Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson

Part 4 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"Put up your weapon, Captain; you will not attack an unarmed
priest. You are a soldier, and will not dare strike an old,
defenceless man."

"But I will strike a black-robed and black-hearted French rebel.
Get that flag, you grinning fool!"

The two men stood facing each other. Father Beret's eyes did not
stir from their direct, fearless gaze. What Farnsworth had called
a grin was a peculiar smile, not of merriment, a grayish flicker
and a slight backward wrinkling of the cheeks. The old man's arms
were loosely crossed upon his sturdy breast.

"Strike if you must," he said very gently, very firmly. "I never
yet have seen the man that could make me afraid." His speech was
slightly sing-song in tone, as it would have been during a prayer
or a blessing.

"Get the flag then!" raged Farnsworth, in whose veins the heat of
liquor was aided by an unreasoning choler.

"I cannot," said Father Beret.

"Then take the consequences!"

Farnsworth lifted his sword, not to thrust, but to strike with its
flat side, and down it flashed with a noisy whack. Father Beret
flung out an arm and deftly turned the blow aside. It was done so
easily that Farnsworth sprang back glaring and surprised.

"You old fool!" he cried, leveling his weapon for a direct lunge.
"You devilish hypocrite!"

It was then that Father Beret turned deadly pale and swiftly
crossed himself. His face looked as if he saw something startling
just beyond his adversary. Possibly this sudden change of
expression caused Farnsworth to hesitate for a mere point of time.
Then there was the swish of a woman's skirts; a light step
pattered on the frozen ground, and Alice sprang between the men,
facing Farnsworth. As she did this something small and yellow,--
the locket at her throat,--fell and rolled under her feet. Nobody
saw it.

In her hand she held an immense horse pistol, which she leveled in
the Captain's face, its flaring, bugle-shaped muzzle gaping not a
yard from his nose. The heavy tube was as steady as if in a vise.

"Drop that sword!"

That was all she said; but her finger was pressing the trigger,
and the flint in the backward slanting hammer was ready to click
against the steel. The leaden slugs were on the point of leaping
forth.

"Drop that sword!"

The repetition seemed to close the opportunity for delay.

Farnsworth was on his guard in a twinkling. He set his jaw and
uttered an ugly oath; then quick as lightning he struck sidewise
at the pistol with his blade. It was a move which might have taken
a less alert person than Alice unawares; but her training in
sword-play was ready in her wrist and hand. An involuntary turn,
the slightest imaginable, set the heavy barrel of her weapon
strongly against the blow, partly stopping it, and then the gaping
muzzle spat its load of balls and slugs with a bellow that awoke
the drowsy old village.

Farnsworth staggered backward, letting fall his sword. There was a
rent in the clothing of his left shoulder. He reeled; the blood
spun out; but he did not fall, although he grew white.

Alice stood gazing at him with a look on her face he would never
forget. It was a look that changed by wonderful swift gradations
from terrible hate to something like sweet pity. The instant she
saw him hurt and bleeding, his countenance relaxing and pale, her
heart failed her. She took a step toward him, her hand opened, and
with a thud the heavy old pistol fell upon the ground beside her.

Father Beret sprang nimbly to sustain Farnsworth, snatching up the
pistol as he passed around Alice.

"You are hurt, my son," he gently said, "let me help you." He
passed his arm firmly under that of Farnsworth, seeing that the
Captain was unsteady on his feet.

"Lean upon me. Come with me, Alice, my child, I will take him into
the house."

Alice picked up the Captain's sword and led the way.

It was all done so quickly that Farnsworth, in his half dazed
condition, scarcely realized what was going on until he found
himself on a couch in the Roussillon home, his wound (a jagged
furrow plowed out by slugs that the sword's blade had first
intercepted) neatly dressed and bandaged, while Alice and the
priest hovered over him busy with their careful ministrations.

Hamilton and Helm were, as usual, playing cards at the former's
quarters when a guard announced that Mademoiselle Roussillon
wished an audience with the Governor.

"Bring the girl in," said Hamilton, throwing down his cards and
scowling darkly.

"Now you'd better be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove,"
remarked Helm. "There is something up, and that gun-shot we heard
awhile ago may have a good deal to do with it. At any rate, you'll
find kindness your best card to play with Alice Roussillon just at
the present stage of the game."

Of course they knew nothing of what had happened to Farnsworth;
but they had been discussing the strained relations between the
garrison and the French inhabitants when the roar of Alice's big-
mouthed pistol startled them. Helm was slyly beating about to try
to make Hamilton lose sight of the danger from Clark's direction.
To do this he artfully magnified the insidious work that might be
done by the French and their Indian friends should they be driven
to desperation by oppressive or exasperating action on the part of
the English.

Hamilton felt the dangerous uncertainty upon which the situation
rested; but, like many another vigorously self-reliant man, he
could not subordinate his passions to the dictates of policy. When
Alice was conducted into his presence he instantly swelled with
anger. It was her father who had struck him and escaped, it was
she who had carried off the rebel flag at the moment of victory.

"Well, Miss, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?" he
demanded with a supercilious air, bending a card between his thumb
and finger on the rude table.

She stood before him tall and straight, well bundled in furs. She
was not pale; her blood was too rich and brilliant for that; but
despite a half-smile and the inextinguishable dimples, there was a
touch of something appealingly pathetic in the lines of her mouth.
She did not waver or hesitate, however, but spoke promptly and
distinctly.

"I have come, Monsieur, to tell you that I have hurt Captain
Farnsworth. He was about to kill Father Beret, and I shot him. He
is in our house and well cared for. I don't think his wound is
bad. And--" here she hesitated at last and let her gaze fall,--"so
here I am." Then she lifted her eyes again and made an inimitable
French gesture with her shoulders and arms. "You will do as you
please, Monsieur, I am at your mercy."

Hamilton was astounded. Helm sat staring phlegmatically. Meantime
Beverley entered the room and stopped hat in hand behind Alice. He
was flushed and evidently excited; in fact, he had heard of the
trouble with Farnsworth, and seeing Alice enter the floor of
Hamilton's quarters he followed her in, his heart stirred by no
slight emotion. He met the Governor's glare and parried it with
one of equal haughtiness. The veins on his forehead swelled and
turned dark. He was in a mood to do whatever desperate act should
suggest itself.

When Hamilton fairly comprehended the message so graphically
presented by Alice, he rose from his seat by the fire.

"What's this you tell me?" he blurted. "You say you've shot
Captain Farnsworth?"

"Oui, Monsieur"

He stared a moment, then his features beamed with hate.

"And I'll have you shot for it, Miss, as sure as you stand there
in your silly impudence ogling me so brazenly!"

He leaned toward her as he spoke and sent with the words a shock
of coarse, passionate energy from which she recoiled as if
expecting a blow to follow it.

An irresistible impulse swept Beverley to Alice's side, and his
attitude was that of a protector. Helm sprang up.

A Lieutenant came in and respectfully, but with evident over-
haste, reported that Captain Farnsworth had been shot and was at
Roussillon place in care of the surgeon.

"Take this girl into custody. Confine her and put a strong guard
over her."

In giving the order Hamilton jerked his thumb contemptuously
toward Alice, and at the same time gave Beverley a look of supreme
defiance and hatred. When Helm began to speak he turned fiercely
upon him and stopped him with:

"None of your advice, sir. I have had all I want of it. Keep your
place or I'll make you."

Then to Beverley:

"Retire, sir. When I wish to see you I'll send for you. At present
you are not needed here."

The English Lieutenant saluted his commander, bowed respectfully
to Alice and said:

"Come with me, Miss, please."

Helm and Beverley exchanged a look of helpless and enquiring rage.
It was as if they had said: "What can we do? Must we bear it?"
Certainly they could do nothing. Any interference on their part
would be sure to increase Alice's danger, and at the same time add
to the weight of their own humiliation.

Alice silently followed the officer out of the room. She did not
even glance toward Beverley, who moved as if to interfere and was
promptly motioned back by the guard. His better judgement
returning held him from a rash and futile act, until Hamilton
spoke again, saying loudly as Alice passed through the door:

"I'll see who's master of this town if I have to shoot every
French hoyden in it!"

"Women and children may well fear you, Colonel Hamilton," said
Beverley. "That young lady is your superior."

"You say that to me, sir!"

"It is the best I could possibly say of you."

"I will send you along with the wench if you do not guard your
language. A prisoner on parole has no license to be a blackguard."

"I return you my parole, sir, I shall no longer regard it as
binding," said Beverley, by a great effort, holding back a blow;
"I will not keep faith with a scoundrel who does not know how to
be decent in the presence of a young girl. You had better have me
arrested and confined. I will escape at the first opportunity and
bring a force here to reckon with you for your villainy. And if
you dare hurt Alice Roussillon I will have you hanged like a dog!"

Hamilton looked at him scornfully, smiling as one who feels safe
in his authority and means to have his own way with his victim.
Naturally he regarded Beverley's words as the merest vaporings of
a helpless and exasperated young man. He saw very clearly that
love was having a hand in the affair, and he chuckled inwardly,
thinking what a fool Beverley was.

"I thought I ordered you to leave this room," he said with an air
and tone of lofty superiority, "and I certainly mean to be obeyed.
Go, sir, and if you attempt to escape, or in any way break your
parole, I'll have you shot."

"I have already broken it. From this moment I shall not regard it.
You have heard my statement. I shall not repeat it. Govern
yourself accordingly."

With these words Beverley turned and strode out of the house,
quite beside himself, his whole frame quivering.

Hamilton laughed derisively, then looked at Helm and said:

"Helm, I like you; I don't wish to be unkind to you; but
positively you must quit breaking in upon my affairs with your
ready-made advice. I've given you and Lieutenant Beverley too much
latitude, perhaps. If that young fool don't look sharp he'll get
himself into a beastly lot of trouble. You'd better give him a
talk. He's in a way to need it just now."

"I think so myself," said Helm, glad to get back upon fair footing
with the irascible Governor. "I'll wait until he cools off
somewhat, and then I can manage him. Leave him to me."

