Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter XXIV: The Duel

It was nine o’clock of a November morning when a coach, driven out from Richmond, passed a country tavern and a blacksmith’s shop, and, turning from the main road, went jolting through a stubble-field down to the steep and grassy bank of the James. It was a morning fine and clear, with the hoar frost yet upon the ground. The trees, of which there were many, were bare, saving the oaks, which yet held a rusty crimson. In the fields the crows were cawing, and beyond the network of branch and bough the river flashed and murmured among its multitude of islets. The place was solitary, screened from the highroad by a rise of land, and fitted for a lovers’ meeting or for other concerns of secrecy.

The coach drew up beneath a spreading oak with the mistletoe clustering in the dull red upper branches. Three men stepped out,–Lewis Rand, the gentleman acting as his second, and a good physician. “We are first on the field,” said Rand, looking at his watch. “It is early yet. Pompey, drive a hundred yards down the bank–as far as those bushes yonder–and wait until you are called. Ha! there could be no better spot, Mr. Jones!”

“I’ve seen no better in my experience, sir,” answered Skelton Jones. “When I was last out, we had the worst of fare!–starveling locust wood–damned poor makeshift at gentlemanly privacy–stuck between a schoolhouse and a church! But this is good; this is nonpareil! Fine, brisk, frosty weather, too! I hate to fight on a muggy, leaden, dispirited day, weeping like a widow! It’s as crisp as mint, this morning–hey, Doctor?”

“I find,” said the doctor, in a preoccupied tone, “that I’ve left my best probe at home. However, no matter–I’ve one I can use.

“I hear wheels,” remarked Rand. “He is on the hour.”

A chaise mounted the knoll of furrowed land and came down to the grassy level and the waiting figures. It stopped, and Ludwell Cary and his brother got out. “Drive over there where the coach is standing," directed the latter, and chaise and negro driver rolled away. The elder Cary walked forward, paused within a few feet of his antagonist, and the two bowed ceremoniously.

“I trust that I have not kept you waiting, Mr. Rand.”

“Not in the least, Mr. Cary. The hour has but struck.”

Fairfax Cary strode up, and the salutations became general. Skelton Jones looked briskly at his watch. “With your leave, gentlemen, we’ll to formalities. The Washington stage has just gone by, and we will all wish to get back for the mail. Mr. Fairfax Cary, shall we walk a little to one side? You have, I see, the case of pistols. Dr. McClurg, if you will kindly station yourself beneath yonder oak–”

The seconds stepped aside for their conference, and the doctor retreated to the indicated oak. Lewis Rand and Ludwell Cary exchanged a comment or two upon the weather, then fell silent. The one presently sat down upon the root of a tree, and, drawing out a pocket-book, began to look over certain memoranda; the other walked near the river and stood gazing across its falls and eddies and innumerable fairy islands to the misty blue of the farther woods. The seconds returned and proceeded to measure the distance–ten paces, after which they loaded the pistols. Skelton Jones advanced, the ends of two strips of paper showing from his closed hand. “Gentlemen, you will draw for choice of position. The longest strip carries the advantage. Thank you. Mr. Cary, Fortune favours you! We are ready now, I think.”

The two laid aside their riding-coats. Cary walked across the leaf-strewn lists and, turning, stood with his back to the sun. Rand took the opposite place. The seconds presented the loaded pistols. As Cary took his from his brother, their hands touched–that of the younger was marble cold. Skelton Jones crossed to his principal’s right, and Fairfax Cary moved also to his proper place. There was a minute’s pause while the sun shone and the leaves drifted down, then, “Are you ready, gentlemen?” cried Rand’s second.

The principals answered in the affirmative. Fairfax Cary gave the word, “Present!” The two raised their weapons, and Skelton Jones began to count “One–two–three! Fire!” Rand fired. Cary swayed slightly, recovered himself, and stood firm. Fairfax Cary took the count. “One–two–three! Fire!” The elder Cary slowly turned the muzzle of his pistol from his waiting antagonist, and fired into the air.

