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CATCHING OLD JOHN BROWN.

TWENTY-SEVEN years ago the border, war “I believe,” said he, in a company of friends broke out in Kansas over the question of assembled to prescribe for the sick Territory slavery. Congress had referred the whole _“I believe in hard knocks, and plenty of matter to the people of the Territory—to the them.” He advised the hitting of all borderso-called squatters upon its soil—for settle- ruffian heads in sight, and if some of them ment. They were to take it under advise- were broken it would not in the least disment-reflect, talk, discuss, hold conventions, turb his cheerfulness. His principles and cast votes, and what not—then come to some practice were inconvenient for the other side. conclusion, which, so far as the Territory was The swearing about him in that quarter is concerned, should be final. When the sit- said to have been of the strongest stamp. uation came to be generally understood, "Anything to catch Old Brown," came to be a lively strife had sprung up between the a pro-slavery watchword. More than one North and South, each vying to outdo the border brave struggled with the problem of other in colonizing the debatable ground his capture-lavished upon it an infinite with its own partisans. Emigrant aid soci- deal of stratagem and prowess—with what eties were organized among the abolitionists success we shall see. of New England; while Louisiana and the One bright September morning, in the Carolinas sent on delegations of fire-eating year 1856, a company of United States chivalry. That a board of arbitration selected troops, under the command of Captain on this plan--gathered promiscuously from Samuel Walker, happened to be drilling on Moosehead Lake to the Rio Grande, com- the open prairie just west of Lawrence. The prising patriots, fanatics, doughfaces, reform- gruff-voiced military orders-shoulderings of ers of numerous stripes, as well as a sprinkling arms, markings of time, right and left dressof rogues and boys” who came to see the ings--were suddenly arrested by the appearfun--would disagree hopelessly and explo- ance of a courier, riding at a break-neck sively, was plain from the first. The discus- pace. He dashed up to Walker and handed sion swiftly passed from words to blows— him a letter. The messenger proved to be even that fearful and wonderful sort of talk from Lecompton, and the bearer of disstyled stump-oratory proving too tame and patches from Territorial Governor Geary limp for the occasion. So the squatters fell to the Captain--then almost the sole officer to fighting, after a guerrilla, bush-whacking of outspoken free-state sentiments in the local fashion, and the whole nation watched the Federal service—which ran somewhat thus: struggle with a feverish interest.

“I understand that Captain Brown and The splutter of rifles on the border caught his band are encamped near Lawrence. The the listening ear of old John Brown. Years United States marshal is in my office at this before he had taken a solemn vow against moment with papers for his arrest. I shall slavery. The long-prayed for opportunity to be obliged to furnish him with orders for a strike an effective blow had come at last. detachment of soldiers from your company Every other interest bent before it like the to act as his escort in the attempt. But I long grass of a prairie before wind-storms. wouldn't have him captured for anything. Never was a man less swayed by motives of Should he fall into the marshal's hands, I selfishness, or of what we call ambition. He couldn't possibly save his life. If you know went to Kansas to slavery down, but it where he is, get him out of the way, for was not in order to put himself up.

heaven's sake. I need not say that this note John Brown was prodigiously full of fight is confidential.”

The Captain shrugged his shoulders. rid of him did not grow a whit less. There Something must be done, and that quickly. was still opportunity for somebody to disA stranger, meanwhile, had quietly ridden tinguish himself in this line. The lists reup, and having dismounted, stood at a little mained open. distance leisurely taking observations. It One chilly, dullish, depressing November struck Walker that he had seen him before. day, somewhat more than a year after the

“Did I not meet you in John Brown's marshal's exploits, two travelers, whose coscamp a few weeks ago?”

tumes challenged immediate and curious at“Yes.”.

tention, stopped at Lawrence for dinner. Do you know where he is ?”

