Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter XXXVIII: M. De Pincornet

Malplaquet was a Cary place, leagued in friendship as in blood with Greenwood. For seven months it had esteemed itself in mourning for the kinsman who had ridden from its gates to a violent death. But there were young girls in the house, and now, in the bright May weather, it was hard not to put forth leaf and bud and be gay once more. Actual gayety would not do, the place felt that, and very heartily; but pleasure that was also education, pleasure well within bounds, and education insisted upon, this might now be temperately indulged in. There seemed no good reason why, in mid-spring, the dancing class should not be held at Malplaquet, since it was the most convenient house to a large neighbourhood, and there were in the family three young girls.

The age esteemed dancing a highly necessary accomplishment, and its acquisition meant work, and hard work, no less than delightful play. Half a dozen young people came to stay three days at the house; half a score more drove or rode over in the afternoons, going home after ten by moonlight or by starlight Their elders came with them, it was a business of minuets and contra-dances, painstakingly performed and solicitously watched A large old parlour gave its waxed floor, Mr Pincornet’s violin furnished the music, and Mr Pincornet himself, lately returned to Albemarle from his season in Richmond, imparted instruction and directed the dance. The house was full from garret to cellar, neighbours’ horses in the stables, neighbours’ servants in the quarter. The long, low brick office standing under the big oaks in the yard made, according to custom, a barracks for the young men who, high of mettle, bold, and gay, rode in from twenty miles around, ready to dance from dusk till dawn, and then, in a bright garden and May weather, to pursue some bits of muslin throughout a morning. Malplaquet was in a state of sober glee when, inconveniently enough, the one Cary whose mourning had not lightened chanced, in ignorance of the dancing class, to ride through the gates and up the hill.

It was his intention, it appeared, to spend the night which was fast falling, and to ride back to Charlottesville in the morning. The head of the Malplaquet Carys met him with affection and apology. “Young people will be young, Fair, and Molly and I thought it best to humour them in this no great thing! It’s a mere lesson they’re having. But I’m sorry, cousin–”

“You need not be, sir,” said the other. “Ludwell would have been the last man on earth to wish their spirit less, or their pleasure less. It’s time and the weather, sir,–Malplaquet feels it with all the world. You must not be troubled, and you must not disturb my cousins. I might ride on–”

“No, no, Fair! No, no!”

“Then I won’t. Give me a room in the office–I see the house is full–and let Remus bring me supper there. If you’ll come over later, sir, we’ll talk Embargo, and I’ll give you the up-county news. I’ll to bed early, I think.”

“I wish I could come! By George, it would be a relief to get away from all the bowing and scraping! You’re sure you aren’t hurt, Fair?”

“Quite sure,” answered the other, with his old smile. “I’ll go now to the office, if I may. No need even to tell them I am here.”

Not to tell them was a thing more easily said than done. Time was when Fairfax Cary would have been hailed delightedly, drawn at once to the centre of things, and kept there by the quick glances of young women, the emulative gaze of neighbourhood gallants, and the approving consideration of the elder folk. His presence was wont to make itself felt. Now, when the news spread that he was at Malplaquet, there was a break in the dance, a pause, a hush. “What shall we do?” asked in distress the daughters of the house.

“Go on dancing,” was the reply. “He’ll have no difference made. But when the lesson’s over, you’ll remember, one and all, that he is here.”

In the far room of the office, quiet, and with a porch of its own, Cary got rid of the dust of the road, then ate the supper, bountiful and delicate, brought by Remus and presided over by the mistress of the house, who talked to him of Greenwood and of his father. “The best dancer, Fair, and, after Henry Churchill, the handsomest man,–with the air, you know, and always brave and gay and true as steel! They said he was a good hater, and I know he was a good friend. You take after him, Fair.”

“Ludwell did.”

“Yes, I know, I know–but you the most. Ludwell had much from your mother–that strength and patience and grace were Lucy Meade’s. Well, well, I cry when I think of it, so I’ll not think! Is there nothing more you’ll have? Remus is to wait upon you–you hear, Remus? And now, Fair, I’ll go back to the children”

Cary kissed her. “Give them all three my love, and tell little Anne to mind her steps. I’ve got a book to read, and I’ll go to bed early.”

