Lewis Rand
By Mary Johnston

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Chapter V: Monticello

The house, a low frame one, stood back from the road, in a tangle of old, old flowering shrubs. Rand drew rein before the broken gate, and a young woman in a linsey gown rose from the porch step and came down the narrow path toward him. She carried an earthenware pitcher and cup. “It’s water just from the well,” she said, “fresh and cool. Won’t you have some?”

“Yes, I will,” answered Rand. “Vinie, why don’t you mend that gate?”

“I don’t know, thir,” said Vinie. “Tom’s always going to.”

Rand laughed. “Don’t call me ’thir’! Vinie, I’m elected.”

Vinie set down her pitcher beside a clump of white phlox and wiped her hands on the skirt of her linsey dress. “Are you going away to Richmond?” she asked.

“Not until October. When I do I’ll go see the little old house you used to live in, Vinie!”

“It’s torn down,” remarked Vinie soberly. “Here’s Tom now, and–and–”

“Adam Gaudylock. Don’t you remember Adam?”

The hunter and Tom Mocket came up together. “We beat them! we beat them, hey, Lewis!” grinned the scamp; and Gaudylock cried, “Why, if here isn’t the little partridge again! Don’t you want to see what I’ve got in my pouch?”

“Yeth, thir,” said Vinie.

Rand and his lieutenant talked together in a low voice, Mocket leaning against black Selim’s neck, Rand stooping a little, and with earnestness laying down the law of the case. They talked for ten minutes, and then Rand gathered up the reins, asked for another cup of water, and with a friendly “Good-bye, Vinie!” rode off toward Monticello, Adam Gaudylock going with him.

Brother and sister watched the riders down the road until the gathering dark and the shadow of the trees by the creek hid them from sight. “Just wait long enough and we’ll see what we see,” quoth Tom. “Lewis Rand’s going to be a great man!”

“How great?” asked Vinie. “Not as great as Mr. Jefferson?”

“I don’t know,” the scamp answered sturdily. “He might be. One thing’s certain, anyhow; he’s not built like Mr. Madison or Mr. Monroe. He’ll not be content to travel the President’s road always. He’ll have a road all his own.” The scamp’s imagination, not usually lively, bestirred itself under the influence of the day, of wine, and the still audible sound of horses’ hoofs. “By George, Vinie! it will be a Roman road, hard, paved, and fit for triumphs! He thinks it won’t, but he’s mistaken. He doesn’t see himself!”

Vinie took the pitcher from beneath the white phlox. “It’s getting dark. Tom, aren’t we ever going to have that gate mended?–He’s going away to Richmond in October.”

The successful candidate and Adam Gaudylock, followed by Joab on a great bay horse, crossed Moore’s Creek, and took the Monticello road. A red light yet burned in the west, but the trees were dark along the way, and the hollows filled with shadow. The dew was falling, the evening dank and charged with perfume.

“I asked you to come with me,” said Rand, “because I wanted to talk to some one out of the old life. Mocket’s out of the old life too, he and Vinie. But–” he laughed. “They’re afraid of me. Vinie calls me ’thir.’”

“Well, I’m not afraid of you,” Adam said placidly. “No one at home at Monticello?”

“No, but Burwell keeps a room in readiness. I am often there on errands for Mr. Jefferson. Well, how go matters west of the mountains?”

“Christmas I spent at Louisville,” answered Gaudylock, “and then went down the river to New Orleans. The city’s like a hive before swarming. There are more boats at its wharves than buds on yonder Judas tree. And back from the river the cotton’s blooming now.”

“Ah!” said Rand, “I should like to see that land! When you have done a thing, Adam, a thing that you have striven with all your might to do, does it at once seem to you a small thing to have done? It does to me–tasteless, soulless, and poor, not worth a man’s while. Where lies the land of satisfaction?”

“No,” answered Adam, “I don’t look at things that way. But then I’m not ambitious. Last year, in New Orleans, I watched a man gaming. He won a handful of French crowns. ’Ha!’ says he, ’they glittered, but they do not glitter now! Again!’–and this time he won doubloons. ’We’ll double these,’ says he, and so they did, and he won. ’This is a small matter,’ he said. We’ll play for double-eagles,’ and so they did, and he won. ’Haven’t you a tract of sugar-canes?’ says he. ’Money’s naugh. Let us play for land!’ and he won the sugar-canes. ’That girl, that red-lipped Jeanne of thine, that black eye in the Street of Flowers–I’ll play for her! Deal the cards!’ But he never won the girl, and he lost the sugar-canes and the gold.”

