Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter III: Fontenoy

In the springtime of the year 1804 the spectacle of human conduct ranged from grave to gay, from gay to grave again much as it had done in any other springtime of any other year. In France the consular chrysalis was about to develop imperial wings. The British Lion and the Russian Bear were cheek by jowl, and every Englishman turned his spyglass toward Boulogne, where was gathered Buonaparte’s army of invasion. In the New World Spanish troops were reluctantly withdrawing from the vast territory sold by a Corsican to a Virginian, while to the eastward of that movement seventeen of the United States of America pursued the uneven tenor of their way. Washington had been dead five years. Alexander Hamilton was yet the leading spirit of the Federalist party, while Thomas Jefferson was the idol of the Democrat-Republicans.

In the sovereign State of Virginia politics was the staple of conversation as tobacco was the staple of trade. Party feeling ran high. The President of the Union was a Virginian and a Republican; the Chief Justice was a Virginian and a Federalist. Old friends looked askance, or crossed the road to avoid a meeting, and hot bloods went a-duelling. The note of the time was Ambition; the noun most in use the name of Napoleon Buonaparte. It seemed written across the firmament; to some in letters of light and to others in hell fire. With that sign in the skies, men might shudder and turn to a private hearth, or they might give loosest rein to desire for Fame. In the columns of the newspapers, above the name of every Roman patriot, each party found voice. From a lurid background of Moreau’s conspiracy and d’Enghien’s death, of a moribund English King and Premier, of Hayti aflame, and Tripoli insolent, they thundered, like Cassandra, of home woes. To the Federalist, reverencing the dead Washington, still looking for leadership to Hamilton, now so near that fatal Field of Honour, unconsciously nourishing love for that mother country from which he had righteously torn himself, the name of Democrat-Republican and all that it implied was a stench in the nostrils. On the other hand, the lover of Jefferson, the believer in the French Revolution and that rider of the whirlwind whom it had bred, the far-sighted iconoclast, and the poor bawler for simplicity and red breeches, all found the Federalist a mete burnished fly in the country’s pot of ointment. Nowhere might be found a man so sober or so dull as to cry, “A plague o’ both your houses!”

In the county of Albemarle April was blending with May. The days were soft and sunshiny, apt to be broken by a hurry of clouds, of slanting trees, and silver rain. When the sun came out again, it painted a great bow in the heavens. Beneath that bright token bloomed a thousand orchards; and the wheat and the young corn waved in the wet breeze. The land was rolling and red in colour, with beautiful trees and narrow rivers. Eastward it descended to misty plains, westward the mountains rose, bounding a noble landscape of field and forest. For many years the axe had swung and trees had fallen, but the forest yet descended to the narrow roads, observed itself in winding streams, gloomed upon the sunlit clearings where negroes sang as they tilled the soil. In the all-surrounding green the plantations showed like intaglios. From pleasant hillsides, shady groves, and hamlets of offices and quarters, the sedate red-brick, white-porticoed “great houses” looked easily forth upon a world which interested them mightily.

Upon a morning in late April of the year 1804, the early sunshine, overflowing such a plantation, dipped at last into a hollow halfway between the house and the lower gates, and overtook two young creatures playing at make-believe, their drama of the moment being that of the runaway servant.

“Oh, the sun!” wailed Deb. “We can’t pretend it’s dark any longer! God has gone and made another day! We’ll see you running away,–all of us white folk, and the overseer and Mammy Chloe! If you climb this willow, the dogs will tree you like they did Aunt Dinah’s Jim! Lie down and I’ll cover you with leaves like the babes in the wood!”

Miranda, a slim black limb of Satan in a blue cotton gown, flung herself with promptitude upon the ground. “Heap de beech leaves an’ de oak leaves upon dis heah po’ los’ niggah. Oh, my lan’! don’ you heah ’um comin’?”

Dead leaves fell upon her in a shower, and her accomplice gathered more with frantic haste. “Oh, it’s the ghost in the tobacco-house! it’s a rock rolling down the mountain! it’s–it’s something splashing in the swamp!”

“Is I a-hidin’ in de swamp? Den don’ th’ow no oak leaves on dis niggah, for dey don’ grow dyar. Gawd A’moughty, lis’en to de river roarin’! I’s hidin’ by de river–I’s hidin’ by de river! I’s hidin’ by de river Jordan!”

