Last of the Great Scouts
MOTHER'S fears were well grounded. A few days after father had returned home, a man
named Sharpe, who disgraced the small office of justice of the peace, rode up to our
house, very much the worse for liquor, and informed mother that his errand was to
"search the house for that abolition husband of yours." The intoxicated ruffian then
demanded something to eat. While mother, with a show of hospitality, was preparing
supper for him, the amiable Mr. Sharpe killed time in sharpening his bowie-knife on the
sole of his shoe.
"That," said he to Will, who stood watching him, "that's to cut the heart out of that Free
State father of yours!" And he tested the edge with brutally suggestive care.
Will's comment was to take down his rifle and place himself on the staircase leading up
to father's room. There was trouble in that quarter for Mr. Sharpe, if he attempted to
ascend those stairs.
But the justice, as mother surmised, had no notion that father was at home, else he would
not have come alone. He ate heartily of the supper, which Will hoped would choke him,
and passing from drowsiness to drunken slumber, soon tumbled from his chair. This so
confused him that he forgot his pretended errand, and shambled out of the house. He was
not so drunk that he could not tell a good bit of horseflesh, and he straightway took a
fancy to Prince, the pet pony of the family. An unwritten plank in the platform of the pro-
slavery men was that the Free Soil party had no rights they were bound to respect, and
Sharpe remarked to Will, with a malicious grin:
"That's a nice pony of yours, sonny. Guess I'll take him along with me." And he
proceeded to exchange the saddle from the back of his own horse to that of Prince.
"You old coward!" muttered Will, bursting with wrath. "I'll get even with you some day."
The justice was a tall, burly fellow, and he cut so ridiculous a figure as he rode away on
Prince's back, his heels almost touching the ground, that Will laughed outright as he
thought of a plan to save his pony.
A shrill whistle brought Turk to the scene, and receiving his cue, the dog proceeded to
give Sharpe a very bad five minutes. He would nip at one of the dangling legs, spring
back out of reach of the whip with a triumphant bark, then repeat the performance with
the other leg. This little comedy had a delighted spectator in Will, who had followed at a
safe distance. Just as Sharpe made one extra effort to reach Turk, the boy whistled a
signal to Prince, who responded with a bound that dumped his rider in the dust. Here
Turk stood over him and showed his teeth.
"Call off your dog, bub!" the justice shouted to Will, "and you may keep your little sheep,
for he's no good, anyway."