“A man walks forward, or he walks backward. There’s no standing still in this world or the next. Where were you after New Orleans, before you turned homeward?”

“At Mr. Blennerhassett’s island in the Ohio. And that’s a pleasant place and a pleasant gentleman–”

“Listen!”

“Aye,” answered the other; “I heard it some moments back. Some one is fiddling beyond that tulip tree.”

They were now ascending the mountain, moving between great trees, fanned by a cooler wind than had blown in the valley. The road turned, showing them a bit of roadside grass, a giant tulip tree, and a vision of a moon just rising in the east. Upon a log, beneath the tree, appeared the dim brocade and the curled wig of M. Achille Pincornet, resting in the twilight and solacing his soul with the air of “Madelon Friquet.” Around him sparkled the fireflies, and above were the thousand gold cups of the tulip tree. His bow achieved a long tremolo; he lowered the violin from his chin, stood up, and greeted the travellers.

“That was a pretty air, Mr. Pincornet,” said Rand. “Why are you on the Monticello road? Your next dancing class is at Fontenoy.”

“And how did you know that, sir?” demanded the Frenchman in his high, thin voice. As he spoke, he restored his fiddle to its case with great care, then as carefully brushed all leaf and mould from his faded silken clothes.

“I know–I know,” replied Rand. He regarded the figure in dusty finery with a certain envy of any one who was going to Fontenoy, even as dancing master, even as a man no longer young. Mr. Pincornet looked, in the twilight, very pinched, very grey, very hungry. “Come on with me to Monticello,” said the young man. “Burwell will give us supper, and find us a couple of bottles to boot.”

“Sir,” answered the Frenchman stiffly, but with an inner vision of Monticello cheer, “I would not vote for you–”

Rand laughed. “I bear no malice, Mr. Pincornet. Opinion’s but opinion. I’ll cut no traveller’s throat because he likes another road than mine! Come, come! Fish from the river, cakes and coffee, Mr. Pincornet–and afterwards wine on the terrace!”

The road climbed on. Between the stems of the tall trees, feathered with the green of mid-spring, the dogwood displayed its stars, and the fringe tree rose like a fountain. Everywhere was the sound of wind in the leaves. When the riders and the dancing master, who was afoot, reached the crest of the little mountain, shaven and planed by the hand of man into a fair plateau, the moon was shining brightly. In the silver light, across the dim lawns, classically simple, grave, and fair, rose the house that Jefferson had built. The gate clanged behind the party from Charlottesville, a dog barked, a light flared, voices of negroes were heard, and hurrying feet from the house quarter. Upon the lawn to the right and left of the mansion were two toy houses, tiny brick offices used by Jefferson for various matters. The door of one of these now opened, and Mr. Bacon, the overseer, hastening across the wet grass, greeted Rand and Gaudylock as they dismounted before the white portico.

“Evening, evening, Mr. Rand! I knew you’d be coming up, so I hurried on afore ye. Csar and Joab, you take the horses round! Glad to see you, Adam; you too, Mr. Pincornet! Well, Mr. Rand, you spoiled the Egyptians this day! I never saw a finer election! Me and Mr. Fagg were talking of you. ’His father was a fighter before him,’ says Mr. Fagg, says he, ’and he’s a fighter, too, damn him!’ says he, ’and we’ll send him higher yet. Damn the Federalists!’ says he. ’He’s a taller man than Ludwell Cary!’”

“I’m a mighty hungry man, Mr. Bacon,” said Rand. “And so is Adam, and so is Mr. Pincornet! You’ll take supper with us, I hope? We’ll make Adam Gaudylock tell us stories of Louisiana.”

“Thank’ee, Mr. Rand, I will. Your room’s all ready, sir, and Burwell shall bring you a julep. I reckon you’re pretty tired. Lord! I’d rather clear a mountain side and then plough it, than to have to sit there all day on that there Justice’s Bench and listen to them Federalists! They’re a lot! And that Fairfax Cary–he’s a chip of the old block, he surely is! He’d have gone through fire to-day to see his brother win. This way, gentlemen! Sally’ll have supper ready in a jiffy. I smell the coffee now. Well, well, Mr. Rand! to think of the way you used to trudge up here all weathers, snow or storm or hot sun, just for a book–and now you come riding in on Selim, elected to Richmond, over the heads of the Carys! Life’s queer, ain’t it? We’ll hear of you at Fontenoy next!”

