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A TORY VANQUISHED.
It was a warm summer day, one of those peaceful days the memory of which lingers long in our minds and cheers the dreariest days of winter. The Mohawk Valley, the most beautiful of its kind in New York State, with its famous river winding in and out among fertile fields and green meadows, which were rich in promise of the autumn's harvest, presented a picture fair to the eye. In the background, the hills covered with thick and seemingly inpenetrable forest, rose in stately grandeur until they met the sky in the dim horizon. Where a little creek skips over its stony bottom in its haste to gain the calm, flowing river, stood a large, gray stone church, its two spires towering high in the air as if missionaries of peace to the Indians of the surrounding wilderness. Over its old-fashioned, clumsy door was roughly hewn in the stones, this inscription in German: "Erbauet in Yahe Christi 1770 Deu 18th Aug." A few rudely constructed farmhouses of a very primitive fashion, square in shape and provided with port holes for defence against hostile Indians, were grouped about in an attempt at regularity. Near them were large barns and along the river banks stretched cultivated farms, all of which went to show the prosperity of these early settlers. But the restfulness of this scene was marred somewhat by the stern front of a block house which stood in a commanding position upon an eminence overlooking the valley, two miles down the river.
The quiet which rested over everything made apparent that this was the Sabbath and a lovelier day cannot be imagined. The air was filled with the sweet perfume of fragrant flowers and the birds, hopping about from branch to branch on the stately old trees which shaded the church with their foliage joyfully sang of summer and its pleasures. The only figure in sight was the sexton standing in the doorway of the church, leaning on his gun. To a casual observer, this roughly dressed man with his warlike weapon would seem strangely out of place in a house of worship, but you must remember that this was in the stormy days of the Revolution, when Sir John Johnson, with his Tory forces and Indian allies, filled the German settlers with constant apprehension.
“There will be but few to listen to Peter Van Arnum, this morning,” he said in a low voice, looking down the valley at the fort and tenderly playing with the lock of his gun. "Oh that I were young again and could help wipe out those bloody Tories—curse them. Ah,"—with a softened expression,-“here comes the domine now."
With a slow but firm tread, a tall, broad-shouldered man came out of the nearest house and walked up the grassy path which led to the church. A man of such noble countenance and dignified bearing is seldom seen in our modern world. From under the broad-rimmed hat, pulled down to shield his eyes from the blinding rays of the sun, long, brown locks tinged with gray fell over his shoulders. His face, stern and rugged in its outlines, was softened by a tender, sweet mouth, and although his steel gray eves had something of a sad and mournful look, yet there lurked in their depths the reflection of a warm heart. His thread-bare clothes showed the usual poverty of our forefathers, but were neat and clean. The buckles of his shoes were carefully polished, his stockings were neatly darned and his knickerbockers were trushed and patched to conceal the many signs of wear.
As one looked into that patient face, there was revealed to him the story of a single tragedy, of broken hopes and a ruined life. He had come into the valley from across the seas many years before and had lived there ever after, hiding his sorrow as best he could and striving to forget a past known only to himself. By his gentle and sweet manners, he had won the hearts of his congregation, who, realizing that some great disappointment had sometime come into his life, offered their sympathy in their unobtrusive friendship and loyalty, and he, on his part, ever patient, loving and kind, had become a true friend to them all.
As he drew near the door, he glanced up at the sexton with a friendly smile. "A pleasant morning to you, Jacob," said he in German, taking off his hat and with his large and firmly shaped hand, pushing back the silver locks which fell over his forehead, "I fear that the worshippers will be but few today. I am inexperienced in military matters, I know, but to my poor judgment, it seems a grave mistake for Col. Gansevont to send away so many regulars from Fort Plank with all our militia to Fort Schuyler, leaving us here so helpless if the Indians and Tories should come down upon us."
"They'd have all their own way," answered the sexton in a gruff tone, "unless we had warning in time to make for the fort. But how'd we be warned? Col. Gansevcnt hangs around there in. the fort without sendin' out a scout. We'd all be scalped before he'd raise a hand to help us."