The report echoed from the winding river-banks. For an appreciable moment, until it died away, the participants in the meeting stood motionless, then the seconds bestirred themselves and ran forward.

“But a single shot, each, gentlemen–that was agreed upon!” cried the one, and the other, “Ludwell, you are wounded! Where is it? Dr. McClurg! Dr. McClurg!”

“It is nothing, Fair,–through the shoulder.” Cary waved him aside and turned a face, pale but composed, upon Lewis Rand, who now stood before him. Rand’s hue was dark red, his features working. “Why,” he demanded hoarsely,–"why did you not fire upon me?” The agitation, marked as it was, ceased or was controlled even as he spoke. The colour faded, the brow lost its corrugations, and the voice its thickness. Before his antagonist could reply, he spoke again. “It was yours, of course, to do what you pleased with. I sincerely trust that your wound is not deep. I have regretted the necessity–I profess myself entirely satisfied.”

“That is well,” answered Cary, “and I thank you, Mr. Rand. The wound is utterly of no consequence.”

“Here is Dr. McClurg,” said Rand. “I will wait yonder to hear that confirmed.”

He walked to the river-bank and stood, as Cary had stood a little earlier, gazing over the falls and eddies and fairy islands to the blue woods on the farther shore. Under the oak which he had left, the doctor looked and handled, with a pursed lip, a keen eye, and a final “Humph!" of relief. “High and clean through and just a little splintered. You’ll wear your arm in a sling for a while, Mr. Cary! Mr. Fairfax Cary, you’re too white by half! There’s a brandy flask in yonder case. Mr. Jones, the wound is slight.”

“Why, that’s good hearing!” cried Skelton Jones. “Mr. Cary must return to town in the coach, with Mr. Fairfax Cary and with you, Doctor. Mr. Rand and I will take the chaise. My profound regard, and my compliments, Mr. Cary! Mr. Fairfax Cary, may I have the pleasure of acting with you again! Doctor, good-morning. Now, Mr. Rand.”

Rand turned from his contemplation of the river, advanced toward the group beneath the oak, and bowed with formality to Cary, who, arresting the doctor’s ministrations, returned the salute in kind. The chaise, beckoned to by Mr. Jones, came up; there was a slight and final exchange of courtesies, and the two Republicans entered the vehicle and were driven away.

“Give them five minutes’ start, Fair,” ordered Cary. “Then call the coach; I want to get back to town for the Washington mail.”

“You’ll get back to town and get to bed!” stormed the other. “’Fire in the air,’ quotha! I could have brought down a kite from the blue! You might, at least, have broken a wing for him!”

“Oh, I might, I might,” said the other wearily. “But I didn’t. I never liked this work of breaking wings. Now, Doctor, that is a bandage fit for a king! Call the coach, Fair. This much of the business is over.”

The chaise carrying Lewis Rand and his companion traversed with rapidity the miles to Richmond. The road was fair, and the day bright and cool. The meeting by the river had occupied hardly an hour; the world of the country was yet at its morning stirring, and filled with cheerful sound. Above the fields the sky showed steel blue; the creepers upon the rail-fencing still displayed, here and there, five crimson fingers, and wayside cedars patched with shadow the pale ribbon of the road. Rand kept silence, and his late second, at first inclined to talkativeness, soon fell under the infection and stared blankly at the fence corners. A notorious duellist, he may have been busy with dramas of the past. Rand’s thought was for the future.

They came into Main Street and drove to Rand’s office. “We’ll dismiss the chaise here,” said the latter. “I have a few directions to give, and then I’m for the post-office and the Eagle.”