"Well, come walk with me to see what has really happened to
Farnsworth. He's probably not much hurt, and deserves what he's
got. That girl has turned his head. I think I understand the whole
affair. A little love, a little wine, some foolishness, and the
wench shot him."

Helm genially assented; but they were delayed for some time by an
officer who came in to consult with Hamilton on some pressing
Indian affairs. When they reached Roussillon place they met
Beverley coming out; but he did not look at them. He was scarcely
aware of them. A little way outside the gate, on going in, he had
picked up Alice's locket and broken chain, which he mechanically
put into his pocket. It was all like a dream to him, and yet he
had a clear purpose. He was going away from Vincennes, or at least
he would try, and woe be to Hamilton on his coming back. It was so
easy for an excited young mind to plan great things and to expect
success under apparently impossible conditions. Beverley gave Jean
a note for Alice; it was this that took him to Roussillon place;
and no sooner fell the night than he shouldered a gun furnished
him by Madame Godere, and guided by the woodsman's fine craft,
stole away southward, thinking to swim the icy Wabash some miles
below, and then strike across the plains of Illinois to Kaskaskia.

It was a desperate undertaking; but in those days desperate
undertakings were rather the rule than the exception. Moreover,
love was the leader and Beverley the blind follower. Nothing could
daunt him or turn him back, until he found an army to lead against
Hamilton. It seems but a romantic burst of indignation, as we look
back at it, hopelessly foolish, with no possible end but death in
the wilderness. Still there was a method in love's madness, and
Beverley, with his superb physique, his knowledge of the
wilderness and his indomitable self-reliance, was by no means
without his fighting chance for success.

CHAPTER XII

MANON LESCAUT. AND A RAPIER-THRUST

Beverley's absence was not noticed by Hamilton until late on the
following day, and even then he scouted Helm's suggestion that the
young man was possibly carrying out his threat to disregard his
parole.

"He would be quite justified in doing it; you know that very
well," said Helm with a laugh, "and he's just the man to undertake
what is impossible. Of course, however, he'll get scalped for his
trouble, and that will cost you something, I'm happy to say."

"It's a matter of small importance," Hamilton replied; "but I'll
wager you the next toddy that he's not at the present moment a
half-mile from this spot. He may be a fool, I readily grant that
he is, but even a fool is not going to set out alone in this kind
of weather to go to where your rebel friends are probably toasting
their shins by a fire of green logs and half starving over yonder
on the Mississippi."

"Joking aside, you are doubtless right. Beverley is hot-headed,
and if he could he'd get even with you devilish quick; but he
hasn't left Vincennes, I think. Miss Roussillon would keep him
here if the place were on fire!"

Hamilton laughed dryly. He had thought just what Helm was saying.
Beverley's attentions to Alice had not escaped his notice.

"Speaking of that girl," he remarked after a moment's silence,
"what am I do to do with her? There's no place to keep her, and
Farnsworth insists that she wasn't to blame." He chuckled again
and added:

"It's true as gospel. He's in love with her, too. Seems to be glad
she shot him. Says he's ashamed of himself for ever suspecting her
of anything but being a genuine angel. Why, he's got as flabby as
a rabbit and mumbles like a fool!"

"Same as you or I at his age," said Helm, taking a chew of
tobacco. "She IS a pretty thing. Beverley don't know his foot from
his shoulder-blade when she's anywhere near him. Boys are boys.
I'm a sort of a boy myself."

"If she'd give up that flag he'd let her go," said Hamilton. "I hate
like the devil to confine her; it looks brutal, and makes me feel
like a tyrant."

"Have you ever happened to notice the obvious fact, Governor
Hamilton, that Alice Roussillon and Father Beret are not all the
French in Vincennes?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that I don't for a moment believe that either the girl or
the priest knows a thing about where that flag is. They are both
as truthful and honorable as people ever get to be. I know them.
Somebody else got that flag from under the priest's floor. You may
depend upon that. If Miss Roussillon knew where it is she'd say
so, and then dare you to make her tell where it's hidden." "Oh,
the whole devilish town is rotten with treason; that's very clear.
There's not a loyal soul in it outside of my forces."

"Thank you for not including me among the loyalists."

"Humph, I spoke of these French people; they pretend to be true;
but I believe they are all traitors,"

"You can manage them if you try. A little jolly kindness goes a
long way with 'em. _I_ had no trouble while _I_ held the town."

Hamilton bit his lip and was silent. Helm was exasperatingly good
tempered, and his jocularity was irresistible. While he was yet
speaking a guard came up followed by Jean, the hunchback, and
saluting said to Hamilton:

"The lad wants to see the young lady, sir."

Hamilton gazed quizzically at Jean, who planted himself in his
habitual attitude before him and stared up into his face with the
grotesque expression which seems to be characteristic of
hunchbacks and unfledged birds--the look of an embodied and
hideous joke.

"Well, sir, what will you have?" the Governor demanded.

"I want to see Alice, if you please."

"What for?"

"I want to give her a book to read."

"Ah, indeed. Where is it? Let me see it"

Jean took from the breast of his loose jerkin a small volume, dog-
eared and mildewed, and handed it to Hamilton. Meantime he stood
first on one foot, then the other, gnawing his thumb-nail and
blinking rapidly.

"Well, Helm, just look here!"

"What?"

"Manon Lescaut."

"And what's that?"

"Haven't you ever read it?"

"Read what?"

"This novel--Manon Lescaut."

"Never read a novel in my life. Never expect to."

Hamilton laughed freely at Helm's expense, then turned to Jean and
gave him back the book.

It would have been quite military, had he taken the precaution to
examine between the pages for something hidden there, but he did
not.

"Go, give it to her," he said, "and tell her I send my
compliments, with great admiration of her taste in literature." He
motioned the soldier to show Jean to Alice. "It's a beastly French
story," he added, addressing Helm; "immoral enough to make a
pirate blush. That's the sort of girl Mademoiselle Roussillon is!"

"I don't care what kind of a book she reads," blurted Helm, "she's
a fine, pure, good girl. Everybody likes her. She's the good angel
of this miserable frog-hole of a town. You'd like her yourself, if
you'd straighten up and quit burning tow in your brain all the
time. You're always so furious about something that you never have
a chance to be just to yourself, or pleasant to anybody else."

Hamilton turned fiercely on Helm, but a glimpse of the Captain's
broad good-humored face heartily smiling, dispelled his anger.
There was no ground upon which to maintain a quarrel with a person
so persistently genial and so absurdly frank. And in fact Hamilton
was not half so bad as his choleric manifestations seemed to make
him out. Besides, Helm knew just how far to go, just when to stop.

"If I had got furious at you every time there was overwhelming
provocation for it," Hamilton said, "you'd have been long since
hanged or shot. I fancy that I have shown angelic forbearance.
I've given you somewhat more than a prisoner's freedom."

"So you have, so you have," assented Helm. "I've often been
surprised at your generous partiality in my case. Let's have some
hot water with something else in it, what do you say? I won't give
you any more advice for five minutes by your watch."

"But I want some advice at once."

"What about?"

"That girl."

"Turn her loose. That's easy and reputable."

"I'll have to, I presume; but she ought to be punished."

"If you'll think less about punishment, revenge and getting even
with everybody and everything, you'll soon begin to prosper."

Hamilton winced, but smiled as one quite sure of himself.

Jean followed the soldier to a rickety log pen on the farther side
of the stockade, where he found the prisoner restlessly moving
about like a bird in a rustic cage. It had no comforts, that
gloomy little room. There was no fireplace, the roof leaked, and
the only furniture consisted of a bench to sit on and a pile of
skins for bed. Alice looked charmingly forlorn peeping out of the
wraps in which she was bundled against the cold, her hair fluffed
and rimpled in shining disorder around her face.

The guard let Jean in and closed the door, himself staying
outside.

Alice was as glad to see the poor lad as if they had been parted
for a year. She hugged him and kissed his drawn little face.

"You dear, good Jean!" she murmured, "you did not forget me."

"I brought you something," he whispered, producing the book.

Alice snatched it, looked at it, and then at Jean.

"Why, what did you bring this for? you silly Jean! I didn't want
this. I don't like this book at all. It's hateful. I despise it.
Take it back."

"There's something in it for you, a paper with writing on it;
Lieutenant Beverley wrote it on there. It's shut up between the
leaves about the middle."

"Sh-s-sh! not so loud, the guard'll hear you," Alice breathlessly
whispered, her whole manner changing instantly. She was trembling,
and the color had been whisked from her face, as the flame from a
candle in a sudden draught.

She found the note and read it a dozen times without a pause, her
eyes leaping along the lines back and forth with pathetic
eagerness and concentration. Presently she sat down on the bench
and covered her face with her hands. A tremor first, then a
convulsive sobbing, shook her collapsed form. Jean regarded her
with a drolly sympathetic grimace, elevating his long chin and
letting his head settle back between his shoulders.

"Oh, Jean, Jean!" she cried at last, looking up and reaching out
her arms; "O Jean, he is gone, gone, gone!"

Jean stepped closer to her while she sobbed again like a little
child.

She pulled him to her and held him tightly against her breast
while she once more read the note through blinding tears. The
words were few, but to her they bore the message of desolation and
despair. A great, haunting, hollow voice in her heart repeated
them until they echoed from vague distance to distance.

It was written with a bit of lead on the half of a mildewed fly-
leaf torn from the book:

"Dear Alice:

"I am going away. When you read this, think of me as hurrying
through the wilderness to reach our army and bring it here. Be
brave, as you always have been; be good, as you cannot help being;
wait and watch for me; love me, as I love you. I will come. Do not
doubt it, I will come, and I will crush Hamilton and his command.
Courage, Alice dear; courage, and wait for me. "Faithfully ever,
"Beverley."

She kissed the paper with passionate fervor, pouring her tears
upon it in April showers between which the light of her eyes
played almost fiercely, so poignant was her sense of a despair
which bordered upon desperation. "Gone, gone!" It was all she
could think or say. "Gone, gone."