He sat over his book until nearly ten, then extinguished his candles and stepped out upon the small, moonlit porch. From the house, a hundred yards away, came the sound of the violin, and of laughter, subdued but genuine. Cary drew a chair to the porch railing and sat down, resting his elbow upon the wood, his cheek upon his hand. The violin brought the thought of Unity. The laughter did not grate upon him. His nature was large, and the mirth at Malplaquet did no unkindness as it meant none. He sat there quietly until the music stopped and the lesson came to an end. The pupils not staying overnight went away, as testified the sound of wheel and stamp of hoof, the laughing voices and lingering good-byes, audible from the front of the house. This noise died, then, after an interval, lights appeared in upper windows. Slender arms and hands, put far out, drew to the wooden shutters; clear, girlish voices said good-night, and were answered by fervent and deeper tones below.

The quiet proper to the hour drew on, the lighted windows darkened one by one, and presently there appeared at the office the master of the house, accompanied by two or three young men. These greeted Cary soberly, but with much kindness. “We’ve put,” said the host, “all the talkative rattlepates away in the house, and given you three sensible men! Mr. Bland has the room at the other end, Jack Minor and Nelson the one next to him, and in the little room beside yours, Fair, we’ll stow Mr. Pincornet. They’ve all danced themselves tired, and the whole place is to have a quiet night.” The three sensible men went, after a little, to their several quarters, and the kinsman continued: “The class ends to-night, Fair. To-morrow morning all go away except the Blands and the Morrises and George Harvie’s little Dorothea. The house will be quiet, and you are not to ride away from us in the morning! Good-night–God bless you!”

Cary, left alone, watched the lights go out in the rooms of Mr. Bland, Mr. Minor, and Mr. Nelson. He thought, “I will go to bed and go to sleep"; then, so bright was the moonlight, so sweet and fragrant and now silent the night, that he stayed on upon the little porch, his arms against the railing, his eyes now on the moon, now on the quiet great house and the shadowy clumps of trees. Presently Mr. Pincornet, the moon whitening his old brocade and his curled wig, came from the house, crossed the grass, and mounted to the porch upon which his small room opened.

He started as he saw the figure by the railing. “Who is it?” he demanded, in his high, cracked voice; then, “Ah, I see, I see! A thousand pardons, Mr. Cary,–”

“We are to be neighbours to-night,” said Cary. “It has been long since we met, Mr. Pincornet. I am glad to see you again.”

“I have been in Richmond,” said the dancing master, “since–since September.”

Cary touched a chair near him with a gesture of invitation. “Won’t you sit down? It is too beautiful a night to go early to bed, and I do not think we will disturb the others’ slumbers. But perhaps you are tired–”

“The practice of my art does not tire me,” answered Mr. Pincornet. “I will watch the moon with you for as long as you please. We had nights such as this near Aire, when I was young”

He sat down, leaning his chin upon his beruffled hand. The light falling full on his companion showed the dark dress and above it the quiet, much altered face. Mr. Pincornet sighed, and tapped nervously upon the railing with the fingers of his other hand. “Mr Cary, I have not seen you since–Pray accept my profound condolences, my sympathy, and my admiration.”

His old pupil thanked him. “All my brother’s friends and mine are most kind. I should guess that you have yourself seen many sorrows, Mr. Pincornet.”

The Frenchman’s face twitched. “Many, sir, many. I have experienced the curse of fortune. Eh bien! one pays, and all is said! I have grieved with you, sir, I beg you to believe it. I admired your brother.”

“He was worthy of admiration.”

“In the south, near Mauléon, I lost such an one–brother not in blood but in friendship, a friendship pure as the flowers of spring and strong as the vintage of autumn. His own troops turned Jacobin and scoundrel, mutinied, shot him down–Ha!” Mr. Pincornet drew out his box and took snuff with trembling fingers. “Well! the King’s side was uppermost for a while down there, and we had our revenge–we had our revenge–we had our revenge! But,” he ended sadly, “it could not bring back my poor Charles.”

“Did you think of it as revenge?”

“No. I thought of it as justice. It was that, sir. Those soldiers paid, but they owed the debt–every sou they owed it! He was,” continued Mr. Pincornet, “gallant and brave, a great lover, a great fighter. He was to my heart, though not of my blood–”

“The man that I have lost,” said Cary, “was of my blood and to my heart. I am left alone of an old house. And I pursue justice, Mr. Pincornet, I pursue justice, I pursue justice.”

Mr. Pincornet looked at the face opposite him. “I think, sir, you will capture that to which you give chase. I have been in town, away from the country, but I hear the talk, and sometimes I read the papers. You have not taken the murderer?”


“It is strange!” exclaimed the other. “And no one suspected?”

“I suspect,” answered Cary sternly, “but the world in general does not, or suspects wrongly. You were not at the inquest which was held?”