One sported the loudest military style. He I suppose I do."

was decorated with the full-dress uniform“Then get word to him as soon as you sash, sword, epaulets, and feathers—of a can that a Federal marshal is coming down Federal lieutenant. The other—a territorial from Lecompton to arrest him; that he had deputy—affected citizen's clothes, but his better make tracks."

wardrobe was far from uninteresting and comThe stranger, who, by the way, proved to monplace. It was lined, broidered, stitched be one of Brown's scouts, jumped upon his with deadly weapons. A Sharp's rifle was horse and was off in a flash.

slung jauntily across his shoulders; numerAn hour later, Federal Marshal Faine- ous pistol-stocks and bowie-knife handles a tall, lank, black-mustached Southerner protruded ominously from beneath his belt from Georgia or Alabama-arrived in camp. even his long Wellington boot-legs were He was in fine spirits, and evidently antici- converted into a magazine, and filled with repated a certain and easy success in his expe- volvers. dition-pictured himself as returning to The much-clothed pair dined, and then Lecompton in triumph, with troublesome called upon Captain Walker, who had reOld John Brown bagged. The epistolary cently been commissioned United States governor had also furnished him forth with Marshal. a letter quite contrary in tenor to that which "Well, gentlemen," said the Captain, the smoking courier brought: “To Captain "what's in the wind now? Something to Walker: Furnish Marshal Faine with an of- pay, I reckon. A mighty stylish rig, Lieuficer and twenty-five men to aid him in arrest- tenant, for these diggin's. Most of us in ing John Brown. I shall hold you per- this part of the country haven't time to keep sonally responsible for his capture.”

up with the fashions. Your man here has Crumpling the order to do it into the shooting-irons enough about him to set up a same waistcoat pocket with the order not small arsenal. Where are you bound? Huntto do it, the Captain proceeded to detail ing anybody?" the escort. Twenty-five bronzed veterans “We are on our way to Sugar Creek,” said buckled on knapsacks, shouldered muskets, the gorgeous, befeathered lieutenant, “for tramped out six miles to the Wakarusa Riv- the purpose of arresting Old Brown.” er, and gallantly captured the smoldering The captain, who had seen as much fightremains of a deserted camp-fire. John ing as any other man in the Territory, and Brown, warned by his faithful henchman, whose courage was of the most pronounced, who was, by the way, none other than the unquestioned type, stared at the confident afterwards famous Jayhawker Montgomery, couple in utter astonishment. scrambled out of the way in no time.

“You'd better let that job out,” he reThe valiant Marshal Faine failed, but his monstrated. “You are crazy to think of misfortunes did not dishearten other ambi- any such thing. I know him: a braver tious spirits. John Brown continued to lay man never trod on sole-leather.

He's not about him in the most uncomfortable man- the chap to fool with. He's on the alertner, and the anxiety on the other side to be has eyes and ears everywhere. I know the

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crowd, too, he has about him-Kagi, Pat “I'm glad you spoke. I was just about to Develan, Whipple, young Pickles, and pull on you." preacher Steward. They've no

Walker found himself in the clutches of spect for a man's life than for a dog's. A Brown's scouts. It was young Pickles, whom devilishly rash enterprise this that you have he had once befriended, that thought of pullundertaken. Now, take my advice: don't ing on him. Next morning he was taken meddle with Old John Brown; you'll cer- into the Sugar Creek camp. It was a rude, tainly get into trouble.”

extemporized fort. A stone wall ran across “We'll see,” was the careless, laughing re- the mouth of a ravine, on which a small ply.

cannon had been mounted. Sentinels paced “You will see,” retorted the Captain. about here and there. Half a dozen army

The gay pair rode away, almost dying to tents could be seen within the inclosure, get a chance at the pestilent abolitionist lending to the place a sort of semi-military down on Sugar Creek; chuckling at the air. Near the head of the ravine a log cabin thought of what they would do when that had been built, in which Walker found the happy moment should come.

redoubtable commander of Fort Sugar Creek, It might have been a week after this inci- sitting at a rough table covered with maps. dent, when Walker received a communication “Good morning, Captain,” said he, cheerfrom the Governor, ordering him to report fully—the two men knew each other well, at Lecompton immediately, as he wished to and were good friends; "come here and see him on pressing business. The business see what I'm doing.” referred to our men of valor, whose eyes Brown was busy planning an expedition were so red with eagerness to overhaul John into the South. The maps were dotted with Brown.