Rand smiled. “Life’s not so queer as that, Mr. Bacon. I wish you might–” he broke off.

“Might what?” asked Bacon.

“Hear of me at Fontenoy,” answered Rand, and entered the wide hall as one who was at home there. “I’ll go bathe my face and hands,” he said, and turned into the passage that led to the bedrooms.

A tall clock struck the hour, a bell rang cheerfully, and Burwell flung open the dining-room door. Rand, entering a moment later, found the overseer, the hunter, and the dancing master awaiting him. With a nod and a “Ha, Burwell!” for the old servant, he took his place at the table, and he took it like a prince, throwing his tall, vigorous figure into the armchair which marked the head of the board, seating himself before the other and older men. In the wave of his hand toward the three remaining places there was a condescension not the less remarkable that it was entirely unconscious. The life within him was moving with great rapidity. It was becoming increasingly natural for him to act, simply, without thought, as his inner man bade. What yesterday was uneasiness, and to-day seemed assurance, was apt by to-morrow to attain convincingness. It was not that he appeared to value himself too highly. Instead, he made no attempt at valuation; he went his way like wind or wave. He took the armchair at the head of the Monticello table with the simplicity of a child, and the bearing of a general who sups with his officers after a victorious field.

The unfolding of the petal was not missed by his companions. Adam Gaudylock, with a glance, half shrewd and half affectionate, for the man whom he had known from boyhood, sank into the opposite seat with a light and happy laugh. It mattered little to Adam where he sat in life, provided that it was before a window. The overseer, a worthy, plain man, had a thought of old Gideon Rand, but, remembering in time Mr. Jefferson’s high opinion of the man now occupying his chair, sat down and unfolded his damask napkin with great care. Mr. Pincornet, indeed, raised his eyebrows and made a backward movement from the table, but at that moment a mulatto boy appeared with a plate of waffles. The light from the wax candles burned, too, in certain crimson decanters. “Sit down, sit down, Mr. Pincornet!” said Rand, and the dancing master took the remaining place.

An hour later Rand pushed back his heavy chair and rose from the table, ending the meal with as little ceremony as he had used in beginning it. “I shall go write to Mr. Jefferson,” he announced, as the four passed into the hall. “You, Adam, what will you do?”

“First I’ll smoke and then I’ll sleep,” said Adam. The moonlight streamed in upon them through the open hall door. “I’ll smoke outside. That’s a southern moon.

     “Kiss me, kiss me, flower o’ night!
                  Madelon!
     ’Ware the voices, ’ware the light!
                  Madelon!

“Will you smoke with me, Mr. Bacon? I’d like to try the Monticello leaf.”

“I have to go to the quarters for a bit,” answered the overseer. “There’s sickness there. I’ll join you later, Mr. Gaudylock.”

He went whistling away. Adam sat down upon the broad steps whitened by the moon, filled his pipe, struck a spark from his flint and steel, and was presently enveloped in fragrant smoke. The dancing-master, hesitating somewhat disconsolately in the hall, at last went also into the moonlight, where he walked slowly up and down upon the terrace, his thin, beruffled hands clasped behind his old brocaded coat. What with the moonlight and the ancient riches of his apparel, and a certain lost and straying air, he had the seeming of a phantom from some faint, bewigged, perfumed, and painted past.

