Page:The Partisan (revised).djvu/157
WALTON AND SINGLETON.
Clinton's protection—and if suspected to be Major Singleton, I should risk the rope as a rebel."
"True, true—but how left you things at Santee? What are the prospects of a crop?"
"Such as the storm leaves us, good uncle. The tories have been sowing fire in my fields, and left it to ripen in lieu of corn and provender."
"God bless me, Robert!—how was that?"
"They suspected me, hearing that I was from home—made free with my plate, burnt the mansion, barn, and a few other of the buildings, drove the negroes into the swamp, and sent their horses first, and then the fire, into the cornfields. They have done some business there after their usual fashion."
The colonel strode over the floor, his hands upon his brows, speechless for a time, but looking his deep interest in the narrative he had heard, probably with more earnestness, as he darkly saw the destiny of his own fine dwelling and plantation in it. His nephew surveyed him with exemplary composure before he continued the dialogue.
"Yes; it was fortunate that poor Emily came away in season. A week later, and Heaven only knows what might have been her sufferings at the hands of the wretches."
"And where is this to end, Robert? What is to be done? Are we to have no relief from Congress?—will Washington do nothing for us?"
"Can you do nothing for Washington? Methinks, uncle, Hercules might give you some advice quite as fitting as that he gave to the wagoner. There is no helping one's neighbour to freedom. Men must make themselves free—they must have the will for it. The laws and the strong arm, unless they grow out of their own will, never yet gave, and never will give, any people their liberty. Have you not thought of this before, good uncle?"
"Why, what would you have us do?—what can we do, hemmed in as we are, wanting arms and ammunition, and with a superior force watching us?"
"Do?—ay, you may well ask what can you do. What has anybody ever yet done, that set forth by asking such a question? But come, we will to supper first; there stands our summoner. We