Beginnings of the Literary Societies 155
In the evening seats had been arranged on the south side of the little streamlet
that runs through the same grove in which the morning Exercises were held, and a
space cleared on the opposite side for the stage. In this way a kind of amphitheater
effect was produced. The place was lighted with torches, and, after the entré by a
campfire, the crowded seats were hushed except for the exciting whispers of the
children, for a weird effect was produced by the wavering shadows of the tall trees
and by the savage camp scene.
The play began as five or six of the company, dressed as Indians in full war paint,
feathers and moccasins, rushed upon the scene roughly dragging a beautiful young
girl (the late George Sears Stephenson of New Bern) by the arms, and threatened
with savage cries to scalp her with the tomahawk. Finally, after lighting a camp fire,
the weeping young lady was bound to a tree, and dried sticks were piled around,
preparatory to burning her alive. To add to her tortures, the Indians did not begin the
human bonfire at once, but lay down to sleep, leaving one of their number to keep
guard. These savages must have been pretty well civilized, for their countersign or
password was, "Watchman, what of the night?" While the warriors slept, their lone
sentinel, pacing up and down the space before the camp-fire, resplendent in his war
dress and hideous in his paint and feathers, would approach the tree to which the
victim was tied and would menace her with his hunting knife; but the heroic girl
with her face upturned to the heavens, did not seem to heed the wild threats.
But help was coming! The prisoner's faithful lover had followed her captors, and
now he saw that his opportunity had arrived. As the sentinel paced from the girl, her
lover (Mr. Richard Bullock Seawell, of Wake County) would slip from tree to tree,
all the while approaching nearer and nearer to his sweetheart. Once a cracking
branch almost betrayed him, and the sentinel sprang behind a tree and prepared to
awaken his comrades, but after looking around and seeing no one, he resumed his
march. When near enough to the captive, the young gallant waited until the Indian
approached the furtherest limit of his beat, and slipping out from his concealment,
he cut the ropes that bound his true love and together they made a wild rush to the
woods for freedom. The whole band was aroused by the noise, and began the chase.
They filled the woods with their blood curdling yells and the recapture of the young
lady seemed inevitable; but just at the time a drum's beat was heard, and Colonel
George Washington (Michael Thompson of Wake County) at the
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