The French and Indian War just after Braddock's defeat is again the
background for an Altsheler triumph.
Young Robert Lennox and his friend Tayoga, an Onondaga Indian, undertake
to make a dangerous journey through the northern wilderness to warn the
garrison and settlers gathered at Fort Refuge of the hostile forces.
Afterwards they join the army as scouts, preceding it on an expedition
to Lake George and Lake Champlain, where they engage in many fierce
encounters. The story concludes with the battle of Lake George, in which
the Colonists win their first great success of the war.
The story takes place almost wholly in the wilderness, and gives a
picture of Iroquois life and warfare, historically true. The description
of life in the wilderness, of the intrigue and cunning necessary in
dealing with the French and Indians, of repeated encounters where
ultimate success depends on quick wit and wily cleverness, makes
fascinating reading for boys and girls.
THE RULERS OF THE LAKES
A STORY OF GEORGE AND CHAMPLAIN
JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER
AUTHOR OF "THE SHADOW OF THE NORTH," "THE HUNTERS OF THE HILLS," "THE
EYES OF THE WOODS," ETC., ETC.
APPLETON-CENTURY-CROFTS, INC. NEW YORK
1917, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
Printed in the United States of America
"The Rulers of the Lakes" is a complete story, but it is also the third
volume of the French and Indian War Series, following "The Hunters of
the Hills" and "The Shadow of the North." Robert Lennox, Tayoga, Willet,
and all the important characters in the earlier romances reappear.
CHARACTERS IN THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR SERIES
ROBERT LENNOX A lad of unknown origin
TAYOGA A young Onondaga warrior
DAVID WILLET A hunter
RAYMOND LOUIS DE ST. LUC A brilliant French officer
AGUSTE DE COURCELLES A French officer
FRANÇOIS DE JUMONVILLE A French officer
LOUIS DE GALISONNIÈRE A young French officer
JEAN DE MÉZY A corrupt Frenchman
ARMAND GLANDELET A young Frenchman
PIERRE BOUCHER A bully and bravo
PHILIBERT DROUILLARD A French priest
THE MARQUIS DUQUESNE Governor-General of Canada
MARQUIS DE VAUDREUIL Governor-General of Canada
FRANÇOIS BIGOT Intendant of Canada
MARQUIS DE MONTCALM French commander-in-chief
DE LEVIS A French general
BOURLAMAQUE A French general
BOUGAINVILLE A French general
ARMAND DUBOIS A follower of St. Luc
M. DE CHATILLARD An old French Seigneur
CHARLES LANGLADE A French partisan
THE DOVE The Indian wife of Langlade
TANDAKORA An Ojibway chief
DAGANOWEDA A young Mohawk chief
HENDRICK An old Mohawk chief
BRADDOCK A British general
ABERCROMBIE A British general
WOLFE A British general
COL. WILLIAM JOHNSON Anglo-American leader
MOLLY BRANT Col. Wm. Johnson's Indian wife
JOSEPH BRANT Young brother of Molly Brant,
afterward the great Mohawk
ROBERT DINWIDDIE Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia
WILLIAM SHIRLEY Governor of Massachusetts
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Famous American patriot
JAMES COLDEN A young Philadelphia captain
WILLIAMWILTON A young Philadelphia lieutenant
HUGH CARSON A young Philadelphia lieutenant
JACOBUS HUYSMAN An Albany burgher
CATERINA Jacobus Huysman's cook
ALEXANDER MCLEAN An Albany schoolmaster
BENJAMIN HARDY A New York merchant
JOHNATHAN PILLSBURY Clerk to Benjamin Hardy
ADRIAN VAN ZOON A New York merchant
THE SLAVER A nameless rover
ACHILLE GARAY A French spy
ALFRED GROSVENOR A young English officer
JAMES CABELL A young Virginian
WALTER STUART A young Virginian
BLACK RIFLE A famous "Indian fighter"
ELIHU STRONG A Massachusetts colonel
ALAN HERVEY A New York financier
STUART WHYTE Captain of the British sloop,
JOHN LATHAM Lieutenant of the British sloop,
EDWARD CHARTERIS A young officer of the Royal
ZEBEDEE CRANE A young scout and forest runner
ROBERT ROGERS Famous Captain of American Rangers
I. THE HERALDS OF PERIL 1
II. THE KINDLY BRIDGE 22
III. THE FLIGHT 42
IV. A FOREST CONCERT 64
V. GATHERING FORCES 88
VI. THE DARK STRANGER 112
VII. ON THE GREAT TRAIL 136
VIII. ARESKOUI'S FAVOR 154
IX. ON ANDIATAROCTE 178
X. THE NAVAL COMBAT 198
XI. THE COMRADES 220
XII. THE SINISTER SIEGE 243
XIII. TANDAKORA'S GRASP 268
XIV. SHARP SWORD 289
XV. THE LAKE BATTLE 312
The RULERS OF THE LAKES
A STORY OF GEORGE AND CHAMPLAIN
THE HERALDS OF PERIL
The three, the white youth, the red youth, and the white man, lay deep
in the forest, watching the fire that burned on a low hill to the west,
where black figures flitted now and then before the flame. They did not
stir or speak for a long time, because a great horror was upon them.
They had seen an army destroyed a few days before by a savage but
invisible foe. They had heard continually for hours the fierce
triumphant yells of the warriors and they had seen the soldiers dropping
by hundreds, but the woods and thickets had hid the foe who sent forth
such a rain of death.
Robert Lennox could not yet stop the quiver of his nerves when he
recalled the spectacle, and Willet, the hunter, hardened though he was
to war, shuddered in spite of himself at the memory of that terrible
battle in the leafy wilderness. Nor was Tayoga, the young Onondaga,
free from emotion when he thought of Braddock's defeat, and the blazing
triumph it meant for the western tribes, the enemies of his people.
They had turned back, availing themselves of their roving commission,
when they saw that the victors were not pursuing the remains of the
beaten army, and now they were watching the French and Indians. Fort
Duquesne was not many miles away, but the fire on the hill had been
built by a party of Indians led by a Frenchman, his uniform showing when
he passed between eye and flame, the warriors being naked save for the
"I hope it's not St. Luc," said Robert.
"Why?" asked Willet. "He was in the battle. We saw him leading on the
"I know. That was fair combat, I suppose, and the French used the tools
they had. The Chevalier could scarcely have been a loyal son of France
if he had not fought us then, but I don't like to think of him over
there by the fire, leading a band of Indians who will kill and scalp
women and children as well as men along the border."
"Nor I, either, though I'm not worried about it. I can't tell who the
man is, but I know it's not St. Luc. Now I see him black against the
blaze, and it's not the Chevalier's figure."
Robert suddenly drew a long breath, as if he had made a surprising
"I'm not sure," he said, "but I notice a trick of movement now and then
reminding me of someone. I'm thinking it's the same Auguste de
Courcelles, Colonel of France, whom we met first in the northern woods
and again in Quebec. There was one memorable night, as you know, Dave,
when we had occasion to mark him well."
"I think you're right, Robert," said the hunter. "It looks like De
"I know he is right," said Tayoga, speaking for the first time. "I have
been watching him whenever he passed before the fire, and I cannot
"I wonder what he's doing here," said Robert. "He may have been in the
battle, or he may have come to Duquesne a day or two later."
"I think," said Willet, "that he's getting ready to lead a band against
the border, now almost defenseless."
"He is a bad man," said Tayoga. "His soul is full of wickedness and
cruelty, and it should be sent to the dwelling place of the evil minded.
If Great Bear and Dagaeoga say the word I will creep through the
thickets and kill him."
Robert glanced at him. The Onondaga had spoken in the gentle tones of
one who felt grief rather than anger. Robert knew that his heart was
soft, that in ordinary life none was kinder than Tayoga. And yet he was
and always would be an Indian. De Courcelles had a bad mind, and he was
also a danger that should be removed. Then why not remove him?
"No, Tayoga," said Willet. "We can't let you risk yourself that way. But
we might go a little closer without any great danger. Ah, do you see
that new figure passing before the blaze?"
"Tandakora!" exclaimed the white youth and the red youth together.
"Nobody who knows him could mistake him, even at this distance. I think
he must be the biggest Indian in all the world."
"But a bullet would bring him crashing to earth as quickly as any
other," said the Onondaga.
"Aye, so it would, Tayoga, but his time hasn't come yet, though it will
come, and may we be present when your Manitou deals with him as he
deserves. Suppose we curve to the right through these thick bushes, and
from the slope there I think we can get a much better view of the band."
They advanced softly upon rising ground, and being able to approach two
or three hundred yards, saw quite clearly all those around the fire. The
white man was in truth De Courcelles, and the gigantic Indian, although
there could have been no mistake about him, was Tandakora, the Ojibway.
The warriors, about thirty in number, were, Willet thought, a mingling
of Ojibways, Pottawattomies and Ottawas. All were in war paint and were
heavily armed, many of them carrying big muskets with bayonets on the
end, taken from Braddock's fallen soldiers. Three had small swords
belted to their naked waists, not as weapons, but rather as the visible
emblems of triumph.
As he looked, Robert's head grew hot with the blood pumped up from his
angry heart. It seemed to him that they swaggered and boasted, although
they were but true to savage nature.
"Easy, lad," said Willet, putting a restraining hand upon his shoulder.
"It's their hour. You can't deny that, and we'll have to bide a while."
"But will our hour ever come, Dave? Our army has been beaten,
destroyed. The colonies and mother country alike are sluggish, and now
have no plans, the whole border lies at the mercy of the tomahawk and
the French power in Canada not only grows all the time, but is directed
by able and daring men."
"Patience, lad, patience! Our strength is greater than that of the foe,
although we may be slower in using it. But I tell you we'll see our day
of triumph yet."
"They are getting ready to move," whispered the Onondaga. "The Frenchman
and the band will march northward."
"And not back to Duquesne?" said Willet. "What makes you think so,
"What is left for them to do at Duquesne? It will be many a day before
the English and Americans come against it again."
"That, alas, is true, Tayoga. They're not needed longer here, nor are
we. They've put out their fire, and now they're off toward the north,
just as you said they would be. Tandakora and De Courcelles lead,
marching side by side. A pretty pair, well met here in the forest. Now,
I wish I knew where they were going!"
"Can't the Great Bear guess?" said the Onondaga.
"No, Tayoga. How should I?"
"Doesn't Great Bear remember the fort in the forest, the one called
"Of course I do, Tayoga! And the brave lads, Colden and Wilton and
Carson and their comrades who defended it so long and so well. That's
the most likely point of attack, and now, since Braddock's army is
destroyed it's too far in the wilderness, too exposed, and should be
abandoned. Suppose we carry a warning!"
Robert's eyes glistened. The idea made a strong appeal to him. He had
mellow memories of those Philadelphia lads, and it would be pleasant to
see them again. The three, in bearing the alarm, might achieve, too, a
task that would lighten, in a measure, the terror along the border. It
would be a relief at least to do something while the government
disagreed and delayed.
"Let's start at once for Fort Refuge," he said, "and help them to get
away before the storm breaks. What do you say, Tayoga?"
"It is what we ought to do," replied the Onondaga, in his precise
English of the schools.
"Come," said Willet, leading the way, and the three, leaving the fire
behind them, marched rapidly into the north and east. Two miles gone,
and they stopped to study the sun, by which they meant to take their
"The fort lies there," said Willet, pointing a long finger, "and by my
calculations it will take us about five days and nights to reach it,
that is, if nothing gets in our way."
"You think, then," asked Robert, "that the French and Indians are
already spreading a net?"
"The Indians might stop, Robert, my lad, to exult over their victory and
to celebrate it with songs and dances, but the French leaders, whose
influence with them is now overwhelming, will push them on. They will
want to reap all the fruits of their great triumph by the river. I've
often told you about the quality of the French and you've seen for
yourself. Ligneris, Contrecoeur, De Courcelles, St. Luc and the others
will flame like torches along the border."
"And St. Luc will be the most daring, skillful and energetic of them
"It's a fact that all three of us know, Robert, and now, having fixed
our course, we must push ahead with all speed. De Courcelles, Tandakora
and the warriors are on the march, too, and we may see them again before
we see Fort Refuge."
"The forest will be full of warriors," said Tayoga, speaking with great
gravity. "The fort will be the first thought of the western barbarians,
and of the tribes from Canada, and they will wish to avenge the defeat
they suffered before it."
It was not long until they had ample proof that the Onondaga's words
were true. They saw three trails in the course of the day, and all of
them led toward the fort. Willet and Tayoga, with their wonderful
knowledge of the forest, estimated that about thirty warriors made one
trail, about twenty another, and fifteen the smallest.
"They're going fast, too," said the hunter, "but we must go faster."
"They will see our traces," said Tayoga, "and by signaling to one
another they will tell all that we are in the woods. Then they will set
a force to destroy us, while the greater bands go on to take the fort."
"But we'll pass 'em," said Robert confidently. "They can't stop us!"
Tayoga and the hunter glanced at him. Then they looked at each other
and smiled. They knew Robert thoroughly, they understood his vivid and
enthusiastic nature which, looking forward with so much confidence to
success, was apt to consider it already won, a fact that perhaps
contributed in no small measure to the triumph wished so ardently. At
last, the horror of the great defeat in the forest and the slaughter of
an army was passing. It was Robert's hopeful temperament and brilliant
mind that gave him such a great charm for all who met him, a charm to
which even the fifty wise old sachems in the vale of Onondaga had not
"No, Robert," said the Great Bear gravely, "I don't think anything can
stop us. I've a prevision that De Courcelles and Tandakora will stand in
our way, but we'll just brush 'em out of it."
They had not ceased to march at speed, while they talked, and now Tayoga
announced the presence of a river, an obstacle that might prove
formidable to foresters less expert than they. It was lined on both
sides with dense forest, and they walked along its bank about a mile
until they came to a comparatively shallow place where they forded it in
water above their knees. However, their leggings and moccasins dried
fast in the midsummer sun, and, experiencing no discomfort, they pressed
forward with unabated speed.
All the afternoon they continued their great journey to save those at
the fort, fording another river and a half dozen creeks and leaping
across many brooks. Twice they crossed trails leading to the east and
twice other trails leading to the west, but they felt that all of them
would presently turn and join in the general march converging upon Fort
Refuge. They were sure, too, that De Courcelles, Tandakora and their
band were marching on a line almost parallel with them, and that they
would offer the greatest danger.
Night came, a beautiful, bright summer night with a silky blue sky in
which multitudes of silver stars danced, and they sought a covert in a
dense thicket where they lay on their blankets, ate venison, and talked
a little before they slept.
Robert's brilliant and enthusiastic mood lasted. He could see nothing
but success. With the fading of the great slaughter by the river came
other pictures, deep of hue, intense and charged with pleasant memories.
Life recently had been a great panorama to him, bright and full of
changes. He could not keep from contrasting his present position, hid in
a thicket to save himself from cruel savages, with those vivid days at
Quebec, his gorgeous period in New York, and the gay time with sporting
youth in the cozy little capital of Williamsburg.
But the contrast, so far from making him unhappy, merely expanded his
spirit. He rejoiced in the pleasures that he had known and adapted
himself to present conditions. Always influenced greatly by what lay
just around him, he considered their thicket the best thicket in which
he had ever been hidden. The leaves of last year, drifted into little
heaps on which they lay, were uncommonly large and soft. The light
breeze rustling the boughs over his head whispered only of peace and
ease, and the two comrades, who lay on either side of him, were the
finest comrades any lad ever had.
"Tayoga," he asked, and his voice was sincerely earnest, "can you see on
his star Tododaho, the founder and protector of the great league of the
The young Onondaga, his face mystic and reverential, gazed toward the
west where a star of great size and beauty quivered and blazed.
"I behold him," he replied. "His face is turned toward us, and the wise
serpents lie, coil on coil, in his hair. There are wreaths of vapor
about his eyes, but I can see them shining through, shining with
kindness, as the mighty chief, who went away four hundred years ago,
watches over us. His eyes say that so long as our deeds are just, so
long as we walk in the path that Manitou wishes, we shall be victorious.
Now a cloud passes before the star, and I cannot see the face of
Tododaho, but he has spoken, and it will be well for us to remember his
He sank back on his blanket and closed his eyes as if he, too, in
thought, had shot through space to some great star. Robert and Willet
were silent, sharing perhaps in his emotion. The religion and beliefs of
the Indian were real and vital to them, and if Tododaho promised success
to Tayoga then the promise would be fulfilled.
"I think, Robert," said Willet, "that you'd better keep the first watch.
Wake me a little while before midnight, and I'll take the second."
"Good enough," said Robert. "I think I can hear any footfall Tandakora
may make, if he approaches."
"It is not enough to hear the footfall of the Ojibway," said Tayoga,
opening his eyes and sitting up. "To be a great sentinel and forester
worthy to be compared with the greatest, Dagaeoga must hear the whisper
of the grass as it bends under the lightest wind, he must hear the sound
made by the little leaf as it falls, he must hear the ripple in the
brook that is flowing a hundred yards from us, and he must hear the wild
flowers talking together in the night. Only then can Dagaeoga call
himself a sentinel fit to watch over two such sleeping foresters as the
Great Bear and myself."
"Close your eyes and go to sleep without fear," said Robert in the same
vein. "I shall hear Tandakora breathing if he comes within a mile of us,
at the same distance I shall hear the moccasin of De Courcelles, when it
brushes against last year's fallen leaf, and at half a mile I shall see
the look of revenge and cruelty upon the face of the Ojibway seeking for
Willet laughed softly, but with evident satisfaction.
"You two boys are surely the greatest talkers I've heard for a long
time," he said. "You have happy thoughts and you put 'em into words. If
I didn't know that you had a lot of deeds, too, to your credit, I'd call
you boasters, but knowing it, I don't. Go ahead and spout language,
because you're only lads and I can see that you enjoy it."
"I'm going to sleep now," said Tayoga, "but Dagaeoga can keep on talking
and be happy, because he will talk to himself long after we have gone to
the land of dreams."
"If I do talk to myself," said Robert, "it's because I like to talk to
a bright fellow, and I like to have a bright fellow talk to me. Sleep as
soundly as you please, you two, because while you're sleeping I can
carry on an intellectual conversation."
The hunter laughed again.
"It's no use, Tayoga," he said. "You can't put him down. The fifty wise
old sachems in the vale of Onondaga proclaimed him a great orator, and
great orators must always have their way."
"It is so," said the Onondaga. "The voice of Dagaeoga is like a river.
It flows on forever, and like the murmur of the stream it will soothe me
to deeper slumbers. Now I sleep."
"And so do I," said the hunter.
It seemed marvelous that such formal announcements should be followed by
fact, but within three minutes both went to that pleasant land of dreams
of which they had been talking so lightly. Their breathing was long and
regular and, beyond a doubt, they had put absolute faith in their
sentinel. Robert's mind, so quick to respond to obvious confidence,
glowed with resolve. There was no danger now that he would relax the
needed vigilance a particle, and, rifle in the hollow of his arm, he
began softly to patrol the bushes.
He was convinced that De Courcelles and Tandakora were not many miles
away—they might even be within a mile—and memory of a former occasion,
somewhat similar, when Tayoga had detected the presence of the Ojibway,
roused his emulation. He was determined that, while he was on watch, no
creeping savage should come near enough to strike.
Hand on the hammer and trigger of his rifle he walked in an ever
widening circle about his sleeping comrades, searching the thickets with
eyes, good naturally and trained highly, and stopping now and then to
listen. Two or three times he put his ear to the earth that he might
hear, as Tayoga had bade him, the rustle of leaves a mile away.
His eager spirit, always impatient for action, found relief in the
continuous walking, and the steady enlargement of the circle in which he
traveled, acquiring soon a radius of several hundred yards. On the
western perimeter he was beyond the deep thicket, and within a
magnificent wood, unchoked by undergrowth. Here the trees stood up in
great, regular rows, ordered by nature, and the brilliant moonlight
clothed every one of them in a veil of silver. On such a bright night in
summer the wilderness always had for him an elusive though powerful
beauty, but he felt its danger. Among the mighty trunks, with no
concealing thickets, he could be seen easily, if prowling savages were
near, and, as he made his circles, he always hastened through what he
called to himself his park, until he came to the bushes, in the density
of which he was well hidden from any eye fifty feet away.
It was an hour until midnight, and the radius of his circle had
increased another fifty yards, when he came again to the great spaces
among the oaks and beeches. Halfway through and he sank softly down
behind the trunk of a huge oak. Either in fact or in a sort of mental
illusion, he had heard a moccasin brush a dry leaf far away. The command
of Tayoga, though spoken in jest, had been so impressive that his ear
was obeying it. Firm in the belief that his own dark shadow blurred
with the dark trunk, and that he was safe from the sight of a questing
eye, he lay there a long time, listening.
In time, the sound, translated from fancy into fact, came again, and now
he knew that it was near, perhaps not more than a hundred yards away,
the rustling of a real moccasin against a real dry leaf. Twice and
thrice his ear signaled to his brain. It could not be fancy. It was
instead an alarming fact.
He was about to creep from the tree, and return to his comrades with
word that the enemy was near, but he restrained his impulse, merely
crouching a little lower that his dark shadow might blend with the dark
earth as well as the dark trunk. Then he heard several rustlings and the
very low murmur of voices.
Gradually the voices which had been blended together, detached
themselves and Robert recognized those of Tandakora and De Courcelles.
Presently they came into the moonlight, followed by the savage band, and
they passed within fifty yards of the youth who lay in the shelter of
the trunk, pressing himself into the earth.
The Frenchman and the Ojibway were talking with great earnestness and
Robert's imagination, plumbing the distance, told him the words they
said. Tandakora was stating with great emphasis that the three whose
trail they had found had gone on very fast, obviously with the intention
of warning the garrison at the fort, and if they were to be cut off the
band must hasten, too. De Courcelles was replying that in his opinion
Tandakora was right, but it would not be well to get too far ahead. They
must throw out flankers as they marched, but there was no immediate
need of them. If the band spread out before dawn it would be sufficient.
Robert's fancy was so intense and creative that, beginning by imagining
these things so, he made them so. The band therefore was sure to go on
without searching the thickets on either right or left at present, and
all immediate apprehension disappeared from his mind. Tandakora and De
Courcelles were in the center of the moonlight, and although knowing
them evil, he was surprised to see how very evil their faces looked,
each in its own red or white way. He could remember nothing at that
moment but their wickedness, and their treacherous attacks upon his life
and those of his friends, and the memory clothed them about with a
hideous veil through which only their cruel souls shone. It was
characteristic of him that he should always see everything in extreme
colors, and in his mind the good were always very good and the bad were
Hence it was to him an actual physical as well as mental relief, when
the Frenchman, the Ojibway and their band, passing on, were blotted from
his eyes by the forest. Then he turned back to the thicket in which his
comrades lay, and bent over them for the purpose of awakening them. But
before he could speak or lay a hand upon either, Tayoga sat up, his eyes
"You come with news that the enemy has been at hand!"
"Yes, but how did you know it?"
"I see it in your look, and, also when I slept, the Keeper of Dreams
whispered it in my ear. An evil wind, too, blew upon my face and I knew
it was the breath of De Courcelles and Tandakora. They have been near."
"They and their entire band passed not more than four hundred yards to
the eastward of us. I lay in the bush and saw them distinctly. They're
trying to beat us to Fort Refuge."
"But they won't do it, because we won't let 'em," said Willet, who had
awakened at the talking. "We'll make a curve and get ahead of 'em again.
You watched well, Robert."
"I obeyed the strict injunctions of Tayoga," said young Lennox, smiling
faintly. "He bade me listen so intently that I should hear the rustle of
a dry leaf when a moccasin touched it a mile away in the forest. Well, I
heard it, and going whence the sound came I saw De Courcelles, Tandakora
and their warriors pass by."
"You love to paint pictures with words, Robert. I see that well, but
'tis not likely that you exaggerate so much, after all. I'm sorry you
won't get your share of sleep, but we must be up and away."
"I'll claim a double portion of it later on, Dave, but I agree with you
that what we need most just now is silence and speed, and speed and
The three, making a curve toward the east, traveled at high speed
through the rest of the night, Tayoga now leading and showing all his
inimitable skill as a forest trailer. In truth, the Onondaga was in his
element. His spirits, like Robert's, rose as dangers grew thicker around
them, and he had been affected less than either of his comrades by the
terrible slaughter of Braddock's men. Mentally at least, he was more of
a stoic, and woe to the vanquished was a part of the lore of all the
Indian tribes. The French and their allies had struck a heavy blow and
there was nothing left for the English and Americans to do but to strike
back. It was all very simple.
Day came, and at the suggestion of Willet they rested again in the
thickets. Robert was not really weary, at least the spirit uplifted him,
though he knew that he must not overtask the body. His enthusiasm, based
upon such a sanguine temperament, continued to rise. Again he foresaw
glittering success. They would shake off all their foes, reach the fort
in time, and lead the garrison and the people who had found refuge there
safely out of the wilderness.
Where they lay the bushes were very dense. Before hiding there they had
drunk abundantly at a little brook thirty or forty feet away, and now
they ate with content the venison that formed their breakfast. Over the
vast forest a brilliant sun was rising and here the leaves and grass
were not burned much by summer heat. It looked fresh and green, and the
wind sang pleasantly through its cool shadows. It appealed to Robert.
With his plastic nature he was all for the town when he was in town, and
now in the forest he was all for the forest.
"I can understand why you love it so well," he said to Tayoga, waving
his hand at the verdant world that curved about them.
"My people and their ancestors have lived in it for more generations
than anyone knows," said the Onondaga, his eyes glistening. "I have
been in the white man's schools, and the white man's towns, and I have
seen the good in them, but this is my real home. This is what I love
best. My heart beats strongest for the forest."
"My own heart does a lot of beating for the woods," said Willet,
thoughtfully, "and it ought to do so, I've spent so many years of my
life in them—happy years, too. They say that no matter how great an
evil may be some good will come out of it, and this war will achieve one
"What is that, Great Bear?"
"It will delay the work of the ax. Men will be so busy with the rifle
that they will have mighty little time for the ax. The trees will stop
falling for a while, and the forest will cover again the places where it
has been cleared away. Why, the game itself will increase!"
"How long do you think we'd better stay here?" asked Robert, his eager
soul anxious to be on again.
"Patience! patience, my lad," replied Willet. "It's one thing that
you'll have to practice. We don't want to run squarely into De
Courcelles, Tandakora and their band, and meanwhile we're very
comfortable here, gathering strength. Look at Tayoga there and learn
from him. If need be he could lie in the same place a week and be
"I hope the need will not come," laughed the Onondaga.
Robert felt the truth of Willet's words, and he put restraint upon
himself, resolved that he would not be the first to propose the new
start. He had finished breakfast and he lay on his elbow gazing up
through the green tracery of the bushes at the sky. It was a wonderful
sky, a deep, soft, velvet blue, and it tinted the woods with glorious
and kindly hues. It seemed strange to Robert, at the moment, that a
forest so beautiful should bristle with danger, but he knew it too well
to allow its softness and air of innocence to deceive him.
It was almost the middle of the morning when Willet gave the word to
renew the march, and they soon saw they had extreme need of caution.
Evidence that warriors had passed was all about them. Now and then they
saw the faint imprint of a moccasin. Twice they found little painted
feathers that had fallen from a headdress or a scalplock, and once
Tayoga saw a red bead lying in the grass where it had dropped, perhaps,
from a legging.
"We shall have to pass by Tandakora's band and perhaps other bands in
the night," said Tayoga.
"It's possible, too," said Willet, "that they know we're on our way to
the fort, and may try to stop us. Our critical time will soon be at
They listened throughout the afternoon for the signals that bands might
make to one another, but heard nothing. Willet, in truth, was not
"Silence will serve them best," he said, "and they'll send runners from
band to band. Still, if they do give signals we want to know it."
"There is a river, narrow but deep, about five miles ahead," said
Tayoga, "and we'll have to cross it on our way to the fort. I think it
is there that Tandakora will await us."
"It's pretty sure to be the place," said Willet. "Do you know where
there's a ford, Tayoga?"
"There is none."
"Then we'll have to swim for it. That's bad. But you say it's a narrow
"Yes, Great Bear. Two minutes would carry us across it."
"Then we must find some place for the fording where the trees lean over
from either side and the shadow is deep."
Tayoga nodded, and, after that, they advanced in silence, redoubling
their caution as they drew near to the river. The night was not so
bright as the one that had just gone before, but it furnished sufficient
light for wary and watching warriors to see their figures at a
considerable distance, and, now and then, they stopped to search the
thickets with their own eyes. No wind blew, their footsteps made no
sound and the intense stillness of the forest wove itself into the
texture of Robert's mind. His extraordinary fancy peopled it with
phantoms. There was a warrior in every bush, but, secure in the
comradeship of his two great friends, he went on without fear.
"There is no signal," whispered Tayoga at last. "They do not even
imitate the cry of bird or beast, and it proves one thing, Great Bear."
"So it does, Tayoga."
"You know as well as I do, Great Bear, that they make no sound because
they have set the trap, and they do not wish to alarm the game which
they expect to walk into it."
"Even so, Tayoga. Our minds travel in the same channel."
"But the game is suspicious, nevertheless," continued Tayoga in his
precise school English, "and the trap will not fall."
"No, Tayoga, it won't fall, because the game won't walk into it."
"Tandakora will suffer great disappointment. He is a mighty hunter and
he has hunted mighty game, but the game that he hunts now is more wary
than the stag or the bear, and has greater power to strike back than
"Well spoken, Tayoga."
The hunter and the Onondaga looked at each other in the dark and
laughed. Their spirits were as wild as the wilderness, and they were
enjoying the prospect of the Ojibway's empty trap. Robert laughed with
them. Already in his eager mind success was achieved and the crossing
was made. After a while he saw dim silver through the trees, and he knew
they had come to the river. Then the three sank down and approached inch
by inch, sure that De Courcelles, Tandakora and their forces would be
watching on the other side.
THE KINDLY BRIDGE
The thicket in which the three lay was of low but dense bushes, with
high grass growing wherever the sun could reach it. In the grass tiny
wild flowers, purple, blue and white were in bloom, and Robert inhaled
their faint odor as he crouched, watching for the enemy who sought his
life. It was a forest scene, the beauty of which would have pleased him
at any other time, nor was he wholly unconscious of it now. The river
itself, as Tayoga had stated, was narrow. At some points it did not seem
to be more than ten or fifteen yards across, but it flowed in a slow,
heavy current, showing depths below. Nor could he see, looking up and
down the stream, any prospect of a ford.
Robert's gaze moved in an eager quest along the far shore, but he
detected no sign of Tandakora, the Frenchman or their men. Yet he felt
that Tayoga and Willet were right and that foes were on watch there. It
was inevitable, because it was just the place where they could wait best
for the three. Nevertheless he asked, though it was merely to confirm
his own belief.
"Do you think they're in the brush, Dave?"
"Not a doubt of it, Robert," the hunter whispered back. "They haven't
seen us yet, but they hope to do so soon."
"And we also, who haven't seen them yet, hope to do so soon."
"Aye, Robert, that's the fact. Ah, I think I catch a glimpse of them
now. Tayoga, wouldn't you say that the reflection in the big green bush
across the river is caused by a moonbeam falling on a burnished rifle
"Not a doubt of it, Great Bear. Now, I see the rifle itself! And now I
see the hands that hold it. The hands belong to a live warrior, an
Ojibway, or a Pottowattomie. He is kneeling, waiting for a shot, if he
should find anything to shoot at."
"I see him, too, Tayoga, and there are three more warriors just beyond
him. It's certainly the band of Tandakora and De Courcelles, and they've
set a beautiful trap for three who will not come into it."
"It is so, Great Bear. One may build a splendid bear trap but of what
use is it if the bear stays away?"
"But what are we to do?" asked Robert. "We can't cross in the face of
such a force."
"We'll go down the stream," replied Willet, "keeping hidden, of course,
in the thickets, and look for a chance to pass. Of course, they've sent
men in both directions along the bank, but we may go farther than any of
He led the way, and they went cautiously through the thickets two or
three miles, all the time intently watching the other shore. Twice they
saw Indian sentinels on watch, and knew that they could not risk the
passage. Finally they stopped and waited a full two hours in the
thickets, the contest becoming one of patience.
Meanwhile the night was absolutely silent. The wind was dead, and the
leaves hung straight down. The deep, slow current of the river, although
flowing between narrow banks, made no noise, and Robert's mind, colored
by the conditions of the moment, began to believe that the enemy had
gone away. It was impossible for them to wait so long for foresters whom
they did not see and who might never come. Then he dismissed imagination
and impression, and turned with a wrench to his judgment. He knew enough
of the warriors of the wilderness to know that nobody could wait longer
than they. Patience was one of the chief commodities of savage life,
because their habits were not complex, and all the time in the world was
He took lessons, too, from Tayoga and Willet. The Onondaga, an Indian
himself, had an illimitable patience, and Willet, from long practice,
had acquired the ability to remain motionless for hours at a time. He
looked at them as they crouched beside him, still and silent figures in
the dusk, apparently growing from the earth like the bushes about them,
and fixed as they were. The suggestion to go on that had risen to his
lips never passed them and he settled into the same immobility.
Another hour, that was three to Robert, dragged by, and Tayoga led the
way again down the stream, Robert and the hunter following without a
word. They went a long distance and then the Onondaga uttered a whisper
of surprise and satisfaction.
"A bridge!" he said.
"Where? I don't see it," said Robert.
"Look farther where the stream narrows. Behold the great tree that has
been blown down and that has fallen from bank to bank?"
"I see it now, Tayoga. It hasn't been down long, because the leaves upon
it are yet green."
"And they will hide us as we cross. Tododaho on his star has been
watching over us, and has put the bridge here for our use in this
Tayoga's words were instinct with faith. He never doubted that the great
Onondaga who had gone away four hundred years ago was serving them now
in this, their utmost, need. Robert and Willet glanced at each other.
They, too, believed. An electric current had passed from Tayoga to them,
and, for the moment, their trust in Tododaho was almost as great as his.
At the same time, a partial darkening of the night occurred, clouds
floating up from the south and west, and dimming the moon and stars.
"How far would you say it is from one shore to the other?" asked Robert
"About sixty feet," replied the hunter, "but it's a long tree, and it
will easily bear the weight of the three of us all the way. We may be
attacked while we're upon it, but if so we have our rifles."
"It is the one chance that Tododaho has offered to us, and we must take
it," said Tayoga, as he led the way upon the natural bridge. Robert
followed promptly and Willet brought up the rear.
The banks were high at that point, and the river flowed rather more
swiftly than usual. Robert, ten feet beyond the southern shore, looked
down at a dark and sullen current, seeming in the dim moonlight to have
interminable depths. It was only about fifteen feet below him, but his
imagination, heightened by time and place, made the distance three or
He felt a momentary fear lest he slip and fall into the dark stream, and
he clung tightly to an upthrust bough.
The fallen tree swayed a little with the weight of the three, but Robert
knew that it was safe. It was not the bridge that they had to fear, but
what awaited them on the farther shore. Tayoga stopped, and the tense
manner in which he crouched among the boughs and leaves showed that he
was listening with all his ears.
"Do you hear them?" Robert whispered.
"Not their footsteps," Tayoga whispered back, "but there was a soft call
in the woods, the low cry of a night bird, and then the low cry of
another night bird replying. It was the warriors signaling to one
another, the first signal they have given."
"I heard the cries, too," said Willet, behind Robert, "and no doubt
Tandakora and De Courcelles feel they are closing in on us. It's a good
thing this tree was blown down but lately, and the leaves and boughs are
so thick on it."
"It was so provided by Tododaho in our great need," said Tayoga.
"Do you mean that we're likely to be besieged while we're still on our
bridge?" asked Robert, and despite himself he could not repress a
"Not a siege exactly," replied Willet, "but the warriors may pass on the
farther shore, while we're still in the tree. That's the reason why I
spoke so gratefully of the thick leaves still clinging to it."
"They come even now," said Tayoga, in the lowest of whispers, and the
three, stopping, flattened themselves like climbing animals against the
trunk of the tree, until the dark shadow of their bodies blurred against
the dusk of its bark. They were about halfway across and the distance of
the stream beneath them seemed to Robert to have increased. He saw it
flowing black and swift, and, for a moment, he had a horrible fear lest
he should fall, but he tightened his grasp on a bough and turning his
eyes away from the water looked toward the woods.
"The warriors come," whispered Tayoga, and Robert, seeing, also
flattened himself yet farther against the tree, until he seemed fairly
to sink into the bark. Their likeness to climbing animals increased, and
it would have required keen eyes to have seen the three as they lay
along the trunk, deep among the leaves and boughs thirty feet from
Tandakora, De Courcelles and about twenty warriors appeared in the
forest, walking a little distance back from the stream, where they could
see on the farther bank, and yet not be seen from it. The moon was still
obscured, but a portion of its light fell directly upon Tandakora, and
Robert had never beheld a more sinister figure. The rays, feeble, were
yet strong enough to show his gigantic figure, naked save for the
breech cloth, and painted horribly. His eyes, moreover, were lighted up
either in fact or in Robert's fancy with a most wicked gleam, as if he
were already clutching the scalps of the three whom he was hunting so
"Now," whispered Tayoga, "Tododaho alone can save us. He holds our fate
in the hollow of his hand, but he is merciful as well as just."
Robert knew their danger was of the uttermost, but often, in the extreme
crises of life and death, one may not feel until afterward that fate has
turned on a hair.
De Courcelles was just behind Tandakora, but the light did not fall so
clearly upon him. The savage had a hideous fascination for Robert, and
the moon's rays seemed to follow him. Every device and symbol painted
upon the huge chest stood out like carving, and all the features of the
heavy, cruel face were disclosed as if by day. But Robert noticed with
extraordinary relief that the eyes so full of menace were seeking the
three among the woods on the farther shore, and were paying little
attention to the tree. It was likely that neither Tandakora nor De
Courcelles would dream that they were upon it, but it was wholly
possible that the entire band should seek to cross that way, and reach
the southern shore in the quest of their prey.
The three in the depths of the boughs and leaves did not stir. The
rising wind caused the foliage to rustle about them again. It made the
tree sway a little, too, and as Robert could not resist the temptation
to look downward once, the black surface of the river seemed to be
dancing back and forth beneath him. But, save the single glance, his
eyes all the while were for the Ojibway and the Frenchman.
Tandakora and De Courcelles came a little closer to the bank. Apparently
they were satisfied that no one was on the farther shore, and that they
were in no danger of a bullet, as presently they emerged fully into the
open, and stood there, their eyes questing. Then they looked at the
bridge, and, for a few instants, Robert was sure they would attempt the
crossing upon it. But in a minute or so they walked beyond it, and then
he concluded that the crisis had passed. After all, it would be their
plan to hold their own shore, and prevent the passage of the three.
Yet Tandakora and De Courcelles were cruelly deliberate and slow. They
walked not more than fifteen feet beyond the end of the tree, and then
stood a while talking. Half of the warriors remained near them, standing
stolidly in the background, and the others went on, searching among the
woods and thickets. The two glanced at the tree as they talked. Was it
possible that they would yet come back and attempt the crossing? Again
Robert quivered when he realized that in truth the crisis had not
passed, and that Tandakora and De Courcelles might reconsider. Once
more, he pressed his body hard against the tree, and held tightly to a
small bough which arched an abundant covering of leaves over his head.
The wind rustled among those leaves, and sang almost in words, but
whether they told him that Tandakora and De Courcelles would go on or
come upon the bridge he did not know.
Five minutes of such intense waiting that seemed nearer to an hour, and
the leaders, with the band, passed on, disappearing in the undergrowth
that lined the stream. But for another five minutes the three among the
boughs did not stir. Then Tayoga whispered over his shoulder:
"Great is the justice of Tododaho and also great is his mercy. I did not
doubt that he would save us. I felt within me all the time that he would
cause Tandakora and De Courcelles to leave the bridge and seek us
Robert was not one to question the belief of Tayoga, his sagacious
friend. If it was not Tododaho who had sent their enemies away then it
was some other spirit, known by another name, but in essence the same.
His whole being was permeated by a sort of shining gratitude.
"At times," he said, "it seems that we are favored by our God, who is
"Now is the time for us to finish the crossing," said Willet, alive to
the needs of the moment. "Lead, Tayoga, and be sure, Robert, not to give
any bough a shake that might catch the eye of a lurking savage in the
The Onondaga resumed the slow advance, so guiding his movements that he
might neither make the tree quiver nor bring his body from beneath the
covering of leaves. Robert and the hunter followed him in close
imitation. Thus they gained the bank, and the three drew long breaths of
deep and intense relief, as they stepped upon firm ground. But they
could not afford to linger. Tayoga still in front, they plunged into the
depths of the forest, and advanced at speed a half hour, when they
heard a single faint cry behind them.
"They've found our trail at the end of the natural bridge," said Willet.
"It is so," said Tayoga, in his precise school English.
"And they're mad, mad clean through," said the hunter. "That single cry
shows it. If they hadn't been so mad they'd have followed our trail
without a sound. I wish I could have seen the faces of the Ojibway and
the Frenchman when they came back and noticed our trace at the end of
the tree. They're mad in every nerve and fiber, because they did not
conclude to go upon it. It was only one chance in a thousand that we'd
be there, they let that one chance in a thousand go, and lost."
The great frame of the hunter shook with silent laughter. But Robert, in
very truth, saw the chagrin upon the faces of Tandakora and De
Courcelles. His extraordinary imagination was again up and leaping and
the picture it created for him was as glowing and vivid as fact. They
had gone some distance, and then they had come back, continually
searching the thickets of the opposite shore with their powerful and
trained eyesight. They had felt disappointed because they had seen no
trace of the hunted, who had surely come by this time against the
barrier of the river. Frenchman and Ojibway were in a state of angry
wonder at the disappearance of the three who had vanished as if on wings
in the air, leaving no trail. Then Tandakora had chanced to look down.
His eye in the dusky moonlight had caught the faint imprint of a foot on
the grass, perhaps Robert's own, and the sudden shout had been wrenched
from him by his anger and mortification. Now Robert, too, was convulsed
by internal laughter.
"It was our great luck that they did not find us on the tree," he said.
"No, it was not luck," said Tayoga.
"They did not come upon the tree because Tododaho would not let them."
"I forgot. You're right, Tayoga," said Robert sincerely.
"We'll take fresh breath here for five minutes or so," said the hunter,
"and then we'll push on at speed, because we have not only the band of
Tandakora and De Courcelles to fear. There are others in the forest
converging on Fort Refuge."
"Great Bear is right. He is nearly always right," said Tayoga. "We have
passed one barrier, but we will meet many more. There is also danger
behind us. Even now the band is coming fast."
They did not move until the allotted time had passed. Again Robert's
mind painted a picture in glowing colors of the savage warriors, led by
Tandakora and De Courcelles, coming at utmost speed upon their trail,
and his muscles quivered, yet he made no outward sign. To the eye he was
as calm as Tayoga or Willet.
An hour after the resumption of their flight they came to a shallow
creek with a gravelly bed, a creek that obviously emptied into the river
they had crossed, and they resorted to the commonest and most effective
of all devices used by fugitives in the North American wilderness who
wished to hide their trail. They waded in the stream, and, as it led in
the general direction in which they wished to go, they did not leave the
water until they had covered a distance of several miles. Then they
emerged upon the bank and rested a long time.
"When Tandakora and De Courcelles see our traces disappear in the creek
and fail to reappear on the other side," said Willet, "they'll divide
their band and send half of it upstream, and half downstream, looking
everywhere for our place of entry upon dry land, but it'll take 'em a
long time to find it. Robert, you and Tayoga might spread your blankets,
and if you're calm enough, take a nap. At any rate, it won't hurt you to
stretch yourselves and rest. I can warn you in time, when an enemy
The Onondaga obeyed without a word, and soon slept as if his will had
merely to give an order to his five senses to seek oblivion. Robert did
not think he could find slumber, but closing his eyes in order to rest
better, he drifted easily into unconsciousness. Meanwhile Willet
watched, and there was no better sentinel in all the northern
wilderness. The wind was still blowing lightly, and the rustling of the
leaves never ceased, but he would have detected instantly any strange
note, jarring upon that musical sound.
The hunter looked upon the sleeping lads, the white and the red. Both
had a powerful hold upon his affection. He felt that he stood to them
almost in the relationship of a father, and he was proud, too, of their
strength and skill, their courage and intelligence. Eager as he was to
reach Fort Refuge and save the garrison and people there, he was even
more eager to save the two youths from harm.
He let them sleep until the gold of the morning sun was gilding the
eastern forest, when the three drew further upon their supplies of bread
and venison and once more resumed the journey through the pathless woods
towards their destination. There was no interruption that day, and they
felt so much emboldened that near sundown Tayoga took his bow and
arrows, which he carried as well as his rifle, and stalked and shot a
deer, the forest being full of game. Then they lighted a fire and cooked
delicate portions of the spoil in a sheltered hollow. But they did not
eat supper there. Instead, they took portions of the cooked food and as
much as they could conveniently carry of the uncooked, and, wading along
the bed of a brook, did not stop until they were three or four miles
from the place in which they had built the fire. Then they sat down and
ate in great content.
"We will fare well enough," said Willet, "if it doesn't rain. 'Tis lucky
for us that it's the time of year when but little rain falls."
"But rain would be as hard upon those who are hunting us as upon us,"
"'Tis true, lad, and I'm glad to see you always making the best of
everything. It's a spirit that wins."
"And now, Great Bear," said Tayoga, his eyes twinkling, "you have talked
enough. It is only Dagaeoga who can talk on forever."
"That's so about Robert, but what do you mean by saying I've talked
"It is time for you to sleep. You watched last night while we slept,
and now your hour has come. While you slumber Dagaeoga and I will be
sentinels who will see and hear everything."
"Why the two of you?"
"Because it takes both of us to be the equal of the Great Bear."
"Come, now, Tayoga, that's either flattery or irony, but whatever it is
I'll let it pass. I'll own that I'm sleepy enough and you two can
arrange the rest between you."
He was asleep very soon, his great figure lying motionless on his
blanket, and the two wary lads watched, although they sat together, and,
at times, talked. Both knew there was full need for vigilance. They had
triumphed for the moment over Tandakora and De Courcelles, but they
expected many other lions in the path that led to Fort Refuge. It was
important also, not only that they should arrive there, but that they
should arrive in time. It was true, too, that they considered the danger
greater by night than by day. In the day it was much easier to see the
approach of an enemy, but by night one must be very vigilant indeed to
detect the approach of a foe so silent as the Indian.
The two did not yet mention a division of the watch. Neither was sleepy
and they were content to remain awake much longer. Moreover, they had
many things of interest to talk about and also they indulged in
"Do you think it possible, Tayoga," asked Robert, "that the garrison,
hearing of the great cloud now overhanging the border, may have
abandoned the fort and gone east with the refugees?"
"No, Dagaeoga, it is not likely. It is almost certain that the young men
from Philadelphia have not heard of General Braddock's great defeat.
French and savage runners could have reached them with the news, could
have taunted them from the forest, but they would not wish to do so;
they seek instead to gather their forces first, to have all the effect
of surprise, to take the fort, its garrison and the people as one takes
a ripe apple from a tree, just when it is ready to fall."
"That rout back there by Duquesne was a terrible affair for us, Tayoga,
not alone because it uncovers the border, but because it heartens all
our enemies. What joy the news must have caused in Quebec, and what joy
it will cause in Paris, too, when it reaches the great French capital!
The French will think themselves invincible and so will their red
"They would be invincible, Dagaeoga, if they could take with them the
"And may not this victory of the French and their tribes at Duquesne
shake the faith of the Hodenosaunee?"
"No, Dagaeoga. The fifty sachems will never let the great League join
Onontio. Champlain and Frontenac have been gone long, but their shadows
still stand between the French and the Hodenosaunee, and there is
Quebec, the lost Stadacona of the Ganegaono, whom you call the Mohawks.
As long as the sun and stars stand in the heavens the Keepers of the
Eastern Gate are the enemies of the French. Even now, as you know, they
fight by the side of the Americans and the English."
"It is true. I was wrong to question the faith of the great nations of
the Hodenosaunee. If none save the Mohawks fight for us it is at least
certain that they will not fight against us, and even undecided, while
we're at present suffering from disaster, they'll form a neutral
barrier, in part, between the French and us. Ah, that defeat by
Duquesne! I scarcely see yet how it happened!"
"A general who made war in a country that he did not know, with an enemy
that he did not understand."
"Well, we'll learn from it. We were too sure. Pride, they say, goes
before a fall, but they ought to add that those who fall can rise again.
Perhaps our generals will be more cautious next time, and won't walk
into any more traps. But I foresee now a long, a very long war. Nearly
all of Europe, if what comes across the Atlantic be true, will be
involved in it, and we Americans will be thrown mostly upon our own
resources. Perhaps it will weld our colonies together and make of them a
great nation, a nation great like the Hodenosaunee."
"I think it will come to pass, Dagaeoga. The mighty League was formed by
hardship and self-denial. A people who have had to fight long and
tenaciously for themselves grows strong. So it has been said often by
the fifty sachems who are old and very wise, and who know all that it is
given to men to know. Did you hear anything stirring in the thicket,
"I did, Tayoga. I heard a rustling, the sound of very light footfalls,
and I see the cause."
"A black bear, is it not, seeing what strangers have invaded the bush!
Now, he steals away, knowing that we are the enemies most to be dreaded
by him. Doubtless there are other animals among the bushes, watching us,
but we neither see nor hear them. It is time to divide the watch, for we
must save our strength, and it is not well for both to remain awake far
into the night."
It was arranged that Robert should sleep first and the Onondaga gave his
faithful promise to awaken him in four hours. The two lads meant to take
the burden of the watch upon themselves, and, unless Willet awoke, of
his own accord, he was to lie there until day.
Robert lay down upon his blanket, went to sleep in an instant, and the
next instant Tayoga awakened him. At least it seemed but an instant,
although the entire four hours had passed. Tayoga laughed at the dubious
look on his face.
"The time is up. It really is," he said. "You made me give my faithful
promise. Look at the moon, and it will tell you I am no teller of a
"I never knew four hours to pass so quickly before. Has anything
happened while I slept?"
"Much, Dagaeoga. Many things, things of vast importance."
"What, Tayoga! You astonish me. The forest seems quiet."
"And so it is. But the revolving earth has turned one-sixth of its way
upon itself. It has also traveled thousands and thousands of miles in
that vast circle through the pathless void that it makes about the sun.
I did not know that such things happened until I went to the white
man's school at Albany, but I know them now, and are they not important,
"They're among the main facts of the universe, but they happen every
"Then it would be more important if they did not happen?"
"There'd be a big smash of some kind, but as I don't know what the kind
would be I'm not going to talk about it. Besides, I can see that you're
making game of me, Tayoga. I've lived long enough with Indians to know
that they love their joke."
"We are much like other people. I think perhaps that in all this great
world, on all the continents and islands, people, whether white or red,
brown or black, are the same."