Deb swayed to and fro, beating her hands in her excitement. “I see a boat–a great big boat! It’s as big as the Ark! The finders are in it, and the dogs and the guns! Let us pray! O Jesus, save Miranda, even though it is a scarlet sin to run away! O Jesus, don’t let them take her to the Court House! O Jesus, let them take me–”

Miranda reared herself from her leafy bed. “Humph! what you gwine do at de Co’te House? Answer me dat! I knows what de Lawd gwine say. He gwine say, ’Run for it, niggah!’ Yaas, Lawd, I sholy gwine do what yousay–I gwine run to de very aidge of de yearth.

     “Oh, I fool you, Mister Oberseer Man!
     Oh, I fool you, my ole Marster!
     Cotch de mockin’bird co’tin’ in de locus’,
     Cotch de bullfrog gruntin’ in de ma’sh,
     Cotch de black snake trabellin’ ’long his road,
     But you ain’ gwine see dis niggah enny mo’!

“Miss Deb, ef I gets to de big gate fust, you gwine lemme hol’ dat doll baby Marse Edward gin you?”

Deb brushed the last oak leaf from the skirt of her green gown, tossed her yellow hair out of her brown eyes, and scrambled up the steep side of the dell to a level of lawn and flowers. Her handmaiden followed her, and they paused for breath beneath the white blooms of a mighty catalpa. A hundred yards away, across an expanse of dewy turf, rose the great house, bathed in sunlight. Box, syringa, and honeysuckle environed it, and a row of poplars made a background of living green. It had tall white pillars, and shallow steps leading down to a gravelled drive. The drive was over-arched by elm and locust, and between the trees was planted purple lilac. All of fresh and fair and tender met in the late April weather, in the bright and song-filled morning, in the dew and in the flowers. Upon the steps, between the white pillars, were gathered several muslined figures, flowery bright to match the morning. In the drive below, two horsemen, booted and spurred, clad in many-caped riding-coats and attended by a negro groom, were in the act of lifting tall hats to the ladies of the house they were quitting.

“Hi!” panted Miranda. “Marse Ludwell Cary, Marse Fairfax Cary, an’ dat brack niggah Eli! Whar dey gwine dis mawnin’?”

“To the Court House–to the election,” answered Deb. “I know all about it, for I asked Uncle Edward. If the Federalists win, the crops will be good, and General Washington and my father and my grandfather will lie quiet in their graves. We are Federalists. If the Republicans win, the country will go to the devil.”

“Hi, dat so?” said Miranda. “Le’s run open de big gate. Dey two gent’men moughty free wid dey money.”

Racing over the jewelled turf, mistress and maid arrived at the big gate in time to swing it open before the approaching riders. Young Fairfax Cary laughed and tossed a coin to Miranda, who bobbed and showed her teeth, while his elder brother stooped gallantly to the pretty child of the house he was leaving. “Do you know what you are like in your narrow green gown and your blowing, yellow hair? You are like a daffodil in your sister’s garden.”

“If you were to swing me up from the ground,” said Deb meditatively, “I could stand upon the toe of your boot, and hold by Pluto’s mane, and ride with you as far as the creek.–What flower is Jacqueline like?”

“Like no flower that blooms,” said Mr. Ludwell Cary. “Ah, well sprung, Proserpina! Now shall we go fast as the wind?”

They went fast as the wind to the creek, and then went like the wind back to the gate, where Ludwell Cary swung the child down to earth and the waiting Miranda.

Deb curtsied to him. “Wish me good luck, Daffy-down-Dilly!” he said, with his charming smile.

“I do,” she answered earnestly. “I hope that you will kill the Devil.”

He looked puzzled. “Is that feasible? I don’t know where to find him.”

“Aren’t you going to fight him at the Court House? Uncle Edward said that you were going to put down Lucifer.”

The two brothers broke into laughter. “I say, Fair!” cried the elder. “Has Lewis Rand a cloven hoof? I’ve scarcely seen him, you know, since I went to England!”

“He’s all cloven hoof, damn him!” the other answered cheerfully. “Best ride on. He’ll have been at the Court House this hour!”