Jean took the offending novel back home with him, hidden under his
jerkin; but Beverley's note lay upon Alice's heart, a sweet
comfort and a crushing weight, when an hour later Hamilton sent
for her and she was taken before him. Her face was stained with
tears and she looked pitifully distressed and disheveled; yet
despite all this her beauty asserted itself with subtle force.

Hamilton felt ashamed looking at her, but put on sternness and
spoke without apparent sympathy:

"Miss Roussillon, you came near committing a great crime. As it
is, you have done badly enough; but I wish not to be unreasonably
severe. I hope you are sorry for your act, and feel like doing
better hereafter."

She was trembling, but her eyes looked steadily straight into his.
They were eyes of baby innocence, yet they irradiated a strong
womanly spirit just touched with the old perverse, mischievous
light which she could neither banish nor control. When she did not
make reply, Hamilton continued:

"You may go home now, and I shall expect to have no more trouble
on your account." He made a gesture indicative of dismissal; then,
as she turned from him, he added, somewhat raising his voice:

"And further, Miss Roussillon, that flag you took from here must
positively be returned. See that it is done."

She lifted her head high and walked away, not deigning to give him
a word.

"Humph! what do you think now of your fine young lady?" he
demanded, turning to Helm with a sneering curl of his mouth. "She
gives thanks copiously for a kindness, don't you think?"

"Poor girl, she was scared nearly out of her life," said Helm.
"She got away from you, like a wounded bird from a snare. I never
saw a face more pitiful than hers."

"Much pity she needs, and greatly like a wounded bird she acts, I
must say; but good riddance if she'll keep her place hereafter. I
despise myself when I have to be hard with a woman, especially a
pretty one. That girl's a saucy and fascinating minx, and as
dangerous as twenty men. I'll keep a watch on her movements from
this on, and if she gets into mischief again I'll transport her to
Detroit, or give her away to the Indians, She must stop her high-
handed foolishness."

Helm saw that Hamilton was talking mere wind, VOX ET PRAETEREA
NIHIL, and he furthermore felt that his babbling signified no harm
to Alice; but Hamilton surprised him presently by saying:

"I have just learned that Lieutenant Beverley is actually gone.
Did you know of his departure?"

"What are you saying, sir?"

Helm jumped to his feet, not angry, but excited.

"Keep cool, you need not answer if you prefer silence or evasion.
You may want to go yourself soon."

Helm burst out laughing, but quickly growing serious said:

"Has Beverley been such a driveling fool as that? Are you in
earnest?"

"He killed two of my scouts, wounded another, and crossed the
Wabash in their canoe. He is going straight towards Kaskaskia."

"The idiot! Hurrah for him! If you catch your hare you may roast
him, but catch him first, Governor!"

"You'll joke out of the other corner of your mouth, Captain Helm,
if I find out that you gave him aid or countenance in breaking his
parole."

"Aid or countenance! I never saw him after he walked out of this
room. You gave him a devil of a sight more aid and countenance
than I did. What are you talking about! Broke his parole! He did
no such thing. He returned it to you fairly, as you well know. He
told you he was going."

"Well, I've sent twenty of my swiftest Indians after him to bring
him back. I'll let you see him shot. That ought to please you."

"They'll never get him, Governor. I'll bet high on him against
your twenty scalp-lifters any day. Fitzhugh Beverley is the best
Indian fighter, Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton excepted, in the
American colonies."

On her way home Alice met Father Beret, who turned and walked
beside her. He was so overjoyed at her release that he could
scarcely speak; but held her hand and stroked it gently while she
told him her story. It was beginning to rain, a steady, cold
shower, when they reached the house, and for many days and nights
thereafter the downfall continued almost incessantly.

"Dear child," said Father Beret, stopping at the gate and looking
beseechingly into Alice's face, "you must stay at home now--stay
in the house--it will be horribly dangerous for you to pass about
in the village after your--after what has happened."

"Do not fear, Father, I will be careful. Aren't you coming in?
I'll find you a cake and a glass of wine."

"No, child, not now."

"Then good-bye, good-bye," she said, turning from him to run into
the house. "Come soon, I shall be so lonesome."

On the veranda she suddenly stopped, running her fingers about her
neck and into her bosom.

"Oh, Father, Father Beret, I've lost my locket!" she cried. "See
if I dropped it there."

She went back to the gate, searching the ground with her eyes. Of
course she did not find the locket. It was miles and miles away
close to the heart of her lover. If she could but have known this,
it would have comforted her. Beverley had intended to leave it
with Jean, but in his haste and excitement he forgot; writing the
note distracted his attention; and so he bore Alice's picture on
his breast and in his heart while pursuing his long and perilous
journey.

Four of Hamilton's scouts came upon Beverley twenty miles south of
Vincennes, but having the advantage of them, he killed two almost
immediately, and after a running fight, the other two attempted
escape in a canoe on the Wabash. Here, firing from a bluff, he
wounded a third. Both then plunged head-foremost into the water,
and by keeping below the surface, got away. The adventure gave
Beverley new spirit and self-reliance; he felt that he could
accomplish anything necessary to his undertaking. In the captured
pirogue he crossed the river, and, to make his trail hard to find,
sent the little craft adrift down the current.

Then alone, in the dead of winter, he took his bearings and struck
across the dreary, houseless plain toward St. Louis.

As soon as Hamilton's discomfited scouts reported to him, he sent
Long-Hair with twenty picked savages, armed and supplied for
continuous and rapid marching, in pursuit of Beverley. There was a
large reward for bringing him in alive, a smaller one for his
scalp.

When Alice heard of all this, her buoyant and happy nature seemed
entirely to desert her for a time. She was proud to find out that
Beverley had shown himself brave and capable; it touched her love
of heroism; but she knew too much about Indian warfare to hope
that he could hold his own against Long-Hair, the wiliest and
boldest of scalp-hunters, and twenty of the most experienced
braves in Hamilton's forces. He would almost certainly be killed
and scalped, or captured and brought back to be shot or hanged in
Vincennes. The thought chilled and curdled her blood.

Both Helm and Father Beret tried to encourage and comfort her by
representing the probabilities in the fairest light.

"It's like hunting for a needle in a haystack, going out to find a
man in that wilderness," said Helm with optimistic cheerfulness;
"and besides Beverley is no easy dose for twenty red niggers to
take. I've seen him tried at worse odds than that, and he got out
with a whole skin, too. Don't you fret about him, Miss
Roussillon."

Little help came to her from attempts of this sort. She might
brighten up for a while, but the dark dread, and the terrible
gnawing at her heart, the sinking and despairing in her soul,
could not be cured.

What added immeasurably to her distress was the attention of
Farnsworth, whose wound troubled him but a short time. He seemed
to have had a revelation and a change of spirit since the
unfortunate rencounter and the subsequent nursing at Alice's
hands. He was grave, earnest, kindly, evidently striving to play a
gentle and honorable part. She could feel that he carried a load
of regret, that he wanted to pay a full price in good for the evil
that he had done; his sturdy English heart was righting itself
nobly, yet she but half understood him, until his actions and
words began to betray his love; and then she hated him
unreasonably. Realizing this, Farnsworth bore himself more like a
faithful dog than in the manner hitherto habitual to him. He
simply shadowed Alice and would not be rebuffed.

There can be nothing more painful to a finely sympathetic nature
than regret for having done a kindness. Alice experienced this to
the fullest degree. She had nursed Farnsworth but a little while,
yet it was a while of sweet influence. Her tender woman nature
felt the blessedness of doing good to her enemy lying helpless in
her house and hurt by her own hand. But now she hated the man, and
with all her soul she was sorry that she had been kind to him; for
out of her kindness he had drawn the spell of a love under which
he lived a new life, and all for her. Yet deep down in her
consciousness the pity and the pathos of the thing hovered
gloomily and would not be driven out.

The rain in mid-winter gave every prospect a sad, cold, sodden
gray appearance. The ground was soaked, little rills ran in the
narrow streets, the small streams became great rivers, the Wabash
overflowed its banks and made a sea of all the lowlands on either
side. It was hard on the poor dwellers in the thatched and mostly
floorless cabins, for the grass roofs gradually let the water
through and puddles formed on the ground inside. Fuel was distant
and had to be hauled in the pouring rain; provisions were scarce
and hunting almost impossible. Many people, especially children,
were taken ill with colds and fever. Alice found some relief from
her trouble in going from cabin to cabin and waiting upon the
sufferers; but even here Farnsworth could not be got rid of; he
followed her night and day. Never was a good soldier, for he was
that from head to foot, more lovelorn and love-docile. The maiden
had completely subdued the man.

About this time, deep in a rainy and pitch-black night, Gaspard
Roussillon came home. He tapped on the door again and again. Alice
heard, but she hesitated to speak or move. Was she growing
cowardly? Her heart beat like a drum. There was but one person in
all the world that she could think of--it was not M. Roussillon.
Ah, no, she had well-nigh forgotten her gigantic foster father.

"It is I, ma cherie, it is Gaspard, my love, open the door," came
in a booming half-whisper from without. "Alice, Jean, it is your
Papa Roussillon, my dears. Let me in."

Alice was at the door in a minute, unbarring it. M. Roussillon
entered, armed to the teeth, the water dribbling from his buckskin
clothes.

"Pouf!" he exclaimed, "my throat is like dust." His thoughts were
diving into the stores under the floor. "I am famished. Dear
children, dear little ones! They are glad to see papa! Where is
your mama?"

He had Alice in his arms and Jean clung to his legs. Madame
Roussillon, to be sure of no mistake, lighted a lamp with a brand
that smoldered on the hearth and held it up, then, satisfied as to
her husband's identity, set it on a shelf and flung herself into
the affectionate group with clumsy abandon, making a great noise.

"Oh, my dear Gaspard!" she cried as she lunged forward. "Gaspard,
Gaspard!" Her voice fairly lifted the roof; her great weight,
hurled with such force, overturned everybody, and all of them
tumbled in a heap, the rotund and solid dame sitting on top.

