Part 4 out of 5
"After them! After them! It was the messengers who stole by! They have
Those words were sweet in the ears of young Lennox. He had played the
actor, and the reward, the saving of their lives, had been paid. It
was one of their greatest triumphs and the savor of it would endure
long. The very thought gave fresh power to his arm and back, and he
swept his paddle with a strength that he had never known before. The
canoe skimmed the water like a bird and fairly flew in their chosen
Robert's own faculties became marvelously acute. He heard behind them
the repeated and angry orders of Jumonville, the hurried strokes of
many paddles, the splashing of canoes turned quickly about, a hum
of excited voices, and then he felt a great swell of confidence. The
roaring in his ears was gone, his nerves became amazingly steady, and
every stroke with his paddle was long and finished, a work of art.
Four or five minutes of such toil, and Tayoga rested on his paddle.
Robert imitated him.
"Now we will take our ease and listen," said the Onondaga. "The fog
is still our friend, and they will think we have turned to one side in
it, because that is the natural thing to do. But you and I, Dagaeoga,
will not turn just yet."
"I can't hear anything, Tayoga, can you?"
"I cannot, Dagaeoga, but we will not have long to wait. Now, I catch
the light swish of a paddle. They are feeling about in the fog. There
goes another paddle--and more. They come closer, but we still bide
here a little. I hear the voice of Jumonville. He is very angry. But
why should he be more angry at any other than at himself? He saw us
with his own eyes. He shouts many sharp orders, and some of them are
foolish. They must be so, because no man could shout orders so fast,
and in such a confused way, and have them all good. He sends more
canoes to both right and left to seek us. You and I can afford to
Sitting at rest in their canoe they laughed. With Robert it was not so
much a laugh of amusement as a laugh of relief after such tremendous
tension. He felt that they were now sure to escape, and with Tayoga he
THE HAPPY ESCAPE
The spirits of young Lennox rose to the zenith. Although they were
still grazing the edge of peril, he had supreme confidence in Tayoga
and also in the fog. It was a great fog, a thick fog, a kindly fog,
and it had made possible their escape and the achievement of their
mission. Having held so long it would hold until they needed it no
"Have they come any nearer, Tayoga?" he asked.
"Jumonville is still giving orders, and sending the canoes somewhat at
random. He is not the leader Sharp Sword would be in an emergency, nor
anything like it. He is having his own boat paddled about uncertainly.
I can hear the paddles of the four men in it. Now and then he speaks
angrily, too. He is upbraiding those who are not to blame. How are
you feeling now, Dagaeoga? Has Manitou already filled you with new
"I'm feeling as well as I ever did in my life. I'm ready to swing the
"Then we go. The fog will not wait for us forever. We must use it
while we have it."
They swept their paddles through the water in long and vigorous
strokes, and the canoe shot forward once more. They were confident now
that no enemy was ahead of them, and that none of those behind could
overtake them. The wet, cold fog still enclosed them like a heavy,
damp blanket, but their vigorous exercise and their high spirits kept
them warm. After ten minutes they made another stop, but as Tayoga
could hear nothing of Jumonville's party they pushed on again at
speed. By and by the Onondaga said:
"I feel the fog thinning, Dagaeoga. A wind out of the west has risen,
and soon it will take it all away."
"But it has served its purpose. I shall always feel well toward fogs.
Yes, here it goes! The wind is rising fast, and it is taking away the
mists and vapors in great folds."
The water began to roughen under the stiff breeze. The fog was split
asunder, the pieces were torn to fragments and shreds, and then
everything was swept away, leaving the surface of the lake a silver
mirror, and the mountains high and green on either shore. Far behind
them hovered the Indian canoes, and four or five miles ahead a tower
of smoke rose from the west bank.
"Certainly our people," said Robert, looking at the smoke.
"There is no doubt of it," said the Onondaga, "and that is where we
"And those behind us know now that we tricked them in the fog and have
escaped. They give forth a shout of anger and disappointment. Now they
They eased their strokes a little as the pursuit had been abandoned,
but curved more toward the center of the lake, lest some hidden
sharpshooter on shore might reach them, and made fair speed toward the
smoke, which Robert surmised might be made by a vanguard of troops.
"We ought to have help for Colden and Willet very soon," he said.
"It will not be long," said Tayoga; "but Dagaeoga has forgotten
something. Can he not think what it is?"
