Lewis J. Gardner was born on a farm near Hebron, New York, April 13, 1836. His mother died when he was thirteen years old, and he was given a home by relatives. He worked on the farm in the summers and attended the district schools in Easton, New York, during the winters. He afterwards attended Jonesville Academy, taught a winter term or two in Easton, and was a student for a short time at Claverack, New York. In 1861 he married Charlotte A. Closson, also a school teacher of Easton, and soon after their marriage they removed to Adams, Massachusetts, and, after a year, to North Adams, where they lived for fifteen years and where their seven children were born. His second wife was Minerva Torrey, who died five years later leaving one son.
During his entire stay at North Adams, he was employed by the Arnold Print Works except for one winter when he taught school on River Street. It was here also that he produced all of his novels, writing during his spare time and evenings, but he continued writing for various periodicals and newspapers throughout his life. He wrote novels fur both Beadle and George Munro. His "Tom Hawk, the Trailer" brought him $75 from Beadle, but for "The Wabash Rangers," which he sold to Munro, he received but $30. Munro generally paid his authors less than Beadle. On leaving North Adams, Gardner lived in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and while there was on the Board of Assessors for a number of years. He died in Williamstown December 5, 1909.
Gardner, so far as known, used but two pen names, Andrew Dearborn and Lewis J. Swift, but he also wrote under his own name although not for Beadle.
REFERENCE: Personal letters to me from his daughter, Mrs. George W. Smith, November 29 and December 7, 1939.
Under the pen name "Andrew Dearborn" he wrote:
Dime Novels. Nos. 201, 209, 413
Pocket Novels. No. 104
Under the pen name "Lewis J. Swift" he wrote:
Starr's American Novels. Nos. 28, 33
Dime Novels. Nos. 350, 613
Pocket Novels. Nos. 51, 269
Boy's Library (octavo). No. 227
Pocket Library. No. 494 (announced but not issued)
SPECIMEN OF LEWIS J. GARDNER'S STYLE
"White Serpent, the Shawnee Scourge; or, Indian Heart, the Renegade." New Dime Novels No. 413, pp. 37-41.
The moments sped, and no Indians appeared. Doubtless, the latter had halted beyond the knoll, where flowed the waters of a little creek.
As soon as the two men became reasonably assured of this they glided forward and cautiously crept up to the summit of the elevation. Peering through a low fringe of bushes, they saw the eight Shawnees, some of them busy in getting the materials for a fire, others preparing pieces of venison for the process of broiling. In their midst was the captive girl, sitting near a tree, her head bowed upon her lap, and her bosom heaving from the effects of fright and fatigue. Long tresses of beautiful brown hair flowed about her neck and shoulders, completely hiding even a side view of her face. They at once recognized her, however, as Eunice Wilde.
"Ye see, Brom," said the elder man; "sunthin' like this came to my mind when I fust see it was a woman they'd got. Comin' right from the direcshun of the gal's home—ten to one that it's the cussed Frencher's duins!"
"It's strange, Rhodan," replied the other in a low whisper. "Don't ye s'pose they orter be'n follered?"
"Mebbe they hain't b'en. . . ."
"What's ter be done, Rhodan?" whispered Brom, excitedly. "Thar's eight on 'em, but they mustn't git clear with the young woman. I'll lay my bones afore they do!"
"Keep cool, Bram. We'll consider fust . . . Take care! Some of the scoundrels hev got thar blasted eyes this way!"
The two crouched lower, and continued to watch the warriors. Half an hour thus passed, when the latter finished their repast, the prisoner refusing to partake of the food offered her.
"They're fixin' for a start!" whispered Brom, excitedly. "Good! I'm gittin' tired of this."
"We must git back from this, an' hide further down the knoll," said Rhodan. "They'll make a turn when they start an' mout see up hyar."
He drew carefully back with his companion. In doing so, the latter accidentally displaced a loose stone lying near him, and it went tumbling down the slope with considerable noise!
Rhodan clasped the arm of his friend, and both remained motionless, watching their foes. The latter sprung to cover, and gazed suspiciously toward the knoll. In a moment four of them separated from their fellows—two dodging quickly toward the right and two toward the left, in order to pass around either extremity of the little hill. The other four remained in front awaiting events.
They moved as soon as the savages. The forest in the immediate vicinity of the knoll was quite open: but they hoped to gain a denser part further away, without being seen or heard. They were disappointed in this. Fierce yells from either point told them they were discovered.
"Now, we must run for it!" cried Rhodan.
And the next moment they plunged into the denser recesses of the woods. Several shots were fired after them. Rhodan was untouched, but Brom got a bullet through his ankle. It did not seem to affect his speed, however, for he kept on with his friend.
The ground over which they were running was a little ascending and extremely rough. Athwart their course lay fallen trees, rocks, and tangled bushes—the debris of the forest. A hundred yards behind came their pursuers, filling the forest-aisles with fierce cries!
Nearly a mile was thus passed, while, as yet, neither party gained in the race. But on a sudden Rhodan noticed that his companion began to lag.
"What's the matter? Kain't be y'ur wind's givin' out?" he said anxiously.
"No; it's my ankle," returned the other. '"Twas struck by one of thar bullets when we fust started. I didn't mind it then, but it begins to bother me."
"Don't show lame. Keep up a little while longer, if it's possible," said Rhodan. "Thar's another ridge yender ways. Once behind it we'll pull up an' see—"
"Crack!" came the report of a rifle, the bullet grazing the old man's shoulder, and cutting short his speech.
"Thet's yu'r game, is it?" he exclaimed, wheeling toward the pursuers. The moment he did so his rifle came to line with a jerk, and its report was almost simultaneous. A savage was seen to drop, and the rest instantly halted, seeking good cover.
Rhodan himself did the same, and, as he began rapidly to reload, spoke to his friend.
"Go on Brom—git ahind the ridge, an' save y'ur shot till thar's a better chance or more necessity. I'll beat the demons loadin' an' j'ine ye soon."
Brom hurried on. He was fast becoming lame, and knew that unless he could get in a position to fight without running, he would fall an easy prey to the pursuers.
As he gained the desired place, Rhodan joined him. The latter was not pursued. He knew the Shawnees would not come on direct in the face of their deadly rifles.
"It's easy to tell what thar game'll be now" said Rhodan. "How bad is y'ur hurt, Brom; kain't ye run furder?"
'"Tain't to be denied, Rhodan. Thar's no use o' both bein' took. You kin—"
"Then we'll see how we kin fix for a defince here," interrupted Rhodan, glancing about. His eye fell upon a rift in the rocks at his feet. He bent down, examined it for a moment, and then darted past his friend to the foot of the rocky pile.
At this moment yells were heard not far away, and they were quickly answered by others still further back, showing that the rest of the party, or a part of those remaining with the girl, were rapidly coming up.
"Here!" cried Rhodan; but Brom was already beside him, and saw an opening under the rocks large enough to admit a man's body.
"Will it do, Rhodan?"
"Hustle in. I ain't mistaken. Thar's nothin' better, considerin' your fix. They'll be in sight of us in three minutes."
Brom instantly obeyed. After creeping a few feet he found more room, and at last was able to stand nearly upright. Faint streaks of light came through crevices in the rocks above, relieving what otherwise would have been total darkness. Rhodan came close behind, having moved a large fragment of rock sufficiently to cover the entrance to their retreat. But as a further precaution, both began to move other pieces of loose rock lying at their feet, filling the passage behind them. They were, however, soon obliged to pause in their work, for movements were heard outside.
Now came the critical moment. Would the Shawnees suspect their foes were concealed there, or that the latter had fled while screened by the interposing rocks?