"Hush, man," replied the domine softly, although his face had something of an anxious expression, "we are talking rank nonsense and you are doing Col. Gansevont an injustice. He has hardly troops enough to guard the fort, to speak nothing of protecting our farms. There is no use worrying about it, however, as he would never send our brethren to Fort Schuyler if there were any danger here. Besides, Jacob, we are in God's hands and He will do what is best. This is indeed a cruel, cruel war which separates us one from another in bloody wrath, makes us forget holy things and desecrate the Sabbath day."
"The Tories don't think of the Sabbath day," muttered the sexton with a frown.
"Silence, Jacob,” said Peter Van Arnum sternly. "Utter no such hellish curses on this day of peace; leave such things for the morrow if they must be said. God will punish our enemies as they deserve when He thinks best. But meanwhile we have our work before us. The women and children and a few old men like you and I, must pray to our Faith today to save us from the redcoat and the red-man."
The audience consisted on that Sunday morning, as he had predicted, of a few women and children, with two or three old men. But the Rev. Peter Van Arnum went through the services with his usual exactitude and offered up a touching prayer for the man who had gone forth a few hours before to stay the Tory forces from devastating the peaceful farms of the Mohawk Valley. The sermon was, of course, in the German language and in a loud, clear voice, he spoke of the everlasting glory of those who should fall for the good cause, and the punishment to be meted out to the Johnsons, the Butters, and the other Tory leaders, whose natures seemed to lack any sense of mercy or pity.
Suddenly in the midst of his sermon were heard outside men's voices, and a shadow was seen in the doorway. The Rev. Peter Van Arnum's voice trembled for an instant and his face grew pale, but with a sign to his terrified congregation to remain seated, he continued as if he had heard nothing.
A huge man dressed in the uniform of a British officer stepped into the doorway, and after quickly seeing that there was no one present to resist him, he strode up the aisle.
"Here are a nest of them now, praying to their Lord to wipe us all out of existence, I suppose," he said in a rough voice, turning to several of the military men who, with two or three Indians, had followed him within. Outside through the open door, a large band of Tories and Indians, their faces lighted up in anticipation of satisfying their bloody desires, could be seen looking in at the congregation, who sat with white, set faces waiting the inevitable signal for their deaths.
The leader laughed grimly as he saw the minister in the pulpit. "We shall have to brighten the sombre countenance of this sour visaged domine. 'Tis ill-becoming of the hypocrite to appear with such a face as this on the Sabbath."
Although Peter felt despair creeping into his heart as he realized the terrible fate that inevitably lay before his people,not before himself, he was too unselfish to think of that—his sad, stern face never betrayed for an instant the tenor of his thoughts. With an unfaltering voice in which there was neither tremor nor pause, raising his eyes until they looked squarely at the British officer, who stood almost at the foot of the pulpit, staring at the minister with some surprise, while an ironical smile twitched the corners of his cruel mouth, Peter continued: "If these heartless men could only realize the desolation they have brought about in this once peaceful valley, their souls would be filled with unutterable terror and they would plead for mercy before their God.”
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the officer, and then he slowly added, looking at the minister in a sinister manner, "who do you mean?"
"Whom do I mean?" repeated Peter bravely, already determined upon what he was to do, “I mean the Tories, reared as neighbors by our sides, who seem to have lost all sense of mercy or pity,--such men as the Johnsons, the cruel Brant, Colonel John Butler and yea—his twice wicked son, Walter Butler."
“Walter Butler, do you say?" asked the red-coat softly, while his small, half-shut eyes shone with a treacherous, cat-like look, “I am Walter Butler. What do you say to that?”
Although he unflinchingly continued his brave gaze at the officer, Peter trembled for the lives of his congregation when he heard this. Walter Butler was considered the worst of all the Tories. Educated at Abbey for the bar, and living in close relationship with the best of men in the colony of New York, he profited little by this, and became almost a demon in human shape as the massacre of Cherry Valley which he personally directed, testifies. As Peter remained silent, he softly repeated, "What will you say to that?"
"I will only ask you, sir, to listen to good advice," said Peter, still looking him full in the face.
Butler's cheeks flushed scarlet with anger, his cruel eyes flashed and he drew the corners of his mouth down in a hard, resolute inanner.
"You are a cursed, impudent rebel," he said, lifting his hand as if to strike him.
Peter Van Arnum never Alinched, although his heart grew faint within him, and he looked him through and through with his steel gray eyes. The other could not bear the gaze and quickly turned his head. He soon recovered himself, however, careful