"Not a doubt of it. Now, stop your philosophizing and go to sleep."
"I will obey you, Dagaeoga," said Tayoga, and in a minute he was fast
Robert watched his four hours through and then awakened the Onondaga,
who was sentinel until day. When they talked they spoke only in whispers
lest they wake Willet, whose slumbers were so deep that he never
stirred. At daybreak Tayoga roused Robert, but the hunter still slept,
his gigantic bulk disposed at ease upon his blanket. Then the two lads
seized him by either shoulder and shook him violently.
"Awake! Awake, Great Bear!" Tayoga chanted in his ear. "Do you think you
have gone into a cave for winter quarters? Lo, you have slept now, like
the animal for which you take your name! We knew you were exhausted,
and that your eyes ached for darkness and oblivion, but we did not know
it would take two nights and a day to bring back your wakefulness.
Dagaeoga and I were your true friends. We watched over you while you
slept out your mighty sleep and kept away from you the bears and
panthers that would have devoured you when you knew it not. They came
more than once to look at you, and truly the Great Bear is so large that
he would have made breakfast, dinner and supper for the hungriest bear
or panther that ever roamed the woods."
Willet sat up, sleep still heavy on his eyelids, and, for a moment or
two, looked dazed.
"What do you mean, you young rascals?" he asked. "You don't say that
I've been sleeping here two nights and a day?"
"Of course you have," replied Robert, "and I've never seen anybody sleep
so hard, either. Look under your blanket and see how your body has
actually bored a hole into the ground."
Then Willet began to laugh.
"I see, it's a joke," he said, "though I don't mind. You're good lads,
but it was your duty to have awakened me in the night and let me take my
part in the watch."
"You were very tired," said Robert, "and we took pity on you. Moreover,
the enemy is all about us, and we knew that the watch must be of the
best. Tayoga felt that at such a time he could trust me alone, and I
felt with equal force that I could trust him alone. We could not put our
lives in the hands of a mere beginner."
Willet laughed again, and in the utmost good humor.
"As I repeat, you're sprightly lads," he said, "and I don't mind a jest
that all three of us can enjoy. Now, for breakfast, and, truth to say,
we must take it cold. It will not do to light another fire."
They ate deer meat, drank water from a brook, and then, refreshed
greatly by their long rest, started at utmost speed for Fort Refuge,
keeping in the deepest shadows of the wilderness, eager to carry the
alarm to the garrison, and anxious to avoid any intervening foe. The day
was fortunate, no enemy appearing in their path, and they traveled many
miles, hope continually rising that they would reach the fort before a
cloud of besiegers could arrive.
Thus they continued their journey night and day, seeing many signs of
the foe, but not the foe himself, and the hope grew almost into
conviction that they would pass all the Indian bands and gain the fort
They were within twenty-four hours of the fort, when they struck a new
trail, one of the many they had seen in the forest, but Tayoga observed
it with unusual attention.
"Why does it interest you so much?" asked Robert. "We've seen others
like it and you didn't examine them so long."
"This is different, Dagaeoga. Wait a minute or two more that I may
observe it more closely."
Young Lennox and Willet stood to one side, and the Onondaga, kneeling
down in the grass, studied the imprints. It was late in the afternoon,
and the light of the red sun fell upon his powerful body, and long,
refined, aristocratic face. That it was refined and aristocratic Robert
often felt, refined and aristocratic in the highest Indian way. In him
flowed the blood of unnumbered chiefs, and, above all, he was in himself
the very essence and spirit of a gentleman, one of the finest gentlemen
either Robert or Willet had ever known. Tayoga, too, had matured greatly
in the last year under the stern press of circumstance. Though but a
youth in years he was now, in reality, a great Onondaga warrior,
surpassed in skill, endurance and courage by none. Young Lennox and the
hunter waited in supreme confidence that he would read the trail and
read it right.
Still on his knees, he looked up, and Robert saw the light of discovery
in the dusky eyes.
"What do you read there, Tayoga?" he asked.
"Six men have passed here."
"Of what tribe were they?"
"That I do not know, save as it concerns one."
"I don't understand you."
"Five were of the Indian race, but of what tribe I cannot say, but the
sixth was a white man."
"A Frenchman. It certainly can't be De Courcelles, because we've left
him far behind, and I hope it's not St. Luc. Maybe it's Jumonville, De
Courcelles' former comrade. Still, it doesn't seem likely that any of
the Frenchmen would be with so small a band."
"It is not one of the Frenchmen, and the white man was not with the
"Now you're growing too complex for my simple mind, Tayoga. I don't
"It is one trail, but the Indians and the white man did not pass over it
at the same time. The Indian imprints were made seven or eight hours
ago, those of the white man but an hour or so since. Stoop down, Great
Bear, and you will see that it is true."
"You're right, Tayoga," said Willet, after examining minutely.
"It follows, then," said the young Onondaga, in his precise tones, "that
the white man was following the red men."
"It bears that look."
"And you will notice, Great Bear, and you, too, Dagaeoga, that the
white man's moccasin has made a very large imprint. The owner of the
foot is big. I know of none other in the forest so big except the Great
"Black Rifle!" exclaimed Robert, with a flash of insight.
"It can be none other."
"And he's following on the trail of these Indians, intending to ambush
them when they camp tonight. He hunts them as we would hunt wolves."
Robert shuddered a little. It was a time when human life was held cheap
in the wilderness, but he could not bring himself to slay except in
"We need Black Rifle," said Willet, "and they'll need him more at the
fort. We've an hour of fair sunlight left, and we must follow this trail
as fast as we can and call him back. Lead the way, Tayoga."
The young Onondaga, without a word, set out at a running walk, and the
others followed close behind. It was a plain trail. Evidently the
warriors had no idea that they were followed, and the same was true of
Black Rifle. Tayoga soon announced that both pursuers and pursued were
going slowly, and, when the last sunlight was fading, they stopped at
the crest of a hill and called, imitating first the cry of a wolf, and
then the cry of an owl.
"He can't be more than three or four hundred yards away," said Willet,
"and he may not understand either cry, but he's bound to know that they
"Suppose we stand out here where he can see us," said Robert. "He must
be lurking in the thickets just ahead."
"The simplest way and so the right way," said Willet. "Come forth, you
lads, where the eyes of Black Rifle may look upon you."
The three advanced from the shelter of the woods, and stood clearly
outlined in an open space. A whistle came from a thicket scarce a
hundred yards before them, and then they saw the striking figure of the
great, swarthy man emerging. He came straight toward them, and, although
he would not show it in his manner, Robert saw a gleam of gladness in
the black eyes.
"What are you doing here, you three?" he asked.
"Following you," replied Robert in his usual role of spokesman.
"Tayoga saw the trail of the Indians overlaid by yours. We knew you were
pursuing them, and we've come to stop you."
"By what right?"
"Because you're needed somewhere else. You're to go with us to Fort
"What has happened?"
"Braddock's army was destroyed near Fort Duquesne. The general and many
of his officers were killed. The rest are retreating far into the east.
We're on our way to Fort Refuge to save the garrison and people if we
can, and you're to go with us."
Black Rifle was silent a moment or two. Then he said:
"I feared Braddock would walk into an ambush, but I hardly believed his
army would be annihilated. I don't hold it against him, because he
turned my men and me away. How could I when he died with his soldiers?"
"He was a brave man," said Robert.
"I'm glad you found me. I'll leave the five Indians, though I could have
ambushed 'em within the hour. The whole border must be ablaze, and
they'll need us bad at Fort Refuge."
The three, now four, slept but little that night and they pressed
forward all the next day, their anxiety to reach the fort before an
attack could be made, increasing. It did not matter now if they arrived
exhausted. The burden of their task was to deliver the word, to carry
the warning. At dusk, they were within a few miles of the fort. An hour
later they noticed a thread of blue smoke across the clear sky.
"It comes from the fort," said Tayoga.
"It's not on fire?" said Robert, aghast.
"No, Dagaeoga, the fort is not burning. We have come in time. The smoke
rises from the chimneys."
"I say so, too," said Willet. "Unless there's a siege on now, we're
ahead of the savages."
"There is no siege," said Tayoga calmly. "Tododaho has held the warriors
back. Having willed for us to arrive first, nothing could prevent it."
"Again, I think you're right, Tayoga," said Robert, "and now for the
fort. Let our feet devour the space that lies between."
He was in a mood of high exaltation, and the others shared his
enthusiasm. They went faster than ever, and soon they saw rising in the
moonlight the strong palisade and the stout log houses within it. Smoke
ascended from several chimneys, and, uniting, made the line across the
sky that they had beheld from afar. From their distant point of view
they could not yet see the sentinels, and it was hard to imagine a more
peaceful forest spectacle.
"At any rate, we can save 'em," said Robert.
"Perhaps," said Willet gravely, "but we come as heralds of disaster
occurred, and of hardships to come. It will be a task to persuade them
to leave this comfortable place and plunge into the wilderness."
"It's fortunate," said Robert, "that we know Colden and Wilton and
Carson and all of them. We warned 'em once when they were coming to the
place where the fort now is, and they didn't believe us, but they soon
learned better. This time they'll know that we're making no mistake."
As they drew near they saw the heads of four sentinels projecting above
the walls, one on each side of the square. The forest within rifle shot
had also been cleared away, and Black Rifle spoke words of approval.
"They've learned," he said. "The city lads with the white hands have
"A fine crowd of boys," said Willet, with hearty emphasis. "You'll see
'em acting with promptness and courage. Now, we want to tell 'em we're
here without getting a bullet for our pains."
"Suppose you let me hail 'em," said Robert. "I'll stand on the little
hill there—a bullet from the palisades can't reach me—and sing 'em a
song or two."
"Go ahead," said the hunter.
Standing at his full height, young Lennox began to shout:
"Awake! Awake! Up! Up! We're friends! We're friends!"
His musical voice had wonderful carrying power, and the forest, and the
open space in which the fort stood, rang with the sound. Robert became
so much intoxicated with his own chanting that he did not notice its
effect, until Willet called upon him to stop.
"They've heard you!" exclaimed the hunter. "Many of them have heard you!
All of them must have heard you! Look at the heads appearing above the
The side of the palisade fronting them was lined with faces, some the
faces of soldiers and others the faces of civilians. Robert uttered a
"There's Colden!" he exclaimed. "The moonlight fell on him just then,
and I can't be mistaken."
"And if my eyes tell me true, that's young Wilton beside him," said the
hunter. "But come, lads, hold up your hands to show that we're friends,
and we'll go into the fort."
They advanced, their hands, though they grasped rifles, held on high,
but Robert, exalted and irrepressible, began to sing out anew:
"Hey, you, Colden! And you, too, Wilton and Carson! It's fine to see you
again, alive and well."
There was silence on the wall, and then a great shout of welcome.
"It's Lennox, Robert Lennox himself!" cried someone.
"And Willet, the big hunter!"
"And there's Black Rifle, too!"
"And Tayoga, the Onondaga!"
"Open the gate for 'em! Let 'em come in, in honor."
The great gate was thrown wide, and the four entered quickly, to be
surrounded at once by a multitude, eager for news of the outside world,
from which they had been shut off so long. Torches, held aloft, cast a
flickering light over young soldiers in faded uniforms, men in deerskin,
and women in home-made linsey. Colden, and his two lieutenants, Wilton
and Carson, stood together. They were thin, and their faces brown, but
they looked wiry and rugged. Colden shook Robert's hand with great
"I'm tremendously glad to see you," he exclaimed, "and I'm equally glad
to see Mr. Willet, the great Onondaga, and Black Rifle. You're the first
messengers from the outside world in more than a month. What news of
victory do you bring? We heard that a great army of ours was marching
Robert did not answer. He could not, because the words choked in his
throat, and a silence fell over the crowd gathered in the court, over
soldiers and men and women and children alike. A sudden apprehension
seized the young commander and his lips trembled.
"What is it, Lennox, man?" he exclaimed. "Why don't you speak? What is
it that your eyes are telling me?"
"They don't tell of any victory," replied Robert slowly.
"Then what do they tell?"
"I'm sorry, Colden, that I have to be the bearer of such news. I would
have told it to you privately, but all will have to know it anyhow, and
know it soon. There has been a great battle, but we did not win it."
"You mean we had to fall back, or that we failed to advance? But our
army will fight again soon, and then it will crush the French and Indian
"General Braddock's army exists no longer."
"What? It's some evil jest. Say it's not true, Lennox!"
"It's an evil jest, but it's not mine, Colden. It's the jest of fate.
General Braddock walked into a trap—it's twice I've told the terrible
tale, once to Black Rifle and now to you—and he and his army were
destroyed, all but a fragment of it that is now fleeing from the woods."
The full horror of that dreadful scene in the forest returned to him for
a moment, and, despite himself, he made tone and manner dramatic. A
long, deep gasp, like a groan, came from the crowd, and then Robert
heard the sound of a woman on the outskirts weeping.
"Our army destroyed!" repeated Colden mechanically.
"And the whole border is laid bare to the French and Indian hosts," said
Robert. "Many bands are converging now upon Fort Refuge, and the place
cannot be held against so many."
"You mean abandon Fort Refuge?"
"Aye, Colden, it's what wiser men than I say, Dave here, and Tayoga, and
"The lad is speaking you true, Captain Colden," said Willet. "Not only
must you and your garrison and people leave Fort Refuge, but you must
leave it tomorrow, and you must burn it, too."
Again Robert heard the sound of a woman weeping in the outskirts of the
"We held it once against the enemy," protested Colden.
"I know," said Willet, "but you couldn't do it now. A thousand warriors,
yes, more, would gather here for the siege, and the French themselves
would come with cannon. The big guns would blow your palisades to
splinters. Your only safety is in flight. I know it's a hard thing to
destroy the fort that your own men built, but the responsibility of all
these women and children is upon you, and it must be done."
"So it is, Mr. Willet. I'm not one to gainsay you. I think we can be
ready by daylight. Meanwhile you four rest, and I'll have food served to
you. You've warned us and we can count upon you now to help us, can't
"To the very last," said Willet.
After the first grief among the refugees was over the work of
preparation was carried on with rapidity and skill, and mostly in
silence. There were enough men or well grown boys among the settlers to
bring the fighting force up to a hundred. Colden and his assistants knew
much of the forest now, and they were willing and anxious, too, to take
the advice of older and far more experienced men like Black Rifle and
"The fighting spirit bottled up so long in our line has surely ample
opportunity to break out in me," said Wilton to Robert toward morning.
"As I've told you before, Lennox, if I have any soldierly quality it's
no credit of mine. It's a valor suppressed in my Quaker ancestors, but
"That is, if you fight you fight with the sword of your fathers and not
"You put it well, Lennox, better than I could have stated it myself.
What has become of that wonderful red friend of yours?"
"Tayoga? He has gone into the forest to see how soon we can expect
Tandakora, De Courcelles and the Indian host."
The Onondaga returned at dawn, saying that no attack need be feared
before noon, as the Indian bands were gathering at an appointed place,
and would then advance in great force.
"They'll find us gone by a good six hours," said Willet, "and we must
make every minute of those six hours worth an ordinary day, because the
warriors, wild at their disappointment, will follow, and at least we'll
have to beat off their vanguard. It's lucky all these people are used to
Just as the first rim of the sun appeared they were ready. There were
six wagons, drawn by stout horses, in which they put the spare
ammunition and their most valuable possessions. Everybody but the
drivers walked, the women and children in the center of the column, the
best of the scouts and skirmishers in the woods on the flanks. Then at
the command of Colden the whole column moved into the forest, but
Tayoga, Willet and a half dozen others ran about from house to house,
setting them on fire with great torches, making fifty blazes which grew
rapidly, because the timbers were now dry, uniting soon into one vast
Robert and Colden, from the edge of the forest, watched the destruction
of Fort Refuge. They saw the solid log structures fall in, sending up
great masses of sparks as the burning timbers crashed together. They saw
the strong blockhouse go, and then they saw the palisade itself flaming.
Colden turned away with a sigh.
"It's almost like burning your own manor house which you built yourself,
and in which you expected to spend the remainder of your life," he said.
"It hurts all the more, too, because it's a sign that we've lost the
"But we'll come back," said Robert, who had the will to be cheerful.
"Aye, so we will," said Colden, brightening. "We'll sweep back these
French and Indians, and we'll come here and rebuild Fort Refuge on this
very spot. I'll see to it, myself. This is a splendid place for a
fort, isn't it, Lennox?"
"So it is," replied Robert, smiling, "and I've no doubt, Colden, that
you'll supervise the rebuilding of Fort Refuge."
And in time, though the interval was great, it did come to pass.
Colden was not one to be gloomy long, and there was too much work ahead
for one to be morbid. Willet had spoken of the precious six hours and
they were, in, truth, more precious than diamonds. The flight was
pushed to the utmost, the old people or the little children who grew
weary were put in the wagons, and the speed they made was amazing for
the wilderness. Robert remained well in the rear with Tayoga, Willet and
Black Rifle, and they continually watched the forest for the first
appearance of the Indian pursuit. That, in time, it would appear they
never doubted, and it was their plan to give the vanguard of the
warriors such a hot reception that they would hesitate. Besides the
hundred fighting men, including the soldiers and boys large enough to
handle arms, there were about a hundred women and children. Colden
marched with the main column, and Wilton and Carson were at the rear.
Black Rifle presently went ahead to watch lest they walk into an ambush,
while Tayoga, Robert and Willet remained behind, the point from which
the greatest danger was apprehended.
"Isn't it likely," asked Robert, "that the Indians will see the light of
the burning fort, and that it will cause them to hasten?"
"More probably it will set them to wondering," replied the hunter, "and
they may hesitate. They may think a strong force has come to rescue the
garrison and people."
"But whatever Tandakora and the officer of Onontio may surmise," said
Tayoga, "our own course is plain, and that is to march as fast as we
"And hope that a body of Colonial troops and perhaps the Mohawks will
come to help us," said Willet. "Colonel William Johnson, as we all know,
is alert and vigorous, and it would be like him to push westward for the
protection of settlers and refugees. 'Twould be great luck, Tayoga, if
that bold young friend of yours, Daganoweda, the Mohawk chief, should be
in this region."
"It is not probable," said the Onondaga. "The Keepers of the Eastern
Gate are likely to remain in their own territory. They would not,
without a strong motive, cross the lands of the other nations of the
Hodenosaunee, but it is not impossible. They may have such a motive."
"Then let us hope that it exists!" exclaimed Robert fervently. "The
sight of Daganoweda and a hundred of his brave Mohawks would lift a
mighty load from my mind."
Tayoga smiled. A compliment to the Mohawks was a compliment to the
entire Hodenosaunee, and therefore to the Onondagas as well. Moreover
the fame and good name of the Mohawks meant almost as much to him as the
fame and good name of the Onondagas.
"The coming of Daganoweda would be like the coming of light itself," he
They were joined by Wilton, who, as Robert saw, had become a fine forest
soldier, alert, understanding and not conceited because of his
knowledge. Robert noted the keen, wary look of this young man of Quaker
blood, and he felt sure that in the event of an attack he would be among
the very best of the defenders.
"The spirit of battle, bursting at last in you, Will, from its long
confinement, is likely to have full chance for gratification," he said.
"So it will, Lennox, and I tremble to think of what that released spirit
may do. If I achieve any deed of daring and valor bear in mind that
it's not me, but the escaped spirit of previous ages taking violent and
reckless charge of my weak and unwilling flesh."
"Suppose we form a curtain behind our retreating caravan," said Robert.
"A small but picked force could keep back the warriors a long time, and
permit our main column to continue its flight unhampered."
"A good idea! an idea most excellent!" exclaimed Willet.
As a matter of form, the three being entirely independent in their
movements, the suggestion was made to Colden, and he agreed at once and
with thorough approval. Thirty men, including Willet, Robert, Tayoga and
Wilton, were chosen as a fighting rear guard, and the hunter himself
took command of it. Spreading out in a rather long line to prevent being
flanked, they dropped back and let the train pass out of sight on its
They were now about ten miles from the burned fort, and, evidences of
pursuit not yet being visible, Robert became hopeful that the caution of
Tandakora and De Courcelles would hold them back a long time. He and
Tayoga kept together, but the thirty were stretched over a distance of
several hundred yards, and now they retreated very slowly, watching
continually for the appearance of hostile warriors.
"They have, of course, a plain trail to follow," Robert said. "One could
not have a better trace than that made by wagon wheels. It's just a
matter of choice with them whether they come fast or not."
"I think we are not likely to see them before the night," said Tayoga.
"Knowing that the column has much strength, they will prefer the
darkness and ambush."
"But they're not likely to suspect the screen that we have thrown out to
cover the retreat."
"No, that is the surprise we have prepared for them. But even so, we,
the screen, may not come into contact with them before the dark."
Tayoga's calculation was correct. The entire day passed while the rear
guard retreated slowly, and all the aspects of the forest were peaceful.
They saw no pursuing brown figures and they heard no war cry, nor the
call of one band to another. Yet Robert felt that the night would bring
a hostile appearance of some kind or other. Tandakora and De Courcelles
when they came upon the site of the burned fort would not linger long
there, but would soon pass on in eager pursuit, hoping to strike a
fleeing multitude, disorganized by panic. But he smiled to himself at
the thought that they would strike first against the curtain of fire and
steel, that is, the thirty to whom he belonged.
When night came he and Tayoga were still together and Willet was a short
distance away. He watched the last light of the sun die and then the
dusk deepen, and he felt sure that the approach of the pursuing host
could not be long delayed. His eyes continually searched the thickets
and forest in front of them for a sight of the savage vanguard.
"Can you see Tododaho upon his star?" he asked Tayoga in all
"The star is yet faint in the heavens," replied the Onondaga, "and I can
only trace across its face the mists and vapors which are the snakes in
the hair of the great chieftain, but Tododaho will not desert us. We,
his children, the Onondagas, have done no harm, and I, Tayoga, am one of
them. I feel that all the omens and presages are favorable."
The reply of the Onondaga gave Robert new strength. He had the deepest
respect for the religion of the Hodenosaunee, which he felt was so
closely akin to his own, and Tododaho was scarcely less real to him than
to Tayoga. His veins thrilled with confidence that they would drive
back, or at least hold Tandakora and De Courcelles, if they came.
The last and least doubt that they would come was dispelled within an
hour when Tayoga suddenly put a hand upon his arm, and, in a whisper,
told him to watch a bush not more than a hundred yards away.
"A warrior is in the thicket," he said. "I would not have seen him as he
crept forward had not a darker shadow appeared upon the shadow of the
night. But he is there, awaiting a chance to steal upon us and fire."
"And others are near, seeking the same opportunity."
"It is so, Dagaeoga. The attack will soon begin."
"Shall we warn Willet?"
"The Great Bear has seen already. His eyes pierce the dark and they have
noted the warrior, and the other warriors. Lie down, Dagaeoga, the first
warrior is going to fire."
Robert sank almost flat. There was a report in the bush, a flash of
fire, and a bullet whistled high over their heads. From a point on their
right came an answering report and flash, and the warrior in the bush
uttered his death cry. Robert, who was watching him, saw him throw up
his hands and fall.
"It was the bullet of the Great Bear that replied," said Tayoga. "It was
rash to fire when such a marksman lay near. Now the battle begins."
The forest gave forth a great shout, penetrating and full of menace,
coming in full volume, and indicating to the shrewd ears of Tayoga the
presence of two or three hundred warriors. Robert knew, too, that a
large force was now before them. How long could the thirty hold back the
Indian hosts? Yet he had the word of Tayoga that Tododaho looked down
upon them with benignity and that all the omens and presages were
favorable. There was a flash at his elbow and a rifle sang its deadly
song in his ear. Then Tayoga uttered a sigh of satisfaction.
"My bullet was not wasted," he said.
Robert waited his opportunity, and fired at a dusky figure which he saw
fall. He was heart and soul averse to bloodshed, but in the heat of
action, and in self-defense, he forgot his repugnance. He was as eager
now for a shot as Tayoga, Willet, or any other of the thirty. Tayoga,
who had reloaded, pulled trigger again and then a burst of firing came
from the savage host. But the thirty, inured to the forest and forest
warfare, were sheltered well, and they took no hurt. The Indians who
were usually poor marksmen, fired many bullets after their fashion and
wasted much lead.
"They make a great noise, inflict no wounds, and do not advance,"
whispered Tayoga to Robert.
"Doubtless they are surprised much at meeting our line in the forest,
and think us many times more numerous than we are."
"And we may fill their minds with illusions," said Robert hopefully.
"They may infer from our strong resistance that reënforcements have
come, that the Mohawks are here, or that Colonel Johnson himself has
arrived with Colonial troops."
"It may be that Waraiyageh will come in time," said Tayoga. "Ah, they
are trying to pass around our right flank."
His comment was drawn by distant shots on their right. The reports,
however, did not advance, and the two, reassured, settled back into
their places. Three or four of the best scouts and skirmishers were at
the threatened point, and they created the effect of at least a dozen.
Robert knew that the illusion of a great force confronting them was
growing in the Indian mind, and his heart glowed with satisfaction.
While they held the savage host the fugitive train was putting fresh
miles between them and pursuit. Suddenly he raised his own rifle and
fired. Then he uttered a low cry of disappointment.
"It was Tandakora himself," he said. "I couldn't mistake his size, but
it was only a glimpse, and I missed."
"The time of the Ojibway has not come," said Tayoga with conviction,
"but it will come before this war is over."
"The sooner the better for our people and yours, Tayoga."
"That is so, Dagaeoga."
They did not talk much more for a long time because the combat in the
forest and the dark deepened, and the thirty were so active that there
was little time for question or answer. They crept back and forth from
bush to bush and from log to log, firing whenever they saw a flitting
form, and reloading with quick fingers. Now and then Willet, or some
other, would reply with a defiant shout to the yells of the warriors,
and thus, while the combat of the sharpshooters surged to and fro in the
dim light, many hours passed.
But the thirty held the line. Robert knew that the illusion of at least
a hundred, doubtless more, was created in the minds of the warriors,
and, fighting with their proverbial caution, they would attempt no rush.
He had a sanguine belief now that they could hold the entire host until
day, and then the fleeing train would be at least twenty miles farther
on. A few of the thirty had been wounded, though not badly enough to put
them out of the combat, but Robert himself had not been touched. As
usual with him in moments of success or triumph his spirits flamed high,
and his occasional shout of defiance rose above the others.
"In another hour," said Tayoga, "we must retreat."
"Why?" asked Robert. "When we're holding 'em so well?"
"By day they will be able to discover how few we are, and then, although
they may not be able to force our front, they will surely spread out and
pass around our flanks. I do not see the Great Bear now, but I know he
thinks so, too, and it will not be long before we hear from him."
Within five minutes Willet, who was about a hundred yards away, uttered
a low whistle, which drew to him Robert, Tayoga and others, and then he
passed the word by them to the whole line to withdraw swiftly, but in
absolute silence, knowing that the longer Tandakora and De Courcelles
thought the defenders were in their immediate front the better it was
for their purpose. Seven of the thirty were wounded, but not one of them
was put out of the combat. Their hurts merely stung them to renewed
energy, and lighted higher in them the fire of battle.
Under the firm leadership of Willet they retreated as a group, wholly
without noise, vanishing in the thickets, and following fast on the
tracks left by the wagons. When the sun rose they stopped and Tayoga
went back to see if the Indian host was yet coming. He returned in an
hour saying there was no indication of pursuit, and Robert exulted.
"We've come away, and yet we are still there!" he exclaimed.
"What do you mean?" asked Willet.
"We abandoned our position, but we left the great illusion there for the
warriors. They think we're still before 'em and so long as that illusion
lasts it will hold 'em. So you see, Dave, an illusion is often fully as
good as reality."
"It may be for a little while, but it doesn't last as long. Within
another hour Tandakora and De Courcelles will surely find out that we've
gone, and then, raging mad, they'll come on our trail."
"And we'll meet 'em with a second stand, I suppose?"
"If we can find a good place for defense."
One of the men, Oldham, who had been sent ahead, soon returned with news
that the train had crossed a deep creek with rather high banks.
"It was a hard ford," he said, "but I followed the trail some distance
on the other side, and they seem to have made the passage without any
"Was the far bank of the creek thick with forest?" asked Willet.
"Trees and undergrowth are mighty dense there," replied Oldham.
"Then that's the place for our second stand. If we can hold the creek
against 'em for three or four hours more it will be another tremendous
advantage gained. With high banks and the woods and thickets on 'em so
dense, we ought to create what Robert would call a second illusion."
"We will!" exclaimed Robert. "We can do it!"
"At least, we'll try," said Willet, and he led the little force at speed
toward the creek.
A FOREST CONCERT
The deep creek with its high banks and interwoven forest and thickets on
the other side formed an excellent second line of defense, and Willet,
with the instinct of a true commander, made the most of it, again
posting his men at wide intervals until they covered a distance of
several hundred yards, at the same time instructing them to conceal
themselves carefully, and let the enemy make the first move. He allowed
Robert and Tayoga to remain together, knowing they were at their best
The two lay behind the huge trunk of a tree torn down by some old
hurricane and now almost hidden by vegetation and trailing vines. They
were very comfortable there, and, uplifted by their success of the night
they were sanguine of an equal success by day.
To the right Robert caught occasional glimpses of Willet, moving about
in the bushes, but save for these stray glances he watched the other
side of the stream. Luckily it was rather open there, and no savage,
however cunning, could come within fifty yards of it without being seen
by the wary eyes in the thickets.
"How long do you think it will be before they come?" Robert asked of
Tayoga, for whose forest lore he had an immense respect.
"Three hours, maybe four," replied the Onondaga. "Tandakora and De
Courcelles may or may not know of this creek, but when they see it they
are sure to advance with caution, fearing a trap."
"What a pity our own people don't show the same wisdom!"
"You are thinking of the great slaughter at Duquesne. Every people has
its own ways, and the soldiers have not yet learned those of the forest,
but they will learn."
"At a huge cost!"
"Perhaps there is no other way? You will notice the birds on the bushes
on the far side of the stream, Dagaeoga?"
"Aye, I see 'em. They're in uncommon numbers. What a fine lot of fellows
with glossy plumage! And some of 'em are singing away as if they lived
for nothing else!"
"I see that Dagaeoga looks when he is told to look and sees when he is
told to see. The birds are at peace and are enjoying themselves."
"That is, they're having a sunlight concert, purely for their own
"It is so. They feel joy and know that danger is not present. They are
protected by the instinct that Manitou, watching over the least of his
creatures, has given to them."
"Why this dissertation on birds at such a time, Tayoga?"
"Dissertation is a very long word, but I am talking for Dagaeoga's own
good. He has learned much of the forest, but he can learn more, and I am
here to teach him."
"Wondrous good of you, Tayoga, and, in truth, your modesty also appeals
to me. Proceed with your lesson in woodcraft, although it seems to me
that you have chosen a critical time for it."
"The occasion is most fitting, because it comes out of our present
danger. We wish to see the approach of our enemies who will lie down
among the grass and bushes, and creep forward very silently. We will not
see them, perhaps, but others will give warning."
"Oh, you mean that the birds, alarmed by the warriors, will fly away?"
"Nothing else, Dagaeoga."
"Then why so much circumlocution?"
"Circumlocution is another very long word, Dagaeoga. It is the first
time that I have heard it used since we left the care of our teacher in
Albany. But I came to the solution by a circular road, because I wished
you to see it before I told it to you. You did see it, and so I feel
encouraged over the progress of my pupil."
"Thanks, Tayoga, I appreciate the compliment, and, as I said before,
your modesty also appeals to me."
"You waste words, Dagaeoga, but you have always been a great talker.
Now, watch the birds."
Tayoga laughed softly. The Indian now and then, in his highest estate,
used stately forms of rhetoric, and it pleased the young Onondaga, who
had been so long in the white man's school, to employ sometimes the most
orotund English. It enabled him to develop his vein of irony, with
which he did not spare Robert, just as Robert did not spare him.
"I will watch the birds," said young Lennox. "They're intelligent,
reasoning beings, and I'll lay a wager that while they're singing away
there they're not singing any songs that make fun of their friends."
"Of that I'm not sure, Dagaeoga. Look at the bird with the red crest,
perched on the topmost tip of the tall, green bush directly in front of
us. I can distinguish his song from those of the others, and it seems
that the note contains something saucy and ironic."
"I see him, Tayoga. He is an impudent little rascal, but I should call
him a most sprightly and attractive bird, nevertheless. Observe how his
head is turned on one side. If we were only near enough to see his eyes
I'd lay another wager that he is winking."
"But his head is not on one side any longer, Dagaeoga. He has
straightened up. If you watch one object a long time you will see it
much more clearly, and so I am able to observe his actions even at this
distance. He has ceased to sing. His position is that of a soldier at
attention. He is suspicious and watchful."
"You're right, Tayoga. I can see, too, that the bird's senses are on the
alert against something foreign in the forest. All the other birds,
imitating the one who seems to be their leader, have ceased singing
"And the leader is unfolding his wings."
"So I see. He is about to fly away. There he goes like a flash of red
"And there go all the rest, too. It is enough. Tandakora, De Courcelles
and the savages have come."
Robert and Tayoga crouched a little lower and stared over the fallen
log. Presently the Onondaga touched the white youth on the arm. Robert,
following his gaze, made out the figure of a warrior creeping slowly
through a dense thicket toward the creek.
"It is likely that Great Bear sees him, too," said Tayoga, "but we will
not fire. He will not come nearer than fifty yards, because good cover
"I understand that the contest is to be one of patience. So they can
loose their bullets first. I see the bushes moving in several places
"It is probable that their entire force has come up. They may wait at
least an hour before they will try a ford."
"Like as not. Suppose we eat a little venison, Tayoga, and strengthen
ourselves for the ordeal."
"You have spoken well, Dagaeoga."
They ate strips of venison contentedly, but did not neglect to keep a
wary watch upon the creeping foe. Robert knew that Tandakora and De
Courcelles were trying to discover whether or not the line of the creek
was defended, and if Willet and his men remained well hidden it would
take a long time for them to ascertain the fact. He enjoyed their
perplexity, finding in the situation a certain sardonic humor.
"The Ojibway and the Frenchman would give a good deal to know just what
is in the thickets here," he whispered to Tayoga. "But the longer they
must take in finding out the better I like it."
"They will delay far into the afternoon," said Tayoga. "The warriors
and the Frenchmen have great patience. It would be better for the
Americans and the English if they, too, like the French, learned the
patience of the Indians."
"The birds gave us a warning that they had come. You don't think it
possible, Tayoga, that they will also give the savages warning that we
"No, Dagaeoga, we have been lying in the thickets so long now, and have
been so quiet that the birds have grown used to us. They feel sure we
are not going to do them any harm, and while they may have flown away
when we first came they are back now, as you can see with your own eyes,
and can hear with your own ears."
Almost over Robert's head a small brown bird on a small green bough was
singing, pouring out a small sweet song that was nevertheless clear and
penetrating. Within the radius of his sight a half dozen more were
trilling and quavering, and he knew that others were pouring out their
souls farther on, as the low hum of their many voices came to his ears.
Now and then he saw a flash of blue or brown or gray, as some restless
feathered being shot from one bough to another. The birds, unusual in
number and sure that there was no hostile presence, were having a grand
concert in honor of a most noble day.
Robert listened and the appeal to his imagination and higher side was
strong. Overhead the chorus of small sweet voices went on, as if there
were no such things as battle or danger. Tayoga also was moved by it.
"By the snakes in the hair of the wise Tododaho," he said, "it is
pleasant to hear! May the wilderness endure always that the birds can
sing in it, far from men, and in peace!"
"May it not be, Tayoga, that the warriors watching the thickets here
will see the birds so thick, and will conclude from it that no defenders
are lying in wait?"
"De Courcelles might, but Tandakora, who has lived his whole life in the
forest, will conclude that the birds are here, unafraid, because we have
been so long in the bushes."
Time went on very slowly and the forest on either side of the creek was
silent, save for the singing of the birds among the bushes in which the
defenders lay hidden. Robert, from whom the feeling of danger departed
for the moment, was almost tempted into? a doze by the warmth of the
thicket and the long peace. His impressions, the pictures that passed
before his mental and physical eye, were confused but agreeable. He was
lying on a soft bank of turf that sloped up to a huge fallen trunk, and
warm, soothing winds stole about among the boughs, rustling the leaves
musically. The birds were singing in increased volume, and, though his
eyes were half veiled by drooping lids, he saw them on many boughs.
"'Tis not their daily concert," he said to Tayoga "In very truth it must
be their grand, annual affair I believe that a great group on our right
is singing against another equally great group on our left. I can't
recall having heard ever before such a volume of song in the woods. It's
in my mind that a contest is going on, for a prize, perhaps. Doubtless
juicy worms are awaiting the winners."
"You are improving, Dagaeoga," he said in precise tones. "You do not
merely fight and eat and sleep like the white man. You are developing a
soul. You are beginning to understand the birds and animals that live in
the woods. Almost I think you worthy to be an Onondaga."
"I know you can pay me what is to you no higher compliment, but I have a
notion the end of the concert is not far away. It seems to me the volume
of song from the group on the left is diminishing."
"And you notice no decrease on our right?"
"No, Tayoga. The grand chorus there is as strong as ever, and unless my
ears go wrong, I detect in it a triumphant note."
"Then the test of song which you have created is finished, and the prize
has been won by the group on the right. It is a fine conceit that you
have about the birds, Dagaeoga. I like it, and we will see it to the
The song on their left died, the one on their right swelled anew, and
then died in its turn. Soon the birds began to drift slowly away. Robert
watched some of them as they disappeared among the green boughs farther
"I also am learning to read the signs, Tayoga," he said, "and, having
observed 'em, I conclude that our foes are about to make an advance, or
at least, have crept forward a little more. The birds, used to our
presence, know we are neither dangerous nor hostile, but they do not
know as much about those on the other side of the creek. While the
advance of the warriors is not yet sufficient to threaten 'em, it's
enough to make 'em suspicious, and so they are flying away slowly, ready
to return if it be a false alarm."
"Good! Very good, Dagaeoga! I can believe that your conclusions are
true, and I can say to you once more that almost you are worthy to be an
Onondaga. If you will look now toward the spot where the banks shelve
down, and the grass grows high you will see four warriors on their hands
and knees approaching the creek. If they reach the water without being
fired upon they will assume that we are not here. Then the entire force
will rush across the stream and take up the trail."
"But the creeping four will be fired upon."
"I think so, too, Dagaeoga, because there is no longer any reason for us
to delay, and the rifle of the Great Bear will speak the first word."
There was a report near them, and one of the warriors, sinking flat in
the grass, lay quite still. Robert, through the bushes, saw Willet,
smoking rifle in hand. The three savages who lived began a swift
retreat, and the others behind them uttered a great cry of grief and
rage. They fired a dozen shots or so, but the bullets merely clipped
leaves and twigs in the thickets. Nobody among the defenders save Willet
pulled trigger, but his single shot was a sufficient warning to
Tandakora and De Courcelles. They knew that the creek was held strongly.
Now ensued another long combat in which the skill, courage and ingenuity
of warriors and hunters were put to the supreme test. Many shots were
fired, but faces and bodies were shown only for an instant. Nevertheless
a bullet now and then went home. One of Willet's men was killed and
three more sustained slight wounds. Several of the warriors were slain,
and others were wounded, but Robert had no means of telling the exact
number of their casualties, as it was an almost invisible combat, which
Willet and Tayoga, as the leaders, used all their skill to prolong to
the utmost with the smallest loss possible. What they wanted was time,
time for the fugitive train, now far away among the hills.
So deftly did they manage the defense of the creek that the entire
afternoon passed and Tandakora and De Courcelles were still held in
front of it, not daring to make a rush, and Willet, Robert and Tayoga
glowed with the triumph they were achieving at a cost relatively so
small. Night arrived, fortunately for them thick and black, and Willet
gathered up his little force. They would have taken away with them the
body of the slain man, but that was impossible, and, covering it up with
brush and stones, they left it. Then still uplifted and exulting, they
slipped away on the trail of the wagons, knowing that the Indian horde
might watch for hours at the creek before they discovered the departure
of the defenders.
"You see, Dagaeoga," said Tayoga to Robert, "that there is more in war
than fighting. Craft and cunning, wile and stratagem are often as
profitable as the shock of conflict."
"So I know, Tayoga. I learned it well in the battle by Duquesne. What
right had a force of French and Indians which must have been relatively
small to destroy a fine army like ours!"
"No right at all," said Willet, "but it happened, nevertheless. We'll
learn from it, though it's a tremendous price to pay for a lesson."
"Do we make a third stand somewhere, Dave?" asked Robert, "and delay
them yet another time?"
"I scarcely see a chance for it," replied the hunter. "We must have
favorable ground or they'd outflank us. How old does the trail of the
wagons look, Tayoga?"
"They are many, many hours ahead," replied the Onondaga. "They have made
good use of the time we have secured for them."
"Another day and night and they should be safe," said Willet. "Tandakora
and De Courcelles will scarcely dare follow deep into the fringe of
settlements. What is it, Tayoga?"
The Onondaga had stopped and, kneeling down, he was examining the trail
as minutely as he could in the dusk.
"Others have come," he replied tersely.
"What do you mean by 'others'?" asked Willet.
"Those who belong neither to pursued nor pursuers, a new force, white
men, fifteen, perhaps. They came down from the north, struck this trail,
for which they were not looking, and have turned aside from whatever
task they were undertaking to see what it means."
"And so they're following the fugitive train. Possibly it's a band of
"I do not think so, Great Bear. The French do not roam the forest alone.
The warriors are always with them, and this party is composed wholly of
"Then they must be ours, perhaps a body of hunters or scouts, and we
need 'em. How long would you say it has been since they passed?"
"Not more than two hours."
"Then we must overtake 'em. Do you lead at speed, Tayoga, but on the
bare possibility that they're French, look out for an ambush."
"The new people, whoever they are," said Robert, "are trailing the
train, we're trailing them, and the French and Indians are trailing us.
It's like a chain drawing its links through the forest."
"But the links are of different metals, Robert," said Willet.
They talked but little more, because they needed all their breath now
for the pursuit, as Tayoga was leading at great speed, the broad trail
in the moonlight being almost as plain as day. It was a pleasure to
Robert to watch the Onondaga following like a hound on the scent. His
head was bent forward a little, and now and then when the brightest rays
fell across them, Robert could see that his eyes glittered. He was
wholly the Indian, his white culture gone for the moment, following the
wilderness trail as his ancestors had done for centuries before him.
"Do the traces of the new group grow warmer?" asked Robert.
"They do," replied Tayoga. "We are advancing just twice as fast as they.
We will overtake them before midnight."
"White men, and only by the barest possibility French," said Robert.
"So the chances are nine out of ten that they're our own people. Now, I
wonder what they are and what they're doing here."
"Patience, Dagaeoga," said the young Onondaga. "We will learn by
midnight. How often have I told you that you must cultivate patience
before you are worthy to be an Onondaga?"
"I'll bear it in mind, O worthy teacher. Your great age and vast
learning compel me to respect your commands."
The new trail, which was like a narrow current in the broad stream of
that left by the flying train, was now rapidly growing warmer. The speed
of the thirty was so great that it became evident to Tayoga that they
would overtake the strange band long before midnight.
"They stopped here and talked together a little while," he said, when
they had been following the trail about two hours. "They stood by the
side of the path. Their footprints are gathered in a group. They knew by
the wagon tracks that white settlers, fleeing, were ahead of them, and
they may have thought of turning back to see who followed. That is why
they drew up in a group, and talked. At last they concluded to keep on
following the train, and they cannot be more than a half hour ahead
Willet knelt down for the first time, and examined the traces with the
greatest care and attention.
"The leader stood here by this fallen log," he said, "He had big feet,
as anybody can see, and I believe I can make a good guess at his
identity. I hope to Heaven I'm right!"
"Whom do you mean?" exclaimed Robert eagerly.
"I won't say just yet, because if I'm wrong you won't know the mistake
I've made. But come on, lads. 'Twill not take long to decide the
question that interests us so much."
He led the way with confidence, and when they had gone about a mile he
sank down in a thicket beside the trail, the others imitating him. Then
the hunter emitted a sharp whistle.
"I think I'll soon get an answer to that," he said, "and it'll not come
from French or Indian."
They waited a minute or two and then the whistling note, clear and
distinct, rose from a point ahead of them. Willet whistled a second
time, and the second reply soon came in similar fashion.
"Now, lads," he said, rising from the bush, "we'll up and join 'em. It's
the one I expected, and right glad I am, too."
He led the way boldly, making no further effort at concealment. Robert
saw outlined in the moonlight on a low hill in front of them a group of
fifteen or sixteen white men, all in hunter's garb, all strong, resolute
figures, armed heavily. One, a little in advance of the others, and whom
the lad took at once to be the leader, was rather tall, with a very
powerful figure and a bold, roving eye. He was looking keenly at the
approaching group and as they drew near his eyes lighted up with
recognition and pleasure.
"By all that's glorious, it's Dave Willet, the Great Bear himself, the
greatest hunter and marksman in all the northern province! Of a
certainty it's none other!"
"Yes, Rogers, it's Willet," said the hunter, extending his hand,
"though you complimented me too prettily. But glad am I, too, to see you
here. You're no beauty, but your face is a most welcome sight."
Then Robert understood. It was Robert Rogers from the New Hampshire
grants, already known well, and destined to become famous as one of the
great partisan leaders of the war, a wild and adventurous spirit who was
fully a match for Dumas and Ligneris or St. Luc himself, a man whose
battles and hairbreadth escapes surpassed fiction. Around him gathered
spirits dauntless and kindred, and here already was the nucleus of the
larger force that he was destined to lead in so many a daring deed. Now
his fierce face showed pleasure, as he shook the hunter's powerful hand
with his own hand almost as powerful.
"It's a joy to meet you in these woods, Dave," he said. "But who are the
two likely lads with you? Lads, I call 'em because their faces are those
of lads, though their figures have the stature and size of men."
"Rogers, this is Tayoga, of the clan of the Bear, of the nation
Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, a friend of ours, and
no braver or more valiant youth ever trod moccasin. Tayoga, this is
Robert Rogers of the New Hampshire grants."
The sunburnt face of Rogers shone with pleasure.
"I've heard of the lad," he said, "and I know he's all that you claim
for him, Dave."
"And the other youth," continued Willet, "is Robert Lennox, in a way a
ward of mine, in truth almost a son to me. What Tayoga is among the
Onondagas, he is among the white people of New York. I can say no
"That's surely enough," said Rogers, "and glad am I to meet you, Lennox.
I've come from the north and the east, from Champlain and George, with
my brave fellows, hearing of Braddock's defeat and thinking we might be
needed, and by chance we struck this broad trail. It's plain enough that
it's made by settlers withdrawing from the border, but whether 'tis a
precaution or they're pursued closely we don't know. We thought once of
turning back to see. But you know, Dave."
Willet explained rapidly and again the fierce face of Rogers shone with
"'Twas in truth a fortunate chance that guided us down here," he said.
"It was Tododaho himself," said Tayoga with reverence.
Then Willet also called rapidly the names of his hunters and scouts, who
had remained in a little group in the rear, while the leaders talked.
"Dave," said Rogers, "you and I will be joint leaders, if you say so.
We've now nearly two score stout fellows ready for any fray, and since
you've twice held back Tandakora, De Courcelles and their scalp hunters,
our united bands should be able to do it a third time. I agree with you
that the best way to save the train is to fight rear guard actions, and
never let the train itself be attacked."
"If we had about twenty more good men," said Willet, "we might not only
defend a line but push back the horde itself. What say you to sending
Tayoga, our swiftest runner, to the wagons for a third force?"
"A good plan, a most excellent plan, Dave! And while he's about it, tell
him to make it thirty instead of twenty. Then we'll burn the faces of
these Indian warriors. Aye, Dave, we'll scorch 'em so well that they'll
be glad to turn back!"
It was arranged in a minute or two and Tayoga disappeared like one of
his own arrows in the forest and the darkness, while the others
followed, but much more slowly. It would not escape the sharp eyes of
the warriors that a reënforcement had come, but, confident in their
numbers, they would continue the pursuit with unabated zeal.
The united bands of hunters and scouts fell back slowly, and for a long
time. Robert looked with interest at Rogers' men. They were the picked
survivors of the wilderness, the forest champions, young mostly, lean,
tough of muscle, darkened by wind and weather, ready to follow wherever
their leader led, ready to risk their lives in any enterprise, no matter
how reckless. They affiliated readily with Willet's own band, and were
not at all averse to being overtaken by the Indian horde.
After dawn they met Tayoga returning with thirty-five men, rather more
than they had expected, and also with the news that the train was making
great speed in its flight. Willet and Rogers looked over the seventy or
more brave fellows, with glistening eyes, and Robert saw very well that,
uplifted by their numbers, they were more than anxious for a third
combat. In an hour or so they found a place suitable for an ambush, a
long ravine, lined and filled with thickets which the wagons evidently
had crossed with difficulty, and here they took their stand, all of the
force hidden among the bushes and weeds. Robert, at the advice of
Willet, lay down in a secure place and went to sleep.
"You're young, lad," he said, "and not as much seasoned in the bark as
the rest of us who are older. I'll be sure to wake you when the battle
begins, and then you'll be so much the better for a nap that you'll be a
very Hercules in the combat."
Robert, trained in wilderness ways, knew that it was best, and he closed
his eyes without further ado. When he opened them again it was because
the hunter was shaking his shoulder, and he knew by the position of the
sun that several hours had passed.
"Have they come?" he asked calmly.
"We've seen their skirmishers in the woods about two hundred yards
away," replied the hunter. "I believe they suspect danger here merely
because this is a place where danger is likely to be, but 'twill not
keep them from attacking. You can hold your rifle ready, lad, but you'll
have no use for it for a good quarter of an hour. They'll do a lot of
scouting before they try to pass the ravine, but our fellows are happy
in the knowledge that they'll try to pass it."
Robert suppressed as much as he could the excitement one was bound to
feel at such a time, and ate a little venison to stay him for the
combat, imitating the coolness and providence of Tayoga, who was also
strengthening his body for the ordeal.
"About noon, isn't it?" he asked of the Onondaga.
"A little after it," Tayoga replied.
"When did they come up?"
"Just now. I too have slept, although my sleep was shorter than yours."
"Have you seen Tandakora or De Courcelles?"
"I caught one glimpse of Tandakora. My bullet will carry far, but alas!
it will not carry far enough to reach the Ojibway. It is not the will of
Tododaho that he should perish now. As I have said, his day will come,
though it is yet far away."
"What will happen here, Tayoga?"
