The American Prisoner

The American Prisoner
Title: The American Prisoner
Release Date: 2018-11-04
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 31
Read book
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 71


Perspective View of the War Prison near Tor Royal upon Dartmoor. Designed for the accommodation of 10,000 Men, with Barracks for 2000 men a Short distance, but not represented in the Plate
Perspective View of the War Prison near Tor Royal upon Dartmoor.
Designed for the accommodation of 10,000 Men, with Barracks for
2000 men a Short distance, but not represented in the Plate


THE
AMERICAN PRISONER

BY

EDEN PHILLPOTTS


METHUEN & CO.
36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
LONDON
1904



Out of the land whence the 'Mayflower' sailed,
To
Jeannette L. Gilder
With hearty greeting



CONTENTS


BOOK I

FOX TOR FARM

CHAPTER

I. CATER'S BEAM
II. THE MALHERB AMPHORA
III. BESIDE EXE
IV. "THE MARROW OF THE FARM"
V. DAWN
VI. MR. PETER NORCOT
VII. THE WAR PRISON
VIII. A LITTLE ACCIDENT
IX. CHILDE'S TOMB
X. THE FIRSTBORN
XI. MALHERB'S IDEA


BOOK II

THE SEVEN

I. MR. BLAZEY
II. A BRACE OF FOWLS
III. THE GREEN APPLE
IV. A FRIEND IN NEED
V. FOLLY
VI. THE PHILOSOPHY OF MR. NORCOT
VII. THE SEVEN FAIL
VIII. JOHN LEE'S FATHER
IX. GRACE MALHERB HEARS THE NEWS
X. HANGMAN'S HOLLOW
XI. FREE
XII. THE SNOWSTORM
XIII. A GRAVE IN THE HEATHER
XIV. THE OLD AND THE NEW
XV. STARK RIDES AWAY
XVI. GOOD NEWS


BOOK III

UNDER THE EARTH

I. THE TREASURE HOUSE
II. RHYME AND REASON
III. THE OATH
IV. JOHN TAKES HIS ROAD
V. STARS AND STRIPES
VI. UNDER LOCK AND KEY
VII. THE TUNNEL GROWS
VIII. HUE AND CRY
IX. THE FIRST THROUGH THE TUNNEL
X. A GOD OF GLASS
XI. APOCALYPSE
XII. THE VOICE
XIII. PETER TRIUMPHANT
XIV. STRATEGY
XV. THE SALMON IS SPOILED


BOOK IV

THE PEACE

I. HOPE WAKES AND DIES
II. ON CHRISTMAS DAY
III. BURNHAM AS LEADER
IV. OUT OF NIGHT
V. THE LEOPARD CHANGES HER SPOTS
VI. THE BURNING OF BLAZEY
VII. DEATH AT THE GATE
VIII. BEARDING THE LION
IX. A SPECIAL LICENSE
X. EYES IN THE DARK
XI. FAREWELL, LOVEY LEE
XII. MANOR WOODS
XIII. THE PASSING OF JOHN
XIV. NEWS FROM VERMONT



BOOK I
FOX TOR FARM


THE AMERICAN PRISONER


CHAPTER I
CATER'S BEAM

The huge and solitary but featureless elevation of Cater'sBeam on Dartmoor arrests few eyes. Seen from thecentral waste, one hog-backed ridge swells along the southernhorizon, and its majestic outline, unfretted by tor or forest,describes the curve of a projectile discharged at gentle elevation.No detail relieves the solemn bulk of this hill, and upon it ageshave left but little imprint of their passing. Time rolls over themountain like a mist, and the mighty granite arch of the Beamemerges eternal and unchanged. Its tough integument of peatand heath and matted herbage answers only to the call of theseasons, and it bears grass, bloom, berry, as it bore them forpalolithic man and his flocks. Now, like a leopard, the Beamcrouches black-spotted by the swaling fires of spring; now, inthe late autumn time, its substance is coated with tawny foliage,scarlet-splashed under the low sun; now, dwarfed by snow, thegreat hill takes shape of an arctic bear. With spring the furzesflame again, and wonderful mosses—purple, gold, and emeraldgreen—light the marshes or jewel the bank at every rill; andwith summer the ling shines out, the asphodel burns in thebog, cloud-shadows drop their deep blue mantles upon themountain's bosom, and the hot air dances mile on mile. BeneathCater's Beam, and dwarfed thereby, arise the twin turrets of FoxTor; while not far distant from these most lonely masses andpinnacles of granite shall be found the work of men's hands.Beside the desolate morasses and storm-scarred wastes that herelie like a cup upon Dartmoor, a stone cross lifts its head, andruins of a human habitation moulder back to the dust.

In nettles, stereobate deep, stands Fox Tor Farm, and theplant—sure and faithful follower of man—is significant uponthis sequestered fastness; for hither it came with those whotoiled to reclaim the region in time past, and no other nettlesshall be found for miles. Other evidences of human activityappear around the perishing dwelling-house, where broken walls,decaying outbuildings, and tracts of cleared land publish theirtestimony to a struggle with the Moor. Great apparent agemarks these remains, and the weathered and shattered entrances,the lichened drip-stones, the empty joist-holes, point to arespectable antiquity. Yet one hundred years ago this habitation didnot exist. Its entire life—its erection and desertion, its prosperityand downfall—are crowded within the duration of a century. In1800 no stone stood upon another; long ago the brief daysof Fox Tor Farm were numbered, and already for fifty yearsit has written human hope, ambition, failure upon the wilderness.

One fragment of wrought granite remains, and the everlastingnettles beneath shall be found heraldically depicted upon ashattered doorway. There, where the ghost of a coat-of-armsmay still be deciphered, Time gnaws at the badge of theMalherbs: Or, chev. gules inter three nettle-leaves vert.

Upon the summit of Cater's Beam, some ninety years ago, amember of that ancient and noble clan sat mounted, gazed intothe far-spreading valley beneath him and saw that it was goodand green. Thereupon he held his quest accomplished, anddetermined here to build himself a sure abode, that his cadetbranch of the Malherb race might win foothold on the earth, andachieve as many generations of prosperity in the future as historyrecorded of his ancestors in the past. Seen a mile distant, sharpeyes upon that August day had marked a spot creep like a flyalong the crest of Cater's Beam, crawl here and there, sink downto Fox Tor, and remain stationary upon its stony side for a fullhour. Observed closely, one had watched a man at the crossroadsof life—a man who struggled to mould his own fate andweave the skein of his days to his own pattern. Here he sat ona great bay horse and pursued the path of his future, as obliviousto its inevitable changes and chances as he was to a blackcloud-ridge that now lifted dark fringes against the northern sky andcame frowning over the Moor against the course of the wind.

Maurice Malherb was close on fifty, and he had chosen to ploughthe earth for his partage in the world's work. A younger son ofhis house, he had turned from the junior's usual portion, and, bysome accident of character, refused a commission and sought thepeaceful occupations of agriculture. He had already wastedsome portion of his patrimony upon land near Exeter; andhe was seeking new outlet for his energies when arose a wide-spreadardour for cultivation of Dartmoor. The age of enterprisedawned there; "newtake" tenements sprang up like mushroomsupon this waste; and a region that had mostly slept since Elizabethanminers furrowed its breast and streamed its rivers for tin,awoke. As a grim crown to the Moor, Prince Town and itsgigantic War Prison was created; while round about youngwoods budded, homesteads appeared, and wide tracts of theRoyal Forest were rented to the speculative and the sanguine.

Maurice Malherb was among those first attracted by theprospect. A famous Dartmoor hero had influenced him in thisdecision, and he was now spending a week with Sir ThomasTyrwhitt, at Tor Royal, and examining the knight's operations inhusbandry. He saw Dartmoor for the first time, and the frank,stern face of it challenged him. For three days he rode forthalone; and then he wandered to Cater's Beam and discoveredthe dewy cup where rivers rise beneath it. To the right and lefthe looked and smiled. His dark eyes drank up the possibilitiesof the land. Already he pictured dykes for draining of themarshes; already he saw crops ripening and slow oxen drawingthe ploughshare in the valley. Of the eternal facts, hard asgranite and stern as nature, that lurked here under the dancingsummer air, he knew nothing. The man was fifteen hundredfeet above the sea, in the playground of the west wind. Theinveterate peat encompassed him—the hungry, limeless peat, thateats bone like a dog and fattens upon the life-blood of those who tryto tame it. He gazed upon a wilderness where long winters burythe land in snow or freeze it to the granite core for months—savewhere warm springs twinkle in the mosses and shine like weteyes out of a white face. Here the wise had observed and passedupon their way; but Maurice Malherb was not wise. Augustruled the hour; the ling bloomed under the heat; a millioninsects murmured and made a pleasant melody. Dartmoor for amoment smiled, and weary of the tame monotony of green meads,hedges elm-clad, and fields of ruddy earth, Malherb caught hopefrom this crystal air and enormous scene outspread, fell to picturinga notable future, and found his pulses leap to the great plansthat thronged his mind.

He was of a square and sturdy habit of body. A clean-shorncountenance, deep-set black eyes beneath black brows, a largemouth underhung, and a nose very broad but finely moulded, werethe distinguishing attributes of his face. Restlessness was alikethe characteristic of his expression and of his nature. Generosityand pride dominated him in turn. His failures were the work ofother people; his successes he claimed himself. His wife, his son,his daughter, the blood in his veins, the wine in his cellar, were allthe best in the world. His demonian temper alone he deplored;yet in that, also, he found matter for occasional satisfaction; since,by a freak of atavism, he resembled at every physical and mentalpoint an ancestor from the spacious times, whose deeds on deepand unknown seas had won him the admiration and friendship ofDrake.

Malherb already saw a homestead spring upwards upon thegreen hill beneath Fox Tor. There would he lift his eyrie; thereshould successive generations look back and honour their founder;there—thunder broke suddenly upon his dreams and the bayhorse shifted his fore-feet nervously beneath him. Whereupon helifted his eyes, and found that a great storm was at hand.Unperceived it had crept out of the north while he stood wrapped inmeditation; and now a ghastly glamour extended beneath it, forthe Moor began to look like a sick thing, huddled here all bathedwith weak yellow light from a fainting sun. Solitary blots andwisps of cloud darkened the sky and heralded the solid andpurple van of the thunderstorm. All insect music ceased, and ahush, unbroken by one whisper, fell upon the hills. Cater'sBeam suggested some prodigious, couchant creature, watchful yetfearless. Thus it awaited the familiar onset of the lightning,whose daggers had broken in its granite bosom a thousand timesand left no scar.

The wanderer spurred his horse, and regained firm foothold onthe

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 71
Comments (0)
reload, if the code cannot be seen
Free online library ideabooks.net