurous night the pillared, silent house with its open portal provoked a sensation of strangeness. Rand crossed the portico and paused at the door. Time had been when he would have made no pause, but, familiar to the house and assured of his welcome, would have passed through the wide hall to the library and his waiting friend and mentor. Now he laid his hand upon the knocker, but before it could sound, a door halfway down the hall opened, and there appeared the tall figure of the President. He stood for a moment, framed in the doorway, gazing at his visitor, and there was in his regard a curious thoughtfulness, an old regret, and–or so Rand thought–a faint hostility. The look lasted but a moment; he raised his hand, and, with a movement that was both a gesture of welcome and an invitation to follow him, turned and entered the passage which led to the library. Rand moved in silence through the hall, where Indian curiosities, horns of elk, and prehistoric relics were arranged above the marble heads of Buonaparte and Alexander the First, Franklin and Voltaire, and down the narrow passage to the room that had been almost chief of all his sacred places. It was now somewhat dimly lit, with every window wide to the night. Jefferson, sitting beside the table in his particular great chair, motioned the younger man to a seat across from him, evidently placed in anticipation of his coming. Rand took the chair, but as he did so, he slightly moved the candles upon the table so that they did not illumine, as they had been placed to illumine, his face and figure. It was he who began the conversation, and he wasted no time upon preliminaries. The night was in his blood, and he was weary of half measures. This storm had long been brewing: let it break and be over with; better the open lightning than the sullen storing up of unpaid scores, unemptied vials of wrath! There were matters of quarrel: well, let the quarrel come! The supreme matter, unknown and undreamed of by the philosopher opposite him, would sleep secure beneath the uproar over little things. He craved the open quarrel. It would be easier after the storm. The air would be cleared, though by forces that were dire, and he could go more easily through the forest when he had laid the trees low. It was better to hurry over the bared plain towards the shining goal than to stumble and be deterred amid these snares of old memories, habits, affections, and gratitudes. The past–the past was man’s enemy. He was committed to the future, and in order to serve that strong master there was work–disagreeable work–to be done in the present. Ingratitude!–that, too, was but a word, though a long one. He was willing to deceive himself, and so ideas and images came at his bidding, but they hung his path with false lights, and they served, not him, but his inward foe.

He spoke abruptly. “That Militia Bill,–the matter did not approve itself to my reason, and so I could not push it through. I understood, of course, at the time that you were vexed–”

“I should not say that ’vexed’ was the word. I was surprised. You will do me the justice to acknowledge that I cheerfully accepted the explanation which you gave me. You are fully aware that I, of all men, would be the last to deny your right–any man’s right–of private judgment. All this was last winter, and might have been buried out of sight.”

“I have heard that a letter of mine in the Enquirer gave you umbrage. It was my opinion that the country’s honour demanded less milk and water, less supineness in our dealings with England, and I expressed my opinion–”

“The country’s honour! That expression of your opinion placed you among the critics of the administration, and that at an hour when every friend was needed. It came without warning, and if it was meant to wound me, it succeeded.”

Rand moved restlessly. “It was not,” he said sombrely; “it was not meant to wound you, sir. Let me, once for all, sitting in this room amid the shades of so many past kindnesses, utterly disavow any personal feeling toward you other than respect and gratitude. It was apparent to me that the letter must be written, but I take God to witness that I regretted the necessity.”

“The regret,” answered the other, “will doubtless, in the sight of the Power you invoke, justify the performance. Well, the nine days’ wonder of the letter is long over! A man in public life cannot live sixty years without suffering and forgiving many a similar stab. The letter was in February. Afterwards–”

“I ceased to write to you. Through all the years in which I had written, we had been in perfect accord. Now I saw the rift between us, and that it would widen, and I threw no futile bridges.”

“You are frank. I have indeed letters from you, written in this room"–There was upon the table an orderly litter of books and papers. From a packet of the latter Jefferson drew a letter, unfolded it, and, stretching out his long arm, laid it on the table before his visitor. “There is one,” he said, “written not three years ago, on the evening of the day when you were elected to the General Assembly. I shall ask you to do me the favour to read it through.”

