Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter XXVIII: Rand and Mocket

Tom Mocket, returning to Richmond twenty-four hours after his friend and patron, found it too late that evening to see Lewis and to report the happy winding up of all matters in Williamsburgh. The next morning he was at the office betimes, but though he waited long, no Lewis appeared. At last Tom sent a boy to the house on Shockoe, who returned with the statement that Mr. Rand was gone to the Capitol. “Then I’ll go too," thought Tom. “I’ve got nerve as well as he!”

It was the fourth day of the actual trial, and interest was at white heat. Tom whistled to himself as he crossed the Capitol Square where men blocked the paths or, on the grass beneath the trees, recounted, disputed, and prophesied. When he reached the building, it was with much difficulty that he effected an entrance, and with more that he at last edged himself into the Hall of the House of Delegates. Sturdy perseverance and an acquaintance with a doorkeeper, however, can accomplish much, and these finally placed Mocket where, by dint of balancing himself upon an advantageous ledge of masonry, he had a fair view of both participants and spectators.

General William Eaton was being examined. The throng sat or stood silently attentive, swayed forward as by a wind. Marshall upon the bench, long and loose-jointed, with a quiet, plain face, was listening with intentness; the opposing counsel sat alert, gathered for the pounce; the prisoner, with a contemptuous smile, regarded the witness, who indeed cut but a poor figure. The District Attorney’s voice, deliberate and full, asked a question, and General Eaton proceeded to give in detail Colonel Burr’s expression of treasonable intentions.

Mocket, who had at first looked and listened with a thumping heart and a strong feeling that, visible to all, the letter T might be somewhere sewn or branded upon his own person, by degrees grew bolder. There wasn’t any letter there, that was certain, and a slight sense of personal danger might even become a welcome sauce to such a great affair as this! His fright vanished, and his ferret eyes began to rove.

There was Adam Gaudylock, still with his musket. It was a day when men habitually journeyed with pistols in their holsters or a dirk somewhere about them, but Adam carried that musket merely because he loved it–like a dog or a woman! Tawny and blue-eyed, light and lithe, indifferent and pleased to see the show, the hunter listened to General Eaton and laughed behind his hand to a fellow woodsman. “My certie, he’s trained!” thought Tom. “It’s not much they’ll get from him!”

His eyes left Adam and travelled in search of Lewis Rand, finding him at last where he sat at no great distance from the group of central importance. His face was turned in Mocket’s direction, and the light from a high window fell upon it. “He doesn’t see me,” thought Tom to himself. “Who’s he looking at like that?”

The witness’s voice, raised by suggestion of counsel to a higher note, came athwart Mocket’s speculations. “I listened to Colonel Burr’s mode of indemnity; and as I had by this time begun to suspect that the military expedition he had on foot was unlawful, I permitted him to believe myself resigned to his influence, that I might understand the extent and motive of his arrangements. Colonel Burr now laid open his project of revolutionizing the territory west of the Alleghany; establishing an independent empire there; New Orleans to be the capital, and he himself to be the chief; organizing a military force on the waters of the Mississippi, and carrying conquest to Mexico–”

On went Eaton’s disclosures, punctuated by heated objections from Wickham and Luther Martin, and once or twice by a scornful question from Burr himself. It was damning testimony, and the throng hung breathless on the various voices. Mocket listened also, but listened with his eyes upon his chief, and when there arose some interruption and dispute over technicalities, his freed mind proceeded to deal with Rand’s change of aspect. It occurred to him to wonder if the light which showed it to him could be falling through a veil of storm cloud, but when he glanced at the high window, there was only the blue August heaven. What, then, gave Lewis so dark a look? “The black dog he talks of has got him sure," thought Tom. “What’s happened to anger him like that?”

The voice of the witness again made itself heard. “Colonel Burr stated that he had secured to his interests and attached to his person the most distinguished citizens of Tennessee, Kentucky, and the territory of Orleans; that the army of the United States would act with him; that it would be reinforced by ten or twelve thousand men from the above states and territories, and that he had powerful agents in the Spanish territory. He proposed to give me a distinguished command in his army; I understood him to say the second in command. I asked him who would command in chief. He said, General Wilkinson. I said that General Wilkinson would act as lieutenant to no man in existence. ’You are in error,’ said Mr. Burr. ’Wilkinson will act as lieutenant to me–’”

Mocket moved with care along the ledge until he had brought within his view another portion of the Hall. “That look of his isn’t fixed on nothing! Now we’ll see.” He stood on tiptoe, craned his neck, and surveyed the crowded floor. “Humph!” he remarked at last. “I might have known without looking. If I were Ludwell Cary–”