The dancing master shook his head. “In your sorrow, sir, such matters were, naturally, not brought to your notice. I fell ill, in the first days of September, at Red Fields, of a cold upon the lungs. I gave up my art and lay at death’s door. My head was light; I heard and I thought of nothing but the faces and the voices around about Aire where I was young. I recovered, and, in the stage, I went to Richmond. To ask who is it you suspect would be a question indiscreet–”

Cary sat with his eyes upon the dark azure above the treetops. “Not yet,” he said, in a brooding voice; “I have him not yet. Did you, Mr. Pincornet, have any scruple when you took vengeance, near Mauléon?”

“None, sir! I served justice. Soldiers are not levied to murder at once their faith and their officers. No more scruple than is yours in hunting down the wild beast that killed your brother! You have my wishes there for a good hunting!”

The Ancien Régime put up his snuffbox and brushed the fallen grains from his old, old red brocade. “What a night for music and for love! The road down yonder–it is like the silver ribbon they wear–they wore–at court!”

“The road–the road!” exclaimed Cary. “I travel it in my sleep. It haunts me as I haunt it. I know all its long stretches, all its turns–" He sighed, and moved so as to face the whitened ribbon.

“You ride,” said the dancing master; “but, for my own convenience, I go afoot, and it is probable that I know it best.”

They sat gazing down past garden and hillside to the still highway. “I have not walked upon it, however,” continued Mr. Pincornet reflectively, “since September. I then went afoot from Clover Hill to Red Fields, where I was taken ill. It was the seventh of September.”

“The seventh of September!”

“I remember the day,” continued Mr. Pincornet, “because I sat down under a tree beside the road to rest, and I had an almanac in my pocket.”

“You remember it by nothing else?”

“Why, by one thing more,” answered the other. “I sat there, my head on my hand, perhaps thinking of nothing, perhaps thinking of France–an empty road and in the sky black clouds–when suddenly–what do you say?–clatter, crash! through the wood opposite and down a tall red bank to the road came another pupil of mine–”

“Yes?” said Cary. “Who?”

“Mr. Lewis Rand.”

Something fell to the floor with a slight sound. It was the book that had rested upon Cary’s crossed knee. He stooped and picked it up, then, straightening himself, looked again at the silver ribbon. “Black clouds in the sky,” he said, in a curious voice, “and the seventh of September, M. de Pincornet?”

“Yes,” replied the other, “by the almanac. That was two days, was it not, before your brother’s death?”

“My brother, sir, was murdered upon the seventh of September.”

“The seventh! The ninth! You mean the ninth! I heard it so when I recovered–”

“You heard it wrongly. It was the seventh.”

There was a silence; then, “Indeed,” said the dancing master, in a curious dry and shocked voice. “The seventh. At what hour?”

“It is not known. Perhaps about midday, perhaps a little later–when there were black clouds in the sky.”

The silence fell again, hard and full of meaning, then Cary leaned forward and laid his hand upon the other’s arm “I’ve hunted long alone, now we’ll hunt for a moment together! Tell me again.”

“He came down the bank in a great noise and rolling of stone and earth. There were thick woods on the top of the bank. He came out of them like Pluto out of the earth–”

“He was alone?”

“Alone. But he had a negro waiting for him down the road.”

“He told you that?”

“I left my tree and we talked a little. He was torn, he was breathless. He explained that he had started a doe and had followed through the woods. He left me and went down the road to meet his negro. They passed me, and when I came to Red Fields, I was told they had paused there. I said nothing of our meeting. I was very tired and the storm was breaking. Before it was over I was hot and cold and shaking and ill in my bed. I was ill, as I have told you, for a long time. The ninth! I always thought it was the ninth–”

“Would you know again the place where this chase occurred?”

“He came down the bank opposite the blasted oak.”

“Ah!” breathed Cary; then, after a moment, “I stopped my horse beneath that tree this morning, and my eyes rested upon that red bank. And I did not know! We are very blind.” He rose. “Will you come indoors, sir? I wish to light the candles again.”

They entered the small bedroom. Cary lighted the candles, placed them upon the table, and closed the shutters of the one window. From the breast of his riding-coat he took a rolled paper. “This is a map of the country below Red Fields. I made it myself. Now let us see, sir, let us see!”

He pinned the map down with ink-well, sand-box, book, and candlestick, which done, the two bent over it. “Call it,” said Cary, “a military map of your country near Mauléon. Now, sir, look! Here is what a man did.”

The demonstration proceeded, and it was carried out with keenness and with a very fair approach to accuracy. “Here is Malplaquet, which one passes about nine in the morning, and there by the candlestick is Red Fields, certainly on the main road and certainly paused at by"–he glanced aside at the other’s face–"by the murderer, M. de Pincornet! Now let us mark this fox that doubles on himself.”

The long, curled wig of the Frenchman and the younger man’s handsome head with the hair gathered back into a black ribbon bent lower over the map. “Forrest’s forge, the mill, the ford, he passed these places under such and such circumstances–here, where I rest the pen, stands the guide-post. This line is your silvered ribbon, this is the main road that makes a sweep around the broken country. This heavy, black, and jagged line is the river road. They both took the river road, as both had said they would–my brother to me, the murderer to a man at the Cross Roads Inn. The negro boy kept on by the main road. Where is this riven oak?” He dipped the quill into the ink-well. “I correct my map according to my better knowledge. That tree stands two miles below Red Fields, just above the turn where, fifty years ago, was the Indian ambush. We’ll mark it here, black and charred. Here is the bank, crowned by woods. The growth is very thick between it and"–his hand, holding the pen, travelled across the sheet–"the river road just east of Indian Run.”

He laid down the pen, and turned from the table to the open door. “The moon is not bright enough, or I would go to-night. I want sunlight, or I want storm-light, for that ride across from road to road! Five hours till morning.” He returned to the dancing master. “When, in your country, the man you loved was to be avenged, and his murderers punished, you were glad of aid, were you not? I shall be thankful for every least thing that you can tell me.”

“He came,” said the émigré, “like Pluto out of the earth. He was breathless as one out of prison–his linen was torn. There was,” the narrator’s voice halted, then hardened in tone,–"there was blood upon his sleeve. At the time I supposed that, in bursting through that grille of the forest, branch or briar had drawn it. There was blood, sir, about your brother?”

“Yes. If the murderer stooped to know if life was out, it might have happened so.”

“He was not pale, I think, but he spoke in a strange voice. ’Ha!’ he said, ’I started a doe ten minutes since, and gave her chase through the wood. Now I will rejoin my boy a little way down the road. Are you on your way to Charlottesville?’ I told him I would go to Red Fields, upon which he said adieu and turned his horse. A little later he and his boy passed me, riding in a cloud of dust and under black skies.” The dancing master raised a glass of water that was upon the table and moistened his lips. “This, Mr. Cary, is all my aid. I admired your brother, and there is, sir, a something about you that returns Charles to my memory. If it pleases you, and if our host will lend me a horse, I will ride with you in the morning, as far at least as the oak and that red bank down which he came.”

“I accept your offer, sir,” answered the other, “with gratitude. You did not chance to notice his holsters?”

“No–except that his saddle had holsters. I have seen his pistols. I saw them one night at Monticello. He told me that they were a gift from his patron.”

“Yes. They were given by Mr. Jefferson, and the other’s name is upon them. Moreover, he travelled armed from Richmond to Roselands. I acquired that knowledge in the autumn. I would that iron could speak–if it could, and if human effort be of avail, I would yet have those pistols in my holding!”

He took the map from the table, rolled it up, and restored it to its place. “It grows late,” he said. “Let us to bed and to sleep. It is the eve of a decisive engagement, M. de Pincornet. If you’ll permit me, I will call you at five. Remus shall make us coffee, and we’ll make free with a horse for you from the stables. Then the road again! but this time I go no farther than the ford, on that white ribbon yonder. You shall keep the highroad, but I will take the river road, and yet I’ll hold tryst with you beneath that riven oak!” He began to put out the candles. “I shall sleep and sleep well until dawn, and I wish for you, sir, as good a night. For the aid which you have given me, I am most heartily your servant.”

Alone in the little room, he straightened, mechanically, the objects upon the table, paced for a time or two the narrow, cell-like place, then went out again upon the porch and stood with his hands on the railing, and his eyes raised to the white moon, full and serene in the cloudless night. “For without,” he said, “are dogs and sorcerers and murderers and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” He stood for a long while without movement, but at last let fall his hands, turned, and went indoors. When, a little later, he threw himself upon his bed and drew his hand across his eyes, he found that it was wet with tears. He spoke aloud, though hardly above his breath. “No, Ludwell, no! In this sole thing I am right. It is not revenge. I am not vindictive, I am not revengeful. This is justice, and I can no other than pursue it. It will not grieve you where you are.” He turned and buried his face in the pillow. “O brother–O friend–”

The emotion passed and he lay staring at the ceiling, reconstructing midday of September the seventh beside Indian Run.


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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