Rand took the letter and ran his dark eye down the sheets. As he read, the blood stained his cheek, brow, and throat, and presently, with a violent movement, he rose and, crossing the room to a window, stood there with his face to the night. The clock had ticked three minutes before he turned and, coming back to the table, dropped the letter upon its polished surface. “You have your revenge,” he said. “Yes, I was like that–and less than three years ago. I remember that night very well, and had a spirit whispered to me then that this night would come, I would have told the spirit that he lied! And it has come. Let us pass to the next count in the indictment.”

“The Albemarle Resolutions–”

“I carried them.”

“I wished them carried, but I should rather have seen them lost than that in your speech–a speech that resounded far and wide–you should have put the face you did upon matters! You knew my sentiments and convictions; until I read that speech, I thought they were your own. The Albemarle Resolutions! I have heard it said that your zeal for the Albemarle Resolutions was largely fanned by the fact that your personal enemy was chief among your opponents!”

“May I ask who said that?”

“You may ask, but I shall not answer. We are now at late February.”

“The Assembly adjourned. I returned to Albemarle.”

“You took first a journey to Philadelphia.”

“Yes. Is there treason in that?”

“That,” said Jefferson, with calmness, “is a word not yet of my using.”

Rand leaned forward. “Yet?” he repeated, with emphasis.

There fell a silence in the room. After a moment of sitting quietly, his hands held lightly on the arm of his chair, Mr. Jefferson rose and began to pace the floor. The action was unusual; in all personal intercourse his command of himself was remarkable. An inveterate cheerful composure, a still sunniness, a readiness to settle all jars of the universe in an extremely short time and without stirring from his chair, were characteristics with which Rand was too familiar not to feel a frowning wonder at the pacing figure and the troubled footfall. He was a man bold to hardihood, and well assured of a covered trail, so assured that his brain rejected with vehemence the thought that darted through it. To Mr. Jefferson the word that he had audaciously used could have no significance. Treason! Traitor! Aaron Burr and his Jack-o’-Lantern ambitions, indeed, had long been looked upon with suspicion, vague and ill-directed, now slumbering and now idly alert. In this very room–in this very room the man had been talked of, discussed, analysed, and puffed away by the two who now held it with their estranged and troubled souls. Burr was gone; this August night he was floating down the Ohio toward New Orleans and the promised blow. Had some fool or knave or sickly conscience among the motley that was conspiring with him turned coward or been bought? It was possible. Burr might be betrayed, but hardly Lewis Rand. That was a guarded maze to which Mr. Jefferson could have no clue.

Jefferson came back to the table and the great chair. “You were, of course, as free as any man to travel to Philadelphia or where you would. I heard that you were upon such a journey, and I felt a certitude that you would also visit Washington. Had you done this, I should have received you with the old confidence and affection. I should have listened to the explanation I felt assured you would wish to make. At that time it was my belief that there needed but one long conversation between us to remove misapprehension, to convince you of your error, and to recall you to your allegiance. Do not mistake me. I craved no more than was human, no more than was justified by our relations in the past–your allegiance to me. But I wished to see you devoutly true to the principles you professed, to the Republican Idea, and to all that you, no less than I, had once included in that term. I looked for you in Washington, and I looked in vain.”

“You make it hard for me,” said Rand, with lowered eyes. “I had no explanation to give.”

“When you neither came nor wrote, I assumed as much. It was in April that you returned to Albemarle. Since then I have myself been twice in the county.”

“We have met–”

“But never alone. Had you forgotten the Monticello road? After the Three-Notched Road, I should have thought it best known to you.”

“I have not forgotten it, sir. But I might doubt my welcome here.”

“You might well doubt it,” answered the other sternly. “But had there been humility in your heart–ay, or common remembrance!–that doubt would not have kept you back. When I saw at last that you would not come, I–”

He paused, took from the table a book and turned its leaves, then closed and laid it down again. “I whistled you down the wind,” he said.