The counsel for the prisoner and the prisoner himself were subjecting the witness to a riddling fire of cross-questions. Mocket, on his coign of vantage, was caught again by the more apparent drama, and looked and listened greedily. Eaton at last retired, much damaged, and Commodore Truxtun was sworn. This was a man of different calibre, and from side to side of the long room occurred a subtle intensification of respect, interest, and attention. On went the examination, this time favourable, on the whole, to Burr. “The prisoner frequently, in conversation with me, mentioned the subject of speculations in western lands, opening a canal and building a bridge. Colonel Burr also said to me that the government was weak, and that he wished me to get the navy of the United States out of my head; that it would dwindle to nothing; and that he had something to propose to me that was both honourable and profitable; but I considered this nothing more than an interest in his land speculations–”

The August heat was maddening. Now and then a puff of wind entered from the parched out-of-doors, but it hardly refreshed. The flutter of the women’s fans in the gallery made a far away and ineffectual sound. “All his conversations respecting military and naval subjects and the Mexican expedition,” went on Truxtun’s voice, “were in event of a war with Spain. I told him my opinion was, there would be no war, but he was sanguine of it. He said that after the Mexican expedition he intended to provide a formidable navy; that he meant to establish an independent government and give liberty to an enslaved world. I declined his propositions to me because the President was not privy to the project. He asked me the best mode of attacking the Havana, Carthagena, and La Vera Cruz–”

The day wore on. Truxtun was released, and the Attorney for the United States called Blennerhassett’s servants to prove the array at the island and the embarkment upon the Ohio. They did their best with a deal of verbiage, of “Colonel Burr said” and “Mr. Blennerhassett said,” and with no little bewilderment under cross-examination. “Yes, sir; I’m telling you, sir. Mr. Blennerhassett allowed that Colonel Burr and he and a few friends had bought eight hundred thousand acres of land, and they wanted young men to settle it. He said he would give any young man who would go down the river one hundred acres of land, plenty of grog and victuals while going down the river, and three months’ provision after they got to the end; every young man must have his rifle and blanket. When I got home, I began to think, and I asked him what kind of seed we should carry with us. He said we did not want any, the people had seeds where we were going–”

“Of what occupation were you upon the island?” demanded Mr. Wirt.

“A gardener, sir. And then Mr. Blennerhassett said to me, ’I’ll tell you what, Peter, we’re going to take Mexico, one of the finest and richest places in the world!’ He said that Colonel Burr would be King of Mexico, and that Mrs. Alston, daughter of Colonel Burr, was to be the Queen of Mexico whenever Colonel Burr died. He said that Colonel Burr had made fortunes for many in his time, but none for himself, and now he was going to make something for himself. He said that he had a great many friends in the Spanish territory; that the Spaniards, like the French, had got dissatisfied with their government, and wanted to swap it. He told me that the British also were friends in this piece of business. I told him that the people had got it into their heads that Colonel Burr wanted to divide the Union. He sent me to Mason County with a letter, but I wasn’t to deliver it until I had the promise that it should be burned before me as soon as ’t was read, for, says he, it contains high treason.”

“Gad!” thought Mocket to himself, “I’m glad that some one else’s letters are burned as well! If I were as cool as Aaron Burr looks–”

Mr. McRae questioned the witness: “Well, who went off this December night?”

“Mr. Blennerhassett, sir, and the whole of the party.”

“At what time of the night?”

“About one o’clock.”

“Did all that came down to the island go away?”

“All but one, who was sick.”

“Had they any guns?”

“Some of them had. Some of the people went a-shooting; but I do not know how many there were.”

“What kind of guns; rifles or muskets?”

“I can’t tell whether rifles or muskets. I saw no pistols but what belonged to Mr. Blennerhassett himself.”

“Was there any powder or lead?”

“They had powder and they had lead. I saw some powder in a long, small barrel like a churn. Some of the men were engaged in running bullets.”

“What induced them to leave the island at that hour of the night?”

“Because they were informed that the Kenawha militia were coming down.”

The cross-examination of this witness and some desultory firing by the opposed counsel ended the day’s proceedings. The court adjourned, and the crowd streamed forth to the open air. Mocket, among the first to leave the hail, waited for his chief beside the outer doors. Townspeople, country neighbours, and strangers poured by, and he spoke to this one or to that. A group of Federalists approached; among them Ludwell Cary. They were talking, and as they passed Mocket heard the words, “When I return to Albemarle next week–” They went on down the steps; others streamed by, and presently Rand appeared. His lieutenant joined him, and together they left the Capitol and struck down the parched slopes to Governor Street.