"No, Tayoga, I can't recall anything."
"Dagaeoga's body is bare from the waist up. It is well for an Indian
to go thus into a white camp, but it is not the custom of the people
to whom Lennox belongs."
"You're right. I've had so much excitement that I'd forgotten all
about my clothes. I must be true to my race, when I meet my brethren."
He reclothed himself, resumed his paddle, and they pushed on steadily
for the smoke. No trace of the fog was left. The lake glistened in
the sun, the ranges showed green from base to summit, and the tower of
smoke deepened and broadened.
"Can you make out what lies at the foot of it, Tayoga?" asked Robert.
"I think I can see a gleam of the sun on an epaulet. It is certainly
a camp of your people. The lake is supposed to be under their command,
and if the French should make a new incursion here upon its shores
they would not build their fires so boldly. Now, I see another gleam,
and I hear the ring of axes. They are not boat builders, because no
boats, either finished or unfinished, show at the water's edge. They
are probably cutting wood for their fires. I hear, too, the crack of
a whip, which means that they have wagons, and the presence of wagons
indicates a large force. They may be coming ahead with supplies for
our great army when it advances. I can now see men in uniform, and
there are some red coats among them. Hold your paddle as high as you
can, Dagaeoga, as a sign that we are friends, and I will send the
canoe in toward the shore. Ah, they see us now, and men are coming
down to the lake's edge to meet us! It is a large camp, and it should
hold enough men to make St. Luc give up the siege of Colden."
The two sent the canoe swiftly toward the land, where soldiers and
others in hunter's dress were already gathered to meet them. Robert
saw a tall, thin officer in a Colonial uniform, standing on the narrow
beach, and, assuming him to be in command, he said as the canoe swept
"We are messengers, sir, from the force of Captain Colden, which is
besieged at the sawmill ten or twelve miles farther north."
"Besieged, did you say?" said the officer, speaking in a sharp, dry
voice. "It's one of those French tricks they're always playing on us,
rushing in under our very noses, and trying to cut out our forces."
"That's it, sir. The French and Indian host, in this case, is led
by St. Luc, the ablest and most daring of all their partisans, and,
unless you give help, they'll have to escape as best they can in what
boats they have."
"As I'm a good Massachusetts man, I expected something of this kind. I
sent word to Pownall, our Governor, that we must be extremely
cautious in respect to the French, but he thinks the army of General
Abercrombie will overwhelm everything. Forest fighting is very
different from that of the open fields, a fact which the French seem
to have mastered better than we have. My name, young sir, is Elihu
Strong. I'm a colonel of the Massachusetts militia, and I command the
force that you see posted here."
"And mine, sir, is Robert Lennox, a free lance, and this is Tayoga, of
the clan of the Bear, of the great Onondaga nation, a devoted friend
of ours and the finest trailer the world has ever produced."
"Ah, I heard something of you both when I was at Albany from one
Jacobus Huysman, a stout and worthy burgher, who spoke well of you,
and who hazarded a surmise that I might meet you somewhere in the
neighborhood of the lakes."
"We lived in the house of Mynheer Jacobus when we went to school in
Albany. We owe him much."
"There was a third who was generally with you, a famous hunter, David
Willet, was there not?"
"He is with Captain Colden, sir, assisting in the defense."
"I'm glad he's there. Judging from what I've heard of him, he's a
tower of strength. But come into the camp. Doubtless, both of you
need food and rest. The times be dark, and we must get out of each day
whatever it has to offer."
Robert looked at him with interest. He was the forerunner of a type
that was to develop markedly in New England, tall, thin, dry-lipped,
critical, shrewd and tenacious to the last degree. He and his kind
were destined to make a great impress upon the New World. He gave to
the two the best the camp had, and ordered that they be treated with
"I've a strong force here," he said, "although it might have been
stronger if our Governor and Legislature had done their full duty.
Still, we must make the best of everything. My men reported Indians in
the forest to the north of us, and that, perhaps, is the reason why we
have not come into contact with Captain Colden, but I did not suspect
that he was besieged."
Robert, as he ate the good food set before him, looked over the camp,
which had been pitched well, with far-flung pickets to guard against
ambush, and his eyes glistened, as they fell upon two brass cannon,
standing side by side upon a slight rise in the center of the camp.
The big guns, when well handled, were always effective against forest
warriors. Colonel Strong's eyes followed his.
