Outwitting a Tory
DURING the Revolution, the soldiers of Sumter and Marion in the South were very annoying to the British Commanders. The most notorious of these Commanders was Colonel Tarleton, and many are the stories of his cruelty. He was active in plundering and burning the homes of the sturdy Patriots'. Tarleton liked nothing better than to destroy the fields and harry the family of some patriot soldier who happened to be away with Marion or Sumter.
Not all the inhabitants of the country were Patriots. Some still adhered to the British cause. These were bitterly hated by their neighbors, and were called Tories.
During one of the raids of Colonel Tarleton, a young Scotchman, named MacDonald, one of Marion's soldiers decided to play a trick upon a man living in his neighborhood, whom he suspected of being a Tory. As soon as MacDonald heard that Tarleton was near by, he put on a British uniform, and, early one morning, calling at the house of the man, said to him:
"The compliments, sir, of Colonel Tarleton, who sends you his respects as being one of the friends of the King."
"Come in! come in!" cried the Tory, much delighted to have a visit from a British officer. "You say that Colonel Tarleton sends me his compliments, and knows that I am a friend of the King? Why, indeed, I am, and am ready to show it at any time. Tell the Colonel so."
"That I will," replied MacDonald. "But Colonel Tarleton is already in need of your aid, and desires me to beg of you one of your fine horses for him to ride. He will use it in driving these rebels out of the country."
"One of my horses!" cried the old Tory. "That I will, gladly. He shall have the best in my pasture. I shall get him at once. I am honored to furnish the Colonel with a horse!"
Whereupon the Tory called his negro servant, and gave orders that the best horse in his stable should be brought out and made ready for the British officer to take away with him. While the servant was gone, the Tory brought out rich food and wine, and spread it before MacDonald, who did not hesitate to eat and drink to his heart's content.
When the horse arrived, a beautiful young animal, the sly old Tory said,
"Now, you tell the Colonel I send this with my compliments, and, if I find he can ever do me a favor, I shall come to ask him."
"That I shall, the very next time I see him," said MacDonald, and rode away on the full-blooded steed. But, instead of going to the headquarters of the British Army, MacDonald rode off to the swamps, where Marion and his men were in hiding. Here he told them how he had fooled the old Tory. They laughed a long time over the story.
"Of course we could have taken the horse anyhow, but I wanted to be sure he was a Tory, and then, I enjoy a joke. I would like to hear what he will have to say when he finds out his mistake," declared MacDonald to his companions.
The next morning the old Tory went to see Colonel Tarleton, and presented himself with a smiling face. Tarleton received him coldly, and inquired his business.
"How do you like the horse I sent you yesterday?" asked the smiling Tory.
"What horse?" demanded Tarleton. "No one sent me a horse yesterday or any other day."
"Why, a British officer came to my house, and said you sent him for one of my fine horses; I gave it to him, with a saddle and blanket, a pair of silver mounted pistols, and a rain coat; and he had, heavens knows how much, food and drink," cried the bewildered Tory.
"Somebody has been fooling you, old man. I have not seen or heard of your horse," said Tarleton, turning away.
The Tory now realized the trick that had been played upon him. He swore roundly that he would get even with those rascally rebels, if it took him the rest of his life. He then went home in a great rage; but he never saw his fine horse again.
As for MacDonald and his new friend, they became inseparable. It was a beautiful horse, sixteen hands high, with the eyes of an eagle, and a proud spirit in his veins. The road was never too long for him, and the run never too swift. He learned his master's voice and whistle, and, when he heard the call, he came like the wind, bearing him swiftly into battle, or safely beyond the reach of his enemies.