"The forces of Tandakora and De Courcelles will be burned worse than
before. The man Rogers, whom some of the Mohawks call the Mountain Wolf,
is like a Mohawk warrior himself, always eager to fight. He will want to
push the battle and Great Bear, having so many men now, will be
The words of Tayoga came to pass. After a long delay, accompanied by
much scouting and attempts to feel out the defense, Tandakora and De
Courcelles finally charged the ravine in force and suffered a bitter
repulse. Seventy or eighty rifles, aimed by cool and experienced
sharpshooters, poured in a fire which they could not withstand, and so
many warriors were lost that the Ojibway and the Frenchman retreated.
The Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf would not allow their eager men to
follow, lest in their turn they fall into an ambush.
Later in the day the Indian horde returned a second time to the attack,
with the same result, and when night came Tayoga and several others who
went forward to scout reported that they had withdrawn several miles.
The white leaders then decided in conference that they had done enough
for their purpose, and, after a long rest on their arms, withdrew slowly
in the path of the retreating train, ready for another combat, if
pursued too closely, but feeling sure that Tandakora and De Courcelles
would not risk a battle once more.
They overtook the train late that evening and their welcome was enough
to warm their hearts and to repay them for all the hardships and dangers
endured. Colden was the first to give them thanks, and his fine young
face showed his emotion.
"I'm sorry I couldn't have been back there with you," he said, when he
heard the report Robert made; "you had action, and you faced the enemy,
while we have merely been running over the hills."
"In truth you've made a good run of it," said Robert, "and as I see it,
it was just as necessary for you to run as it was for us to fight. We
had great luck, too, in the coming of Rogers and his men."
That night the train, for the first time since it began its flight, made
a real camp. Willet, Rogers and all the great foresters thought it safe,
as they were coming now so near to the settled regions, and the faces of
the pursuers had been scorched so thoroughly. Scouts and skirmishers
were thrown out on all sides, and then fires were built of the fallen
brushwood that lay everywhere in the forest. The ample supplies in the
wagons were drawn upon freely, and the returning victors feasted at
It was a happy time for Robert. His imaginative mind responded as usual
to time and place. They had won one victory. It was no small triumph to
protect the fugitive train, and so they would win many more. He already
saw them through the flame of his sanguine temperament, and the glow of
the leaping fires helped in the happy effect. All around him were
cheerful faces and he heard the chatter of happy voices, their owners
happy because they believed themselves released from a great and
"Has anything been heard of Black Rifle?" Robert asked of Tayoga.
"He has not come back," replied the Onondaga, "but they think he will be
here in the morning."
The dawn brought instead fifty dusky figures bare to the waist and
painted in all the terrible imagery of Indians who go to war. Some of
the women cried out in fright, but Tayoga said:
"Have no fear. These be friends. The warriors of our great brother
nation, the Ganeagaono, known to you as the Mohawks, have come to aid
The leader of the Mohawks was none other than the daring young chief,
Daganoweda himself, flushed with pride that he had come to the help of
his white brethren, and eager as always for war. He gravely saluted
Robert, Willet and Tayoga.
"Dagaeoga is a storm bird," he said. "Wherever he goes battle follows."
"Either that," laughed Robert, "or because I follow battle. How could I
keep from following it, when I have Willet on one side of me and Tayoga
on the other, always dragging me to the point where the combat rages
"Did you meet Black Rifle?" asked Willet.
"It was he who told us of your great need," replied Daganoweda. "Then
while we came on at the speed of runners to help you, he continued north
and east in the hope that he would meet Waraiyageh and white troops."
"Do you know if Colonel William Johnson is in this region or near it?"
"He lay to the north with a considerable force, watching for the French
and Indians who have been pouring down from Canada since their great
taking of scalps by Duquesne. Black Rifle will find him and he will
come, because Waraiyageh never deserts his people, but just when he will
arrive I cannot say."
Ample food was given to the Mohawks and then, burning for battle,
Daganoweda at their head, they went on the back trail in search of
Tandakora, De Courcelles and their savage army.
"We could not have a better curtain between us and the enemy," said
Willet. "War is their trade and those fifty Mohawks will sting and sting
like so many hornets."
The train resumed its flight an hour after sunrise, although more slowly
now and with less apprehension, and about the middle of the afternoon
the uniforms of Colonial militia appeared in the forest ahead. All set
up a great shout, because they believed them to be the vanguard of
Johnson. They were not mistaken, as a force of a hundred men, better
equipped and drilled than usual, met them, at their head Colonel William
Johnson himself, with the fierce young Mohawk eagle, Joseph Brant,
otherwise Thayendanegea, at his side. The somber figure of Black Rifle,
who had brought him, stood not far away.
Colonel Johnson was in great good humor, thoroughly delighted to find
the train safe and to meet such warm friends of his again. He was first
presented duly to Captain Colden and his young officers, paid them some
compliments on their fine work, talked with them a while and then
conversed more intimately with Tayoga, Robert and Willet.
"The train is now entirely safe," he said. "Even if Tandakora and De
Courcelles could brush away the screen of the Mohawks, they dare not
risk an encounter with such a force as we have here. They will turn
aside for easier game."
"And there will be no battle!" exclaimed young Brant, in deep
disappointment. "Ah! why did I not have the chance to go forward with my
Colonel Johnson laughed, half in pride and half in amusement, and patted
his warlike young Mohawk brother-in-law on the shoulder.
"All in good time, Joseph, my lad," he said. "Remember that you are
scarce twelve and you may have fifty years of fighting before you. No
one knows how long this conflagration in America may last. As for you,
Tayoga and Lennox, and you, Willet, your labors with the train are over.
But there is a fierce fire burning in the north, and it is for us to put
it out. You have lost one commander, Braddock, but you may find another.
I can release you from your obligations to Governor Dinwiddie of
Virginia. Will you go with me?"
The three assented gladly, and they saw that their service of danger was
but taking a new form.
The eyes of all the warlike young men now turned northward. The people
whom they had rescued scattered among their relatives and friends,
awaiting the time when they could return to the wilderness, and rebuild
their homes there, but Colden, Wilton, Carson and their troop were eager
for service with Colonel William Johnson. In time orders arrived from
the Governor of Pennsylvania, directing them to join the force that was
being raised in the province of New York to meet the onrush of the
savages and the French, and they rejoiced. Meanwhile Robert, Tayoga and
Willet made a short stay at Mount Johnson, and in the company of its
hospitable owner and his wife refreshed themselves after their great
hardships and dangers.
Colonel Johnson's activities as a host did not make him neglect his
duties as a commander. Without military experience, save that recently
acquired in border war, he nevertheless showed indomitable energy as a
leader, and his bluff, hearty manner endeared him to Colonials and
Mohawks alike. A great camp had been formed on the low grounds by
Albany, and Robert and his comrades in time proceeded there, where a
numerous force of men from New York and New England and many Mohawks
were gathered. It was their plan to march against the great French
fortress of Crown Point on Lake Champlain, which Robert heard would be
defended by a formidable French and Indian army under Baron Dieskau, an
elderly Saxon in the French service.
Robert also heard that St. Luc was with Dieskau, and that he was leading
daring raids against little bands of militia on their way from New
England to the camp near Albany. Two were practically destroyed, half of
their numbers being killed, while the rest were sent as prisoners into
Canada. Two more succeeded in beating off the Frenchman, though with
large loss, but he was recognized by everybody as a great danger, and
Daganoweda and the best of the Mohawks went forth to meet him.
Rogers with his partisan band and Black Rifle also disappeared in the
wilderness, and Robert looked longingly after them, but he and his
friends were still held at the Albany camp, as the march of the army was
delayed, owing to the fact that five provincial governors, practically
independent of one another, had a hand in its management, and they could
not agree upon a plan. Braddock's great defeat had a potent influence in
the north, and now they were all for caution.
While they delayed Robert went into Albany one bright morning to see
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, who showed much anxiety about him these days.
The little Dutch city looked its best, a comfortable place on its hills,
inhabited by comfortable people, but swarming now with soldiers and even
with Mohawks, all of whom brought much business to the thrifty
burghers. Albany had its profit out of everything, the river commerce,
the fur trade, and war itself.
Robert, as he walked along, watched with interest the crowd which was,
in truth, cosmopolitan, despite the smallness of the place. Some of the
Colonials had uniforms of blue faced with red, of which they were very
proud, but most of them were in the homespun attire of every day. They
were armed with their own rifles. Only the English had bayonets so far.
The Americans instead carried hatchets or tomahawks at their belts, and
the hatchet had many uses. Every man also carried a big jack or clasp
knife which, too, had its many uses.
The New Englanders, who were most numerous in the camp, were of pure
British blood, a race that had become in the American climate tall, thin
and very muscular, enduring of body and tenacious of spirit, religious,
ambitious, thinking much of both worldly gain and the world hereafter.
Among them moved the people of Dutch blood from the province of New
York, generally short and fat like their ancestors, devoted to good
living, cheerful in manner, but hard and unscrupulous in their dealing
with the Indians, and hence a menace to the important alliance with the
There were the Germans, also, most of them descendants of the fugitives
from the Palatinate, after it had been ravaged by the generals of Louis
XIV, a quiet, humble people, industrious, honest, sincerely religious,
low at present in the social scale, and patronized by the older families
of English or Dutch blood, perhaps not dreaming that their race would
become some day the military terror of the world.
The Mohawks, who passed freely through the throng, were its most
picturesque feature. The world bred no more haughty savages than they.
Tall men, with high cheek bones, and fierce eyes, they wore little
clothing in the summer weather, save now and then a blanket of brilliant
color for the sake of adornment. There were also some Onondagas, as
proud as the Mohawks, but not so fierce.
A few Virginians and Marylanders, come to cooperate with the northern
forces, were present, and they, like the New Englanders, were of pure
British blood. Now and then a Swede, broad of face, from the Jersey
settlements could be seen, and there was scarcely a nation in western
Europe that did not have at least one representative in the streets of
It pleased Robert to see the great variety of the throng. It made a deep
impression upon his imaginative mind. Already he foresaw the greatness
of America, when these races were blended in a land of infinite
resources. But such thoughts were driven from his mind by a big figure
that loomed before him and a hearty voice that saluted him.
"Day dreaming, Master Lennox?" said the voice. "One does not have much
time for dreams now, when the world is so full of action."
It was none other than Master Benjamin Hardy, portly, rubicund, richly
but quietly dressed in dark broadcloth, dark silk stockings and shoes of
Spanish leather with large silver buckles. Robert was unaffectedly glad
to see him, and they shook hands with warmth.
"I did not know that you were in Albany," said young Lennox.
"But I knew that you were here," said Master Hardy.
"I haven't your great resources for collecting knowledge."
"A story reached me in New York concerning the gallant conduct of one
Robert Lennox on the retreat from Fort Refuge, and I wished to come here
myself and see if it be true."
"I did no better than a hundred others. How is the wise Master Jonathan
"As wise as ever. He earnestly urged me, when I departed for this town,
not to be deceived by the glamour of the military. 'Bear in mind, Master
Benjamin,' he said, 'that you and I have been associates many years, and
your true path is that of commerce and gain. The march and the
battlefield are not for you any more than they are for me.' Wise words
and true, and it was not for me to gainsay them. So I gave him my
promise that I would not march with this brave expedition to the lakes."
The merchant's words were whimsical, but Robert felt that he was
examining him with critical looks, and he felt, too, that a protecting
influence was once more about him. He could not doubt that Master Hardy
was his sincere friend, deeply interested in him. He had given too many
proofs of it, and a sudden curiosity about his birth, forgotten amid the
excitement of continued action, rose anew. He was about to ask
questions, but he remembered that they would not be answered, and so he
held his peace, while the merchant walked on with him toward the house
of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman.
"You are bent upon going with the army?" said Mr. Hardy. "Haven't you
had enough of battle? There was a time, after the news of Braddock's
defeat came, when I feared that you had fallen, but a message sent by
the young Englishman, Grosvenor, told me you were safe, and I was very
thankful. It is natural for the young to seek what they call adventure,
and to serve their country, but you have done much already, Robert. You
might go with me now to New York, and still feel that you are no
"You are most kind, Mr. Hardy. I believe that next to Willet and Tayoga
you are the greatest and best of my friends. Why, I know not, nor do I
ask now, but the fact is patent, and I thank you many times over,
although I can't accept your offer. I'm committed to this expedition and
there my heart lies, too. Willet and Tayoga go with it. So do Black
Rifle and Rogers, I think, and Colonel Johnson, who is also my good
friend, is to lead it. I couldn't stay behind and consider myself a true
Master Benjamin Hardy sighed.
"Doubtless you are right, Robert," he said, "and perhaps at your age I
should have taken the same view, despite Jonathan's assertion that my
true ways are the ways of commerce and gain. Nevertheless, my interest
in this struggle is great. It is bound to be since it means vast changes
in the colonies, whatever its result."
"What changes do you have in mind, Mr. Hardy?"
"Mental changes more than any other, Robert. The war in its sweep bids
fair to take in almost all the civilized world we know. We are the
outpost of Britain, Canada is the outpost of France, and in a long and
desperate strife such as this promises to be we are sure to achieve
greater mental stature, and to arrive at a more acute consciousness of
our own strength and resources. Beyond that I don't care to predict. But
come, lad, we'll not talk further of such grave matters, you and I.
Instead we'll have a pleasant hour with Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, a man
of no mean quality, as you know."
Mynheer Jacobus was at home, and he gave them a great welcome, glancing
at one and at the other, and then back again, apparently rejoiced to see
Then he ordered a huge repast, of which they ate bountifully, and upon
which he made heavy inroads himself. When the demands of hospitality
were somewhat satisfied, he put aside knife and fork, and said to Mr.
"And now, old friend, it iss no impertinence on my part to ask what hass
brought you to Albany."
Master Benjamin, who was gravely filling a pipe, lighted it, took one
puff, and replied:
"No, Jacobus, it is no impertinence. No question that you might ask me
could be an impertinence. You and I are old friends, and I think we
understand each other. I have to say in reply that I have come here on a
matter of army contracts, to get a clearer and better view of the war
which is going to mean so much to all of us, and to attend to one or
two matters personal to myself."
Robert, excusing himself, had risen and was looking out of a window at a
passing company of soldiers. Mynheer Jacobus glanced at him and then
glanced back at the merchant.
"It iss a good lad," he said, "und you watch over him as well as you
"Aye, I do my best," replied Hardy in the same subdued tones, "but he is
bold of spirit, full of imagination and adventurous, and, though I would
fain keep him out of the war, I cannot. Yet if I were his age I would go
into it myself."
"It iss the way of youth. He lives in times troubled und full of danger,
yet he hass in the hunter, Willet, and the Onondaga, Tayoga, friends who
are a flaming sword on each side of him. Willet hass a great mind. He
iss as brave as a lion und full of resource."
"Right well do I know it, Jacobus."
"And the young Onondaga, Tayoga, is of the antique mold. Do I not know
it, I who haf taught him so long? Often I could think he was a young
Greek or Roman of the best type, reincarnated und sent to the forest. He
does haf the lofty nature, the noble character und simplicity of a young
Roman of the republic, before it was corrupted by conquest. I tell you,
Benjamin Hardy, that we do not value the red men at their true worth,
especially those of the Hodenosaunee!"
"Right well do I know that, too, Jacobus. I had a fair reading in the
classics, when I was a schoolboy, and I should call the lad, Tayoga,
more Greek in spirit than Roman. I have found in him the spiritual
quality, the love of beauty and the kindliness of soul which the books
say the Greeks had and which the Romans lacked."
"It iss fairly put, Benjamin, und I bethink me you are right. But there
iss one thing which you do not know, but which you ought to know,
because it iss of much importance."
"What is it?" asked Hardy, impressed by the manner of Jacobus.
"It iss the fact that Adrian Van Zoon arrived in Albany this morning."
The merchant started slightly in surprise, and then his face became a
"Adrian Van Zoon is a merchant like myself," he said. "He has a right to
come to Albany. Perhaps he feels the necessity, too, as no doubt he is
interested in large contracts for the army."
"It iss true, Benjamin, but you und I would rather he had not come. He
arrived but this morning on his own sloop, the Dirkhoeven, und I feel
that wherever Adrian Van Zoon iss the air becomes noxious, full of
poisonous vapors und dangerous to those about him."
"You're right, Jacobus. I see that your faculties are as keen as ever.
You can see through a mill stone, and you can put together much larger
figures than two and two."
Mynheer Jacobus smiled complacently.
"I haf not yet reached my zenith," he said, "und I am very glad I am not
yet an old man, because I am so full of curiosity."
"I don't take your meaning, Jacobus."
"I would not like to die before this great und long war iss ended
because I wish to see how it does end. Und I want to see the nature of
the mighty changes which I feel are coming in the world."
"What changes, for instance, Jacobus?"
"The action of the New World upon the Old, und the action of the old
monarchies upon one another. All things change, Benjamin. You und I know
that. The veil of majesty that wraps around kings und thrones iss not
visible to us here in der American forest, und maybe for dot reason we
see the changes coming in Europe better than those who are closer by.
France is the oldest of all the old und great monarchies und for dot
reason the French monarchy iss most overripe. Steeped in luxury und
corruption, the day of its decay hass set in."
"But the French people are valiant and great, Jacobus. Think not that we
have in them a weak antagonist."
"I said nothing of the French nation, Benjamin, mein friend. I spoke of
the French throne. The French leaders in Canada are brave und
enterprising. They will inflict on us many defeats, but the French
throne will not give to them the support to which they as Frenchmen are
"You probably see the truth, Jacobus, and it's to our advantage. Perhaps
'tis better that the French throne should decay. But we'll return to
affairs closer by. You've had Van Zoon watched?"
"My stable boy, Peter, hass not let him out of sight, since he landed
from the Dirkhoeven. Peter is not a lad of brilliant appearance,
which iss perhaps all the better for our purpose, but he will keep Van
Zoon in sight, if it iss humanly possible, without being himself
"Well done, Jacobus, but I might have known that you would take all
Robert came back from the window, and they promptly changed the current
of the talk, speaking now of the army, its equipment, and the probable
time of its march to meet Dieskau. Presently they left Mynheer Huysman's
house, and Robert and the merchant went toward the camp on the flats.
Here they beheld a scene of great activity and of enormous interest to
Few stranger armies have ever been gathered than that which Colonel
William Johnson was preparing to lead against Crown Point. The New
Englanders brought with them all their characteristics, their
independence, their love of individualism and their piety. Despite this
piety it was an army that swore hugely, and, despite its huge swearing,
it was an honest army. It survives in written testimony that the
greatest swearers were from the provinces of New York and Rhode Island,
and Colonel Ephraim Williams, an officer among them writing at the time,
said that the language they most used was "the language of Hell." And,
on the other hand, a New York officer testified that not a housewife in
Albany or its suburbs could mourn the loss of a single chicken. Private
property everywhere was absolutely safe, and, despite the oaths and
rough appearance of the men, no woman was ever insulted.
"They're having prayer meeting now," said Mr. Hardy, as they came upon
the flats. "I've learned they have sermons twice a week—their ministers
came along with them—prayers every day, and the singing of songs many
times. They often alternate the psalm singing with the military drill,
but I'm not one to decry their observances. Religious fervor is a great
thing in battle. It made the Ironsides of Cromwell invincible."
Five hundred voices, nearly all untrained, were chanting a hymn. They
were the voices of farmers and frontiersmen, but the great chorus had
volume and majesty, and Robert was not one to depreciate them. Instead
he was impressed. He understood the character of both New Englanders and
New Yorkers. Keen for their own, impatient of control, they were
nevertheless capable of powerful collective effort. A group of Mohawks
standing by were also watching with grave and serious attention. When
they raised a chant to Manitou they demanded the utmost respect, and
they gave it also, without the asking, to the white man when he sang in
his own way to his own God.
It was when they turned back to the town that they were hailed in a
joyous voice, and Robert beheld the young English officer, Grosvenor,
whom he had known in New York, Grosvenor, a little thinner than of old,
but more tanned and with an air of experience. His pleasure at meeting
Robert again was great and unaffected. He shook hands with him warmly
"When I last saw you, Lennox, it was at the terrible forest fight,
where we learned our bitter lesson. I saw that you escaped, but I did
not know what became of you afterward."
"I've had adventures, and I'll tell you of 'em later," said Robert.
"Glad I am to see you, although I had not heard of your coming to
"I arrived but this morning. No British troops are here. I understand
this army is to be composed wholly of Colonials—pardon the word, I use
it for lack of a better—and of Mohawks. But I was able to secure in New
York a detail on the staff of Colonel Johnson. My position perhaps will
be rather that of an observer and representative of the regular troops,
but I hope, nevertheless, to be of some service. I suppose I won't see
as much of you as I would like, as you're likely to be off in the forest
in front of the army with those scouting friends of yours."
"It's what we can do best," said Robert, "but if there's a victory ahead
I hope we'll all be present when it's gained."
Jacobus Huysman insisted that all his old friends be quartered with him,
while they were in Albany, and as there was little at present for
Grosvenor to do, he was added by arrangement with Colonel Johnson to the
group. They sat that evening on the portico in the summer dusk, and
Master Alexander McLean, the schoolmaster, joined them, still regarding
Robert and Tayoga as lads under his care, and soon including Grosvenor
also. But the talk was pleasant, and they were deep in it when a man
passed in the street and a shadow fell upon them all.
It was Adrian Van Zoon, heavy, dressed richly as usual, and carrying a
large cane, with a gold head. To the casual eye he was a man of
importance, aware of his dignity, and resolute in the maintenance of it.
He bowed with formal politeness to the group upon the portico, and
walked majestically on. Mynheer Jacobus watched him until he was out of
sight, going presumably to his inn, and then his eyes began to search
for another figure. Presently it appeared, lank, long and tow-headed,
the boy, Peter, of whom he had spoken. Mynheer Huysman introduced him
briefly to the others, and he responded, in every case, with a pull at a
long lock on his forehead. His superficial appearance was that of a
simpleton, but Robert noticed sharp, observant eyes under the thick
eyebrows. Mynheer Jacobus, Willet and Master Hardy, excusing themselves
for a few minutes, went into an inner room.
"What has Mynheer Van Zoon been doing, Peter?" asked Jacobus.
"He has talked with three contractors for the army," replied the lad.
"He also had a short conversation with Colonel Ephraim Williams of the
"Williams is a thoroughly honest man," said Mr. Hardy. "His talk with
Van Zoon could only have been on legitimate business. We'll dismiss him.
What more have you seen, Peter?"
"Late in the afternoon he went to his schooner, the Dirkhoeven, which
is anchored in the river. I could not follow him there, but I saw him
speaking on the deck to a man who did not look like a sailor. They were
there only a minute, then they went into the cabin, and when Mynheer
Van Zoon came ashore he came alone."
"And the man who did not look like a sailor was left on the ship. It may
mean nothing, or it may mean anything, but my mind tells me it hath an
unpleasant significance. Now, I wish I knew this man who is lying hid in
the Dirkhoeven. Perhaps it would be better, Jacobus, to instruct Peter
to follow the lad, Lennox, and give the alarm if any threat or menace
"I think it is the wiser course, Benjamin, and I will even instruct
Peter in such manner."
He spoke a few sentences to Peter, who listened with eagerness,
apparently delighted with the task set for him. When Mynheer Huysman had
finished the lad slipped out at a back door, and was gone like a shadow.
"An admirable youth for our purpose," said Mynheer Jacobus Huysman. "He
likes not work, but if he is to watch or follow anyone he hangs on like
a hound. In Albany he will become the second self of young Lennox, whose
first self will not know that he has a second self."
They returned to the portico. Robert glanced curiously at them, but not
one of the three offered any explanation. He knew, however, that their
guarded talk with Peter had to do with himself, and he felt a great
emotion of gratitude. If he was surrounded by dangers he was also
surrounded by powerful friends. If chance had put him on the outskirts
of the world it had also given him comrades who were an armor of steel
Tayoga and he occupied their old bedroom at Mynheer Jacobus Huysman's
that night, and once when Robert glanced out of the window he caught a
glimpse of a dark figure lurking in the shrubbery. It was a man who did
not look like a sailor, but as he did not know of the conversation in
the inner room the shadow attracted little attention from him. It
disappeared in an instant, and he thought no more about it.
Robert and his comrades were back in the camp next day, and now they saw
Colonel Johnson at his best, a man of wonderful understanding and tact.
He was soon able to break through the reserve of the New England citizen
officers who were not wont to give their confidence in a hurry, and
around great bowls of lemon punch they talked of the campaign. The
Mohawks, as of old, told him all their grievances, which he remedied
when just, and persuaded them into forgetting when unjust.
Robert, Tayoga and Willet, in their capacity of scouts and skirmishers,
could go about practically as they pleased. Colonel Johnson trusted them
absolutely and they talked of striking out into the wilderness on a new
expedition to see what lay ahead of the army. Adrian Van Zoon, they
learned definitely, had started for New York on the Dirkhoeven, and
Robert felt relief. Yet the lank lad, Peter, still followed him, and, as
had been predicted truly, was his second self, although his first self
did not know it.
He had been at Albany several days when he returned alone from the flats
to the town late one evening. At a dark turn in the road he heard a
report, and a bullet whistled very near him. It was followed quickly by
a second report, but not by the whistling of any bullet. He had a pair
of pistols in his belt, and, taking out one and cocking it, he searched
the woods, though he found nothing. He concluded then that it was a
random bullet fired by some returning hunter, and that the second shot
was doubtless of the same character. But the first hunter had been
uncommonly careless and he hastened his steps from a locality which had
been so dangerous, even accidentally.
Inured, however, as he was to risks, the incident soon passed entirely
out of his mind. Yet an hour or two later the lad, Peter, sat in a back
room with Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, and told him with relish of the
occurrence at the dark turn of the road.
"I was fifty or sixty yards behind in the shadow of the trees," he said.
"I could see Master Lennox very well, though he could not see me. The
figure of a man appeared in the woods near me and aimed a pistol at
Master Lennox. I could not see his face well, but I knew it was the man
on the boat who was talking to Mynheer Van Zoon. I uttered a cry which
did not reach Master Lennox, but which did reach the man with the
pistol. It disturbed his aim, and his bullet flew wide. Then I fired at
him, but if I touched him at all it was but lightly. He made off through
the woods and I followed, but his speed was so great I could not
"You haf done well, Peter. Doubtless you haf saved the life of young
Master Lennox, which was the task set for you to do. But it iss not
enough. You may haf to save it a second und yet a third time."
The pale blue eyes of Peter glistened. Obviously he liked his present
task much better than the doing of chores.
"You can trust me, Mynheer Huysman," he said importantly. "I will guard
him, and I will do more. Is there anybody you want killed?"
"No, no, you young savage! You are to shoot only in self-defense, or in
defense of young Lennox whom you are to protect. Bear that in mind."
"Very well, Mynheer. Your orders are law to me."
Peter went out of the room and slid away in the darkness. Mynheer
Jacobus Huysman watched his departure and sighed. He was a good man,
averse to violence and bloodshed, and he murmured:
"The world iss in a fever. The nations fight among themselves und even
the lads talk lightly of taking life."
Peter reported to him again the next night, when Robert was safely in
"I followed Master Lennox to the parade ground again," he said. "The
Onondaga, Tayoga, the hunter, Willet, and the Englishman, Grosvenor,
were with him. They watched the drill for a while, and spoke with
Colonel Johnson. Then Master Lennox wandered away alone to the north
edge of the drill ground, where there are some woods. Since I have
received your instructions, Mynheer, I always examine the woods, and I
found in them a man who might have been in hiding, or who might have
been lying there for the sake of the shade, only I am quite sure it was
not the latter. Just when Master Lennox came into his view I spoke to
him, and he seemed quite angry. He asked me impatiently to go away, but
I stood by and talked to him until Master Lennox was far out of sight."
"You saw the man well, then, Peter?"
"I did, Mynheer Huysman, and I cannot be mistaken. It was the same that
talked with Mynheer Van Zoon on the deck of the Dirkkoeven."
"I thought so. And what kind of a looking man was he, Peter?"
"About thirty, I should say, Mynheer, well built and strong, and
"Foreign! What mean you, Peter?"
"What? French of France or French of Canada?"
"That I cannot say with certainty, Mynheer, but French he was I do
believe and maintain."
"Then he must be a spy as well as a threat to young Lennox. This goes
deeper than I had thought, but you haf done your work well, Peter.
He held out a gold coin, which Peter pocketed with thanks, and went
forth the next morning to resume with a proud heart the task that he
Robert, all unconscious that a faithful guardian was always at his
heels, was passing days full of color, variety and pleasure. Admission
into the society of Albany was easy to one of his manner and appearance,
who had also such powerful friends, and there were pleasant evenings in
the solid Dutch houses. But he knew they could not last long. Daganoweda
and a chosen group of his Mohawks came back, reporting the French and
Indian force to be far larger than the one that had defeated Braddock by
Duquesne, and that Baron Dieskau who led it was considered a fine
general. Unless Waraiyageh made up his mind to strike quickly Dieskau
would strike first.
The new French and Indian army, Daganoweda said, numbered eight thousand
men, a great force for the time, and for the New World, and it would be
both preceded and followed by clouds of skirmishers, savages from the
regions of the Great Lakes and even from beyond. They were flushed with
victory, with the mighty taking of scalps, at Braddock's defeat, and
they expected here in the north a victory yet greater. They were already
assuming control of Champlain and George, the two lakes which from time
immemorial, long before the coming of the white man, had formed the line
of march between what had become the French colonies and the British
colonies. It was equally vital now to possess this passage. Whoever
became the rulers of the lakes might determine in their favor the issue
of the war in America, and the youths in Johnson's army were eager to go
forward at once and fight for the coveted positions.
But further delay was necessary. The commander still had the difficult
task of harmonizing the provincial governors and legislatures, and he
also made many presents to the Indians to bind them to the cause. Five
of the Six Nations, alarmed by the French successes and the slowness of
the Americans and English, still held neutral, but the Mohawks were full
of zeal, and the best of their young chiefs and warriors stood by
Johnson, ready to march when he marched, and to cover his van with their
skirmishers and patrols.
Meanwhile the army drilled incessantly. The little troop of
Philadelphians under Colden, Wilton and Carson were an example. They
had seen much hard service already, although they spoke modestly of the
dangers over which they had triumphed in the forest. It was their pride,
too, to keep their uniforms neat, and to be as soldierly in manner as
possible. They had the look of regulars, and Grosvenor, the young
Englishman who had been taken on Colonel Johnson's staff, spoke of them
New York and the four New England Colonies, whatever their lack of
cooperation, showed energy. The governors issued proclamations, and if
not enough men came, more were drafted from the regiments of militia.
Bounties of six dollars for every soldier were offered by Massachusetts,
and that valiant colony, as usual, led the way in energy.
They were full days for Robert. He listened almost incessantly to the
sound of drum and fife, the drill master's word of command, or to voices
raised in prayer, preaching or the singing of psalms. Recruits were
continually coming in, awkward plowboys, but brave and enduring, waiting
only to be taught. Master Benjamin Hardy was compelled to return to New
York, departing with reluctance and holding an earnest conference with
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman before he went.
"The man, who is most certainly a French spy, is somewhere about," said
Mynheer Jacobus. "Peter haf seen him twice more, but he haf caught only
glimpses. But you can trust Peter even as I do. His whole heart iss in
the task I have set him. He wass born Dutch but hiss soul iss Iroquois!
He iss by nature a taker of scalps."
Master Benjamin laughed.
"Just at present," he said, "'tis the nature that suits us best. Most
urgent business calls me back to New York, and, after all, I can't do
more here than you are doing, old friend."
When they had bidden each other good-by in the undemonstrative manner of
elderly men who have long been friends, Master Jacobus strolled down the
main street of Albany and took a long look at a substantial house
standing in fine grounds. Then he shook his head several times, and,
walking on, met its owner, whom he greeted with marked coolness,
although the manner of the other toward him had been somewhat effusive.
"I gif you good day, Hendrik Martinus," he said, "und I hear that you
are prospering. I am not one to notice fashions myself, but others haf
spoken to me of the beautiful new shawls your daughters are wearing und
of the brooches und necklaces they haf."
The face of Martinus, a man of about fifty, turned a deep red, but the
excessive color passed in a few moments, and he spoke carelessly. In
truth, his whole manner was lighter and more agile than that of the
average man of Dutch blood.
"I am not so sure, Mynheer Jacobus, that you did not take notice
yourself," he said. "Mynheer Jacobus is grave and dignified, but many a
grave and dignified man has a wary eye for the ladies."
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman frowned.
"And as for shawls and brooches and necklaces," continued Martinus, "it
is well known that war brings legitimate profits to many men. It makes
trade in certain commodities brisk. Now I'd willingly wager that your
friend, Master Benjamin Hardy, whom you have just seen on his way to New
York, will be much the richer by this war."
"Master Hardy has ships upon the seas, and important contracts for the
"I have no ships upon the seas, but I may have contracts, too."
"It may well be so, Hendrik," said Mynheer Jacobus, and without another
word he passed on. When he had gone a hundred yards he shook himself
violently, and when he had gone another hundred yards he gave himself a
second shake of equal vigor. An hour later he was in the back room
talking with the lad, Peter.
"Peter," he said, "you haf learned to take naps in the day und to keep
awake all through the night?"
"Yes, Mynheer," replied Peter, proudly.
"Then, Peter, you vass an owl, a watcher in the dark."
"Und I gif you praise for watching well, Peter, und also gold, which iss
much more solid than praise. Now I gif you by und by more praise und
more gold which iss still more solid than praise. The lad, Robert
Lennox, will be here early tonight to take supper with me, und I will
see that he does not go out again before the morrow. Now, do you, Peter,
watch the house of Hendrik Martinus all night und tell me if anyone
comes out or goes in, und who und what he may be, as nearly as you can."
"Yes, Mynheer," said Peter, and a sudden light flickered in the pale
No further instructions were needed. He left the house in silence, and
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman trusted him absolutely.
THE DARK STRANGER
Robert arrived at the house of Jacobus Huysman about dark and Tayoga
came with him. Willet was detained at the camp on the flats, where he
had business with Colonel Johnson, who consulted him often. The two lads
were in high good spirits, and Mynheer Jacobus, whatever he may have
been under the surface, appeared to be so, too. Robert believed that the
army would march very soon now. The New York and New England men alike
were full of fire, eager to avenge Braddock's defeat and equally eager
to drive back and punish the terrible clouds of savages which, under the
leadership of the French, were ravaging the border, spreading
devastation and terror on all sides.
"There has been trouble, Mynheer Huysman," said Robert, "between
Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, who has been in camp several days,
and Colonel Johnson. I saw Governor Shirley when he was in the council
at Alexandria, in Virginia, and I know, from what I've heard, that he's
the most active and energetic of all the governors, but they say he's
very vain and pompous."
"Vanity and pomp comport ill with a wilderness campaign," said Mynheer
Jacobus, soberly. "Of all the qualities needed to deal with the French
und Indians I should say that they are needed least. It iss a shame that
a man should demand obeisance from others when they are all in a great
"The Governor is eager to push the war," said Robert, "yet he demands
more worship of the manner from Colonel Johnson than the colonel has
time to give him. 'Tis said, too, that the delays he makes cause
dissatisfaction among the Mohawks, who are eager to be on the great war
trail. Daganoweda, I know, fairly burns with impatience."
Mynheer Jacobus sighed.
"We will not haf the advantage of surprise," he said. "Of that I am
certain. I do believe that the French und Indians know of all our
movements und of all we do."
"Spies?" said Robert.
"It may be," replied Mynheer Jacobus.
Robert was silent. His first thought was of St. Luc, who, he knew, would
dare anything, and it was just the sort of adventure that would appeal
to his bold and romantic spirit. But his thought passed on. He had no
real feeling that St. Luc was in the camp. Mynheer Jacobus must be
thinking of another or others. But Huysman volunteered no explanation.
Presently he rose from his chair, went to a window and looked out.
Tayoga observed him keenly.
The Onondaga, trained from his childhood to observe all kinds of
manifestations, was a marvelous reader of the minds of men, and, merely
because Mynheer Jacobus Huysman interrupted a conversation to look out
into the dark, he knew that he expected something. And whatever it was
it was important, as the momentary quiver of the big man's lip
The Indian, although he may hide it, has his full share of curiosity,
and Tayoga wondered why Mynheer Jacobus watched. But he asked no
The Dutchman came back from the window, and asked the lads in to supper
with him. His slight air of expectancy had disappeared wholly, but
Tayoga was not deceived. "He has merely been convinced that he was
gazing out too soon," he said to himself. "As surely as Tododaho on his
star watches over the Onondagas, he will come back here after supper and
look from this window, expecting to see something or somebody."
The supper of Mynheer Jacobus was, in reality, a large dinner, and, as
it was probably the last the two lads would take with him before they
went north, he had given to it a splendor and abundance even greater
than usual. Tayoga and Robert, as became two such stout youths, ate
bountifully, and Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, whatever his secret troubles
may have been, wielded knife and fork with them, knife for knife and
fork for fork.
But Tayoga was sure that Mynheer Jacobus was yet expectant, and still,
without making it manifest, he watched him keenly. He noted that the big
man hurried the latter part of the supper, something which the Onondaga
had never known him to do before, and which, to the observant mind of
the red youth, indicated an expectancy far greater than he had supposed
Clearly Mynheer Jacobus was hastening, clearly he wished to be out of
the room, and it was equally clear to Tayoga that he wanted to go back
to his window, the one from which he could see over the grounds, and
into the street beyond.
"Will you take a little wine?" he said to Robert, as he held up a
bottle, through which the rich dark red color shone.
"Thank you, sir, no," replied Robert.
"Und you, Tayoga?"
"I never touch the firewater of the white man, call they it wine or call
they it whiskey."
"Good. Good for you both. I merely asked you for the sake of politeness,
und I wass glad to hear you decline. But as for me, I am old enough to
be your father, und I will take a little."
He poured a small glass, drank it, and rose.
"Your old room iss ready," he said, "und now, if you two lads will go to
it, you can get a good und long night's sleep."
Robert was somewhat surprised. He felt that they were being dismissed,
which was almost like the return of the old days when they were
schoolboys, but Tayoga touched him on the elbow, and his declaration
that he was not sleepy died on his lips. Instead, he said a polite
good-night and he and Tayoga went away as they were bid.
"Now, what did he mean? Why was he so anxious to get rid of us?" asked
Robert, when they were again in their room.
"Mynheer Jacobus expects something," replied the Onondaga, gravely. "He
expects it to come out of the night, and appear at a window of the room
in which we first sat, the window that looks over the garden, and to the
street behind us."
"How do you know that?" asked Robert, astonished.
Tayoga explained what he had seen.
"I do not doubt you. It's convincing," said Robert, "but I'd not have
"We of the red nations have had to notice everything in order that we
might live. As surely as we sit here, Dagaeoga, Mynheer Jacobus is at
the window, watching. When I lie down on the bed I shall keep my clothes
on, and I shall not sleep. We may be called."
"I shall do the same, Tayoga."
Nevertheless, as time passed, young Lennox fell asleep, but the Onondaga
did not close his eyes. What was time to him? The red race always had
time to spare, and nature and training had produced in him illimitable
patience. He had waited by a pool a whole day and night for a deer to
come down to drink. He heard the tall clock standing on the floor in the
corner strike ten, eleven, and then twelve, and a half hour later, when
he was as wide awake as ever, there was a knock at the door. But he had
first heard the approaching footsteps of the one who came and knocked,
and he was already touching the shoulder of Robert, who sat up at once,
sleep wholly gone from him.
"It is Mynheer Jacobus," said Tayoga, "and he wants us."
Then he opened the door and the large red face of Mynheer Huysman
looked into the room, which was illuminated by the moonlight.
"Come, you lads," he said, in sharp, eager tones, "und bring your
pistols with you."
Robert and Tayoga snatched up their weapons, and followed him into the
sitting-room, where the tall lank youth, Peter, stood.
"You know Peter," he said, "und Peter knows you. Now, listen to what he
hass to tell, but first pledge me that you will say nothing of it until
I give you leave. Do you?"
"We do," they replied together.
"Then, Peter, tell them what you haf seen, but be brief, because it may
be that we must act quickly."
"Obeying the instructions of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, whom I serve,"
said Peter, smoothly, evidently enjoying his importance of the moment,
"I watched tonight the house of Mynheer Hendrik Martinus, who is not
trusted by my master. The building is large, and it stands on ground
with much shrubbery that is now heavy with leaf. So it was difficult to
watch all the approaches to it, but I went about it continuously, hour
after hour. A half hour ago, I caught a glimpse of a man, strong, and,
as well as I could tell in the night, of a dark complexion. He was on
the lawn, among the shrubbery, hiding a little while and then going on
again. He came to a side door of the house, but he did not knock,
because there was no need. The door opened of itself, and he went in.
Then the door closed of itself, and he did not come out again. I waited
ten minutes and then hurried to the one whom I serve with the news."
Mynheer Jacobus turned to Tayoga and Robert.
"I haf long suspected," he said, "that Hendrik Martinus iss a spy in the
service of France, a traitor for his own profit, because he loves
nothing but himself und his. He has had remarkable prosperity of late, a
prosperity for which no one can account, because he has had no increase
of business. Believing that a Frenchman wass here, a spy who wished to
communicate with him, I set Peter to watch his house, und the result you
"Then it is for us to go there and seize this spy," said Robert.
"It iss what I wish," said Mynheer Huysman, "und we may trap a traitor
und a spy at the same time. It is well to haf money if you haf it
honestly, but Hendrik Martinus loves money too well."
He took from a drawer a great double-barreled horse pistol, put it under
his coat, and the four, quietly leaving the house, went toward that of
Hendrik Martinus. There was no light except that of the moon and, in the
distance, they saw a watchman carrying a lantern and thumping upon the
stones with a stout staff.
"It iss Andrius Tefft," said Mynheer Jacobus. "He hass a strong arm und
a head with but little in it. It would be best that he know nothing of
this, or he would surely muddle it."
They drew back behind some shrubbery, and Andrius Tefft, night watchman,
passed by without a suspicion that one of Albany's most respected
citizens was hiding from him. The light of his lantern faded in the
distance, and the four proceeded rapidly towards the house of Hendrik
Martinus, entering its grounds without hesitation and spreading in a
circle about it. Robert, who lurked behind a small clipped pine in the
rear saw a door open, and a figure slip quietly out. It was that of a
man of medium height, and as he could see by the moonlight, of dark
complexion. He had no doubt that it was a Frenchman, the fellow whom
Peter had seen enter the house.
Robert acted with great promptness, running forward and crying to the
fugitive to halt. The man, quick as a flash, drew a pistol and fired
directly at him. The lad felt the bullet graze his scalp, and, for a
moment, he thought he had been struck mortally. He staggered, but
recovered himself, and raising his own pistol, fired at the flying
figure which was now well beyond him. He saw the man halt a moment, and
quiver, but in an instant he ran on again faster than ever, and
disappeared in an alley. A little later a swift form followed in pursuit
and Robert saw that it was Tayoga.
Young Lennox knew that it was useless for him to follow, as he felt a
little dizzy and he was not yet sure of himself. He put his hand to his
hair, where the bullet had struck, and, taking it away, looked anxiously
at it. There was no blood upon either palm or finger, and then he
realized, with great thankfulness, that he was merely suffering a brief
weakness from the concussion caused by a heavy bullet passing so close
to his skull. He heard a hasty footstep, and Mynheer Huysman, breathing
heavily and anxious, stood before him. Other and lighter footsteps
indicated that Peter also was coming to his aid.
"Haf you been shot?" exclaimed Mynheer Jacobus
"No, only shot at," replied Robert, whimsically, "though I don't believe
the marksman could come so close to me again without finishing me. I
think it was Peter's spy because I saw him come out of the house, and
cried to him to halt, but he fired first. My own bullet, I'm sure,
touched him, and Tayoga is in pursuit, though the fugitive has a long
"We'll leave it to Tayoga, because we haf to," said Mynheer Jacobus. "If
anybody can catch him the Onondaga can, though I think he will get away.
But come now, we will talk to Hendrik Martinus und Andrius Tefft who
hass heard the shots und who iss coming back. You lads, let me do all of
the talking. Since the spy or messenger or whatever he iss hass got
away, it iss best that we do not tell all we know."
The watchman was returning at speed, his staff pounding quick and hard
on the stones, his lantern swinging wildly. The houses there were
detached and nobody else seemed to have heard the shots, save Hendrik
Martinus and his family. Martinus, fully dressed, was coming out of his
house, his manner showing great indignation, and the heads of women in
nightcaps appeared at the windows.
"What is this intrusion, Mynheer Huysman? Why are you in my grounds? And
who fired those two pistol shots I heard?"
"Patience, Hendrik! Patience!" replied Mynheer Jacobus, in a smooth
suave manner that surprised Robert. "My young friend, Master Lennox,
here, saw a man running across your grounds, after having slipped
surreptitiously out of your house. Suspecting that he had taken und
carried from you that which he ought not to haf, Master Lennox called to
him to stop. The reply wass a pistol bullet und Master Lennox, being
young und like the young prone to swift anger, fired back. But the man
hass escaped with hiss spoil, whatefer it iss, und you only, Hendrik,
know what it iss."
Hendrik Martinus looked at Jacobus Huysman and Jacobus Huysman looked
squarely back at him. The angry fire died out of the eyes of Martinus,
and instead came a swift look of comprehension which passed in an
instant. When he spoke again his tone was changed remarkably:
"Doubtless it was a robber," he said, "and I thank you, Mynheer Jacobus,
and Master Lennox, and your boy Peter, for your attempt to catch him.
But I fear that he has escaped."
"I will pursue him und capture him," exclaimed Mynheer Andrius Tefft,
who stood by, listening to their words and puffing and blowing.
"I fear it iss too late, Andrius," said Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, shaking
his head. "If anyone could do it, it would be you, but doubtless Mynheer
Hendrik hass not lost anything that he cannot replace, und it would be
better for you, Andrius, to watch well here und guard against future
"That would be wise, no doubt," said Martinus, and Robert thought he
detected an uneasy note in his voice.
"Then I will go," said Andrius Tefft, and he walked on, swinging his
lantern high and wide, until its beams fell on every house and tree and
"I will return to my house," said Mynheer Martinus. "My wife and
daughters were alarmed by the shots, and I will tell them what has
"It iss the wise thing to do," said Mynheer Huysman, gravely, "und I
would caution you, Hendrik, to be on your guard against robbers who slip
so silently into your house und then slip out again in the same silence.
The times are troubled und the wicked take advantage of them to their
"It is true, Mynheer Jacobus," said Martinus somewhat hastily, and he
walked back to his own house without looking Huysman in the eyes again.
Mynheer Huysman, Robert and Peter returned slowly.
"I think Hendrik understands me," said Mynheer Huysman; "I am sorry that
we did not catch the go-between, but Hendrik hass had a warning, und he
will be afraid. Our night's work iss not all in vain. Peter, you haf
done well, but I knew you would. Now, we will haf some refreshment und
await the return of Tayoga."
"I believe," said Robert, "that in Albany, when one is in doubt what to
do one always eats. Is it not so?"
"It iss so," replied Mynheer Jacobus, smiling, "und what better could
one do? While you wait, build up the body, because when you build up the
body you build up the mind, too, und at the same time it iss a
Robert and Peter ate nothing, but Mynheer Jacobus partook amply of cold
beef and game, drank a great glass of home-made beer, and then smoked a
long pipe with intense satisfaction. One o'clock in the morning came,
then two, then three, and Mynheer Jacobus, taking the stem of his pipe
from his mouth, said:
"I think it will not be long now before Tayoga iss here. Long ago he
hass either caught hiss man or hiss man hass got away, und he iss
returning. I see hiss shadow now in the shrubbery. Let him in, Peter."
Tayoga entered the room, breathing a little more quickly than usual, his
dark eyes showing some disappointment.
"It wass not your fault that he got away, Tayoga," said Mynheer Jacobus
soothingly. "He had too long a start, und doubtless he was fleet of
foot. I think he iss the very kind of man who would be fleet of foot."
"I had to pick up his trail after he went through the alley," said
Tayoga, "and I lost time in doing so. When I found it he was out of the
main part of the town and in the outskirts, running towards the river.
Even then I might have caught him, but he sprang into the stream and
swam with great skill and speed. When I came upon the bank, he was too
far away for a shot from my pistol, and he escaped into the thickets on
the other shore."
"I wish we could have caught him," said Mynheer Jacobus. "Then we might
have uncovered much that I would like to know. What iss it, Tayoga? You
haf something more to tell!"
"Before he reached the river," said the Onondaga, "he tore in pieces a
letter, a letter that must have been enclosed in an envelope. I saw the
little white pieces drift away before the wind. I suppose he was afraid
I might catch him, and so he destroyed the letter which must have had a
tale to tell. When I came back I looked for the pieces, but I found only
one large enough to bear anything that had meaning." He took from his
tunic a fragment of white paper and held it up. It bore upon it two
words in large letters:
"That," said Robert, "is obviously the name of a Frenchman, and it seems
to me it must have been the name of this fugitive spy or messenger to
whom the letter was addressed. Achille Garay is the man whom we want.
Don't you think so, Mynheer Huysman?"
"It iss truly the one we would like to capture," said Mynheer Jacobus,
"but I fear that all present chance to do so hass passed. Still, we will
remember. The opportunity may come again. Achille Garay! Achille Garay!
We will bear that name in mind! Und now, lads, all of you go to bed. You
haf done well, too, Tayoga. Nobody could haf done better."
Robert, when alone the next day, met Hendrik Martinus in the street.
Martinus was about to pas? without speaking, but Robert bowed politely
"I'm most sorry, Mr. Martinus, that we did not succeed in capturing your
burglar last night, but my Onondaga friend followed him to the river,
which he swam, then escaping. 'Tis true that he escaped, but
nevertheless Tayoga salvaged a piece of a letter that he destroyed as he
ran, and upon the fragment was written a name which we're quite sure was
that of the bold robber."
Robert paused, and he saw the face of Martinus whiten.
"You do not ask me the name, Mynheer Martinus," he said. "Do you feel no
curiosity at all about it?"
"What was it?" asked Martinus, thickly.
Martinus trembled violently, but by a supreme effort controlled himself.
"I never heard it before," he said. "It sounds like a French name."
"It is a French name. I'm quite confident of it. I merely wanted you to
understand that we haven't lost all trace of your robber, that we know
his name, and that we may yet take him."
"It does look as if you had a clew," said Martinus. He was as white as
death, though naturally rubicund, and without another word he walked on.
Robert looked after him and saw the square shoulders drooping a little.
He had not the slightest doubt of the man's guilt, and he was filled
with indignant wonder that anyone's love of money should be strong
enough to create in him the willingness to sell his country. He was sure
Mynheer Jacobus was right. Martinus was sending their military secrets
into Canada for French gold, and yet they had not a particle of proof.
The man must be allowed to go his way until something much more
conclusive offered. Both he and Tayoga talked it over with Willet, and
the hunter agreed that they could do nothing for the present.
"But," he said, "the time may come when we can do much."