“I will precede you there,” answered the other. “Allow me, sir, before we part, to express the gratification I have felt in serving, to the best of my poor abilities, a gentleman of whom the party expects so much–”

“Rather allow me, sir, to express my gratitude–” and so on through the stilted compliment of the day. Assurances from both sides over at last, and the chaise discharged, the one walked briskly down the unpaved street toward the Eagle, and the other entered quietly the bare and business-like room from whose window, last February, he had fed the snowbirds. The room was not vacant. Before the table, with his arms upon it, and his head upon his arms, sat Mocket. At the sound of the closing door he started up, stared at Rand, then fell back with a gasp of relief, and the water in his eyes.

“Lewis? Thank the Lord!”

“It’s Lewis,” said the other. “My good old fellow, did you think only to see my ghost? Well, the comedy is over.”

“Lord! it’s been a long hour!” breathed his associate. “What did you do to him, Lewis?”

“He has a ball through his shoulder. It is not serious. I don’t want to talk about it, Tom.” Rand spoke abruptly, and, walking to his desk, sat down, drew a piece of paper toward him, and dipped a quill into the ink-well. “Is Young Isham there? He is to take this note to the house, to Mrs. Rand.”

Mocket went to find Young Isham. Rand, alone in the room, wrote in his strong, plain hand:––

     JACQUELINE:–We met an hour ago. He is slightly wounded–through
     the shoulder. I tell you truth, it is in no wise dangerous. I am

The hand travelling across the sheet of paper paused, and Rand sat for a moment motionless, looking straight before him; then, with an indrawn breath, he dipped the quill again into the ink and wrote on,––

He fired into the air.

Thine, Lewis.

He sanded the paper, folded and sealed it, sat for a moment longer, leaning back in his heavy chair, then rose and himself gave the missive to Young Isham, with orders to make no tarrying between the office and the house on Shockoe Hill. Rand’s slaves had for him a dog-like affection combined with a dog-like fear of his eye in anger. The boy went at once, and the master returned to the waiting Tom. “The Washington stage is in,” he said. “I am going now to the Eagle, and you had best come with me. Then back here, and to work! Where is that man from the Bienville at Norfolk?”

“He’s waiting at the Indian Queen. I can get him here in ten minutes. This morning’s Argus says that the Bienville of New Orleans sails on Saturday–valuable cargo and no passengers.”

“Ah,” said Rand; “the Argus’s eyes are heavy.”

“A half-breed hunter was here this morning. He says that, ten days ago, crossing the Endless Mountains with his face to the east, he met the great hunter they call Golden-Tongue walking very fast, with his face to the west. Learning that he was on his way to Richmond, Golden-Tongue gave him this to be delivered in silence to you.” Mocket took from the table a feather and held it out to the other.

“A blackbird feather,” exclaimed Rand, turning it over in his hand. “That would mean–that would mean–’It is the fall of the leaf. The bird has flown south. Follow all the migratory tribe! follow while the air is yet open to you, or stay behind with the sick and the old and the faint of heart and the fighters against instinct! Winter comes. It is time to make haste.’” He laid the feather down with a smile. “That’s Adam. Well, Adam, we will see how swift the Bienville can fly! I may yet be first at New Orleans. Wilkinson and I to welcome Burr and all the motley in his river-boats with a salvo from the city already ours. Ha! that’s a silvery dream, Tom, and an eagle’s pinion for Adam’s blackbird quill!" He laughed and took up his hat. “Let’s down the street first, and then you may find the man from the Bienville. There’s a long day’s work before us, and to-night"–He drew a quick breath. “To-night I have a task that is not slight. Come away! It’s striking twelve.”

The two closed the office and went out into the sunny street. “Where are all the people?” exclaimed Mocket. “It’s as still as Sunday.”

A boy at a shop door, hearing the remark, raised a piping voice. “Everybody’s down at the Eagle and the post-office, sir. I heard them say there’s big news. Maybe the President’s dead!”

The distance to the Eagle was but short. Rand walked so rapidly that his companion had difficulty to keep beside him, and walked in silence, cutting short every attempt of Tom’s to speak. They came within sight of the tavern. The long lower porch seemed crowded, the street in front filled with people. There were horsemen, a coach and a chaise or two, a rapid shifting of brown, green, blue, and plum-coloured coats, a gleam here and there of a woman’s dress. A bugle sounded, and there issued from Governor Street first a roll of drums and a shouted order, and then a company in blue and white with tall, nodding plumes.

