A Volunteer with Pike - The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois
200 Pages
English
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A Volunteer with Pike - The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois

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200 Pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Volunteer with Pike, by Robert Ames Bennet This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: A Volunteer with Pike The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois Author: Robert Ames Bennet Illustrator: Charlotte Weber-Ditzler Release Date: July 5, 2010 [EBook #33091] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A VOLUNTEER WITH PIKE *** Produced by Darleen Dove, Roger Frank, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net A VOLUNTEER WITH PIKE The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois BY ROBERT AMES BENNET AUTHOR OF "FOR THE WHITE CHRIST," "INTO THE PRIMITIVE," ETC. With four Illustrations in color by CHARLOTTE WEBER-DITZLER CHICAGO A. C. McCLURG & CO. 1909 Copyright By A. C. McCLURG & Co. 1909 Published October 2, 1909 Entered at Stationers' Hall, London All rights reserved THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A. TO ONE WHO FOLLOWED AFTER PIKE TO THE GRAND PEAK HALF A CENTURY LATER MY FATHER "'We go in now, señorita,' I said, offering her my arm" Contents CHAPTER I. The Rose in the Mire CHAPTER II. Plain Thomas Jefferson CHAPTER III.

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Volunteer with Pike, by Robert Ames Bennet
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Title: A Volunteer with Pike
The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His
Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois
Author: Robert Ames Bennet
Illustrator: Charlotte Weber-Ditzler
Release Date: July 5, 2010 [EBook #33091]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A VOLUNTEER WITH PIKE ***
Produced by Darleen Dove, Roger Frank, Mary Meehan and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.netA VOLUNTEER WITH PIKE
The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His
Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois
BY ROBERT AMES BENNET
AUTHOR OF "FOR THE WHITE CHRIST," "INTO THE
PRIMITIVE," ETC.
With four Illustrations in color by
CHARLOTTE WEBER-DITZLER
CHICAGO
A. C. McCLURG & CO.
1909
Copyright
By A. C. McCLURG & Co.
1909
Published October 2, 1909
Entered at Stationers' Hall, London
All rights reserved
THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.
TO ONE
WHO FOLLOWED AFTER PIKE TO
THE GRAND PEAK
HALF A CENTURY LATER
MY FATHER"'We go in now, señorita,' I said, offering her my arm"
Contents
CHAPTER I. The Rose in the Mire
CHAPTER II. Plain Thomas Jefferson
CHAPTER III. At the President's House
CHAPTER IV. Señorita Alisanda
CHAPTER V. Gulf and Barrier
CHAPTER VI. The Web of the Plotter
CHAPTER VII. Ship and Crew
CHAPTER VIII. The Hospitable Blennerhassetts
CHAPTER IX. My Indian Tale
CHAPTER X. The Father of Waters
CHAPTER XI. General Wilkinson
CHAPTER XII. Au Revoir
CHAPTER XIII. Against the Current
CHAPTER XIV. The Lure
CHAPTER XV. The Pawnee Peril
CHAPTER XVI. The Barrier of Rock
CHAPTER XVII. The Grand Peak
CHAPTER XVIII. Famine and Frost
CHAPTER XIX. Beyond the Barrier
CHAPTER XX. A Message to My Lady
CHAPTER XXI. Ho for Chihuahua!
CHAPTER XXII. Glimpses of Fate
CHAPTER XXIII. The House of ValloisCHAPTER XXIV. The Serenade
CHAPTER XXV. A Victory
CHAPTER XXVI. A Defeat
CHAPTER XXVII. Heart To Heart
CHAPTER XXVIII. A Spanish Ball
CHAPTER XXIX. The Insult
CHAPTER XXX. The Duel
CHAPTER XXXI. My Cross
CHAPTER XXXII. The Message
CHAPTER XXXIII. Impressed
CHAPTER XXXIV. Shame
CHAPTER XXXV. Under the Lash
CHAPTER XXXVI. Across the Gulf
BY MR. BENNET
Illustrations
"'We go in now, señorita,' I said, offering her my arm"
"We swung out into the current and drifted swiftly away"
"'The Grand Peak!' I shouted. 'We'll name it for you'"
"He fell like a steer: my sword blade broke clean off, a span beyond the hilt"
A Volunteer with Pike
The True Narrative of One Dr. John Robinson and of His
Love for the Fair Señorita Vallois
CHAPTER I
THE ROSE IN THE MIRE
The first time I was blessed with a sight of the señorita was on the day of my
arrival in the Federal City,—in fact, it was upon my arrival. An inquiry in the
neighborhood of the President's House for my sole acquaintance in the city,
Senator Adair of Kentucky, had resulted in my being directed to Conrad's
boarding house on the Capitol Hill.