"Ouf! not so impetuous, my dear, "puffed M. Roussillon, freeing
himself from her unpleasant pressure and scrambling to his feet.
"Really you must have fared well in my absence, Madame, you are
much heavier." He laughed and lifted her up as if she had been a
child, kissing her resonantly.

His gun had fallen with a great clatter. He took it from the floor
and examined it to see if it had been injured, then set it in a
corner.

"I am afraid we have been making too much noise," said Alice,
speaking very low. "There is a patrol guard every night now. If
they should hear you--"

"Shh!" whispered M. Roussillon, "we will be very still. Alice, is
there something to eat and a drop of wine handy? I have come many
miles; I am tired, hungry, thirsty,--ziff!"

Alice brought some cold roast venison, a loaf, and a bottle of
claret. These she set before him on a little table.

"Ah, this is comfort," he said after he had gulped a full cup.
"Have you all been well?"

Then he began to tell where he had been, what he had seen, and the
many things he had done. A Frenchman must babble while he eats and
drinks. A little wine makes him eloquent. He talks with his hands,
shoulders, eyes. Madame Roussillon, Alice and Jean, wrapped in
furs, huddled around him to hear. He was very entertaining, and
they forgot the patrol until a noise startled them. It was the low
of a cow. They laughed and the master of the house softened his
voice.

M. Roussillon had been the guest of a great Indian chieftain, who
was called the "Gate of the Wabash," because he controlled the
river. The chief was an old acquaintance and treated him well.

"But I wanted to see you all," Gaspard said. "I was afraid
something might have happened to you. So I came back just to peep
in. I can't stay, of course; Hamilton would kill me as if I were a
wolf. I can remain but an hour and then slip out of town again
before daylight conies. The rain and darkness are my friends."

He had seen Simon Kenton, who said he had been in the neighborhood
of Vincennes acting as a scout and spy for Clark. Presently and
quite casually he added:

"And I saw Lieutenant Beverley, too. I suppose you know that he
has escaped from Hamilton, and--" Here a big mouthful of venison
interfered.

Alice leaned toward him white and breathless, her heart standing
still.

Then the door, which had been left unbarred, was flung open and,
along with a great rush of wind and rain, the patrol guard, five
in number, sprang in.

M. Roussillon reached his gun with one hand, with the other swung
a tremendous blow as he leaped against the intruders. Madame
Roussillon blew out the light. No cave in the depth of earth was
ever darker than that room. The patrolmen could not see one
another or know what to do; but M. Roussillon laid about him with
the strength of a giant. His blows sounded as if they smashed
bones. Men fell heavily thumping on the floor where he rushed
along. Some one fired a pistol and by its flash they all saw him;
but instantly the darkness closed again, and before they could get
their bearings he was out and gone, his great hulking form making
its way easily over familiar ground where his would-be captors
could have proceeded but slowly, even with a light to guide them.
There was furious cursing among the patrolmen as they tumbled
about in the room, the unhurt ones trampling their prostrate
companions and striking wildly at each other in their blindness
and confusion. At last one of them bethought him to open a dark
lantern with which the night guards were furnished. Its flame was
fluttering and gave forth a pale red light that danced weirdly on
the floors and walls.

Alice had snatched down one of her rapiers when the guards first
entered. They now saw her facing them with her slender blade
leveled, her back to the wall, her eyes shining dangerously.
Madame Roussillon had fled into the adjoining room. Jean had also
disappeared. The officer, a subaltern, in charge of the guard,
seeing Alice, and not quickly able to make out that it was a woman
thus defying him, crossed swords with her. There was small space
for action; moreover the officer being not in the least a
swordsman, played awkwardly, and quick as a flash his point was
down. The rapier entered just below his thread with a dull
chucking stab. He leaped backward, feeling at the same time a pair
of arms clasp his legs. It was Jean, and the Lieutenant, thus
unexpectedly tangled, fell to the floor, breaking but not
extinguishing the guard's lantern as he went down. The little
remaining oil spread and flamed up brilliantly, as if eager for
conflagration, sputtering along the uneven boards.

"Kill that devil!" cried the Lieutenant, in a strangling voice,
while trying to regain his feet. "Shoot! Bayonet!"

In his pain, rage and haste, he inadvertently set his hand in the
midst of the blazing oil, which clung to the flesh with a seething
grip.

"Hell!" he screamed, "fire, fire!"

Two or three bayonets were leveled upon Alice. Some one kicked
Jean clean across the room, and he lay there curled up in his
hairy night-wrap looking like an enormous porcupine.

At this point a new performer came upon the stage, a dark-robed
thing, so active that its outlines changed elusively, giving it no
recognizable features. It might have been the devil himself, or
some terrible unknown wild animal clad somewhat to resemble a man,
so far as the startled guards could make out. It clawed right and
left, hurled one of them against the wall, dashed another through
the door into Madame Roussillon's room, where the good woman was
wailing at the top of her voice, and felled a third with a stroke
like that of a bear's paw.

Consternation was at high tide when Farnsworth, who always slept
with an ear open, reached Roussillon place and quickly quieted
things. He was troubled beyond expression when he found out the
true state of the affair, for there was nothing that he could do
but arrest Alice and take her to Hamilton. It made his heart sink.
He would have thought little of ordering a file of soldiers to
shoot a man under the same conditions; but to subject her again to
the Governor's stern cruelty--how could he do it? This time there
would be no hope for her.

Alice stood before him flushed, disheveled, defiant, sword in
hand, beautiful and terrible as an angel. The black figure, man or
devil, had disappeared as strangely as it had come. The sub-
Lieutenant was having his slight wound bandaged. Men were raging
and cursing under their breath, rubbing their bruised heads and
limbs.

"Alice--Mademoiselle Roussillon, I am so sorry for this," said
Captain Farnsworth. "It is painful, terrible--"

He could not go on, but stood before her unmanned. In the feeble
light his face was wan and his hurt shoulder, still in bandages,
drooped perceptibly.

"I surrender to you," she presently said in French, extending the
hilt of her rapier to him. "I had to defend myself when attacked
by your Lieutenant there. If an officer finds it necessary to set
upon a girl with his sword, may not the girl guard her life if she
can?"

She was short of breath, so that her voice palpitated with a
touching plangency that shook the man's heart.

Farnsworth accepted the sword; he could do nothing less. His duty
admitted of no doubtful consideration; yet he hesitated, feeling
around in his mind for a phrase with which to evade the
inevitable.

"It will be safer for you at the fort, Mademoiselle; let me take
you there."

CHAPTER XIII

A MEETING IN THE WILDERNESS

Beverley set out on his mid-winter journey to Kaskaskia with a
tempest in his heart, and it was, perhaps, the storm's energy that
gave him the courage to face undaunted and undoubting what his
experience must have told him lay in his path. He was young and
strong; that meant a great deal; he had taken the desperate
chances of Indian warfare many times before this, and the danger
counted as nothing, save that it offered the possibility of
preventing him from doing the one thing in life he now cared to
do. What meant suffering to him, if he could but rescue Alice? And
what were life should he fail to rescue her? The old, old song
hummed in his heart, every phrase of it distinct above the tumult
of the storm. Could cold and hunger, swollen streams, ravenous
wild beasts and scalp-hunting savages baffle him? No, there is no
barrier that can hinder love. He said this over and over to
himself after his rencounter with the four Indian scouts on the
Wabash. He repeated it with every heart-beat until he fell in with
some friendly red men, who took him to their camp, where to his
great surprise he met M. Roussillon. It was his song when again he
strode off toward the west on his lonely way.

We need not follow him step by step; the monotony of the woods and
prairies, the cold rains, alternating with northerly winds and
blinding snow, the constant watchfulness necessary to guard
against a meeting with hostile savages, the tiresome tramping,
wading and swimming, the hunger, the broken and wretched sleep in
frozen and scant wraps,--why detail it all?

There was but one beautiful thing about it--the beauty of Alice as
she seemed to walk beside him and hover near him in his dreams. He
did not know that Long-Hair and his band were fast on his track;
but the knowledge could not have urged him to greater haste. He
strained every muscle to its utmost, kept every nerve to the
highest tension. Yonder towards the west was help for Alice; that
was all he cared for.

But if Long-Hair was pursuing him with relentless greed for the
reward offered by Hamilton, there were friendly footsteps still
nearer behind him; and one day at high noon, while he was bending
over a little fire, broiling some liberal cuts of venison, a
finger tapped him on the shoulder. He sprang up and grappled Oncle
Jazon; at the same time, standing near by, he saw Simon Kenton,
his old-time Kentucky friend. The pungled features of one and the
fine, rugged face of the other swam as in a mist before Beverley's
eyes. Kenton was laughing quietly, his strong, upright form
shaking to the force of his pleasure. He was in the early prime of
a vigorous life, not handsome, but strikingly attractive by reason
of a certain glow in his face and a kindly flash in his deep-set
eyes.

"Well, well, my boy!" he exclaimed, laying his left hand on
Beverley's shoulder, while in the other he held a long, heavy
rifle. "I'm glad to see ye, glad to see

"Thought we was Injuns, eh?" said Oncle Jazon. "An' ef we had 'a'
been we'd 'a' been shore o' your scalp!" The wizzened old creole
cackled gleefully.

"And where are ye goin'?" demanded Kenton. "Ye're making what
lacks a heap o' bein' a bee-line for some place or other."

Beverley was dazed and vacant-minded; things seemed wavering and
dim. He pushed the two men from him and gazed at them without
speaking. Their presence and voices did not convince him.

"Yer meat's a burnin'," said Oncle Jazon, stooping to turn it on
the smouldering coals. "Ye must be hungry. Cookin' enough for a
regiment."

Kenton shook Beverley with rough familiarity, as if to rouse his
faculties.

"What's the matter? Fitz, my lad, don't ye know Si Kenton? It's
not so long since we were like brothers, and now ye don't speak to
me! Ye've not forgot me, Fitz!"

