Part 4 out of 9
particles. These licks are great places of resort with the
hunters, who waylay their game near the paths that lead to
Interrupting the dialogue by this abrupt transition, the
scout had instant recourse to the fragments of food which
had escaped the voracity of the Hurons. A very summary
process completed the simple cookery, when he and the
Mohicans commenced their humble meal, with the silence and
characteristic diligence of men who ate in order to enable
themselves to endure great and unremitting toil.
When this necessary, and, happily, grateful duty had been
performed, each of the foresters stooped and took a long and
parting draught at that solitary and silent spring*, around
which and its sister fountains, within fifty years, the
wealth, beauty and talents of a hemisphere were to assemble
in throngs, in pursuit of health and pleasure. Then Hawkeye
announced his determination to proceed. The sisters resumed
their saddles; Duncan and David grapsed their rifles, and
followed on footsteps; the scout leading the advance, and
the Mohicans bringing up the rear. The whole party moved
swiftly through the narrow path, toward the north, leaving
the healing waters to mingle unheeded with the adjacent
brooks and the bodies of the dead to fester on the
neighboring mount, without the rites of sepulture; a fate
but too common to the warriors of the woods to excite either
commiseration or comment.
* The scene of the foregoing incidents is on the spot
where the village of Ballston now stands; one of the two
principal watering places of America.
"I'll seek a readier path."--Parnell
The route taken by Hawkeye lay across those sandy plains,
relived by occasional valleys and swells of land, which had
been traversed by their party on the morning of the same
day, with the baffled Magua for their guide. The sun had
now fallen low toward the distant mountains; and as their
journey lay through the interminable forest, the heat was no
longer oppressive. Their progress, in consequence, was
proportionate; and long before the twilight gathered about
them, they had made good many toilsome miles on their
The hunter, like the savage whose place he filled, seemed to
select among the blind signs of their wild route, with a
species of instinct, seldom abating his speed, and never
pausing to deliberate. A rapid and oblique glance at the
moss on the trees, with an occasional upward gaze toward the
setting sun, or a steady but passing look at the direction
of the numerous water courses, through which he waded, were
sufficient to determine his path, and remove his greatest
difficulties. In the meantime, the forest began to change
its hues, losing that lively green which had embellished its
arches, in the graver light which is the usual precursor of
the close of day.
While the eyes of the sisters were endeavoring to catch
glimpses through the trees, of the flood of golden glory
which formed a glittering halo around the sun, tinging here
and there with ruby streaks, or bordering with narrow
edgings of shining yellow, a mass of clouds that lay piled
at no great distance above the western hills, Hawkeye turned
suddenly and pointing upward toward the gorgeous heavens, he
"Yonder is the signal given to man to seek his food and
natural rest," he said; "better and wiser would it be, if he
could understand the signs of nature, and take a lesson from
the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field! Our
night, however, will soon be over, for with the moon we must
be up and moving again. I remember to have fou't the
Maquas, hereaways, in the first war in which I ever drew
blood from man; and we threw up a work of blocks, to keep
the ravenous varmints from handling our scalps. If my marks
do not fail me, we shall find the place a few rods further
to our left."
Without waiting for an assent, or, indeed, for any reply,
the sturdy hunter moved boldly into a dense thicket of young
chestnuts, shoving aside the branches of the exuberant
shoots which nearly covered the ground, like a man who
expected, at each step, to discover some object he had
formerly known. The recollection of the scout did not
deceive him. After penetrating through the brush, matted as
it was with briars, for a few hundred feet, he entered an
open space, that surrounded a low, green hillock, which was
crowned by the decayed blockhouse in question. This rude
and neglected building was one of those deserted works,
which, having been thrown up on an emergency, had been
abandoned with the disappearance of danger, and was now
quietly crumbling in the solitude of the forest, neglected
and nearly forgotten, like the circumstances which had
caused it to be reared. Such memorials of the passage and
struggles of man are yet frequent throughout the broad
barrier of wilderness which once separated the hostile
provinces, and form a species of ruins that are intimately
associated with the recollections of colonial history, and
which are in appropriate keeping with the gloomy character
of the surrounding scenery. The roof of bark had long since
fallen, and mingled with the soil, but the huge logs of
pine, which had been hastily thrown together, still
preserved their relative positions, though one angle of the
work had given way under the pressure, and threatened a
speedy downfall to the remainder of the rustic edifice.
While Heyward and his companions hesitated to approach a
building so decayed, Hawkeye and the Indians entered within
the low walls, not only without fear, but with obvious
interest. While the former surveyed the ruins, both
internally and externally, with the curiosity of one whose
recollections were reviving at each moment, Chingachgook
related to his son, in the language of the Delawares, and
with the pride of a conqueror, the brief history of the
skirmish which had been fought, in his youth, in that
secluded spot. A strain of melancholy, however, blended
with his triumph, rendering his voice, as usual, soft and
In the meantime, the sisters gladly dismounted, and prepared
to enjoy their halt in the coolness of the evening, and in a
security which they believed nothing but the beasts of the
forest could invade.
"Would not our resting-place have been more retired, my
worthy friend," demanded the more vigilant Duncan,
perceiving that the scout had already finished his short
survey, "had we chosen a spot less known, and one more
rarely visited than this?"
"Few live who know the blockhouse was ever raised," was the
slow and musing answer; "'tis not often that books are made,
and narratives written of such a scrimmage as was here fou't
atween the Mohicans and the Mohawks, in a war of their own
waging. I was then a younker, and went out with the
Delawares, because I know'd they were a scandalized and
wronged race. Forty days and forty nights did the imps
crave our blood around this pile of logs, which I designed
and partly reared, being, as you'll remember, no Indian
myself, but a man without a cross. The Delawares lent
themselves to the work, and we made it good, ten to twenty,
until our numbers were nearly equal, and then we sallied out
upon the hounds, and not a man of them ever got back to tell
the fate of his party. Yes, yes; I was then young, and new
to the sight of blood; and not relishing the thought that
creatures who had spirits like myself should lay on the
naked ground, to be torn asunder by beasts, or to bleach in
the rains, I buried the dead with my own hands, under that
very little hillock where you have placed yourselves; and no
bad seat does it make neither, though it be raised by the
bones of mortal men."
Heyward and the sisters arose, on the instant, from the
grassy sepulcher; nor could the two latter, notwithstanding
the terrific scenes they had so recently passed through,
entirely suppress an emotion of natural horror, when they
found themselves in such familiar contact with the grave of
the dead Mohawks. The gray light, the gloomy little area of
dark grass, surrounded by its border of brush, beyond which
the pines rose, in breathing silence, apparently into the
very clouds, and the deathlike stillness of the vast forest,
were all in unison to deepen such a sensation. "They are
gone, and they are harmless," continued Hawkeye, waving his
hand, with a melancholy smile at their manifest alarm;
"they'll never shout the war-whoop nor strike a blow with
the tomahawk again! And of all those who aided in placing
them where they lie, Chingachgook and I only are living!
The brothers and family of the Mohican formed our war party;
and you see before you all that are now left of his race."
The eyes of the listeners involuntarily sought the forms of
the Indians, with a compassionate interest in their desolate
fortune. Their dark persons were still to be seen within
the shadows of the blockhouse, the son listening to the
relation of his father with that sort of intenseness which
would be created by a narrative that redounded so much to
the honor of those whose names he had long revered for their
courage and savage virtues.
"I had thought the Delawares a pacific people," said Duncan,
"and that they never waged war in person; trusting the
defense of their hands to those very Mohawks that you slew!"
"'Tis true in part," returned the scout, "and yet, at the
bottom, 'tis a wicked lie. Such a treaty was made in ages
gone by, through the deviltries of the Dutchers, who wished
to disarm the natives that had the best right to the
country, where they had settled themselves. The Mohicans,
though a part of the same nation, having to deal with the
English, never entered into the silly bargain, but kept to
their manhood; as in truth did the Delawares, when their
eyes were open to their folly. You see before you a chief
of the great Mohican Sagamores! Once his family could chase
their deer over tracts of country wider than that which
belongs to the Albany Patteroon, without crossing brook or
hill that was not their own; but what is left of their
descendant? He may find his six feet of earth when God
chooses, and keep it in peace, perhaps, if he has a friend
who will take the pains to sink his head so low that the
plowshares cannot reach it!"
"Enough!" said Heyward, apprehensive that the subject might
lead to a discussion that would interrupt the harmony so
necessary to the preservation of his fair companions; "we
have journeyed far, and few among us are blessed with forms
like that of yours, which seems to know neither fatigue nor
"The sinews and bones of a man carry me through it all,"
said the hunter, surveying his muscular limbs with a
simplicity that betrayed the honest pleasure the compliment
afforded him; "there are larger and heavier men to be found
in the settlements, but you might travel many days in a city
before you could meet one able to walk fifty miles without
stopping to take breath, or who has kept the hounds within
hearing during a chase of hours. However, as flesh and
blood are not always the same, it is quite reasonable to
suppose that the gentle ones are willing to rest, after all
they have seen and done this day. Uncas, clear out the
spring, while your father and I make a cover for their
tender heads of these chestnut shoots, and a bed of grass
The dialogue ceased, while the hunter and his companions
busied themselves in preparations for the comfort and
protection of those they guided. A spring, which many long
years before had induced the natives to select the place for
their temporary fortification, was soon cleared of leaves,
and a fountain of crystal gushed from the bed, diffusing its
waters over the verdant hillock. A corner of the building
was then roofed in such a manner as to exclude the heavy dew
of the climate, and piles of sweet shrubs and dried leaves
were laid beneath it for the sisters to repose on.
