About a mile and a half west of David Wooster's
is a naked bluff of rock, the extremity
of which breaks into a jagged precipice overlooking
the valley below. By some geological convulsion
its strata have been raised into a nearly vertical
position, and, having fallen a little apart, they
open into several seams and crevices, the largest of
which is of sufficient width to admit a man. A few
feet from the entrance at the bottom is a cross crevice
of about the same lateral dimensions, which, extending
in a tortuous passage upward, affords an outlet at
the top of the ledge. Whether the place had any
particular designation then, we do not know, but at
present, by a similar confusion of names, it is known
in that region
Dayton's Den, as if Dayton himself,
and not the plunderers of his house, had
The woods into which the robbers fled, after their
departure from Mr. Wooster's, extended along the
slope of the rocky eminence all the way to the den,
and by keeping themselves within the thicket, they
reached this hiding-place unperceived.
It was not a very comfortable retreat. There was
barely room enough to stand within the crevices,
and being situated in the eastern face of the cliff, it
was exposed to the bleak wind blowing from the
northeast, with the coming tempest in its breath. But
its lonely position, remote from any road, and so elevated
as to command a view of all approaches to it,
gave them present safety. They dared not make a
fire lest the smoke should betray them, but gathering
a few dry bushes, they stopped the entrance so as partially
to exclude the wind, and waited for the night,
which would permit them to pursue their flight.
Near the foot of the hill below the them â€“
hundred rods distant â€“ lived another of the prominent
tories of the region, named Noah Candee. He was a
coarse, rough man, and one of the most violent of his
party. His house was a favorite resort for persons of
that faith, and many a scheme of treacherous villainy
had been plotted under his roof.
He was a blacksmith by trade, and besides his farming
operations, was accustomed, especially in the winter,
to work in his shop, where the teams of the neighboring
farmers were brought to be shod, their ox-chains
mended, their axes relaid, etc. Such a place,
almost as much as the village tavern, became a center
of news. The rumors that were afloat as to the war,
the measures of the Congress at Philadelphia, the depreciation
of the currency, the hard times, and all the
usual sayings and doings of the town were detailed
and commented on by the idlers and loafers, who loved
the cheerful fires of the forge, and, above all, the cider
which he was as generous in dispensing as he was in
To the refugees in the rocks the minutes moved on
leaden wings. Cooped up in their inconvenient quarters,
and shivering with cold, they were in anything
but an amiable mood. Finally, Graham suggested
that one of them should venture down to Candee's, to
give him information of their whereabouts, and see
whether there was not a place of concealment in his
house more comfortable than the bleak cave where
they then were. Nobody was willing to encounter
the peril. After a little wrangling over the matter,
however, Scott volunteered to go. The rest, from
their elevated lookout, were to keep watch, and if the
pursuers were seen approaching the house, a signal
should be given by hanging one of their hats on a
stick thrust into one of the crevices of the rock.
Cautiously the scout descended the hill towards
Candee's, skulking along behind the trees and fences.
As he drew near the house, he heard the sound of the
anvil in the shop, and concluding that Candee was
there, he passed on to the rear of it, and after examining
the interior through a crack in the boards, ventured
As it happened, nobody was in the shop but Candee
himself, and one of his tory neighbors, named Daniel
Johnson. He had been down to the bridge in Judd's
Meadow that afternoon, where he had learned of the
events which were exciting that region, and had
stopped at the shop, in passing, to relate the news to
Candee. The two were engaged in discussing the affair,
and calculating the chances of escape for the robbers,
when Scott made his appearance.
Good heavens! exclaimed the latter;
earth have you come from? We have just heard that
all Bethany and Judd's Meadow are after you.
I suppose they are, was the reply.
something of a scare over at Uncle David Wooster's,
but leg-bail served us a good turn, and they didn't
catch us. We have just come to the rocks up yonder,
back of your barn, and the fellows sent me down here
to see if we can come to your house till dark. It isn't
very comfortable there, though it's better than no
shelter this cold day.
Oh, yes, you may come, and welcome, said
but I don't believe you will be safe there.
Nor I, either, added Johnson;
you have no
idea what a rumpus you have stirred up. I verily believe
there are a hundred men out already, and their
number is increasing every minute. I tell you what,
young man! you had better get away as quick as your
legs will take you.