In the Fall of 1805 Indian Summer had lingered on through the month of
November. As a consequence, so I had been informed, Pennsylvania Avenue
was in a state of unprecedented passableness for the season. Yet as, weary
and travel-begrimed, I urged my jaded nag along the broad way of yellow mud
toward the majestic Capitol on its lofty hill, I observed more than one coach and
chariot in trouble from the chuck-holes of semi-liquid clay.It was midway of the avenue that I came upon her coach, fast as a grounded
flatboat, both of the forewheels being mired to the hub. The driver, a blear-eyed
fellow, sat tugging at the reins and alternately plying the whip and swearing
villanously. I have ever been a lover of horseflesh, and it cut me to see the
sleek-coated, spirited pair plunge and strain at the harness, in their brave efforts
to perform a task utterly beyond them.
I drew rein alongside. The driver stopped his cursing to stare at me, purple-
faced.
"Are you blind drunk?" I demanded. "They'll never make it without a lift to the
wheels."
"Lift!" he spluttered—"lift! Git along, ye greasy cooncap!"
He raised his whip as if to strike me. I reined my horse within arm's-length.
"Put down that whip, or I'll put you down under the wheel," I said cheerfully. He
looked me in the eye for a moment; then he dropped his gaze, and thrust the
whipstock into its socket. "Good! You are well advised. Now keep your mouth
shut, and get off your coat."
Again I smiled, and again he obeyed. We Western men have a reputation on
the seaboard. It may have been this, or it may have been the fact that my
buckskin shirt draped a pair of lean shoulders quite a bit broader than the
average. At the least, the fellow kept his mouth closed and started to strip off his
coat.
I rode over to the nearest fence and borrowed two of the top rails. Returning, I
found the fellow in his shirt-sleeves. Yet he seemed not over-willing to jump
down into the mud. One more smile fetched him. He took his rail and
descended on the far side, muttering, while I swung off at the head of his
lathered team and stroked them. Once they had been soothed and quieted, I
dropped back, took the reins in hand, and thrust my rail beneath the hub of the
wheel. I heard the driver do the same on his side.
"Ready?" I called.
"Ready, sir!" he answered.
A voice came from over my shoulder "Por Dios! It is not possible, señor, to lift.
First I will descend."
The knowledge that I had put my shoulder to the wheel for a Spaniard caused
my tightening muscles to relax in disgust. But the don had spoken courteously,
his one thought being to relieve us of his weight, at the risk of ruining his
aristocratic boots.
"Sit still. Quien sabe?" I replied, without looking about, and bore up on the rail.
"Heave away!"
The rails bowed under the strain, but the clay held tenaciously to the embedded
wheels. I drew the reins well in and called to the willing team. They put their
weight against the breast bands steadily and gallantly. The wheels rose a little,
the coach gave forward.
"Heave!" I called. The wheels drew up and forward. "Steady! steady, boys! Pull
away!"
Out came the forewheels; in went the rear. We caught them on the turn. One
last gallant tug, and all was clear. The driver plodded around by the rear, ahand at his forelock.
"Return the rails," I said. "I'll hold them."
He took my rail with his own and toiled over to the roadside. I called up my
horse and swung into the saddle, little the worse for my descent into the midst
of the redoubtable avenue, for my legs had already been smeared and
spattered to the thigh before I entered the bounds of the city.
Again I heard the voice at the coach window: "Muchas gracias, señor! A
thousand thanks—and this."
He proved to be what I had surmised,—a long-faced Spanish don. What I had
not expected to see was the hand extended with the piece of silver. There was
more than mere politeness in his smile. It was evident he meant well. None the
less, I was of the West, where, in common opinion, Spaniards are rated with the
"varmints." I took the coin and dropped it into the mire. He stared at me,
astonished.
