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Robert E. Lee Portrait
A TEXAN RANGER.
WE publish above a sketch, by one
of our most reliable artists, of a TEXAN RANGER. A gentleman, just from
Richmond, gave the following account of these redoubtable warriors :
Ben McCullogh's Texan Rangers
are described as a desperate set of fellows. They number one thousand half
savages, each of whom is mounted upon a mustang horse. Each is armed with a pair
of Colt's navy revolvers, a rifle, a tomahawk, a Texan bowie-knife, and a lasso.
They are described as being very dexterous in the use of the latter. These men
are to be pitted against
Wilson's Zouaves and McMullin's Rangers.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
Splendidly Illustrated by John McLenan.
IT was a dark night, though the
full moon rose as I left the inclosed lands, and passed out upon the marshes.
Beyond their dark line there was a ribbon of clear sky, hardly broad enough to
hold the red large moon. In a few minutes she had ascended out of that clear
field, in among the piled mountains of cloud.
There was a melancholy wind, and
the marshes were very dismal. A stranger would have found them insupportable,
and even to me they were so oppressive that I hesitated, half inclined to go
back. But I knew them well, and could have found my way on a far darker night,
and had no excuse for returning, being there. So, having come there against
inclination, I went on against it.
The direction that I took was not
that in which my old home lay, nor that in which we had pursued the convicts. My
back was turned toward the distant Hulks as I walked on, and though I could see
the old lights away on the spits of sand, I saw them over my shoulder. I knew
the lime-kiln as well as I knew the old Battery, but they were miles apart; so
that if a light had been burning at each point that night there would have been
a long strip of the blank horizon between the two bright specks.
At first I had to shut some gates
after me, and now and then to stand still while the cattle that were lying in
the banked-up pathway arose and blundered down among the grass and reeds. But
after a little while I seemed to have the whole flats to myself.
It was another half hour before I
drew near to the kiln. The lime was burning with a sluggish, stifling smell, but
the fires were made up and left, and no workmen were visible. Hard by was a
small stone quarry. It lay directly in my way, and had been worked that day, as
I saw by the tools and barrows that were lying about.
Coming up again to the marsh
level out of this excavation—for the rude path lay through it—I saw a light in
the old sluice-house. I quickened my pace, and knocked at the door with my hand.
Waiting for some reply, I looked about me, noticing how the sluice was abandoned
and broken, and how the house—of wood with a tiled roof—would not be proof
against the weather much longer, if it were so even now, and how the mud and
ooze were coated with lime, and how the choking vapor of the kiln crept in a
ghostly way toward me. Still there was no answer, and I knocked again. No answer
still, And I tried the latch.
It rose under my hand, and the
door yielded. Looking in, I saw a lighted candle on a table, a bench, and a
mattress on a truckle bedstead. As there was a loft above, I called, "Is there
any one here?" but no voice answered. Then I looked at my watch, and finding
that it was past nine, called again, " Is there any one here ?"
There being still no answer, I
went out at the door, irresolute what to do.
It was beginning to rain fast.
Seeing nothing save what I had seen already, I turned back into the house and
stood just within the shelter of the door, looking out into the night. While I
was considering that some one must have been there lately and must soon be
coming back, or the candle would not be burning, it came into my head to look if
the wick were long. I turned round to do so, and had taken up the candle in my
hand, when it was extinguished by some violent shock, and the next thing I
comprehended was, that I had been caught in a strong running noose, thrown over
my head from behind.
"Now," said a suppressed voice
with an oath, " I've got you!"
"What is this ?" I cried,
struggling. "Who is it? Help, help, help!"
Not only were my arms pulled
close to my sides, but the pressure on my bad arm caused me exquisite pain.
Sometimes a strong man's hand, sometimes a strong man's breast was set against
my mouth to deaden my cries, and with a hot breath always close to me, I
struggled ineffectually in the dark, while I was fastened tight to the wall.
"And now," said the suppressed voice, with another oath, " call out again, and
I'll make short work of finishing you!"