Ludwell Cary glanced at his watch. “Early or late, the result will be the same. The county’s going for him twice over!”

“A damned tobacco-roller’s son!” growled the other.

The elder brother laughed. “’A man’s a man for a’ that,’ Fair. I dare say old Gideon rolled tobacco with all his might. As for his son, his worst enemy–and I don’t know that I am that–couldn’t deny him courage and energy.”

“He’s a dangerous man–”

“Most men are who have won by fighting. But I don’t think he loves violence. Well, well, I’m coming! Good-bye, little one!”

Deb curtsied and Miranda bobbed, the gentlemen touched their hats, black Eli grinned, the horses began to canter, and, the leafy road bending sharply, the party for the Court House passed suddenly from view as though the earth had swallowed them up.

Miranda bent her eyes upon her mistress. “Hit’s time you wuz in de schoolroom. An’ Lan’ o’ Goshen! Jes’ look at yo’ wet shoes! I reckon Mammy Chloe gwine whup me!”

Deb considered her stockings and slippers. “There’s no school to-day. Mr. Drew’s going to the Court House to vote. Uncle Edward says it is the duty of every gentleman to vote against this damned upstart and the Democrat-Republican party. The damned upstart’s other name is Lewis Rand. I’ll ask Jacqueline to beg Mammy Chloe not to whip you. I like wet feet.”

The parlour at Fontenoy was large and high and cool, hung with green paper, touched with the dull gold of old mirrors, of a carved console or two, of oval frames enclosing dim portraits. Long windows opened to the April breeze, and from above the high mantel a Churchill in lovelocks and plumed hat looked down upon Jacqueline seated at her harp. She was playing Water parted from the Sea, playing it dreamily, with an absent mind. Deb, hearing the music from the hall, came and stood beside her sister. They were orphans, dwelling with an uncle.

“Jacqueline,” said the child, “do you believe in the Devil?”

Jacqueline played on, but turned a lovely face upon her sister. “I don’t know, honey,” she said. “I suppose we must, but I had rather not.”

“Uncle Edward doesn’t. He says ’What the Devil!’ but he doesn’t believe in the Devil. Then why do he and Uncle Dick call Mr. Lewis Rand the Devil?”

Jacqueline’s hands left the strings. “They neither say nor mean that, Deb. Uncle Dick and Uncle Edward are Federalists. They do not like Republicans, nor Mr. Jefferson, nor Mr. Jefferson’s friends. Mr. Lewis Rand is Mr. Jefferson’s friend, and he is his party’s candidate for the General Assembly, and so they do not like him. But they do not call him such names as that.”

“Mr. Ludwell Cary doesn’t like him either,” said Deb. “Why, Jacqueline?”

“Mr. Ludwell Cary is his political opponent.”

“And Mr. Fairfax Cary called him a damned tobacco-roller’s son.”

Jacqueline reddened. “Mr. Fairfax Cary might be thankful to have so informed a mind and heart. It is well to blame a man for his birth!”

“Mr. Ludwell Cary said, ’A man’s a man for a’ that.’ What does that mean, Jacqueline?”

“It means,” said Jacqueline, “that–that man stamps the guinea, but God sees the gold.”

“Won’t you tell me a story?” demanded Deb. “Tell me about the time when you were a little girl and you used to stay at Cousin Jane Selden’s. And about the poor boy who lived on the next place–and the apple tree and the little stream where you played, and the mockingbird he gave you. And how his father was a cruel man, and you cried because he had to work so hard all day in the hot fields. You haven’t told me that story for a long time.”

“I have forgotten it, Deb.”

“Then tell me about summer before last, when you were at Cousin Jane Selden’s again, and you were grown, and you saw the poor boy again–only he was a man–and his father was dead, and he talked to you in Cousin Jane Selden’s flower garden. You never told me that story but once.”

“I have forgotten that one too.”

“Why does your breath come long like that, Jacqueline? I have gotten my feet wet. Will you tell Mammy Chloe not to whip Miranda? Here is Uncle Edward!”