"Your pardon, señor," I said, "I am not a Spanish gentleman."
The shot hit, as I could see by the quick change in the nature of his smile.
"It is I who should ask pardon," he replied with the haughtiness of your true
Spanish hidalgo. "Yet the señor will admit that his appearance—to a foreigner
—"
"Few riders wear frills on the long road from Pittsburgh," I replied.
He bowed grandly and withdrew his head into the coach's dark interior. I was
about to turn around, when I heard a liquid murmuring of Spanish in a lady's
voice, followed by a protest from the don: "Nada, Alisanda! There is no need.
He is but an Anglo-American."
The voice riveted my gaze to the coach window in eager anticipation. Nor was I
disappointed. In a moment the cherry-wood of the opening framed a face which
caused me to snatch the coonskin cap from my wigless yellow curls.
After four years of social life among the Spanish and French of St. Louis and
New Orleans, I had thought myself well versed in all the possibilities of Latin
beauty. The Señorita Alisanda was to all those creole belles as a queen to
kitchen maids. Eyes of velvety black, full of pride and fire and languor; silky
hair, not of the hard, glossy hue of the raven's wing, but soft and warming to
chestnut where the sun shone through a straying lock; face oval and of that
clear, warm pallor unknown to women of Northern blood; a straight nose with
well-opened, sensitive nostrils; a scarlet-lipped mouth, whose kiss would have
thrilled a dying man. But he is a fool who seeks to set down beauty in a
catalogue. It was not at her eyes or hair or face that I gazed; it was at her, at the
radiant spirit which shone out through that lovely mask of flesh.
She met my gaze with a directness which showed English training, as did also
the slightness of her accent. Her manner was most gracious, without a trace of
condescension, yet with an underlying note of haughtiness, forgotten in the
liquid melody of her voice.
"Señor, I trust that you will pardon the error of my kinsman,—my uncle,—and
that you will accept our thanks for the service."
"I am repaid,—a thousand times,—señorita!" I stammered, the while my
dazzled eyes drank in her radiant beauty.She bowed composedly and withdrew into the gloom of the coach. That was
all. But it left me half dazed. Not until the driver trudged back and reached for
the reins did it come upon me that I was staring blankly in through the empty
window at the outline of the don's shoulder. The best I can say is that I did not
find my mouth agape.
A touch of my heel and a hint at the bit sent my nag jogging on toward the
Capitol, leaving the rescued coach to flounder along its opposite way as best it
could, through the avenue already famous for its two miles of length, its
hundred yards of width, and its two feet of depth.
Wearied as I was by the last of many days' hard riding from the Ohio, I was the
lighter for carrying with me a scarlet-lipped vision with eyes like sloes.
CHAPTER II
PLAIN THOMAS JEFFERSON
It was the third day after my arrival in Washington. The clear sky, which in the
forenoon had lured me down from the Capitol Hill along the forest-clad banks of
the little Tiber, had brought at the noon hour a warmth of sunshine that made by
no means ungrateful the shade of a giant tulip poplar.
I was lolling at my ease on the bank of the beautiful stream when a rider broke
cover from a thicket of azaleas and cantered toward me down along the bank.
The first glance at his horse brought me to my feet, eager-eyed. It was one of
the most mettlesome and shapely mounts I had ever had the pleasure to view.
The rider, attracted perhaps by my ill-concealed admiration, drew up before me
with the easy control of a perfect horseman, and touched his cocked hat.
"A pleasant day, sir, for a lover of wild Nature," he said.
His tone, though easy almost to familiarity, was underlaid with a quiet dignity
and reserve that brought my hand in turn to my high, stiff beaver and my eyes to
his face.
"A day, sir, to tempt even a botanist to forget his classifying," I ventured at sight
of the rooted plant of goldenrod in his hand.
He shook his long gray locks with a whimsical manner. "On the contrary, I am of
the opinion that the enjoyment of Nature should add zest to the pursuits of
Science."
"Since you put it so aptly, sir, I cannot but agree," I made answer, smiling at his
shrewdness. "In truth," I added, "this unusual opportunity of enjoying solidago
odora so late in the season loses nothing by the knowledge that the infusion of
those selfsame fragrant leaves is of service medicinally."