Faint and sick with the pain of
my injured arm, bewildered by the surprise, and yet conscious how easily this
threat could be put in execution, I desisted, and tried to ease my arm were it
ever so little. But it was bound too tight for that. I felt as if, having been
burned before, it were now being boiled.
The sudden exclusion of the night
and the substitution of black darkness in its place, warned me that the man had
closed a shutter. After groping about for a little, he found the flint and steel
he wanted, and began to strike a light. I strained my sight upon the sparks that
fell among the tinder, and upon which he breathed and breathed, match in hand,
but I could only see his lips, and the blue point of the match ; even those but
fitfully. The tinder was damp—no wonder there—and one after another the sparks
The man was in no hurry, and
struck again with the flint and steel. As the sparks fell thick and bright about
him I could see his hands, and touches of his face, and could make out that he
was seated and bending over the table; but nothing more. Presently I saw his
blue lips again breathing on the tinder, and then a flare of light flashed up,
and showed me Orlick.
Whom I had looked for I don't
know. I had not looked for him. Seeing him, I felt that I was in a dangerous
strait indeed, and I kept my eyes upon him.
He lighted the candle from the
flaring match with great deliberation, and dropped the match and trod it out.
Then he put the candle away from him on the table, so that he could see me, and
sat with his arms folded on the table and looked at me. I made out that I was
fastened to a stout perpendicular ladder a few inches from the wall—a fixture
there—the means of ascent to the loft above.
" Now," said he, when we had
surveyed one another for some time, " I've got you."
" Unbind me. Let me go !"
"Ah!" he returned, "I'll let you
go. I'll let you go to the moon, I'll let you go to the stars. All in good
" Why have you lured me here ?"
"Don't you know?" said he, with a
"Why have you set upon me in the
"Because I mean to do it all
myself. One keeps a secret better than two. Oh you enemy, you enemy !"
His enjoyment of the spectacle I
furnished, as he sat with his arms folded on the table, shaking his head at me
and hugging himself, had a malignity in it that made me tremble. As I watched
him in silence he put his hand into the corner at his side and took up a gun
with a brass-bound stock.
" Do you know this ?" said he,
making as if he would take aim at me. "Do you know where you saw it afore ?
Speak, wolf !"
" Yes," I answered.
" You cost me that place. You
did. Speak !" "What else could I do ?"
" You did that, and that would be
enough, without more. How dared you to come betwixt me and a young woman I liked
"When did I ?"
"When didn't you? It was you as
always gave Old Orlick a bad name to her."
"You gave it to yourself: you
gained it for yourself. I could have done you no harm if you had done yourself
" You're a liar. And you'll take
and spend any money, to drive me
out of this country, will you ?" said he, repeating my words to Biddy in the
last interview I had with her. "Now, I'll tell you a piece of information. It
was never so well worth your while to get me out of this country as it is
to-night. Ah ! If it was all your money twenty times told, to the last brass
f'arden !" As he shook his heavy hand at me, with his mouth snarling like a
tiger's, I felt that it was true.
"What are you going to do to me?"
" I'm a going," said he, bringing
his fist down upon the table with a heavy blow, and rising as the blow fell, to
give it greater force, "I'm a going to have your life!" He leaned forward
staring at me, slowly unclenched his hand and drew it across his mouth as if his
mouth watered for me, and sat down again.
" You was always in Old Orlick's
way since ever you was a child. You goes out of his way this present night.
He'll have no more on you. You're as good as dead."
I felt that I had come to the
brink of my grave. For a moment I looked wildly round my trap for any chance of
escape ; but there was none.
" More than that," said he,
folding his arms on the table again, "I won't have a rag of you, I won't have a
bone of you, left on earth. I'll put your body in the kiln—I'd carry two such to
it, on my shoulders—and, let people suppose what they may of you, they shall
never know nothing."
My mind, with inconceivable
rapidity, followed out all the consequences of such a death. Estella's father
would believe I had deserted him, would be taken, would die accusing me ; even
Herbert would doubt me, when he compared the letter I had left for him, with the
fact that I had called at Miss Havisham's gate for only a moment ; Joe and Biddy
would never know how sorry I had been that night; none would ever know what I
had suffered, how true I had meant to be, what an agony I had passed through.
