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The Entailed Hat Or, Patty Cannon's Times   By: (1841-1914)

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First Page:

THE ENTAILED HAT

OR

PATTY CANNON'S TIMES

A Romance

BY GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND

"GATH"

[Illustration]

NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE 1884

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All rights reserved.

TO

JUDGE GEORGE P. FISHER

OF DELAWARE

AND

HON. JOHN A. J. CRESWELL

OF MARYLAND

LOVERS OF OLD TIMES

WELCOMERS OF THE NEW ERA

"Friends! trust not the heart of that man for whom Old Clothes are not venerable." CARLYLE: Sartor Resartus

INTRODUCTION.

Once the author awoke to a painful reflection that he knew no place well, though his occupation had taken him to many, and that, after twenty five years of describing localities and society, he would be identified with none.

"Where shall I begin to rove within confines?" he asked, feeling the vacant spaces in his nature: the want of all those birds, forest trees, household habits, weeds, instincts of the brooks, and tints and tones of the local species which lie in some neighborhood's compass, and complete the pastoral mind.

Numerous districts rose up and contended together, each attractive from some striking scene, or bold contrast, or lovely face; and wiser policy might have led his inclinations to one of these, redundant, perhaps, in wealth or literary appreciation; yet the heart began to turn, as in first love, or vagrancy almost as sweet, to the little, lowly region where his short childhood was lived, and where the unknown generations of his people darkened the sand the peninsula between the Chesapeake and the Delaware.

Far down this peninsula lies the old town of Snow Hill, on the border of Virginia; there the pilgrim entered the court house, and asked to see an early book of wills, and in it he turned to the name of a maternal ancestor, of whom grand tales had been told him by an aged relative. His breath was almost taken by finding the following provisions, dated February 12, 1800:

"I give and bequeath to my son, Ralph Milbourn, MY BEST HAT, TO HIM AND HIS ASSIGNEES FOREVER, and no more of my estate.

"I give to Thomas Milbourn my small iron kettle, my brandy still, all my hand irons, my pot rack, and fifteen pounds bond that he gave to my daughter, Grace Milbourn."

The next day a doctor took the author on his rounds through "the Forest," as a neighboring tract was almost too invidiously called, and through a deserted iron furnace; village almost of the date of these wills.

Everywhere he went the Entailed Hat seemed, to the stranger in the land of his forefathers, to appear in the vistas, as if some odd, reverend, avoided being was wearing it down the defiles of time. Now like Hester Prynne wearing her Scarlet Letter, and now like Gaston in his Iron Mask, this being took both sexes and different characters, as the author weighed the probabilities of its existence. At last he began to know it, and started to portray it in a little tale.

The story broke from its confines as his own family generation had broken from that forest, and sought a larger hemisphere; yet, wherever the mystic Hat proceeded, his truant fancy had also been led by his mother's hand.

Often had she told him of old Patty Cannon and her kidnapper's den, and her death in the jail of his native town. He found the legend of that dreaded woman had strengthened instead of having faded with time, and her haunts preserved, and eye witnesses of her deeds to be still living.

Hence, this romance has much local truth in it, and is not only the narration of an episode, but the story of a large region comprehending three state jurisdictions, and also of that period when modern life arose upon the ruins of old colonial caste.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

I. TWO HAT WEARERS 1 II. JUDGE AND DAUGHTER 6 III... Continue reading book >>




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