He met the careless glance accompanying my words with deepened interest in
his thoughtful eyes. Having had the greater part of my attention thus far fixed
upon the noble horse, I had not gone beyond my first impression that the man
was an overseer from some near-by plantation on the Potomac. Now, roused to
closer observation by his gaze, I perceived that behind his homely features lay
the brain of a man of much thought and learning. With this I gave heed to the
fact that his clothes, for all their carelessness of cut and condition, were of thefinest materials.
I swept him the best of the bows I had acquired from the French creoles of New
Orleans.
"Can it be, sir, that chance has favored me with the acquaintance of a fellow
physician in what Mr. Gouverneur Morris has so aptly termed the spoiled
wilderness of Washington?" I asked. "If so, permit me to introduce myself as a
young but aspiring practitioner of the healing art. My name, sir, is one often in
the mouths of men,—Robinson,—Dr. John H. Robinson."
Smiling at my attempt at wit, the gentleman swung to the ground before me, and
twitched the reins over the head of his spirited mount.
"You were walking toward the Capitol?" he inquired. I nodded assent. "Then,
by your leave, I will accompany you part of the way,—not that I can claim the
honor of membership in your most useful profession. I am no more than a
browser in the lush fields of philosophy. My name, sir, is Thomas Jefferson."
For a moment I stood like a dolt. My hand went up to jerk off my coonskin cap,
and knocked smartly against the stiff brim of my beaver. The touch recalled me
to my dignity, and I flattered myself that my bow and words would alike prove
acceptable: "Your Excellency will pardon me! Had I been aware—"
"You would have known that there are few things I hold in greater detestation
than such high-flown, aristocratic terms of address and such undemocratic
bendings," he cut in upon me, with a touch of asperity in his quiet voice.
"I stand corrected, sir," I replied, straightening to my full six feet, and seeking to
cover my confusion with a smile. "It is not necessarily proof of sycophancy that
one has acquired his manners in New Orleans."
"True—true, and that is full explanation of what I must confess puzzled me. You
are from the far West, if I do not mistake, and our frontiersmen, as a rule, are as
deficient in courtly graces as the European aristocrats are sycophantic. By your
leave, we will be moving."
We swung about and sauntered up the stream bank, the horse following at his
master's heels, docile as a well-trained hound. For a time the attention of my
distinguished companion seemed fixed upon the romantic arbors of wild grapes
which overran the neighboring thickets. But as I was about to remark on the
beauty of the autumnal foliage, he turned to me with a direct question: "Have
you close acquaintance, sir, among the people of St. Louis and New Orleans?"
"I have practised in both towns, sir, since the cession of Louisiana Territory."
"And you found the former subjects of Spain and France well disposed toward
the Republic?"
"I regret to have to say, sir, that Governor Claiborne is not popular even among
our American residents of New Orleans."
The President looked at me doubtfully. "Claiborne is a man of undisputed
integrity."
"The creoles, Your Excellency, could better appreciate a degree of tact.
Governor Claiborne is too much the Western man in his attitude toward people
of another race."
"I cannot but trust that our release of them from subjection to despotism—" He
paused to study my face with a mild yet penetrating gaze. We walked on forseveral paces before he again spoke. "I esteem you to be a man of some little
discernment, Dr. Robinson."
"You compliment me, sir. Having gone to the Mississippi fresh from my medical
studies in New York, it may be that I observed some features of the Louisiana
situation unnoted by the local factions. Though a Westerner myself, I trust that
four years in college on the seaboard has enabled me to look upon events with
a little less of our natural trans-Alleghany prejudice."
"Ah! You are also acquainted in St. Louis—with General Wilkinson? Perhaps
you are intimate?"
"No!" I said. Before my mental vision rose the whiskey-flushed face and portly
figure of the pompous, fussy old General.
"You speak emphatically."
"Sir, I give you common opinion when I say there are few men of standing in the
Upper Territory, or in the Lower, for that matter, who would trust the General out
of sight either with their reputations or with their purses."
My companion frowned as severely as it seemed his philosophic temperament
would permit. "You forget, sir, that you are speaking of the Commander-in-Chief
of the Army of the Republic."