Then Martinus disappeared for a while from Robert's mind, because the
next day he met the famous old Indian known in the colonies as King
Hendrik of the Mohawks. Hendrik, an ardent and devoted friend of the
Americans and English, had come to Albany to see Colonel William
Johnson, and to march with him against the French and Indians. There was
no hesitation, no doubt about him, and despite his age he would lead the
Mohawk warriors in person into battle. Willet, who had known him long,
introduced Robert, who paid him the respect and deference due to an aged
and great chief.
Hendrik, who was a Mohegan by birth but by adoption a Mohawk, adoption
having all the value of birth, was then a full seventy years of age. He
spoke English fluently, he had received education in an American school,
and a substantial house, in which he had lived for many years, stood
near the Canajoharie or upper castle of the Mohawks. He had been twice
to England and on each occasion had been received by the king, the head
of one nation offering hospitality to the allied head of another. A
portrait of him in full uniform had been painted by a celebrated London
He had again put on his fine uniform upon the occasion of his meeting
with Colonel Johnson on the Albany flats, and when Robert saw him he was
still clothed in it. His coat was of superfine green cloth, heavily
ornamented with gold epaulets and gold lace. His trousers were of the
same green cloth with gold braid all along the seams, and his feet were
in shoes of glossy leather with gold buckles. A splendid cocked hat with
a feather in it was upon his head. Beneath the shadow of the hat was a
face of reddish bronze, aged but intelligent, and, above all, honest.
Hendrik in an attire so singular for a Mohawk might have looked
ridiculous to many a man, but Robert, who knew so much of Indian nature,
found him dignified and impressive.
"I have heard of you, my son," said Hendrik, in the precise, scholarly
English which Tayoga used. "You are a friend of the brave young chief,
Daganoweda, and to you, because of your gift of speech, has been given
the name, Dagaeoga. The Onondaga, Tayoga, of the clan of the Bear, is
your closest comrade, and you are also the one who made the great speech
in the Vale of Onondaga before the fifty sachems against the missionary,
Father Drouillard, and the French leader, St. Luc. They say that words
flowed like honey from your lips."
"It was the occasion, not any words of mine," said Robert modestly.
"I was ill then, and could not be present," continued the old chief
gravely, "and another took my place. I should have been glad could I
have heard that test of words in the Vale of Onondaga, because golden
speech is pleasant in my ears, but Manitou willed it otherwise, and I
cannot complain, as I have had much in my long life. Now the time for
words has passed. They have failed and the day of battle is at hand. I
go on my last war trail."
"No! No, Hendrik!" exclaimed Willet. "You will emerge again the victor,
covered with glory."
"Yes, Great Bear, it is written here," insisted the old Mohawk, tapping
his forehead. "It is my last war trail, but it will be a great one. I
know it. How I know it I do not know, but I know it. The voice of
Manitou has spoken in my ear and I cannot doubt. I shall fall in battle
by the shores of Andiatarocte (the Iroquois name of Lake George) and
there is no cause to mourn. I have lived the three score years and ten
which the Americans and English say is the allotted age of man, and what
could be better for a Mohawk chief, when the right end for his days has
come, than to fall gloriously at the head of his warriors? I have known
you long, Great Bear. You have always been the friend of the
Hodenosaunee. You have understood us, you have never lied to us, and
tricked us, as the fat traders do. I think that when I draw my last
breath you will not be far away and it will be well. I could not wish
for any better friend than Great Bear to be near when I leave this earth
on my journey to the star on which the mighty Hayowentha, the Mohawk
chief of long ago, lives."
Willet was much affected, and he put his hand on the shoulder of his old
"I hope you are wrong, Hendrik," he said, "and that many years of good
life await you, but if you do fall it is fitting, as you say, to fall at
the head of your warriors."
The old chief smiled. It was evident that he had made his peace with his
Manitou, and that he awaited the future without anxiety.
"Remember the shores of Andiatarocte," he said. "They are bold and
lofty, covered with green forest, and they enclose the most beautiful of
all the lakes. It is a wonderful lake. I have known it more than sixty
years. The mountains, heavy with the great forest, rise all around it.
Its waters are blue or green or silver as the skies over it change. It
is full of islands, each like a gem in a cluster. I have gone there
often, merely to sit on a great cliff a half mile above its waters, and
look down on the lake, Andiatarocte, the Andiatarocte of the
Hodenosaunee that Manitou gave to us because we strive to serve him. It
is a great and glorious gift to me that I should be allowed to die in
battle there and take my flight from its shores to Hayowentha's star,
the star on which Hayowentha sits, and from which he talks across
infinite space, which is nothing to them, to the great Onondaga
chieftain Tododaho, also on his star to which he went more than four
The face of the old chief was rapt and mystic. The black eyes in the
bronzed face looked into futurity and infinity. Robert was more than
impressed, he had a feeling of awe. A great Indian chief was a great
Indian chief to him, as great as any man, and he did not doubt that the
words of Hendrik would come true. And like Hendrik himself he did not
see any cause for grief. He, too, had looked upon the beautiful shores
of Andiatarocte, and it was a fitting place for a long life to end,
preparatory to another and eternal life among the stars.
He gravely saluted King Hendrik with the full respect and deference due
him, to which the chief replied, obviously pleased with the good manners
of the youth, and then he and the hunter walked to another portion of
"A great man, a really great man!" said Willet.
"He made a great speech here in Albany more than a year ago to a
congress of white men, and he has made many great speeches. He is also a
great warrior, and for nearly a half century he has valiantly defended
the border against the French and their Indians."
"I wonder if what he says about falling in battle on the shores of
Andiatarocte will come true."
"We'll wait and see, Robert, we'll wait and see, but I've an idea that
it will. Some of these Indians, especially the old, seem to have the
gift of second sight, and we who live so much in the woods know that
many strange things happen."
A few days of intense activity followed. The differences between
Governor Shirley and the commander, Colonel William Johnson, were
composed, and the motley army would soon march forward to the head of
Andiatarocte to meet Dieskau and the French. It was evident that the
beautiful lake which both English and French claimed, but which really
belonged to the Hodenosaunee, had become one of two keys to the North
American lock, the other being its larger and scarcely less beautiful
sister, Champlain. They and their chains of rivers had been for
centuries the great carry between what had become the French and English
colonies, and whoever became the ruler of these two lakes would become
the ruler of the continent.
It was granted to Robert with his extraordinary imaginative gifts to
look far into the future. He had seen the magnificence of the north
country, its world of forest and fertile land, its network of rivers and
lakes, a region which he believed to be without an equal anywhere on
earth, and he knew that an immense and vigorous population was bound to
spring up there. He had his visions and dreams, and perhaps his youth
made him dream all the more, and more magnificently than older men whose
lives had been narrowed by the hard facts of the present. It was in
these brilliant, glowing dreams of his that New York might some day be
as large as London, with a commerce as large, and that Boston and
Philadelphia and other places for which the sites were not yet cleared,
would be a match for the great cities of the Old World.
And yet but few men in the colonies were dreaming such dreams, which
became facts in a period amazingly short, as the history of the world
runs. Perhaps the dream was in the wise and prophetic brain of Franklin
or in the great imagination of Jefferson, but there is little to prove
that more than a few were dreaming that way. To everybody, almost, the
people on the east coast of North America were merely the rival outposts
of France and England.
But the army that was starting for the green shores of Andiatarocte bore
with it the fate of mighty nations, and its march, hidden and obscure,
compared with that of many a great army in Europe, was destined to have
a vast influence upon the world.
It was a strange composite force. There were the militiamen from New
England, tall, thin, hardy and shrewd, accustomed to lives of absolute
independence, full of confidence and eager to go against the enemy. Many
of the New Yorkers were of the same type, but the troops of that
province also included the Germans and the Dutch, most of the Germans
still unable to speak the English language. There was the little
Philadelphia troop under Colden, trained now, the wild rangers from the
border, and the fierce Mohawks led by King Hendrik and Daganoweda.
Colonel Johnson, an Irishman by birth, but more of an American than many
of those born on the soil, was the very man to fuse and lead an army of
such varying elements.
Robert now saw Waraiyageh at his best. He soothed the vanity of Governor
Shirley. He endeared himself to the New England officers and their men.
He talked their own languages to the men of German and Dutch blood, and
he continued to wield over the Mohawks an influence that no other white
man ever had. The Mohawk lad, Joseph Brant, the great Thayendanegea of
the future, was nearly always with him, and Tayoga himself was not more
eager for the march.
Now came significant arrivals in the camp, Robert Rogers, the ranger, at
the head of his men, and with him Black Rifle, dark, saturnine and
silent, although Robert noticed that now and then his black eyes flashed
under the thick shade of his long lashes. They brought reports of the
greatest activity among the French and Indians about the northern end of
Andiatarocte, and that Dieskau was advancing in absolute confidence that
he would equal the achievement of Dumas, St. Luc, Ligneris and the
others against Braddock. All about him were the terrible Indian swarms.
Every settler not slain had fled with his people for their lives. Only
the most daring and skillful of the American forest runners could live
in the woods, and the price they paid was perpetual vigilance. Foremost
among the Indian leaders was Tandakora, the huge Ojibway, and he spared
none who fell into his hands. Torture and death were their fate.
The face of Colonel Johnson darkened when Rogers told him the news. "My
poor people!" he groaned. "Why were we compelled to wait so long?" And
by his "people" he meant the Mohawks no less than the whites. The
valiant tribe, and none more valiant ever lived, was threatened with
destruction by the victorious and exultant hordes.
Refugees poured into Albany, bringing tales of destruction and terror.
Albany itself would soon be attacked by Dieskau, with his regulars, his
cannon, his Canadians and his thousands of Indians, and it could not
stand before them. Robert, Tayoga and Willet were with Colonel Johnson,
when Rogers and Black Rifle arrived, and they saw his deep grief and
"The army will march in a few more days, David, old friend," he said,
"but it must move slowly. One cannot take cannon and wagons through the
unbroken forest, and so I am sending forward two thousand men to cut a
road. Then our main force will advance, but we should do something
earlier, something that will brush back these murderous swarms. David,
old friend, what are we to do?"
Willet looked around in thought, and he caught the flashing eyes of
Rogers. He glanced at Black Rifle and his dark eyes, too, were sparkling
under their dark lashes. He understood what was in their minds, and it
appealed to him.
"Colonel Johnson," he said, "one must burn the faces of the French and
Indians, and show them a victory is not theirs until they've won it. Let
Mr. Rogers here take the rangers he has, other picked ones from the
camp, Robert, Tayoga and me, perhaps also a chosen band of Mohawks under
Daganoweda, and go forward to strike a blow that will delay Dieskau."
The somber face of Waraiyageh lightened.
"David Willet," he said, "you are a man. I have always known it, but it
seems to me that every time I meet you you have acquired some new virtue
of the mind. 'Tis a daring task you undertake, but a noble one that I
think will prove fruitful. Perhaps, though, you should leave the lads
Then up spoke Robert indignantly.
"I've been through a thousand dangers with Dave, and I'll not shirk a
new one. I have no commission in the army and it cannot hold me. I shall
be sorry to go without your permission, Colonel Johnson, but go I surely
"For more centuries than man knows, my ancestors have trod the war
trail," said Tayoga, "and I should not be worthy to have been born a son
of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the great League of
the Hodenosaunee, if I did not go now upon the greatest war trail of
them all, when the nations gather to fight for the lordship of half a
world. When the Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf and Dagaeoga and the
others leave this camp for the shores of Andiatarocte I go with them!"
He stood very erect, his head thrown back a little, his eyes flashing,
his face showing unalterable resolve. Colonel Johnson laughed mellowly.
"What a pair of young eagles we have!" he exclaimed in a pleased tone.
"And if that fiery child, Joseph Brant, were here he would be wild to go
too! And if I let him go on such a venture Molly Brant would never
forgive me. Well, it's a good spirit and I have no right to make any
further objection. But do you, Dave Willet, and you, Rogers, and you,
Black Rifle, see that they take no unnecessary risks."
Grosvenor also was eager to go, but they thought his experience in the
woods was yet too small for him to join the rangers, and, to his great
disappointment, the band was made up without him. Then they arranged for
ON THE GREAT TRAIL
Robert appreciated fully all the dangers they were sure to encounter
upon their perilous expedition to the lakes. Having the gift of
imagination, he saw them in their most alarming colors, but having a
brave heart also, he was more than willing, he was eager to encounter
them with his chosen comrades by his side. The necessity of striking
some quick and sharp blow became more apparent every hour, or the lakes,
so vital in the fortunes of the war, would soon pass into the complete
possession of the French and Indians.
The band was chosen and equipped with the utmost care. It included, of
course, all of Rogers' rangers, Robert, Tayoga, Willet and Black Rifle,
making a total of fifty white men, all of tried courage and inured to
the forest. Besides there were fifty Mohawks under Daganoweda, the very
pick of the tribe, stalwart warriors, as tough as hickory, experienced
in every art of wilderness trail and war, and eager to be at the foe.
Every white man was armed with a rifle, a pistol, a hatchet and a knife,
carrying also a pouch containing many bullets, a large horn of powder, a
blanket folded tightly and a knapsack full of food. The Mohawks were
armed to the teeth in a somewhat similar fashion, and, it being
midsummer and the weather warm, they were bare to the waist. Rogers, the
ranger, was in nominal command of the whole hundred, white and red, but
Willet and Daganoweda in reality were on an equality, and since the
three knew one another well and esteemed one another highly they were
sure to act in perfect coordination. Black Rifle, it was understood,
would go and come as he pleased. He was under the orders of no man.
"I give you no instructions," said Colonel William Johnson to the three
leaders, "because I know of none to be given under such circumstances.
No man can tell what awaits you in the forest and by the lakes. I merely
ask you in God's name to be careful! Do not walk into any trap! And yet
'tis foolish of me to warn Robert Rogers, David Willet, Black Rifle and
Daganoweda, four foresters who probably haven't their equal in all North
America. But we can ill afford to lose you. If you do not see your way
to strike a good blow perhaps it would be better to come back and march
with the army."
"You don't mean that, William, old friend," said Willet, smiling and
addressing him familiarly by his first name. "In your heart you would be
ashamed of us if we returned without achieving at least one good deed
for our people. And turning from William, my old friend, to Colonel
William Johnson, our commander, I think I can promise that a high deed
will be achieved. Where could you find a hundred finer men than these,
fifty white and fifty red?"
Daganoweda, who understood him perfectly, smiled proudly and glanced at
the ranks of Mohawks who stood impassive, save for their eager, burning
"But be sure to bring back the good lads, Robert and Tayoga," said
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, who stood with Colonel William Johnson. "I
would keep them from going, if I could, but I know I cannot and perhaps
I am proud of them, because I know they will not listen to me."
King Hendrik of the Mohawks, in his gorgeous colored clothes, was also
present, his bronzed and aged face lighted up with the warlike gleam
from his eyes. Evidently his mind was running back over the countless
forays and expeditions he had led in the course of fifty years. He
longed once more for the forests, the beautiful lakes and the great war
trail. His seventy years had not quenched his fiery spirit, but they had
taken much of his strength, and so he would abide with the army, going
with it on its slow march.
"My son," he said, with the gravity and dignity of an old Indian sachem,
to Daganoweda, "upon this perilous chance you carry the honor and
fortune of the Ganeagaono, the great warlike nation of the Hodenosaunee.
It is not necessary for me to bid you do your duty and show to the Great
Bear, the Mountain Wolf, Black Rifle and the other white men that a
young Mohawk chief will go where any other will go, and if need be will
die with all his men before yielding a foot of ground. I do not bid you
do these things because I know that you will do them without any words
from me, else you would not be a Mohawk chief, else you would not be
Daganoweda, son of fire and battle."
Daganoweda smiled proudly. The wise old sachem had struck upon the most
responsive chords in his nature.
"I will try to bear myself as a Mohawk should," he said simply.
Colden and Grosvenor were also there.
"I'm sorry our troop can't go with you," said the young Philadelphian,
"but I'm not one to question the wisdom and decision of our
commander-in-chief. Doubtless we'd be a drag upon such a band as yours,
but I wish we could have gone. At least, we'll be with the army which is
going to march soon, and perhaps we'll overtake you at Lake George
before many days."
"And I," said Grosvenor to Robert and Tayoga, "am serving on the staff
of the commander. I'm perhaps the only Englishman here and I'm an
observer more than anything else. So I could be spared most readily, but
the colonel will not let me go. He says there is no reason why we should
offer a scalp without price to Tandakora, the Ojibway."
"And I abide by what I said," laughed Colonel Johnson, who heard.
"You're in conditions new to you, Grosvenor, though you've had one
tragic and dreadful proof of what the Indians can do, but there's great
stuff in you and I'm not willing to see it thrown away before it's
developed. Don't be afraid the French and Indians won't give you all the
fighting you want, though I haven't the slightest doubt you'll stand up
to it like a man."
"Thank you, sir," said Grosvenor, modestly.
The lad, Peter, was also eager to go, and he was soothed only by the
promise of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman that he might join the army on the
march to Lake George.
Then the leaders gave the word and the hundred foresters, fifty white
and fifty red, plunged into the great northern wilderness which
stretched through New York into Canada, one of the most beautiful
regions on earth, and at that particular time the most dangerous,
swarming with ruthless Indians and daring French partisans.
It was remarkable how soon they reached the wilds after leaving Albany.
The Dutch had been along the Hudson for more than a century, and the
English had come too, but all of them had clung mostly to the river.
Powerful and warlike tribes roamed the great northern forests, and the
French colonies in the north and the English colonies in the south had a
healthy respect for the fighting powers of one another. The doubtful
ground between was wide and difficult, and anyone who ventured into it
now had peril always beside him.
The forest received the hundred, the white and the red, and hid them at
once in its depths. It was mid-summer, but there was yet no brown on the
leaves. A vast green canopy overhung the whole earth, and in every
valley flowed brooks and rivers of clean water coming down from the firm
hills. The few traces made by the white man had disappeared since the
war. The ax was gone, and the scalp-hunters had taken its place.
Robert, vivid of mind, quickly responsive to the externals of nature,
felt all the charm and majesty that the wilderness in its mightiest
manifestations had for him. He did not think of danger yet, because he
was surrounded by men of so much bravery and skill. He did not believe
that in all the world there was such another hundred, and he was full of
pride to be the comrade of such champions.
Daganoweda and the Mohawks reverted at once to the primitive, from which
they had never departed much. The young Mohawk chieftain was in advance
with Willet. He had a blanket but it was folded and carried in a small
pack on his back. He was bare to the waist and his mighty chest was
painted in warlike fashion. All his warriors were in similar attire or
lack of it.
Daganoweda was happy. Robert saw his black eyes sparkling, and he
continually raised his nose to scent the wind like some hunting animal.
Robert knew that in his fierce heart he was eager for the sight of a
hostile band. The enemy could not come too soon for Daganoweda and the
Mohawks. Tayoga's face showed the same stern resolve, but the Onondaga,
more spiritual than the Mohawk, lacked the fierceness of Daganoweda.
When they were well into the wilderness they stopped and held a
consultation, in which Rogers, Willet, Black Rifle, Daganoweda, Robert
and Tayoga shared. They were to decide a question of vital
importance—their line of march. They believed that Dieskau and the main
French army had not yet reached Crown Point, the great French fortress
on Lake Champlain, but there was terrible evidence that the swarms of
his savage allies were not only along Champlain but all around Lake
George, and even farther south. Unquestionably the French partisan
leaders were with them, and where and when would it be best for the
American-Iroquois force to strike?
"I think," said Willet, "that St. Luc himself will be here. The Marquis
de Vaudreuil, the new Governor General of Canada, knows his merit and
will be sure to send him ahead of Dieskau."
Robert felt the thrill that always stirred him at the mention of St.
Luc's name. Would they meet once more in the forest? He knew that if the
Chevalier came all their own skill and courage would be needed to meet
him on equal terms. However kindly St. Luc might feel toward him he
would be none the less resolute and far-seeing in battle against the
English and Americans.
"I think we should push for the western shore of Andiatarocte," said
Willet. "What is your opinion, Daganoweda?"
"The Great Bear is right. He is nearly always right," replied the
Mohawk. "If we go along the eastern shore and bear in toward Champlain
we might be trapped by the French and their warriors. West of
Andiatarocte the danger to us would not be so great, while we would have
an equal chance to strike."
"Well spoken, Daganoweda," said Rogers. "I agree with you that for the
present it would be wise for us to keep away from Oneadatote (the Indian
name for Lake Champlain) and keep to Andiatarocte. The Indians are armed
at Crown Point on Oneadatote, which was once our own Fort Saint
Frederick, founded by us, but plenty of them spread to the westward and
we'll be sure to have an encounter."
The others were of a like opinion, and the line of march was quickly
arranged. Then they settled themselves for the night, knowing there was
no haste, as the French and Indians would come to meet them, but knowing
also there was always great need of caution, since if their foes were
sure to come it was well to know just when they would come. The Mohawks
asked for the watch, meaning to keep it with three relays of a dozen
warriors each, a request that Rogers and Willet granted readily, and all
the white forest runners prepared for sleep, save the strange and
terrible man whom they commonly called Black Rifle.
Black Rifle, whose story was known in some form along the whole border,
was a figure with a sort of ominous fascination for Robert, who could
not keep from watching him whenever he was within eye-shot. He had
noticed that the man was restless and troubled at Albany. The presence
of so many people and the absence of the wilderness appeared to vex him.
But since they had returned to the forest his annoyance and uneasiness
were gone. He was confident and assured, he seemed to have grown greatly
in size, and he was a formidable and menacing figure.
Black Rifle did not watch with the Mohawk sentinels, but he was
continually making little trips into the forest, absences of ten or
fifteen minutes, and whenever he returned his face bore a slight look of
disappointment. Robert knew it was because he had found no Indian sign,
but to the lad himself the proof that the enemy was not yet near gave
peace. He was eager to go on the great war trail, but he was not fond of
bloodshed, though to him more perhaps than to any other was given the
vision of a vast war, and of mighty changes with results yet more
mighty flowing from those changes. His heart leaped at the belief that
he should have a part in them, no matter how small the part.
He lay on the grass with his blanket beneath him, his head on a pillow
of dead leaves. Not far away was Tayoga, already asleep. They had built
no fires, and as the night was dark the bronze figures of the Indian
sentinels soon grew dim. Rogers and Willet also slept, but Robert still
lay there awake, seeing many pictures through his wide-open eyes,
Quebec, the lost Stadacona of the Mohawks, the St. Lawrence, Tandakora,
the huge Ojibway who had hunted him so fiercely, St. Luc, De Courcelles,
and all the others who had passed out of his life for a while, though he
felt now, with the prescience of old King Hendrik, that they were coming
back again. His path would lie for a long time away from cities and the
gay and varied life that appealed to him so much, and would lead once
more through the wilderness, which also appealed to him, but in another
way. Hence when he slept his wonderfully vivid imagination did not
permit him to sleep as soundly as the others.
He awoke about midnight and sat up on his blanket, looking around at the
sleeping forms, dim in the darkness. He distinguished Tayoga near him,
just beyond him the mighty figure of Willet, then that of Rogers,
scarcely less robust, and farther on some of the white men. He did not
see Black Rifle, but he felt sure that he was in the forest, looking for
the signs of Indians and hoping to find them. Daganoweda also was
invisible and it was likely that the fiery young Mohawk chief was
outside the camp on an errand similar to that of Black Rifle. He was
able to trace on the outskirts the figures of the sentinels, shadowy and
almost unreal in the darkness, but he knew that the warriors of the
Ganeagaono watched with eyes that saw everything even in the dusk, and
listened with ears that heard everything, whether night or day.
He fell again into a doze or a sort of half sleep in which Tarenyawagon,
the sender of dreams, made him see more pictures and see them much
faster than he ever saw them awake. The time of dreams did not last more
than half an hour, but in that period he lived again many years of his
life. He passed once more through many scenes of his early boyhood when
Willet was teaching him the ways of the forest. He met Tayoga anew for
the first time, together they went to the house of Mynheer Jacobus
Huysman in Albany, and together they went to the school of Alexander
McLean; then he jumped over a long period and with Willet and Tayoga had
his first meeting with St. Luc and Tandakora. He was talking to the
Frenchman when he came out of that period of years which was yet less
than an hour, and sat up.
All the others save the sentinels were asleep, but his delicate senses
warned him that something was moving in the forest. It was at first an
instinct rather than anything seen or heard, but soon he traced against
the misty background of the dusk the shadowy figures of moving Mohawks.
He saw the tall form of Daganoweda, who had come back from the forest,
and who must have come because he had something to tell. Then he made
out behind the Mohawk chief, Black Rifle, and, although he could not
see his features, the white man nevertheless looked swart and menacing,
an effect of the day carried over into the night.
It was Robert's first impulse to lie down again and pretend not to know,
but he remembered that he was in the full confidence of them all, a
trusted lieutenant, welcomed at any time, anywhere, and so remembering,
he arose and walked on light foot to the place where Daganoweda stood
talking with the others. The Mohawk chief gave him one favoring glance,
telling him he was glad that he had come. Then he returned his attention
to a young Indian warrior who stood alert, eager and listening.
"Haace (Panther), where did you find the sign that someone had passed?"
"Two miles to the north Gao (the wind) brought me a sound," replied
Haace. "It was light. It might have been made by the boughs of Oondote
(a tree) rubbing together, but the ears of Haace told him it was not so.
I crept through Gabada (the forest) to the place, whence the sound had
come, and lo! it and whatever had made it were gone, but I found among
the bushes traces to show that moccasins had passed."
Fire leaped up in the black eyes of Daganoweda.
"Did you follow?" he asked.
"For a mile, and I found other traces of moccasins passing. The traces
met and fused into one trail. All the owners of the moccasins knelt and
drank at a Dushote (a spring), and as they were very thirsty they must
have come far."
"How do you know, Haace?"
"Because the imprints of their knees were sunk deep in the earth,
showing that they drank long and with eagerness. Oneganosa (the water)
was sweet to their lips, and they would not have drunk so long had they
not been walking many miles. I would have followed further, but I felt
that I should come back and tell to my chief, Daganoweda, what I had
"You have done well, Haace. Some day the Panther will turn into a
The black eyes of the young warrior flashed with pleasure, but he said
nothing, silence becoming him when he was receiving precious words of
praise from his leader.
"I saw sign of the savages too," said Black Rifle. "I came upon the
coals of a dead fire about two days' old. By the side of it I found
these two red beads that had dropped from the leggings or moccasins of
some warrior. I've seen beads of this kind before, and they all come
from the French in Canada."
"Then," said Robert, speaking for the first time, "you've no doubt the
enemy is near?"
"None in the world," replied Black Rifle, "but I think they're going
west, away from us. It's not likely they know yet we're here, but so
large a band as ours can't escape their notice long."
"If they did not find that we are here," said Daganoweda proudly, "we
would soon tell it to them ourselves, and in such manner that they would
"That we would," said Black Rifle, with equal emphasis. "Now, what do
you think, Daganoweda? Should we wake the Great Bear and the Mountain
"No, Black Rifle. Let them sleep on. They will need tomorrow the sleep
they get tonight. Man lives by day in the sleep that he has at night,
and we wish the eyes of them all to be clear and the arms of them all to
be strong, when the hour of battle, which is not far away, comes to us."
"You're right, Daganoweda, right in both things you say, right that they
need all their strength, and right that we'll soon meet St. Luc, at the
head of the French and Indians, because I'm as sure as I know that I'm
standing here that he's now leading 'em. Shall we finish out the night
here, and then follow on their trail until we can bring 'em to battle on
terms that suit us?"
"Yes, Black Rifle. That is what the Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf
would say too, and so I shall not awake them. Instead, I too will go to
Daganoweda, as much a Viking as any that ever lived in Scandinavia, lay
down among his men and went quickly to the home over which Tarenyawagon
presided. Haace, filled with exultation that he had received the high
approval of his chief, slid away among the trees on another scout, and,
in like manner, the forest swallowed up Black Rifle. Once more the camp
was absolutely silent, only the thin and shadowy figures of the bronze
sentinels showing through the misty gloom. Robert lay down again and
Tarenyawagon, the sender of dreams, held him in his spell. His excited
brain, even in sleep, was a great sensitive plate, upon which pictures,
vivid and highly colored, were passing in a gorgeous procession.
Now, Tarenyawagon carried him forward and not back. They met St. Luc in
battle, and it was dark and bloody. How it ended he did not know,
because a veil was dropped over it suddenly, and then he was in the
forest with Tayoga, fleeing for his life once more from Tandakora, De
Courcelles and their savage band. Nor was it given to him to know how
the pursuit ended, because the veil fell again suddenly, and when it was
lifted he was in a confused and terrible battle not far from a lake,
where French soldiers, American soldiers and English soldiers were
mingled in horrible conflict. For some strange reason, one that he
wondered at then, he stood among the French, but while he wondered, and
while the combat increased in ferocity the veil slipped down and it was
all gone like a mist. Then came other pictures, vivid in color, but
vague in detail, that might or might not be scenes in his future life,
and he awoke at last to find the dawn had come.
Tayoga was already awake and handed him a piece of venison.
"Eat, Dagaeoga," he said, "and drink at the little spring in the wood on
our right. I have learned what Haace and Black Rifle saw in the night,
and we march in half an hour."
Robert did more than drink at the spring; he also bathed his face, neck
and hands at the little brook that ran away from it, and although
Tarenyawagon had been busy shifting his kaleidoscope before him while he
slept, he was as much refreshed as if he had slumbered without dreams.
The dawn, clear but hot in the great forest, brought with it zeal and
confidence. They would follow on the trail of the French and Indian
leaders, and he believed, as surely as a battle came, that Willet,
Rogers, Daganoweda and their men would be the victors.
As soon as the brief and cold breakfast was finished the hundred
departed silently. The white rangers wore forest dress dyed green that
blended with the foliage, and the Mohawks still wore scarcely anything
at all. It was marvelous the way in which they traveled, and it would
not have been possible to say that white man or red man was the better.
Robert heard now and then only the light brush of a moccasin. A hundred
men flitted through the greenwood and they passed like phantoms.
In a brief hour they struck the trail that Haace had found, and followed
it swiftly, but with alert eyes for ambush. Presently other little
trails flowed into it, some from the east, and some from the west, and
the tributaries included imprints, which obviously were those of white
men. Then the whole broad trail, apparently a force of about one
hundred, curved back toward the west.
"They go to Andiatarocte," said Daganoweda. "Perhaps they meet another
"It's probably so," said Willet. "Knowing that our army is about to
advance they wouldn't come to the southwest shore of the lake unless
they were in strength. I still feel that St. Luc is leading them, but
other Frenchmen are surely with him. It behooves us to use all the
caution of which white men and red together are capable. In truth, there
must be no ambush for us. Besides the loss which we should suffer it
would be a terrible decrease of prestige for it to be known that the
Mountain Wolf and Daganoweda, the most warlike of all the chiefs of the
Ganeagaono, were trapped by the French and their savage allies."
Willet spoke artfully and the response was instantaneous. The great
chest of Daganoweda swelled, and a spark leaped from his eyes.
"It will never be told of us," he said, "because it cannot happen. There
are not enough of the French and their savage allies in the world to
trap the Great Bear, the Mountain Wolf, Daganoweda, and the lads Tayoga
Willet smiled. It was the reply that he had expected. Moreover, both his
words and those of the chief were heard by many warriors, and he knew
that they would respond in every fiber to the battle cry of their
leader. His contemptuous allusion to the allies of the French as
"savages" met a ready response in their hearts, since the nations of the
Hodenosaunee considered themselves civilized and enlightened, which, in
truth, they were in many respects.
Robert always remembered the place at which they held their brief
council. They stood in a little grove of oaks and elms, clear of
underbrush. The trees were heavy with foliage, and the leaves were yet
green. The dawn had not yet fully come, and the heavens, save low down
in the east, were still silver, casting a silvery veil which gave an
extraordinary and delicate tint to the green of foliage. In the distance
on the right was the gleam of water, silver like the skies, but it was
one of the beautiful lakelets abundant in that region and not yet
Andiatarocte, which was still far away. The bronze figures of the
Indians, silent and impassive as they listened to their chief, fitted
wonderfully into the wilderness scene, and the white men in forest
green, their faces tanned and fierce, were scarcely less wild in look
and figure. Robert felt once more a great thrill of pride that he had
been chosen a member of such a company.
They talked less than five minutes. Then Black Rifle, alone as usual
because he preferred invariably to be alone, disappeared in the woods to
the right of the great trail. Three young warriors, uncommonly swift of
foot, soon followed him, and three more as nimble of heel as the others,
sank from sight in the forest to the left. Both right and left soon
swallowed up several of the rangers also, who were not inferior as
scouts and trailers to the Mohawks.
"The wings of our force are protected amply now," said Tayoga, in his
precise school English. "When such eyes as those of our flankers are
looking and watching, no ambush against us is possible. Now our main
force will advance with certainty."
Twenty men had been sent out as scouts and the remaining eighty, eager
for combat, white and red, advanced on the main trail, not fast but
steadily. Now and then the cries of bird or beast, signals from the
flankers, came from right or left, and the warriors with Daganoweda
"They are telling us," said Tayoga to Robert, "that they have not yet
found a hostile presence. The enemy has left behind him no skirmishers
or rear guard. It may be that we shall not overtake them until we
approach the lake or reach it."
"How do you know that we will overtake them at all, Tayoga? They may go
so fast that we can't come up."
"I know it, Dagaeoga, because if they are led by St. Luc, and I think
they are, they will not try to get away. If they believe we are not
about to overtake them they will wait for us at some place they consider
"You're probably right, Tayoga, and it's likely that we'll be in battle
before night. One would think there is enough country here on this
continent for the whole world without having the nations making war over
any part of it. As I have said before, here we are fighting to secure
for an English king or a French king mountains and lakes and rivers and
forests which neither of them will ever see, and of the existence of
which, perhaps, they don't know."
"And as I have told you before, Dagaeoga, the mountains and lakes and
rivers and forests for which the English and French kings have their
people fight, belong to neither, but to the great League of the
Hodenosaunee and other red nations."
"That's true, Tayoga. Sometimes I'm apt to forget it, but you know I'm a
friend of the Hodenosaunee. If I had the power I'd see that never an
acre of their country was filched from them by the white men."
"I know it well, Dagaeoga."
The pursuit continued all the morning, and the great trail left by the
French and Indians broadened steadily. Other trails flowed into and
merged with it, and it became apparent that the force pursued was larger
than the force pursuing. Yet Willet, Rogers and Daganoweda did not
flinch, clinging to the trail, which now led straight toward
In the dusk of the evening the whole force came to the crest of a hill
from which through a cleft they caught a glimpse of the shimmering
waters of the lake, called by the Iroquois Andiatarocte, by the French,
St. Sacrement, and by the English, George. It was not Robert's first
view of it, but he always thrilled at the prospect.
"Both Andiatarocte and Oneadatote must be ours," he said to Tayoga.
"They're too fine and beautiful to pass into possession of the French."
"What about the Hodenosaunee? Do you too forget, Dagaeoga?"
"I don't forget, Tayoga. When I said 'ours' I meant American,
Hodenosaunee and English combined. You've good eyes, and so tell me if
I'm not right when I say I see a moving black dot on the lake."
"You do see it, my friend, and also a second and a third. The segment of
the lake that we can see from here is very narrow. At this distance it
does not appear to be more than a few inches across, but I know as
surely as Tododaho sits on his star watching over us, that those are
canoes, or perhaps long boats, and that they belong to our enemies."
"A force on the water coöperating with that on land?"
"It seems so, Dagaeoga."
"And they mean to become the rulers of the lakes! With their army
powerfully established at Crown Point, and their boats on both
Andiatarocte and Oneadatote, it looks as if they were getting a great
start in that direction."
"Aye, Dagaeoga. The French move faster than we. They seize what we both
wish, and then it will be for us to put them out, they being in
possession and intrenched. Look, Black Rifle comes out of the forest!
And Haace is with him! They have something to tell!"
It was the honor and pleasure of young Lennox and the Onondaga to be
present at the councils, and though they said nothing to their elders
unless asked for an opinion, they always listened with eagerness to
everything. Now Willet, Rogers and Daganoweda drew together, and Black
Rifle and Haace, their dark eyes gleaming, made report to them.
"A strong force, at least one hundred and fifty men, lies about five
miles to the north, on the shore of the lake," said Black Rifle. "About
twenty Frenchmen are with it, and it is commanded by St. Luc. I saw him
from the bushes. He has with him the Canadian, Dubois. De Courcelles and
Jumonville are there also. At least a hundred warriors and Frenchmen are
on the lake, in canoes and long boats. I saw Tandakora too."
"A formidable force," said Willet. "Do you wish to turn back,
The eyes of the Mohawk chieftain glittered and he seemed to swell both
in size and stature.
"We are a hundred," he replied proudly. "What does it matter how many
they are? I am astonished that the Great Bear should ask me such a
Willet laughed softly.
"I asked it," he said, "because I knew what the answer would be. None
other could come from a Mohawk chieftain."
Again the eyes of Daganoweda glittered, but this time with pride.
"Shall we advance and attack St. Luc's force tonight?" said Willet,
turning to Rogers.
"I think it would be best," replied the Mountain Wolf. "A surprise is
possible tonight only. Tomorrow his scouts are sure to find that we are
near. What say you, Daganoweda?"
"Tonight," replied the Mohawk chief, sententiously.
There was no further discussion, and the whole force, throwing out
skirmishers, moved cautiously northward through the great, green
wilderness. It was a fair night for a march, not enough moonlight to
disclose them at a distance, and yet enough to show the way. Robert kept
close to Tayoga, who was just behind Willet, and they bore in toward the
lake, until they were continually catching glimpses of its waters
through the vast curtain of the forest.
Robert's brain once more formed pictures, swift, succeeding one another
like changes of light, but in high colors. The great lake set in the
mountains and glimmering under the moon had a wonderful effect upon his
imagination. It became for the time the core of all the mighty struggle
that was destined to rage so long in North America. The belief became a
conviction that whoever possessed Andiatarocte and Oneadatote was
destined to possess the continent.
The woods themselves, like the lake, were mystic and brooding. Their
heavy foliage was ruffled by no wind, and no birds sang. The wild
animals, knowing that man, fiercer than they, would soon join in mortal
combat, had all fled away. Robert heard only the faint crush of
moccasins as the hundred, white and red, sped onward.
An hour, and a dim light showed on a slope gentler than the rest,
leading down to the lake. It was a spark so faint and vague that it
might have passed to the ordinary eye as a firefly, but rangers and
Mohawks knew well that it came from some portion of St. Luc's camp and
that the enemy was close at hand. Then the band stopped and the three
leaders talked together again for a few moments.
"I think," said Willet, "that the force on land is in touch with the one
in the boats, though a close union has not been effected. In my opinion
we must rush St. Luc."
"There is no other way," said Rogers.
"It is what I like best," said Daganoweda.
They promptly spread out, the entire hundred in a half circle, covering
a length of several hundred yards, and the whole force advanced swiftly.
Robert and Tayoga were in the center, and as they rushed forward with
the others, their moccasined feet making scarcely any sound, Robert saw
the fireflies in the forest increase, multiply and become fixed. If he
had felt any doubt that the camp of St. Luc was just ahead it
disappeared now. The brilliant French leader too, despite all his craft,
and lore of the forest, was about to be surprised.
Then he heard the sharp reports of rifles both to right and left. The
horns of the advancing crescent were coming into contact with St. Luc's
sentinels. Then Daganoweda, knowing that the full alarm had been given,
uttered a fierce and thrilling cry and all the Mohawks took it up. It
was a tremendous shout, making the blood leap and inciting to battle.
Robert, by nature kindly and merciful, felt the love of combat rising in
him, and when a bullet whistled past his ear a fury against the enemy
began to burn in his veins. More bullets came pattering upon the leaves,
and one found its target in a ranger who was struck through the heart.
Other rangers and Mohawks received wounds, but under the compelling
orders of their leaders they held their fire until they were near the
camp, when nearly a hundred rifles spoke together in one fierce and
St. Luc's sentinels and skirmishers were driven back in a minute or two,
many of them falling, but his main force lay along a low ridge, timbered
well, and from its shelter his men, French and Indians, sent in a rapid
fire. Although taken by surprise and suffering severely in the first
rush, they were able to stem the onset of the rangers and Mohawks, and
soon they were uttering fierce and defiant cries, while their bullets
came in showers. The rangers and Mohawks also took to cover, and the
battle of the night and the wilderness was on.
Robert pulled Tayoga down, and the two lay behind a fallen log, where
they listened to the whining of an occasional bullet over their heads.
"We may win," said the Onondaga gravely, "but we will not win so easily.
One cannot surprise Sharp Sword (St. Luc) wholly. You may attack when he
is not expecting it, but even then he will make ready for you."
"That's true," said Robert, and he felt a curious and contradictory
thrill of pleasure as he listened to Tayoga. "It's not possible to take
the Chevalier in a trap."
"No, Dagaeoga, it is not. I wish, for the sake of our success, that some
other than he was the leader of the enemy, but Manitou has willed that
my wish should not come true. Do you not think the dark shadow passing
just then on the ridge was Tandakora?"
"The size indicated to me the Ojibway, and I was about to seize my rifle
and fire, but it's too far for a shot with any certainty. I think our
men on the horns of the crescent are driving them in somewhat."
"The shifting of the firing would prove that it is so, Dagaeoga. Our
sharpshooting is much better than theirs, and in time we will push them
down to the lake. But look at Black Rifle! See how he craves the
The swart ranger, lying almost flat on the ground, was creeping forward,
inch by inch, and as Robert glanced at him he fired, a savage in the
opposing force uttering his death yell. The ranger uttered a shout of
triumph, and, shifting his position, sought another shot, his dark body
drawn among the leaves and grass like that of some fierce wild animal.
He fired a second time, repeated his triumphant shout and then his
sliding body passed out of sight among the bushes.
Both Rogers and Willet soon joined Robert and Tayoga behind the logs
where they had a good position from which to direct the battle, but
Daganoweda on the right, with all of his Mohawks, was pushing forward
steadily and would soon be able to pour a flanking fire into St. Luc's
little army. The forest resounded now with the sharp reports of the
rifles and the shouts and yells of the combatants. Bullets cut leaves
and twigs, but the rangers and the Mohawks were advancing.
"Do you know how many men we have lost, Rogers?" asked Willet.
"Three of the white men and four of the Mohawks have been slain, Dave,
but we're winning a success, and it's not too high a price to pay in
war. If Daganoweda can get far enough around on their left flank we'll
drive 'em into the lake, sure. Ah, there go the rifles of the Mohawks
and they're farther forward than ever. That Mohawk chief is a bold
fighter, crafty and full of fire."
"None better than he. I think they're well around the flank, Rogers.
Listen to their shouts. Now, we'll make a fresh rush of our own."
They sprang from the shelter of the log, and, leading their men, rushed
in a hundred yards until they dropped down behind another one. Robert
and Tayoga went with them, firing as they ran, borne on by the thrill of
combat, but Robert felt relief nevertheless when he settled again in the
shelter of the second log and for the time being was secure from
"I think," said Willet to Rogers, "that I'll go around toward the left,
where the flanking force is composed mostly of rangers, and press in
there with all our might. If the two horns of the crescent are able to
enclose St. Luc, and you charge at the center, we should win the victory
"It's the right idea, Dave," said Rogers. "When we hear your shots and a
shout or two we'll drive our hardest."
"I'd like to take Tayoga and Robert with me."
"They're yours. They're good and brave lads, and I'll need 'em, but
you'll need 'em too. How many more of the men here will you want?"
"Then take them too."
Willet, with Robert, Tayoga and the ten, began a cautious circuit in the
darkness toward the western horn of the crescent, and for a few minutes
left the battle in the distance. As they crept through the bushes,
Robert heard the shouts and shots of both sides and saw the pink flashes
of flame as the rifles were fired. In the darkness it seemed confused
and vague, but he knew that it was guided by order and precision. Now
and then a spent bullet pattered upon the leaves, and one touched him
upon the wrist, stinging for a moment or two, but doing no harm.
But as they passed farther and farther to the west the noise of the
battle behind them gradually sank, while that on the left horn of the
In a few more minutes they would be with the rangers who were pressing
forward so strenuously at that point, and as Robert saw dusky figures
rise from the bushes in front of them he believed they were already in
touch. Instead a dozen rifles flashed in their faces. One of the rangers
went down, shot through the head, dead before he touched the ground,
three more sustained slight wounds, including Robert who was grazed on
the shoulder, and all of them gave back in surprise and consternation.
But Willet, shrewd veteran of the forest, recovered himself quickly.
"Down, men! Down and give it back to 'em!" he cried. "They've sent out a
flanking force of their own! It was clever of St. Luc!"
All the rangers dropped on their faces instantly, but as they went down
they gave back the fire of the flanking party. Robert caught a glimpse
of De Courcelles, who evidently was leading it, and pulled trigger on
him, but the Frenchman turned aside at that instant, and his bullet
struck a St. Regis Indian who was just behind him. Now the return volley
of the rangers was very deadly. Two Frenchmen were slain here and four
warriors, and De Courcelles, who had not expected on his circling
movement to meet with a new force, was compelled to give back. He and
his warriors quickly disappeared in the forest, leaving their dead
behind them, and Willet with his own little force moved on triumphantly,
soon joining his strength to that of the rangers on the left.
The combined force hurled itself upon St. Luc's flank and crumpled it
up, at the same time uttering triumphant shouts which were answered from
the right and center, rangers and Mohawks on all fronts now pressing
forward, and sending in their bullets from every covert. So fierce was
their attack that they created the effect of double or triple their
numbers, and St. Luc's French and Indians were driven down the slope to
the edge of the lake, where the survivors were saved by the second band
in the canoes and great boats.
The defeated men embarked quickly, but not so quickly that several more
did not fall in the water. At this moment Robert saw St. Luc, and he
never admired him more. He, too, was in forest green, but it was of the
finest cloth, trimmed with green yet darker. A cap of silky fur was on
his head, and his hair was clubbed in a queue behind. March and forest
battle had not dimmed the cleanliness and neatness of his attire, and,
even in defeat, he looked the gallant chevalier, without fear and
St. Luc was in the act of stepping into one of the long boats when a
ranger beside Robert raised his rifle and took aim squarely at the
Frenchman's heart. It was not a long shot and the ranger would not have
missed, but young Lennox at that moment stumbled and fell against him,
causing the muzzle of his weapon to be deflected so much that his bullet
struck the uncomplaining water. Robert's heart leaped up as he saw the
chevalier spring into the boat, which the stalwart Indians paddled
The entire Indian fleet now drew together, and it was obviously making
for one of the little islands, so numerous in Andiatarocte, where it
would be safe until the English and Americans built or brought boats of
their own and disputed the rulership of the lake. But the rangers and
the Mohawks, eager to push the victory, rushed down to the water's edge
and sent after the flying fleet bullets which merely dropped vainly in
the water. Then they ceased, and, standing there, uttered long thrilling
shouts of triumph.
Robert had never beheld a more ferocious scene but he felt in it, too, a
sort of fierce and shuddering attraction. His veins were still warm with
the fire of battle, and his head throbbed wildly. Everything took on
strange and fantastic shapes, and colors became glaring and violent. The
moonlight, pouring down on the lake, made it a vast sea of crumbling
silver, the mountains on the farther shores rose to twice or thrice
their height, and the forests on the slopes and crests were an immense
and unbroken curtain, black against the sky.
Five or six hundred yards away hovered the Indian fleet, the canoes and
boats dark splotches upon the silver surface of the water. The island
upon which they intended to land was just beyond them, but knowing that
they were out of rifle range they had paused to look at the victorious
force, or as much of it as showed itself, and to send back the defiant
yells of a defeated, but undaunted band.
Robert clearly saw St. Luc again, standing up in his boat, and
apparently giving orders to the fleet, using his small sword, as a
conductor wields a baton, though the moonlight seemed to flash in fire
along the blade as he pointed it here and there. He beheld something
fierce and unconquerable in the man's attitude and manner. He even
imagined that he could see his face, and he knew that the eye was calm,
despite defeat and loss. St Luc, driven from the field, would be none
the less dangerous than if he had been victor upon it.
The whole Indian fleet formed in a half circle and the Chevalier ceased
to wave orders with his sword. Then he drew himself up, stood rigidly
erect, despite his unstable footing, faced the land, and, using the
sword once more, gave a soldier's salute to the foe. The act was so
gallant, so redolent of knightly romance that despite themselves the
rangers burst into a mighty cheer, and the Mohawks, having the Indian
heart that always honored a brave foe, uttered a long and thrilling
whoop of approval.
Robert, carried away by an impulse, sprang upon a rock and whirled his
rifle around his head in an answering salute. St. Luc evidently saw, and
evidently, too, he recognized Robert, as he lifted his sword in
rejoinder. Then the Indians, bent to their paddles, and the fleet,
hanging together, swept around the island and out of sight. But they
knew that the French and Indian force landed there, as fires soon blazed
upon its heavily-wooded crest, and they saw dusky figures passing and
repassing before the flames.
"The victory has been given to us tonight," said Tayoga gravely to
Robert, "but Manitou has not allowed us to complete it. Few triumph over
St. Luc, and, though his manner may have been gay and careless, his
heart burns to win back what he has lost."
"I take it you're right, Tayoga," said Robert. "His is a soul that will
not rest under defeat, and I fancy St. Luc on the island is a great
danger. He can get at us and we can't get at him."
"It is true, Dagaeoga. If we strike we must strike quickly and then be
off. This, for the time being, is the enemy's country, yet I think our
leaders will not be willing to withdraw. Daganoweda, I know, will want
to push the battle and to attack on the island."
The Onondaga's surmise was correct. The triumph of the rangers and the
Mohawks, although not complete, was large, as at least one-third of St.
Luc's force was slain, and the three leaders alike were eager to make it
yet larger, having in mind that in some way they could yet reach the
French and Indian force on the island. So they built their own fires on
the slope and the Mohawks began to sing songs of triumph, knowing that
they would infuriate the foe, and perhaps tempt him to some deed of
"Did you see anything of Tandakora?" asked Robert of Tayoga. "I know
it's no crime to wish that he fell."
"No, it's no crime, Dagaeoga," replied the Onondaga soberly, "and my
wish is the same as yours, but this time we cannot have it. I saw him in
one of the boats as they passed around the island."
The two then sat by one of the fires and ate venison, thankful that they
had escaped with only slight wounds, and as there was no immediate call
for their services they wrapped themselves in their blankets, by and by,
and went to sleep. When Robert awoke, the morning was about half gone
and the day was bright and beautiful beyond compare.
Although the hostile forces still confronted each other there was no
other evidence of war, and Robert's first feelings were less for man and
more for the magnificence of nature. He had never seen Andiatarocte,
the matchless gem of the mountains, more imposing and beautiful. Its
waters, rippling gently under the wind, stretched far away, silver or
gold, as the sunlight fell. The trees and undergrowth on the islands
showed deepest green, and the waving leaves shifted and changed in color
with the changing sky. Far over all was a deep velvet blue arch, tinged
along the edges with red or gold.