lines of projected forts, reaching from Kan“The old fellow swooped down upon sas to the Gulf of Mexico. them,” said the governor, "and took them “I'm blocking out a campaign southward," prisoners. I hear he threatens to string he continued. “This fort will be my base them up one of these days. I hardly think of operations. I mean to cut through to the he means to do it, but he has scared the Gulf. I shall liberate and arm the negroes fellows badly. Now, I wish you to go down as I advance. They will flock to me by to Sugar Creek and say to Brown that he thousands when they fairly understand what must release the prisoners at once. Say to I'm about. It will be the death of slavery him, further, that he is carrying things with this blow I am preparing to strike. I too high a hand; that my patience is com- came here to do what I could toward makpletely exhausted; that if he doesn't leave ing Kansas a free State; but I've never lost the Territory with his infernal gang, I'll sight of that larger, grander work—the work put the militia into the field and drive him of rescuing our millions of bondmen and of out.”

giving them freedom. My purposes are Walker undertook the commission. A more than local: they are national.” solitary horseback ride of forty or fifty miles A brilliant, almost unearthly light shone brought him into the vicinity of Sugar Creek. in the eyes of the gray, thin-faced, decisive It was after nightfall, and the trip had been enthusiast, as visions of a redeemed, glorious almost accomplished, when suddenly three future rose before him. men, ambushed in thickets which skirted “I've come down,” said Walker in a halfthe road, leaped in front of him with drawn apologetic tone—“I've come down with a pistols.

He's very “Halt!" shouted the leader, in the tone much offended by your course. and accent of a brigand.

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message from the Governor.

that you must leave the Territory, and threat“Halt, yourself!” was the defiant response. ens, if you remain here, to arm the militia “My God, Captain,” said one of the trio, and put you out."

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The message grated on the ears of the They can't go back in this shape. You commander of Fort Sugar Creek like laugh- should spare their feelings." ter at a funeral.

"Evidently they would hardly have spared “Will the militia obey the Governor?" mine," retorted Brown, glancing in a half“I think they will."

amused way at the warriors, who going out “Would you turn out?”

for wool were badly sheared themselves, “I would. Captain Brown, we're friends. “if their plans hadn't miscarried. In my We both came to this country for the pur- opinion, the young men are fortunate in getpose of making a free State out of Kansas; ting out of this business with a whole skin.” but I must say that I'm afraid of your vio- “Boys,” said Walker, turning toward his lent methods. They are unwise, it seems to plucked, melancholy, tag-shag-and-bobtail me. I do not think that circumstances at companions when they were fairly outside present justify them. There is another mat- of Fort Sugar Creek—a twelve miles' tramp ter, Captain, which I am obliged to mention. before them to reach the nearest townAren't there a couple of young fellows shut “Boys, what do you think now about catchup here in your camp as prisoners? I hear ing Old Brown?” Neither the lieutenant nor they undertook to arrest you, and made a the deputy found it easy to converse on this bad mess of it. You must let them go.” point.

Brown was silent for some moments, his There was one more effort to lay hands on mouth firmly shut, “his eye withdrawn, as if Brown, and put him where he could do no seeing things that were invisible.”

further mischief. It was during the last year “Bring out the prisoners," he finally said of his Kansas life. The wretched border to an orderly.