"Mebby he don't like ye as well as ye thought he did," drawled
Oncle Jazon. "I HEV known o' fellers a bein' mistaken jes' thet
way."

Beverley got his wits together as best he could, taking in the
situation by such degrees as seemed at the time unduly slow, but
which were really mere momentary falterings.

"Why, Kenton! Jazon!" he presently exclaimed, a cordial gladness
blending with his surprise. "How did you get here? Where did you
come from?"

He looked from one to the other back and forth with a wondering
smile breaking over his bronzed and determined face.

"We've been hot on yer trail for thirty hours," said Kenton.
"Roussillon put us on it back yonder. But what are ye up to? Where
are ye goin'?"

"I'm going to Clark at Kaskaskia to bring him yonder." He waved
his hand eastward. "I am going to take Vincennes and kill
Hamilton."

'Well, ye're taking a mighty queer course, my boy, if ye ever
expect to find Kaskaskia. Ye're already twenty miles too far
south."

"Carryin' his gun on the same shoulder all the time," said Oncle
Jazon, "has made 'im kind o' swing in a curve like. 'Tain't good
luck no how to carry yer gun on yer lef' shoulder. When you do it
meks yer take a longer step with yer right foot than ye do with
yer lef' an' ye can't walk a straight line to save yer liver.
Ventreblue! La venaison brule encore! Look at that dasted meat
burnin' agin!"

He jumped back to the fire to turn the scorching cuts.

Beverley wrung Kenton's hand and looked into his eyes, as a man
does when an old friend comes suddenly out of the past, so to say,
and brings the freshness and comfort of a strong, true soul to
brace him in his hour of greatest need.

"Of all men in the world, Simon Kenton, you were the least
expected; but how glad I am! How thankful! Now I know I shall
succeed. We are going to capture Vincennes, Kenton, are we not? We
shall, sha'n't we, Jazon? Nothing, nothing can prevent us, can
it?"

Kenton heartily returned the pressure of the young man's hand,
while Oncle Jazon looked up quizzically and said:

"We're a tol'ble 'spectable lot to prevent; but then we might git
pervented. I've seed better men an' us purty consid'ble pervented
lots o' times in my life."

In speaking the colloquial dialect of the American backwoodsmen,
Oncle Jazon, despite years of practice among them, gave to it a
creole lisp and some turns of pronunciation not to be indicated by
any form of spelling. It added to his talk a peculiar soft
drollery. When he spoke French it was mostly that of the COUREURS
DE BOIS, a PATOIS which still lingers in out-of-the-way nooks of
Louisiana.

"For my part," said Kenton, "I am with ye, old boy, in anything ye
want to do. But now ye've got to tell me everything. I see that
ye're keeping something back. What is it?" He glanced sidewise
slyly at Oncle Jazon.

Beverley was frank to a fault; but somehow his heart tried to keep
Alice all to itself. He hesitated; then--

"I broke my parole with Governor Hamilton," he said. "He forced me
to do it. I feel altogether justified. I told him beforehand that
I should certainly leave Vincennes and go get a force to capture
and kill him; and I'll do it, Simon Kenton, I'll do it!"

"I see, I see," Kenton assented, "but what was the row about? What
did he do to excite ye--to make ye feel justified in breakin' over
yer parole in that high-handed way? Fitz, I know ye too well to be
fooled by ye--you've got somethin' in mind that ye don't want to
tell. Well, then don't tell it. Oncle Jazon and I will go it
blind, won't we, Jazon?"

"Blind as two moles," said the old man; "but as for thet secret,"
he added, winking both eyes at once, "I don't know as it's so
mighty hard to guess. It's always safe to 'magine a woman in the
case. It's mostly women 'at sends men a trottin' off 'bout
nothin', sort o' crazy like."

Beverley looked guilty and Oncle Jazon continued: "They's a poo'ty
gal at Vincennes, an' I see the young man a steppin' into her
house about fifteen times a day 'fore I lef' the place. Mebbe
she's tuck up wi' one o' them English officers. Gals is slippery
an' onsartin'."

"Jazon!" cried Beverley, "stop that instantly, or I'll wring your
old neck." His anger was real and he meant what he said. He
clenched his hands and glowered.

Oncle Jazon, who was still squatting by the little fire, tumbled
over backwards, as if Beverley had kicked him; and there he lay on
the ground with his slender legs quivering akimbo in the air,
while he laughed in a strained treble that sounded like the
whining of a screech-owl.

The old scamp did not know all the facts in Beverley's case, nor
did he even suspect what had happened; but he was aware of the
young man's tender feeling for Alice, and he did shrewdly
conjecture that she was a factor in the problem.

The rude jest at her expense did not seem to his withered and
toughened taste in the least out of the way. Indeed it was a
delectable bit of humor from Oncle Jazon's point of view.

"Don't get mad at the old man," said Kenton, plucking Beverley
aside. "He's yer friend from his heels to his old scalped crown.
Let him have his fun." Then lowering his voice almost to a whisper
he continued:

"I was in Vincennes for two days and nights spyin' around. Madame
Godere hid me in her house when there was need of it. I know how
it is with ye; I got all the gossip about ye and the young lady,
as well as all the information about Hamilton and his forces that
Colonel Clark wants. I'm goin' to Kaskaskia; but I think it quite
possible that Clark will be on his march to Vincennes before we
get there; for Vigo has taken him full particulars as to the fort
and its garrison, and I know that he's determined to capture the
whole thing or die tryin'."

Beverley felt his heart swell and his blood leap strong in his
veins at these words.

"I saw ye while I was in Vincennes," Kenton added, "but I never
let ye see me. Ye were a prisoner, and I had no business with ye
while your parole held. I felt that it was best not to tempt ye to
give me aid, or to let ye have knowledge of me while I was a spy.
I left two days before ye did, and should have been at Kaskaskia
by this time if I hadn't run across Jazon, who detained me. He
wanted to go with me, and I waited for him to repair the stock of
his old gun. He tinkered at it 'tween meals and showers for half a
week at the Indian village back yonder before he got it just to
suit him. But I tell ye he's wo'th waiting for any length of time,
and I was glad to let him have his way."

Kenton, who was still a young man in his early thirties, respected
Beverley's reticence on the subject uppermost in his mind. Madame
Godere had told the whole story with flamboyant embellishments;
Kenton tiad seen Alice, and, inspired with the gossip and a
surreptitious glimpse of her beauty, he felt perfectly familiar
with Beverley's condition. He was himself a victim of the tender
passion to the extent of being an exile from his Virginia home,
which he had left on account of dangerously wounding a rival. But
he was well touched with the backwoodsman's taste for joke and
banter. He and Oncle Jazon, therefore, knowing the main feature of
Beverley's predicament, enjoyed making the most of their
opportunity in their rude but perfectly generous and kindly way.

By indirection and impersonal details, as regarded his feelings
toward Alice, Beverley in due time made his friends understand
that his whole ambition was centered in rescuing her. Nor did the
motive fail to enlist their sympathy to the utmost. If all the
world loves a lover, all men having the best virile instinct will
fight for a lover's cause. Both Kenton and Oncle Jazon were
enthusiastic; they wanted nothing better than an opportunity to
aid in rescuing any girl who had shown so much patriotism and
pluck. But Oncle Jazon was fond of Alice, and Beverley's story
affected him peculiarly on her account.

"They's one question I'm a goin' to put to ye, young man," he
said, after he had heard everything and they had talked it all
over, "an' I want ye to answer it straight as a bullet f'om yer
gun."

"Of course, Jazon, go ahead," said Beverley. "I shall be glad to
answer." But his mind was far away with the gold-haired maiden in
Hamilton's prison. He scarcely knew what he was saying.

"Air ye expectin' to marry Alice Roussillon?"

The three men were at the moment eating the well broiled venison.
Oncle Jazon's puckered lips and chin were dripping with the
fragrant grease and juice, which also flowed down his sinewy,
claw-like fingers. Overhead in the bare tops of the scrub oaks
that covered the prairie oasis, the February wind sang a shrill
and doleful song.

Beverley started as if a blow had been aimed at him. Oncle Jazon's
question, indeed, was a blow as unexpected as it was direct and
powerful.

"I know it's poo'ty p'inted," the old man added after a short
pause, "an' ye may think 'at I ain't got no business askin' it;
but I have. That leetle gal's a pet o' mine, an' I'm a lookin'
after her, an' expectin' to see 'at she's not bothered by nobody
who's not goin' to do right by her. Marryin' is a mighty good
thing, but--"

"What do ye know about matrimony, ye old raw-headed bachelor?"
demanded Kenton, who felt impelled to relieve Beverley of the
embarrassment of an answer. "Ye wouldn't know a wife from a sack
o' meal!"

"Now don't git too peart an' fast, Si Kenton," cried Oncle Jazon,
glaring truculently at his friend, but at the same time showing a
dry smile that seemed to be hopelessly entangled in criss-cross
wrinkles. "Who told ye I was a bach'lor? Not by a big jump. I've
been married mighty nigh on to twenty times in my day. Mos'ly
Injuns, o' course; but a squaw's a wife w'en ye marries her, an' I
know how it hurts a gal to be dis'p'inted in sich a matter. That's
w'y I put the question I did. I'm not goin' to let no man give
sorry to that little Roussillon gal; an' so ye've got my say. Ye
seed her raise thet flag on the fort, Lieutenant Beverley, an' ye
seed her take it down an' git away wi' it. You know 'at she
deserves nothin' but the best; an' by the Holy Virgin, she's got
to have it, or I'm a goin' to know several reasons why. Thet's
what made me put the question straight to ye, young man, an' I
expects a straight answer."

Beverley's face paled; but not with anger. He grasped one of Oncle
Jazon's greasy hands and gave it such a squeeze that the old
fellow grimaced painfully.