Keenly sensitive to nature, it was a full minute before young Lennox
came back to earth, and the struggles of men. Then he found Tayoga
looking at him curiously.
"It is good!" said the Onondaga, flinging out his hand. "In the white
man's Bible it is said that Manitou created the world in six days and
rested on the seventh, but in the unwritten book of the Hodenosaunee it
is said that he created Andiatarocte and Oneadatote, and then reposed a
bit, and enjoyed his work before he went on with his task."
"I can well believe you, Tayoga. If I had created a lake like George and
another like Champlain I should have stopped work, and gloried quite a
while over my achievement. Has the enemy made any movement while we
"None, so far as our people can tell. They have brought part of their
fleet around to the side of the island facing us. I count six large
boats and twenty canoes there. I also see five fires, and I have no
doubt that many of the warriors are sleeping before them. Despite
losses, his force is still larger than ours, but I do not think St. Luc,
brave as he is, would come back to the mainland and risk a battle with
"Then we must get at him somehow, Tayoga. We must make our blow so
heavy that it will check Dieskau for a while and give Colonel Johnson's
army time to march."
"Even so, Dagaeoga. Look at the Mountain Wolf. He has a pair of field
glasses and he is studying the island."
Rogers stood on a knoll, and he was making diligent use of his glasses,
excellent for the time. He took them from his eyes presently, and walked
down to Robert and Tayoga.
"Would you care to have a look?" he said to Robert.
"Thank you, I'd like it very much," replied young Lennox eagerly.
The powerful lenses at once brought the island very near, and trees and
bushes became detached from the general mass, until he saw between them
the French and Indian camp. As Tayoga had asserted, many of the warriors
were asleep on the grass. When nothing was to be done, the Indian could
do it with a perfection seldom attained by anybody else. Tandakora was
sitting on a fallen log, looking at the mainland. As usual, he was bare
to the waist, and painted frightfully. Not far away a Frenchman was
sleeping on a cloak, and Robert was quite sure that it was De
Courcelles. St. Luc himself was visible toward the center of the island.
He, too, stood upon a knoll, and he, too, had glasses with which he was
studying his foe.
"The command of the water," said Rogers, "is heavily against us. If we
had only been quick enough to build big boats of our own, the tale to
be told would have been very different."
"And if by any means," said Willet, "we contrive to drive them from the
island, they can easily retreat in their fleet to another, and they
could repeat the process indefinitely. George has many islands."
"Then why not capture their fleet?" said Robert in a moment of
Rogers and Willet looked at each other.
"It's queer we didn't think of that before," said the hunter.
"'Twill be an attempt heavy with danger," said Rogers.
"So it will, my friend, but have we shirked dangers? Don't we live and
sleep with danger?"
"I was merely stating the price, Dave. I was making no excuse for
"I know it, old friend. Whoever heard of Robert Rogers shunning danger?
We'll have a talk with Daganoweda, and you, Robert, since you suggested
the plan, and you, Tayoga, since you've a head full of wisdom, shall be
present at the conference."
The Mohawk chieftain came, and, when the scheme was laid before him, he
was full of eagerness for it.
"Every one of my warriors will be glad to go," he said, "and I, as
becomes my place, will lead them. It will be a rare deed, and the news
of it will be heard with wonder and admiration in all our castles."
He spoke in the language of the Ganeagaono, which all the others
understood perfectly, and the two white leaders knew they could rely
upon the courage and enthusiasm of the Mohawks.
"It depends upon the sun whether we shall succeed tonight or not," said
Tayoga, glancing up at the heavens, "and at present he gives no promise
of favoring us. The sun, as you know, Dagaeoga, is with us the Sun God,
also, whom we call Areskoui, or now and then Aieroski, and who is
sometimes almost the same as Manitou."
"I know," said Robert, who had an intimate acquaintance with the complex
Pantheon of the Hodenosaunee, which was yet not so complex after all,
and which also had in its way the elements of the Christian religion in
all their beauty and majesty.
Tayoga gazed out upon Andiatarocte.
Robert's eyes followed the Onondaga's.
"It's true," he said, "that the Sun God, your Areskoui, and mine, too,
for that matter, makes no promise to us. The warriors of the
Hodenosaunee have looked upon Andiatarocte for many centuries, but
doubtless there has never been a day before when any one of them saw it
more beautiful and more gleaming than it is now."
"Yes, Dagaeoga, the waters slide and ripple before the wind, and they
are blue and green, and silver and gold, and all the shades between, as
the sunlight shifts and falls, but it is many hours until night and
Areskoui may be of another mind by then."
"I know it, Tayoga. I remember the two storms on Champlain, and I don't
forget how quickly they can come on either lake. I'm not praying for any
storm, but I do want a dark and cloudy night."
"Dagaeoga should not be too particular," said Tayoga, his eyes
twinkling. "He has told Areskoui exactly what kind of a night he
wishes, but I think he will have to take just the kind of a night that
Areskoui may send."
"I don't dispute it, Tayoga, but when you're praying to the Sun God it's
as well to pray for everything you want."
"We'll watch Areskoui with more than common interest today, you and I,
Dagaeoga, but the warriors of the Ganeagaono, even as the Hurons, the
Abenakis and the Ojibways, will go to sleep. Behold, Daganoweda even now
lies down upon his blanket!"
The Mohawk chief, as if sure that nothing more of importance was going
to happen that day, spread his fine green blanket upon some leaves, and
then settling himself in an easy posture upon it, fell asleep, while
many of his warriors, and some of the rangers too, imitated his example.
But Robert and Tayoga had slept enough, and, though they moved about but
little, they were all eyes and ears.
Scouts had been sent far up and down the shores of the lake, and they
reported that no other band was near, chance leaving the issue wholly to
the two forces that now faced each other. Yet the morning, while
remaining of undimmed beauty, had all the appearance of ease, even of
laziness. Several of the rangers went down to the edge of the lake, and,
removing their clothing, bathed in the cool waters. Then they lay on the
slope until their bodies dried, dressed themselves, and waited patiently
for the night.
The French and Indians, seeing them engaged in a pleasant task, found it
well to do likewise. The waters close to the island were filled with
Frenchmen, Canadians and Indians, wading, swimming and splashing water,
the effect in the distance being that of boys on a picnic and enjoying
it to the utmost.
Robert took a little swim himself, though he kept close to the shore,
and felt much refreshed by it. When he had been dried by the sun and was
bade in his clothes, he stretched himself luxuriously near the rangers
on the slope, taking an occasional glance at the sun from under his
"There is a little mist in the southwest," he said, after a long time,
to Tayoga. "Do you think it possible that Areskoui will change his mind
and cease to flood the world with beams?"
"I see the vapor," replied Tayoga, looking keenly. "It is just a wisp,
no larger than a feather from the wing of an eagle, but it seems to
grow. Areskoui changes his mind as he pleases. Who are we to question
the purposes of the Sun God? Yet I take it, Dagaeoga, that the chance of
a night favorable to our purpose has increased."
"I begin to think, Tayoga, that Areskoui does, in truth, favor us,
through no merit of ours, but perhaps because of a lack of merit in
Tandakora and De Courcelles. Yet, as I live, you're right when you say
the cloud of mist or vapor is growing. Far in the southwest, so it seems
to me, the air becomes dim. I know it, because I can't see the forests
there as distinctly as I did a half hour ago, and I hold that the change
in Areskoui's heart is propitious to our plan."
"A long speech, but your tongue always moves easily, Dagaeoga, and what
you say is true. The mist increases fast, and before he goes down on the
other side of the world the Sun God will be veiled in it. Then the
night will come full of clouds, and dark. Look at Andiatarocte, and you
will see that it is so."
The far shores of the lake were almost lost in the vapors, only spots of
forest green appearing now and then, a veil of silver being over the
eastern waters. The island on which St. Luc lay encamped was growing
indistinct, and the fires there shone through a white mist.
Tayoga stood up and gazed intently at the sun, before which a veil had
been drawn, permitting his eyes to dwell on its splendors, now coming in
a softened and subdued light.
"All the omens are favorable," he said. "The heart of Areskoui has
softened toward us, knowing that we are about to go on a great and
perilous venture. Tonight Tododaho on his star will also look down
kindly on us. He will be beyond the curtain of the clouds, and we will
not see him, but I know that it will be so, because I feel in my heart
that it must be so. You and I, Dagaeoga, are only two, and among the
many on this earth two can count for little, but the air is full of
spirits, and it may be that they have heard our prayers. With the unseen
powers the prayers of the humble and the lowly avail as much as those of
the great and mighty."
His eyes bore the rapt and distant expression of the seer, as he
continued to gaze steadily at the great silver robe that hung before the
face of Areskoui's golden home. Splendid young warrior that he was,
always valiant and skillful in battle, there was a spiritual quality in
Tayoga that often showed. The Onondagas were the priestly nation of the
Hodenosaunee and upon him had descended a mantle that was, in a way, the
mantle of a prophet. Robert, so strongly permeated by Indian lore and
faith, really believed, for a moment, that his comrade saw into the
But not the white youth and the red youth alone bore witness to the
great change, the phenomenon even, that Areskoui was creating. Both
Rogers and Willet had looked curiously at the sun, and then had looked
again. Daganoweda, awaking, stood up and gazed in the intent and
reverential manner that Tayoga had shown. The soul of the Mohawk
chieftain was fierce. He existed for the chase and war, and had no love
beyond them. There was nothing spiritual in his nature, but none the
less he was imbued with the religion of his race, and believed that the
whole world, the air, the forests, the mountains, and the lakes were
peopled with spirits, good or bad. Now he saw one of the greatest of
them all, Areskoui, the Sun God himself, in action and working a
The untamable soul of Daganoweda was filled with wonder and admiration.
Not spiritual, he was nevertheless imaginative to a high degree. Through
the silver veil which softened the light of the sun more and more,
permitting his eyes to remain fixed upon it, he saw a mighty figure in
the very center of that vast globe of light, a figure that grew and grew
until he knew it was Areskoui, the Sun God himself.
A shiver swept over the powerful frame of Daganoweda. The Mohawk
chieftain, whose nerves never quivered before the enemy, felt as a
little child in the presence of the mighty Sun God. But his confidence
returned. Although the figure of Areskoui continued to grow, his face
became benevolent. He looked down from his hundred million miles in the
void, beheld the tiny figure of Daganoweda standing upon the earth, and
smiled. Daganoweda knew that it was so, because he saw the smile with
his own eyes, and, however perilous the venture might be, he knew then
it could not fail, because Areskoui himself had smiled upon it.
The great veil of mist deepened and thickened and was drawn slowly
across all the heavens. Robert felt a strange thrill of awe. It was, in
very truth, to him a phenomenon, more than an eclipse, not a mere
passage of the moon before the sun for which science gave a natural
account, but a sudden combination of light and air that had in it a
tinge of the supernatural.
All the Mohawks were awake now, everybody was awake and everybody
watched the sun, but perhaps it was Daganoweda who saw most. No tincture
of the white man's religion had ever entered his mind to question any of
his Iroquois beliefs. There was Areskoui, in the very center of the sun,
mighty and shining beyond belief, and still smiling across his hundred
million miles at the earth upon which Daganoweda stood. But, all the
while he was drawing his silver robe, fold on fold, thicker and tighter
about himself, and his figure grew dim.
One after another the distant islands in the lake sank out of sight, and
the fires were merely a faint red glow on the one occupied by St. Luc.
Over the waters the vapors swept in great billows and columns.
Daganoweda drew a great breath. The sun itself was fading. Areskoui had
shown his face long enough and now he meant to make the veil between
himself and man impenetrable. He became a mere shadow, the mists and
vapors rolled up wave on wave, and he was gone entirely. Then night came
down over mountains, forest and Andiatarocte. The last fire on St Luc's
island had been permitted to die out, and it, too, sank into the mists
and vapors with the others, and was invisible to the watchers on the
But little could be seen of Andiatarocte itself, save occasional
glimmers of silver under the floating clouds. Not a star was able to
come out, and all the lake and country about it were wrapped in a heavy
grayish mist which seemed to Robert to be surcharged with some kind of
exciting solution. But the three leaders, Rogers, Willet and Daganoweda,
gathered in a close council, did not yet give any order save that plenty
of food be served to rangers and Mohawks alike.
Thus a long time was permitted to pass and the mists and vapors over
Andiatarocte deepened steadily. No sound came from St. Luc's island, nor
was any fire lighted there. For all the darkness showed, it had sunk
from sight forever. It was an hour till midnight when the three leaders
gave their orders and the chosen band began to prepare. Robert had
begged to be of the perilous number. He could never endure it if Tayoga
went and not he, and Willet, though reluctant, was compelled to consent.
Willet himself was going also, and so was Daganoweda, of course, and
Black Rifle, but Rogers was to remain behind, in command of the force on
Thirty rangers and thirty Mohawks, all powerful swimmers, were chosen,
and every man stripped to the skin. Firearms, of necessity, were left
behind with the clothes, but everyone buckled a belt around his bare
body, and put in it his hatchet and hunting knife. The plan was to swim
silently for the island and then trust to courage, skill and fortune.
Buoyed up by the favor of Areskoui, who had worked a miracle for them,
the sixty dropped into the water, and began their night of extreme
Robert, as was natural, swam by the side of Tayoga, his comrade in so
many hardships and dangers, and, after the long period of tense and
anxious waiting, he felt a certain relief that the start was made, even
though it was a start into the very thick of peril.
Willet was on the right wing of the swimming column and Daganoweda was
on the left, the white leader and the red understanding each other
thoroughly, and ready to act in perfect unison. Beneath the hovering
mists and above the surface of the water, the bronze faces of the
Mohawks and the brown faces of the rangers showed, eager and fierce.
There was not one among them whose heart did not leap, because he was
chosen for such a task.
Robert felt at first a chill from the water, as Andiatarocte, set among
its northern mountains, is usually cold, but after a few vigorous
strokes the blood flowed warm in his veins again, and the singular
exciting quality with which the mists and vapors seemed to be surcharged
entered his mind also. The great pulse in his throat leaped, and the
pulses in his temples beat hard. His sensitive and imaginative mind,
that always went far ahead of the present, had foreseen all the
dangers, and, physically at least, he had felt keen apprehension when he
stepped into the lake. But now it was gone. Youth and the strong
comrades around him gave imagination another slant, allowing it to paint
wonderful deeds achieved, and victory made complete.
His eyes, which in his condition of superheated fancy enlarged or
intensified everything manifold, saw a flash of light near him. It was
merely Tayoga drawing his knife from his belt and putting the blade
between his teeth, where the whitish mist that served for illumination
had thrown back a reflection. He glanced farther down the swimming line
and saw that many others had drawn their hunting knives and had clasped
them between their teeth, where they would be ready for instant use.
Mechanically he did likewise, and he felt something flow from the cold
steel into his body, heating his blood and inciting him to battle. He
knew at the time that it was only imagination, but the knowledge itself
took nothing from the power of the sensation. He became every instant
more eager for combat.
It seemed that Tayoga caught glimpses of his comrade's face and with his
Onondaga insight read his mind.
"Dagaeoga, who wishes harm to nobody, now craves the battle,
nevertheless," he said, taking the knife from between his teeth for a
moment or two.
"I'm eager to be in it as soon as I can in order to have it over as soon
as we can," said Robert, imitating him.
"You may think the answer wholly true, though it is only partly so.
There come times when the most peaceful feel the incitement of war."
"I believe it's the strangeness of the night, the quality of the air we
breathe and that singular veiling of the sun just when we wished it, and
as if in answer to our prayers."
"That is one of the reasons, Dagaeoga. We cannot see Areskoui, because
he is on the other side of the world now, but he turned his face toward
us and bade us go and win. Nor can we see Tododaho on his star, because
of the mighty veil that has been drawn between, but the great Onondaga
chief who went away to eternal life more than four hundred centuries ago
still watches over his own, and I know that his spirit is with us."
"Can you see the island yet, Tayoga? My eyes make out a shadow in the
mist, but whether it's land, or merely a darker stream of vapor, I can't
"I am not sure either, but I do not think it is land. The island is four
hundred yards away, and the mist is so thick that neither the earth
itself nor the trees and bushes would yet appear through it."
"You must be right, and we're swimming slowly, too, to avoid any
splashing of the water that would alarm St. Luc's sentinels. At what
point do you think we'll approach the island, Tayoga?"
"From the north, because if they are expecting us at all they will look
for us from the west. See, Daganoweda already leads in the curve toward
"It's so, Tayoga. I can barely make out his figure, but he has certainly
changed our course. I don't know whether it's my fancy or not, but I
seem to feel a change, too, in the quality of the air about us. A stream
of new and stronger air is striking upon the right side of my face, that
is, the side toward the south."
"It is reality and not your fancy, Dagaeoga. A wind has begun to blow
out of the south and west. But it does not blow away the vapors. It
merely sends the columns and waves of mist upon one another, fusing them
together and then separating them again. It is the work of Areskoui.
Though there is now a world between us and him he still watches over us
and speeds us on to a great deed. So, Dagaeoga, the miracle of the sky
is continued into the night, and for us. Areskoui will clothe us in a
mighty blanket of mist and water and fire."
The Onondaga's face was again the rapt face of a seer, and his words
were heavy with import like those of a prophet of old.
"Listen!" he said. "It is Areskoui himself who speaks!"
Robert shivered, but it was not from the cold of the water. It was
because a mighty belief that Tayoga spoke the truth had entered his
soul, and what the Onondaga believed he, too, believed with an equal
"I hear," he replied.
A low sound, deep and full of menace, came out of the south, and rumbled
over Andiatarocte and all the mountains about it. It was the voice of
thunder, but Tayoga and Robert felt that its menace was not for them.
"One of the sudden storms of the lake comes," said the Onondaga. "The
mists will be driven away now, but the clouds in their place will be yet
darker, Areskoui still holds his shrouding blanket before us."
"But the lightning which will come soon, Tayoga, and which you meant,
when you spoke of fire, will not that unveil us to the sentinels of St.
"No, because only our heads are above the water and at a little distance
they are blended with it. Yet the same flashes of fire will disclose to
us their fleet and show us our way to it. Andiatarocte has already felt
the wind in the south and is beginning to heave and surge."
Robert felt the lake lift him up on a wave and then drop him down into a
hollow, but he was an expert swimmer, and he easily kept his head on the
surface. The thunder rumbled again. There was no crash, it was more like
a deep groan coming up out of the far south. The waters of Andiatarocte
lifted themselves anew, and wave after wave pursued one another
northward. A wind began to blow, straight and strong, but heavy floating
clouds came in its train, and the darkness grew so intense that Robert
could not see the face of Tayoga beside him.
Daganoweda called from the north end of the swimming line, and the word
was passed from Mohawk and ranger until Willet at the south end replied.
All were there. Not a man, white or red, had dropped out, and not one
"In a minute or two the lightning will show the way," said Tayoga.
As the last word left his lips a flaming sword blazed across the lake,
and disclosed the island, wooded and black, not more than two hundred
yards distant, and the dim shadows of canoes and boats huddled against
the bank. Then it was gone and the blackness, thicker and heavier than
ever, settled down over island, lake and mountain. But Robert, Tayoga
and all the others had seen the prize they were seeking, and their
course lay plain before them now.
Robert's emotion was so intense and his mind was concentrated so
powerfully upon the object ahead that he was scarcely conscious of the
fact that he was swimming. An expert in the water, he kept afloat
without apparent effort, and the fact that he was one of fifty all doing
the same thing gave him additional strength and skill. The lightning
flashed again, blue now, almost a bar of violet across the sky, tinting
the waters of the lake with the same hue, and he caught another glimpse
of the Indian fleet drawn up against the shore, and of the Indian
sentinels, some sitting in the boats, and others standing on the land.
Then the wind strengthened, and he felt the rain upon his face. It was a
curious result, but he sank a little deeper in the water to shelter
himself from the storm. Light waves ran upon the surface of the lake,
and his body lifted with them. The fleet could not be more than a
hundred yards away now, and his heart began to throb hard with the
thought of imminent action. Yet he knew that he was in a mystic and
unreal world. His singular position, the night, the coming of the storm
with its swift alternations of light and blackness, heated his blood and
imagination until he saw many things that were not, and did not see
some that were. He saw a triumph and the capture of the Indian fleet,
and in his eager anticipation he failed to see the dangers just ahead.
The air grew much colder and the rain beat upon his face like hail. The
thunder which had rumbled almost incessantly, like a mighty groaning,
now ceased entirely, and the last flash of lightning burned across the
lake. It showed the fleet of the foe not more than fifty yards away now,
and, so far as Robert could tell, the Indian sentinels had yet taken no
alarm. Three were crouched in the boats with their blankets drawn about
their shoulders to protect them from the cold rain, and the four who had
been standing on the land were huddled under the trees with their
blankets wrapped about their bodies also.
"Do you think we'll really reach the fleet unobstructed?" whispered
Robert to Tayoga.
"It does not seem possible," the Onondaga whispered back. "The favor of
Areskoui is great to us, but the miracle he works in our behalf could
hardly go so far. Now the word comes from both Daganoweda and the Great
Bear, and we swim faster. The rain, too, grows and it drives in sheets,
but it is well for us that it does so. Rifles and muskets cannot be used
much in the storm, but our knives and tomahawks can. Perhaps this rain
is only one more help that Areskoui has sent to us."
The swimming line was approaching fast, and a few more strokes would
bring them to the canoes, when one of the warriors on the land suddenly
came from the shelter of his tree, leaned forward a little and peered
intently from under his shading hand. He had seen at last the dark
heads on the dark water, and springing back he uttered a fierce whoop.
"Now we swim for our lives and victory!" said Tayoga.
Willet and Daganoweda, attempting no farther concealment, cried to their
men to hurry. In a moment more the boarders were among the boats. Robert
shut his eyes as the knives flashed in the dusk, and the dead bodies of
the sentinels were thrown into the water. He seized the side of a long
canoe, which he gladly found to be empty, pulled himself in, to discover
Tayoga sitting just in front of him, paddle in hand also. All around him
men, red and white, were laying hold of canoes and boats and at the edge
of the water the sentinels were attacking.
On the island a terrific turmoil arose. Despite the rain a great fire
flared up as the forces of St. Luc kindled some bonfire anew, and they
heard him shouting in French and more than one Indian language to his
men. They heard also heavy splashes, as the warriors leaped into the
water to defend their fleet. A dark figure rose up by the side of the
boat in which young Lennox and his comrade sat. The knife of Tayoga
flashed and Robert involuntarily shut his eyes. When he opened them
again the dark figure was gone, and the knife was back in the Onondaga's
St. Luc, although surprised again, was rallying his men fast. The French
were shouting their battle cries, the Indians were uttering the war
whoop, as they poured down to the edge of the island, leaping into the
lake to save their fleet. The water was filled with dusky forms, Mohawk
and Huron met in the death grasp, and sometimes they found their fate
beneath the waters, held tight in the arms of each other. Confused and
terrible struggles for the boats ensued, and in the darkness and rain it
was knife and hatchet and then paddles, which many snatched up and used
Above the tumult Robert heard the trumpet tones of St. Luc cheering his
men and directing them. Once he caught a glimpse of him standing up to
his knees in the water, waving the small gold-hilted sword that he
carried so often, and he might have brought him down with a bullet had
he carried a rifle, but he would have had no thought of drawing trigger
upon him. Then he was gone in the mist, and the gigantic painted figure
of Tandakora appeared in his place for a moment. Then the mists closed
in for a second time, and he saw through it only fleeting forms and
flashes of fire, when rifles and muskets were fired by the enemy.
His feeling of unreality increased. The elements themselves had
conspired to lend to everything a tinge weird and sinister to the last
degree. There was a lull for a little in the wind and rain, but
Andiatarocte was heaving, and great waves were chasing one another over
the surface of the water, after threatening to overturn the canoes and
boats for which both sides fought so fiercely. The thunder began to
mutter again, furnishing a low and menacing under note like the growling
of cannon in battle. Occasional streaks of lightning flashed anew across
the lake, revealing the strained faces of the combatants and tinging the
surface of the waters with red. Then both thunder and lightning ceased
again, and wind and rain came with a renewed sweep and roar.
Robert and Tayoga still occupied their captured long boat alone, and
they hovered near the edge of the battle, not ready to withdraw with the
prize until their entire force, whether victor or vanquished, turned
back from the island. Now and then Robert struck with his tomahawk at
some foe who came swimming to the attack, but, as the violence of the
storm grew, both he and Tayoga were compelled to take up their paddles,
and use all their skill to keep the boat from being capsized. The
shouting and the shots and the crash of the storm made a turmoil from
which he could detach little, but he knew that the keen eyes of the
Onondaga, dusk or no dusk, confusion or no confusion, would pierce to
the heart of things.
"What do you see, Tayoga?" he exclaimed. "How goes the battle?"
"I cannot see as much as I wish, Dagaeoga, but it turns in our favor. I
saw the Great Bear just then in a boat, and when the lightning flared
last I saw Daganoweda in another. Beware, Dagaeoga! Beware!"
His shout of warning was just in time. A figure rose out of the water
beside their boat, and aimed a frightful blow at him with a tomahawk. It
was an impulse coming chiefly from the words of Tayoga, but Robert threw
himself flat in the boat and the keen weapon whistled through the empty
air. He sprang up almost instantly, and, not having time to draw either
hatchet or knife, struck with his clenched fist at the dark face
glaring over the side of the boat. It was a convulsive effort, and the
fist was driven home with more than natural power. The figure
disappeared like a stone dropped into the water.
Despite the dusk, Robert had seen the countenance, and he recognized the
sinister features of the French spy whom they had tried to catch in
Albany, the man whose name he had no doubt was Achille Garay. He had
felt a fierce joy when his fist came into contact with his face, but he
was quite sure the spy had not perished. Hardy men of the wilderness did
not die from a blow with the naked hand. The water would revive him, and
he would quickly come up again to fight elsewhere.
Tayoga leaned over suddenly and pulled in a dusky figure dripping with
wounds, a Mohawk warrior, hurt badly and sure to have been lost without
quick help. There was no time to bind up his hurts, as the combat was
growing thicker and fiercer, and they drove their boat into the middle
of it, striking out with hatchet and knife whenever an enemy came within
A shrill whistle presently rose over all the noise of battle, and it
seemed to have a meaning in it.
"What is it, Tayoga?" shouted Robert.
"It is the whistle of the Great Bear himself, and I have no doubt it is
a signal to retire. Reason tells me, too, that it is so. We have
captured as much of the enemy's fleet as we may at this time, and we
must make off with it lest we be destroyed ourselves."
The whistle still rose shrill, penetrating and insistent, and at the
other end of the line Daganoweda began to shout commands to the
Ganeagaono. Robert and Tayoga paddled away from the island, and on
either side of them they saw canoes and boats going in the same
direction. Flashes of fire came from the land, where the French and
Indians, raging up and down, sought to destroy those who had captured
most of their fleet. But the darkness made their aim uncertain, almost
worthless, and only two or three of the invaders were struck, none
mortally. Twenty canoes and boats were captured, and the venture was a
brilliant success. Areskoui had not worked his miracles in vain, and a
triumphant shout, very bitter for the enemy, burst from rangers and
Mohawks. Willet, alone in a captured canoe, paddled swiftly up and down
the line, seeing like a good commander what the losses and gains might
be, and also for personal reasons peering anxiously through the dusk for
something that he hoped to see. Suddenly he uttered a low cry of
"Ah, it is you, Robert!" he exclaimed. "And you, Tayoga! And both
"Yes, except for scratches," replied Robert. "I think that Tayoga's
Areskoui was, in very truth, watching over us, and watching well. In the
darkness and confusion all the bullets passed us by, but I was attacked
at the boat's edge by a Frenchman, the one whom I saw in Albany, the one
who I am quite sure is Achille Garay. Luck saved me."
"Some day we'll deal with that Achille Garay," said the hunter, "but now
we must draw off in order, and see to our wounded."
He passed on in his canoe, and met Daganoweda in another. The young
Mohawk chieftain was dripping from seven wounds, but they were all in
the shoulders and forearms and were slight, and they were a source of
pride to him rather than inconvenience.
"'Twas well done, Daganoweda," said Willet.
"It is a deed of which the Ganeagaono in their castles will hear with
pride," said the Mohawk. "The fleet of Onontio and his warriors, or most
of it, is ours, and we dispute with them the rulership of the lake."
"Great results, worthy of such a risk. I'm sorry we didn't take every
boat and canoe, because then we might have cooped up St. Luc on his
island, and have destroyed his entire force."
"It is given to no man, Great Bear, to achieve his whole wish. We have
done as much as we hoped, and more than we expected."
"True, Daganoweda! True! What are your losses?"
"Nine of my men have been slain, but they fell as warriors of the
Ganeagaono would wish to fall. Two more will die and others are hurt,
but they need not be counted, since they will be in any other battle
that may come. And what have you suffered, Great Bear?"
"Five of the rangers have gone into the hereafter, another will go, and
as for the hurt, like your Mohawks they'll be good for the next fight,
no matter how soon it comes. We'd better go along the line, Daganoweda,
and caution them all to be steady. The wind and rain are driving hard
and Andiatarocte is heaving mightily. We don't want to lose a man or a
"No, Great Bear, after taking the fleet in battle we must not give it
up to the waters of the lake. See, the flare of a great fire on the
mainland! The Mountain Wolf and the rest of the men await us with joy."
Then Daganoweda achieved a feat which Willet himself would have said a
moment before was impossible. He stood suddenly upright in his rocking
canoe, whirled his paddle around his head, and uttered a tremendous
shout, long and thrilling, that pierced far above the roar of wind and
rain. Then Mohawks and rangers took it up in a tremendous chorus, and
the force of Rogers on land joined in, too, adding to the mighty volume.
When it sank into the crash and thunder of the storm, a shrill whoop of
defiance came from the island.
"Are they trying pursuit?" asked Robert.
"They would not dare," replied Tayoga. "They do not know, of course,
that we have only the edges of our tomahawks and hunting knives with
which to meet them, and even in the darkness they dread our rifles."
Robert glanced back, catching only the dark outline of the island
through the rain and fog, and that, too, for but a moment, as then the
unbroken dark closed in, and wind and rain roared in his ears. He
realized for the first time, since their departure on the great
adventure, that he was without clothes, and as the fierce tension of
mind and body began to relax he felt cold. The rain was driving upon him
in sheets and he began to paddle with renewed vigor in order to keep up
"I'll welcome the fire, Tayoga," he said.
"And I, too," said the Onondaga in his precise fashion. "The collapse
is coming after our mighty efforts of mind and body. We will not reach
shore too soon. The Mountain Wolf and his men build the fire high, so
high that it can defy the rain, because they know we will need it."
A shout welcomed them as they drew in to the mainland, and the spectacle
of the huge fire, sputtering and blazing in the storm, was grateful to
Robert. All the captured boats and canoes were drawn out of the water,
well upon the shore, and then, imitating a favorite device of the
Indians, they inverted the long boats, resting the ends on logs before
the fires, and sat or stood under them, sheltered from the rain, while
they warmed white or brown bodies in the heat of the flames.
"'Twas a great achievement, Dave," said Rogers to Willet, "and improves
our position wonderfully, but 'twas one of the hardest things I've ever
had to do to stand here, just waiting and listening to the roar of the
"Tayoga says we were helped by Areskoui, and we must have been helped by
some power greater than our own. We paid a price for our victory, though
it wasn't too high, and tomorrow we'll see what St. Luc will do. 'Tis
altogether possible that we may have a naval fight."
"It's so, Dave, but this is a fine deed you and Daganoweda and your men
"Nothing more than you would have done, Rogers, if you had been in our
They spoke in ordinary tones, being men too much hardened to danger and
mighty tasks to show emotion. Robert stood under the same inverted boat
that sheltered them, and he heard their words in a kind of daze, his
brain still benumbed after the long and terrible test. But it was a
pleasant numbing, a provision of nature, a sort of rest that was akin to
The storm had not abated a particle. Wind and rain roared across
Andiatarocte and along the slopes and over the mountains. The waters of
the lake whenever they were disclosed were black and seething, and all
the islands were invisible.
Robert looked mostly at the great fire that crackled and blazed so near.
It was fed continually by Indians and rangers, who did not care for the
rain, and it alone defied the storm. The sheets of rain, poured upon it,
seemed to have no effect. The coals merely hissed as if it were oil
instead of water, and the flames leaped higher, deep red at the heart
and often blue at the edges.
Robert had never seen a more beautiful fire, a vast core of warmth and
light that challenged alike darkness, wind and rain. There had been a
time, so he had heard, in the remote, dim ages when man knew nothing of
fire. It might have been true, but he did not see how man could have
existed, and certainly no cheer ever came into his life. He turned
himself around, as if he were broiling on a spit, and heated first one
side and then the other, until the blood in his veins sparkled with new
life and vigor. Then he dressed, still pervaded by that enormous feeling
of comfort and content, and ate of the food that Rogers ordered to be
served to the returned and refreshed men. He also resumed his rifle and
pistol, but kept his seat under the inverted boat, where the rain could
not reach him.
He would have slept, but the ground was too wet, and he waited with the
others for the approach of day and the initiative of St. Luc. The
rangers and Mohawks had made the first move, and it was now for the
French leader to match it. Robert wondered what St. Luc would attempt,
but that he would try something he never doubted for a moment.
A log was rolled beneath the long boat under which the leaders stood,
and, spreading their blankets over it, they sat down on it. There was
room at the end for Robert and Tayoga, too, and Robert found that his
comfort increased greatly. He was in a kind of daze, that was very
soothing, and yet he saw everything that went on around him. But he
still looked mostly at the great fire which zealous hands fed and which
stood up a pillar of light in the darkness and cold. He reflected dimly
that it was a beautiful fire, a magnificent, a most magnificent fire.
How the first man who saw the first fire must have rejoiced in it!
Toward morning the wind sank, and the sheets of rain grew thinner. Once
or twice thunder moaned in the southwest, and there were occasional
streaks of lightning, but they were faint, and merely disclosed fleeting
strips of a black lake and a black forest.
"Before the sun rises the storm will be gone," said Tayoga. "The miracle
that Areskoui worked in our behalf is finished, and the rest must be
done by our own courage and skill. Who are we to ask more for ourselves
than the Sun God has done?"
"We've been splendidly favored," said Robert, "and if he does not help
us with another miracle he'll at least shine for us before long. After
such a night as this, I'll be mighty glad to see the day, the green
mountains, and the bright waters of Andiatarocte again."
"I feel the dawn already, Dagaeoga. The rain, as you see, has almost
stopped, and the troubled wind will now be still. The storm will pass
away, and it will leave not a mark, save a fallen tree here and there."
Tayoga's words came true. In a half hour both wind and rain died
utterly, and they breathed an air clean and sweet, as if the world had
been washed anew. A touch of silver appeared on the eastern mountains,
and then up came the dawn, crisp and cool after the storm, and the world
was more splendid and beautiful than ever. The green on slopes and
ridges had been deepened and the lake was all silver in the morning
The islands stood up, sharp and clear, and there were the forces of St.
Luc still on his island, and Rogers, through his powerful glasses, was
able to make out the French leader himself walking about, while white
men and Indians were lighting the fires on which they expected to cook
Several boats and canoes were visible drawn upon the shore, showing that
St. Luc had saved a portion of his fleet, and it appeared that he and
his men did not fear another attack, or perhaps they wanted it.
Meanwhile rangers and Mohawks prepared their own breakfasts and awaited
with patience the word of their leaders. Apparently there was nothing
but peace. It was a camping party on the island and another on the
mainland, and the waters of the lake danced in the sunshine, reflecting
one brilliant color after another.
"Reënforcements are coming for St. Luc," said Robert, who saw black
specks on the lake to the eastward of the island. "I think that's a
fleet of Indian canoes."
"It's what I expected," said Tayoga. "The French and their allies had
complete control of Andiatarocte until we appeared, and it is likely,
when the storm began to die, Sharp Sword sent for the aid that is now
The canoes soon showed clear outlines in the intense sunlight, and, as
well as Rogers could judge through his glasses, they brought about fifty
men, ten of whom were Frenchmen. But there were no long boats, a fact at
which they all rejoiced, as in a naval battle the canoes would be at a
great disadvantage opposed to the heavier craft.
"When do you think it best to make the attack?" Willet asked the leader
of the rangers.
"Within an hour," replied Rogers. "If we had been in condition we might
have gone at them before their help came, but it was wise to let the men
rest a little after last night's struggle."
"And it will be better for our purpose to beat two forces instead of
"So it will, and that's the right spirit, Dave. You can always be
depended upon to take the cheerful view of things. It's good, old
friend, for us to be together again, doing our best."
"So it is, and it's a time that demands one's best. The world's afire,
and our part of it is burning with the rest. What do your glasses tell
"The reënforcements are landing on the island. St. Luc himself has gone
forward to meet them. He's a fine leader. He impresses red men and white
men alike, and he'll make the new force feel that it's the most
important and timely in the world. Have you found anything in the woods,
"No," replied the swart forester, who had been circling about the camp.
"Nobody is there. It's just ourselves and the fellows out there on the
"Do you see any more canoes, Rogers, coming to the help of St. Luc?"
The ranger searched long and carefully over the surface of the lake with
his strong glasses and then replied:
"Not a canoe. If they have any more force afloat it's too far in the
north to reach here in time. We've all of our immediate enemy before us,
and we'll attack at once."
The boats and canoes were lifted into the water and the little force
made ready for the naval battle.
THE NAVAL COMBAT
Robert and Tayoga went into a long boat with Willet, a boat that held
eight men, all carrying paddles, while their rifles were laid on the
bottom, ready to be substituted for the paddles when the time came.
Daganoweda was in another of the large boats, and Rogers commanded a
third, the whole fleet advancing slowly and in almost a straight line
toward St. Luc's stronghold.
Doubtless many a combat between Indians had taken place on Andiatarocte
in the forgotten ages, but Robert believed the coming encounter would be
the first in which white men had a part, and, for the moment, he forgot
his danger in the thrilling spectacle that opened before him.
St. Luc, when he saw the enemy approaching, quickly launched his own
fleet, and filled it with men, although he kept it well in the lee of
the land, and behind it posted a formidable row of marksmen, French,
Canadians and Indians. Rogers, who had the general command, paddled his
boat a little in front of the others and examined the defense cautiously
through his glasses. Tayoga could see well enough with the naked eye.
"St. Luc is leaning on the stump of a wind-blown tree near the water,"
he said, "and he holds in his hand his small sword with which he will
direct the battle. But there is a canoe almost at his feet, and if need
be he will go into it. De Courcelles is in a large boat on the right,
and Tandakora is in another on the left. On the land, standing behind
St. Luc, is the Canadian, Dubois."
"A very good arrangement to meet us," said Willet. "St. Luc will stay on
the island, but if he finds we're pressing him too hard, he'll have
himself paddled squarely into the center of his fleet, and do or die.
Now, it's a lucky thing for us that our rangers are such fine marksmen,
and that they have the good, long-barreled rifles."
The boats containing the Mohawks were held back under the instructions
of Rogers, despite the eagerness of Daganoweda, who, however, was
compelled to yield to the knowledge that red men were never equal to the
finest white sharpshooters, and it was important to use the advantage
given to them by the long rifles. Willet's boat swung in by the side of
that of Rogers, and several more boats and canoes, containing rangers,
drew level with them. Rogers measured the distance anxiously.
"Do you think you can reach them with your rifle, Dave?" he asked.
"A few yards more and a bullet will count," replied the hunter.
"We'll go ahead, then, and tell me as soon as you think we're near
enough. All our best riflemen are in front, and we should singe them a
The boats glided slowly on, and, at the island, the enemy was attentive
and waiting, with the advantage wholly on his side, had it not been for
the rifles of great range, surpassing anything the French and Indians
carried. St. Luc did not move from his position, and he was a heroic
figure magnified in the dazzling sunlight.
Willet held up his hand.
"This will do," he said.
At a sign from Rogers the entire fleet stopped, and, at another sign
from Willet, twenty rangers, picked marksmen, raised their rifles and
fired. Several of the French and Indians fell, and their comrades gave
forth a great shout of rage. Those in the canoes and boats fired, but
all their bullets fell short, merely pattering in vain on the water.
Daganoweda and his warriors, when they saw the result, uttered an
exultant war whoop that came back in echoes from the mountains. Rogers
himself rejoiced openly.
"That's the way to do it, Dave!" he cried. "Reload and give 'em another
volley. Unless they come out and attack us we can decimate 'em."
Although it was hard to restrain the rangers, who wished to crowd
closer, Rogers and Willet nevertheless were able to make them keep their
distance, and they maintained a deadly fire that picked off warrior
after warrior and that threatened the enemy with destruction. St. Luc's
Indians uttered shouts of rage and fired many shots, all of which fell
short. Then Robert saw St. Luc leave the stump and enter his waiting
"They'll come to meet us now," he said. "We've smoked 'em out."
"Truly they will," said Tayoga. "They must advance or die at the land's
The portion of his fleet which St. Luc and his men had managed to save
was almost as large as that of the Americans and Mohawks, and seeing
that they must do it, they put out boldly from the land, St. Luc in the
center in his canoe, paddled by a single Indian. As they approached, the
rifles of Daganoweda's men came into action also, and St. Luc's force
replied with a heavy fire. The naval battle was on, and it was fought
with all the fury of a great encounter by fleets on the high seas.
Robert saw St. Luc in his canoe, giving orders both with his voice and
the waving of his sword, while the single Indian in the light craft
paddled him to and fro as he wished, stoically careless of the bullets.
In the heat and fury of the combat the fleet of Rogers came under the
fire of the French and Indians on the island, many being wounded and
some slain. These reserves of St. Luc in their eagerness waded waist
deep into the water, and pulled trigger as fast as they could load and
A ranger in Willet's boat was killed and two more received hurts, but
the hunter kept his little command in the very thick of the battle, and
despite the great cloud of smoke that covered the fleets of both sides
Robert soon saw that the rangers and Mohawks were winning. One of the
larger boats belonging to St. Luc, riddled with bullets, went down, and
the warriors who had been in it were forced to swim for their lives.
Several canoes were rammed and shattered. Willet and Tayoga meanwhile
were calmly picking their targets through the smoke, and when they
fired they never missed.
The rangers, too, were showing their superiority as sharpshooters to the
French and Indians, and were doing deadly execution with their long
rifles. St. Luc, in spite of the great courage shown by his men, was
compelled to sound the recall, and, hurriedly taking on board all the
French and Indians who were on land, he fled eastward across the lake
with the remnant of his force. Rogers pursued, but St. Luc was still
able to send back such a deadly fire and his French and Indians worked
so desperately with the paddles that they reached the eastern rim,
abandoned the fragments of their fleet, climbed the lofty shore and
disappeared in the forest, leaving Rogers, Willet, Daganoweda and their
men in triumphant command of Andiatarocte, for a little while, at least.
But the victors bore many scars. More men had been lost, and their force
suffered a sharp reduction in numbers. The three leaders, still in their
boats, conferred. Daganoweda was in favor of landing and of pushing the
pursuit to the utmost, even to the walls of Crown Point on Champlain,
where the fugitives would probably go.
"There's much in favor of it," said Willet. "There's nothing like
following a beaten enemy and destroying him, and there is also much to
be said against it. We might run into an ambush and be destroyed
ourselves. Although we've paid a price for it, we've a fine victory and
we hold command of the lake for the time being. By pushing on we risk
all we've won in order to obtain more."
But Daganoweda was still eager to advance, and urged it in a spirited
Mohawk speech. Rogers himself favored it. The famous leader of rangers
had a bold and adventurous mind. No risk was too great for him, and
dangers, instead of repelling, invited him.
Robert, as became him, listened to them in silence. Prudence told him
that they ought to stay on the lake, but his was the soul of youth, and
the fiery eloquence of Daganoweda found an answer in his heart. It was
decided at last to leave a small guard with the fleet, while rangers and
Mohawks to the number of fifty should pursue toward Oneadatote. All
three of the leaders, with Black Rifle, Tayoga and Robert, were to share
in the pursuit, while a trusty man named White was left in command of
the guard over the boats.
The fifty—the force had been so much reduced by the fighting that no
more could be mustered—climbed the lofty shore, making their way up a
ravine, thick with brush, until they came out on a crest more than a
thousand feet above the lake. Nor did they forget, as they climbed, to
exercise the utmost caution, looking everywhere for an ambush. They knew
that St. Luc, while defeated, would never be dismayed, and it would be
like him to turn on the rangers and Mohawks in the very moment of their
victory and snatch it from them. But there was no sign of a foe's
presence, although Daganoweda's men soon struck the trail of the fleeing
They paused at the summit a minute or two for breath, and Robert looked
back with mixed emotions at Andiatarocte, a vast sheet of blue, then of
green under the changing sky, the scene of a naval victory of which he
had not dreamed a few days ago. But the lake bore no sign of strife now.
The islands were all in peaceful green and the warlike boats were gone,
save at the foot of the cliff they had just climbed. There they, too,
looked peaceful enough, as if they were the boats of fishermen, and the
guards, some of whom were aboard the fleet and some of whom lay at ease
near the edge of the water, seemed to be men engaged in pursuits that
had nothing to do with violence and war.
Tayoga's eyes followed Robert's.
"Andiatarocte is worth fighting for," he said. "It is well for us to be
the rulers of it, even for a day. Where will you find a more splendid
lake, a lake set deep in high green mountains, a lake whose waters may
take on a dozen colors within a day, and every color beautiful?"
"I don't believe the world can show its superior, Tayoga," replied
Robert, "and I, like you, am full of pride, because we are lords of it
for a day. I hope the time will soon come when we shall be permanent
rulers of both lakes, Andiatarocte and Oneadatote."
"We shall have to be mighty warriors before that hour arrives," said
Tayoga, gravely. "Even if we gain Andiatarocte we have yet to secure a
footing on the shores of Oneadatote. The French and their allies are not
only in great force at Crown Point, but we hear that they mean to
fortify also at the place called Ticonderoga by the Hodenosaunee and
Carillon by the French."
The order to resume the march came, and they pressed forward on the
trail through the deep woods. Usually at this time of the year it was
hot in the forest, but after the great storm and rain of the night
before a brisk, cool wind moved in waves among the trees, shaking the
leaves and sending lingering raindrops down on the heads of the
Black Rifle curved off to the right as a flanker against ambush, and two
of Daganoweda's best scouts were sent to the left, while the main force
went on directly, feeling now that the danger from a hidden force had
been diminished greatly, their zeal increasing as the trail grew warmer.
Daganoweda believed that they could overtake St. Luc in three or four
hours, and he and his Mohawks, flushed with victory on the lake, were
now all for speed, the rangers being scarcely less eager.
The country through which they were passing was wooded heavily, wild,
picturesque and full of game. But it was well known to Mohawks and
rangers, and the two lads had also been through it. They started up many
deer that fled through the forest, and the small streams and ponds were
covered with wild fowl.
"I don't wonder that the settlers fail to come in here on this strip of
land between George and Champlain," said Robert to Tayoga. "It's a No
Man's land, roamed over only by warriors, and even the most daring
frontiersman must have some regard for the scalp on his head."
"I could wish it to be kept a No Man's land," said Tayoga earnestly.
"Maybe it will—for a long time, anyway. But, Tayoga, you're as good a
trailer as Black Rifle or any Mohawk. Judging from the traces they
leave, how many men would you say St. Luc now has with him?"
"As many as we have, or more, perhaps seventy, though their quality is
not as good. The great footprint in the center of the trail is made by
Tandakora. He, at least, has not fallen, and the prints that turn out
are those of St. Luc, De Courcelles and doubtless of the officer
Jumonville. The French leaders walked together, and here they stopped
and talked a minute or two. St. Luc was troubled, and it was hard for
him to make up his mind what to do."
"How do you know that, Tayoga?"
"Because, as he stood by the side of this bush, he broke three of its
little stems between his thumb and forefinger. See, here are the stumps.
A man like St. Luc would not have had a nervous hand if he had not been
"But how do you know it was St. Luc who stood by the bush, and not De
Courcelles or Jumonville?"
"Because I have been trained from infancy, as an Onondaga and Iroquois,
to notice everything. We have to see to live, and I observed long ago
that the feet of St. Luc were smaller than those of De Courcelles or
Jumonville. You will behold the larger imprints that turn out just here,
and they face St. Luc, who stood by the bush. Once they not only thought
of turning back to meet us, but actually prepared to do so."
"What proof have you?"
"O Dageaoga, you would not have asked me that question if you had used
your eyes, and had thought a little. The print is so simple that a
little child may read. The toes of their moccasins at a point just
beyond the bush turn about, that is, back on the trail. And here the
huge moccasins of Tandakora have taken two steps back. Perhaps they
intended to meet us in full face or to lay an ambush, but at last they
continued in their old course and increased their speed."
"How do you know they went faster, Tayoga?"
"O Dagaeoga, is your mind wandering today that your wits are so dull?
See, how the distance between the imprints lengthens! When you run
faster you leap farther. Everybody does."
"I apologize, Tayoga. It was a foolish question to be asked by one who
has lived in the forest as long as I have. Why do you think they
increased their speed, and how does St. Luc know that they are
"It may be that they know a good place of ambush farther ahead, and St.
Luc is sure that he is pursued, because he knows the minds of Willet,
Rogers and Daganoweda. He knows they are the kind of minds that always
follow and push a victory to the utmost. Here the warriors knelt and
drank. They had a right to be thirsty after such a battle and such a
He pointed to numerous imprints by the bank of a clear brook, and
rangers and Mohawks, imitating the example of those whom they pursued,
drank thirstily. Then they resumed the advance, and they soon saw that
the steps of St. Luc's men were shortening.
"They are thinking again of battle or ambush," said Tayoga, "and when
they think of it a second time they are likely to try it. It becomes us
now to go most warily."
Daganoweda and Willet also had noticed St. Luc's change of pace, and
stopping, they took counsel with themselves. About two miles ahead the
country was exceedingly rough, cut by rocky ravines, and covered heavily
with forest and thickets.
"If St. Luc elects to make a stand," said Willet, "that is the place he
will choose. What say you, Daganoweda?"
"I think as the Great Bear thinks," replied the Mohawk chieftain.
"And you, Rogers?"
"Seems likely to me, too. At any rate, we must reckon on it."
"And so reckoning on it, we'd better stop and throw out more scouts."
Both Rogers and Daganoweda agreed, and flankers were sent off in each
direction. Tayoga asked earnestly for this service, and Robert insisted
on going with him. As the great skill of the Onondaga was known to the
three leaders, he was obviously the proper selection for the errand, and
it was fitting that Robert, his comrade in so many dangers and
hardships, should accompany him. Daganoweda and Rogers said yes at once,
and Willet was not able to say no. They were the best choice for such an
errand, and although the hunter was reluctant for the youth, who was
almost a son to him, to go on such a perilous duty, he knew that he must
yield to the necessity.