Lewis Rand paused for a moment before the door, and looked out upon the splendid night, then turned and passed into the library, where he called for candles, and, sitting down at a desk, began to write. His letter was to the President of the United States, and it was written freely and boldly. “’Twas thus they did–’twas so I did. We won, and I am glad; they lost, and that also is to my liking. As the party owes its victory to your name and your power, so I owe my personal victory to your ancient and continued kindness. May my name be abhorred if ever I forget it! The Federalists mustered strongly. Mr. Ludwell Cary is extremely ’well born,’ and that younger brother of his is–I know not why, he troubles me. There is a breath of the future about him, and it breathes cold. Well! I have fought and I have won. ’Let the blast of the desert come: I shall be renowned in my day!’ To-night, you see, I quote Ossian. The moon is flooding the terrace. Were you here in your loved home, we would talk together. Adam Gaudylock is with me. Lately he was in Louisiana, and then with a Mr. Blennerhassett upon the Ohio. General Wilkinson is at New Orleans. The Spaniards are leaving, the French well affected. The mighty tide of our people has topped the mountains and is descending into those plains of the Mississippi made ours by your prophetic vision and your seizure of occasion. The First Consul is a madman! He has sold to us an Empire! Empire! Emperor–Emperor of the West! The sound is stately. You laugh. We are citizens of a republic. Well! I am content. I aspire no higher. I am not Buonaparte. Your lilies are budding beneath the windows; the sweet williams are all in bloom. I have little news for you of town or country–Mrs. Randolph, doubtless, sends you all. Work goes on upon the church. For me, I worship in the fields with the other beasts of burden or of prey. The wheat looks well, and there will be this year a great yield of apples. Major Churchill’s Mustapha won at Winchester. Colonel Churchill has cleared a large tract of woods behind Fontenoy and will use it for tobacco. I rode by his plant bed the other day, and the leaf is prime. I am a judge of tobacco. They are bitter, the Fontenoy men. Mr. Ludwell Cary will, I suppose, remain in the county. He is altering and refurnishing Greenwood. I suppose that he will marry. The rains have been frequent this spring, the roads heavy and the rivers turbid. The stream is much swollen by my house on the Three-Notched Road. We hear that the feeling grows between General Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Should the occasion arise, pray commend me to the latter, whose acquaintance I had the honour to make last year when I visited New York. There, if you please, is a spirit restless and audacious! The mill on the Rockfish is grinding this spring. The murder case of which I wrote you will be tried next court day. One Fitch killed one Thomas Dole in North Garden; knocked at his door one night, called him out, and shot him down. Dole had thwarted Fitch in some project or other. I am retained by the State, and I mean to hang Fitch. Adam Gaudylock says there is a region of the Mississippi where the cotton grows taller than a man’s head. We may find our gold of Ophir in that plant. To-night I am a victor. I salute you, so much oftener than I a victor! But victory is a mirage: this that I thought so fair is but a piece of the desert; the magnum bonum shines, looms, and beckons still ahead! Had I been defeated, I believe I should have been in better spirits. Now to the papers which you desired me to read and comment upon: I find–”

The quill travelled on, conveying to sheet after sheet the opinion upon certain vexed questions of a very able lawyer. The analysis was keen, the reasoning just, the judgment final, the advice sound. The years since that determinative hour in the Richmond book-shop had been well harvested. The paper when he had finished it would have pleased the ideal jurist.

He wrote until the clock struck ten; then folded, sealed, and superscribed his letter, pushed back the heavy hair from his forehead, and rose from the desk. The long windows opened upon the terrace, and through them came the moonbeams and the fragrance of the April night–music too, for Mr. Pincornet was playing the violin. The young man extinguished the candles, and stepped into the silvery world without the room. Adam Gaudylock had disappeared, and the overseer was gone to bed. Lights were out in the quarters; the house was as still and white as a mansion in a fairy tale. Mr. Pincornet was no skilled musician, but the air he played was old and sweet, and it served the hour. Below their mountain-top lay the misty valleys; to the east the moon-flooded plains; to the west the far line of the Blue Ridge. The night was cloudless.

Rand stood with his hands upon the balustrade, then walked down the terrace and paused before the dancing master. “Before he hurt his hand Mr. Jefferson played the violin beautifully,” he said. “When I was younger, in the days when I tried to do everything that he did, I tried to learn it too. But I have no music in me.”

“It is a solace,” answered Mr. Pincornet. “I learned long ago, in the South.”

“I like the harp,” announced Rand abruptly.

“It is a becoming instrument to a woman,” replied Mr. Pincornet, and in a somewhat ghostly fashion became vivacious. “Ah, a rounded arm, a white hand, the rise and fall of a bosom behind the gold wires–and the notes like water dropping, sweet, sweet! Ah, I, too, like the harp!”

“I have never heard it but twice,” said Rand, and turned again to the balustrade. Below him lay the vast and shadowy landscape. Here and there showed a light–a pale earth-star shining from grey hill or vale. Rand looked toward Fontenoy, and he looked wistfully. Behind him the violin was telling of the springtime; from the garden came the smell of the syringas; the young man’s desire was toward a woman. “Is she playing her harp to-night? is she playing to Ludwell Cary?”

     “Belle saison de ma jeunesse–
     Beaux jours du printemps!”

sang the violin. A shot sounded near the house. Adam Gaudylock emerged from the shadow of the locust trees and crossed the moonlit lawn below the terrace. “I’ve shot that night-hawk. He’ll maraud no more,” he said, and passed on toward his quarter for the night.

Rand made a motion as if to follow, then checked himself. It was late, and it had been a day of strife, but his iron frame felt no fatigue and his mood was one of sombre exaltation. What was the use of going to bed, of wasting the moonlit hours? He turned to the Frenchman. “Play me,” he commanded, “a conquering air! Play me the Marseillaise!”