Major Edward Churchill entered from the garden, for which he had an attachment almost comparable to his love for the old Fontenoy library and the Fontenoy stables. He was a gentleman of the old school, slight, withered, high-nosed and hawk-eyed, dressed with precision and carrying an empty sleeve. The arm he had lost at Yorktown; a temper too hot to hold he daily lost, but he had the art to keep his friends. There were duels to his account, as well as a reputation for great courage and coolness during the late war. Under the name of Horatius he contributed to The Virginia Federalist diatribes of a polished ferocity against the Democrat-Republicans and their chief, and he owned Mustapha, the noblest race-horse of the day. He was a bachelor, a member of the Cincinnati, a Black Cockade, a friend of Alexander Hamilton, a scholar, and a sceptic; a proud, high, fiery man, who had watched at the death-bed of many things. He made his home with his brother, the master of Fontenoy; and his niece Jacqueline, the daughter of a younger, long dead brother, was to him youth, colour, music, and romance.

“The moss-rose is in bloom,” he announced, standing in the parlour door. “Come see it, Jacqueline.”

They went out into the garden and stood before the moss-rose bush. “Oh, beautiful!” exclaimed Jacqueline, and touched the rose with her lips. It was sunny in the garden, and the box smelled strong and sweet. The Major plucked a sprig and studied it as though box were a rarity. “I have found,” he said, “Ludwell Cary’s visit highly agreeable. He has come home to Virginia as likely a man as one could find in a summer day. He adorns the state. I predict for him a long and successful career.”

“Yes, indeed,” assented Jacqueline. “I like him very much. How well he talks! And travel has not made him forget the old days here.”

The Major plucked another sprig of box. “In the old days, my dear, your father and your Uncle Dick and I used to plan–well, well, castles in Spain! castles in Spain! But he’s a handsome fellow!”

“He is indeed,” said Jacqueline. “His eyes are especially fine. I like that clear grey–frank and kind.”

“He has sense and principle–he has mind.”

“That is evident,” answered his niece. “He does everything admirably. Last night after supper he read to Unity and me. He reads extremely well. The book was the Death of Wallenstein. He made me see that murder! My heart stood still.”

“He is to be admired for standing up to-day against that damned demagogue, Lewis Rand! No matter if he is defeated. Every gentleman applauds him. You women adore victory, but let me tell you, a vanquished Federalist is still the conqueror of any ranting Republican!”

“Did I tell you,” asked Jacqueline, “that Mr. Pincornet holds the dancing class at Fontenoy this week?”

“The dancing class be damned! Ludwell Cary is a man and a gentleman, Jacqueline–”

“Yes,” said Jacqueline.

The Major threw away his sprig of box. “The Sphinx was a woman, and every woman is an incarnate riddle! Why don’t you care for him, Jacqueline?”

“I do care for him. I like him very much.”

“Pshaw!” said the Major irritably. “Don’t look at that rose any longer! It’s cankered! And it’s time that Dick and I were off. We vote–” he put his shapely, nervous hand upon his niece’s shoulder–"we vote, Jacqueline, for Ludwell Cary.”

“Yes, uncle,” said Jacqueline. “I know–I know.”

Colonel Dick Churchill, large and beaming, and Major Edward Churchill, thin and saturnine, rode away, and from between the white pillars Deb and Jacqueline watched them go. Colonel Dick’s wife was an invalid, and lay always in the cool and spacious “chamber,” between dimity bed curtains, with her key basket on the counterpane.

“Jacqueline,” said Deb, “whom do you vote for?”

“Women do not vote, honey.”

“But if you did vote, Jacqueline?”

“Do you remember,” asked Jacqueline, “how Lady Mary Wortley Montagu offended Mr. Alexander Pope?”

“Ah,” said Deb. “I’m little, and I ask questions, but I’m not crooked! Will Mr. Lewis Rand ever come to Fontenoy, Jacqueline?”

“You are going to wear your blue gown to the dancing class,” said Jacqueline. “Unity is going to wear her yellow jaconet, and I shall wear white. I will make you a wreath of syringa like stars. And you may wear your gloves.”

“Oh-h!” breathed Deb. “And my cornelian ring–and the flowered scarf–and–and your fan, Jacqueline?”

“Yes,” said Jacqueline. “I am tired this morning, Deb. The sunlight is so strong. I think I’ll go darken my room, and lie down upon my bed.”

“Does your head ache?”

“Yes, my head,” said Jacqueline, and went into the house.


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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