“Things are all right at Williamsburgh,” ventured Mocket, finding the silence oppressive. “I got in too late to see you last night. Were you at the Capitol yesterday also?”


“A man told me they had Adam on the stand. They got nothing from him?”


“I’ve the papers all straight for the Winchester case. What do you want me to do–”

“I want you to be silent.”

The other glanced aslant, with a lift of his brows and a twist of his lip. “That’s a black rage,” he thought; “Gideon and old Stephen and the Lord knows who beside all speaking together!”

They left Governor Street and presently arrived in silence before Rand’s office. Mocket unlocked the door and they went in together. The senior partner dragged a chair before the empty fireplace and, sitting down, stared at the discoloured bricks as though he saw vistas through the wail. Tom worked among the papers on his desk, moving his fingers noiselessly, and now and then glancing over his shoulder. The clock on the wall ticked loudly.

Rand spoke at last His voice had a curious suppressed tone, and upon his forehead, between the eyes, was displayed the horseshoe frown of extreme anger. Mocket had seen it earlier in the day, and it was now distinct as a brand. “I am not going,” he said, “to take the Winchester case. This damned business here will soon be over. I shall wait to hear the verdict, and then I’m going to Albemarle.”

“What d’ye think the verdict will be?”

“They’ll acquit him. Barring Wirt, he has all the talent on his side. I’ll leave you here to clear up things.”

“Does Mrs. Rand wait here for you?”

“No. She leaves Richmond with Miss Dandridge to-morrow.”

Tom took out his knife and began to whittle, an occupation that in him denoted sustained mental exertion. The other sat on before the empty fireplace, the mark upon his forehead, his hand twitching where it lay upon the arm of his chair. The clock ticked loudly; the sun, now low in the heavens, sent its gold shafts through the window; outside, the locusts shrilled in a dusty sycamore. Rand rose and, going to the cupboard, took from it a bottle and a glass, poured out brandy for himself, and drank it. In an age of hard drinking he was accounted puritanically abstemious. Mocket, glancing after him, knew that the draught meant disturbance so deep that the organism needed, rather than craved, the strength within the glass. Rand came back to the fireplace.

“Do you remember when, in November, I burned here, or thought I burned here, all papers, all letters–”

“Do I?” asked Mocket, with emphasis. “There’s nothing happened to make me forget.”

“A man cannot weave a net so fine that some minnow will not slip through and become leviathan! It escaped and has grown. Well, that too was in the nature of things.” He took the ash-stick from the corner of the hearth and handled it as though he were again holding down burning papers. “So things are all right at Williamsburgh? I had a happy home-coming.”

“You always have that,” said Tom simply. “You’ve had a wonderful fortune, and more there than anywhere. I’m always telling Vinie–”

“Vinie!” answered the other. “Vinie would always blindly worship on. The sun might darken and go out, but where’s the odds since she would never know it! Faith like a dog’s or a child’s or Vinie’s–there’s comfort there! But the awakened mind, and Judgment side by side upon the throne with Love–Oh, there’s verjuice in the world!” He broke into harsh laughter.

“I wish I knew what ailed you,” thought Mocket. “I’ll try another tack." He stopped whittling and turned from his desk. “Coming out of the Capitol, I heard Ludwell Cary say that he goes next week to Albemarle.”

“It is indifferent to me,” replied the other, “whether he goes or stays.” His hands closed upon the ash-stick until his nails were white. Suddenly he spoke without apparent relevance. “He is one of those men who are summoned in time of trouble–when the mind is tossed and the heart is wavering. They always answer–they come down the street at night, between the box bushes, up the steps beneath the honeysuckle–on such an errand they would not fear the lion’s den! They are magnanimous, they are generous, they are out of our old life, they can tell us what we ought to do!” He struck the ash-stick violently against the hearth. “Honeysuckle and box and the quiet of the night, and ’Yes, I knew, I knew. ’Twas thus and so, and I would counsel you–’ Oh, world’s end and hell-fire! forgiveness itself grows worthless on such terms!”

He threw the stick from him, rose abruptly, and walked to the window.

“The clouds pile up, but they do not break, and the heat and fever of this August air grow intolerable. To abstract the mind–to abstract the mind"–He stood listening to the locusts and all the indefinable hum of the downward-drawing afternoon, then turned to Tom. “Give me those Winchester papers. Now what, exactly, did you do in Williamsburgh?”


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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