The two lads went off to the left or northern flank, and in less than a
minute the deep forest hid them completely from the main force. They
were buried in the wilderness, and, for all the evidence that came to
them, the band of rangers and Mohawks had ceased to exist.
They passed about a half mile to the north of the main force, and then
they began to look everywhere for traces of trails, or evidence that an
ambush was being prepared.
"Do you think St. Luc will make a new stand at the ridges?" asked
"All the chances favor it," replied the Onondaga. "We know that Sharp
Sword, besides being a great leader, is full of pride. He will not like
to go to Crown Point, and report that he has not only lost his fleet and
the temporary command of Andiatarocte, but a large part of his force as
well. If he can strike a heavy and deadly blow at his pursuers he will
feel much better."
"Your reasoning seems good to me, and, therefore, it behooves us to be
mighty careful. What do you take this imprint to be, Tayoga? Is it that
of a human foot?"
"It is so very faint one can tell little of it. Your eye was keen,
Dagaeoga, to have seen it at all, though I think the hoof of a buck and
not the foot of a man trod here on the fallen leaves, but the tread was
so light that it left only a partial impression."
"I can find no other trace like it farther on."
"No, the ground grows very hard and rocky, and it leaves no impression.
We will advance for a little while toward the ridge, and then it will be
well for us to lie down in some cover and watch, because I think St. Luc
will send out skirmishers."
"And naturally he will send them to both right and left as we do."
"Of course, Dagaeoga."
"And then, if we keep moving on, we're sure to meet them?"
"It would appear so, Dagaeoga."
"And for that reason, Tayoga, I'm in favor of the greatest care. I hope
we'll come soon to a covert so deep and thick that when we hide in it we
can't be seen five yards away."
"So do I, Dagaeoga. It is no shame to us to wish to save our lives.
Lost, they would be of no use either to ourselves or to those whom we
are here to serve. I think I see now the place that is waiting for us."
He pointed to a dense clump of scrub cedars growing on hard and rocky
"I see," said Robert. "We can approach it without leaving any trail, and
in that mass of green no foe will notice us unless his eyes are almost
"Dagaeoga, at times, shows understanding and wisdom. The day may come
when he will be a great scout and trailer—if he lives long enough."
"Go ahead, Tayoga, if it amuses you to make game of me. If humor can be
produced at such a time I'm glad to be the occasion of it."
"It's best for us, Dagaeoga, to await all things with a light heart. Our
fates are in the hands of Manitou."
"That's good philosophy, Tayoga, though I'm bound to say I can't look
upon my life as a thing mapped out for me in every detail, though I live
to be a hundred. Manitou knows what's going to happen, but I don't, and
so my heart will jump anyhow when the danger comes. Now, you're sure
we've left no trail among those rocks?"
"Not a trace, Dagaeoga. If Tododaho himself were to come back to earth
he could not find our path."
"And you're sure that we're thoroughly hidden among these little
"Quite sure of it. I doubt whether the bird singing over our heads sees
us, and Manitou has given to the bird a very good eye that he may see
his food, which is so small. It may be that the birds and animals which
have given us warning of the enemy's approach before may do it again."
"At any rate, we can hope so. Are we as deserving now as we were then?"
"Yes, we can hope, Dagaeoga. Hope is never forbidden to anybody."
"I see that you're a philosopher, Tayoga."
"I try to be one," said the Onondaga, his eyes twinkling.
"Do you think that bird singing with so much power and beauty overhead
sees us at last?"
"No, because he would certainly have stopped long enough to gratify his
curiosity. Even a bird would want to know why strange creatures come
into his thicket."
"Then as long as he sings I shall know that danger is not near. We have
been watched over by birds before."
"Again you talk like a little child, Dagaeoga. I teach you the wisdom of
the woods, and you forget. The bird may see a worm or a moth or
something else that is good to eat, and then he will stop singing to
dart for his food. A bird must eat, and his love of music often gives
way to his love of food."
"You speak as if you were talking from a book."
"I learned your language mostly out of books, and so I speak as they are
written. Ah, the song of the bird has stopped and he has gone away! But
we do not know whether he has been alarmed by the coming of our enemy or
has seen food that he pursues."
"It's food, Tayoga; I can hear him, faintly, singing in another tree,
some distance to our right. Probably having captured the worm or the
moth or whatever it was he was pursuing, and having devoured it, he is
now patting his stomach in his pleasure and singing in his joy."
"And as a sentinel he is no longer of any use to us. Then we will watch
for the little animals that run on the ground. They cannot fly over the
heads of Ojibway and Caughnawaga warriors, and so, if our enemies come,
they, too, are likely to come our way."
"Then I'll rest awhile, Tayoga, and it may be that I'll doze. If a
rabbit runs in our direction wake me up."
"You may pretend to sleep, Dagaeoga, but you will not. You may close
your eyes, but you cannot close your ears, nor can you still your
nerves. One waits not with eyes and ears alone, but with all the fiber
of the body."
"True, Tayoga. I was but jesting. I couldn't sleep if I tried. But I can
He stretched himself in an easy position, a position, also, that allowed
him to go into instant action if hostile warriors came, and he awaited
the event with a calmness that surprised himself. Tayoga was crouched by
his side, intent and also waiting.
A full half hour passed, and Robert heard nothing stirring in the
undergrowth, save the wandering but gentle winds that rustled the leaves
and whispered in the grass. Had he been left to himself he would have
grown impatient, and he would have continued the scouting curve on which
he had been sent. But he had supreme confidence in Tayoga. If the
Onondaga said it was best for them to stay there in the bush, then it
was best, and he would remain until his comrade gave the word to move
So sure was he of Tayoga that he did close his eyes for a while,
although his ears and all the nerves of his body watched. But it was
very peaceful and restful, and, while he lay in a half-dreamy state, he
accumulated new strength for the crisis that might come.
"Any little animals running away yet, Tayoga?" he asked, partly in jest.
"No, Dagaeoga, but I am watching. Two rabbits not twenty feet from us
are nibbling the leaves on a tiny weed, that is, they nibble part of the
time, and part of the time they play."
"They don't sing like the bird, because they can't, but I take it from
what you say they're just as happy."
"Happy and harmless, Dagaeoga. We Iroquois would not disturb them. We
kill only to eat."
"Well, I've learned your way. You can't say, Tayoga, that I'm not, in
spirit and soul at least, half an Iroquois, and spirit and soul mean
more than body and manners or the tint of the skin."
"Dagaeoga has learned much. But then he has had the advantage of
associating with one who could teach him much."
"Tayoga, if it were not for that odd little chord in your voice, I'd
think you were conceited. But though you jest, it is true I've had a
splendid chance to discover that the nations of the Hodenosaunee know
some things better than we do, and do some things better than we do.
I've found that the wisdom of the world isn't crystallized in any one
race. How about the rabbits, Tayoga? Do they still eat and play, as if
nobody anywhere near them was thinking of wounds and death?"
"The rabbits neither see nor hear anything strange, and the strange
would be to them the dangerous. They nibble at the leaves a little, then
play a little, then nibble again."
"I trust they'll keep up their combination of pleasure and sustenance
some time, because it's very nice to lie here, rest one's overstrained
system, and feel that one is watched over by a faithful friend, one who
can do your work as well as his. You're not only a faithful friend,
Tayoga, you're a most useful one also."
"Dagaeoga is lazy. He would not have as a friend one who is lazy like
himself. He needs a comrade to take care of him. Perhaps it is better
so. Dagaeoga is an orator; an orator has privileges, and one of his
privileges is a claim to be watched over by others. One cannot speak
forever and work, too."
Robert opened his eyes and smiled. The friendship between him and
Tayoga, begun in school days, had been tested by countless hardships and
dangers, and though each made the other an object of jest, it was as
firm as that of Orestes and Pylades or that of Damon and Pythias.
"What are the rabbits doing now?" asked young Lennox, who had closed
his eyes again.
"They eat less and play less," replied the Onondaga. "Ah, their attitude
is that of suspicion! It may be that the enemy comes! Now they run away,
and the enemy surely comes!"
Robert sat up, and laid his rifle across his knee. All appearance of
laziness or relaxation disappeared instantly. He was attentive, alert,
keyed to immediate action.
"Can you see anything, Tayoga?" he whispered.
"No, but I think I hear the sound of footsteps approaching. I am not yet
sure, because the footfall, if footfall it be, is almost as light as the
dropping of a feather."
Both remained absolutely still, not moving a leaf in their covert, and
presently a huge and sinister figure walked into the open. It seemed to
Robert that Tandakora was larger than ever, and that he was more
evil-looking. His face was that of the warrior who would show no mercy,
and his body, save for a waistcloth, was livid with all the hideous
devices of war paint. Behind him came a Frenchman whom Robert promptly
recognized as Achille Garay, and a half dozen warriors, all of whom
turned questing eyes toward the earth.
"They look for a trail," whispered Tayoga. "It is well, Dagaeoga, that
we took the precaution to walk on rocks when we came into this covert,
or Tandakora, who is so eager for our blood, would find the traces."
"Tandakora costs me great pain," Robert whispered back. "It's my
misfortune always to be seeing him just when I can't shoot at him. I'm
tempted to try it, anyhow. That's a big, broad chest of his, and I
couldn't find a finer target."
"No, Dagaeoga, on your life, no! Our scalps would be the price, and some
day we shall take the life of Tandakora and yet keep our own. I know it,
because Tododaho has whispered it to me in the half world that lies
between waking and sleeping."
"You're right, of course, Tayoga, but it's a tremendous temptation."
The Onondaga put his hand on his lips to indicate that even a whisper
now was dangerous, and the two sank once more into an utter silence. The
chest of Tandakora still presented a great and painted target, and
Robert's hand lay on the trigger, but his will kept him from pressing
it. Yet he did not watch the Ojibway chief with more eagerness than he
bestowed upon the Frenchman, Achille Garay.
Garay's face was far from prepossessing. In its way it was as evil as
that of Tandakora. He had sought Robert's life more than once. In the
naval battle he had seen the Frenchman pull trigger upon him. Why? Why
had he singled him out from the others in the endeavor to make a victim
of him? There must be some motive, much more powerful than that of
natural hostility, and he believed now if they were discovered that not
Tayoga but he would be the first object of Garay's attack.
But Tandakora and his men passed on, bearing to the right and from the
main force. Robert and Tayoga saw their figures vanish among the bushes
and heard the fall of their moccasins a little longer, and then the
question of their own course presented itself to them. Should they go
back to Rogers with a warning of the hostile flankers, or should they
follow Tandakora and see what he meant? They decided finally in favor of
the latter course, and passing quietly from their covert, began to trail
those who were seeking to trail a foe. The traces led toward the west,
and it was not hard to follow them, as Tandakora and his men had taken
but little care, evidently not thinking any scouting rangers or Mohawks
might be near.
Robert and Tayoga followed carefully for several hundred yards; then
they were surprised to see the trail curve sharply about, and go back
toward the main force.
"We must have passed them," said Robert, "although we were too far away
to see each other."
"It would seem so," said the Onondaga. "Tandakora may have come to the
conclusion that no enemy is on his extreme flank, and so has gone back
to see if any has appeared nearer the center."
"Then we must follow him in his new course."
"If we do what we are sent to do we will follow."
"Lead on, Tayoga."
The Onondaga stooped that the underbrush might hide him, advanced over
the trail, and Robert was close behind. The thickets were very still.
All the small wild creatures, usually so numerous in them, had
disappeared, and there was no wind. Tayoga saw that the imprints of the
moccasins were growing firmer and clearer, and he knew that Tandakora
and his men were but a short distance ahead. Then he stopped suddenly
and he and Robert crouched low in the thicket.
They had heard the faint report of rifles directly in front, and they
believed that Tandakora had come into contact with a party of rangers or
Mohawks. As they listened, the sound of a second volley came, and then
the echo of a faint war whoop. Tayoga rose a little higher, perhaps
expecting to see something in the underbrush, and a rifle flashed less
than forty yards away.
The Onondaga fell without a cry before the horrified eyes of his
comrade, and then, as Robert heard a shout of triumph, he saw an Indian,
horribly painted, rush forward to seize what he believed to be a Mohawk
Young Lennox, filled with grief and rage, stood straight up, and a
stream of fire fairly poured from the muzzle of his rifle as his bullet
met the exultant warrior squarely in the heart. The savage fell like a
log, having no time to utter his death cry, and paying no further
attention to him, feeling that he must be merely a stray warrior from
the main band, Robert turned to his fallen comrade.
Tayoga was unconscious, and was bleeding profusely from a wound in the
right shoulder. Robert seized his wrist and felt his pulse. He was not
dead, because he detected a faint beat, but it was quite evident that
the wound from a big musket bullet had come near to cutting the thread
For a moment or two Lennox was in despair, while his heart continued to
swell with grief and rage. It was unthinkable that the noblest young
Onondaga of them all, one fit to be in his time the greatest of
sachems, the very head and heart of the League, should be cut down by a
mere skulker. And yet it had happened. Tayoga lay, still wholly
unconscious, and the sounds of firing to the eastward were increasing. A
battle had begun there. Perhaps the full forces of both sides were now
The combat called to Robert, he knew that he might bear a great part in
it, but he never hesitated. Such a thought as deserting his stricken
comrade could not enter his mind. He listened a moment longer to the
sounds of the conflict now growing more fierce, and then, fastening
Tayoga's rifle on his back with his own, he lifted his wounded comrade
in his arms and walked westward, away from the battle.
Robert settled the inert form of the Onondaga against his left shoulder,
and, being naturally very strong, with a strength greatly increased by a
long life in the woods, he was able to carry the weight easily. He had
no plan yet in his mind, merely a vague resolve to carry Tayoga outside
the fighting zone and then do what he could to resuscitate him. It was
an unfortunate chance that the hostile flankers had cut in between him
and the main force of Rogers, but it could not be helped, and the
farther he was from his own people the safer would he and Tayoga be.
Two hundred yards more and putting his comrade on the ground he cut away
the deerskin, disclosing the wound. The bullet had gone almost through
the shoulder, and as he felt of its path he knew with joy that it had
touched no bone. Then, unless the loss of blood became great, it could
not prove mortal. But the bullet was of heavy type, fired from the old
smoothbore musket and the shock had been severe. Although it had not
gone quite through the shoulder he could feel it near the surface, and
he decided at once upon rude but effective surgery.
Laying Tayoga upon his face, he drew his keen hunting knife and cut
boldly into the flesh of the shoulder until he reached the bullet. Then
he pried it out with the point of the knife, and threw it away in the
bushes. A rush of blood followed and Tayoga groaned, but Robert, rapidly
cutting the Onondaga's deerskin tunic into suitable strips, bound
tightly and with skill both the entrance and the exit of the wound. The
flow of blood was stopped, and he breathed a fervent prayer of
thankfulness to the white man's God and the red man's Manitou. Tayoga
would live, and he knew that he had saved the life of his comrade, as
that comrade had more than once saved his.
Yet both were still surrounded by appalling dangers. At any moment St.
Luc's savages might burst through the woods and be upon them. As he
finished tying the bandage and stood erect the flare of the fighting
came from a point much nearer, though between them and the ranger band,
forbidding any possible attempt to rejoin Rogers and Willet. Tayoga
opened his eyes, though he saw darkly, through a veil, and said in
"They have closed again with the forces of St. Luc. You would be there,
Dagaeoga, to help in the fighting. Go, I am useless. It is not a time to
cumber yourself with me."
"If I lay there as you are, and you stood here as I am would you leave
me?" asked Robert.
The Onondaga was silent.
"You know you wouldn't," continued Robert, "and you know I won't.
Listen, the battle comes nearer. St. Luc must have received a
He leaned forward a little, cupping his ear with his right hand, and he
heard distinctly all the sounds of a fierce and terrible conflict, rifle
shots, yells of the savages, shouts of the rangers, and once or twice he
thought he saw faintly the flashes of rifles as they were fired in the
"Go," said Tayoga again. "I can see that your spirit turns to the
battle. They may not find me, and, perhaps in a day, I shall be able to
walk and take care of myself."
Robert made no reply in words, but once more he lifted the Onondaga in
his sinewy arms, settled his weight against his left shoulder and
resumed his walk away from the battle. Tayoga did not speak, and Robert
soon saw that he had relapsed again into unconsciousness. He went at
least three hundred yards before resting, and all the while the battle
called to him, the shots, the yells and the shouts still coming clearly
through the thin mountain air.
He rested perhaps fifteen minutes, and he saw that, while Tayoga was
unconscious, the flow of blood was still held in check by the bandages.
Resuming his burden, he went on through the forest, a full quarter of a
mile now, and the last sound of the battle sank into nothingness behind
him. He was consumed with anxiety to know who had won, but there was not
a sign to tell.
He came to a brook, and putting Tayoga down once more, he bathed his
face freely, until the Onondaga opened his eyes and looked about, not
with a veil before his eyes now, but clearly.
"Where are we, Dagaeoga?" he asked.
"I'd tell you if I could, but I can't," replied Robert, cheerfully,
rejoiced at the sight of his comrade's returning strength.
"You have left the battle behind you?"
"Yes. I can state in general terms that we're somewhere between
Andiatarocte and Oneadatote, which is quite enough for you to know at
the present time. I'm the forest doctor, and as this is the first chance
I've ever had to exert authority over you, I mean to make the most of
Tayoga smiled wanly.
"I see that you have bound up my wound," he said. "That was well. But
since I cannot see the wound itself I do not know what kind of a bullet
"It wasn't a bullet at all, Tayoga. It was a cannon ball, though it came
out of a wide-mouthed musket, and I'm happy to tell you that it somehow
got through your shoulder without touching bone."
"The bullet is out?"
"Yes, I cut it out with this good old hunting knife of mine."
Again Tayoga smiled wanly.
"You have done well, Dagaeoga," he said. "Did I not say to others in
your defense that you had intelligence and, in time, might learn? You
have saved my life, a poor thing perhaps, but the only life I have, and
I thank you."
Robert laughed, and his laugh was full of heartiness. He saw the old
Tayoga coming back.
"You'll be a new man tomorrow," he said. "With flesh and blood as
healthy as yours a hole through your shoulder that I could put my fist
in would soon heal."
"What does Dagaeoga purpose to do next?"
"You'll find out in good time. I'm master now, and I don't intend to
tell my plans. If I did you'd be trying to change 'em. While I'm ruler I
mean to be ruler."
"It is a haughty spirit you show. You take advantage of my being
"Of course I do. As I said, it's the only chance I've had. Stop that!
Don't try to sit up! You're not strong enough yet. I'll carry you
Tayoga sank back, and, in a few more minutes, Robert picked him up and
went on once more. But he noticed that the Onondaga did not now lie a
dead weight upon his shoulder. Instead, there was in him again the vital
quality that made him lighter and easier to carry. He knew that Tayoga
would revive rapidly, but it would be days before he was fit to take
care of himself. He must find not only a place of security, but one of
shelter from the fierce midsummer storms that sometimes broke over those
mountain slopes. Among the rocks and ravines and dense woods he might
discover some such covert. Food was contained in his knapsack and the
one still fastened to the back of Tayoga, food enough to last several
days, and if the time should be longer his rifle must find more.
The way became rougher, the rocks growing more numerous, the slopes
increasing in steepness, and the thickets becoming almost impenetrable.
"Put me down," said Tayoga. "We are safe from the enemy, for a while at
least. All the warriors have been drawn by the battle, and, whether it
goes on now or not, they have not yet had time to scatter and seek
through the wilderness."
"I said I was going to be absolute master, but it looks, Tayoga, as if
you meant to give advice anyhow. And as your advice seems good, and I
confess I'm a trifle weary, I'll let you see if you can sit up a little
on this heap of dead leaves, with your back against this old fallen
trunk. Here we go! Gently now! Oh, you'll soon be a warrior again, if
you follow my instructions!"
Tayoga heaved a little sigh of relief as he leaned back against the
trunk. His eyes were growing clearer and Robert knew that the beat of
his pulse was fuller. All the amazing vitality that came from a powerful
constitution, hard training and clean living was showing itself.
Already, and his wound scarcely two hours old, his strength was coming
"You look for a wigwam, Dagaeoga?" he said.
"Well, scarcely that," replied Robert. "I'm not expecting an inn in this
wilderness, but I'm seeking some sort of shelter, preferably high up
among the rocks, where we might find protection from storms."
"Two or three hundred yards farther on and we'll find it."
"Come, Tayoga, you're just guessing. You can't know such a thing."
"I am not guessing at all, Dagaeoga, and I do know. Your position as
absolute ruler was brief. It expired between the first and second hour,
and now you have an adviser who may become a director."
"Then proceed with your advice and direction. How do you know there is
shelter only two or three hundred yards farther on?"
"I look ahead, and I see a narrow path leading up among the rocks. Such
paths are countless in the wilderness, and many of them are untrodden,
but the one before my eyes has sustained footsteps many times."
"Come down to earth, Tayoga, and tell me what you see."
"I see on the rocks on either side of this path long, coarse hairs. They
were left by a wild animal going back and forth to its den. It was a
large wild animal, else it would not have scraped against the rocks on
either side. It was probably a bear, and if you will hand me the two or
three twisted hairs in the crevice at your elbow I will tell you."
Robert brought them to him and Tayoga nodded assent.
"Aye, it was a bear," he said, "and a big one."
"But how do you know his den is only two or three hundred yards away?"
"That is a matter of looking as far as the eyes can reach. If you will
only lift yours and gaze over the tops of those bushes you will see that
the path ends against a high stone face or wall, too steep for climbing.
So the den must be there, and let us hope, Dagaeoga, that it is large
enough for us both. The bear is likely to be away, as this is summer.
Now, lift me up. I have talked all the talk that is in me and as much as
I have strength to utter."
Robert carried him again, and it was hard traveling up the steep and
rocky path, but Tayoga's words were quickly proved to be true. In the
crumbling face of the stone cliff they found not only an opening but
several, the bear having preferred one of the smaller to the largest,
which ran back eight or ten feet and which was roomy enough to house a
dozen men. It bore no animal odor, and there was before it an abundance
of dead leaves that could be taken in for shelter.
"Now Manitou is kind," said Tayoga, "or it may be that Areskoui and
Tododaho are still keeping their personal watch over us. Lay me in the
cave, Dagaeoga. Thou hast acquitted thyself as a true friend. No sachem
of the Onondagas, however great, could have been greater in fidelity and
Robert made two beds of leaves. On one he spread the blanket that was
strapped to Tayoga's back. Then he built his own place and felt that
they were sheltered and secure for the time, and in truth they were
housed as well as millions of cave men for untold centuries had been. It
was a good cave, sweet-smelling, with pure, clean air, and Robert saw
that if it rained the water would not come in at the door, but would run
past it down the slope, which in itself was one of the luckiest strokes
Tayoga lay on his blanket on his bed of leaves, and, looking up at the
rough and rocky roof, smiled. He had begged Robert to leave him and go
to the battle, and he knew that if his comrade had gone, he, wounded as
he was, would surely have perished. If a hostile skirmisher did not find
him, which was more than likely, he would have been overcome by the
fever of his wound, and, lying unconscious while some rainstorm swept
over him, his last chance would be gone. He could feel the fever
creeping into his veins now, and he knew that they had found the refuge
just in time. Yet he was grateful and cheerful, and in his heart he said
silent thanks to Tododaho, Areskoui and Manitou. Then he called to
"See if you can find water," he said. "There should be more than one
stream among these rocky hollows. Bring the water here in your cap and
wash my wound."
Iroquois therapeutics were very simple, but wonderfully effective, and,
as Robert had seen both Onondagas and Mohawks practice their healing
art, he understood. He discovered a good stream not many yards away, and
carefully removing Tayoga's bandages, and bringing his cap filled to the
brim with water, he cleansed the wound thoroughly. Then the bandages
were put on again firmly and securely. This in most cases constituted
the whole of the Iroquois treatment, so far as the physical body was
concerned. The wound must be kept absolutely clean and away from the
air, nature doing the rest. Now and then the juices of powerful herbs
were used, but they were not needed for one so young and so wholesome in
blood as Tayoga.
When the operation was finished the Onondaga lay back on his bed and
smiled once more at the rough and rocky roof.
"Again you show signs of intelligence, Dagaeoga," he said. "As you have
learned to be a warrior, perhaps you can learn to be a medicine man
also, not the medicine man who deals with spirits, but one who heals.
Now, as you have done your part, I shall do mine."
"What do you mean, Tayoga?"
"I will resolve to be well. You know that among my people the healers
held in highest honor are those who do not acknowledge the existence of
any disease at all. The patient is sick because he has not willed that
he should be well. So the medicine man exerts a will for him and by
reciting to himself prayers or charms drives away the complaint which
the sick man fancies that he has. Now, I do not accept all their belief.
A bullet has gone through my shoulder, and I know it. Nothing can alter
the fact. Yet I do know that the will has great control over the nerves,
which direct the body, and I shall strengthen my will as much as I can,
and make it order my body to get well."
Robert knew that what he said was true. Already the Iroquois were, and
long had been, practicing what came to be known much later among the
white people as Christian Science.
"Try to sleep, Tayoga," he said. "I know the power of your will. If you
order yourself to sleep, sleep you will. I have your rifle and mine, and
if the enemy should come I think I can hold 'em off."
"They will not come," said Tayoga, "at least, not today nor in the night
that will follow. They are so busy with the Great Bear and the Mountain
Wolf and Daganoweda that they will not have time to hunt among the hills
for the two who have sought refuge here. What of the skies, Dagaeoga?
What do they promise?"
Robert, standing in the entrance, took a long look at the heavens.
"Rain," he replied at last; "I can see clouds gathering in the west, and
a storm is likely to come with the night. I think I hear distant
thunder, but it is so low I'm not sure."
"Areskoui is good to us once more. The kindness of his heart is never
exhausted. Truly, O Dagaeoga, he has been a shield between us and our
enemies. Now the rain will come, it will pour hard, it will sweep along
the slopes, and wash away any faint trace of a trail that we may have
left, thus hiding our flight from the eyes of wandering warriors."
"All that's true, and now that you've explained it to your satisfaction,
you obey me, exercise your will and go to sleep. I've recovered my
rulership, and I mean to exercise it to the full for the little time
that it may last."
Tayoga obeyed, composing himself in the easiest attitude on his blanket
and bed of leaves, and he exerted his will to the utmost. He wished
sleep, and sleep must come, yet he knew that the fever was still rising
in his veins. The shock and loss of blood from the great musket ball
could not be dismissed by a mere effort of the mind, but the mind
nevertheless could fight against their effects and neutralize them.
As the fever rose steadily he exerted his will with increasing power. He
said to himself again and again how fortunate he was to be watched over
by such a brave and loyal friend, and to have a safe and dry refuge,
when other warriors of his nation, wounded, had lain in the forest to
die of exhaustion or to be devoured by wild beasts. He knew from the
feel of the air that a storm was coming, and again he was thankful to
his patron saint, Tododaho, and also to Areskoui, and to Manitou,
greatest of all, because a bed and a roof had been found for him in
this, the hour of his greatest need.
The mounting fever in his veins seemed to make his senses more vivid
and acute for the time. Although Robert could not yet hear in reality
the rumbling thunder far down in the southwest, the menace came very
plainly to the ears of Tayoga, but it was no menace to him. Instead, the
rumble was the voice of a friend, telling him that the deluge was at
hand to wash away all traces of their flight and to force their enemies
into shelter, while his fever burned itself out.
Tayoga on his blanket, with the thick couch of dry leaves beneath, could
still see the figure of Robert, rifle across his knees, crouched at the
doorway, a black silhouette against the fading sky. The Onondaga knew
that he would watch until the storm came in full flood, and nothing
would escape his keen eyes and ears. Dagaeoga was a worthy pupil of
Willet, known to the Hodenosaunee as the Great Bear, a man of surpassing
Tayoga also heard the rushing of the rain, far off, coming, perhaps,
from Andiatarocte, and presently he saw the flashes of lightning, every
one a vast red blaze to his feverish eyes. It was only by the light of
these saber strokes across the sky that he could now see Robert, as the
dark had come, soon to be followed by floods of rain. Then he closed his
eyes, and calling incessantly for sleep, refused to open them again.
Sleep came by and by, though it was Tarenyawagon, the sender of dreams,
who presided over it, because as he slept, and his fever grew higher,
visions, many and fantastic, flitted through his disordered brain.
Robert watched until long after the rain had been pouring in sheets,
and it was pitchy dark in the cave. Then he felt of Tayoga's forehead
and his pulse, and observed the fever, though without alarm. Tayoga's
wound was clean and his blood absolutely pure. The fever was due and it
would run its course. He could do nothing more for his comrade at
present, and lying down on his own spread of leaves, he soon fell
Robert's slumber was not sound. Although the Onondaga might be watched
over by Tododaho, Areskoui and even Manitou himself, he had felt the
weight of responsibility. The gods protected those who protected
themselves, and, even while he slept, the thought was nestling somewhere
in his brain and awoke him now and then. Upon every such occasion he sat
up and looked out at the entrance of the cave, to see, as he had hoped,
only the darkness and black sheets of driving rain, and also upon every
occasion devout thanks rose up in his throat. Tayoga had not prayed to
his patron saint and to the great Areskoui and Manitou in vain, else in
all that wilderness, given over to night and storm, they would not have
found so good a refuge and shelter.
Tayoga's fever increased, and when morning came, with the rain still
falling, though not in such a deluge as by night, it seemed to Robert,
who had seen many gunshot wounds, that it was about at the zenith. The
Onondaga came out of his sleep, but he was delirious for a little while,
Robert sitting by him, covering him with his blanket and seeing that his
hurt was kept away from the air.
The rain ceased by and by, but heavy fogs and vapors floated over the
mountains, so dense that Robert could not see more than fifteen or
twenty feet beyond the mouth of the cave, in front of which a stream of
water from the rain a foot deep was flowing. He was thankful. He knew
that fog and flood together would hide them in absolute security for
another day and night at least.
He ate a little venison and regretted that he did not have a small
skillet in which he could make soup for Tayoga later on, but since he
did not have it he resolved to pound venison into shreds between stones,
when the time came. Examining Tayoga again, he found, to his great joy,
that the fever was decreasing, and he washed the wound anew. Then he sat
by him a long time while the morning passed. Tayoga, who had been
muttering in his fever, sank into silence, and about noon, opening his
eyes, he said in a weak voice:
"How long have we been here, Dagaeoga?"
"About half of the second day is now gone," replied Robert, "and your
fever has gone with it. You're as limp as a towel, but you're started
fairly on the road to recovery."
"I know it," said Tayoga gratefully, "and I am thankful to Tododaho, to
Areskoui, to Manitou, greatest of all, and to you, Dagaeoga, without
whom the great spirits of earth and air would have let me perish."
"You don't owe me anything, Tayoga. It's what one comrade has a right to
expect of another. Did you exert your will, as you said, when you were
delirious, and help along nature with your cure?"
"I did, Dagaeoga. Before I lapsed into the unconsciousness of which you
speak, I resolved that today, when my fever should have passed, my soul
should lift me up. I concentrated my mind upon it, I attuned every nerve
to that end, and while I could not prevent the fever and the weakness,
yet the resolution to get well fast helps me to do so. By so much does
my mind rule over my body."
"I've no doubt you're right about it. Courage and optimism can lift us
up a lot, as I've seen often for myself, and you're certainly out of
danger now, Tayoga. All you have to do is to lie quiet, if the French
and Indians will let us. In a week you'll be able to travel and fight,
and in a few weeks you'll never know that a musket ball passed through
your shoulder. When do you think you can eat? I'll pound some of the
venison very fine."
"Not before night, and then but little. That little, though, I should
have. Tomorrow I will eat much more, and a few days later it will be all
Dagaeoga can do to find enough food for me. Be sure that you wait on me
well. It is the first rest that I have had in a long time, and it is my
purpose to enjoy it. If I should be fretful, humor me; if I should be
hungry, feed me; if I should be sleepy, let me sleep, and see that I am
not disturbed while I do sleep; if my bed is hard, make me a better, and
through it all, O Dagaeoga, be thou the finest medicine man that ever
breathed in these woods."
"Come, now, Tayoga, you lay too great a burden upon me. I'm not all the
excellencies melted into one, and I've never pretended to be. But I can
see that you're getting well, because the spirit of rulership is upon
you as strong as ever, and, since you're so much improved, I may take
it into my mind to obey your commands, though only when I feel like it."
The two lads looked at each other and laughed, and there was immense
relief in Robert's laugh. Only now did he admit to himself that he had
been terribly alarmed about Tayoga, and he recognized the enormous
relief he felt when the Onondaga had passed his crisis.
"In truth, you pick up fast, Tayoga," he said whimsically. "Suppose we
go forth now and hunt the enemy. We might finish up what Rogers, Willet
and Daganoweda have left of St. Luc's force."
"I would go," replied Tayoga in the same tone, "but Tododaho and
Areskoui have told me to bide here awhile. Only a fear that my
disobedience might cause me to lose their favor keeps me in the cave.
But I wish you to bear in mind, Dagaeoga, that I still exert my will as
the medicine men of my nation bid the sick and the hurt to do, and that
I feel the fevered blood cooling in my veins, strength flowing back into
my weak muscles, and my nerves, that were all so loose and unattuned,
"I'll admit that your will may help, Tayoga, but it's chiefly the long
sleep you've had, the good home you enjoy, and the superb care of Dr.
Robert Lennox of Albany, New York, and the Vale of Onondaga. On the
whole, weighing the question carefully, I should say that the
ministrations of Dr. Lennox constitute at least eighty per cent of the
"You are still the great talker, Dagaeoga, that you were when you
defeated St. Luc in the test of words in the Vale of Onondaga, and it is
well. The world needs good talkers, those who can make speech flow in a
golden stream, else we should all grow dull and gloomy, though I will
say for you, O Lennox, that you act as well as talk. If I did not, I,
whose life you have saved and who have seen you great in battle, should
have little gratitude and less perception."
"I've always told you, Tayoga, that when you speak English you speak out
of a book, because you learned it out of a book and you take delight in
long words. Now I think that 'gratitude' and 'perception' are enough for
you and you can rest."
"I will rest, but it is not because you think my words are long and I am
exhausted, Dagaeoga. It is because you wish to have all the time
yourself for talking. You are cunning, but you need not be so now. I
give my time to you."
Robert laughed. The old Tayoga with all his keenness and sense of humor
was back again, and it was a sure sign that a rapid recovery had set in.
"Maybe you can go to sleep again," he said. "I think it was a stupor
rather than sleep that you passed through last night, but now you ought
to find sleep sweet, sound and healthy."
"You speak words of truth, O great white medicine man, and it being so
my mind will make my body obey your instructions."
He turned a little on his side, away from his wounded shoulder, and
either his will was very powerful or his body was willing, as he soon
slept again, and now Tarenyawagon sent him no troubled and disordered
dreams. Instead his breathing was deep and regular, and when Robert felt
his pulse he found it was almost normal. The fever was gone and the
bronze of Tayoga's face assumed a healthful tint.
Then Robert took a piece of venison, and pounded it well between two
stones. He would have been glad to light a fire of dry leaves and
sticks, that he might warm the meat, but he knew that it was yet too
dangerous, and so strong was Tayoga's constitution that he might take
the food cold, and yet find it nutritious.
It was late in the afternoon when the Onondaga awoke, yawned in human
fashion, and raised himself a little on his unwounded shoulder.
"Here is your dinner, Tayoga," said Robert, presenting the shredded
venison. "I'm sorry it's not better, but it's the best the lodge
affords, and I, as chief medicine man and also as first assistant
medicine man and second assistant medicine man, bid you eat and find no
"I obey, O physician, wise and stern, despite your youth," said Tayoga.
"I am hungry, which is a most excellent sign, and I will say, too, that
I begin to feel like a warrior again."
He ate as much as Robert would let him have, and then, with a great sigh
of content, sank back on his bed of leaves.
"I can feel my wound healing," he said. "Already the clean flesh is
spreading over the hurt and the million tiny strands are knitting
closely together. Some day it shall be said in the Vale of Onondaga that
the wound of Tayoga healed more quickly than the wound of any other
warrior of our nation."
"Good enough as a prophecy, but for the present we'll bathe and bind it
anew. A little good doctoring is a wonderful help to will and
Robert once more cleansed the hurt very thoroughly, and he was surprised
to find its extremely healthy condition. It had already begun to heal, a
proof of amazing vitality on the part of Tayoga, and unless the
unforeseen occurred he would set a record in recovery. Robert heaped the
leaves under his head to form a pillow, and the young warrior's eyes
sparkled as he looked around at their snug abode.
"I can hear the water running by the mouth of the cave," he said. "It
comes from last night's rain and flood, but what of tonight, Dagaeoga?
The skies and what they have to say mean much to us."
"It will rain again. I've been looking out. All the west is heavy with
clouds and the light winds come, soaked with damp. I don't claim to be
any prophet like you, Tayoga, because I'm a modest man, I am, but the
night will be wet and dark."
"Then we are still under the protection of Tododaho, of Areskoui and of
Manitou, greatest of all. Let the dark come quickly and the rain fall
heavily, because they will be a veil about us to hide us from Tandakora
and his savages."
All that the Onondaga wished came to pass. The clouds, circling about
the horizon, soon spread to the zenith, and covered the heavens, hiding
the moon and the last star. The rain came, not in a flood, but in a cold
and steady pour lasting all night. The night was not only dark and wet
outside, but it was very chill also, though in the cave the two young
warriors, the white and the red, were warm and dry on their blankets
and beds of leaves.
Robert pounded more of the venison the next morning and gave Tayoga
twice as much as he had eaten the day before. The Onondaga clamored for
an additional supply, but Robert would not let him have it.
"Epicure! Gourmand! Gorger!" said young Lennox. "Would you do nothing
but eat? Do you think it your chief duty in this world to be a glutton?"
"No, Dagaeoga," replied Tayoga, "I am not a glutton, but I am yet
hungry, and I warn thee, O grudging medicine man, that I am growing
strong fast. I feel upon my arm muscles that were not there yesterday
and tomorrow or the next day my strength will be so great that I shall
take from you all the food of us both and eat it."
"By that time we won't have any left, and I shall have to take measures
to secure a new supply. I must go forth in search of game."
"Not today, nor yet tomorrow. It is too dangerous. You must wait until
the last moment. It is barely possible that the Great Bear or Black
Rifle may find us."
"I don't think so. We'll have to rely on ourselves. But at any rate,
I'll stay in the cave today, though I think the rain is about over.
Don't you see the sun shining in at the entrance? It's going to be a
fine day in the woods, Tayoga, but it won't be a fine day for us."
"That is true, Dagaeoga. It is hard to stay here in a hole in the rocks,
when the sun is shining and the earth is drying. The sun has brought
back the green to the leaves and the light now must be wonderful on
Andiatarocte and Oneadatote. Their waters shift and change with all the
colors of the rainbow. It fills me with longing when I think of these
things. Go now, Dagaeoga, and find the Great Bear, the Mountain Wolf and
Daganoweda. I am well past all danger from my wound, and I can take care
"Tayoga, you talk like a foolish child. If I hear any more such words I
shall have to gag you, for two reasons, because they make a weariness in
my ear, and because if anyone else were to hear you he would think you
were weak of mind. It's your reputation for sanity that I'm thinking
about most. You and I stay here together, and when we leave we leave
Tayoga said no more on the subject. He had known all the while that
Robert would not leave him, but he had wished to give him the chance. He
lay very quiet now for many hours, and Robert sitting at the door of the
cave, with his rifle across his knees, was also quiet. While a great
talker upon occasion, he had learned from the Iroquois the habit of
silence, when silence was needed, and it required no effort from him.
Though he did not speak he saw much. The stream, caused by the flood,
still flowed before the mouth of the cave, but it was diminishing
steadily. By the time night came it would sink to a thin thread and
vanish. The world itself, bathed and cleansed anew, was wonderfully
sweet and fresh. The light wind brought the pleasant odors of flower and
leaf and grass. Birds began to sing on the overhanging boughs, and a
rabbit or two appeared in the valley. These unconscious sentinels made
him feel quite sure that no savages were near.
Curiosity about the battle between the forces of St. Luc and those of
the rangers and Mohawks, smothered hitherto by his anxiety and care for
Tayoga, was now strong in his breast. It was barely possible that St.
Luc had spread a successful ambush and that all of his friends had
fallen. He shuddered at the thought, and then dismissed it as too
unlikely. Tayoga fell asleep again, and when he awoke he was not only
able to sit up, but to walk across the cave.
"Tomorrow," he said, "I shall be able to sit near the entrance and load
and fire a rifle as well as ever. If an enemy should come I think I
could hold the refuge alone."
"That being the case," said Robert, "and you being full of pride and
haughtiness, I may let you have the chance. Not many shreds of our
venison are left, and as I shall have in you a raging wolf to feed, I'll
go forth and seek game. It seems to me I ought to find it soon. You
don't think it's all been driven away by marching rangers and warriors,
do you, Tayoga?"
"No, the rangers and warriors have been seeking one another, not the
game, and perhaps the deer and the moose know it. Why does man think
that Manitou watches over him alone? Perhaps He has told the big animals
that they are safer when the men fight. On our way here I twice saw the
tracks of a moose, and it may be your fortune to find one tomorrow,
"Not fortune, at all, Tayoga. If I bring down one it will be due to my
surpassing skill in trailing and to my deadly sharpshooting, for which
I am renowned the world over. Anyhow, I think we can sleep another night
without a guard and then we'll see what tomorrow will bring forth."
THE SINISTER SIEGE
Dawn came, very clear and beautiful, with the air crisp and cool. Robert
divided the last of the venison between Tayoga and himself, and when he
had eaten his portion he was still hungry. He was quite certain that the
Onondaga also craved more, but a stoic like Tayoga would never admit it.
His belief the day before that this was the time for him to go forth and
hunt was confirmed. The game would be out, and so might be the savages,
but he must take the chance.
Tayoga had kept his bow and quiver of arrows strapped to his back during
their retreat, and now they lay on a shelf in the cave. Robert looked at
them doubtfully and the eyes of the Onondaga followed him.
"Perhaps it would be best," he said.
"I can't bend the bow of Ulysses," said Robert, "but I may be able to
send in a useful arrow or two nevertheless."
"You can try."
"But I don't want any shot to go amiss."
"Strap your rifle on your back, and take the bow and arrows also. If the
arrows fail you, or rather if you should fail the arrows, which always
go where they are sent, you can take the rifle, with which you are
almost as good as the Great Bear himself. And if you should encounter
hostile warriors prowling through the woods the rifle will be your best
"I'll do as you advise, Tayoga, and do you keep a good watch at the
entrance. You're feeling a lot stronger today, are you not?"
"So much so that I am almost tempted to take the bow and arrows myself,
while I leave you on guard."
"Don't be too proud and boastful. Let's see you walk across the cave."
Tayoga rose from the bed of leaves, on which he had been sitting, and
strode firmly back and forth two or three times. He was much thinner
than he had been a week before, but his eyes were sparkling now and the
bronze of his skin was clear and beautiful. All his nerves and muscles
were under complete control.
"You're a great warrior again, Tayoga, thanks to my protecting care,"
said Robert, "but I don't think you're yet quite the equal of Tododaho
and Hayowentha when they walked the earth, and, for that reason, I shall
not let you go out hunting. Now, take your rifle, which I saved along
with you, and sit on that ledge of stone, where you can see everything
approaching the cave and not be seen yourself."
"I obey, O Dagaeoga. I obey you always when the words you speak are
worth being obeyed. See, I take the seat you direct, and I hold my rifle
"Very good. Be prepared to fire on an instant's notice, but be sure you
don't fire at me when I come striding down the valley bearing on my
shoulders a fat young deer that I have just killed."
"Have no fear, Dagaeoga. I shall be too glad to see you and the deer to
With the rifle so adjusted across his back that, if need be, he could
disengage it at once, the quiver fastened also and Tayoga's bow in his
hand, Robert made ready.
"Now, Tayoga," he said, "exert that famous will of yours like a true
medicine man of the Hodenosaunee. While I am absent, so direct me with
the concentrated power of your mind that I shall soon find a fat young
deer, and that my arrow shall not miss. I'll gratefully receive all the
help you can give me in this way, though I won't neglect, if I see the
deer, to take the best aim I can with bow and arrow."
"Do not scoff, O Dagaeoga. The lore and belief of my nation and of the
whole Hodenosaunee are based upon the experience of many centuries. And
do you not say in your religion that the prayer of the righteous
availeth? Do you think your God, who is the same as my Manitou, intended
that only the prayers of the white men should have weight, and that
those of the red men should vanish into nothingness like a snowflake
melting in the air? I may not be righteous,—who knows whether he is
righteous or not?—but, at least, I shall pray in a righteous cause."
"I don't mock, Tayoga, and maybe the power of your wish, poured in a
flood upon me, will help. Yes, I know it will, and I go now, sure that I
will soon find what I seek."
He left the cave and passed up the valley, full of confidence. The
earnestness of Tayoga had made a great impression upon him, clothing him
about with an atmosphere that was surcharged with belief, and, as he
breathed in this air, it made his veins fairly sparkle, not alone with
hope, but with certainty.
He walked up a deep defile which gradually grew shallower, and then
ascended rapidly. Finally he came out on a crest, crowned with splendid
trees, and he drew a great breath of pleasure as he looked upon a vast
green wilderness, deepened in color by the long and recent rains, and
upon the far western horizon a dim but splendid band of silver which he
knew was Andiatarocte. A lover of beauty, and with the soul of a poet,
he could have stood, gazing a long time, but there was a sterner task
forward than the contemplation of nature in the wild.
He must sink the poet in the hunter, and he began to look for tracks of
game, which he felt sure would be plentiful in the forest, since men had
long been hunting one another instead of the deer. He had an abundance
of will of his own, but he felt also, despite a certain incredulity of
the reason, that the concentrated will of his distant comrade was
driving him on.
He walked about a mile, remaining well under cover, having a double
object, to keep himself hidden from foes and also to find traces of
game. His confidence that he would find it, and very quickly, was not
abated, and, at the end of a mile, he saw a broad footprint on the turf
that made him utter a low exclamation of delight. It was larger than
that of a cow, and more pointed. He knew at once that it had been made
by a moose, the great animal which was then still to be found in the
forests of Northern New York.
The tracks led northward and he studied them with care. The wind had
risen and was blowing toward him, which was favorable for his pursuit,
as the sound of his own footsteps rustling the grass or breaking a
little stick would not be likely to reach the ear of the moose. He was
convinced, too, that the tracks were not much more than two hours old,
and since the big animal was likely to be rambling along, nibbling at
the twigs, the chance was in favor of the hunter overtaking him very
It was easy to follow the trail, the hoof prints were so large, and he
soon saw, too, the broken ends of twigs that had been nibbled by the
moose, and also exposed places on the trunks of trees where the bark had
been peeled off by the animal's teeth. He was sure that the game could
not be much more than a mile ahead, and his soul was filled with the
ardor of the chase. He was confident that he was pursuing a big bull, as
the fact was indicated by the size of the prints, the length of the
stride, and the height at which the moose had browsed on the twigs.
There were other facts he had learned among the Iroquois, indicating to
him it was a bull. While the tracks were pointed, they were less pointed
than those the cow generally makes, and the twigs that had been nibbled
were those of the fir, while the cow usually prefers the birch.
The tracks now seemed to Robert to grow much fresher. Tayoga, with his
infallible eye and his wonderful gifts, both inherited and improved,
would have known just how fresh they were, but Robert was compelled to
confine his surmise to the region of the comparative. Nevertheless, he
knew that he was gaining upon the moose and that was enough. But as it
was evident by his frequent browsing that the animal was going slowly,
he controlled his eagerness sufficiently to exercise great wariness on
his own part. It might be that while he was hunting he could also become
the hunted. It was not at all impossible that the warriors of Tandakora
would fall upon his own track and follow.
He looked back apprehensively, and once he returned and retraced his
steps for a little distance, but he could discern no evidence of an
enemy and he resumed his pursuit of the moose, going faster now, and
seeing twigs which apparently had been broken off only a few minutes
before. Then, as he topped a little rise, he saw the animal itself,
browsing lazily on the succulent bushes. It was a large moose, but to
Robert, although an experienced hunter, it loomed up at the moment like
an elephant. He had staked so much upon securing the game, and the issue
was so important that his heart beat hard with excitement.
The wind was still in his favor, and, creeping as near as he dared, he
fitted an arrow to Tayoga's bow and pulled the string. The arrow struck
well in behind the shoulder and the moose leaped high. Another arrow
sang from the bow and found its heart, after which it ran a few steps
and fell. Robert's laborious task began, to remove at least a part of
the skin, and then great portions of the meat, as much as he could
carry, wrapped in the folds of the skin, portions from which he intended
to make steaks.
He secured at least fifty pounds, and then he looked with regret at the
great body. He was not one to slay animals for sport's sake, and he
wished that the rangers and Mohawks might have the hundreds of pounds
of good moose meat, but he knew it was not destined for them. As he drew
away with his own burden his heirs to the rest were already showing
signs of their presence. From the thick bushes about came the rustling
of light feet, and now and then an eager and impatient snarl. Red eyes
showed, and as he turned away the wolves of the hills made a wild rush
for the fallen monarch. Robert, for some distance, heard them yapping
and snarling over the feast, and, despite his own success in securing
what he needed so badly, he felt remorse because he had been compelled
to give so fine an animal over to the wolves.
His heart grew light again as he made his way back to the defile and the
cave. He carried enough food to last Tayoga and himself many days, if
necessity compelled them to remain long in the cave, but he did not
forget in his triumph to take every precaution for the hiding of his
trail, devoutly glad that it was hard ground, thick with stones, on
which he could step from one to another.
Thus he returned, bearing his burden, and Tayoga, sitting near the
entrance, rifle on knee, greeted him with becoming words as one whom
Tododaho and Areskoui had guided to victory.
"It is well, Dagaeoga," he said. "I was wishing for you to find a moose
and you found one. You were not compelled to use the rifle!"
"No, the bow served, but I had to shoot two arrows where you would have
shot only one."
"It is no disgrace to you. The bow is not the white man's weapon, at
least not on this continent. You withdrew the arrows, cleaned them and
returned them to the quiver?"
"Yes. I didn't forget that. I know how precious arrows are, and now,
Tayoga, since it's important for you to get back your strength faster
than a wounded man ever got it back before, I think we'd better risk a
fire, and broil some of these fat, juicy steaks."
"It is a danger, but we will do it. You gather the dead wood and we will
build the fire beside the mouth of the cave. Both of us can cook."
It was an easy task for two such foresters to light a fire with flint
and steel, and they soon had a big bed of coals. Then they broiled the
steaks on the ends of sharpened sticks, passing them back and forth
quickly, in order to retain the juices.
"Now, Tayoga," announced Robert, "I have a word or two to say to you."
"Then say them quickly and do not let your eloquence become a stream,
because I am hungry and would eat, and where the moose steaks are plenty
talk is needed but little."