There was a silence, then, far away in the hot night, a dog howled. The hall clock struck the hour. Rand drew his breath sharply and turned in his chair. “And you brought me here to-night to tell me so?”

“I will answer that presently. In these three years you have made yourself a great name in Virginia; and now your party–It is still your party?”

“It is still my party.”

“Your party wishes to make you Governor. You have travelled fast and far since the days when you walked with your father! Yesterday I was astounded to hear that you had refused the nomination.”

“Why should you be ’astounded’?”

“Because I hold you for a most ambitious man, and this is the plain, the apparent step in your fortunes. At what goal are you aiming?”

“I did not want the governorship, sir.”

“Then you want a greater thing. What it is–what it is"–With a sudden movement he rested his elbow on the table and regarded Rand from under the shelter of his hand. “And so,” he said at last, in an altered voice,–"and so you will not be Governor. Well, it is an honourable post. This is late August, and in November you return to Richmond–”

“I go first across the mountains to examine a tract of land I have bought.”

“Indeed? When do you go?”

“I have not altogether decided.”

“Will you take Mrs. Rand with you?”

“I think so. Yes.”

“It is,” said Mr. Jefferson, “a rough journey and a wild country for a lady.”

As he spoke he rose, and, going to a small table, poured for himself a little wine in a glass and drank it slowly, then, putting the glass gently down, passed to a long window and stood, as Rand had stood before him, looking out into the night. When he turned, the expression of his face had again changed. “It is growing late,” he said. “In two days I return to Washington. The world will have grown older ere we meet again. Who knows? We may never meet again. This night we may be parting forever. You ask me if I brought you here to tell you that I acquiesced in this quarrel of your making, shook you from my thoughts, and bade you an eternal farewell. That is as may be. Even now–even now the nature of our parting is in your hands!”

Rand also had risen. “In this room, what can I say? Your kindness to me has been very great. My God, sir, I should be stock or stone not to feel abashed! And yet–and yet–Will you have it at last? You ask discipleship–you must have about you tame and obedient spirits–a Saint James the Greater and a Saint James the Less to hearken to your words and spread them far and wide, and all the attentive band to wait upon your wisdom! Free! We are tremendously free, but you must still be Lord and Master! Well, say that I rebel–”

“I see that you have done so,” said Jefferson, with irony. ’I am not your Lord and Master.”

“I would not, if I could, have shunned this interview to-night. For long we have felt this strain, and now the sharp break is over. I shall sleep the better for it.”

“I am glad, sir, that you view it so.”

“For years I have worn your livery and trudged your road,–that fair, wide country road with bleating sheep and farmer folk, all going to markets dull as death! I’ve swincked and sweated for you on that road. Now I’ll tread my own, though I come at last to the gates of Tartarus! My service is done, sir; I’m out of livery.”

“Your road!” exclaimed the other. “Where does it lie, and who are your fellow travellers? John Randolph of Roanoke and the new Republicans? or monarchism and the Federalists? Or have I the honour, to-night, to entertain a Virginian Cćsar?–perhaps even a Buonaparte?” His voice changed. “Have you reflected, sir, that there is some danger in so free an expression of your mind?”

“I have reflected,” answered Rand, “that there is no danger so intolerable as the chafing of a half-acknowledged bond. The clock is striking again. I owe you much, sir. I thank you for it. While I served you, I served faithfully. It is over now. I look you in the face and tell you this, and so I give you warning that I am free. Henceforth I act as my free will directs.”

“Act, then!” said the other. “Act, and find a weight upon your genius heavier than all behests of duty, friendship, faith, and loyalty rolled in one! Single out from all humanity one man alone, and that yourself, surround him with a monstrous observance, sacrifice before him every living thing that shall cross his path, crown him with gold, and banish from his court every idea that will not play the sycophant! Seat him, a chained king, high in some red star!–and still, like a wandering wind, large and candid thought, straying some day past your gloomy windows, shall look within and say, ’See this slave to himself chained upon his burning throne!’ When at last you hear the voice, try to break away.”