"I see that you are taking notice of my cannon," he said. "They're
good pieces, but if our governor and legislature had done their duty
they'd be four instead of two. Still, we have to make the best of what
we have. I told Shirley that we must prepare for a great war, and I
tell Pownall the same. Those who don't know him always underrate our
"I never do, sir," said Robert. "I've seen too much of him to do
"Well, well, we'll do the best we can. I've four hundred men here,
though if the Governor and the Legislature of Massachusetts had done
their full duty they'd be eight hundred, not to say a thousand. I'll
advance as soon as possible to the relief of Colden. He can surely
hold out until the morrow."
"Not a doubt of it, sir, and, if you'll pardon me for making a
suggestion, I wouldn't begin any advance until the morning. Not much
of the day is left. If we started this afternoon, night would overtake
us in the woods and the Chevalier de St. Luc is sure to plant an
ambush for us."
"Sensibly spoken, young sir. We're an eternally rash people. We're
always walking into traps. I've in my force about twenty good scouts,
though if the Governor and Legislature of Massachusetts had done their
full duty they'd be forty, not to say fifty, and I don't want to risk
their loss in night fighting in the forest."
He went away and Robert saw him moving among his men, giving orders.
Elihu Strong, a merchant, nevertheless had made himself a strenuous
soldier at his province's call, and he was not unwilling to learn even
from those not more than half his age.
"Open Eyes will do well," said Tayoga.
"Aye, Dagaeoga. The colonel who is named Strong I will call Open Eyes,
because he is willing to look and see. He will look when you tell
him to look, and many who come from the cities will not do that. And
because his eyes are open he will not stick his head into an ambush.
Yet he will always complain of others."
"And sometimes of himself, too," laughed Robert. "I think he'll be
fair in that respect. Now, Tayoga, we'll rest here, and be easy with
ourselves until to-morrow morning, when we advance."
"We will stay, Dagaeoga, but I do not know whether it will be so easy.
Since Jumonville saw us escape he will tell St. Luc of it, and Sharp
Sword will send a force here to harry Open Eyes, and to make him think
the forest is full of warriors. But Open Eyes, though he may complain,
will not be afraid."
It was even as the Onondaga predicted. The foe came with the twilight.
The dark wilderness about them gave back whoops and yells, and furtive
bands skirmished with Strong's scouts. Then the shouts of the warriors
increased greatly in number, and seemed to come from all points about
the camp. It was obvious to Robert that the enemy was trying to make
Strong's men believe that a great force was confronting them, and some
of them, unused to the woods, showed apprehension lest such an unseen
and elusive danger overwhelm them. But Elihu Strong never flinched.
The forest was almost as much of a mystery to him as it was to his
troops, but he was there to dare its perils and he dared them.
"I shall keep my men in camp and await attack, if they make it," he
said to Robert, to whom he seemed to have taken a great fancy, "and
whatever happens I shall move forward in the morning to the relief of
He shut his thin lips tightly together and his pale blue eyes flashed.
The merchant, turned soldier, had the stoutest of hearts, and a stout
heart was what was needed in his camp that night. The warriors gave
his men no rest. They circled about continually, firing and whooping,
and trying to create panic, or at least a fear that would hold Strong
where he was.
Robert went to sleep early, and, when he awakened far in the night,
the turmoil was still going on. But he saw Elihu Strong walking back
and forth near one of the fires, and in the glow his thin face still
reflected an iron resolution. Satisfied that the camp was in no danger
of being frightened, young Lennox went back to sleep.
A gray, chilly morning came, and soon after dawn Elihu Strong began
to prepare his men for their perilous progress, serving first an ample
hot breakfast with plenty of tea and coffee.
"Open Eyes not only watches but he knows much," said Tayoga. "He has
learned that an army marches better on a full stomach."
Strong then asked Robert and Tayoga to serve in a way as guides, and
he made his dispositions, sending his scouts in advance, putting his
most experienced soldiers on the flanks and heading his main column
with the two brass cannon. The strictest injunctions that nobody
straggle were given, and then the force took up its march.
They had not been molested while at breakfast, and when making the
preparations, but as soon as they left the fire and entered the
deep forest, the terrifying turmoil burst forth again, fierce whoops
resounding on every side and bullets pattering on the leaves or bark.
Colonel Strong left his scouts and flankers to deal with the ambushed
warriors, and the main column, face to the front, marched steadily
toward Colden's camp. It was to be a trial of nerves, and Robert was
quite confident that the stern New England leader would win.
"The savages make a tremendous tumult," he said to young Lennox, "but
their bullets are not reaching us. We're not to be shaken by mere
"When they find that out, as they soon will," said Robert, "they'll
make an attack. Some French officers and troops must be with them.
Perhaps Jumonville came in the night to lead them."
He and Tayoga then went a short distance into the forest ahead of the
scouts, and Tayoga saw ample evidence that the French were present
with the Indians.
"You are right in your surmise that Jumonville came in the night," he
said. "He wore boots, and here are the imprints of his heels. I think
he is not far away now. Watch well, Dagaeoga, while I lie on the earth
Ear to the ground, the Onondaga announced that he could hear men on
both sides of them moving.
"There is the light step of the warriors," he said, "and also the
heavier tread of the French. I think I can hear Jumonville himself. It
sounds like the crush of boots. Perhaps they are now seeking to lay an
"Then it's time for us to fall back, Tayoga, both for our own sakes
and for the sake of Colonel Strong's force."
The two retreated quickly lest they be caught in an ambush, and gave
warning to Elihu Strong that an attack was now probable, a belief
in which they were confirmed by the report the scouts brought in
presently that a creek was just ahead, a crossing always being a
favorite place for an Indian trap.
"So be it," said Colonel Strong, calmly. "We are ready. If the
Governor and Legislature of Massachusetts had done their full duty,
we'd be twice as strong, but even as we are we'll force the passage of
"You will find a body of the warriors on this side of the stream,"
said Tayoga. "They will give way after a little firing, tempting you
to think you have won an easy victory. Then when about half of your
men are across they will attack with all their might, hoping to cut
"I thank you for telling me," said Colonel Strong. "I've no doubt you
know what you're talking about. Your manner indicates it. We might be
much better equipped than we are if those in authority in my province
had done their full duty, but we will make way, nevertheless. I'll
cover the passage of the creek with the guns."
The firing in front already showed that Tayoga's prediction was coming
true, and it was accompanied by a tremendous volume of yelling, as if
the whole Indian force were gathered on the near side of the creek.
Robert from the crest of a hill saw the stream, narrow and deep,
though not too deep for fording as he was to learn later, fringed on
either side with a dense growth of low bushes, from the shelter of
which warriors were sending their bullets toward the white force. The
men were eager to go against them at once, but the scouts were sent
forward through the undergrowth to open up a flanking fire, and then
the main column marched on at a steady pace.
The crash of the rifles grew fast. The warriors on the near side of
the creek leaped from the bushes as Strong's men drew near, waded the
stream and disappeared in the forest on the other bank, giving forth
howls of disappointment as they fled. The soldiers, uttering a
shout of triumph, undertook to rush forward in pursuit, but Strong
"It's the ambush against which the Onondaga warned us," he said to his
lieutenants, "and we won't run into it. Bring forward the cannon."
The two brass guns, fine twelve pounders, were moved up within close
range of the creek, and they swept the forest on the other side with
balls and grape shot. It was probably the first time cannon were ever
heard in those woods, and the reports came back in many echoes. Boughs
and twigs rained down.
"It is a great sound," said Tayoga admiringly, "and the warriors who
are trying to plant an ambush will not like it."
"But you'll remember Braddock's fate," said Robert. "The cannon didn't
do much then."
"But this is different, Dagaeoga. Open Eyes has his eyes open. He
is merely using the cannon as a cover for his advance. They will be
backed up by the rifles. You will see."
The soldiers approached the creek cautiously, and, when the first
ranks were in the water, the cannon raked the woods ahead to right and
left, and to left and right. The best of the riflemen were also pushed
forward, and, when the warriors opened fire, they were quickly driven
away. Then the whole force, carrying the cannon with them, crossed,
and stood in triumph on the other side.
"Did I not tell you that Open Eyes knew what he was doing?" said
"It seems that he does," Robert replied, "but we haven't yet arrived
at Colden's station. An attack in force is sure to come."
"Dagaeoga speaks truth. I think it will occur a mile or two farther
on. They will make it before Captain Colden's men can learn that we
are on the march."
"Then they won't wait long. Anywhere will do, as the forest is dense
Since they had carried the ford with but little loss, the cannon
that had blazed the way ceased to fire, but the gunners regarded them
proudly and Robert did not withhold admiration. They were pioneers,
fine brass creatures, and when handled right they were a wonderful
help in the forest. He did not blame the gunners for patting the
barrels, for scraping the mud of the creek's crossing from the wheels,
and for speaking to them affectionately. Massive and polished they
gleamed in the sun and inspired confidence.
Tayoga went ahead in the forest, but came back soon and reported a
low ridge not more than half a mile farther on, a likely place for
an attack, which he judged would come there. It would be made by the
united force of the French and Indians and would be severe.
"So be it," said Elihu Strong, whose iron calm nothing disturbed. "We
are ready for the foe, though St. Luc himself should come. It is true
that instead of two cannon we might have had four or even six, or
twice as many men, if the Governor and Legislature of Massachusetts
had done their full duty, but we'll let that pass. Will you, Lennox,
and you, Tayoga, advance with the scouts and be my eyes?"
Robert appreciated the compliment to the full, and promptly replied in
the affirmative for them both. Then he and Tayoga at once plunged
into the forest with the borderers who were there to provide against
ambush, all of them approaching the menacing ridge with great care. It
was a long projection, rising about a hundred feet, and grown densely
with trees and bushes. It looked very quiet and peaceful and birds
even were singing there among the boughs. The leader of the scouts, a
bronzed man of middle age named Adams, turned to Tayoga.
"I see nothing there," he said, "but I've heard of you and your power
to find things where others can't. Do you think they're on that ridge
waiting for us?"
"It is certain," replied the Onondaga. "It is the place best fitted
for them, and they will not neglect it. Let me go forward a little,
with my friend, Dagaeoga, and we will unveil them."
"We'll wait here, and if they're on it I believe you'll soon know it,"
said Adams confidently.
Tayoga slid forward among the bushes and Robert followed. Neither made
the slightest noise, and they drew much nearer to the ridge, which
still basked in the sun, peaceful and innocent in looks. Not a warrior
or a Frenchman appeared there, the bushes gave back no glint of
weapons, nothing was disclosed.
"They may be hidden in that jungle, but they won't stir until we're
under the muzzles of their rifles. What do you propose to do?" asked
"I will tempt them, Dagaeoga."
"Tempt them? I don't understand you."
"Tododaho on his great star which we cannot see in the day, but which,
nevertheless, is there, whispers to me that Tandakora himself is among
the bushes on the ridge. It is just such an ambush as he loves. As you
know, Dagaeoga, he hates us all, but he hates me most. If he sees a
good opportunity for a shot at me he will not be able to forego it."
"For Heaven's sake, Tayoga, don't make a martyr of yourself merely to
draw the enemy's fire!"
"No such thought was in my mind. I am not yet ready to leave the
world, which I find bright and full of interest. Moreover, I wish to
see the end of this war and what will happen afterward. Risks are a
part of our life, Dagaeoga, but I will take none that is undue."
Tayoga spoke in his usual precise, book English, explaining everything
fully, and Robert said nothing more. But he awaited the actions of the
Onondaga with intense interest. Tayoga crept forward five or six yards
more, and then he stumbled, striking against a bush and shaking it
violently. Robert was amazed. It was incredible that the Onondaga
should be so awkward, and then he remembered. Tayoga was going to draw
the enemy's fire.
Tayoga struck against another bush, and then stood upright and
visible. Those hidden on the ridge, if such there were, could see him
clearly. The response was immediate. A gigantic figure stood up among
the bushes, leveled a rifle and fired at him point blank. But the
Onondaga, quick as lightning, dropped back and the bullet whistled
over his head. Robert fired at the great painted figure of Tandakora,
but he too missed, and in a moment the Ojibway chief sank down in the
undergrowth. A shout came from the hidden Indians about him.
"They are there," said Tayoga, "and we know just where many of them
lie. We will suggest to Open Eyes that he fire the cannon at that
They rejoined Adams.
"You were right, as I knew you'd be," said the scout. "You've located
"Yes, because Tandakora could not resist his hate of me," said the
They withdrew to the main force, and once more the brave brass guns
were brought up, sending solid shot and grape into the bushes on the
ridge, then moving forward and repeating the fire. Many rifles opened
upon them from the thickets, and several men fell, but Elihu Strong
held his people in hand, and the scouts drove back the sharpshooters.