war had almost run its course; victory had The prisoners were produced. Good been wonthere should be no slaves in the heavens, what a change! Walker scarcely new Commonwealth. But the bitterness recognized them as they sidled into the against the troublesome old Puritan, who was cabin. The mighty braves who cut so fine as careful to keep his powder dry as to say and impressive a figure in Lawrence had his prayers, did not relent. He was still shrunk into a remarkably sheepish and crest- glowered at; still had a price set on his head. fallen pair. They looked like spaniels thrice A man of law-one of President Buchanan's whipped. Not only had Brown nabbed judges—undertook a final campaign to bring them and heartlessly cut short their career of the long-winded foolishness to an end. glory, but also he had appropriated their Some chance brought Brown to a farmclothes, and substituted for them refuse gar- house near Atchison for a few days. The ments picked up among fugitive negroes judge, apprised of the fact, and unpleasantly about the camp-garments coarse and hempy anxious for the honor of capturing him, in material; outlandish in cut; rent, frayed, slyly put a warrant into his pocket, together tattered by long service; odorous with ancient with numerous pistols; secured an escort of and unblessed smells. Half a dozen dark- four soldiers, all heavily armed, and set out ies posed and strutted in spoils from the ex- on the expedition with hopes as buoyant as quisite lieutenant's suit. The deputy, too, any of his predecessors. The judge, howhad not escaped pillage, in spite of his grim ever, prefaced his exploits neither with noise appearance. Somebody took the trouble to nor with bluster. He crept toward his prey pull off his long-legged boots, to empty out with the silence and stratagem of a catathe revolvers, and furnish him with number mount. Not a leaf rustled, not a twig eleven, hob-nailed, plantation shoes, that crackled under his stealthy tread. The wily had unmistakably come down from former man of law reached the farm-house appargenerations.

ently unobserved, dismounted, and knocked “Captain," said Walker, “I wish you at the door. would return their clothes to these men. “Is John Brown in?” he asked in his

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to his rap.

blandest tones of the woman who responded "you are my prisoner," and stepped forward

to make a formal arrest, when he felt a heavy

а “Yes. Walk in, gentlemen. Please be hand laid ungently on his own shoulder. A seated. I will call him."

soldier whom he never saw before stood beThe judge and his four men of war walked hind him, holding a cocked pistol uncomin. In a few minutes Brown appeared, un- fortably near his head. Indeed, a troop of conscious seemingly of the perils that thick- strange men were crowding into the house ened about him-it was certainly he, the from some near ambush. The trap sprung grim and dreaded abolitionist, who had with an ugly snap, but whose fingers were in made so much trouble on the border. it?

"I've got him, I've got him; he's trapped “Gentlemen,” said Brown, with no apat last," chuckled the judge all to himself. pearance of triumph in voice or look, "you With the instinct of a cat that allows the are my prisoners.” doomed mouse a little seeming freedom, he Victory--the capture of the judge and his chose to amuse himself by opening a gen- escort-brought with it a new responsibility. eral conversation. Brown was a capital What disposition should he make of the talker when he chose to come out of his prisoners? That question shot threads of shell, which happened to be the case on this sobriety into the elation that Brown might occasion. It was a delightful conversation, naturally have felt. “I believe," said he ranging over a great variety of topics. But quietly, “that I must find out what to do the judge, tiring of the sport, and anxious to with you all.” He left the room, to consult finish the business with dispatch, finally with some confidant apparently. A moment broke in with a growl: "Captain Brown, you later, one of the judge's soldiers plucked him are my prisoner. You must return with me by the sleeve, and pointing toward a corner to Atchison.”

of the piazza that shambled across the house Brown appeared to be completely in the front, whispered, "See there.” Something power of a mortal enemy. To go to Atchi- could be seen. John Brown was on his son-then a hot-bed of pro-slaveryism-was knees, earnestly, reverently, filially asking certain death. But not a muscle changed, for the wisdom that cometh down from not a shadow of surprise even flitted across above. The man of law looked and his face. The tones of his voice lost noth- laughed. The spectacle awoke no loftier ing of their sweetness and charm as he re- emotion in his breast than a giggle. sumed the conversation interrupted by our Brown shortly returned. “The soldiers,” unhappy parenthesis. The man of law was said he, “I shall at once liberate. I shall astounded. For an instant he scarcely knew not ask the Lord about you, Judge, for you which to disbelieve—his eyes or his ears. laughed.” Was it possible that Brown did not under- The judge was detained three days, and stand what he had said-did not grasp the soundly lectured on the sin of irreverence. fatal import of his words? Or had his tongue And then he went home with spirits scarceplayed him false? Had he spoken other ly gayer than the soberest of his predeceswords than those he purposed to say? “Cap- sors in the business of catching Old John tain Brown," he repeated, in his gruffest tone, Brown.

Leverett W. Spring

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