While the diligent woodsmen were employed in this manner,
Cora and Alice partook of that refreshment which duty
required much more than inclination prompted them to accept.
They then retired within the walls, and first offering up
their thanksgivings for past mercies, and petitioning for a
continuance of the Divine favor throughout the coming night,
they laid their tender forms on the fragrant couch, and in
spite of recollections and forebodings, soon sank into those
slumbers which nature so imperiously demanded, and which
were sweetened by hopes for the morrow. Duncan had prepared
himself to pass the night in watchfulness near them, just
without the ruin, but the scout, perceiving his intention,
pointed toward Chingachgook, as he coolly disposed his own
person on the grass, and said:
"The eyes of a white man are too heavy and too blind for
such a watch as this! The Mohican will be our sentinel,
therefore let us sleep."
"I proved myself a sluggard on my post during the past
night," said Heyward, "and have less need of repose than
you, who did more credit to the character of a soldier. Let
all the party seek their rest, then, while I hold the
"If we lay among the white tents of the Sixtieth, and in
front of an enemy like the French, I could not ask for a
better watchman," returned the scout; "but in the darkness
and among the signs of the wilderness your judgment would be
like the folly of a child, and your vigilance thrown away.
Do then, like Uncas and myself, sleep, and sleep in safety."
Heyward perceived, in truth, that the younger Indian had
thrown his form on the side of the hillock while they were
talking, like one who sought to make the most of the time
allotted to rest, and that his example had been followed by
David, whose voice literally "clove to his jaws," with the
fever of his wound, heightened, as it was, by their toilsome
march. Unwilling to prolong a useless discussion, the young
man affected to comply, by posting his back against the logs
of the blockhouse, in a half recumbent posture, though
resolutely determined, in his own mind, not to close an eye
until he had delivered his precious charge into the arms of
Munro himself. Hawkeye, believing he had prevailed, soon
fell asleep, and a silence as deep as the solitude in which
they had found it, pervaded the retired spot.
For many minutes Duncan succeeded in keeping his senses on
the alert, and alive to every moaning sound that arose from
the forest. His vision became more acute as the shades of
evening settled on the place; and even after the stars were
glimmering above his head, he was able to distinguish the
recumbent forms of his companions, as they lay stretched on
the grass, and to note the person of Chingachgook, who sat
upright and motionless as one of the trees which formed the
dark barrier on every side. He still heard the gentle
breathings of the sisters, who lay within a few feet of him,
and not a leaf was ruffled by the passing air of which his
ear did not detect the whispering sound. At length,
however, the mournful notes of a whip-poor-will became
blended with the moanings of an owl; his heavy eyes
occasionally sought the bright rays of the stars, and he
then fancied he saw them through the fallen lids. At
instants of momentary wakefulness he mistook a bush for his
associate sentinel; his head next sank upon his shoulder,
which, in its turn, sought the support of the ground; and,
finally, his whole person became relaxed and pliant, and the
young man sank into a deep sleep, dreaming that he was a
knight of ancient chivalry, holding his midnight vigils
before the tent of a recaptured princess, whose favor he did
not despair of gaining, by such a proof of devotion and
How long the tired Duncan lay in this insensible state he
never knew himself, but his slumbering visions had been long
lost in total forgetfulness, when he was awakened by a light
tap on the shoulder. Aroused by this signal, slight as it
was, he sprang upon his feet with a confused recollection of
the self-imposed duty he had assumed with the commencement
of the night.
"Who comes?" he demanded, feeling for his sword, at the
place where it was usually suspended. "Speak! friend or
"Friend," replied the low voice of Chingachgook; who,
pointing upward at the luminary which was shedding its mild
light through the opening in the trees, directly in their
bivouac, immediately added, in his rude English: "Moon comes
and white man's fort far -- far off; time to move, when
sleep shuts both eyes of the Frenchman!"
"You say true! Call up your friends, and bridle the horses
while I prepare my own companions for the march!"
"We are awake, Duncan," said the soft, silvery tones of
Alice within the building, "and ready to travel very fast
after so refreshing a sleep; but you have watched through
the tedious night in our behalf, after having endured so
much fatigue the livelong day!"
"Say, rather, I would have watched, but my treacherous eyes
betrayed me; twice have I proved myself unfit for the trust
"Nay, Duncan, deny it not," interrupted the smiling Alice,
issuing from the shadows of the building into the light of
the moon, in all the loveliness of her freshened beauty; "I
know you to be a heedless one, when self is the object of
your care, and but too vigilant in favor of others. Can we
not tarry here a little longer while you find the rest you
need? Cheerfully, most cheerfully, will Cora and I keep the
vigils, while you and all these brave men endeavor to snatch
a little sleep!"
"If shame could cure me of my drowsiness, I should never
close an eye again," said the uneasy youth, gazing at the
ingenuous countenance of Alice, where, however, in its sweet
solicitude, he read nothing to confirm his half-awakened
suspicion. "It is but too true, that after leading you into
danger by my heedlessness, I have not even the merit of
guarding your pillows as should become a soldier."
"No one but Duncan himself should accuse Duncan of such a
weakness. Go, then, and sleep; believe me, neither of us,
weak girls as we are, will betray our watch."
The young man was relieved from the awkwardness of making
any further protestations of his own demerits, by an
exclamation from Chingachgook, and the attitude of riveted
attention assumed by his son.
"The Mohicans hear an enemy!" whispered Hawkeye, who, by
this time, in common with the whole party, was awake and
stirring. "They scent danger in the wind!"
"God forbid!" exclaimed Heyward. "Surely we have had enough
While he spoke, however, the young soldier seized his rifle,
and advancing toward the front, prepared to atone for his
venial remissness, by freely exposing his life in defense of
those he attended.
"'Tis some creature of the forest prowling around us in
quest of food," he said, in a whisper, as soon as the low,
and apparently distant sounds, which had startled the
Mohicans, reached his own ears.
"Hist!" returned the attentive scout; "'tis man; even I can
now tell his tread, poor as my senses are when compared to
an Indian's! That Scampering Huron has fallen in with one
of Montcalm's outlying parties, and they have struck upon
our trail. I shouldn't like, myself, to spill more human
blood in this spot," he added, looking around with anxiety
in his features, at the dim objects by which he was
surrounded; "but what must be, must! Lead the horses into
the blockhouse, Uncas; and, friends, do you follow to the
same shelter. Poor and old as it is, it offers a cover, and
has rung with the crack of a rifle afore to-night!"
He was instantly obeyed, the Mohicans leading the
Narrangansetts within the ruin, whither the whole party
repaired with the most guarded silence.
The sound of approaching footsteps were now too distinctly
audible to leave any doubts as to the nature of the
interruption. They were soon mingled with voices calling to
each other in an Indian dialect, which the hunter, in a
whisper, affirmed to Heyward was the language of the Hurons.
When the party reached the point where the horses had
entered the thicket which surrounded the blockhouse, they
were evidently at fault, having lost those marks which,
until that moment, had directed their pursuit.
It would seem by the voices that twenty men were soon
collected at that one spot, mingling their different
opinions and advice in noisy clamor.
"The knaves know our weakness," whispered Hawkeye, who stood
by the side of Heyward, in deep shade, looking through an
opening in the logs, "or they wouldn't indulge their
idleness in such a squaw's march. Listen to the reptiles!
each man among them seems to have two tongues, and but a
Duncan, brave as he was in the combat, could not, in such a
moment of painful suspense, make any reply to the cool and
characteristic remark of the scout. He only grasped his
rifle more firmly, and fastened his eyes upon the narrow
opening, through which he gazed upon the moonlight view with
increasing anxiety. The deeper tones of one who spoke as
having authority were next heard, amid a silence that
denoted the respect with which his orders, or rather advice,
was received. After which, by the rustling of leaves, and
crackling of dried twigs, it was apparent the savages were
separating in pursuit of the lost trail. Fortunately for
the pursued, the light of the moon, while it shed a flood of
mild luster upon the little area around the ruin, was not
sufficiently strong to penetrate the deep arches of the
forest, where the objects still lay in deceptive shadow.
The search proved fruitless; for so short and sudden had
been the passage from the faint path the travelers had
journeyed into the thicket, that every trace of their
footsteps was lost in the obscurity of the woods.
It was not long, however, before the restless savages were
heard beating the brush, and gradually approaching the inner
edge of that dense border of young chestnuts which encircled
the little area.
"They are coming," muttered Heyward, endeavoring to thrust
his rifle through the chink in the logs; "let us fire on
"Keep everything in the shade," returned the scout; "the
snapping of a flint, or even the smell of a single karnel of the
brimstone, would bring the hungry varlets upon us in a body.
Should it please God that we must give battle for the scalps,
trust to the experience of men who know the ways of the savages,
and who are not often backward when the war-whoop is howled."
Duncan cast his eyes behind him, and saw that the trembling
sisters were cowering in the far corner of the building,
while the Mohicans stood in the shadow, like two upright
posts, ready, and apparently willing, to strike when the
blow should be needed. Curbing his impatience, he again
looked out upon the area, and awaited the result in silence.
At that instant the thicket opened, and a tall and armed
Huron advanced a few paces into the open space. As he gazed
upon the silent blockhouse, the moon fell upon his swarthy
countenance, and betrayed its surprise and curiosity. He
made the exclamation which usually accompanies the former
emotion in an Indian, and, calling in a low voice, soon drew
a companion to his side.
These children of the woods stood together for several
moments pointing at the crumbling edifice, and conversing in
the unintelligible language of their tribe. They then
approached, though with slow and cautious steps, pausing
every instant to look at the building, like startled deer
whose curiosity struggled powerfully with their awakened
apprehensions for the mastery. The foot of one of them
suddenly rested on the mound, and he stopped to examine its
nature. At this moment, Heyward observed that the scout
loosened his knife in its sheath, and lowered the muzzle of
his rifle. Imitating these movements, the young man
prepared himself for the struggle which now seemed
The savages were so near, that the least motion in one of
the horses, or even a breath louder than common, would have
betrayed the fugitives. But in discovering the character of
the mound, the attention of the Hurons appeared directed to
a different object. They spoke together, and the sounds of
their voices were low and solemn, as if influenced by a
reverence that was deeply blended with awe. Then they drew
warily back, keeping their eyes riveted on the ruin, as if
they expected to see the apparitions of the dead issue from
its silent walls, until, having reached the boundary of the
area, they moved slowly into the thicket and disappeared.
Hawkeye dropped the breech of his rifle to the earth, and
drawing a long, free breath, exclaimed, in an audible
"Ay! they respect the dead, and it has this time saved their
own lives, and, it may be, the lives of better men too."
Heyward lent his attention for a single moment to his
companion, but without replying, he again turned toward
those who just then interested him more. He heard the two
Hurons leave the bushes, and it was soon plain that all the
pursuers were gathered about them, in deep attention to
their report. After a few minutes of earnest and solemn
dialogue, altogether different from the noisy clamor with
which they had first collected about the spot, the sounds
grew fainter and more distant, and finally were lost in the
depths of the forest.
Hawkeye waited until a signal from the listening
Chingachgook assured him that every sound from the retiring
party was completely swallowed by the distance, when he
motioned to Heyward to lead forth the horses, and to assist
the sisters into their saddles. The instant this was done
they issued through the broken gateway, and stealing out by
a direction opposite to the one by which they entered, they
quitted the spot, the sisters casting furtive glances at the
silent, grave and crumbling ruin, as they left the soft
light of the moon, to bury themselves in the gloom of the
"Guard.--Qui est la? Puc.--Paisans, pauvres gens de
France."--King Henry VI
During the rapid movement from the blockhouse, and until the
party was deeply buried in the forest, each individual was
too much interested in the escape to hazard a word even in
whispers. The scout resumed his post in advance, though his
steps, after he had thrown a safe distance between himself
and his enemies, were more deliberate than in their previous
march, in consequence of his utter ignorance of the
localities of the surrounding woods. More than once he
halted to consult with his confederates, the Mohicans,
pointing upward at the moon, and examining the barks of the
trees with care. In these brief pauses, Heyward and the
sisters listened, with senses rendered doubly acute by the
danger, to detect any symptoms which might announce the
proximity of their foes. At such moments, it seemed as if a
vast range of country lay buried in eternal sleep; not the
least sound arising from the forest, unless it was the
distant and scarcely audible rippling of a water-course.
Birds, beasts, and man, appeared to slumber alike, if,
indeed, any of the latter were to be found in that wide
tract of wilderness. But the sounds of the rivulet, feeble
and murmuring as they were, relieved the guides at once from
no trifling embarrassment, and toward it they immediately
held their way.
When the banks of the little stream were gained, Hawkeye
made another halt; and taking the moccasins from his feet,
he invited Heyward and Gamut to follow his example. He then
entered the water, and for near an hour they traveled in the
bed of the brook, leaving no trail. The moon had already
sunk into an immense pile of black clouds, which lay
impending above the western horizon, when they issued from
the low and devious water-course to rise again to the light
and level of the sandy but wooded plain. Here the scout
seemed to be once more at home, for he held on this way with
the certainty and diligence of a man who moved in the
security of his own knowledge. The path soon became more
uneven, and the travelers could plainly perceive that the
mountains drew nigher to them on each hand, and that they
were, in truth, about entering one of their gorges.
Suddenly, Hawkeye made a pause, and, waiting until he was
joined by the whole party, he spoke, though in tones so low
and cautious, that they added to the solemnity of his words,
in the quiet and darkness of the place.
"It is easy to know the pathways, and to find the licks and
water-courses of the wilderness," he said; "but who that saw
this spot could venture to say, that a mighty army was at
rest among yonder silent trees and barren mountains?"
"We are, then, at no great distance from William Henry?"
said Heyward, advancing nigher to the scout.
"It is yet a long and weary path, and when and where to
strike it is now our greatest difficulty. See," he said,
pointing through the trees toward a spot where a little
basin of water reflected the stars from its placid bosom,
"here is the 'bloody pond'; and I am on ground that I have
not only often traveled, but over which I have fou't the
enemy, from the rising to the setting sun."
"Ha! that sheet of dull and dreary water, then, is the
sepulcher of the brave men who fell in the contest. I have
heard it named, but never have I stood on its banks before."
"Three battles did we make with the Dutch-Frenchman* in a
day," continued Hawkeye, pursuing the train of his own
thoughts, rather than replying to the remark of Duncan. "He
met us hard by, in our outward march to ambush his advance,
and scattered us, like driven deer, through the defile, to
the shores of Horican. Then we rallied behind our fallen
trees, and made head against him, under Sir William--who
was made Sir William for that very deed; and well did we pay
him for the disgrace of the morning! Hundreds of Frenchmen
saw the sun that day for the last time; and even their
leader, Dieskau himself, fell into our hands, so cut and
torn with the lead, that he has gone back to his own
country, unfit for further acts in war."
* Baron Dieskau, a German, in the service of France.
A few years previously to the period of the tale, this
officer was defeated by Sir William Johnson, of Johnstown,
New York, on the shores of Lake George.
"'Twas a noble repulse!" exclaimed Heyward, in the heat of
his youthful ardor; "the fame of it reached us early, in our
"Ay! but it did not end there. I was sent by Major
Effingham, at Sir William's own bidding, to outflank the
French, and carry the tidings of their disaster across the
portage, to the fort on the Hudson. Just hereaway, where
you see the trees rise into a mountain swell, I met a party
coming down to our aid, and I led them where the enemy were
taking their meal, little dreaming that they had not
finished the bloody work of the day."
"And you surprised them?"
"If death can be a surprise to men who are thinking only of
the cravings of their appetites. We gave them but little
breathing time, for they had borne hard upon us in the fight
of the morning, and there were few in our party who had not
lost friend or relative by their hands."
"When all was over, the dead, and some say the dying, were
cast into that little pond. These eyes have seen its waters
colored with blood, as natural water never yet flowed from
the bowels of the 'arth."
"It was a convenient, and, I trust, will prove a peaceful
grave for a soldier. You have then seen much service on
"Ay!" said the scout, erecting his tall person with an air
of military pride; "there are not many echoes among these
hills that haven't rung with the crack of my rifle, nor is
there the space of a square mile atwixt Horican and the
river, that 'killdeer' hasn't dropped a living body on, be
it an enemy or be it a brute beast. As for the grave there
being as quiet as you mention, it is another matter. There
are them in the camp who say and think, man, to lie still,
should not be buried while the breath is in the body; and
certain it is that in the hurry of that evening, the doctors
had but little time to say who was living and who was dead.
Hist! see you nothing walking on the shore of the pond?"
"'Tis not probable that any are as houseless as ourselves in
this dreary forest."
"Such as he may care but little for house or shelter, and
night dew can never wet a body that passes its days in the
water," returned the scout, grasping the shoulder of Heyward
with such convulsive strength as to make the young soldier
painfully sensible how much superstitious terror had got the
mastery of a man usually so dauntless.
"By heaven, there is a human form, and it approaches! Stand
to your arms, my friends; for we know not whom we
"Qui vive?" demanded a stern, quick voice, which sounded
like a challenge from another world, issuing out of that
solitary and solemn place.
"What says it?" whispered the scout; "it speaks neither
Indian nor English."
"Qui vive?" repeated the same voice, which was quickly
followed by the rattling of arms, and a menacing attitude.
"France!" cried Heyward, advancing from the shadow of the
trees to the shore of the pond, within a few yards of the
"D'ou venez-vous--ou allez-vous, d'aussi bonne heure?"
demanded the grenadier, in the language and with the accent
of a man from old France.
"Je viens de la decouverte, et je vais me coucher."
"Etes-vous officier du roi?"
"Sans doute, mon camarade; me prends-tu pour un provincial!
Je suis capitaine de chasseurs (Heyward well knew that the
other was of a regiment in the line); j'ai ici, avec moi,
les filles du commandant de la fortification. Aha! tu en as
entendu parler! je les ai fait prisonnieres pres de l'autre
fort, et je les conduis au general."
"Ma foi! mesdames; j'en suis fÉche pour vous," exclaimed the
young soldier, touching his cap with grace; "mais -- fortune
de guerre! vous trouverez notre general un brave homme, et
bien poli avec les dames."
"C'est le caractere des gens de guerre," said Cora, with
admirable self-possession. "Adieu, mon ami; je vous
souhaiterais un devoir plus agreable a remplir."
The soldier made a low and humble acknowledgment for her
civility; and Heyward adding a "Bonne nuit, mon camarade,"
they moved deliberately forward, leaving the sentinel pacing
the banks of the silent pond, little suspecting an enemy of
so much effrontery, and humming to himself those words which
were recalled to his mind by the sight of women, and,
perhaps, by recollections of his own distant and beautiful
France: "Vive le vin, vive l'amour," etc., etc.
"'Tis well you understood the knave!" whispered the scout,
when they had gained a little distance from the place, and
letting his rifle fall into the hollow of his arm again; "I
soon saw that he was one of them uneasy Frenchers; and well
for him it was that his speech was friendly and his wishes
kind, or a place might have been found for his bones among
those of his countrymen."
He was interrupted by a long and heavy groan which arose
from the little basin, as though, in truth, the spirits of
the departed lingered about their watery sepulcher.
"Surely it was of flesh," continued the scout; "no spirit
could handle its arms so steadily."
"It was of flesh; but whether the poor fellow still belongs
to this world may well be doubted," said Heyward, glancing
his eyes around him, and missing Chingachgook from their
little band. Another groan more faint than the former was
succeeded by a heavy and sullen plunge into the water, and
all was still again as if the borders of the dreary pool had
never been awakened from the silence of creation. While
they yet hesitated in uncertainty, the form of the Indian
was seen gliding out of the thicket. As the chief rejoined
them, with one hand he attached the reeking scalp of the
unfortunate young Frenchman to his girdle, and with the
other he replaced the knife and tomahawk that had drunk his
blood. He then took his wonted station, with the air of a
man who believed he had done a deed of merit.
The scout dropped one end of his rifle to the earth, and
leaning his hands on the other, he stood musing in profound
silence. Then, shaking his head in a mournful manner, he
"'Twould have been a cruel and an unhuman act for a white-skin;
but 'tis the gift and natur' of an Indian, and I suppose it
should not be denied. I could wish, though, it had befallen an
accursed Mingo, rather than that gay young boy from the old countries."
"Enough!" said Heyward, apprehensive the unconscious sisters
might comprehend the nature of the detention, and conquering
his disgust by a train of reflections very much like that of
the hunter; "'tis done; and though better it were left
undone, cannot be amended. You see, we are, too obviously
within the sentinels of the enemy; what course do you
propose to follow?"
"Yes," said Hawkeye, rousing himself again; "'tis as you
say, too late to harbor further thoughts about it. Ay, the
French have gathered around the fort in good earnest and we
have a delicate needle to thread in passing them."
"And but little time to do it in," added Heyward, glancing
his eyes upwards, toward the bank of vapor that concealed
the setting moon.
"And little time to do it in!" repeated the scout. "The
thing may be done in two fashions, by the help of
Providence, without which it may not be done at all."
"Name them quickly for time presses."
"One would be to dismount the gentle ones, and let their
beasts range the plain, by sending the Mohicans in front, we
might then cut a lane through their sentries, and enter the
fort over the dead bodies."
"It will not do -- it will not do!" interrupted the generous
Heyward; "a soldier might force his way in this manner, but
never with such a convoy."
"'Twould be, indeed, a bloody path for such tender feet to
wade in," returned the equally reluctant scout; "but I
thought it befitting my manhood to name it. We must, then,
turn in our trail and get without the line of their
lookouts, when we will bend short to the west, and enter the
mountains; where I can hide you, so that all the devil's
hounds in Montcalm's pay would be thrown off the scent for
months to come."
"Let it be done, and that instantly."
Further words were unnecessary; for Hawkeye, merely uttering
the mandate to "follow," moved along the route by which they
had just entered their present critical and even dangerous
situation. Their progress, like their late dialogue, was
guarded, and without noise; for none knew at what moment a
passing patrol, or a crouching picket of the enemy, might
rise upon their path. As they held their silent way along
the margin of the pond, again Heyward and the scout stole
furtive glances at its appalling dreariness. They looked in
vain for the form they had so recently seen stalking along
in silent shores, while a low and regular wash of the little
waves, by announcing that the waters were not yet subsided,
furnished a frightful memorial of the deed of blood they had
just witnessed. Like all that passing and gloomy scene, the
low basin, however, quickly melted in the darkness, and
became blended with the mass of black objects in the rear of
Hawkeye soon deviated from the line of their retreat, and
striking off towards the mountains which form the western
boundary of the narrow plain, he led his followers, with
swift steps, deep within the shadows that were cast from
their high and broken summits. The route was now painful;
lying over ground ragged with rocks, and intersected with
ravines, and their progress proportionately slow. Bleak and
black hills lay on every side of them, compensating in some
degree for the additional toil of the march by the sense of
security they imparted. At length the party began slowly to
rise a steep and rugged ascent, by a path that curiously
wound among rocks and trees, avoiding the one and supported
by the other, in a manner that showed it had been devised by
men long practised in the arts of the wilderness. As they
gradually rose from the level of the valleys, the thick
darkness which usually precedes the approach of day began to
disperse, and objects were seen in the plain and palpable
colors with which they had been gifted by nature. When they
issued from the stunted woods which clung to the barren
sides of the mountain, upon a flat and mossy rock that
formed its summit, they met the morning, as it came blushing
above the green pines of a hill that lay on the opposite
side of the valley of the Horican.
The scout now told the sisters to dismount; and taking the
bridles from the mouths, and the saddles off the backs of
the jaded beasts, he turned them loose, to glean a scanty
subsistence among the shrubs and meager herbage of that
"Go," he said, "and seek your food where natur' gives it to
you; and beware that you become not food to ravenous wolves
yourselves, among these hills."
"Have we no further need of them?" demanded Heyward.
"See, and judge with your own eyes," said the scout,
advancing toward the eastern brow of the mountain, whither
he beckoned for the whole party to follow; "if it was as
easy to look into the heart of man as it is to spy out the
nakedness of Montcalm's camp from this spot, hypocrites
would grow scarce, and the cunning of a Mingo might prove a
losing game, compared to the honesty of a Delaware."
When the travelers reached the verge of the precipices they
saw, at a glance, the truth of the scout's declaration, and
the admirable foresight with which he had led them to their
The mountain on which they stood, elevated perhaps a
thousand feet in the air, was a high cone that rose a little
in advance of that range which stretches for miles along the
western shores of the lake, until meeting its sisters miles
beyond the water, it ran off toward the Canadas, in confused
and broken masses of rock, thinly sprinkled with evergreens.
Immediately at the feet of the party, the southern shore of
the Horican swept in a broad semicircle from mountain to
mountain, marking a wide strand, that soon rose into an
uneven and somewhat elevated plain. To the north stretched
the limpid, and, as it appeared from that dizzy height, the
narrow sheet of the "holy lake," indented with numberless
bays, embellished by fantastic headlands, and dotted with
countless islands. At the distance of a few leagues, the
bed of the water became lost among mountains, or was wrapped
in the masses of vapor that came slowly rolling along their
bosom, before a light morning air. But a narrow opening
between the crests of the hills pointed out the passage by
which they found their way still further north, to spread
their pure and ample sheets again, before pouring out their
tribute into the distant Champlain. To the south stretched
the defile, or rather broken plain, so often mentioned. For
several miles in this direction, the mountains appeared
reluctant to yield their dominion, but within reach of the
eye they diverged, and finally melted into the level and
sandy lands, across which we have accompanied our
adventurers in their double journey. Along both ranges of
hills, which bounded the opposite sides of the lake and
valley, clouds of light vapor were rising in spiral wreaths
from the uninhabited woods, looking like the smoke of hidden
cottages; or rolled lazily down the declivities, to mingle
with the fogs of the lower land. A single, solitary, snow-white
cloud floated above the valley, and marked the spot beneath
which lay the silent pool of the "bloody pond."
Directly on the shore of the lake, and nearer to its western
than to its eastern margin, lay the extensive earthen
ramparts and low buildings of William Henry. Two of the
sweeping bastions appeared to rest on the water which washed
their bases, while a deep ditch and extensive morasses
guarded its other sides and angles. The land had been
cleared of wood for a reasonable distance around the work,
but every other part of the scene lay in the green livery of
nature, except where the limpid water mellowed the view, or
the bold rocks thrust their black and naked heads above the
undulating outline of the mountain ranges. In its front
might be seen the scattered sentinels, who held a weary
watch against their numerous foes; and within the walls
themselves, the travelers looked down upon men still drowsy
with a night of vigilance. Toward the southeast, but in
immediate contact with the fort, was an entrenched camp,
posted on a rocky eminence, that would have been far more
eligible for the work itself, in which Hawkeye pointed out
the presence of those auxiliary regiments that had so
recently left the Hudson in their company. From the woods,
a little further to the south, rose numerous dark and lurid
smokes, that were easily to be distinguished from the purer
exhalations of the springs, and which the scout also showed
to Heyward, as evidences that the enemy lay in force in that
But the spectacle which most concerned the young soldier was
on the western bank of the lake, though quite near to its
southern termination. On a strip of land, which appeared
from his stand too narrow to contain such an army, but
which, in truth, extended many hundreds of yards from the
shores of the Horican to the base of the mountain, were to
be seen the white tents and military engines of an
encampment of ten thousand men. Batteries were already
thrown up in their front, and even while the spectators
above them were looking down, with such different emotions,
on a scene which lay like a map beneath their feet, the roar
of artillery rose from the valley, and passed off in
thundering echoes along the eastern hills.
"Morning is just touching them below," said the deliberate
and musing scout, "and the watchers have a mind to wake up
the sleepers by the sound of cannon. We are a few hours too
late! Montcalm has already filled the woods with his
"The place is, indeed, invested," returned Duncan; "but is
there no expedient by which we may enter? capture in the
works would be far preferable to falling again into the
hands of roving Indians."
"See!" exclaimed the scout, unconsciously directing the
attention of Cora to the quarters of her own father, "how
that shot has made the stones fly from the side of the
commandant's house! Ay! these Frenchers will pull it to
pieces faster than it was put together, solid and thick
though it be!"
"Heyward, I sicken at the sight of danger that I cannot
share," said the undaunted but anxious daughter. "Let us go
to Montcalm, and demand admission: he dare not deny a child
"You would scarce find the tent of the Frenchman with the
hair on your head"; said the blunt scout. "If I had but one
of the thousand boats which lie empty along that shore, it
might be done! Ha! here will soon be an end of the firing,
for yonder comes a fog that will turn day to night, and make
an Indian arrow more dangerous than a molded cannon. Now,
if you are equal to the work, and will follow, I will make a
push; for I long to get down into that camp, if it be only
to scatter some Mingo dogs that I see lurking in the skirts
of yonder thicket of birch."
"We are equal," said Cora, firmly; "on such an errand we
will follow to any danger."
The scout turned to her with a smile of honest and cordial
approbation, as he answered:
"I would I had a thousand men, of brawny limbs and quick
eyes, that feared death as little as you! I'd send them
jabbering Frenchers back into their den again, afore the
week was ended, howling like so many fettered hounds or
hungry wolves. But, sir," he added, turning from her to the
rest of the party, "the fog comes rolling down so fast, we
shall have but just the time to meet it on the plain, and
use it as a cover. Remember, if any accident should befall
me, to keep the air blowing on your left cheeks--or,
rather, follow the Mohicans; they'd scent their way, be it
in day or be it at night."
He then waved his hand for them to follow, and threw himself
down the steep declivity, with free, but careful footsteps.
Heyward assisted the sisters to descend, and in a few
minutes they were all far down a mountain whose sides they
had climbed with so much toil and pain.
The direction taken by Hawkeye soon brought the travelers to
the level of the plain, nearly opposite to a sally-port in
the western curtain of the fort, which lay itself at the
distance of about half a mile from the point where he halted
to allow Duncan to come up with his charge. In their
eagerness, and favored by the nature of the ground, they had
anticipated the fog, which was rolling heavily down the
lake, and it became necessary to pause, until the mists had
wrapped the camp of the enemy in their fleecy mantle. The
Mohicans profited by the delay, to steal out of the woods,
and to make a survey of surrounding objects. They were
followed at a little distance by the scout, with a view to
profit early by their report, and to obtain some faint
knowledge for himself of the more immediate localities.
In a very few moments he returned, his face reddened with
vexation, while he muttered his disappointment in words of
no very gentle import.
"Here has the cunning Frenchman been posting a picket
directly in our path," he said; "red-skins and whites; and
we shall be as likely to fall into their midst as to pass
them in the fog!"
"Cannot we make a circuit to avoid the danger," asked
Heyward, "and come into our path again when it is passed?"
"Who that once bends from the line of his march in a fog can
tell when or how to find it again! The mists of Horican are
not like the curls from a peace-pipe, or the smoke which
settles above a mosquito fire."
He was yet speaking, when a crashing sound was heard, and a
cannon-ball entered the thicket, striking the body of a
sapling, and rebounding to the earth, its force being much
expended by previous resistance. The Indians followed
instantly like busy attendants on the terrible messenger,
and Uncas commenced speaking earnestly and with much action,
in the Delaware tongue.
"It may be so, lad," muttered the scout, when he had ended;
"for desperate fevers are not to be treated like a
toothache. Come, then, the fog is shutting in."
"Stop!" cried Heyward; "first explain your expectations."
"'Tis soon done, and a small hope it is; but it is better
than nothing. This shot that you see," added the scout,
kicking the harmless iron with his foot, "has plowed the
'arth in its road from the fort, and we shall hunt for the
furrow it has made, when all other signs may fail. No more
words, but follow, or the fog may leave us in the middle of
our path, a mark for both armies to shoot at."
Heyward perceiving that, in fact, a crisis had arrived, when
acts were more required than words, placed himself between
the sisters, and drew them swiftly forward, keeping the dim
figure of their leader in his eye. It was soon apparent
that Hawkeye had not magnified the power of the fog, for
before they had proceeded twenty yards, it was difficult for
the different individuals of the party to distinguish each
other in the vapor.
They had made their little circuit to the left, and were
already inclining again toward the right, having, as Heyward
thought, got over nearly half the distance to the friendly
works, when his ears were saluted with the fierce summons,
apparently within twenty feet of them, of:
"Qui va la?"
"Push on!" whispered the scout, once more bending to the
"Push on!" repeated Heyward; when the summons was renewed by
a dozen voices, each of which seemed charged with menace.
"C'est moi," cried Duncan, dragging rather than leading
those he supported swiftly onward.
"Ami de la France."
"Tu m'as plus l'air d'un ennemi de la France; arrete ou
pardieu je te ferai ami du diable. Non! feu, camarades,
The order was instantly obeyed, and the fog was stirred by
the explosion of fifty muskets. Happily, the aim was bad,
and the bullets cut the air in a direction a little
different from that taken by the fugitives; though still so
nigh them, that to the unpractised ears of David and the two
females, it appeared as if they whistled within a few inches
of the organs. The outcry was renewed, and the order, not
only to fire again, but to pursue, was too plainly audible.
When Heyward briefly explained the meaning of the words they
heard, Hawkeye halted and spoke with quick decision and
"Let us deliver our fire," he said; "they will believe it a
sortie, and give way, or they will wait for reinforcements."
The scheme was well conceived, but failed in its effects.
The instant the French heard the pieces, it seemed as if the
plain was alive with men, muskets rattling along its whole
extent, from the shores of the lake to the furthest boundary
of the woods.
"We shall draw their entire army upon us, and bring on a
general assault," said Duncan: "lead on, my friend, for your
own life and ours."
The scout seemed willing to comply; but, in the hurry of the
moment, and in the change of position, he had lost the
direction. In vain he turned either cheek toward the light
air; they felt equally cool. In this dilemma, Uncas lighted
on the furrow of the cannon ball, where it had cut the
ground in three adjacent ant-hills.
"Give me the range!" said Hawkeye, bending to catch a
glimpse of the direction, and then instantly moving onward.
Cries, oaths, voices calling to each other, and the reports
of muskets, were now quick and incessant, and, apparently,
on every side of them. Suddenly a strong glare of light
flashed across the scene, the fog rolled upward in thick
wreaths, and several cannons belched across the plain, and
the roar was thrown heavily back from the bellowing echoes
of the mountain.
"'Tis from the fort!" exclaimed Hawkeye, turning short on
his tracks; "and we, like stricken fools, were rushing to
the woods, under the very knives of the Maquas."
The instant their mistake was rectified, the whole party
retraced the error with the utmost diligence. Duncan
willingly relinquished the support of Cora to the arm of
Uncas and Cora as readily accepted the welcome assistance.
Men, hot and angry in pursuit, were evidently on their
footsteps, and each instant threatened their capture, if not
"Point de quartier aux coquins!" cried an eager pursuer, who
seemed to direct the operations of the enemy.
"Stand firm, and be ready, my gallant Sixtieths!" suddenly
exclaimed a voice above them; "wait to see the enemy, fire
low and sweep the glacis."
"Father! father!" exclaimed a piercing cry from out the
mist: "it is I! Alice! thy own Elsie! Spare, oh! save
"Hold!" shouted the former speaker, in the awful tones of
parental agony, the sound reaching even to the woods, and
rolling back in solemn echo. "'Tis she! God has restored
me to my children! Throw open the sally-port; to the field,
Sixtieths, to the field; pull not a trigger, lest ye kill my
lambs! Drive off these dogs of France with your steel."
Duncan heard the grating of the rusty hinges, and darting to
the spot, directed by the sound, he met a long line of dark
red warriors, passing swiftly toward the glacis. He knew
them for his own battalion of the Royal Americans, and
flying to their head, soon swept every trace of his pursuers
from before the works.
For an instant, Cora and Alice had stood trembling and
bewildered by this unexpected desertion; but before either
had leisure for speech, or even thought, an officer of
gigantic frame, whose locks were bleached with years and
service, but whose air of military grandeur had been rather
softened than destroyed by time, rushed out of the body of
mist, and folded them to his bosom, while large scalding
tears rolled down his pale and wrinkled cheeks, and he
exclaimed, in the peculiar accent of Scotland:
"For this I thank thee, Lord! Let danger come as it will,
thy servant is now prepared!"
"Then go we in, to know his embassy; Which I could, with
ready guess, declare, Before the Frenchmen speak a word of
it,"--King Henry V
A few succeeding days were passed amid the privations, the
uproar, and the dangers of the siege, which was vigorously
pressed by a power, against whose approaches Munro possessed
no competent means of resistance. It appeared as if Webb,
with his army, which lay slumbering on the banks of the
Hudson, had utterly forgotten the strait to which his
countrymen were reduced. Montcalm had filled the woods of
the portage with his savages, every yell and whoop from whom
rang through the British encampment, chilling the hearts of
men who were already but too much disposed to magnify the
Not so, however, with the besieged. Animated by the words,
and stimulated by the examples of their leaders, they had
found their courage, and maintained their ancient
reputation, with a zeal that did justice to the stern
character of their commander. As if satisfied with the toil
of marching through the wilderness to encounter his enemy,
the French general, though of approved skill, had neglected
to seize the adjacent mountains; whence the besieged might
have been exterminated with impunity, and which, in the more
modern warfare of the country, would not have been neglected
for a single hour. This sort of contempt for eminences, or
rather dread of the labor of ascending them, might have been
termed the besetting weakness of the warfare of the period.
It originated in the simplicity of the Indian contests, in
which, from the nature of the combats, and the density of
the forests, fortresses were rare, and artillery next to
useless. The carelessness engendered by these usages
descended even to the war of the Revolution and lost the
States the important fortress of Ticonderoga opening a way
for the army of Burgoyne into what was then the bosom of the
country. We look back at this ignorance, or infatuation,
whichever it may be called, with wonder, knowing that the
neglect of an eminence, whose difficulties, like those of
Mount Defiance, have been so greatly exaggerated, would, at
the present time, prove fatal to the reputation of the
engineer who had planned the works at their base, or to that
of the general whose lot it was to defend them.