"Thank you, Oncle Jazon, thank you!" he said, with a peculiar
husky burr in his voice. "Alice will never suffer if I can help
it. Let the subject drop now, my friend, until we have saved her
from the hands of Hamilton." In the power of his emotion he
continued to grip the old man's hand with increasing severity of
pressure.

"Ventrebleu! let go! Needn't smash a feller's fingers 'bout it!"
screeched Oncle Jazon. "I can't shoot wo'th a cent, nohow, an' ef
ye cripple up my trigger-finger--"

Kenton had been peeping under the low-hanging scrub-oak boughs
while Oncle Jazon was speaking these last words; and now he
suddenly interrupted:

"The devil! look yonder!" he growled out in startling tone.
"Injuns!"

It was a sharp snap of the conversation's thread, and at the same
time our three friends realized that they had been careless in not
keeping a better look-out. They let fall the meat they had not
yet finished eating and seized their guns.

Five or six dark forms were moving toward them across a little
point of the prairie that cut into the wood a quarter of a mile
distant.

"Yander's more of 'em," said Oncle Jazon, as if not in the least
concerned, wagging his head in an opposite direction, from which
another squad was approaching.

That he duly appreciated the situation appeared only in the
celerity with which he acted.

Kenton at once assumed command, and his companions felt his
perfect fitness. There was no doubt from the first as to what the
Indians meant; but even if there had been it would have soon
vanished; for in less than three minutes twenty-one savages were
swiftly and silently forming a circle inclosing the spot where the
three white men, who had covered themselves as best they could
with trees, waited in grim steadiness for the worst.

Quite beyond gunshot range, but near enough for Oncle Jazon to
recognize Long-Hair as their leader, the Indians halted and began
making signs to one another all round the line. Evidently they
dreaded to test the marksmanship of such riflemen as they knew
most border men to be. Indeed, Long-Hair had personal knowledge of
what might certainly be expected from both Kenton and Oncle Jazon;
they were terrible when out for fight; the red warriors from
Georgia to the great lakes had heard of them; their names smacked
of tragedy. Nor was Beverley without fame among Long-Hair's
followers, who had listened to the story of his fighting
qualities, brought to Vincennes by the two survivors of the
scouting party so cleverly defeated by him.

"The liver-colored cowards," said Kenton, "are afeared of us in a
shootin'-match; they know that a lot of 'em would have to die if
they should undertake an open fight with us. It's some sort of a
sneakin' game they are studyin' about just now."

"I'm a gittin' mos' too ole to shoot wo'th a cent," said Oncle
Jazon, "but I'd give half o' my scalp ef thet Long-Hair would come
clost enough fo' me to git a bead onto his lef' eye. It's tol'ble
plain 'at we're gone goslins this time, I'm thinkin'; still it'd
be mighty satisfyin' if I could plug out a lef' eye or two 'fore I
go."

Beverley was silent; the words of his companions were heard by
him, but not noticed. Nothing interested him save the thought of
escaping and making his way to Clark. To fail meant infinitely
more than death, of which he had as small fear as most brave men,
and to succeed meant everything that life could offer. So, in the
unlimited selfishness of love, he did not take his companions into
account.

The three stood in a close-set clump of four or five scrub oaks at
the highest point of a thinly wooded knoll that sloped down in all
directions to the prairie. Their view was wide, but in places
obstructed by the trees.

"Men," said Kenton, after a thoughtful and watchful silence, "the
thing looks kind o' squally for us. I don't see much of a chance
to get out of this alive; but we've got to try."

He showed by the density of his voice and a certain gray film in
his face that he felt the awful gravity of the situation; but he
was calm and not a muscle quivered.

"They's jes' two chances for us," said Oncle Jazon, "an' them's as
slim as a broom straw. We've got to stan' here an' fight it out,
or wait till night an' sneak through atween 'em an' run for it."

"I don't see any hope o' sneakin' through the line," observed
Kenton. "It's not goin' to be dark tonight."

"Wa-a-l," Oncle Jazon drawled nonchalantly while he took in a quid
of tobacco, "I've been into tighter squeezes 'an this, many a
time, an' I got out, too."

"Likely enough," said Kenton, still reflecting while his eyes
roamed around the circle of savages.

"I fit the skunks in Ferginny 'fore you's thought of, Si Kenton,
an' down in Car'lina in them hills. If ye think I'm a goin' to be
scalped where they ain't no scalp, 'ithout tryin' a few dodges,
yer a dad dasteder fool an' I used to think ye was, an' that's
makin' a big compliment to ye."

"Well, we don't have to argy this question, Oncle Jazon; they're a
gittin' ready to run in upon us, and we've got to fight. I say,
Beverley, are ye ready for fast shootin'? Have ye got a plenty of
bullets?"

"Yes, Roussillon gave me a hundred. Do you think--"

He was interrupted by a yell that leaped from savage mouth to
mouth all round the circle, and then the charge began.

"Steady, now," growled Kenton, "let's not be in a hurry. Wait till
they come nigh enough to hit 'em before we shoot."

The time was short; for the Indians came on at almost race-horse
speed.

Oncle Jazon fired first, the long, keen crack of his small-bore
rifle splitting the air with a suggestion of vicious energy, and a
lithe young warrior, who was outstripping all his fellows, leaped
high and fell paralyzed.

"Can't shoot wo'th a cent," muttered the old man, deftly beginning
to reload his gun the while; "but I jes' happened to hit that
buck. He'll never git my scalp, thet's sartin an' sure."

Beverley and Kenton each likewise dropped an Indian; but the shots
did not even check the rush. Long-Hair had planned to capture his
prey, not kill it. Every savage had his orders to take the white
men alive; Hamilton's larger reward depended on this.

Right on they came, as fast as their nimble legs could carry them,
yelling like demons; and they reached the grove before the three
white men could reload their guns. Then every warrior took cover
behind a tree and began scrambling forward from bole to bole, thus
approaching rapidly without much exposure.

"Our 'taters is roasted brown," muttered Oncle Jazon. He crossed
himself. Possibly he prayed; but he was priming his old gun the
next instant.

Kenton fired again, making a hurried and ineffectual attempt to
stop the nearest warrior, who saved himself by quickly skipping
behind a tree. Beverley's gun snapped, the flint failing to make
fire; but Oncle Jazon bored a little hole through the head of the
Indian nearest him; and then the final rush was made from every
direction.

A struggle ensued, which for desperate energy has probably never
been surpassed. Like three lions at bay, the white men met the
shock, and lion-like they fought in the midst of seventeen
stalwart and determined savages.

"Don't kill them, take them alive; throw them down and hold them!"
was Long-Hair's order loudly shouted in the tongue of his tribe.

Both Kenton and Jazon understood every word and knew the
significance of such a command from the leader. It naturally came
into Kenton's mind that Hamilton had been informed of his visit to
Vincennes and had offered a reward for his capture. This being
true, death as a spy would be the certain result if he were taken
back. He might as well die now. As for Beverley, he thought only
of Alice, yonder as he had left her, a prisoner in Hamilton's
hands, Oncle Jazon, if he thought at all, probably considered
nothing but present escape, though he prayed audibly to the
Blessed Virgin, even while he lay helpless upon the ground, pinned
down by the weight of an enormous Indian. He could not move any
part of himself, save his lips, and these mechanically put forth
the wheezing supplication.

Beverley and Kenton, being young and powerful, were not so easily
mastered. For a while, indeed, they appeared to be more than
holding their own. They time and time again scattered the entire
crowd by the violence of their muscular efforts; and after it had
finally closed in upon them in a solid body they swayed and swung
it back and forth and round and round until the writhing, savage
mass looked as if caught in the vortex of a whirlwind. But such
tremendous exertion could not last long. Eight to one made too
great a difference between the contending parties, and the only
possible conclusion of the struggle soon came. Seized upon by
desperate, clinging, wolf-like assailants, the white men felt
their arms, legs and bodies weighted down and their strength fast
going.

Kenton fell next after Oncle Jazon, and was soon tightly bound
with rawhide thongs. He lay on his back panting and utterly
exhausted, while Beverley still kept up the unequal fight.

Long-Hair sprang in at the last moment to make doubly certain the
securing of his most important captive. He flung his long and
powerful arms around Beverley from behind and made a great effort
to throw him upon the ground. The young man, feeling this fresh
and vigorous clasp, turned himself about to put forth one more
mighty spurt of power. He lifted the stalwart Indian bodily and
dashed him headlong against the buttressed root of a tree half a
rod distant, breaking the smaller bone of his left fore-arm and
well-nigh knocking him senseless.

It was a fine exhibition of manly strength; but there could be
nothing gained by it. A blow on the back of his head the next
instant stretched Beverley face downward and unconscious on the
ground. The savages turned him over and looked satisfied when they
found that he was not dead. They bound him with even greater care
than they had shown in securing the others, while Long-Hair stood
by stolidly looking on, meantime supporting his broken fore-arm in
his hand.

"Ugh! dog!" he grunted, and gave Beverley a kick in the side. Then
turning a fiendish stare upon Oncle Jazon he proceeded to deliver
against his old, dry ribs three or four like contributions with
resounding effect. "Polecat! Little old greasy woman!" he snarled,
"make good fire for warrior to dance by!" Kenton also received his
full share of the kicks and verbal abuse, after which Long-Hair
gave orders for fires to be built. Then he looked to his hurt arm
and had the bone set and bandaged, never so much as wincing the
while.

It was soon apparent that the Indians purposed to celebrate their
successful enterprise with a feast. They cooked a large amount of
buffalo steak; then, each with his hands full of the savory meat,
they began to dance around the fires, droning meantime an
atrociously repellant chant.

"They're a 'spectin' to hev a leetle bit o' fun outen us,"
muttered Oncle Jazon to Beverley, who lay near him. "I onderstan'
what they're up to, dad dast 'em! More'n forty years ago, in
Ca'lina, they put me an' Jim Hipes through the ga'ntlet, an' arter
thet, in Kaintuck, me an' Si Kenton tuck the run. Hi, there, Si!
where air ye?"