The death close before me was terrible, but far more terrible than death was the
dread of being misremembered after death. And so quick were my thoughts, that I
saw myself despised by unborn generations—Estella's children, and their
children—while the wretch's words were yet on his lips.
"Now, wolf," said he, " afore I
kill you like any other beast—which is wot I mean to do and wot I have tied you
up for—I'll have a good look at you and a good goad at you. Oh, you enemy !"
It had passed through my thoughts
to cry out for help again ; though few could know better than I the solitary
nature of the spot and the hopelessness of aid. But as he sat gloating over me,
I was supported by a scornful detestation of him that sealed my lips. Above all
things, I resolved that I would not entreat him, and that I would die making
some last poor resistance to him. Softened as my thoughts of all the rest of men
were in that dire extremity; humbly beseeching pardon, as I did, of Heaven ;
melted at heart, as I was, by the thought that I had taken no farewell, and
never never now could take farewell of those who were dear to me, or could
explain myself to them, or ask for their compassion on my miserable errors;
still, if I could have killed him, even in dying, I would have done it.
He had been drinking, and his
eyes were red and bloodshot. Around his neck was slung a tin bottle, as I had
often seen his meat and drink slung about him in other days. He brought the
bottle to his lips, and took a fiery drink from it; and I smelled the strong
spirits that I saw flare into his face.
" Wolf!" said he, folding his
arms again, " Old Orlick's a-going to tell you somethink. It was you as did for
your shrew sister."
Again my mind, with its former
inconceivable rapidity, had exhausted the whole subject of the attack upon my
sister, her illness, and her death, before his slow and hesitating speech had
formed these words.
"It was you, villain !" said I.
"I tell you it was your doing—I
tell you it was done through you," he retorted, catching up the gun, and making
a blow with the stock at the vacant air between us. "I come upon her from
behind, as I conic upon you to-night. I giv' it her ! I left her for dead, and
if there had been a lime-kiln as nigh her as there is now nigh you, she
shouldn't have come to life again. But it wasn't Old Orlick as did it ; it was
you. You was favored, and he was bullied and beat. Old Orlick bullied and beat,
eh ? Now you pays for it. You done it ; now you pays for it."
He drank again, and became more
ferocious. I saw by his tilting of the bottle that there was no great quantity
left in it. I distinctly understood that he was working himself up with its
contents to make an end of me. I knew that every drop it held was a drop of my
life. I knew that when I was changed into a part of the vapor that had crept
toward me but a little while before, like my own warning ghost, he would do as
he had done in my sister's case—make all haste to the town, and be seen
slouching about there, drinking at the ale-houses. My rapid mind pursued him to
the town, made a picture of the street with him in it, and contrasted its lights
and life with the lonely marsh and the white vapor creeping over it, into which
I should have dissolved.
It was not only that I could have
summed up years and years and years while he said a dozen words, but that what
he did say presented pictures to me, and not mere words. In the excited and
exalted state of my brain I could not think of a place without seeing it, or of
persons without seeing them. It is impossible to overstate the vividness of
these images, and yet I was so intent, all the time, upon him himself—who would
not be intent on the tiger crouching
to spring !—that I knew of the
slightest action of his fingers.
When he had drunk this second
time he rose from the bench on which he sat and pushed the table aside. Then he
took up the candle, and shading it with his murderous hand so as to throw its
light on me, stood before me, looking at me and enjoying the sight.
"Wolf, I'll tell you something
more. It was Old Orlick as you tumbled over on your stairs that night."
I saw the staircase with its
extinguished lamps. I saw the shadows of the heavy stair-rails, thrown by the
watchman's lantern on the wall. I saw the rooms that I was never to see again ;
here, a door half open ; there, a door closed ; all the articles of furniture
" And why was Old Orlick there?