"I merely wished to tell you that besides being our hunter, I'm also the
family doctor. Hence I give you my instructions."
"What are they, O youth of many words?"
"You can eat just as much of the moose steak as you like, and the
quicker you begin the better you will please me, because my manners
won't allow me to start first. Fall on, Tayoga! Fall on!"
They ate hungrily and long. They would have been glad had they bread
also, but they did not waste time in vain regrets. When they had
finished and the measure of their happiness was full, they extinguished
the coals carefully, hid their store of moose meat on a high ledge in
the cave, and withdrew also to its shelter.
"How much stronger do you feel now, Tayoga?" asked Robert.
"In the language of your schools, my strength has increased at least
fifty per cent in the last hour."
"I've the strength of two men myself now, and thinking it over, Tayoga,
I've come to the conclusion that was the best moose I ever tasted. He
was a big bull, and he may not have been young, but he furnished good
steaks. I'm sorry he had to die, but he died in a good cause."
"Even so, Dagaeoga, and since we have eaten tremendously and have cooked
much of the meat for further use, it would be best for us to put out the
fire, and hide all trace of it, a task in which I am strong enough to
They extinguished carefully every brand and coal, and even went so far
as to take dead leaves from the cave and throw them over the remains of
the fire in careless fashion as if they had been swept there by the
"And now," said Robert, "if I had the power I would summon from the sky
another mighty rain to hide all signs of our banquet and of the
preparations for it. Suppose, Tayoga, you pray to Tododaho and Areskoui
for it and also project your mind so forcibly in the direction of your
wish that the wish will come true."
"It is well not to push one's favor too far," replied Tayoga gravely.
"The heavens are too bright and shining now for rain. Moreover, if one
should pray every day for help, Tododaho and Areskoui would grow tired
of giving it. I think, however, that we have covered our traces well,
and the chance of discovery here by our enemies is remote."
They put away the moose meat on a high ledge in the cave, and sat down
again to wait. Tayoga's wound was healing rapidly. The miracle for which
he had hoped was happening. His recovery was faster than that of any
other injured warrior whom he had ever known. He could fairly feel the
clean flesh knitting itself together in innumerable little fibers, and
already he could move his left arm, and use the fingers of his left
hand. Being a stoic, and hiding his feelings as he usually did, he said:
"I shall recover, I shall be wholly myself again in time for the great
battle between the army of Waraiyageh and that of Dieskau."
"I think, too, that we'll be in it," said Robert confidently. "Armies
move slowly and they won't come together for quite a while yet.
Meantime, I'm wondering what became of the rangers and the Mohawks."
"We shall have to keep on wondering, but I am thinking it likely that
they prevailed over the forces of St. Luc and have passed on toward
Crown Point and Oneadatote. It may be that the present area of conflict
has passed north and east of us and we have little to fear from our
"It sounds as if you were talking out of a book again, Tayoga, but I
believe you're right."
"I think the only foes whom we may dread in the next night and day are
"You mean the wolves?"
"Yes, Dagaeoga. When you left the body of the moose did they not
"They were fighting over it before I was out of sight. But they wouldn't
dare to attack you and me."
"It is a strange thing, Dagaeoga, but whenever there is war in the woods
among men the wolves grow numerous, powerful and bold. They know that
when men turn their arms upon one another they are turned aside from the
wolves. They hang upon the fringes of the bands and armies, and where
the wounded are they learn to attack. I have noticed, too, since the
great war began that we have here bigger and fiercer wolves than any
we've ever known before, coming out of the vast wilderness of the far
"You mean the timber wolves, those monsters, five or six feet long, and
almost as powerful and dangerous as a tiger or a lion?"
"So I do, Dagaeoga, and they will be abroad tonight, led by the body of
your moose and the portion we have here. Tododaho, sitting on his star,
has whispered to me that we are about to incur a great danger, one that
we did not expect."
"You give me a creepy feeling, Tayoga. All this is weird and uncanny.
We've nothing to fear from wolves."
"A thousand times we might have nothing to fear from them, but one time
we will, and this is the time. In a voice that I did not hear, but which
I felt, Tododaho told me so, and I know."
"Then all we have to do is to build a fire in front of the cave mouth
and shut them off as thoroughly, as if we had raised a steel wall before
"The danger from a fire burning all night would be too great. While I do
not think any warriors of the enemy are wandering in this immediate
region, yet it is possible, and our bonfire would be a beacon to draw
"Then we'll have to meet 'em with bullets, but the reports of our rifles
might also draw Tandakora's warriors."
"We will not use the rifles. We will sit at the entrance of the cave,
and you shall fight them with my bow and arrows. If we are pressed too
hard, we may resort to the rifles."
Tayoga's words were so earnest and sententious, his manner so much that
of a prophet, that Robert, in spite of himself, believed in the great
impending danger that would come in the dark, and the hair on the back
of his neck lifted a little. Yet the day was still great and shining,
the forest tinted gold with the flowing sunlight, and the pure fresh air
blowing into the cave. There the two youths, the white and the red, took
their seats at either side of the entrance. Tayoga held his rifle across
his knees, but Robert put his and the quiver at his feet, while he held
the bow and one arrow in his hands.
They talked a little from time to time and then relapsed into a long
silence. Robert noticed that nothing living stirred in the defile. No
more rabbits came out to play and no birds sang in the trees. He
considered it a sign, nay more, an omen that Tayoga's prediction was
coming true. The peril threatening them was great and imminent. His
sense of the sinister and uncanny increased. A chill ran through his
veins. The great shining day was going, and, although it was midsummer,
a cold wind was herald of the coming twilight. He shivered again, and
looked at the long shadows falling in the defile.
"Tayoga," he said, "that uncanny talk of yours has affected me, but I
believe you've just made it all up. No wolves are coming to attack us."
"Dagaeoga does not believe anything of the kind. He believes, instead,
what I have told him. His voice and his manner show it. He is sure the
wolves are coming."
"You're right, Tayoga, I do believe it. There's every reason why I
shouldn't, but, in very truth and fact, I do. Our fine day is going
fast. Look how the twilight is growing on the mountains. From our nook
here I can just see the rim of the sun, who is your God, Areskoui. Soon
he will be gone entirely and then all the ridges will be lost in the
dusk. I hope—and I'm not jesting either—that you've said your prayer
"As I told you, Dagaeoga, one must not ask too many favors. But now the
sun is wholly gone and the night will be dark. The wind rises and it
moans like the soul of an evil warrior condemned to wander between
heaven and earth. The night will be dark, and in two hours the wolves
will be here."
Robert looked at him, but the face of the Onondaga was that of a seer,
and once more the blood of the white youth ran chill in his veins. He
was silent again, and now the minutes were leaden-footed, so slow, in
truth, that it seemed an hour would never pass and the two hours Tayoga
had predicted were an eternity. The afterglow disappeared and the
darkness was deep in the defile. The trees above were fused into a black
mass, and then, after an infinity of waiting, a faint note, sinister and
full of menace, came out of the wilderness. Tayoga and Robert glanced at
"It is as you predicted," said Robert.
"It is the howl of the great timber wolf from the far north who has made
himself the leader of the band," said the Onondaga. "When he howls again
he will be much nearer."
Robert waited for an almost breathless minute or two, and then came the
malignant note, much nearer, as Tayoga had predicted, and directly after
came other howls, faint but equally sinister.
"The great leader gives tongue a second time," said Tayoga, "and his
pack imitate him, but their voices are not so loud, because their lungs
are not so strong. They come straight toward us. Do you see, Dagaeoga,
that your nerves are steady, your muscles strong and your eyes bright. I
would that I could use the bow myself tonight, for the chance will be
glorious, but Manitou has willed otherwise. It is for you, Dagaeoga, to
handle my weapon as if you had been familiar with it all your life."
"I will do my best, Tayoga. No man can do more."
"Dagaeoga's best is very good indeed. Remember that if they undertake to
rush us we will use our rifles, but they are to be held in reserve.
Hark, the giant leader howls for the third time!"
The long, piercing note came now from a point not very distant. Heard
in all the loneliness of the black forest it was inexpressively
threatening and evil. Not until his own note died did the howl of his
pack follow. All doubts that Robert may have felt fled at once. He
believed everything that Tayoga had said, and he knew that the
wolf-pack, reënforced by mighty timber wolves from the far north, was
coming straight toward the cave for what was left of the moose meat and
Tayoga and himself. His nerves shook for an instant, but the next moment
he put them under command, and carefully tested the bowstring.
"It is good and strong," he said to Tayoga. "It will not be any fault of
the bow and arrow if the work is not done well. The fault will be mine
"You will not fail, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga. "Your great
imagination always excites you somewhat before the event, but when it
comes you are calm and steady."
"I'll try to prove that you estimate me correctly."
As their eyes were used to the dusk they could see each other well,
sitting on opposite sides of the cave mouth and sheltered by the
projection of the rocks. The great wolf howled once more and the pack
howled after him, but there followed an interval of silence that caused
Robert to think they had, perhaps, turned aside. But Tayoga whispered
"I see the leader on the opposite side of the defile among the short
bushes. The pack is farther back. They know, of course, that we are
here. The leader is, as we surmised, a huge timber wolf, come down from
the far north. Do not shoot, Dagaeoga, until you get a good chance."
"Do you think I should wait for the leader himself?"
"No. Often the soul of a wicked warrior goes into the body of a wolf,
and the wolf becomes wicked, and also full of craft. The leader may not
come forward at first himself, but will send others to receive our
There was no yapping and snarling from the wolves such as was usual, and
such as Robert had often heard, but they had become a phantom pack,
silent and ghost-like, creeping among the bushes, sinister and
threatening beyond all reckoning. Robert began to feel that, in very
truth, it was a phantom pack, and he wondered if his arrows, even if
they struck full and true, would slay. Nature, in her chance moments,
touches one among the millions with genius, and she had so tipped him
with living fire. His vivid and powerful imagination often made him see
things others could not see and caused him to clothe objects in colors
invisible to common eyes.
Now the wolves, with their demon leader, were moving in silence among
the bushes, and he felt that in truth he would soon be fighting with
what Tayoga called evil spirits. For the moment, not the demon leader
alone, but every wolf represented the soul of a wicked warrior, and they
would approach with all the cunning that the warriors had known and
practiced in their lives.
"Do you see the great beast now, Tayoga?" he whispered.
"No, he is behind a rock, but there is another slinking forward, drawing
himself without noise over the ground. He must have been in life a
savage from the far region, west of the Great Lakes, perhaps an eater of
his own kind, as the wolf eats his."
"I see him, Tayoga, just there on the right where the darkness lies like
a shroud. I see his jaws slavering too. He comes forward as a stalker,
and I've no doubt the soul of a most utter savage is hidden in his body.
He shall meet my arrow."
"Wait a little, Dagaeoga, until you can be sure of your shot. There is
another creeping forward on the left in the same manner, and you'll want
to send a second arrow quickly at him."
"I never saw a wolf-pack attack in this way before. They come like a
band of warriors with scouts and skirmishers, and I can see that they
have a force massed in the center for the main rush."
"In a few more seconds you can take the wolf on the right. Bury your
arrow in his throat. It is as I said, Dagaeoga. Now that the moment has
come your hand is steady, your nerves are firm, and even in the dusk I
can see that your eyes are bright."
It was true. Robert's imagination had painted the danger in the most
vivid colors, but now, that it was here, the beat of his pulse was as
regular as the ticking of a clock. Yet the unreal and sinister
atmosphere that clothed him about was not dispelled in the least, and he
could not rid himself of the feeling that in fighting them he was
fighting dead and gone warriors.
Nearer and nearer came the great wolf on his right, dragging his body
over the ground for all the world like a creeping Indian. Robert's eyes,
become uncommonly keen in the dusk, saw the long fangs, the slavering
jaws and the red eyes, and he also saw the spot in the pulsing throat
where he intended that the sharp point of his arrow should strike.
"Now!" whispered Tayoga.
Robert fitted the shaft to the string, and deftly throwing his weight
into it bent the great bow. Then he loosed the arrow, and, singing
through the air, it buried itself almost to the feather in the big
beast's throat, just at the spot that he had chosen. The strangled howl
of despair and death that followed was almost like that of a human
being, but Robert did not stop to listen, as with all speed he fitted
another arrow to the string and fired at the beast on the left, with
equal success, piercing him in the heart.
"Well done, Dagaeoga," whispered Tayoga. "Two shots and two wolves
slain. The skirmisher on the right and the skirmisher on the left both
are gone. There will be a wait now while the living devour their dead
comrades. Listen, you can hear them dragging the bodies into the
"After they have finished their cannibalism perhaps they will go away."
"No, it is a great pack, and they are very hungry. In ten or fifteen
minutes they will be stalking us again. You must seek a shot at the
giant leader, but it will be hard for you to get it because he will keep
himself under cover, while he sends forth his warriors to meet your
arrows. Ah, he is great and cunning! Now, I am more sure than ever that
his body contains the soul of one of the most wicked of all warriors,
perhaps that of a brother of Tandakora. Yes, it must be a brother, the
blood of Tandakora."
"Then Tandakora's brother would better beware. My desire to slay him
has increased, and if he's incautious and I get good aim I think I can
place an arrow so deep in him that the Ojibway's wicked soul will have
to seek another home."
"Hear them growling and snarling in the bushes. It is over their
cannibalistic feast. Soon they will have finished and then they will
come back to us."
The deadly stalking, more hideous than that carried on by men, because
it was more unnatural, was resumed. Robert discharged a third arrow, but
the fierce yelp following told him that he had inflicted only a wound.
He glanced instinctively at the Onondaga, fearing a reproof, but Tayoga
"If one shoots many times one must miss sometimes."
A fourth shot touched nothing, but the Onondaga had no rebuke, a fifth
shot killed a wolf, a sixth did likewise, and Robert's pride returned.
The wolves drew off, to indulge in cannibalism again, and to consult
with their leader, who carried the soul of a savage in his body.
Robert had sought in vain for a fair shot at the giant wolf. He had
caught one or two glimpses of him, but they were too fleeting for the
flight of an arrow, and, despite all reason and logic, he found himself
accepting Tayoga's theory that he was, in reality, a lost brother of
Tandakora, marshaling forward his forces, but keeping himself secure.
After the snarling and yelping over the horrible repast, another silence
followed in the bushes.
"Perhaps they've had enough and have gone away," said Robert, hazarding
the hopeful guess a second time.
"No. They will make a new attack. They care nothing for those that have
fallen. Watch well, Dagaeoga, and keep your arrows ready."
"I think I'll become a good bowman in time," said Robert lightly, to
ease his feelings, "because I'm getting a lot of practice, and it seems
that I'll have a lot more. Perhaps I need this rest, but, so far as my
feelings are concerned, I wish the wolves would come on and make a final
rush. Their silence and invisibility are pretty hard on the nerves."
He examined the bow carefully again, and put six arrows on the floor of
the cave beside him, with the quiver just beyond them. Tayoga sat
immovable, his rifle across his knees, ready in the last emergency to
use the bullet. Thus more time passed in silence and without action.
It often seemed to Robert afterward that there was something unnatural
about both time and place. The darkness came down thicker and heavier,
and to his imaginative ear it had a faint sliding sound like the
dropping of many veils. So highly charged had become his faculties that
they were able to clothe the intangible and the invisible with bodily
reality. He glanced across at his comrade, whom his accustomed eyes
could see despite the blackness of the night. Tayoga was quite still. So
far as Robert could tell he had not stirred by a hair's breadth in the
"Do you hear anything?" whispered the white youth.
"Nothing," replied the Onondaga. "Not even a dead leaf stirs before the
wind. There is no wind to stir it. But I think the pack will be coming
again very soon. They will not leave us until you shoot their demon
"You mean Tandakora's brother! If I get a fair chance I'll certainly
send my best arrow at him, and I'm only sorry that it's not Tandakora
himself. You persist in your belief that the soul of a wicked warrior is
in the body of the wolf?"
"Of course! As I have said, it is surely a brother of Tandakora, because
Tandakora himself is alive, and, as it cannot be his own, it must be
that of a monstrous one so much like his that it can be only a
brother's. That is why the wolf leader is so large, so fierce and so
cunning. I persist, too, in saying that all the wolves of this pack
contain the souls of wicked warriors. It is natural that they should
draw together and hunt together, and hunt men as they hunted them in
"I'm not disputing you, Tayoga. Both day and night have more things than
I can ever hope to understand, but it seems to me that night has the
more. I've been listening so hard, Tayoga, that I can't tell now where
imagination ends and reality begins, but I think I hear a footfall, as
soft as that of a leaf dropping to the ground, but a footfall just the
"I hear it too, Dagaeoga, and it is not the dropping of a leaf. It is a
wolf creeping forward, seeking to stalk us. He is on the right, and
there are others on both right and left. Now I know they are warriors,
or have been, since they use the arts of warriors rather than those of
"But if they should get in here they would use the teeth and claws of
"Teeth and claws are no worse than the torch, the faggot and the stake,
perhaps better. I hear two sliding wolves now, Dagaeoga, but I know that
neither is the giant leader. As before, he keeps under cover, while he
sends forward others to the attack."
"Which proves that Tandakora's brother is a real general. I think I can
make out a dim outline now. It is that of the first wolf on the right,
and he does slide forward as if he were a warrior and not a wolf. I
think I'll give him an arrow."
"Wait until he comes a dozen feet nearer, Dagaeoga, and you can be quite
sure. But when you do shoot snatch up another arrow quicker than you
ever did before in your life, because the leader, thinking you are not
ready, may jump from the shelter of the rocks to drive the rest of the
pack in a rush upon us."
"You speak as if they were human beings, Tayoga."
"Such is my thought, Dagaeoga."
"Very well. I'll bear in mind what you say, and I'll pick an arrow for
He chose a second arrow carefully and put it on the ledge beside him,
where it required but one sweep of his hand to seize it and fit it to
the string, when the first had been sent. He now distinctly saw the
creeping wolf, and again fancy laid hold of him and played strange
tricks with his eyes. The creeping figure changed. It was not that of a
wolf, but a warrior, intent upon his life. A strange terror, the terror
of the weird and unknown, seized him, but in an instant it passed, and
he drew the bowstring. When he loosed it the arrow stood deep in the
wolf's throat, but Robert did not see it. His eyes passed on like a
flash of lightning to a gigantic form that upreared itself from the
rocks, an enormous wolf with red eyes, glistening fangs and slavering
"Now!" shot forth Tayoga.
Robert had already fitted a second arrow to the string and the immense
throat presented a target full and fair. Now, as always in the moment of
imminent crisis, his nerves were steady, never had they been more
steady, and his eyes pierced the darkness. Never before and never again
did he bend so well the bow of Ulysses. The arrow, feathered and barbed,
hummed through the air, going as straight and swift as a bullet to its
mark, and then it pierced the throat of the wolf so deep that the barb
stood out on one side and the feathers on the other.
The wolf uttered a horrible growling shriek that was almost human to
Robert, leaped convulsively back and out of sight, but for a minute or
two they heard him threshing among the rocks and bushes. The whole pack
uttered a dismal howl. Their sliding sounds ceased, and the last dim
"I think it is all over with Tandakora's brother," said Robert.
Tayoga said nothing, and Robert glanced at him. Beads of perspiration
stood on the brow of the Onondago, but his eyes glittered.
"You have shot well tonight, O Dagaeoga," he said. "Never did a man
shoot better. Tonight you have been the greatest bowman in all the
world. You have slain the demon wolf, the leader of the pack. Perhaps
the wicked soul that inhabited his body has gone to inhabit the body of
another evil brute, but we are delivered. They will not attack again."
"How do you know that, Tayoga?"
"Because Tododaho, Tododaho who protects us, is whispering it to me. I
do not see him, but he is leaning down from his star, and his voice
enters my ear. Our fight with the wolf pack and its terrible leader is
finished. Steady, Dagaeoga! Steady! Make no excuses! The greatest of
warriors, the hero of a hundred battles, might well sink for a few
moments after such a combat!"
Robert had collapsed suddenly. The great imagination driving forward his
will, and attuning him for such swift and tremendous action, failed, now
that the crisis had passed, and he dropped back against the ledge,
though his fingers still instinctively clutched the bow. Darkness was
before his eyes, and he was weak and trembling, but he projected his
will anew, and a little later sat upright, collected and firm.
Nevertheless, it was Tayoga who now took supreme command.
"You have surely done enough for one night, Dagaeoga," he said.
"Tododaho himself, after doing so much, would have rested. Lie down now
on your blanket and I will watch for the remainder of the darkness. It
is true my left arm is lame and of no use for the present, but nothing
"I'll do as you tell me, Tayoga," said Robert, "but first I give you
back your bow and arrows. They've served us well, though I little
thought I'd ever have to do work as a bowman."
He was glad enough to stretch himself on the blanket and leaves, as he
realized that despite his will he had become weak. Presently he sank
into a deep slumber. When he awoke the sun was shining in the mouth of
the cave and Tayoga was offering him some of the tenderest of the moose
"Eat, Dagaeoga," he said. "Though a warrior of the clan of the Bear, of
the nation Onondaga of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, I am proud
to serve the king of bowmen."
"Cease your jesting at my expense, Tayoga."
"It is not wholly a jest, but eat."
"I will. Have you seen what is outside?"
"Not yet. We will take our breakfast together, and then we will go forth
to see what we may see."
They ate heartily, and then with rifles cocked passed into the defile,
where they found only the bones of wolves, picked clean by the others.
But the skeleton of the huge leader was gone, although the arrow that
had slain him was lying among the rocks.
"The living must have dragged away his bones. A curious thing to do,"
Tayoga was silent.
They spent two more days in the cave, and Tayoga's marvelous cure
proceeded with the same marvelous rapidity. Robert repeatedly bathed the
wound for him, and then redressed it, so the air could not get to it.
The Onondaga was soon able to flex the fingers well and then to use the
arm a little.
"It is sure now," he said joyfully, "that Waraiyageh and Dieskau cannot
meet before I am able to do battle."
"Anyhow, they wouldn't think of fighting until you came, Tayoga," said
Their spirits were very high. They felt that they had been released from
great danger, some of which they could not fathom, and they would soon
leave the hollow. Action would bring relief, and they anticipated
eagerly what the world outside might disclose to them. Robert collected
all the arrows he had shot in the fight with the wolf pack, cleaned them
and restored them to the quiver. They also put a plentiful supply of the
moose meat in their packs, and then he said:
"Which way, Tayoga?"
"There is but one way."
"You mean we should press on toward Crown Point, and find out what has
become of our comrades?"
"That is it. We must know how ended their battle with St. Luc."
"Which entails a search through the forest. That's just what I wanted,
but I didn't know how you felt about it with your lame shoulder."
"Tomorrow or next day I shall be able to use the shoulder if we have to
fight, but we may not meet any of the French or their allied warriors. I
have no wish at all to turn back."
"Then forward it is, Tayoga, and I propose that we go toward the spot
where we left them in conflict. Such eyes as yours may yet find there
signs that you can read. Then we'll know how to proceed."
"Well spoken, Dagaeoga. Come, we'll go through the forest as fast as we
The cave had been a most welcome place. It had served in turn as a home,
a hospital and a fort, and, in every capacity, it had served well, but
both Robert and Tayoga were intensely glad to be out again in the open
world, where the winds were blowing, where vast masses of green rested
and pleased the eye, and where the rustling of leaves and the singing of
birds soothed the ear.
"It's a wonderful, a noble wilderness!" said Robert. "I'm glad I'm here,
even if there are Frenchmen and Indians in it, seeking our lives. Why,
Tayoga, I can feel myself growing in such an atmosphere! Tell me, am I
not an inch taller than I was when I left that hollow in the rocks?"
"You do look taller," said the Onondaga, "but maybe it's because you
stand erect now. Dagaeoga, since the wolves have been defeated, has
become proud and haughty again."
"At any rate, your wonderful cure is still going on at wonderful speed.
You use your left arm pretty freely and you seem to have back nearly all
your old strength."
"Yes, Tododaho still watches over me. He is far better to me than I
They pushed on at good speed, returning on the path they had taken, when
Tayoga received his wound, and though they slept one night on the way,
to give Tayoga's wound a further chance, they came in time to the place
where the rangers and the Mohawks had met St. Luc's force in combat. The
heavy rains long since had wiped out all traces of footsteps there, but
Robert hoped that the keen eyes of the Onondaga would find other signs
to indicate which way the battle had gone. Tayoga looked a long time
before he said anything.
"The battle was very fierce," he said at last. "Our main force lay along
here among these bushes."
"How do you know, Tayoga?" asked Robert.
"It is very simple. For a long distance the bushes are shattered and
broken. It was rifle balls and musket balls that did it. Indians are not
usually good marksmen, and they shot high, cutting off twigs above the
heads of the Mohawks and rangers."
"Suppose we look at the opposing ridge and line of bushes where St.
Luc's warriors must have stationed themselves."
They crossed the intervening space of sixty or seventy yards and found
that the bushes there had not been cut up so much.
"The rangers and Mohawks are the better marksmen," said Tayoga. "They
aimed lower and probably hit the target much oftener. At least they did
not cut off so many twigs."
He walked back into the open space between the two positions, his eye
having been caught by something dark lying in a slight depression of the
earth. It was part of the brushy tail of a raccoon, such as the
borderers wore in their caps.
"Our men charged," said the Onondaga.
"Why do you say so?" asked Robert.
"Because of the raccoon tail. It was shot from the cap of one of the
charging men. The French and the Indians do not wear such a decoration.
See where the bullet severed it. I think St. Luc's men must have broken
and run before the charge, and we will look for evidence of it."
They advanced in the direction of Champlain, and, two or three hundred
yards farther on, Tayoga picked up a portion of an Indian headdress,
"Their flight was headlong," he said, "or the warrior would not have
lost the frame and feathers that he valued so much. It fell then, before
the storm, as the muddy and broken condition of the feathers shows that
it was lying on the ground when the great rain came."
"And here," said Robert, "is where a bullet went into the trunk of this
"Which shows that the rangers and Mohawks were still pursuing closely.
It is possible that the French and Indians tried to make a brief stand
at this place. Let us see if we can find the track of other bullets."
They discovered the paths of two more in tree trunks and saw the boughs
of several shattered bushes, all leading in a line toward Crown Point.
"They were not able to stand long," said Tayoga. "Our men rushed them
again. Ah, this shows that they must have been in a panic for a few
He picked an Indian blanket, soiled and worn, from a gulley.
"See the mud upon it," he said. "It, too, fell before the rain, because
when the flood came a stream ran in the gulley, a stream that has left
the blanket in this state. The warrior must have been in tremendous
haste to have lost his blanket. We know now that they were routed, and
that the victory was ours. But it is likely that our leaders continued
the pursuit toward Oneadatote and up to the walls of Crown Point itself.
And if your wish be the same as mine, Dagaeoga, we will follow on."
"You know, Tayoga, that I wouldn't think of anything else."
"But the dangers grow thick as we approach Crown Point."
"Not any thicker for me than for you."
"To that I can make no reply. Dagaeoga is always ready with words."
"But while I want to go on, I'm not in favor of taking any needless
risks. I like to keep my scalp on top of my head, the place where it
belongs, and so I bid you, Tayoga, use those keen eyes and ears of yours
to the utmost."
"Dagaeoga is learning wisdom," he said. "A great warrior does not throw
his life away. He will not walk blind through the forest. I will do all
I can with my ears and so will you."
"I mean to do so. Do you see that silver flash through the tangle of
foliage? Don't you think it comes from the waters of Champlain?"
"It cannot be doubted. Once more we see the great lake, and Crown Point
itself is not so many miles away. It is in my mind that Black Rifle,
Great Bear, Mountain Wolf, Daganoweda and our men have been scouting
"And we might meet 'em coming back. I've had that thought too."
They walked on toward Champlain, through a forest apparently without
sign of danger, and Tayoga, hearing a slight noise in a thicket, turned
off to the right to see if a deer were browsing there. He found nothing,
but as the sound came again from a point farther on, he continued his
search, leaving his comrade out of sight behind him. The thickets were
very dense and suddenly the warning of Tododaho came.
He sprang back as quick as lightning, and doubtless he would have
escaped had it not been for his wounded shoulder. He hurled off the
first warrior who threw himself upon him, slipped from the grasp of a
second, but was unable to move when the mighty Tandakora and another
seized him by the shoulders.
But in the moment of dire peril he remembered his comrade and uttered a
long and thrilling cry of warning, which the huge hand of Tandakora
could not shut off in time. Then, knowing he was trapped and would only
injure his shoulder by further struggles, he ceased to resist,
submitting passively to the binding of his arms behind him.
He saw that Tandakora had seven or eight warriors with him, and a half
dozen more were bounding out on the trail after Robert. He heard a shot
and then another, but he did not hear any yell of triumph, and he drew a
long breath of relief. His warning cry had been uttered in time.
Dagaeoga would know that it was folly, for him also to fall into the
hands of Tandakora, and he would flee at his greatest speed.
So he stood erect with his wrists bound behind him, his face calm and
immovable. It did not become an Onondaga taken prisoner to show emotion,
or, in fact, feeling of any kind before his captors, but his heart was
full of anxiety as he waited with those who held him. A quarter of an
hour they stood thus, and then the pursuing warriors, recognizing the
vain nature of their quest, began to return. Tandakora did not upbraid
them, because he was in high good humor.
"Though the white youth, Lennox, has escaped," he said in Iroquois, "we
have done well. We have here Tayoga, of the clan of the Bear, of the
nation Onondaga, of the League of the Hodenosaunee, one of our deadliest
enemies. It is more than I had hoped, because, though so young, he is a
great warrior, skillful and brave, and we shall soon see how he can bear
the live coals upon his breast."
Still Tayoga did not move, nor did he visibly shudder at the threat,
which he knew Tandakora meant to keep. The Ojibway had never appeared
more repellent, as he exulted over his prisoner. He seemed larger than
ever, and his naked body was covered with painted and hideous devices.
"And so I have you at last, Tayoga," he said. "Your life shall be short,
but your death shall be long, and you shall have full chance to prove
how much an Onondaga can bear."
"Whether it be much or little," said Tayoga, "it will be more than any
Ojibway can endure."
The black eyes of Tandakora flashed angrily, and he struck Tayoga
heavily in the face with his open palm. The Onondaga staggered, but
recovered himself, and gazed steadily into the eyes of the Ojibway.
"You have struck a bound captive, O Tandakora," he said. "It is contrary
to the customs of your nation and of mine, and for it I shall have your
life. It is now written that you shall fall by my hand."
His calm tones, and the fearless gaze with which he met that of
Tandakora, gave him all the aspect of a prophet. The huge Ojibway
flinched for a moment, and then he laughed.
"If it is written that I am to die by your hand it is written falsely,"
he said, "because before another sun has set all chance for it will be
"I have said that you will die by my hand, and I say it again. It is
written," repeated Tayoga firmly.
Though he showed no emotion there was much mortification in the soul of
the young Onondaga. He had practically walked into the hands of
Tandakora, and he felt that, for the present, at least, there was a
stain upon his skill as a forest runner. The blow of Tandakora had left
its mark, too, upon his mind. He had imbibed a part of the Christian
doctrine of forgiveness, but it could not apply to so deadly and evil an
enemy as the Ojibway. To such an insult offered to a helpless prisoner
the reply could be made only with weapons.
Although Tododaho from his star, invisible by day, whispered to him to
be of good heart, Tayoga was torn by conflicting beliefs. He was going
to escape, and yet escape seemed impossible. The last of the warriors
who had gone on the trail of young Lennox had come in, and he was
surrounded now by more than a dozen stalwart men. The promise of
Tododaho grew weak. Although his figure remained firm and upright and
his look was calm and brave he saw no possibility of escape. He thought
of Daganoweda, of the Mohawks and the rangers, but the presence of
Tandakora and his men indicated that they had gone back toward the army
of Waraiyageh, and were perhaps with him now.
He thought of St. Luc, but he did not know whether the gallant Chevalier
was alive or dead. But if he should come he would certainly keep
Tandakora from burning him at the stake. Tayoga did not fear death, and
he knew that he could withstand torture. No torture could last forever,
and when his soul passed he would merely go to the great shining star on
which Tododaho lived, and do to perfection, forever and without satiety,
the things that he loved in life here.
But Tayoga did not want to die. As far as life here was concerned he was
merely at the beginning of the chapter. So many things were begun and
nothing was finished. Nor did he want to die at the hands of Tandakora,
and allow his enemy to have a triumph that would always be sweet to the
soul of the fierce Ojibway. He saw many reasons why he did not wish yet
to go to Tododaho's great and shining star, despite the perfection of an
eternal existence there, and, casting away the doubts that had assailed
him, he hoped resolutely.
Tandakora had been regarding him with grim satisfaction. It may be that
he read some of the thoughts passing in the mind of the Onondaga, as he
"You look for your white friends, Tayoga, but you do not see them. Nor
will they come. Do you want to know why?"
"Because they are dead. In the battle back there, toward Andiatarocte,
Daganoweda, the Mohawk, was slain. His scalp is hanging in the belt of a
Pottawattomie who is now with Dieskau. Black Rifle will roam the forest
no more. He was killed by my own men, and the wolves have eaten his
body. The hunter Willet was taken alive, but he perished at the stake.
He was a very strong man, and he burned nearly a whole day before the
spirit left him. The ranger, Rogers, whom you called the Mountain Wolf,
was killed in the combat, and the wolves have eaten his body, too."
"Now, I know, O Tandakora," said the Onondaga, "that you are a liar, as
well as a savage and a murderer. Great Bear lives, Daganoweda lives, and
the Mountain Wolf and Black Rifle live, too. St. Luc was defeated in the
battle, and he has gone to join Dieskau at Crown Point, else he would be
here. I see into your black heart, Tandakora, and I see there nothing
The eyes of the huge savage once more shot dark fire, and he lifted his
hand, but once again he controlled himself, though the taunts of Tayoga
had gone in deep and they stung like barbs. Then, feeling that the talk
was not in his favor, but that the situation was all to his liking, he
turned away and gave orders to his warriors. They formed instantly in
single file, Tayoga near the center, Tandakora just behind him, and
marched swiftly toward the north.
The Onondaga knew that their course would not bring them to Crown Point,
which now lay more toward the east. Nor was it likely that they would go
there. Dieskau and the French officers would scarcely allow him to be
burned in their camp, and Tandakora would keep away from it until his
hideous work was done.
Now Tayoga, despite his cynicism and apparent indifference, was all
watchfulness. He knew that, for the present, any attempt to escape was
hopeless, but he wished to observe the country through which he was
passing, and see everything pertaining to it as far as the eye could
reach. It was always well to know where one was, and he had been taught
from infancy to observe everything, the practice being one of the
important conditions of life in the wilderness.
The soul of Tandakora, who walked just behind him, was full of savage
joy. It was true that Lennox had escaped, but Tayoga was an important
capture. He was of a powerful family of the Onondagas, whom the Ojibway
hated. Despite his youth, his fame as a warrior was already great, and
in destroying him Tandakora would strike both at the Hodenosaunee and
the white people who were his friends. Truly, it had been the Ojibway's
As they went on, Tandakora's belief that it was his day of days became a
conviction. Perhaps they would yet find Lennox, who had taken to such
swift flight, and before the sun set they could burn the two friends
together. His black heart was full of joy as he laughed in silence and
to himself. In the forest to his right a bird sang, a sweet, piercing
note, and he thought the shoulders of the captive in front of him
quivered for a single instant. And well they might quiver! It was a
splendid world to leave amid fire and pain, and the sweet, piercing note
of the bird would remind Tayoga of all that he was going to lose.
There was no pity in the heart of Tandakora. He was a savage and he
could never be anything but a savage. He might admire the fortitude with
which Tayoga would endure the torture, but he would have no thought of
remitting it on that account. The bird sang again, or another like it,
because it was exactly the same sweet, piercing note, but now Tandakora
did not see the shoulders of the Onondaga quiver. Doubtless after the
first stab of pain that the bird had brought him he had steeled himself
to its renewal.
Tandakora would soon see how the Onondaga could stand the fire. The test
should be thorough and complete The Ojibway chieftain was a master
artist upon such occasions, and, as he continued the march, he thought
of many pleasant little ways in which he could try the steel of Tayoga's
nature. The captive certainly had shown no signs of shrinking so far,
and Tandakora was glad of it. The stronger the resistance the longer and
the more interesting would be the test.
The Ojibway had in mind a certain little valley a few miles farther to
the north, a secluded place where a leader of men like himself could do
as he pleased without fear of interruption. Already he was exulting over
the details, and to him, breathing the essence of triumph, the
wilderness was as beautiful as it had ever been to Robert and Tayoga,
though perhaps in a way that was peculiarly his own. Unlike Tayoga, he
had heard little of the outside world, and he cared nothing at all for
it. His thoughts never went beyond the forest, and the customs of savage
ancestors were his. What he intended to do they had often done, and the
tribes thought it right and proper.
"In half an hour, Tayoga, we will be at the place appointed," he said.
"You said I would die at your hand, but there is only a half hour left
in which to make good the prophecy."
Still no answer.
"Tododaho, the patron saint of the Onondagas, is hidden on his star,
which is now on the other side of the world, and he cannot help you."
And still no answer.
"Does not fear strike into your heart, Tayoga? The flames that will burn
you are soon to be lighted. You are young, but a boy, you are not a
seasoned warrior, and you will not be able to bear it."
Tayoga laughed aloud, a laugh full and hearty. "I have heard frogs
croak in the muddy edge of a pond," he said. "I could not tell what they
meant, but there was as much sense in their voices as in yours,
"At last you have found your tongue, youth of the Onondagas. You have
heard the frogs croak, but your voice at the stake will sound like
"The flames shall not be lighted around me, Tandakora."
"How do you know?"
"Tododaho has whispered in my ear the promise that he will save me.
Twice has he whispered it to me as we marched."
"Tododaho in life was no warrior of the Ojibways," said Tandakora, "and
since he has passed away he is no god of ours. His whispers, if he has
whispered at all to you, are false. There is less than half an hour in
which you can be saved, and Manitou himself would need all that time."
Tayoga gave him a scornful look. Tandakora was talking sacrilege, but he
had no right to expect anything else from a savage Ojibway. He refused
to reply. They came presently to the little valley that Tandakora had in
mind, an open place, with a tree in the center, and much dead wood
scattered about. Tayoga knew instinctively that this was their
destination, and his heart would have sunk within him had it not been
for the whispers of Tododaho that he had heard on the march. The Ojibway
gave the word and the file of warriors stopped. The hills enclosing the
valley were much higher on the right than elsewhere, and touching Tayoga
on the arm, he said:
"Walk with me to the crest there."
Tayoga, without a word, walked with him, while the other warriors stood
watching, musket or rifle in hand.
The Onondaga, wrists bound behind him, knew that he did not have the
slightest chance of escape, even if he made a sudden dash into the
woods. He would be shot down before he went a dozen steps, and his pride
and will restrained the body that was eager for the trial.
They reached the crest, and Tayoga saw then that the hill itself rose
from a high plateau. When he gazed toward the east he saw a vast expanse
of green wilderness, beyond it a ribbon of silver, and beyond the silver
high green mountains, outlined sharply against a sky of clear blue.
"Oneadatote," said Tandakora.
"Yes, it is the great lake," said Tayoga.
"And if you will turn and look in the other direction you will see where
Andiatarocte lies," said Tandakora. "There are greater lakes to the
west, some so vast that they are as big as the white man's ocean, but
there is none more beautiful than these. Think, Tayoga, that when you
stand here upon this hill you have Oneadatote on one side of you and
Andiatarocte on the other, and all the country between is splendid,
every inch of it. Look! Look your fill, Tayoga! I have brought you here
that you might see, that this might be your last sight before you go to
your Tododaho on his star."
The Onondaga knew that the Ojibway was taunting him, that the torture
had begun, that Tandakora intended to contrast the magnificent world
from which he intended to send him with the black death that awaited him
so soon. But the dauntless youth appeared not to know.
"The lakes I have seen many times," he said. "They are, as you truly
call them, grand and beautiful, and they are the rightful property of
the Hodenosaunee, the great League to which my nation belongs. I shall
come to see them many more times all through my life, and when I am an
old, old man of ninety summers and winters I shall lay myself down on a
high shore of Andiatarocte, and close my eyes while Tododaho bears my
spirit away to his star."
It is possible that Tandakora's eyes expressed a fleeting admiration.
Savage and treacherous as he was, he respected courage, and the Onondaga
had not shown the slightest trace of fear. Instead, he spoke calmly of a
long life to come, as if the shadow of death were not hovering near at
"Look again," he said. "Look around all the circle of the world as far
as your eyes can reach. It may help you a half hour from now, when you
are in the flames, to remember the cool, green forest. And I tell you,
too, Tayoga, that your white friend Lennox, the one whom you call
Dagaeoga, shall soon follow you into the other world and by the same
flaming path. When you are but ashes, which will be by the setting of
the sun, my warriors will take up his trail, and he cannot escape us."
"Dagaeoga will live long, even as I do," said Tayoga calmly. "His
summers and winters will be ninety each, even as mine. Tododaho has
whispered that to me also, and the whispers of Tododaho are never
Tandakora turned back toward the valley, motioning to his captive to
descend, and Tayoga obeyed without resistance. The glen was secluded,
just suited to his purpose, which required time, and he did not wish the
Frenchman, St. Luc, to come upon him suddenly, and interfere with the
pleasure that he anticipated.
He was quite sure that the forest was empty of everything save
themselves, though he heard again and for the third time the note of the
bird, piercing and sweet, trilling among the bushes.
The warriors, knowing what was to be done, were doing it already, having
piled many pieces of dead wood around the trunk of the lone tree in the
center of the opening. Two had cut shavings with their hunting knives,
and one stood ready with flint and steel.
"Do you not tremble, Tayoga?" asked the Ojibway. "Many an old and
seasoned warrior has not been able to endure the fire without a groan."
"You shall not hear any groan from me," replied Tayoga, "because I shall
not stand among the flames."
"There is no way to escape them. Even now the pile is built, and the
warrior is ready with flint and steel to make the sparks."
High, thrillingly sweet, came the voice of the bird in the bushes, and
Tayoga suddenly leaped with all his might against the great chest of
Tandakora. Vast as was the strength of the Ojibway he was thrown from
his feet by the violent and unexpected impact, and as he fell Tayoga,
leaping lightly away, ran like a deer through the bushes.
The warriors in the valley uttered a shout, but the reply was a
shattering volley, before which half of them fell. Tandakora understood
at once. If he had the mind and heart of a savage he had also all the
craft and cunning of one whose life was incessantly in danger. Instead
of springing up, he rolled from the crest of the hill, then, rising to a
stooping position, darted away at incredible speed through the forest.
Rangers and Mohawks, Robert, Daganoweda, Willet, Black Rifle and Rogers
at their head, burst into the glen and the Mohawks began the pursuit of
Tandakora's surviving warriors, who had followed their leader in his
flight. But Robert turned back to meet Tayoga and cut the thongs from
"I thank you, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga. "You came in time."
"Yes, they were making ready. A half hour more and we should have been
too late. But you knew that we were coming, Tayoga?"
"Yes. I heard the bird sing thrice, but I knew the bird was in the
throat of the Great Bear. I will say this, though, to you, Dagaeoga,
that I have heard many birds sing and sing sweetly, but never any so
sweetly as the one that sang thrice in the throat of the Great Bear."
"It is not hard for me to believe you," said Robert, smiling, "and I can
tell you in turn, Tayoga, that your patron saint, Tododaho, must in very
truth have watched over you, because when I heard your warning cry and
took to flight, hoping for a chance later on to rescue you, I ran
within two hours straight into the camp of the rangers and the Mohawks.
You can easily surmise how glad I was to see them, and how quickly we
"And we'd have attacked sooner," said Willet, "but we could not get up
all our force in time. We've annihilated this band, but I'm sure we did
not get Tandakora. He fled like the wind, and we'll have to settle
accounts with him some other day."
"It was not possible for Tandakora to fall before your arms today," said
"Why not?" asked Willet, curiously.
"It is reserved for him to die by my hand, though the time is yet far
off. I know it, because Tododaho whispered it to me more than once
today. Let him go now, but his hour will surely come."
"You may be right, Tayoga. I'm not one to question your prophecies, but
it's not wise for us to continue the pursuit of him, as we've other
things to do. We destroyed the forces of St. Luc in the battle, but he
escaped with some of his men to Crown Point, and there are still Indian
warriors in the forest, though we mean to continue skirmishing and
scouting up to the walls of Crown Point, or until we meet Dieskau's army
on the march."
Words of approval came from the fierce Daganoweda, who stood by,
listening. The young Mohawk chieftain, in the midst of a great and
terrible war, was living the life he loved. The Keepers of the Eastern
Gate were taking revenge for Quebec, their lost Stadacona, and he and
his warriors could boast already of more than one victory. Around him,
too, stood the white allies whom he respected and admired most, Black
Rifle, Willet, Rogers and Dagaeoga, the youth of golden speech. Willet,
looking at him, read his mind.
"What do you say, Daganoweda?" he asked. "Now that Tayoga and Dagaeoga
have been recovered, shall we go back and join the army of Waraiyageh,
or shall we knock on the walls of Crown Point?"
"The time to turn back has not yet come," replied the Mohawk. "We must
know all about the army of Dieskau before we return to Waraiyageh."
"I knew that would be your reply," he said. "I merely asked in order to
hear you speak the words. As I've said already, it's in my mind to go on
toward Crown Point, and I know Rogers feels that way too. But I think
we'd first better rest and refresh ourselves a bit. Although Tayoga
won't admit it, food and an hour or two of ease here in the very valley
where they meant to burn him alive, will do him a power of good."
After throwing out competent sentinels, they lighted a fire by the very
tree to which Tandakora meant to bind Tayoga for the flames, and broiled
venison over the coals. They also had bread and samp, which were most
welcome, and the whole force ate with great zest. The warriors, in their
flight, had dropped Tayoga's bow and quiver of arrows, and their
recovery gave him keen delight, though he said little as he strapped
them over his shoulder.
They spent two hours in the valley, and for the Onondaga the air was
full of the good spirits that watched over him. The dramatic and
extraordinary change, occurring in a few minutes, made an ineffaceable
impression upon a mind that saw meaning in everything. Here was the glen
in which he had been held by Tandakora and his most deadly enemies, and
there was the lone tree against which they had already heaped the fuel
for burning him alive. Such a sudden and marvelous change could not have
come if he were not in the special favor of both Tododaho and Areskoui.
Secure in his belief that he was protected by the mighty on their stars,
he awaited the future with supreme confidence.
The rangers and Mohawks had suffered a further thinning in the last
conflict with St. Luc, but they were still a formidable body, not so
much through numbers as through skill, experience, courage and quality
of leadership. There was not one among them who was not eager to advance
toward Crown Point and hazard every peril. But they were too wise in
wilderness ways not to have a long and anxious council before they
started, as there was nothing to be gained and much to be lost by
throwing away lives in reckless attempts.
They decided at last on a wide curve to the west, in order that they
might approach Crown Point from the north, where they would be least
suspected, and they decided also that they would make most of the
journey by night, when they would be better hidden from wandering
warriors. So concluding, they remained in the glen much longer than they
had intended, and the delay was welcome to Robert, whose nervous system
needed much restoration, after the tremendous exertions, the hopes and
fears of recent days.
But he was able to imitate the Onondaga calm. He spread his blanket on
the turf, lay down upon it, and lowered his eyelids. He had no intention
of going to sleep, but he put himself into that drowsy state of calm
akin to the Hindoo's Nirvana. By an effort of the will he calmed every
nerve and refused to think of the future. He merely breathed, and saw in
a dim way the things about him, compelling his soul to stay a while in
Most of the rangers and Mohawks were lying in the same stillness. Stern
experience had taught them to take rest, and make the most of it when
they could find it. Only the watchful sentinels at the rim of the valley
and beyond stirred, and their moccasins made no sound as they slid among
the bushes, looking and listening with all their eyes and ears for
whatever might come.
The sun was sunk far in the western heavens, tinting with gold the
surface of both lakes, for the rulership of which the nations fought,
and outlining the mountains, crests and ridges, sharp and clear against
a sky of amazing blue. Yet so vast was the wilderness and so little had
it been touched by man, that the armies were completely hidden in it,
and neither Dieskau nor Johnson yet knew what movement the other
The east was already dim with the coming twilight when the three leaders
stood up, and, as if by preconcerted signal, beckoned to their men.
Scarcely a word was spoken, but everyone looked to his arms, the
sentinels came in, and the whole force, now in double file, marched
swiftly toward the north, but inclining also to the east. Robert and
Tayoga were side by side.
"I owe thee many thanks, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga.
"You owe me nothing," said Robert. "I but paid an installment on a
Then they spoke no more for a long time, because there was nothing to
say, and because the band was now moving so fast that all their breath
was needed for muscular effort. The sun went down in a sea of golden
clouds, then red fire burned for a little while at the rim of the world,
and, when it was gone, a luminous twilight, which by and by faded into
darkness, came in its place.
But the band in double file sped on through the dusk. Daganoweda, who
knew the way, was at the head, and so skillful were they that no stick
crackled and no leaf rustled as they passed. Mile after mile they
flitted on, over hill and valley and through the deep woods. Far in the
night they stopped to drink at a clear little brook that ran down to
Lake Champlain, but no other halt was made until the dawn broke over a
vast silver sheet of water, and high green mountains beyond.
"Oneadatote," said Tayoga.
"And a great lake it is," said Robert. "We had a naval encounter on it
once, and now we've had a battle, too, on George."
"But the French and their allies hold all of Oneadatote, while we only
dispute the possession of Andiatarocte. They will march against us from
Crown Point on the shores of this lake."
"We'll take George from 'em, all of it, and then we'll come and drive
'em from Champlain, too."
The eyes of the Onondaga sparkled.
"Dagaeoga has a brave heart," he said, "and we will do all that he
predicts, but, as I have said before, it will be a long and terrible
They descended to a point nearer the lake, but, still remaining hidden
in the dense forest, ate their breakfast of venison, bread and samp, and
drank again from a clear brook. They were now several miles north of
Crown Point, and the leaders talked together again about the best manner
of approach. They not only wished to see what the army of Dieskau was
doing, but they thought it possible to strike some blow that would
inflict severe loss, and delay his advance. Rogers used his glasses
again, and was able to discern many Indian canoes on the lake, both
north and south of the point where they lay, although they were mostly
scattered, indicating no certain movement.
"Those canoes ought to be ours," he said. "'Tis a great pity that we've
let the French take control of Champlain. It's easier to hold a thing in
the beginning than it is, having let your enemy seize it without a
fight, to win it back again."
"It's better to do that than to be rash," said Willet. "I was with
Braddock when we marched headlong into the wilderness. If we had been
slower then we'd have now a good army that we've lost. Still, it's hard
to see the French take the lead from us. We dance to their tune."
