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Lord Percy's Dream

Myths and Legends of Our Own Lands

Charles M. Skinner

Leaving the dissipations of the English court, Lord Percy came to America to share the fortunes of his brethren in the contest then raging on our soil. His father had charged him with the delivery of a certain package to an Indian woman, should he meet her in his rambles through the western wilds, and, without inquiring into the nature of the gift or its occasion, he accepted the trust. At the battle of the Brandywine—strangely foretold by Quaker prophecy forty years before—he was detailed by Cornwallis to drive the colonial troops out of a graveyard where they had intrenched themselves, and though he set upon this errand with the enthusiasm of youth, his cheek paled as he drew near the spot where the enemy was waiting.

It was not that he had actual physical fear of the onset: he had dreamed a dream a few nights before, the purport of which he had hinted to his comrades, and as he rode into the clearing at the top of Osborn's Hill he drew rein and exclaimed, "My dream! Yonder is the graveyard. I am fated to die there." Giving a few of his effects to his brother officers, and charging one of them to take a message of love to his betrothed in England, he set his lips and rode forward.

His cavalry bound toward the scene of action and are within thirty paces of the cemetery wall, when from behind it rises a battalion of men in the green uniform of the Santee Rangers and pours a withering fire into the ranks. The shock is too great to withstand, and the red-coats stagger away with broken ranks, leaving many dead and wounded on the ground. Lord Percy is the coolest of all. He urges the broken columns forward, and almost alone holds the place until the infantry, a hundred yards behind, come up. Thereupon ensues one of those hand-to-hand encounters that are so rare in recent war, and that are the sorest test of valor and discipline. Now rides forward Captain Waldemar, chief of the rangers and a half-breed Indian, who, seeing Percy, recognizes him as an officer and engages him in combat. There is for a minute a clash of steel on steel; then the nobleman falls heavily to the earth—dead. His dream has come true. That night the captain Waldemar seeks out the body of this officer, attracted by something in the memory of his look, and from his bosom takes the packet that was committed to his care.

By lantern-light he reads, carelessly at first, then rapidly and eagerly, and at the close he looks long and earnestly at the dead man, and seems to brush away a tear. Strange thing to do over the body of an enemy! Why had fate decreed that they should be enemies? For Waldemar is the half-brother of Percy. His mother was the Indian girl that the earl, now passing his last days in England, had deceived with a pretended marriage, and the letters promise patronage to her son. The half-breed digs a grave that night with his own hands and lays the form of his brother in it.

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