"Shut yer fool mouth," Kenton growled under his breath. "Ye'll
have that Injun a kickin' our lights out of us again."

Oncle Jazon winked at the gray sky and puckered his mouth so that
it looked like a nutgall on an old, dry leaf.

"What's the diff'ence?" he demanded. "I'd jest as soon be kicked
now as arter while; it's got to come anyhow."

Kenton made no response. The thongs were torturing his arms and
legs. Beverley was silent, but consciousness had returned, and
with it a sense of despair. All three of the prisoners lay face
upward quite unable to move, knowing full well that a terrible
ordeal awaited them. Oncle Jazon's grim humor could not be
quenched, even by the galling agony of the thongs that buried
themselves in the flesh, and the anticipation of torture beside
which death would seem a luxury.

"Yap! Long-Hair, how's yer arm?" he called jeeringly. "Feels pooty
good, hay?"

Long-Hair, who was not joining in the dance and song, turned when
he heard these taunting words, and mistaking whence they came,
went to Beverley's side and kicked him again and again.

Oncle Jazon heard the loud blows, and considered the incident a
remarkably good joke.

"He, he, he!" he snickered, as soon as Long-Hair walked away
again. "I does the talkin' an' somebody else gits the thumpin'!
He, he, he! I always was devilish lucky. Them kicks was good solid
jolts, wasn't they, Lieutenant? Sounded like they was. He, he,
he!"

Beverley gave no heed to Oncle Jazon's exasperating pleasantry;
but Kenton, sorely chafing under the pressure of his bonds, could
not refrain from making retort in kind.

"I'd give ye one poundin' that ye'd remember, Emile Jazon, if I
could get to ye, ye old twisted-face, peeled-headed, crooked-
mouthed, aggravatin' scamp!" he exclaimed, not thinking how high
his naturally strong voice was lifted. "I can stand any fool but a
damn fool!"

Long-Hair heard the concluding epithet and understood its meaning.
Moreover, he thought himself the target at which it was so
energetically launched. Wherefore he promptly turned back and gave
Kenton a kicking that made his body resound not unlike a drum.

And here it was that Oncle Jazon overreached himself. He was so
delighted at Kenton's luck that he broke forth giggling and
thereby drew against his own ribs a considerable improvement of
Long-Hair's pedal applications.

"Ventrebleu!" whined the old man, when the Indian had gone away
again. "Holy Mary! Jee-ru-sa-lem! They's nary bone o' me left
'at's not splintered as fine as toothpickers! S'pose yer satisfied
now, ain't ye, Si Kenton? Ef ye ain't I'm shore to satisfy ye the
fust time I git a chance at ye, ye blab-mouthed eejit!"

Before this conversation was ended a rain began to fall, and it
rapidly thickened from a desultory shower to a roaring downpour
that effectually quenched not only the fires around which the
savages were dancing, but the enthusiasm of the dancers as well.
During the rest of the afternoon and all night long the fall was
incessant, accompanied by a cold, panting, wailing southwest wind.

Beverley lay on the ground, face upward, the rawhide strings
torturing his limbs, the chill of cold water searching his bones.
He could see nothing but the dim, strange canopy of flying rain,
against which the bare boughs of the scrub oaks were vaguely
outlined; he could hear nothing but the cry of the wind and the
swash of the water which fell upon him and ran under him, bubbling
and gurgling as if fiendishly exultant.

The night dragged on through its terrible length, dealing out its
indescribable horrors, and at last morning arrived, with a stingy
and uncertain gift of light slowly increasing until the dripping
trees appeared forlornly gray and brown against clouds now
breaking into masses that gave but little rain.

Beverley lived through the awful trial and even had the hardihood
to brighten inwardly with the first flash of sunlight that shot
through a cloud-crack on the eastern horizon. He thought of Alice,
as he had done all night; but now the thought partook somehow of
the glow yonder above old Vincennes, although he could only see
its reflection.

There was great stir among the Indians. Long-Hair stalked about
scrutinizing the ground. Beverley saw him come near time and again
with a hideous, inquiring scowl on his face. Grunts and laconic
exclamations passed from mouth to mouth, and presently the import
of it all could not be mistaken. Kenton and Jazon were gone--had
escaped during the night--and the rain had completely obliterated
their tracks.

The Indians were furious. Long-Hair sent out picked parties of his
best scouts with orders to scour the country in all directions,
keeping with himself a few of the older warriors. Beverley was fed
what he would eat of venison, and Long-Hair made him understand
that he would have to suffer some terrible punishment on account
of the action of his companions.

Late in the day the scouts straggled back with the report that no
track or sign of the fugitives had been discovered, and
immediately a consultation was held. Most of the warriors,
including all of the young bucks, demanded a torture entertainment
as compensation for their exertions and the unexpected loss of
their own prisoners; for it had been agreed that Beverley belonged
exclusively to Long-Hair, who objected to anything which might
deprive him of the great reward offered by Hamilton for the
prisoner if brought to him alive.

In the end it was agreed that Beverley should be made to run the
gauntlet, provided that no deadly weapons were used upon him
during the ordeal.

CHAPTER XIV

A PRISONER OF LOVE

Alice put on her warmest clothes and followed Captain Farnsworth
to the fort, realizing that no pleasant experience awaited her.
The wind and rain still prevailed when they were ready to set
forth, and, although it was not extremely cold, a searching chill
went with every throb that marked the storm's waves. No lights
shone in the village houses. Overhead a gray gloom covered stars
and sky, making the darkness in the watery streets seem densely
black. Farnsworth offered Alice his arm, but she did not accept
it.

"I know the way better than you do," she said. "Come on, and don't
be afraid that I am going to run. I shall not play any trick on
you."

"Very well, Mademoiselle, as you like. I trust you."

He followed her from the house. He was so filled with the
bitterness of what he was doing that he carried her sword in his
hand all the way to the fort, quite unaware that its point often
touched her dress so that she plainly felt it. Indeed, she thought
he was using that ruffianly and dangerous means of keeping pace
with her. He had sent the patrol on its rounds, taking upon
himself the responsibility of delivering her to Hamilton. She
almost ran, urged by the strange excitement that burned in her
heart, and he followed somewhat awkwardly, stumbling over the
unfamiliar way in the rain and darkness.

At every step he was wishing that she would escape from him.
Coarse as his nature was and distorted by hardening experiences,
it was rooted in good English honesty and imbued with a chivalric
spirit. When, as happened too often, he fell under the influence
of liquor, the bad in him promptly came uppermost; but at all
other times his better traits made him a good fellow to meet,
genial, polite, generous, and inclined to recognize the finer
sentiments of manliness. To march into his commander's presence
with Alice as his prisoner lacked everything of agreeing with his
taste; yet he had not been willing to give her over into the hands
of the patrol. If his regard for military obligation had not been
exceptionally strong, even for an English soldier, he would have
given way to the temptation of taking her to some place of hiding
and safety, instead of brutally subjecting her to Hamilton's harsh
judgment. He anticipated a trying experience for her on account of
this new transgression.

They hastened along until a lantern in the fort shot a hazy gleam
upon them.

"Stop a moment, Mademoiselle," Farnsworth called. "I say, Miss
Roussillon, stop a moment, please."

Alice halted and turned facing him so short and so suddenly that
the rapier in his hand pricked through her wraps and slightly
scratched her arm.

"What do you mean, sir?" she demanded, thinking that he had thrust
purposely. "Do I deserve this brutality?"

"You mistake me, Miss Roussillon. I cannot be brutal to you now.
Do not fear me; I only had a word to say."

"Oh, you deem it very polite and gentle to jab me with your sword,
do you? If I had one in my hand you would not dare try such a
thing, and you know it very well."

He was amazed, not knowing that the sword-point had touched her.
He could not see her face, but there was a flash in her voice that
startled him with its indignant contempt and resentment.

"What are you saying, Miss Roussillon? I don't understand you.
When did I ever--when did I jab you with my sword? I never thought
of such a thing."

"This moment, sir, you did, and you know you did. My arm is
bleeding now."

She spoke rapidly in French; but he caught her meaning, and for
the first became aware of the rapier in his hand. Even then its
point was toward her and very near her breast. He lowered it
instantly while the truth rushed into his mind.

"Forgive me," he murmured, his words barely audible in the tumult
of wind and rain, but charged with the intensest feeling.

"Forgive me; I did not know--it was an accident--I could not do
such a thing purposely. Believe me, believe me, Miss Roussillon. I
did not mean it."

She stood facing him, trying to look right into his eyes. A
quality in his voice had checked her hot anger. She could only see
his dim outlines in the dull gleam from the fort's lantern. He
seemed to be forlornly wretched.

"I should like to believe you," she presently said, "but I cannot.
You English are all, all despicable, mean, vile!"

She was remembering the young officer who had assaulted her with
his sword in the house a while ago. And (what a strange thing the
human brain is!) she at the same time comforted herself with the
further thought that Beverley would never, never, be guilty of
rudeness to a woman.

"Some time you shall not say that," Farnsworth responded. "I asked
you to stop a moment that I might beg you to believe how
wretchedly sorry I am for what I am doing. But you cannot
understand me now. Are you really hurt, Miss Roussillon? I assure
you that it was purely accidental."

"My hurt is nothing," she said.

"I am very glad."

"Well, then, shall we go on to the fort?"

"You may go where you please, Mademoiselle."

She turned her back upon him and without an answering word walked
straight to the lantern that hung by the gate of the stockade,
where a sentinel tramped to and fro. A few moments later Captain
Farnsworth presented her to Hamilton, who had been called from his
bed when the news of the trouble at Roussillon place reached the
fort.

"So you've been raising hell again, have you, Miss?" he growled,
with an ugly frown darkening his face.

"I beg your pardon," said Farnsworth, "Miss Roussillon was not to
blame for--"

"In your eyes she'd not be to blame, sir, if she burned up the
fort and all of us in it," Hamilton gruffly interrupted. "Miss,
what have you been doing? What are you here for? Captain
Farnsworth, you will please state the particulars of the trouble
that I have just heard about. And I may as well notify you that I
wish to hear no special lover's pleading in this girl's behalf."