Mr. Pincornet started violently. Down came the fiddle from his chin, the bow in his beruffled hand cut the air with a gesture of angry repudiation. When he was excited he forgot his English, and he now swore volubly in French; then, recovering himself, stepped back a pace, and regarded with high dudgeon his host of the night. “Sir,” he cried, “before I became a dancing master I was a French gentleman! I served the King. I will teach you to dance, but–Morbleu!–I will not play you the Marseillaise!”

“I beg your pardon,” said Rand. “I forgot that you could not be a Republican. Well, play me a fine Royalist air.”

“Are you so indifferent?” asked the dancing master, not without a faded scorn. “Royalist or Republican–either air?”

“Indifferent?” repeated Rand. “I don’t know that I am indifferent. Open-minded, perhaps,–though I don’t know that that is calling it rightly. The airs the angels sing, and the thundering march of the damned through hell–why should I not listen to them both? I don’t believe in hell, nor much in angels, save one, but I like the argument. Mr. Pincornet, I don’t want to sleep. Suppose–suppose you teach me a minuet?”

He laughed as he spoke, but he spoke in earnest. “Knowledge! I want all kinds of knowledge. I know law, and I know what to do with a jury, and I know tobacco–worse luck!–but I don’t know the little things, the little gracious things that–that make a man liked. If I were a Federalist, and if I didn’t know so much about tobacco, I would go, Mr. Pincornet, to your dancing class at Fontenoy!” He laughed again. “I can’t do that, can I? The Churchills would all draw their swords. Come! I have little time and few chances to acquire that which I have longed for always,–the grace of life. Teach me how to enter a drawing-room; how to–how to dance with a lady!”

His tone, imperious when he demanded the Marseillaise, was now genial, softened to a mellow persuasiveness. Mr. Pincornet shrugged his shoulders. He had been offended, but he was not unmagnanimous, and he had a high sense of the importance of his art. He had seen in France what came of uncultivated law-givers. If a man wanted knowledge, far be it from Achille de Pincornet to withhold his handful! “You cannot learn in a night,” he said, “but I will show you the steps.”

“I can manage a country dance, a reel or Congo,” said Rand simply. “I want to know politer things.”

They left the terrace, went into the drawing-room, and lit the candles. The floor, rubbed each morning until it shone, gave back the heart-shaped flames. The slight furniture they pushed aside. The dancing master tucked his violin under his chin, drew the bow across the strings, and began the lesson.

The candles burned clear, strains of the minuet de la cour rose and fell in the ample room, the member from Albemarle and Mr. Pincornet stepped, bent, and postured with the gravity of Indian sachems. The one moved through the minuet in top-boots and riding-coat, the other taught in what had been a red brocade. Rand, though tall and largely built, moved with the step and carriage, light and lithe, of one who has used the woods; the Frenchman had the suppleness of his profession and of an ancient courtier. Now they bowed one to the other, now each to an imaginary lady. Mr. Pincornet issued directions in the tone of a general ordering a charge, his pupil obeyed implicitly. In the silent house, raised high on a mountain-top above a sleeping world, in the lit room with many open windows, through which poured the fragrance of spring, they practised until midnight the minuet de la cour. The hour struck; they gravely ceased to dance, and after five minutes spent in mutual compliments, closed the long windows and put out the superfluous lights, then said good-night, and, bedroom candle in hand, repaired each to his own chamber. Rand had risen at dawn, and his day had been a battlefield, but before he lay down in the dimity-hung, four-post bed he sat long at the window of his small, white, quiet room. The moon shone brightly; the air was soft and sweet. In the distance a lamb bleated, then all was still again. The young man rested his chin on his hand, and studied the highest stars. That day a milestone had been passed. He saw his road stretching far, far before him, and he saw certain fellow travellers, but the companion whom his heart cried for he could not see.

“Her way and mine are far apart–are far apart. I had better marry Vinie Mocket.” He spoke half aloud and with bitterness, looking from the window toward Fontenoy. Suddenly the water smarted in his eyes, and he stretched out his arms. “Oh, pardon, love!” he whispered, “I love but you–and I’ll love you to the end!” His fancy dwelt on Fontenoy. It was for him enchanted land, the sleeping palace, strongly hedged. “But I am not the appointed man,” he thought. “I am a pauper, and no prince. It is Ludwell Cary that goes in and out.”

Continue...

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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