The tourist, the valetudinarian, or the amateur of the
beauties of nature, who, in the train of his four-in-hand,
now rolls through the scenes we have attempted to describe,
in quest of information, health, or pleasure, or floats
steadily toward his object on those artificial waters which
have sprung up under the administration of a statesman* who
has dared to stake his political character on the hazardous
issue, is not to suppose that his ancestors traversed those
hills, or struggled with the same currents with equal
facility. The transportation of a single heavy gun was
often considered equal to a victory gained; if happily, the
difficulties of the passage had not so far separated it from
its necessary concomitant, the ammunition, as to render it
no more than a useless tube of unwieldy iron.
* Evidently the late De Witt Clinton, who died
governor of New York in 1828.
The evils of this state of things pressed heavily on the
fortunes of the resolute Scotsman who now defended William
Henry. Though his adversary neglected the hills, he had
planted his batteries with judgment on the plain, and caused
them to be served with vigor and skill. Against this
assault, the besieged could only oppose the imperfect and
hasty preparations of a fortress in the wilderness.
It was in the afternoon of the fifth day of the siege, and
the fourth of his own service in it, that Major Heyward
profited by a parley that had just been beaten, by repairing
to the ramparts of one of the water bastions, to breathe the
cool air from the lake, and to take a survey of the progress
of the siege. He was alone, if the solitary sentinel who
paced the mound be excepted; for the artillerists had
hastened also to profit by the temporary suspension of their
arduous duties. The evening was delightfully calm, and the
light air from the limpid water fresh and soothing. It
seemed as if, with the termination of the roar of artillery
and the plunging of shot, nature had also seized the moment
to assume her mildest and most captivating form. The sun
poured down his parting glory on the scene, without the
oppression of those fierce rays that belong to the climate
and the season. The mountains looked green, and fresh, and
lovely, tempered with the milder light, or softened in
shadow, as thin vapors floated between them and the sun.
The numerous islands rested on the bosom of the Horican,
some low and sunken, as if embedded in the waters, and
others appearing to hover about the element, in little
hillocks of green velvet; among which the fishermen of the
beleaguering army peacefully rowed their skiffs, or floated
at rest on the glassy mirror in quiet pursuit of their
The scene was at once animated and still. All that
pertained to nature was sweet, or simply grand; while those
parts which depended on the temper and movements of man were
lively and playful.
Two little spotless flags were abroad, the one on a salient
angle of the fort, and the other on the advanced battery of
the besiegers; emblems of the truth which existed, not only
to the acts, but it would seem, also, to the enmity of the
Behind these again swung, heavily opening and closing in
silken folds, the rival standards of England and France.
A hundred gay and thoughtless young Frenchmen were drawing a
net to the pebbly beach, within dangerous proximity to the
sullen but silent cannon of the fort, while the eastern
mountain was sending back the loud shouts and gay merriment
that attended their sport. Some were rushing eagerly to
enjoy the aquatic games of the lake, and others were already
toiling their way up the neighboring hills, with the
restless curiosity of their nation. To all these sports and
pursuits, those of the enemy who watched the besieged, and
the besieged themselves, were, however, merely the idle
though sympathizing spectators. Here and there a picket
had, indeed, raised a song, or mingled in a dance, which had
drawn the dusky savages around them, from their lairs in the
forest. In short, everything wore rather the appearance of
a day of pleasure, than of an hour stolen from the dangers
and toil of a bloody and vindictive warfare.
Duncan had stood in a musing attitude, contemplating this
scene a few minutes, when his eyes were directed to the
glacis in front of the sally-port already mentioned, by the
sounds of approaching footsteps. He walked to an angle of
the bastion, and beheld the scout advancing, under the
custody of a French officer, to the body of the fort. The
countenance of Hawkeye was haggard and careworn, and his air
dejected, as though he felt the deepest degradation at
having fallen into the power of his enemies. He was without
his favorite weapon, and his arms were even bound behind him
with thongs, made of the skin of a deer. The arrival of
flags to cover the messengers of summons, had occurred so
often of late, that when Heyward first threw his careless
glance on this group, he expected to see another of the
officers of the enemy, charged with a similar office but the
instant he recognized the tall person and still sturdy
though downcast features of his friend, the woodsman, he
started with surprise, and turned to descend from the
bastion into the bosom of the work.
The sounds of other voices, however, caught his attention,
and for a moment caused him to forget his purpose. At the
inner angle of the mound he met the sisters, walking along
the parapet, in search, like himself, of air and relief from
confinement. They had not met from that painful moment when
he deserted them on the plain, only to assure their safety.
He had parted from them worn with care, and jaded with
fatigue; he now saw them refreshed and blooming, though
timid and anxious. Under such an inducement it will cause
no surprise that the young man lost sight for a time, of
other objects in order to address them. He was, however,
anticipated by the voice of the ingenuous and youthful
"Ah! thou tyrant! thou recreant knight! he who abandons his
damsels in the very lists," she cried; "here have we been
days, nay, ages, expecting you at our feet, imploring mercy
and forgetfulness of your craven backsliding, or I should
rather say, backrunning--for verily you fled in the manner
that no stricken deer, as our worthy friend the scout would
say, could equal!"
"You know that Alice means our thanks and our blessings,"
added the graver and more thoughtful Cora. "In truth, we
have a little wonder why you should so rigidly absent
yourself from a place where the gratitude of the daughters
might receive the support of a parent's thanks."
"Your father himself could tell you, that, though absent
from your presence, I have not been altogether forgetful of
your safety," returned the young man; "the mastery of yonder
village of huts," pointing to the neighboring entrenched
camp, "has been keenly disputed; and he who holds it is sure
to be possessed of this fort, and that which it contains.
My days and nights have all been passed there since we
separated, because I thought that duty called me thither.
But," he added, with an air of chagrin, which he endeavored,
though unsuccessfully, to conceal, "had I been aware that
what I then believed a soldier's conduct could be so
construed, shame would have been added to the list of
"Heyward! Duncan!" exclaimed Alice, bending forward to read
his half-averted countenance, until a lock of her golden
hair rested on her flushed cheek, and nearly concealed the
tear that had started to her eye; "did I think this idle
tongue of mine had pained you, I would silence it forever.
Cora can say, if Cora would, how justly we have prized your
services, and how deep -- I had almost said, how fervent --
is our gratitude."
"And will Cora attest the truth of
this?" cried Duncan, suffering the cloud to be chased from
his countenance by a smile of open pleasure. "What says our
graver sister? Will she find an excuse for the neglect of
the knight in the duty of a soldier?"
Cora made no immediate answer, but turned her face toward
the water, as if looking on the sheet of the Horican. When
she did bend her dark eyes on the young man, they were yet
filled with an expression of anguish that at once drove
every thought but that of kind solicitude from his mind.
"You are not well, dearest Miss Munro!" he exclaimed; "we
have trifled while you are in suffering!"
"'Tis nothing," she answered, refusing his support with
feminine reserve. "That I cannot see the sunny side of the
picture of life, like this artless but ardent enthusiast,"
she added, laying her hand lightly, but affectionately, on
the arm of her sister, "is the penalty of experience, and,
perhaps, the misfortune of my nature. See," she continued,
as if determined to shake off infirmity, in a sense of duty;
"look around you, Major Heyward, and tell me what a prospect
is this for the daughter of a soldier whose greatest
happiness is his honor and his military renown."
"Neither ought nor shall be tarnished by circumstances over
which he has had no control," Duncan warmly replied. "But
your words recall me to my own duty. I go now to your
gallant father, to hear his determination in matters of the
last moment to the defense. God bless you in every fortune,
noble -- Cora -- I may and must call you." She frankly gave
him her hand, though her lip quivered, and her cheeks
gradually became of ashly paleness. "In every fortune, I
know you will be an ornament and honor to your sex. Alice,
adieu" -- his voice changed from admiration to tenderness --
"adieu, Alice; we shall soon meet again; as conquerors, I
trust, and amid rejoicings!"
Without waiting for an answer from either, the young man
threw himself down the grassy steps of the bastion, and
moving rapidly across the parade, he was quickly in the
presence of their father. Munro was pacing his narrow
apartment with a disturbed air and gigantic strides as
"You have anticipated my wishes, Major Heyward," he said; "I
was about to request this favor."
"I am sorry to see, sir, that the messenger I so warmly
recommended has returned in custody of the French! I hope
there is no reason to distrust his fidelity?"
"The fidelity of 'The Long Rifle' is well known to me,"
returned Munro, "and is above suspicion; though his usual
good fortune seems, at last, to have failed. Montcalm has
got him, and with the accursed politeness of his nation, he
has sent him in with a doleful tale, of 'knowing how I
valued the fellow, he could not think of retaining him.' A
Jesuitical way that, Major Duncan Heyward, of telling a man
of his misfortunes!"
"But the general and his succor?"
"Did ye look to the south as ye entered, and could ye not
see them?" said the old soldier, laughing bitterly.
"Hoot! hoot! you're an impatient boy, sir, and cannot give
the gentlemen leisure for their march!"
"They are coming, then? The scout has said as much?"
"When? and by what path? for the dunce has omitted to tell
me this. There is a letter, it would seem, too; and that is
the only agreeable part of the matter. For the customary
attentions of your Marquis of Montcalm -- I warrant me,
Duncan, that he of Lothian would buy a dozen such
marquisates -- but if the news of the letter were bad, the
gentility of this French monsieur would certainly compel him
to let us know it."
"He keeps the letter, then, while he releases the
"Ay, that does he, and all for the sake of what you call
your 'bonhommie' I would venture, if the truth was known,
the fellow's grandfather taught the noble science of
"But what says the scout? he has eyes and ears, and a
tongue. What verbal report does he make?"
"Oh! sir, he is not wanting in natural organs, and he is
free to tell all that he has seen and heard. The whole
amount is this; there is a fort of his majesty's on the
banks of the Hudson, called Edward, in honor of his gracious
highness of York, you'll know; and it is well filled with
armed men, as such a work should be."
"But was there no movement, no signs of any intention to
advance to our relief?"
"There were the morning and evening parades; and when one of
the provincial loons -- you'll know, Duncan, you're half a
Scotsman yourself -- when one of them dropped his powder
over his porretch, if it touched the coals, it just burned!"
Then, suddenly changing his bitter, ironical manner, to one
more grave and thoughtful, he continued: "and yet there
might, and must be, something in that letter which it would
be well to know!"
"Our decision should be speedy," said Duncan, gladly
availing himself of this change of humor, to press the more
important objects of their interview; "I cannot conceal from
you, sir, that the camp will not be much longer tenable; and
I am sorry to add, that things appear no better in the fort;
more than half the guns are bursted."
"And how should it be otherwise? Some were fished from the
bottom of the lake; some have been rusting in woods since
the discovery of the country; and some were never guns at
all--mere privateersmen's playthings! Do you think, sir,
you can have Woolwich Warren in the midst of a wilderness,
three thousand miles from Great Britain?"
"The walls are crumbling about our ears, and provisions
begin to fail us," continued Heyward, without regarding the
new burst of indignation; "even the men show signs of
discontent and alarm."
"Major Heyward," said Munro, turning to his youthful
associate with the dignity of his years and superior rank;
"I should have served his majesty for half a century, and
earned these gray hairs in vain, were I ignorant of all you
say, and of the pressing nature of our circumstances; still,
there is everything due to the honor of the king's arms, and
something to ourselves. While there is hope of succor, this
fortress will I defend, though it be to be done with pebbles
gathered on the lake shore. It is a sight of the letter,
therefore, that we want, that we may know the intentions of
the man the earl of Loudon has left among us as his
"And can I be of service in the matter?"
"Sir, you can; the marquis of Montcalm has, in addition to
his other civilities, invited me to a personal interview
between the works and his own camp; in order, as he says, to
impart some additional information. Now, I think it would
not be wise to show any undue solicitude to meet him, and I
would employ you, an officer of rank, as my substitute; for
it would but ill comport with the honor of Scotland to let
it be said one of her gentlemen was outdone in civility by a
native of any other country on earth."
Without assuming the supererogatory task of entering into a
discussion of the comparative merits of national courtesy,
Duncan cheerfully assented to supply the place of the
veteran in the approaching interview. A long and
confidential communication now succeeded, during which the
young man received some additional insight into his duty,
from the experience and native acuteness of his commander,
and then the former took his leave.
As Duncan could only act as the representative of the
commandant of the fort, the ceremonies which should have
accompanied a meeting between the heads of the adverse
forces were, of course, dispensed with. The truce still
existed, and with a roll and beat of the drum, and covered
by a little white flag, Duncan left the sally-port, within
ten minutes after his instructions were ended. He was
received by the French officer in advance with the usual
formalities, and immediately accompanied to a distant
marquee of the renowned soldier who led the forces of
The general of the enemy received the youthful messenger,
surrounded by his principal officers, and by a swarthy band
of the native chiefs, who had followed him to the field,
with the warriors of their several tribes. Heyward paused
short, when, in glancing his eyes rapidly over the dark
group of the latter, he beheld the malignant countenance of
Magua, regarding him with the calm but sullen attention
which marked the expression of that subtle savage. A slight
exclamation of surprise even burst from the lips of the
young man, but instantly, recollecting his errand, and the
presence in which he stood, he suppressed every appearance
of emotion, and turned to the hostile leader, who had
already advanced a step to receive him.
The marquis of Montcalm was, at the period of which we
write, in the flower of his age, and, it may be added, in
the zenith of his fortunes. But even in that enviable
situation, he was affable, and distinguished as much for his
attention to the forms of courtesy, as for that chivalrous
courage which, only two short years afterward, induced him
to throw away his life on the plains of Abraham. Duncan, in
turning his eyes from the malign expression of Magua,
suffered them to rest with pleasure on the smiling and
polished features, and the noble military air, of the French
"Monsieur," said the latter, "j'ai beaucoup de plaisir a --
bah! -- ou est cet interprete?"
"Je crois, monsieur, qu'il ne sear pas necessaire," Heyward
modestly replied; "je parle un peu francais."
"Ah! j'en suis bien aise," said Montcalm, taking Duncan
familiarly by the arm, and leading him deep into the
marquee, a little out of earshot; "je deteste ces fripons-la;
on ne sait jamais sur quel pie on est avec eux. Eh,
bien! monsieur," he continued still speaking in French;
"though I should have been proud of receiving your
commandant, I am very happy that he has seen proper to
employ an officer so distinguished, and who, I am sure, is
so amiable, as yourself."
Duncan bowed low, pleased with the compliment, in spite of a
most heroic determination to suffer no artifice to allure
him into forgetfulness of the interest of his prince; and
Montcalm, after a pause of a moment, as if to collect his
"Your commandant is a brave man, and well qualified to repel
my assault. Mais, monsieur, is it not time to begin to take
more counsel of humanity, and less of your courage? The one
as strongly characterizes the hero as the other."
"We consider the qualities as inseparable," returned Duncan,
smiling; "but while we find in the vigor of your excellency
every motive to stimulate the one, we can, as yet, see no
particular call for the exercise of the other."
Montcalm, in his turn, slightly bowed, but it was with the
air of a man too practised to remember the language of
flattery. After musing a moment, he added:
"It is possible my glasses have deceived me, and that your
works resist our cannon better than I had supposed. You
know our force?"
"Our accounts vary," said Duncan, carelessly; "the highest,
however, has not exceeded twenty thousand men."
The Frenchman bit his lip, and fastened his eyes keenly on
the other as if to read his thoughts; then, with a readiness
peculiar to himself, he continued, as if assenting to the
truth of an enumeration which quite doubled his army:
"It is a poor compliment to the vigilance of us soldiers,
monsieur, that, do what we will, we never can conceal our
numbers. If it were to be done at all, one would believe it
might succeed in these woods. Though you think it too soon
to listen to the calls of humanity," he added, smiling
archly, "I may be permitted to believe that gallantry is not
forgotten by one so young as yourself. The daughters of the
commandant, I learn, have passed into the fort since it was
"It is true, monsieur; but, so far from weakening our
efforts, they set us an example of courage in their own
fortitude. Were nothing but resolution necessary to repel
so accomplished a soldier as M. de Montcalm, I would gladly
trust the defense of William Henry to the elder of those
"We have a wise ordinance in our Salique laws, which says,
'The crown of France shall never degrade the lance to the
distaff'," said Montcalm, dryly, and with a little hauteur;
but instantly adding, with his former frank and easy air:
"as all the nobler qualities are hereditary, I can easily
credit you; though, as I said before, courage has its
limits, and humanity must not be forgotten. I trust,
monsieur, you come authorized to treat for the surrender of
"Has your excellency found our defense so feeble as to
believe the measure necessary?"
"I should be sorry to have the defense protracted in such a
manner as to irritate my red friends there," continued
Montcalm, glancing his eyes at the group of grave and
attentive Indians, without attending to the other's
questions; "I find it difficult, even now, to limit them to
the usages of war."
Heyward was silent; for a painful recollection of the
dangers he had so recently escaped came over his mind, and
recalled the images of those defenseless beings who had
shared in all his sufferings.
"Ces messieurs-la," said Montcalm, following up the
advantage which he conceived he had gained, "are most
formidable when baffled; and it is unnecessary to tell you
with what difficulty they are restrained in their anger. Eh
bien, monsieur! shall we speak of the terms?"
"I fear your excellency has been deceived as to the strength
of William Henry, and the resources of its garrison!"
"I have not sat down before Quebec, but an earthen work,
that is defended by twenty-three hundred gallant men," was
the laconic reply.
"Our mounds are earthen, certainly--nor are they seated on
the rocks of Cape Diamond; but they stand on that shore
which proved so destructive to Dieskau and his army. There
is also a powerful force within a few hours' march of us,
which we account upon as a part of our means."
"Some six or eight thousand men," returned Montcalm, with
much apparent indifference, "whom their leader wisely judges
to be safer in their works than in the field."
It was now Heyward's turn to bite his lip with vexation as
the other so coolly alluded to a force which the young man
knew to be overrated. Both mused a little while in silence,
when Montcalm renewed the conversation, in a way that showed
he believed the visit of his guest was solely to propose
terms of capitulation. On the other hand, Heyward began to
throw sundry inducements in the way of the French general,
to betray the discoveries he had made through the
intercepted letter. The artifice of neither, however,
succeeded; and after a protracted and fruitless interview,
Duncan took his leave, favorably impressed with an opinion
of the courtesy and talents of the enemy's captain, but as
ignorant of what he came to learn as when he arrived.
Montcalm followed him as far as the entrance of the marquee,
renewing his invitations to the commandant of the fort to
give him an immediate meeting in the open ground between the
There they separated, and Duncan returned to the advanced
post of the French, accompanied as before; whence he
instantly proceeded to the fort, and to the quarters of his
"EDG.--Before you fight the battle ope this letter."--
Major Heyward found Munro attended only by his daughters.