Farnsworth's face whitened with anger; he bit his lip and a shiver
ran through his frame; but he had to conquer the passion. In a few
words, blunt and direct as musket-balls, he told all the
circumstances of what had taken place, making no concealments to
favor Alice, but boldly blaming the officer of the patrol,
Lieutenant Barlow, for losing his head and attacking a young girl
in her own home.

"I will hear from Barlow," said Hamilton, after listening
attentively to the story. "But take this girl and confine her.
Show her no favors. I hold you responsible for her until to-morrow
morning. You can retire."

There was no room for discussion. Farnsworth saluted and turned to
Alice.

"Come with me," he gently said.

Hamilton looked after them as they went out of his room, a curious
smile playing around his firmly set lips.

"She's the most beautiful vixen that I ever saw," he thought. "She
doesn't look to be a French girl, either--decidedly English." He
shrugged his shoulders, then laughed dryly. "Farnsworth's as crazy
as can be, the beggar; in love with her so deep that he can't see
out. By Jove, she IS a beauty! Never saw such eyes. And plucky to
beat the devil. I'll bet my head Barlow'll be daft about her
next!"

Still, notwithstanding the lightness of his inward comments,
Hamilton regarded the incident as rather serious. He knew that the
French inhabitants were secretly his bitter enemies, yet probably
willing, if he would humor their peculiar social, domestic and
commercial prejudices, to refrain from active hostilities, and
even to aid him in furnishing his garrison with a large amount of
needed supplies. The danger just now was twofold; his Indian
allies were deserting him, and a flotilla loaded with provisions
and ammunition from Detroit had failed to arrive. He might, if the
French rose against him and were joined by the Indians, have great
difficulty defending the fort. It was clear that M. Roussillon had
more influence with both creoles and savages than any other person
save Father Beret. Urgent policy dictated that these two men
should somehow be won over. But to do this it would be necessary
to treat Alice in such a way that her arrest would aid, instead of
operating against the desired result,--a thing not easy to manage.

Hamilton was not a man of fine scruples, but he may have been,
probably was, better than our American historians have made him
appear. His besetting weakness, which, as a matter of course, he
regarded as the highest flower of efficiency, was an
uncontrollable temper, a lack of fine human sympathy and an
inability to forgive. In his calmest moments, when prudence
appealed to him, he would resolve to use diplomatic means; but no
sooner was his opinion questioned or his purpose opposed than
anger and the thirst for revenge overpowered every gentler
consideration. He returned to his bed that night fully resolved
upon a pleasant and successful interview with Alice next morning.

Captain Farnsworth took his fair prisoner straight-way from
Hamilton's presence to a small room connected with a considerable
structure in a distant angle of the stockade. Neither he nor Alice
spoke on the way. With a huge wooden key he unlocked the door and
stepped aside for her to enter. A dim lamp was burning within, its
yellowish light flickering over the scant furniture, which
consisted of a comfortable bed, a table with some books on it,
three chairs, a small looking-glass on the wall, a guitar and some
articles of men's clothing hanging here and there. A heap of dull
embers smouldered in the fireplace. Alice did not falter at the
threshold, but promptly entered her prison.

"I hope you can be comfortable," said Farnsworth in a low tone.
"It's the best I can give you."

"Thank you," was the answer spoken quite as if he had handed her a
glass of water or picked up her handkerchief.

He held the door a moment, while she stopped, with her back toward
him, in the middle of the room; then she heard him close and lock
it. The air was almost too warm after her exposure to the biting
wind and cold dashes of rain. She cast off her outer wraps and
stood by the fireplace. At a glance she comprehended that the
place was not the one she had formerly occupied as a prisoner, and
that it belonged to a man. A long rifle stood in a corner, a
bullet-pouch and powder-horn hanging on a projecting hickory
ramrod; a heavy fur top-coat lay across one of the chairs.

Alice felt her situation bitterly enough; but she was not of the
stuff that turns to water at the touch of misfortune. Pioneer
women took hardships as a matter of course, and met calamity with
admirable fortitude. There was no wringing of hands, no frantic
wailing, no hollow, despairing groan. While life lasted hope
flourished, even in most tragic surroundings; and not unfrequently
succor came, at the last verge of destruction, as the fitting
reward of unconquerable courage. A girl like Alice must be
accepted in the spirit of her time and surroundings. She was born
amid experiences scarcely credible now, and bred in an area and an
atmosphere of incomparable dangers. Naturally she accepted
conditions of terrible import with a sang froid scarcely possible
to a girl of our day. She did not cry, she did not sink down
helpless when she found herself once more imprisoned with some
uncertain trial before her; but simply knelt and repeated the
Lord's prayer, then went to bed and slept; even dreamed the dream
of a maid's first love.

Meantime Farnsworth, who had given Alice his own apartment, took
what rest he could on the cold ground under a leaky shed hard by.
His wound, not yet altogether healed, was not benefited by the
exposure.

In due time next morning Hamilton ordered Alice brought to his
office, and when she appeared he was smiling with as near an
approach to affability as his disposition would permit. He rose
and bowed like a courtier.

"I hope you rested well, Mademoiselle," he said in his best
French. He imagined that the use of her language would be
agreeable to begin with.

The moment that Alice saw him wearing that shallow veneering of
pleasantness on his never prepossessing visage, she felt a mood of
perversity come over her. She, too. smiled, and he mistook her
expression for one of reciprocal amenity. She noticed that her
sword was on his table.

"I am sorry, Monsieur, that I cannot say as much to you," she
glibly responded. "If you lay upon a bed of needles the whole
night through, your rest was better than you deserved. My own
sleep was quite refreshing, thank you."

Instantly Hamilton's choler rose. He tried to suppress it at
first; but when he saw Alice actually laughing, and Farnsworth
(who had brought her in) biting his lip furiously to keep from
adding an uproarious guffaw, he lost all hold of himself. He
unconsciously picked up the rapier and shook it till its blade
swished.

"I might have known better than to expect decency from a wench of
your character," he said. "I hoped to do you a favor; but I see
that you are not capable of accepting kindness politely."

"I am sure, Monsieur, that I have but spoken the truth plainly to
you. You would not have me do otherwise, I hope."

Her voice, absolutely witching in its softness, freshness and
suavity, helped the assault of her eyes, while her dimples
twinkled and her hair shone. Hamilton felt his heart move
strangely; but he could not forbear saying in English:

"If you are so devilish truthful, Miss, you will probably tell me
where the flag is that you stole and hid."

It was always the missing banner that came to mind when he saw
her.

"Indeed I will do nothing of the sort," she promptly replied.
"When you see that flag again you will be a prisoner and I will
wave it high over your head."

She lifted a hand as she spoke and made the motion of shaking a
banner above him. It was exasperation sweetened almost to delight
that took hold of the sturdy Briton. He liked pluck, especially in
a woman; all the more if she was beautiful. Yet the very fact that
he felt her charm falling upon him set him hard against her, not
as Hamilton the man, but as Hamilton the commander at Vincennes.

"You think to fling yourself upon me as you have upon Captain
Farnsworth," he said, with an insulting leer and in a tone of
prurient innuendo. "I am not susceptible, my dear." This more for
Farnsworth's benefit than to insult her, albeit he was not in a
mood to care.

"You are a coward and a liar!" she exclaimed, her face flushing
with hot shame. "You stand here," she quickly added, turning
fiercely upon Farnsworth, "and quietly listen to such words! You,
too, are a coward if you do not make him retract! Oh, you English
are low brutes!"

Hamilton laughed; but Farnsworth looked dark and troubled, his
glance going back and forth from Alice to his commander, as if
another word would cause him to do something terrible.

"I rather think I've heard all that I care to hear from you,
Miss," Hamilton presently said. "Captain Farnsworth, you will see
that the prisoner is confined in the proper place, which, I
suggest to you, is not your sleeping quarters, sir."

"Colonel Hamilton," said Farnsworth in a husky voice, "I slept on
the ground under a shed last night in order that Miss Roussillon
might be somewhat comfortable."

"Humph! Well, see that you do not do it again. This girl is guilty
of harboring a spy and resisting a lawful attempt of my guards to
capture him. Confine her in the place prepared for prisoners and
see that she stays there until I am ready to fix her punishment."

"There is no place fit for a young girl to stay in," Farnsworth
ventured. "She can have no comfort or--"

"Take her along, sir; any place is good enough for her so long as
she behaves like a--"

"Very well," Farnsworth bluntly interrupted, thus saving Alice the
stroke of a vile comparison. "Come with me, please, Miss
Roussillon."

He pulled her toward the door, then dropped the arm he had grasped
and murmured an apology.

She followed him out, holding her head high. No one looking on
would have suspected that a sinking sensation in her heart made it
difficult for her to walk, or that her eyes, shining like stars,
were so inwardly clouded with distress that she saw her way but
dimly.

It was a relief to Hamilton when Helm a few minutes later entered
the room with something breezy to say.

"What's up now, if I may ask?" the jolly American demanded.
"What's this I hear about trouble with the French women? Have they
begun a revolution?"

"That elephant, Gaspard Roussillon, came back into town last
night," said Hamilton sulkily.

"Well, he went out again, didn't he?"

"Yes, but--"

"Stepped on somebody's toe first, eh?"

"The guard tried to capture him, and that girl of his wounded
Lieutenant Barlow in the neck with a sword. Roussillon fought like
a tiger and the men swear that the devil himself appeared on the
scene to help the Frenchman out."

"Moral: Be generous in your dealings with Frenchmen and
Frenchwomen and so get the devil on your side."

"I've got the girl a prisoner, and I swear to you that I'll have
her shot this time if--"

"Why not shoot her yourself? You oughtn't to shirk a dirty job
like that and force it upon your men."

Hamilton laughed and elevated his shoulders as if to shake off an
annoying load. Just then a young officer with a white bandage

Book of the day: