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The Old Flag.
Vol. 1. Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas, March 13th, 1864. No. 3
[Written Expressly For the OLD FLAG.]
THE LEAGUE OF BLOOD!
A TALE OF THE MYSTERIES AND MISERIES OF FORD CITY, TEXAS.
BY MEIGH, D.K.
THE MIDNIGHT PROWLER.
Hark! dost hear the thunder roll?/ Johnny, fill up the bowl!
It was the still hour of midnight! The winds of a fierce norther whistled a mournful dirge at the doors of the shebangs of the inhabitants of Ford City, and the weary conscript more closely hugged – not the old flint-lock, but- the large log fire, blazing on his beat, while the Sergent of the Guard, wrapped his carpet-blanket still closer about his aged form, dreaming of
“The days of yore,/ When he had more,/ Of flour and meat,/ Than he could eat./ and d____d the “S.C.”
At this lonely hour “a man might have been seen slowly wending his way” through the now quiet streets of this Yankee City. He was wrapped in a Confederate blanket, drawn closely about his face as a protection against the biting wind and sleet. Let us follow this man. Why does he dodge behind that large chimney! Ah! There comes that faithful guardian of the night – Watchman HAY LEY – it must be him this mysterious person avoids encountering.”
“Past 12 o’clock and all is bully!” is the Watchman’s cry, as he passes up fifth Avenue, and is soon lost to view.
Now the mysterious night-prowler resumes his way, crosses a portion of Park Square and passing around to the rear of a low, one-story building, signals those within for admission.
One! Two! Three knocks, and a deep moan – a chicken crows within – the stranger answers by a noise much resembling the squealu of a pig! __ The door is opened, and he disappears from our view.
THE LOVIERS AND THE CRUEL PARIENT.
THE “God of Day” had sunk to rest behind a mountain of fire and pale Luna – if we remember correctly – on this occasion arose in the East.
Sealed in a fine arm-chair which was “for strength of back and durability of bot-tom a master-piece,” in front of the Fifth Avenue House, was our lovely heroine, Miss Julia Wilhemena Dainah, engaged in the delicious pastime of smoking a pipe!
Many the aspirant for that hand had she turned away; among them one who had loved her almost to madness! This man – of powerful frame, and an imense beard, nearly reaching to the eyes – was well known as HIGH-BIRD. He had sworn a fearful oath, that on him she placed her heart’s affections, his vengeance should fall, and the fair girl trembled for the life of her darling Pierce Manchase.
We would describe our lovely heroine, but knowing our inability to do her beauty of mind or person justice can only refer the reader to that portion of “Milton’s Paradise Lost” which describes her mother – Eve, and desire them to apply the same to Julia.
Her gaze is fixed on a form coming up the Avenue. It is a tall, majestic, noble person – as straight as a rail – graceful in carriage, and as handsome in feature as “Honest Old Abe” himself!
With a winning smile he flourishes a white handkerchief, bows his head with the grace of a mule, and with a meaning glance, passes by.
Directly she rises from her seat of case, rushes into the house, and soon after appears, with her bonnet on, and slowly and gracefully meanders up the street in the direction that handsome youth has gone. She is passing thru Shin-bone Alley, when he again appears, rushes to her side, seizes her delicate fin, and clasps her to his gizard in an extasy of bliss!
“My precious Julia Wilhemena!”
“My darling Pierce Manchase!”
“HARK! a step, me-thought I heard!” cried Pierce.
“I tremble lest pa mistrust us,” responded the happy girl.
“O! That I had wealth) he would then ow me worthy you. But the day will come when he will be proud to own the now humble me-chande as son-in-law! Know, darling, I have a plan laid for honors and riches! I feel, dearest, that I am a ___”
“SCOUNDREL!” cried the proud parent, suddenly showing himself in a towering passion. “AWAY! You d____d land-shark, and if I catch you cruising about these waters again, I’ll hang you to a black Jack as sure as my name is BRINEY AMOS!”
THE LEAGUE OF BLOOD!
We let the midnight prowler of the door of a suspicious looking house on Park Square: we will enter where he did at the close of our first Chapter, as there is that occurring within which greatly concerns our story.
Seated around a large, long table were a half dozen as villainous looking set of men as ever met for hellish purpose.
As the new-comber stepped into their midst, they all arose and cried,
“Welcome, worthy Chieftan! All hail!”
“No!” responded the grum voice, “nothing but a cold rath – no hail!”
As he gave utterance to this reply, he flung from him the Confederate blanket, and revealed the compacked form of HIGH-BIRD!
“Now,” said he,”I have a job to be done, and will amdit on the start, that I want none to engage with me in this work but those whose hearts are of iron, and whose hands grow stronger and more steady at flow of blood.”
“BLOOD! BLOOD!” cried one after another, in amazement, if not somewhat of horror.
“Ay! Blood! Red life-blood must flow!! Come, are ye old women that ye must needs repeat that five lettered word. I want vol-unteers – step forward, those who would belong to HIGH-BIRD’S LEAGUE OF BLOOD!”
At once the whole moved forward as one man, and the Chief cried,
“Tis well – let it be so recorded!”
Then stepping to the table on which stood a large iron kettle filled with hot drink, each one filled his cup, raised it over his head, while the Chief rendered, and they repeated after him the following,
“To the LEAGUE OF BLOOD! May the first blood shed under its new leader be a warning to all interlopers hereafter, who may deem it safe to cross the paths of HIGH-BIRD, to steer clear!”
All drank and caroused until the “small hours” were come, and the last drop of that intoxicating Texian drink - of that intoxicating Texian drink – Rye Coffee – was drunk.
THE LOWER ‘MILLION!!
Tear’ly candle-light that notorious Dance House of John, Son & Co., UDAUNTED HALL, Corner of Battery Place and Shin-bone Alley, began to fill with the fancy-men of the city, who, instead of remaining at their homes, entertaining and instructing their families by readings from the “Tyler Reporter,”, or playing chess, are to be found nightly in some of those bad places, dancing with lewd wimen - else at the Fifth Avenue House, playing at billiards, or on the pave making night hedeous with their cries of debauchery.
The fiddler generally plays for his rum, getting disgustingly drunk, while a guy sport comes in on the banjo, winking at the g’hals, and drinking – when not fighting- with the b’hoys.
The light of the great log fire leant a strange and ghastly appearance to the revellers, as they sat and stood grouped about the room. At every fling or “jump-Jim-Crow” of the dancers were drawn out fierce Texan yells stamping of feet, encouragement by such exailing cries on “right smart!” “goin’ old man!” “Bully for Mad Anthony!”, ye, “Go in on the GRAY more!” and other immoral suggestions, or words to that effect ____ when suddenly
A long, low, thrilling, shrilly shriek was heard!! All rushed to unbar the ponderous door, and emerging into the impenetrable darkness, beheld
“A sight to harrow up the soul-/ Freeze the hot blood-/ Make the wild eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,/ The knotted and conjoined locks to part/ And each particular hair to stand on end/ Like quills upon the fretful porcupine!”
IT was a fearful, yet splendid spect acle. In the midst of the impenetrable murk and Cimmerian gloom which enveloped all the distract of Ford City a fierce and baleful light was shining with such horrid glare as to cause each rocky pavement of the streets to gleam like molten lava, boiling in ashpaltic pills of red bituminous Tartarus.
A terrible conflagration was raging.
The entire block adjoining the UNDAUNTED HALL was wrapped in a blue sheet of mingled smoke and flame, over this blue sheet the distracted in-mates were vainly endeavoring to cast a wet blanket. The entire chimney of that palatial mansion occupied by the Duke of Wellington, and his soot, was a pray to the devouring element and at all the lofty easements might have been seen the started inmates, wildly wringing their hands, and exposing charms which out to have soothed to mercy even the demon Arson himself. Vainly waving her white kerchief for aid, could be discerned the amiable Lady Tomasina O’Deign, then in an interesting situation – the result of her recent elopment while at a dormer window, the Rt. Hon. Robin Red-Breast, P.B., who writes for the “TYLER Reporter” was endeavoring to reconcile himself to the impending fate, by chanting in a voice like the dying swan or poor Low the Indian, a meek and plaintive dilly on the overturn of the cruel war. It was indeed a heart-rending scene! The stout hands of our gallant firemen almost failed them at this crisis, but they were rallying at the stentori-an shouts of Foreman Kerbre to repel the flame when, O! horror! –
A savage war whoop rang upon the mid-night air!!
A legion of dusky forms danced defyingly around the flames, and the shuddering population of the city saw that they were surrounded by an invading war party of Choctaws, Creeks and Cherokees.
THE RES Q !!!!!
[The letter T in Tomahawk is a drawing of a tomahawk.]
TOMAHAWKS gleamed in the crimson light, and a chorus of yells and whoops affrighted every heart. A tall plumed Chieftain led the Cherokees,
May, William H. The Old Flag. (Tyler, Tex.), Vol. 1, No. 3, Ed. 1. Camp Ford, Tyler, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth312474/. Accessed November 25, 2015.