"A commander whose appointment, it is said, was urged on the grounds that it
would keep him out of mischief,—a man who is charged with having been
implicated in all the separatist plots of the nineties."
"And if so, what then? With the removal of the misguided Federalists from the
control of public affairs, and the purchase of Louisiana Territory, insuring for our
Western river commerce the freedom of port at New Orleans, all basis for the
just complaints of the West have been removed. I trust implicitly in the loyalty of
the people of that great region."
"What of the ovations given to Mr. Aaron Burr during his trip this past season?"
"Greatly as I deplored, and still deplore, the death of Mr. Hamilton, it is a fact
that the duel terminated the political career of his slayer,—the man whom we
alike distrusted."
"Yet Colonel Burr was received with enthusiasm by nearly every man of
prominence west of Pittsburg. I might mention Senator Adair, young General
Jackson of the Tennessee militia, General Wilkinson, and our richest New
Orleans merchant, Mr. Daniel Clark."
"Very true; and easily accounted for by the reaction of sentiment against the
Federalist and partisan animus which procured Colonel Burr's
disfranchisement in the State of New York and his indictment for murder in New
Jersey. No; once for all, Colonel Burr has been removed as a disturbing
element in the politics of the Republic."
Having delivered this confident opinion, Mr. Jefferson stooped to pick up an
odd pebble, and after gazing at it a moment, abruptly changed the subject. "The
West takes some little interest, I trust, in the expedition which I had some share
in planning."
"You refer, sir, to the Northwest Expedition under the command of Captain
Lewis and the brother of Clark of Vincennes fame."
"The furtherance of unremunerative scientific research is one of the fewfunctions properly within the scope of an ideal government. I am hopeful of
valuable results from this expedition as regards the advancement alike of
geography, botany, zoölogy, and mineralogy."
"I trust, sir, that you will be equally gratified by the results of the exploration of
the Mississippi by my friend Lieutenant Pike."
"Pike?—Pike?—Ah, the son of Major Zebulon Pike of the Revolution. General
Wilkinson duly informed the Secretary of War that he had sent young Pike up
the river with a small party. But it is a purely military expedition, equipped by the
General on his own initiative; although I may add that his action in the matter
has since received the approval of the Government."
"That last statement, sir, is of no little satisfaction to myself as a friend of
Lieutenant Pike. I am sure that he will quit himself of his service with no small
credit. Allow me to speak of him as one of the Republic's most able and
patriotic young soldiers."
"So I have been informed. On the other hand, the young man lacks the scientific
attainments most desirable in the leader of such an expedition."
My heart gave a bound that sent the blood tingling to my finger-tips.
"Mr. President," I exclaimed, "the Government is doubtless aware that General
Wilkinson has in view another expedition,—one to proceed westward to treat
with the tribes of the great plains and to explore the western boundaries
between Louisiana Territory and New Spain. I am, sir, only too well aware of
my lack of standing alike with the General and with the Government, yet I
believe I can say, with all due modesty, that I possess somewhat the scientific
attainments you mention as desirable—"
I stopped short upon meeting the growing reserve in my companion's mild
gaze. He smiled not unkindly.
"I did not state, Dr. Robinson, that such attainments were the sole requisites.
Moreover, this expedition, if in truth such a one is contemplated, rests wholly
upon the discretion of General Wilkinson, and will no doubt be of a military
character."
"Yet, if I may venture, could not Your Excellency—"
The President stopped and regarded me with severity. "I have already
remarked, sir, that such adulatory titles—"
"Pardon me, Mr. Jefferson!" I cried.
His look did not relax. "Nor 'Mister' Jefferson, if you please, sir. I am Thomas
Jefferson, the servant of the people and a plain citizen of the Republic,—no
more, no less."
Knowing the greatness of the man behind this small foible, I bowed
acquiescence to the statement, and he, smiling gravely in response, added with
cordiality: "As I have intimated, the Executive will not interfere with any proper
plans which General Wilkinson may deem expedient. Yet I will say that, in the
event he carries out the contemplated expedition to our Western boundaries, I
should be pleased to hear of such a well-qualified assistant as yourself being
included in the party as a volunteer."
I covered my disappointment with the best smile I could muster: "In that event,
sir, I fear that I must repress my adventurous longings."