I'll tell you something more, wolf. You and her have pretty well hunted me out
of this country, so far as getting a easy living in it goes, and I've took up
with new companions. Some of 'em writes my letters when I wants 'em wrote—do you
mind ?—writes my letters, wolf ! They writes fifty hands ; they're not like
sneaking you, as writes but one. I've had a firm mind and a firm will to have
your life since you was down here at your sister's burying. I han't seen a way
to get you safe, and I've looked arter you to know your ins and outs. For, says
Old Orlick to himself, 'Somehow or another I'll have him !' What! When I looks
for you, I finds your uncle Provis, eh ?"
Mill Pond Bank, and Chinks's
Basin, and the Old Green Copper Rope-Walk, all so clear and plain ! Provis in
his rooms, and the signal whose use was over, pretty Clara, the good motherly
woman, old Bill Barley on his back, all drifting by, as on the swift stream of
my life fast running out to sea!
" You with a uncle, too! Why, I
know''d you at Gargery's when you was so small a wolf that I could have took
your weazen betwixt this finger and thumb and chucked you away dead (as I'd
thoughts o' doing, odd times, when I see you loitering among the pollards on a
Sunday), and you hadn't found no uncles then. No, not you! But when Old Orlick
come for to hear that your uncle Provis had most like wore the leg-iron wot Old
Orlick had picked up, filed asunder oil these meshes ever so many year ago, and
wet he kep by him till he dropped your sister with it like a bullock, as be
means to drop you—hey?—when he come for to hear that—hey ?"
In his savage taunting he flared
the candle so close at me that I turned my face aside to save it from the flame.
"Ah !" he cried, laughing, after
doing it again, "the burnt child dreads the fire ! Old Orlick knowed you was
burnt, Old Orlick knowed you wos smuggling your uncle Provis away, Old Orlick's
a match for you, and knowed you'd come to-night! Now I'll tell you something
more, wolf, and this ends it. There's them that's as good a match for your uncle
Provis as Old Orlick has been for you. Let him 'ware them, when he's lost his
nevvy! Let him 'ware them, when no man can't find a rag of his dear relation's
clothes, nor yet a bone of his body ? There's then that can't and that won't
have Magwitch—yes, 1 know the name !—alive in the same land with them, and
that's had such sure information of him when he was alive in another land, as
that he couldn't and shouldn't leave it unbeknown, and put them in danger.
P'raps it's them that writes fifty hands, and that's not like sneaking you as
writes but one. 'Ware Compeyson, Magwitch, and the gallows!"
He flared the candle at me again,
smoking my face and hair, and for an instant blinding me, and turned his
powerful back as he replaced the light on the table. I had thought a prayer, and
had been with Joe and Biddy and Herbert, before he turned toward me again.
There was a clear space of a few
feet between the table and the opposite wall. Within this space he now slouched
backward and forward. His great strength seemed to sit stronger upon him than
ever before, as he did this with hit hands hanging loose and heavy at his sides,
and with his eyes scowling at me. I had no grain of hope left. Wild as my inward
hurry was, and wonderful the force of the pictures that rushed by me instead of
thoughts, I could yet clearly understand that unless he had resolved that I was
within a few moments of surely perishing out of all human knowledge, he would
never have told me what he had told.
Of a sudden he stopped, took the
cork out of his bottle, and tossed it away. Light as it was, I heard it fall
like a plummet. He swallowed slowly, tilting up the bottle by little and little,
and now he looked at me no more. The last few drops of liquor he poured into the
palm of his left hand, and licked up. Then with a sudden hurry of violence and
swearing horribly, he threw the bottle from him, and stooped, and I saw in his
hand a stone hammer with a long heavy handle.
The resolution I had made did not
desert me, for, without uttering one vain word of appeal to him, I shouted out
with all my might, and struggled with all my might. It was only my head and my
legs that I could move, but to that extent I struggled with all the force, until
then unknown, that was within me. In the same instant I heard responsive shouts,
saw figures and a gleam of light dash in at the door, heard voices and tumult,
and saw Orlick emerge from a struggle of men as if it were tumbling water, clear
the table at a leap, and fly out into the night.
After a blank I found that I was
lying unbound on the floor, in the same place, with my head on some one's knee.
My eyes were fixed on the ladder against the wall when I came to myself—had
opened on them long before my (Next