"Dave," said Rogers, "I see a whole fleet of Indian canoes far down the
lake below Crown Point. One can see many miles in such a clear air as
this, and I'm sure they're canoes, though they look like black dots
crawling on the water. Take the glasses and have a look."
Willet held the glasses to his eyes a long time, and when he took them
down he said with confidence:
"They're canoes, a hundred of 'em at least, and while they hold
complete command of the lake, it don't seem natural that so many of 'em
should be in a fleet away down there below the French fort. It means
something unusual. What do you think, Tayoga?"
"Perhaps Dieskau is already on the march," said the Onondaga. "The
glories that St. Luc, Dumas, Ligneris and the others won at Duquesne
will not let him sleep. He would surpass them. He would repeat on the
shores of Andiatarocte what they did so triumphantly by the ford of the
"Thunderation!" exclaimed Rogers. "The boy may be right! They may be
even now stealing a march on us! If our army down below should be wiped
out as Braddock's was, then we might never recover!"
Robert, who could not keep from hearing all the talk, listened to it
with dismay. He had visions of Johnson's army of untrained militia
attacked suddenly by French veterans and a huge force of Indians. It
would be like the spring of a monstrous beast out of the dark, and
defeat, perhaps complete destruction for his own, would be the result.
But his courage came back in an instant. The surprise could not be
carried out so long as the band to which he belonged was in existence.
"I think," said Willet, "that we'd better go south along the shore of
the lake, and approach as near to the fort as we dare. Then Daganoweda
and a half dozen of his best warriors will scout under its very walls.
Do you care for the task, Daganoweda?"
The eyes of the young Mohawk chieftain glittered. Willet had judged him
aright. It would be no task for him, it would be instead a labor of
pleasure. In fifteen minutes he was off with his warriors, disappearing
like shadows in the undergrowth, and Robert knew that whatever report
Daganoweda might bring back it would not only be true but full.
The main band followed, though far more slowly, keeping well back from
the lake, that no Indian eye might catch their presence in the woods,
but able, nevertheless, to observe for immense distances everything that
passed on the vast silver sheet of water. Rogers observed once more the
fleet of Indian canoes rowing southward, and he and Willet were firmer
than ever in their belief that it indicated some measure of importance.
Their own march through the woods was peaceful. They frightened no game
from their path, indicating that the entire region had been hunted over
thoroughly by the great force that had lain at Crown Point, and, after a
while, they passed a point parallel to the fort, though several miles to
the westward. Willet, Tayoga and Robert looked for trails or traces of
bands or hunters, but found none. Apparently the forest had been
deserted by the enemy for some days, and their alarming belief was
Four miles farther on they were to meet Daganoweda and his warriors, at
a tiny silver pond among the hills, and now they hurried their march.
"I'm thinking," said Robert, "that Daganoweda will be there first,
waiting with a tale to tell."
"All signs point to it," said Tayoga. "It is well that we came north on
this scouting expedition, because we, too, may have something to say
when we return to Waraiyageh."
"You know this pond at which we are to meet?"
"Yes, it is in the hills, and the forest is thick all about it. Often
Onondaga and Mohawk have met there to take council, the one with the
In another hour they were at the pond, and they found the Mohawk
chieftain and his men sitting at its edge.
"Well, Daganoweda," said Willet, "is it as we thought?" Daganoweda rose
and waved his hand significantly toward the south.
"Dieskau with his army has gone to fall upon Waraiyageh," he said. "We
went close up to the walls, and we even heard talk. The French and the
warriors were eager to advance, and so were their leaders. It was said
that St. Luc, whom we call Sharp Sword, urged them most, and the larger
part of his great force soon started in canoes. A portion of it he left
at Ticonderoga, and the rest is going on. They intend to take the fort
called Lyman, that the English and Americans have built, and then to
fall upon Waraiyageh."
"It is for us to reach Waraiyageh first," said Willet, quietly, "and we
will. God knows there is great need of our doing it. If Johnson's army
is swept away, then Albany will fall, the Hodenosaunee, under terrific
pressure, might be induced to turn against us, and the Province of New
York would be ravaged with fire and the scalping knife."
"But we will reach Waraiyageh and tell him," said Tayoga, firmly. "He
will not be swept away. Albany will not fall, and nothing can induce the
Hodenosaunee to join the French."
The eyes of the Great Bear glistened as he looked at the tall young
"That's brave talk, and it's true, too!" he exclaimed. "You shame us,
Tayoga! If it's for us to save our army by carrying the news of
Dieskau's sudden march, then we'll save it."
Daganoweda had told the exact truth. Dieskau had reached Crown Point
with a force mighty then for the wilderness, and, after a short rest, he
issued orders to his troops to be prepared for advance at a moment's
notice. He especially directed the officers to keep themselves in light
marching order, every one of them to take only a bearskin, a blanket,
one extra pair of shoes, one extra shirt, and no luxuries at all.
His orders to the Indians showed a savagery which, unfortunately, was
not peculiar then to him. In the heat of battle they were not to scalp
those they slew, because time then was so valuable. While they were
taking a scalp they could kill ten men. But when the enemy was routed
completely they could go back on the field and scalp as they wished.
The Indian horde was commanded by Legardeur de St. Pierre, who had with
him De Courcelles and Jumonville, and St. Luc with his faithful Dubois
immediately organized a daring band of French Canadians and warriors to
take the place of the one he had lost. So great was his reputation as a
forest fighter, and so well deserved was it, that his fame suffered no
diminution, because of his defeat by the rangers and Mohawks, and the
young French officers were eager to serve under him.
It was this powerful army, ably led and flushed with the general
triumph of the French arms, that Daganoweda and his warriors had seen
advancing, though perhaps no one in all the force dreamed that he was
advancing to a battle that in reality would prove one of the most
decisive in the world's history, heavy with consequences to which time
set scarcely any limit. Nor did Robert himself, vivid as was his
imagination, foresee it. His thoughts and energies were bounded for the
time, at least, by the present, and, with the others, he was eager to
save Johnson's army, which now lay somewhere near Lake George, and which
he was sure had been occupied in building forts, as Waraiyageh, having
spent most of his life in the wilderness, knew that it was well when he
had finished a march forward to make it secure before he undertook
The rangers and Mohawks now picked up the trail of Dieskau's army, which
was moving forward with the utmost speed. Yet the obstinacy of his
Indian allies compelled the German baron to abandon the first step in
his plan. They would not attack Fort Lyman, as it was defended by
artillery, of which the savages had a great dread, but they were willing
to go on, and fall suddenly upon Johnson, who, they heard, though
falsely, had no cannon. Dieskau and his French aides, compelled to hide
any chagrin they may have felt, pushed on for Lake George with the pick
of their army, consisting of the battalions of Languedoc, and La Reine,
a strong Canadian force, and a much larger body of Indian warriors,
among whom the redoubtable Tandakora, escaped from rangers and Mohawks,
Willet, Rogers, Black Rifle, Daganoweda and their small but formidable
band read the trail plainly, and they knew the greatness of the danger.
Dieskau was not young, and he was a soldier of fortune, not belonging to
the race that he led, but he was full of ardor, and the daring French
partisans were urging him on. Robert felt certain that St. Luc himself
was in the very van and that he would probably strike the first blow.
After they had made sure that Dieskau would not attack Fort Lyman, but
was marching straight against Johnson, the little force turned aside,
and prepared to make a circuit with all the speed it could command.
As Willet put it tersely:
"It's not enough for us to know what Dieskau means to do, but to keep
him from doing it. It's muscle and lungs now that count."
So they deserved to the full the name of forest runners, speeding on
their great curve, using the long, running walk with which both Indians
and frontiersmen devoured space, and apparently never grew weary. In the
night they passed Dieskau's army, and, from the crest of a lofty hill,
saw his fires burning in a valley below. Tayoga and some of the Mohawks
slipped down through the undergrowth and reported that the camp had been
made with all due precaution—the French partisan leaders saw to
that—with plenty of scouts about, and the whole force in swift,
marching order. It would probably be up and away again before dawn, and
if they were to pass it and reach Johnson in good time not a single
moment could be wasted.
"Now I wonder," said Willet, "if they suspect the advance of this
warning force. St. Luc, of course, knows that we were back there by
Champlain, as we gave him the most complete proofs of it that human
beings could give. So does Tandakora, and they may prevail upon Dieskau
to throw out a swift band for the purpose of cutting us off. If so, St.
Luc is sure to lead it. What do you say, Tayoga?"
"I think St. Luc will surely come," replied the Onondaga youth gravely.
"We have been trailing the army of Dieskau, and tomorrow, after we have
passed it, we shall be trailed in our turn. It does not need the whisper
of Tododaho to tell me that St. Luc and Tandakora will lead the
trailers, because, as we all know, they are most fitting to lead them."
"Then there's no sleep for us tonight," said Rogers; "we'll push on and
not close our eyes again until we reach Colonel Johnson."
They traveled many miles before dawn, but with the rising of the sun
they knew that they were followed, and perhaps flanked. The Mohawk
scouts brought word of it. Daganoweda himself found hostile signs in the
bushes, a bead or two and a strand of deerskin fringe caught on a bush.
"It's likely," said Willet, "that they were even more cautious than we
reckoned. It may be that before Dieskau left his force at Ticonderoga he
sent forward St. Luc with a swift band to intercept us and any others
who might take a warning to Colonel Johnson."
"I agree with you," said Rogers. "St. Luc started before we did, and,
all the time, has been ahead of us. So we have him in front, Dieskau
behind, and it looks as if we'd have to fight our way through to our
army. Oh, the Frenchmen are clever! Nobody can deny it, and they're
always awake. What's your opinion, Daganoweda?"
"We shall have to fight," replied the Mohawk chieftain, although the
prospect caused him no grief. "The traces that we have found prove Sharp
Sword to be already across our path. We have yet no way to know the
strength of his force, but, if a part of us get through, it will be
Robert heard them talking, and while he was able once more to preserve
outward calm, his heart, nevertheless, throbbed hard. More than any
other present, with the possible exception of Tayoga, his imagination
pictured what was to come, and before it was fought he saw the battle.
They were to march, too, into an ambush, knowing it was there, but
impossible to be avoided, because they must get through in some fashion
or other. They were now approaching Andiatarocte again, and although the
need of haste was still great they dropped perforce into a slow walk,
and sent ahead more scouts and skirmishers.
Robert and Tayoga went forward on the right, and they caught through the
bushes the gleam from the waters of a small stream that ran down to the
lake. Going a little nearer, they saw that the farther bank was high and
densely wooded, and then they drew back, knowing that it was a splendid
place for an ambush, and believing that St. Luc was probably there.
Tayoga lay almost flat, face downward, and stared intently at the high
"I think, Dagaeoga," he said, "that so long as we keep close to the
earth we may creep a little nearer, and perhaps our eyes, which are
good, may be able to pick out the figures of our foes from the leaves
and bushes in which they probably lie hidden."
They dragged themselves forward about fifty yards, taking particular
care to make nothing in the thickets bend or wave in a manner for which
the wind could not account. Robert stared a long time, but his eyes
separated nothing from the mass of foliage.
"What do you see, Tayoga?" he whispered at last.
"No proof of the enemy yet, Dagaeoga. At least, no proof of which I am
sure. Ah, but I do now! There was a flash in the bushes. It was a ray of
sunlight penetrating the leaves and striking upon the polished metal of
a gun barrel."
"It means that at least one Indian or Frenchman is there. Keep on
looking and see if you don't see something more."
"I see a red feather. At this distance you might at first take it for a
feather in the wing of a bird, but I know it is a feather in the
scalplock of a warrior."
"And that makes two, at least. Look harder than ever, Tayoga, and tell
me what more you see."
"Now I catch a glimpse of white cloth with a gleam of silver. The cloth
is on the upper arm, and the silver is on the shoulder of an officer."
"A uniform and an epaulet. A French officer, of course."
"Of course, and I think it is Sharp Sword himself."
"Look once more, Tayoga, and maybe your eyes can pick out something else
from the foliage."
"I see the back and painted shoulder of a warrior. It may be those of
Tandakora, but I cannot be sure."
"You needn't be. You've seen quite enough to prove that the whole force
of St. Luc is there in the bushes, awaiting us, and we must tell our
leaders at once."
They crept back to the center, where Willet and Rogers lay, Daganoweda
being on the flank, and told them what they had seen.
"It's good enough proof," said Rogers. "St. Luc with his whole force in
the bushes means to hold the stream against us and keep us from taking a
warning to Johnson, but the hardest way to do a thing isn't always the
one you have to choose."
"I take it," said Willet, "that you mean to flank him out of his
"It was what I had in mind. What do you think, Dave?"
"The only possible method. Those Mohawks are wonders at such operations,
and we'd better detail as many of the rangers as we can spare to join
'em, while a force here in the center makes a demonstration that will
hold 'em to their place in the bushes. I'll take the picked men and join
"It's like you, Dave," he said, "to choose the most dangerous part, and
leave me here just to make a noise."
"But the commander usually stays in the center, while his lieutenants
lead on the wings."
"That's true. You have precedent with you, but it wouldn't have made any
"But when we fall on 'em you'll lead the center forward, and with such
a man as St. Luc I fancy you'll have all the danger you crave."
Rogers laughed again.
"Go ahead, old fire-eater," he said. "It was always your way. I suppose
you'll want to take Tayoga and Lennox with you."
"Oh, yes, I need 'em, and besides, I have to watch over 'em, in a way."
"And you watch over 'em by leading 'em into the very thickest of the
battle. But danger has always been a lure for you, and I know you're the
best man for the job."
Willet quickly picked twenty men, including Black Rifle and the two
lads, and bore away with speed toward the flank where Daganoweda and the
Mohawks already lay. As Robert left he heard the rifle shots with which
the little force of Rogers was opening the battle, and he heard, too,
the rifles and muskets of the French and Indians on the other side of
the stream replying.
Fortunately, as the forest was very dense, and it was not possible for
any of St. Luc's men to see the flanking movement, Willet and his
rangers joined Daganoweda quickly and without hindrance, the eyes of the
chieftain glittering when he saw the new force, and heard the plan to
cross the stream far down and fall on St. Luc's flank.
"It is good," he said with satisfaction. "Sharp Sword has eyes to see
much, but he cannot see everything."
"But one thing must be understood," said Willet, gravely. "If we see
that we are getting the worst of the fight and our men are falling
fast, the good runners must leave the conflict at once and make all
speed for Waraiyageh. Tayoga, you are the fastest and surest of all, and
you must leave first, and, Daganoweda, do you pick three of your swift
young warriors for the same task."
"I have one request to make," said Tayoga.
"What is it?"
"When I leave let me take Dagaeoga with me. We are comrades who have
shared many dangers, and he, too, is swift of foot and hardy. It may be
that there will be danger also in the flight to Waraiyageh's camp. Then,
if one should fall the other will go on."
"Well put, Tayoga. Robert, do you hear? If the tide seems to be turning
against us join Tayoga in his flight toward Johnson."
Robert nodded, and the young warriors chosen by Daganoweda also
indicated that they understood. Then the entire force began its silent
march through the woods on their perilous encircling movement. They
waded the river at a ford where the water did not rise above their
knees, and entered the deep woods, gradually drawing back toward the
point where St. Luc's force lay.
As they approached they began to hear the sounds of the little battle
Rogers was waging with the French leader, a combat which was intended to
keep the faculties and energies of the French and Indians busy, while
the more powerful detachment under Willet and Daganoweda moved up for
the main blow. Faint reports of rifle and musket shots came to them, and
also the long whining yell of the Indians, so like, in the distance, to
the cry of a wolf. Then, as they drew a little nearer they heard the
shouts of the rangers, shouts of defiance or of triumph rattling
continuously like a volley.
"That's a part of their duty," said Willet. "Rogers has only twenty men,
but he means to make 'em appear a hundred."
"Sounds more like two hundred," said Robert. "It's the first time I ever
heard one man shout as ten."
As they drew nearer the volume of the firing seemed to increase. Rogers
was certainly carrying out his part of the work in the most admirable
manner, his men firing with great rapidity and never ceasing their
battle shouts. Even so shrewd a leader as St. Luc might well believe the
entire force of rangers and Mohawks, instead of only twenty men, was in
front of him. But Robert was quite sure from the amount of firing coming
from the Frenchman's position that he was in formidable force, perhaps
outnumbering his opponents two to one, and the fight, though with the
advantage of a flank attack by Willet and Daganoweda, was sure to be
doubtful. It seemed that Tayoga read his thought as he whispered:
"Once more, Dagaeoga, we may leave the combat together, when it is at
its height. Remember the duty that has been laid upon us. If the battle
appears doubtful we are to flee."
"A hard thing to do at such a time."
"But we have our orders from the Great Bear."
"I had no thought of disobeying. I know the importance of our getting
through, if our force is defeated, or even held. Why couldn't our whole
detachment have gone around St. Luc just as we've done, and have left
him behind without a fight?"
"Because if the Mountain Wolf had not been left in his front, Sharp
Sword would have discovered immediately the absence of us all and would
have followed so fast that he would have forced us to battle on his
terms, instead of our being able to force him on ours."
"I see, Tayoga. Look out!"
He seized the Onondaga suddenly and pulled him down. A rifle cracked in
the bushes sixty or seventy yards in front of them, and a bullet
whistled where the red youth's head had been. The shot came from an
outlying sentinel of St. Luc's band, and knowing now that the time for a
hidden advance had passed, Willet and all of his men charged with a
Their cheering also was a signal to the twenty men of Rogers on the
other side of the river, and they, too, rushed forward. St. Luc was
taken by surprise, but, as Robert had feared, his French and Indians
outnumbered them two to one. They fell back a little, thus giving Rogers
and his twenty a chance to cross the river, but they took up a new and
strong position upon a well-wooded hill, and the battle at close range
became fierce, sanguinary and doubtful.
Robert caught two glimpses of St. Luc directing his men with movements
of his small sword, and once he saw another white man, who, he was sure
was Dubois, although generally the enemy was invisible, keeping well
under the shelter of tree and bush. But while human forms were hidden,
the evidences of ferocious battle were numerous. The warriors on each
side uttered fierce shouts, rifles and muskets crackled rapidly, now
and then a stricken man uttered his death cry, and the depths of the
forest were illuminated by the rapid jets of the firing.
The sudden and heavy attack upon his flank compelled St. Luc to take the
defensive, and put him at a certain disadvantage, but he marshaled his
superior numbers so well that the battle became doubtful, with every
evidence that it would be drawn out to great length. Moreover, the
chevalier had maneuvered so artfully that his whole force was now drawn
directly across the path of the rangers and Mohawks, and the way to
Johnson was closed, for the time, at least.
An hour, two hours, the battle swayed to and fro among the trees and
bushes. Had their opponent been any other than St. Luc the three
leaders, Willet, Rogers and Daganoweda, would have triumphed by that
time, but French, Canadians and Indians alike drew courage from the
dauntless Chevalier. More than once they would have abandoned the field,
but he marshaled them anew, and always he did it in a manner so skillful
that the loss was kept at the lowest possible figure.
The forest was filled with smoke, though the high sun shot it through
with luminous rays. But no one looking upon the battle could have told
which was the loser and which the winner. The losses on the two sides
were about equal, and St. Luc, holding the hill, still lay across the
path of rangers and Mohawks. Robert, who was crouched behind the trunk
of a great oak, felt a light touch upon his arm, and, looking back, saw
"The time has come, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga.
"The time for us to leave the battle and run as fast as we may to
"I had forgotten. The conflict here had gotten so much into my blood
that I couldn't think of anything else. But, as I said it would be, it's
hard to go."
"Go, Robert!" called Willet from a tree twenty feet away. "Curve around
St. Luc. Do what Tayoga says—he can scent danger like an animal of the
forest—and make all speed to Johnson. Maybe we'll join you in his camp
"Good-by, Dave," said Robert, swallowing hard. He crept away with the
Onondaga, not rising to his full height for a long time. Then the two
stood for a few moments, listening to the sounds of the battle, which
seemed to be increasing in violence. Far through the forest they faintly
saw the drifting smoke and the sparks of fire from the rifles and
"Once more I say it's hard to leave our friends there," exclaimed
"But our path leads that way," said Tayoga, pointing southward.
They struck, without another word, into the long, loping run that the
forest runners use with such effect, and sped southward. The sounds of
the conflict soon died behind them, and they were in the stillness of
the woods, where no enemy seemed near. But they did not decrease their
pace, leaping the little brooks, wading the wider streams, and flitting
like shades through forest and thicket. Twice they crossed Indian
trails, but paid no heed to them. Once a warrior, perhaps a hunter,
fired a long shot at them, but as his bullet missed they paid no
attention to him, but, increasing their speed, fled southward at a pace
no ordinary man could overtake.
"Now that we have left," said Robert, after a while, "I'm glad we did
so. It will be a personal pleasure for us two to warn Johnson."
"We may carry the fate of a war with us, Dagaeoga. Think of that!"
"I've thought of it. But our friends behind us, engaged in the battle
with St. Luc! What of them? Does Tododaho whisper to you anything about
"They are great and skillful men, cunning and crafty in all the ways of
the forest. They have escaped great dangers a thousand times before and
Tododaho tells me they will escape the thousand and first. Be of good
heart, Dagaeoga, and do not worry about them."
They dropped almost to a walk for a while, permitting their muscles to
rest. Tayoga's wound had healed so fast, the miracle was so nearly
complete, that it did not trouble him, and, after walking two hours,
they struck into the long, easy run again. The miles dropped fast behind
them, and now Johnson's camp was not far away. It was well for Tayoga
and Robert that they were naturally so strong and that they had lived
such healthy lives, as now they were able to go on all through the day,
and the setting sun found them still traveling, the Onondaga leading
with an eye as infallible for the way as that of a bird in the heavens.
Some time after dark they stopped for a half hour and sat on fallen logs
while they took fresh breath. Robert was apprehensive about Tayoga's
wound and expressed his solicitude.
"There is no pain," replied the young warrior, "and there will be none.
Tododaho and Areskoui gave me the miraculous cure for a purpose. It was
that I might have the strength to be a messenger to Waraiyageh, because
if he is crushed then the French and the Indians will strike at the
Hodenosaunee, and they will ravage the Vale of Onondaga itself with fire
and the tomahawk. Tododaho watches over his people."
"The stars have come out, Tayoga. Can you see the one on which Tododaho
lives? And if so, what is he saying to you now?"
Tayoga looked up a long time. He had received the white man's culture,
but the Indian soul was strong within him, nevertheless, and he was
steeped, too, in Indian lore. All the legends of his race, all the
Iroquois religion, came crowding upon him. A faint silvery vapor
overspread the sky, the stars in myriads quivered and danced, and there
in a remote corner of space was the great star on which Tododaho lived.
It hung in the heavens a silver shield, small in the distance, but vast,
Tayoga knew, beyond all conception. There were fine lines across its
face, but they were only the snakes in Tododaho's hair.
Gradually the features and countenance of the great Onondaga emerged
upon the star, and the blood of Tayoga ran in a chill torrent through
his veins, though the chill was not the chill of fear. He was, in
effect, meeting the mighty Onondaga of four hundred years ago, face to
face. The forest around him glided away, Robert vanished, the solid
earth melted from under his feet, and he was like a being who hung in
the air suspended from nothing. He leaned his head forward a little in
the attitude of one who listens, and he distinctly heard Tododaho say:
"Go on, Tayoga. As I have protected you so far on the way I shall
protect you to the end. Four hundred years ago I left my people, but my
watch over them is as vigilant now as it was when I was on earth. The
nations of the Hodenosaunee shall not perish, and they shall remain
great and mighty."
The voice ceased, the face of the mighty Onondaga disappeared, Tayoga
was no longer suspended without a support in the air, the forest came
back, and his good comrade, Robert Lennox, stood by his side, staring at
"Have you been in a trance, Tayoga?" asked Robert.
"No, Dagaeoga, I have not, but I can answer your question. I not only
heard Tododaho, but I saw him face to face. He spoke to me in a voice
like the wind among the pines, and he said that he would watch over me
the rest of the way, and that the Hodenosaunee should remain great and
powerful. Come, Dagaeoga, all danger for us on this march has passed."
They rose, continued their flight without hindrance, and the next
morning entered the camp of Johnson.
THE LAKE BATTLE
Robert and Tayoga approached the American camp in the early dawn of a
waning summer, and the air was crisp and cool. The Onondaga's shoulder,
at last, had begun to feel the effects of his long flight, and he, as
well as Robert, was growing weary. Hence it was with great delight that
they caught the gleam of a uniform through a thicket, and knew they had
come upon one of Johnson's patrols. It was with still greater delight as
they advanced that they recognized young William Wilton of the
Philadelphia troop, and a dozen men. Wilton looked wan and hollow-eyed,
as if he had been watching all night, but his countenance was alert, and
his figure erect nevertheless.
Hearing the steps of Tayoga and Robert in the bushes, he called sharply:
His men presented their arms, and he stepped forward, sword in hand.
Robert threw up his own hands, and, emerging from the thicket, said in
tones which he made purposely calm and even.
"Good morning, Will. It's happy I am to see you keeping such a good
Then he dropped his hands and walked into the open, Tayoga following
him. Wilton stared as if he had seen someone come back from another
"Lennox, is it really you?" he asked.
"You in the flesh and not a ghost?"
"In the flesh and no ghost."
"And is that Tayoga following you?"
"The Onondaga himself."
"And he is not any ghost, either?"
"No ghost, though Tandakora's men tried hard to make him one, and took a
good start at it. But he's wholly in the flesh, too."
"Then shake. I was afraid, at first, to touch hands with a ghost, but,
God bless you, Robert, it fills me with delight to see you again, and
you, too, Tayoga, no less. We thought you both were dead, and Colden and
Carson and Grosvenor and I and a lot of others have wasted a lot of good
mourning on you."
Robert laughed, and it was probably a nervous laugh of relief at having
arrived, through countless dangers, upon an errand of such huge
"Both of you look worn out," said Wilton. "I dare say you've been up all
night, walking through the interminable forest. Come, have a good, fat
breakfast, then roll between the blankets and sleep all day long."
Robert laughed again. How little the young Quaker knew or suspected!
"We neither eat nor sleep yet, Will," he said. "Where is Colonel
Johnson? You must take us to him at once!"
"The colonel himself, doubtless, has not had his breakfast. But why
this feverish haste? You talk as if you and Tayoga carried the fate of a
nation on your shoulders."
"That's just what we do carry. And, in truth, the fate of more than one,
perhaps. Lead on, Will! Every second is precious!"
Wilton looked at him again, and, seeing the intense earnestness in the
blue eyes of young Lennox, gave a command to his little troop, starting
without another word across the clearing, Robert and Tayoga following
close behind. The two lads were ragged, unkempt, and bore all the signs
of war, but they were unconscious of their dilapidated appearance,
although many of the young soldiers stared at them as they went by. They
passed New England and New York troops cooking their breakfast, and on a
low hill a number of Mohawks were still sleeping.
They approached the tent of Colonel Johnson and were fortunate enough to
find him standing in the doorway, talking with Colonel Ephraim Williams
and Colonel Whiting. But he was so engrossed in the conversation that he
did not see them until Wilton saluted and spoke.
"Messengers, sir!" he said.
Colonel Johnson looked up, and then he started.
"Robert and Tayoga!" he exclaimed. "I see by your faces that you have
word of importance! What is it?"
"Dieskau's whole army is advancing," said Robert. "It long since left
Crown Point, put a garrison in Ticonderoga, and is coming along Lake
George to fall on you by surprise, and destroy you."
Waraiyageh's face paled a little, and then a spark leaped up in his
"How do you know this?" he asked.
"I have seen it with my own eyes. I looked upon Dieskau's marching army,
and so did Tayoga. St. Luc was thrown across our path to stop us, and we
left Willet, Rogers and Daganoweda in battle with him, while we fled,
according to instructions, to you."
"Then you have done well. Go now and seek rest and refreshment. You are
good and brave lads. Our army will be made ready at once. We'll not wait
for Dieskau. We'll go to meet him. What say you, Williams, and you,
"Forward, sir! The troops would welcome the order!" replied Colonel
Williams, and Whiting nodded assent.
Johnson was now all activity and energy and so were his officers. He
seemed not at all daunted by the news of Dieskau's rapid advance. Rather
he welcomed it as an end to his army's doubts and delays, and as a
strong incentive to the spirits of the men.
"Go, lads, and rest!" he repeated to Robert and Tayoga, and now that
their supreme task was achieved they felt the need of obeying him. Both
were sagging with weariness, and it was well for the Onondaga to look to
his shoulder, which was still a little lame. As they saluted and left
the tent a young Indian lad sprang toward them and greeted them eagerly.
It was young Joseph Brant, the famous Thayendanega of later days, the
brother of Molly Brant, Colonel William Johnson's Mohawk wife.
"Hail, Tayoga! Hail, Dagaeoga!" he exclaimed in the Mohawk tongue. "I
knew that you were inside with Waraiyageh! You have brought great news,
it is rumored already! It is no secret, is it?"
"We do have news, mighty news, and it is no secret," replied Robert.
"It's news that will give you your opportunity of starting on the long
path that leads to the making of a great chief. Dieskau has marched
suddenly and is near. We're going to meet him."
The fierce young Mohawk uttered a shout of joy and rushed for his arms.
Robert and Tayoga, after a brief breakfast, lay down on their blankets
and, despite all the turmoil and bustle of preparation, fell asleep.
While the two successful but exhausted messengers slumbered, Colonel
Johnson called a council of war, at which the chief militia officers and
old Hendrik, the Mohawk sachem, were present. The white men favored the
swift advance of a picked force to save Edward, one of the new forts
erected to protect the frontier, from the hordes, and the dispatch of a
second chosen force to guard Lyman, another fort, in the same manner.
The wise old Mohawk alone opposed the plan, and his action was
Hendrik picked up three sticks from the ground and held them before the
eyes of the white men.
"Put these together," he said, "and you cannot break them. Take them one
by one and you break them with ease."
But he could not convince the white leaders, and then, a man of great
soul, he said that if his white comrades must go in the way they had
chosen he would go with them. Calling about him the Mohawk warriors,
two hundred in number, he stood upon a gun carriage and addressed them
with all the spirit and eloquence of his race. Few of the Americans
understood a word he said, but they knew from his voice that he was
urging his men to deeds of valor.
Hendrik told the warriors that the French and their allies were at hand,
and the forces of Waraiyageh were going out to meet them. Waraiyageh had
always been their friend, and it became them now to fight by his side
with all the courage the Ganeagaono had shown through unnumbered
generations. A fierce shout came from the Mohawks, and, snatching their
tomahawks from their belts, they waved them about their heads.
To the young Philadelphians and to Grosvenor, the Englishman, who stood
by, it was a sight wild and picturesque beyond description. The Mohawks
were in full war paint and wore little clothing. Their dark eyes
flashed, as the eloquence of Hendrik made the intoxication of battle
rise in their veins, and when two hundred tomahawks were swung aloft and
whirled about the heads of their owners the sun flashed back from them
in glittering rays. Now and then fierce shouts of approval burst forth,
and when Hendrik finished and stepped down from the gun carriage, they
were ready to start on a march, of which the wise old sachem had not
The militia also were rapidly making ready, and Robert and Tayoga,
awakened and refreshed, took their places with the little Philadelphia
troop and the young Englishman, Grosvenor. Hendrik was too old and stout
to march on foot, and he rode at the head of his warriors on a horse,
lent him by Colonel Johnson, an unusual spectacle among the Iroquois,
who knew little of horses, and cared less about them.
This was the main force, and the Philadelphia troop, with Robert, Tayoga
and Grosvenor, was close behind the Iroquois as they plunged into the
deep woods bordering the lake, a mass of tangled wilderness that might
well house a thousand ambushes. Grosvenor glanced about him
"I don't like the looks of it," he said. "It reminds me too much of the
forest into which we marched with Braddock, God rest his soul!"
"I wasn't there," said young Captain Colden, "but Heaven knows I've
heard enough horrible tales about it, and I've seen enough of the French
and Indians to know they're expert at deadly snares."
"But we fight cunning with cunning," said Robert, cheerfully. "Look at
the Mohawks ahead. There are two hundred of 'em, and every one of 'em
has a hundred eyes."
"And look at old Hendrik, trotting along in the very lead on his horse,"
said Wilton. "I'm a man of peace, a Quaker, as you know, but my
Quakerish soul leaps to see that gallant Indian, old enough to be the
grandfather of us all, showing the way."
"Bravery and self-sacrifice are quite common among Indians. You'll learn
that," said Robert. "Now, watch with all your eyes, every man of you,
and notice anything that stirs in the brush."
Despite himself, Robert's own mind turned back to Braddock also, and all
the incidents of the forest march that had so terrible an ending.
Johnson's army knew more of the wilderness than Braddock's, but the
hostile force was also far superior to the one that had fought at
Duquesne. The French were many times more numerous here than there, and,
although he had spoken brave words, his heart sank. Like the old Mohawk
chief, he knew the army should not have been divided.
The region was majestic and beautiful. Not far away lay the lake,
Andiatarocte, glittering in the sun. Around them stretched the primeval
forest, in which the green was touched with the brown of late summer.
Above them towered the mountains. The wilderness, picturesque and grand,
gave forth no sound, save that of their own marching. The regiments of
Williams and Whiting followed the Mohawks, and the New England and New
York men were confident.
Robert heard behind him the deep hum and murmur that an advancing army
makes, the sound of men talking that no commands could suppress, the
heavy tread of the regiments and the clank of metal. That wild region
had seen many a battle, but never before had it been invaded by armies
so great as those of Dieskau and Johnson, which were about to meet in
His apprehensions grew. The absence of sounds save those made by
themselves, the lack of hostile presence, not even a single warrior or
Frenchman being visible, filled him with foreboding. It was just this
way, when he marched with Braddock, only the empty forest, and no sign
of deadly danger.
"Tayoga! Tayoga!" he whispered anxiously. "I don't like it."
"Nor do I, Dagaeoga."
"Think you we are likely to march into an ambush again?"
"Tododaho on his star is silent. He whispers nothing to me, yet I
believe the trap is set, just ahead, and we march straight into it."
"And it's to be another Duquesne?"
"I did not say so, Dagaeoga. The trap will shut upon us, but we may
burst it. Behold the Mohawks, the valiant Ganeagaono! Behold all the
brave white men who are used to the forest and its ways! It is a strong
trap that can hold them, one stronger, I think, than any the sons of
Onontio and their savage allies can build."
Robert's heart leaped up at the brave words of Tayoga.
"I think so, too," he said. "It may be an ambush, but if so we will
break from it. Old Hendrik tried to stop 'em, to keep all our force
together, but since he couldn't do it, he's riding at the very head of
this column, a shining target for hidden rifles."
"Hendrik is a great sachem, and as he is now old and grown feeble of the
body, though not of the mind, this may well be his last and most
"I hope he won't fall."
"Perhaps he may wish it thus. There could be no more fitting death for a
They ceased talking, but both continued to watch the forest on either
side with trained eyes. There was no wind, though now and then Robert
thought he saw a bough or a bush move, indicating the presence of a
hidden foe. But he invariably knew the next instant that it was merely
the product of an uncommonly vivid imagination, always kindling into a
burning fire in moments of extreme danger. No, there was nothing in the
woods, at least, nothing that he could see.
Ahead of him the band of Mohawks, old Hendrik on horseback at their
head, marched steadily on, warily watching the woods and thickets for
their enemies. They, at least, were in thorough keeping with the
wildness of the scene, with their painted bodies, their fierce eyes and
their glittering tomahawks. But around Robert and Tayoga were the young
Philadelphians, trained, alert men now, and following them was the
stream of New York and New England troops, strong, vigorous and alive
The wilderness grew wilder and more dense, the Mohawks entering a great
gorge, forested heavily, down the center of which flowed a brook of
black water. Thickets spread everywhere, and there were extensive
outcroppings of rock. At one point rose precipices, with the stony
slopes of French Mountain towering beyond. At another point rose West
Mountain, though it was not so high, but at all points nature was wild
The air seemed to Robert to grow darker, though he was not sure whether
it was due to his imagination or to the closing in of the forests and
mountains. At the same time a chill ran through his blood, a chill of
alarm, and he knew instinctively that it was with good cause.
"Look at the great sachem!" suddenly exclaimed Tayoga.
Hendrik, loyal friend of the Americans and English, had reined in his
horse, and his old eyes were peering into the thicket on his left, the
mass of Mohawks behind him also stopping, because they knew their
venerable leader would give no alarm in vain. Tayoga, Robert, Grosvenor
and the Philadelphians stopped also, their eyes riveted on Hendrik.
Robert's heart beat hard, and millions of motes danced in the air before
The sachem suddenly threw up one hand in warning, and with the other
pulled back his horse. The next instant a single rifle cracked in the
thicket, but in a few seconds it was followed by the crashing fire of
hundreds. Many of the Mohawks fell, a terrible lane was cut through the
ranks of the Colonials, and the bullets whistled about the heads of the
"The ambush!" cried Robert.
"The ambush!" echoed the Philadelphians.
Tayoga uttered a groan. His eyes had seen a sight they did not wish to
see, however much he may have spoken of a glorious death for the old on
the battlefield. Hendrik's horse had fallen beneath the leader, but the
old chief leaped to his feet. Before he could turn a French soldier
rushed up and killed him with a bayonet. Thus died a great and wise
sachem, a devoted friend of the Americans, who had warned them in vain
against marching into a trap, but who, nevertheless, in the very moment
of his death, had saved them from going so completely into the trap that
its last bar could close down.
A mighty wail arose from the Mohawks when they saw their venerated
leader fall, but the wail merged into a fierce cry for vengeance, to
which the ambushed French and Indians replied with shouts of exultation
and increased their fire, every tree and bush and rock and log hiding a
"Give back!" shouted Tayoga to those around him. "Give back for your
The Mohawks and the frontiersmen alike saw they must slip from the trap,
which they had half entered, if they were not to perish as Braddock's
army had perished, and like good foresters they fell back without
hesitation, pouring volley after volley into the woods and thickets
where French and Indians still lay hidden. Yet the mortality among them
was terrible. Colonel Williams noted a rising ground on their right, and
led his men up the slope, but as they reached the summit he fell dead,
shot through the brain. A new and terrible fire was poured upon his
troops there from the bordering forest, and, unable to withstand it,
they broke and began to retreat in confusion.
The young Philadelphians, with Robert, Tayoga and Grosvenor, rushed to
their aid, and they were followed swiftly by the other regiment under
Whiting. Yet it seemed that they would be cut to pieces when Robert
suddenly heard a tremendous war cry from a voice he thought he knew, and
looking back, he saw Daganoweda, the Mohawk, rushing into the battle.
The young chieftain looked a very god of war, his eyes glittering, the
feathers in his headdress waving defiantly, the blade of his tomahawk
flashing with light, when he swung it aloft. Now and then his lips
opened as he let loose the tremendous war cry of the Ganeagaono. Close
behind him crowded the warriors who had survived the combat with St.
Luc, and there were Black Rifle, Willet, Rogers and the rangers, too,
come just in time, with their stout hearts and strong arms to help stay
Robert himself uttered a shout of joy and the dark eyes of Tayoga
glowed. But from the Mohawks of Hendrik came a mighty, thrilling cry
when they saw the rush of their brethren under Daganoweda to their aid.
Hendrik had fallen, and he had been a great and a wise sachem who would
be missed long by his nation, but Daganoweda was left, a young chief, a
very thunderbolt in battle, and the fire from his own ardent spirit was
communicated to theirs. Willet, Black Rifle and the rangers were also
pillars of strength, and the whole force, rallying, turned to meet the
The French and Indians, sure now of a huge triumph, were rushing from
their coverts to complete it, to drive the fugitives in panic and
turmoil upon the main camp, where Johnson had remained for the present,
and then to annihilate him and his force too. Above the almost
continuous and appalling yells of the savages the French trumpets sang
the song of victory, and the German baron who led them felt that he
already clutched laurels as great as those belonging to the men who had
But the triumphant sweep of the Northern allies was suddenly met by a
deadly fire from Mohawks, rangers and Colonials. Daganoweda and his men,
tomahawk in hand, leaped upon the van of the French Indians and drove
them back. The rangers and the frontiersmen, sheltering themselves
behind logs and tree trunks, picked off the French regulars and the
Canadians as they advanced. A bullet from the deadly barrel of Black
Rifle slew Legardeur de St. Pierre, who led Dieskau's Indians, and whom
they always trusted. The savage mass, wholly triumphant a minute ago,
gave back, and the panic among the Mohawks and Colonials was stopped.
When St. Pierre fell Robert saw a gallant figure appear in his place, a
figure taller and younger, none other than St. Luc himself, the
Chevalier, arriving in time to help his own, just as Daganoweda, Willet
and the others had come in time to aid theirs. The Chevalier was unhurt,
and while one dauntless leader had fallen, another as brave and perhaps
more skillful had taken his place. Robert saw him raise a whistle to his
lips, and at its clear, piercing call, heard clearly above the crash of
the battle, the Indians, turning, attacked anew and with yet greater
The smoke from so much firing was growing very thick, but through it the
regulars of the regiments, Languedoc and La Reine, in their white
uniforms, could be seen advancing, with the dark mass of the Canadians
on one flank and the naked and painted Indians on the other, confident
now that their check had been but momentary, and that the victory would
yet be utter and complete.
Nevertheless, the Colonials and the Mohawks had rallied, order was
restored, and while they were giving ground they were retreating in good
formation, and with the rapid fire of their rifles were making the foe
pay dearly for his advance.
Grosvenor had snatched up a rifle and ammunition from a fallen man, and
was pulling trigger as fast as he could reload. His face was covered
with smoke, perspiration and the stains of burned gunpowder, the whole
forming a kind of brown mask, through which his eyes, nevertheless,
gleamed with a dauntless light.
"It won't be Duquesne over again! It won't be! It won't be!" he repeated
to all the world.
"But if you're not more careful you'll never know anything about it!"
exclaimed Robert, as he grasped him suddenly by the coat and pulled him
down behind a log, a half dozen musket balls whistling the next moment
where his body had been. Grosvenor, in the moment of turmoil and
excitement, did not forget to be grateful.
"Thanks, my dear fellow," he said to Robert. "I'll do as much for you
Robert was about to reply, but a joyous shout from the rear stopped him.
Over a hill behind them a strong body of provincials appeared coming to
help. Waraiyageh in his camp had received news of ambush and battle, and
knowing that his men must be in desperate case had hurried forward
relief. Never was a force more welcome. Along the retreating line ran a
welcoming shout, and all facing about as if by a single order, they gave
the pursuing French and Indians a tremendous volley.
Robert saw regulars, Canadians and Indians drop as if smitten by a
thunderbolt, and the whole pursuing army, reeling back, stopped. Then he
heard the French trumpets again, and waiting behind the log, he saw that
the hostile array was no longer advancing. The trumpets of Dieskau were
sounding the recall, for the time, at least. Robert did not know until
afterward that the Indian allies of the French had suffered so much that
they were wavering, and not even the eloquence and example of St. Luc
could persuade them, for the time being, to continue such a dangerous
A few minutes of precious rest were allowed to the harried vanguard of
Johnson, and now, holding their fire for a time when it would be needed
more, the men continued to fall back toward the main camp, from which
they had so recently come. The crash of rifles and muskets sank, but
both sides were merely preparing for a new battle. Robert examined
himself carefully, but found no trace of a wound.
"How is it with you, Tayoga?" he asked.
"Tododaho and Areskoui have protected me once more," replied the
Onondaga. "The exertion has made my shoulder stiff and sore a little,
but I have taken no fresh hurt."
"And you, Grosvenor?"
"My head is thumping at a terrible rate, but I feel that it will soon
"Its ability to thump shows that you're full of life. How about your
men, Captain Colden?"
"Four of my brave lads are sped. God rest their souls! They died in a
good cause. Some of the others are wounded, but we won't count wounds
Robert was still able to see the indistinct figures of the French and
Indians, through the clouds of smoke that hung between the two armies,
but he saw also that they were not pursuing. At the distance he heard no
sounds from them, and he presumed they were gathering up their dead and
wounded, preparing for the new attack that would surely come.
"I was not in the first battle, but I will be in the second," a youthful
voice said beside him, and he saw the Mohawk boy, Joseph Brant, his face
"We heard the firing," continued the boy, "and Colonel Johnson hurried
forward a force, as you know. We are almost back at the camp now."
Robert had taken no notice of distance, but facing about, he saw the
main camp not far away. Lucky it was for them that Waraiyageh and his
officers were men of experience. They had sent enough men to help the
vanguard break from the trap, but they had retained the majority, and
had made them fortify with prodigious energy. A barricade of wagons,
inverted boats, and trees hastily cut down had been built across the
front. Three cannon were planted in the center, where it was expected
the main Indian and French force would appear, and another was dragged
to the crest of a hill to rake their flank.
The retreating force uttered a tremendous shout as they saw how their
comrades had prepared for them, and then, in good order, sought the
shelter of the barricade, where they were welcomed by those who had not
yet been in battle.
"Get fresh breath while you may!" exclaimed Tayoga, as he threw himself
down on the ground. "The delay will not be long. Sharp Sword will drive
the warriors forward, and the regulars and Canadians will charge. It
will be a great battle, and a desperate one, nor does Tododaho yet
whisper to me which side will win."
Robert and his comrades breathed heavily for a while, until they felt
new strength pouring back into their veins. Then they rose, looked to
their arms and took their place in the line of battle. The trumpets of
Dieskau were sounding again in the forest in front of them, and the new
attack was at hand.
"Keep close, Grosvenor," said Robert. "They'll fire the first volley and
we'll let it pass over our heads."
"I know the wisdom of what you say," replied the Englishman, "but it's
hard to refrain from looking when you know a French army and a mass of
howling savages are about to rush down upon you."
"But one must, if he intends to live and fight."
Clear and full sang the trumpets of Dieskau once more. Despite his
advice to Grosvenor, Robert peeped over the log and saw the enemy
gathering in the forest. The French regulars were in front, behind them
the Canadians, and on the flanks hovered great masses of savages. Smoke
floated over trees and bushes, and the forest was full of acrid odors.
Far to the right he caught another glimpse of St. Luc in his splendid
white and silver uniform, marshaling the Indians, a shining mark, but
"The attack will be fierce," whispered Tayoga, who lay on his left.
"They consider their check a matter of but a moment, and they think to
sweep over us."
"But we have hundreds and hundreds of good rifles that say them nay. Is
Tododaho still silent, Tayoga?"
The Onondaga looked up at the heavens, where the deep blue, beyond the
smoke, was unstained. There was the corner, where the star, on which his
patron saint lived, came out at night, but no light shone from the
silky void and no whisper reached his ear. So he said in reply:
"The great Onondaga chieftain who went away four hundred years ago is
silent today, and we must await the event."
"We won't have to wait long, because I hear a single trumpet now, and to
me it sounds wonderfully like the call to charge."
The silver note thrilled through the woods, the French regulars and
Canadians uttered a shout, which was followed instantly by the terrible
yell of the Indians, and then the thickets crashed beneath the tread of
the attacking army.
"Here they come!" shouted Grosvenor, and, laying his rifle across the
log, he fired almost at random into the charging mass. Robert and Tayoga
picked their targets, and their bullets sped true. All along the
American line ran the fierce fire, the crest of the whole barricade
blazing with red, while the artillery, which the savages always dreaded,
opened on them with showers of grape.
The Indians, despite all the bravery and example of St. Luc, wavered,
and, as their dead fell around them, they began to give forth laments,
instead of triumphant yells. But the regulars in the center, led by
Dieskau, came on as steadily as ever, and the little group behind the
log, of which Tayoga and Robert were the leading spirits, turned their
rifles upon them. Robert presently heard a youthful shout of exultation
at the far end of the log, and he saw the boy, Joseph Brant, reloading
the rifle which he had fired in his first battle. The French regulars
suddenly stopped, and Grosvenor cried:
"It will be no Duquesne! No Duquesne again!"
The French were not withdrawing. Upon that field, as well as every other
in North America, they showed that they were the bravest of the brave.
Wheeling his regulars and Canadians to the right, Dieskau sought to
crush there the three American regiments of Titcomb, Ruggles and
Williams, and for an hour the battle at that point swayed to and fro,
often almost hand to hand. Titcomb was slain and many of his officers
fell, but when Dieskau himself came into view an American rifleman shot
him through the leg. His adjutant, a gallant young officer named
Montreuil, although wounded himself, rushed from cover, seized his
wounded chief in his arms and bore him to the shelter of a tree.
But he was not safe long even there. While they were washing his wounds
he was struck again by two bullets, in the knee and in the thigh. Two
Canadians attempted to carry him to the rear. One was killed instantly,
and Montreuil took his place, but Dieskau made them put him down and
directed the adjutant to lead the French again in a desperate charge to
regain a day that had started so brilliantly, and that now seemed to be
wavering in the balance.
Colonel Johnson himself had been wounded severely, and had been
compelled to retire to his tent, but the American colonels, at least
those who survived, conducted the battle with skill and valor. The
cannon, protected by the riflemen, still sent showers of grape shot
among the French and Indians. The huge Tandakora with St. Luc tried to
lead the savages anew upon the American lines, but the hearts of the red
men failed them.
The French regulars, urged on by Montreuil, charged once more, and once
more were driven back, and the Americans, rising from their logs and
coverts, rushed forward in their turn. The regulars and Canadians were
driven back in a rout, and Dieskau himself lying among the bushes was
taken, being carried to the tent of Johnson, where the two wounded
commanders, captor and captive, talked politely of many things.
The victory became more complete than the Americans had hoped. The
Indians who had stayed far in the rear to scalp those fallen in the
morning were attacked suddenly by a band of frontiersmen, coming to join
Johnson's army, and, although they fought desperately and were superior
in numbers, they were routed as Dieskau had been, the survivors fleeing
into the forest.
Thus, late in the afternoon, closed the momentous battle of Lake George.
The French and Indian power had received a terrible blow, the whole
course of the war, which before had been only a triumphant march for the
enemy, was changed, and men took heart anew as the news spread through
all the British colonies.
When Dieskau's regulars, the Canadians and the Indians, broke in the
great defeat, Robert, Tayoga, Willet, Grosvenor, the Philadelphia troop,
Black Rifle and Daganoweda, all fierce with exultation, followed in
pursuit. But the enemy melted away before them, and then, from the
crest of a hill, Robert heard the distant note of a French song he knew:
Hier, sur le pont d'Avignon
J'ai oui chanter la belle
J'ai oui chanter la belle,
Elle chantait d'un ton si doux
Comme une demoiselle
Comme une demoiselle.
"At least he has escaped," said Robert.
"The bullet that kills him is not molded and never will be," said
"How do you know?" asked Willet, startled.
"Because Tododaho has whispered it to me. I heard his voice in the
breath of the wind as we pursued through the forest."
Robert caught a glimpse of St. Luc, in his uniform of white and silver,
still apparently unstained, erect and defiant. Then he disappeared and
they heard only the singing of the wind among the leaves.