He left the window and, crossing to the mantel, pulled the bell-rope. Old Burwell appeared at the door. “Mr. Rand’s horse, Burwell,” directed the master, in a cheerful voice, then, when the negro was gone, spoke on without change of tone. “The night has altered while we talked. There is a great bank of cloud in the west, and I think the drouth is broken. You will reach Roselands, however, before the rain comes down. Pray present my respectful salutations to Mrs. Rand.”

“You are very good,” said Rand. “My wife"–He hesitated, then, “I would have you aware that my wife’s hand would keep me in that same country road I spoke of, among those same green fields and peaceful, blameless folk! Her star is not like mine–”

“I esteem her the more highly for it,” answered the other. “I hear your horse upon the gravel–Selim, still, is it not? A pleasant ride to you home through this fresher air! Good-night–and good-bye.”

“I am not the monster I appear to you,” said Rand. “A man may go through life and never encounter the irresistible current. When he does–I am as little superstitious as you, but I tell you I am borne on! All the men and women whose blood is in my veins hurry me on, and there is behind me a tide of circumstance. For all past kindnesses I thank you, sir. I admire you much, reverence you no little, and bid you a long farewell.”

He walked to the door, then, turning, swept the room with one slow look. “I was fifteen,” he said, “the day I first came here. There was a glass of lilies on the table. Good-night, sir,–and good-bye.”

Without, the night was indeed cooler, with a sighing wind, and in the west a thickening wrack of clouds. It was very dark. The restless and multitudinous flicker of the fireflies but emphasized the shadow, and the stars seemed few and dim. It was near midnight, and the wide landscape below the mountain lay in darkness, save for one distant knoll where lights were burning. That was Fontenoy, and Rand, looking toward it with knitted brows, wondered why the house was so brightly lighted at such an hour. In another moment the road descended, the heavy trees shut out the view of the valley, and with very much indeed upon his mind, he thought no more of Fontenoy. It was utterly necessary to him to find a remedy for the sting, keen and intolerable, which he bore with him from Monticello. He felt the poison as he rode, and his mind searched, in passion and in haste, for the sovereign antidote. He found it and applied it, and the rankling pain grew less. Now more than ever was it necessary to go on. Now more than ever he must commit himself without reserve to the strong current. When it had borne him to a fair and far country, to kingship, sway, empire, and vast renown, then would this night be justified!

He left the mountain, and, riding rapidly, soon found himself upon the road to Roselands. It was also the Greenwood road. Between the two plantations lay a deep wood, and as he emerged from this, he saw before him in the dim starlight a horseman, coming towards him from Roselands. “Is that you, Mocket?” he called.

The other drew rein. “It is Ludwell Cary. Good-evening, Mr. Rand. I have just left Roselands.”

“Indeed?” exclaimed Rand. “May I ask–”

“I came from Fontenoy at the request of Colonel Churchill. Mrs. Churchill fell suddenly very ill to-night. They think she will not last many hours, and she asks continually for her niece. Colonel Churchill sent me to beg Mrs. Rand to come without delay to Fontenoy. I have delivered my message, and she but waits your return to Roselands–”

“I will hurry on,” said Rand. “Be so good as to tell Colonel Churchill that Joab will bring her in the chaise–Mammy Chloe with her. I am sorry for your news. Accept, too, our thanks for the trouble to which you have put yourself–”

“It is nothing,” answered Cary. “My brother and I chanced to be at Fontenoy. Mrs. Rand is much distressed, and I’ll detain you no longer–”

He bowed, touched his horse, and rode into the wood. Rand turned in his saddle and looked after him for a long moment, then shook his reins, broke into a gallop, and passed presently through the Roselands gates and up the dark drive to the stone steps and open door. Jacqueline met him on the threshold. She was trembling, but not weeping; there was even a wistful fire and passion in her dark eyes and a rose-leaf colour in her cheeks. “Did you meet him?” she said. “Did he tell you? I am all ready. He says that Aunt Nancy thinks that it is years ago, and that I’m Jacqueline Churchill still. I thought you would never, never come"–She turned and threw herself into his arms. “Oh, Lewis, we are going to Fontenoy!”


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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