Alice sat upon his knee, parting the gray hairs on the
forehead of the old man with her delicate fingers; and
whenever he affected to frown on her trifling, appeasing his
assumed anger by pressing her ruby lips fondly on his
wrinkled brow. Cora was seated nigh them, a calm and amused
looker-on; regarding the wayward movements of her more
youthful sister with that species of maternal fondness which
characterized her love for Alice. Not only the dangers
through which they had passed, but those which still
impended above them, appeared to be momentarily forgotten,
in the soothing indulgence of such a family meeting. It
seemed as if they had profited by the short truce, to devote
an instant to the purest and best affection; the daughters
forgetting their fears, and the veteran his cares, in the
security of the moment. Of this scene, Duncan, who, in his
eagerness to report his arrival, had entered unannounced,
stood many moments an unobserved and a delighted spectator.
But the quick and dancing eyes of Alice soon caught a
glimpse of his figure reflected from a glass, and she sprang
blushing from her father's knee, exclaiming aloud:
"What of the lad?" demanded her father; "I have sent him to
crack a little with the Frenchman. Ha, sir, you are young,
and you're nimble! Away with you, ye baggage; as if there
were not troubles enough for a soldier, without having his
camp filled with such prattling hussies as yourself!"
Alice laughingly followed her sister, who instantly led the
way from an apartment where she perceived their presence was
no longer desirable. Munro, instead of demanding the result
of the young man's mission, paced the room for a few
moments, with his hands behind his back, and his head
inclined toward the floor, like a man lost in thought. At
length he raised his eyes, glistening with a father's
fondness, and exclaimed:
"They are a pair of excellent girls, Heyward, and such as
any one may boast of."
"You are not now to learn my opinion of your daughters,
"True, lad, true," interrupted the impatient old man; "you
were about opening your mind more fully on that matter the
day you got in, but I did not think it becoming in an old
soldier to be talking of nuptial blessings and wedding jokes
when the enemies of his king were likely to be unbidden
guests at the feast. But I was wrong, Duncan, boy, I was
wrong there; and I am now ready to hear what you have to
"Notwithstanding the pleasure your assurance gives me, dear
sir, I have just now, a message from Montcalm --"
"Let the Frenchman and all his host go to the devil, sir!"
exclaimed the hasty veteran. "He is not yet master of
William Henry, nor shall he ever be, provided Webb proves
himself the man he should. No, sir, thank Heaven we are not
yet in such a strait that it can be said Munro is too much
pressed to discharge the little domestic duties of his own
family. Your mother was the only child of my bosom friend,
Duncan; and I'll just give you a hearing, though all the
knights of St. Louis were in a body at the sally-port, with
the French saint at their head, crying to speak a word under
favor. A pretty degree of knighthood, sir, is that which
can be bought with sugar hogsheads! and then your twopenny
marquisates. The thistle is the order for dignity and
antiquity; the veritable 'nemo me impune lacessit' of
chivalry. Ye had ancestors in that degree, Duncan, and they
were an ornament to the nobles of Scotland."
Heyward, who perceived that his superior took a malicious
pleasure in exhibiting his contempt for the message of the
French general, was fain to humor a spleen that he knew
would be short-lived; he therefore, replied with as much
indifference as he could assume on such a subject:
"My request, as you know, sir, went so far as to presume to
the honor of being your son."
"Ay, boy, you found words to make yourself very plainly
comprehended. But, let me ask ye, sir, have you been as
intelligible to the girl?"
"On my honor, no," exclaimed Duncan, warmly; "there would
have been an abuse of a confided trust, had I taken
advantage of my situation for such a purpose."
"Your notions are those of a gentleman, Major Heyward, and
well enough in their place. But Cora Munro is a maiden too
discreet, and of a mind too elevated and improved, to need
the guardianship even of a father."
"Ay -- Cora! we are talking of your pretensions to Miss
Munro, are we not, sir?"
"I -- I -- I was not conscious of having mentioned her
name," said Duncan, stammering.
"And to marry whom, then, did you wish my consent, Major
Heyward?" demanded the old soldier, erecting himself in the
dignity of offended feeling.
"You have another, and not less lovely child."
"Alice!" exclaimed the father, in an astonishment equal to
that with which Duncan had just repeated the name of her
"Such was the direction of my wishes, sir."
The young man awaited in silence the result of the
extraordinary effect produced by a communication, which, as
it now appeared, was so unexpected. For several minutes
Munro paced the chamber with long and rapid strides, his
rigid features working convulsively, and every faculty
seemingly absorbed in the musings of his own mind. At
length, he paused directly in front of Heyward, and riveting
his eyes upon those of the other, he said, with a lip that
"Duncan Heyward, I have loved you for the sake of him whose
blood is in your veins; I have loved you for your own good
qualities; and I have loved you, because I thought you would
contribute to the happiness of my child. But all this love
would turn to hatred, were I assured that what I so much
apprehend is true."
"God forbid that any act or thought of mine should lead to
such a change!" exclaimed the young man, whose eye never
quailed under the penetrating look it encountered. Without
adverting to the impossibility of the other's comprehending
those feelings which were hid in his own bosom, Munro
suffered himself to be appeased by the unaltered countenance
he met, and with a voice sensibly softened, he continued:
"You would be my son, Duncan, and you're ignorant of the
history of the man you wish to call your father. Sit ye
down, young man, and I will open to you the wounds of a
seared heart, in as few words as may be suitable."
By this time, the message of Montcalm was as much forgotten
by him who bore it as by the man for whose ears it was
intended. Each drew a chair, and while the veteran communed
a few moments with his own thoughts, apparently in sadness,
the youth suppressed his impatience in a look and attitude
of respectful attention. At length, the former spoke:
"You'll know, already, Major Heyward, that my family was
both ancient and honorable," commenced the Scotsman; "though
it might not altogether be endowed with that amount of
wealth that should correspond with its degree. I was,
maybe, such an one as yourself when I plighted my faith to
Alice Graham, the only child of a neighboring laird of some
estate. But the connection was disagreeable to her father,
on more accounts than my poverty. I did, therefore, what an
honest man should -- restored the maiden her troth, and
departed the country in the service of my king. I had seen
many regions, and had shed much blood in different lands,
before duty called me to the islands of the West Indies.
There it was my lot to form a connection with one who in
time became my wife, and the mother of Cora. She was the
daughter of a gentleman of those isles, by a lady whose
misfortune it was, if you will," said the old man, proudly,
"to be descended, remotely, from that unfortunate class who
are so basely enslaved to administer to the wants of a
luxurious people. Ay, sir, that is a curse, entailed on
Scotland by her unnatural union with a foreign and trading
people. But could I find a man among them who would dare to
reflect on my child, he should feel the weight of a father's
anger! Ha! Major Heyward, you are yourself born at the
south, where these unfortunate beings are considered of a
race inferior to your own."
"'Tis most unfortunately true, sir," said Duncan, unable any
longer to prevent his eyes from sinking to the floor in
"And you cast it on my child as a reproach! You scorn to
mingle the blood of the Heywards with one so degraded --
lovely and virtuous though she be?" fiercely demanded the
"Heaven protect me from a prejudice so unworthy of my
reason!" returned Duncan, at the same time conscious of such
a feeling, and that as deeply rooted as if it had been
ingrafted in his nature. "The sweetness, the beauty, the
witchery of your younger daughter, Colonel Munro, might
explain my motives without imputing to me this injustice."
"Ye are right, sir," returned the old man, again changing
his tones to those of gentleness, or rather softness; "the
girl is the image of what her mother was at her years, and
before she had become acquainted with grief. When death
deprived me of my wife I returned to Scotland, enriched by
the marriage; and, would you think it, Duncan! the suffering
angel had remained in the heartless state of celibacy twenty
long years, and that for the sake of a man who could forget
her! She did more, sir; she overlooked my want of faith,
and, all difficulties being now removed, she took me for her
"And became the mother of Alice?" exclaimed Duncan, with an
eagerness that might have proved dangerous at a moment when
the thoughts of Munro were less occupied that at present.
"She did, indeed," said the old man, "and dearly did she pay
for the blessing she bestowed. But she is a saint in
heaven, sir; and it ill becomes one whose foot rests on the
grave to mourn a lot so blessed. I had her but a single
year, though; a short term of happiness for one who had seen
her youth fade in hopeless pining."
There was something so commanding in the distress of the old
man, that Heyward did not dare to venture a syllable of
consolation. Munro sat utterly unconscious of the other's
presence, his features exposed and working with the anguish
of his regrets, while heavy tears fell from his eyes, and
rolled unheeded from his cheeks to the floor. At length he
moved, and as if suddenly recovering his recollection; when
he arose, and taking a single turn across the room, he
approached his companion with an air of military grandeur,
"Have you not, Major Heyward, some communication that I
should hear from the marquis de Montcalm?"
Duncan started in his turn, and immediately commenced in an
embarrassed voice, the half-forgotten message. It is
unnecessary to dwell upon the evasive though polite manner
with which the French general had eluded every attempt of
Heyward to worm from him the purport of the communication he
had proposed making, or on the decided, though still
polished message, by which he now gave his enemy to
understand, that, unless he chose to receive it in person,
he should not receive it at all. As Munro listened to the
detail of Duncan, the excited feelings of the father
gradually gave way before the obligations of his station,
and when the other was done, he saw before him nothing but
the veteran, swelling with the wounded feelings of a
"You have said enough, Major Heyward," exclaimed the angry
old man; "enough to make a volume of commentary on French
civility. Here has this gentleman invited me to a
conference, and when I send him a capable substitute, for
ye're all that, Duncan, though your years are but few, he
answers me with a riddle."
"He may have thought less favorably of the substitute, my
dear sir; and you will remember that the invitation, which
he now repeats, was to the commandant of the works, and not
to his second."
"Well, sir, is not a substitute clothed with all the power
and dignity of him who grants the commission? He wishes to
confer with Munro! Faith, sir, I have much inclination to
indulge the man, if it should only be to let him behold the