“There are the Blues!” cried Tom. “My land! What is the fuss about?”

They were now upon the edge of the throng, which suddenly fell from excited talking to a breathless attention. A tall man of commanding presence and ringing voice had mounted a chair, set at the top of the steps to the Eagle porch, and unfolded a paper. Rand touched upon the shoulder the man before him. “Mr. Ritchie, I have just come in from the country, and have heard nothing. What, sir, is the matter?”

“Treason, sir!” answered the editor of the Enquirer. “Treason. An attempt to disrupt the Republic! A blow in the face of Washington and Henry and Franklin, of the sacred dead and the patriot living! The lie direct to the Constitution! Apollyon stretching himself, sir; but, by gad! Apollyon foiled! Listen, and you will hear. Foushee’s reading the Proclamation for the second time.”

“Ah,” said Rand, in a curious voice. “A Proclamation. From–”

“From the President. Evil hasn’t prospered, and though we can’t hang Apollyon, we can hang Aaron Burr. Listen now.”

The reader’s voice was sonorous, and his text came fully to all the crowd in the Richmond street.

     “Whereas information has been received that sundry persons,
     citizens of the United States or resident within the same, are
     conspiring and confederating together to begin and set on foot,
     provide and prepare, the means of a military expedition or
     enterprise against the Dominions of Spain, against which nation war
     has not been declared by the constitutional authorities of the
     United States; that for this purpose they are fitting out and
     arming vessels in the western waters of the United States,
     collecting provisions, arms, military stores, and other means; are
     deceiving and seducing honest men and well-meaning citizens under
     various pretences to engage in their criminal enterprises; are
     organising, officering, and arming themselves for the same,
     contrary to the laws in such cases made and provided,–I have
     therefore thought it fit to issue this my proclamation, warning and
     enjoining all faithful citizens who have been led to participate in
     the said unlawful enterprise without due knowledge or consideration
     to withdraw from the same without delay, and commanding all persons
     whatsoever engaged or concerned in the same to cease all farther
     proceedings therein as they will answer the contrary at their
     peril, and will incur prosecution with all the rigours of the law.
     And I hereby enjoin and require all officers, civil or military, of
     the United States, or of any of the States or Territories, and
     especially all Governors, and other executive authorities, all
     judges, justices, and other officers of the peace, all military
     officers of the militia, to be vigilant, each within his respective
     department and according to his functions, in searching out and
     bringing to condign punishment all persons engaged or concerned in
     such enterprise, and in seizing and detaining, subject to the
     disposition of the law, all vessels, arms, military stores, or
     other means provided or providing for the same, and in general
     preventing the carrying on such expedition or enterprise by all the
     lawful means within their power. And I require all good and
     faithful citizens and others within the United States to be aiding
     and assisting herein, and especially in the discovery,
     apprehension, and bringing to justice of all such offenders, and
     the giving information against them to the proper authorities.

     “In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States
     to be affixed to these presents, and have signed the same with my
     hand. Given at the City of Washington on the twenty-seventh day of
     November, 1806, and of the sovereignty and Independence of the
     United States the thirty-first.

“Thomas Jefferson.”

“That isn’t all,” said Mr. Ritchie in Rand’s ear. “The plot was not only against Spain–it looked to the separation of the West from the East, with the Alleghanies for the wall between. General Wilkinson is the hero. It seems that Burr thought to implicate him and secure the army. Wilkinson sent Burr’s letters in cipher to the President. The Government has had knowledge from various sources, and while he was thought to be dozing last summer, Mr. Jefferson was as wide awake as you or I. The militia are out in Wood County, and Burr will be taken somewhere upon the Ohio. Wilkinson has put New Orleans under martial law. Informer or no, he’s now more loyal than loyalty itself. The Bienville is to be searched at Norfolk for a consignment of arms. They say Eaton’s implicated, and Alston, Bollman, Swartwout, and this man Blennerhassett. Truxtun’s name is mentioned, and it’s said that Decatur was applied to. Andrew Jackson, too, has been friendly with Burr. Well, we’ll see what we will see! Treason and traitor are ugly words, Mr. Rand.”

“They are so considered, Mr. Ritchie,” said Rand, with calmness. “Thanks for your courtesy, and good-morning!”

He bowed and made his way, not unaccosted, through the crowd to the Eagle porch. There was much excitement. The Governor was speaking from the head of the steps. Below him planters, merchants, lawyers, and politicians were now listening eagerly, now commenting sotto voce, while beyond them the nondescript population swayed and exclaimed. To one side were massed the tall plumes of the Blues. Rand saw, near these, Fairfax Cary’s handsome face, not pale as it had been between nine and ten o’clock, but alert, flushed, and–or so Rand interpreted its light and energy–triumphant. He went on into the house, ordered and drank a small quantity of brandy, and when he came back upon the porch was met by those near him with a cry of “Speech! Speech!” The Governor’s periods were at an end, and John Randolph of Roanoke held the impromptu tribune. Rand’s eloquence, if not as impassioned and mordant, was as overwhelming, and his reasoning of a closer texture. Those around him loudly claimed him for the next to address the crowd, which now numbered a great part of the free men of Richmond. He shook off the detaining hands and, with a gesture of refusal to one and all, made his escape by a side step into the miscellany of the street, and finally out of the throng, and, by a détour, back to the deserted square where stood his office. He had lost sight of Mocket, but as he put his key into the door, the other came panting up, and the two entered the bare, sunshine-flooded room together. Rand locked the door and, without a look at his trembling subaltern, proceeded to take from his desk paper after paper, some in neatly tied packets, some in single sheets, until a crisp white heap lay on the wood beneath his hand. “Light a fire,” he said over his shoulder. “There’s absolutely nothing, is there, in that desk of yours?”

“Nothing. For the Lord’s sake, Lewis, is this the end of everything?”

“Everything is a large word. It is the end of this.” He pushed a table closer to the fireplace and transferred to it his armful of papers. “Strike a light, will you? Here goes every line that can incriminate. If Burr did as he was told, and burned two letters of mine, there’ll not be a word when I finish here.” He tore a paper across and tossed it into the flame. “Tom, Tom, don’t look so woe-begone! Life is long, and now and then a battle will be lost. A battle–a campaign, a war! But given the fighter, all wars will not be lost. Somewhere, there awaits Victory, hard-won, but laurel-crowned!” He tore and burned another paper. “This fat’s in the fire, this chance has gone by, this road’s barricaded, and we must across country to another! Well, I shall make it serve, the smooth, green, country road that jog-trots to market! What is man but a Mercenary, a Swiss, to die before whatever door will give him moderate pay? I would have had a kingdom an I could. I would have ruled, ay, by God, and ruled well! The great wheel will not have it so. Down, then, that action! and up this. The King is dead: long live the King!–alias the Law, Respectability, Virginia, and the Union!” He tossed in a double handful.

“All those!” said Tom dully. “I hate to see them burn.”

“They might have burned this morning,” answered the other. “I gave you orders to burn them if I fell, the moment you heard it.”

“But you did not fall.”

“No. He fired into the air.” Rand tore the paper in his hand across and across. “He had me in his trap. That was why–that was why he spared to fire! Oh, I could take this check from the hand of Fortune, or the hand of Malice, or the hand of Treachery, or the hand of Policy, but, but"–he crushed the torn paper in his hands, then flung it from him with a violent and sinister gesture–"to take it from the hand of Ludwell Cary–that requires more than my philosophy is prepared to give! Let him look to himself!” He thrust in another bundle, and held down with an ashen stick the mass of curling leaves.


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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