But we can't go now in open daylight. We have
got to lie up somewhere till dark.
Well, then, stay up there in the rocks, if you
can, said Candee.
It's a most night already.
There an't a place in all Gunntown that the rebels
will suspect sooner than my house, and they'll be
here, you may depend, before dark. It'll be about
the same, too, over to your house â€“ won't it Johnson?
I've no doubt of it; indeed, they'll search every
place in Gunntown, and Derby too, and especially of
those that don't hurrah for Congress. You can't be
safe anywhere about here, or we either, as to that. But
what are you going to do with yourselves anyway!
We are going to steer for Derby Narrows and
Long Island. Two of our men came from the island,
and they say we shall be all safe when we reach
And have you really got Judd's boy with you?
Yes; we had to take him. We wanted to leave
him over to Uncle David's till we could get away, but
the old man wouldn't consent to that. There was
nothing left for us to do but to kill him or take him
along with us. He's a great bother, however, and
I'm afraid he'll give out entirely before we reach the
Well, if he does, leave him where he is in the
snow; and if he freezes to death there, he'll never tell
That's true enough, but it will be rather tough.
He's a good enough sort of young fellow, rather girlish,
and not very smart, but he has done us no harm.
I wish to CÃ¦sar he was safe home in his mother's
and we were safe on the island.
Well, said Candee,
you've got to scud for
and the sooner you do it the better. You are running
a big risk by stopping here a minute. Better go back
to the rocks while you can, and tell your men to lie
still. I'll come up there by and by, and see what can
Johnson also promised that he would keep a sharp
lookout in the neighborhood, and as soon as it seemed
prudent, he would come or send to them, and help
them to find a shelter at his own house, or somewhere
till the storm was over. So saying, he mounted his
horse and rode away.
Thus warned, Scott left the shop and succeeded in
regaining his comrades without having been discovered.
But he was not a minute too soon, for he had
hardly disappeared in the woods before a large party
were seen, down the road, approaching the shop.
Of course Candee denied all knowledge of the persons
inquired after. He was sure, he said, that they
had not passed his shop, as he had been at work there
all the afternoon. But his word was not sufficient.
His character was too well known as that of an unscrupulous
tory, and they proceeded to search his
house and barn, but of course without success.
After they left Candee took a bottle of liquor in his
pocket, and went to his barn, ostensibly for the purpose
of foddering his cattle and putting them up for
the night. But this task having been completed, he
cautiously went up the hill, keeping himself out of
sight of the house, in the range of his barn, to the
assure them. His liquor, however, was received with
great satisfaction. He advised them to stay where
they were till after dark, and even then to wait for
word from Johnson or himself as to when it would be
safe for them to move.
After searching Candee's premises, the pursuers
continued their course as far as Johnson's, whose
house they treated in a similar manner. Finding,
however, no trace of the fugitives, they concluded
they had not come in this direction, and most of them
returned to prosecute their search northward, toward
Middlebury, and also in the direction of Waterbury
Center. They, however, left persons at both houses,
to watch the tories and guard the roads, with instructions
to let no one pass who could not give a good account of himself
and his errand.
It was now a good while after dark, and the snow
was falling very fast. As soon as he dared, Mr. Johnson
set forth to fulfill his promise to the refugees.
Without much difficulty he evaded, in the darkness,
the eyes of those on guard, and taking a circuitous
route over the hills and through the thickets, arrived
at the den just as the men, grown impatient from
waiting, were about to sally forth, and trust to their
speed and their guns for escape. His arrival, therefore,
was timely, and after finishing the liquor which
Candee had brought them, they seized their luggage,
and set forth, under Johnson's guidance, on the same
circuitous route by which he had come. Not till they
had passed some distance beyond his own house did
they venture upon any road, and then, telling them
to be silent and vigilant, he bade them good night,
and returned home.
Having now got out of Gunntown, they believed
themselves no longer in danger of immediate pursuit,
and followed the open road along
Riggs Street, in
the eastern part of what is now Oxford. After a
tedious march of four of five miles, they espied a light
beaming in the distance, and drew near to reconnoiter.