Meanwhile the whole force advanced and began to climb the ridge, the
cannon being turned on the flanks, where the attack was now heaviest.
A fierce battle ensued, and the guns, served with great skill and
effectiveness, kept the Indians at bay. More of Strong's men were
slain and many were hit, but their own rifles backed up the guns with
a deadly fire. Thus the combat was waged in the thickets a full two
hours, when they heard a great shout toward the north, and Willet, at
the head of a hundred men, broke his way through to their relief. Then
French and Indians drew off, and the united forces proceeded to the
point, where Colden, Wilton, Carson and Grosvenor gave them a great
"We are here," said Elihu Strong. "If the Governor and Legislature of
Massachusetts had done their full duty we might have been here sooner,
but here we are."
"I knew that you would come back and bring help with you," said
Grosvenor to Robert. "I felt sure that Tayoga would guide the canoe
through every peril."
"Your confidence was not misplaced," said Robert. "He did some
wonderful work. He was as great a trailer on the water as he is on
land. Now that we are so much stronger, I wonder what St. Luc is going
But Black Rifle came in the next morning with the news that the
Chevalier and his whole force were gone.
They had stolen away silently in the night, and were now marching
northward, probably to join Montcalm.
"I'm not surprised," said Willet. "We're now too strong for him
and St. Luc is not the man to waste his time and strength in vain
endeavors. I suspect that we will next hear of him near Champlain,
somewhere in the neighborhood of Ticonderoga. I think we'd better
follow his trail a little distance."
Willet himself led the band that pursued St. Luc, and it included
Tayoga, Robert, Grosvenor, Black Rifle and Adams, Daganoweda and his
Mohawks having left shortly before on an expedition of their own. It
was an easy enough task, as the trail necessarily was wide and deep,
and the Onondaga could read it almost with his eyes shut.
"Here went Sharp Sword," he said after looking about a while. "I find
traces of his moccasins, which I would know anywhere because I have
seen them so many times before. Here another Frenchman joined him and
walked beside him for a while. It was Jumonville, whose imprints I
also know. They talked together. Perhaps Jumonville was narrating the
details of his encounter with us. Now he leaves St. Luc, who is joined
by another Frenchman wearing moccasins. But the man is heavy and
walked with a heavy step. It is the Canadian, Dubois, who attends upon
Sharp Sword, and who is devoted to him. Perhaps Sharp Sword is giving
him instructions about the camp that they will make when the day
is over. Now Dubois also goes, and here come the great moccasins of
Tandakora. I have seen none other so large in the woods, and a child
would know them. He too talks with Sharp Sword, but Sharp Sword does
not stop for him. They walk on together, because the stride continues
steady and even, just the length that a man of Sharp Sword's height
would make when walking. Tandakora is very angry, not at Sharp
Sword--he would not dare to show anger against him--but at the will
of Manitou who would not let him win a victory over us. He did not get
much satisfaction from Sharp Sword, because he stayed with him only a
very short time. Here his trail leads away again, and Sharp Sword once
more walks on alone.
"Perhaps Sharp Sword prefers to be alone. Most men do after a
disappointment, and he knows that his attack upon the boat builders
has been a failure. Sharp Sword does not like failures any more than
other people do, and he wants to think. He is planning how to win
a great success, and to atone for his failure here. I do not see
anything of De Courcelles. I do not find his trail anywhere, which
shows that the wound you gave him, Dagaeoga, was severe. He is being
carried either by warriors or French soldiers on a litter. It is far
more likely to be soldiers, and here I find them, the trail of four
men who walk exactly even, two by two all the time. The rage of De
Courcelles will mount very high against you, Dagaeoga, and you will
have to beware of him."
"I am ready for him," said Robert, proudly.
The broad trail led steadily on toward the north, but Willet, after a
while, spread out his own little force, taking no chances with forest
ambush. He considered it highly probable that before long Tandakora
would curve aside with some of his warriors, hoping to trap the
unwary. He was confirmed in his opinion by the Onondaga's reading of
"I find the footprints of the Ojibway chief again," said Tayoga. "Here
they go at the edge of the trail. Now he has stopped. His stride
has ceased, and he stands with his moccasins close together. He is
probably talking with his warriors and he meditates something. The
rage of Tandakora is as great as that of De Courcelles, but Tandakora
is not hurt, and he is able to strike. He moves on again, and, ah!
here he goes into the woods. Beyond question he is now engaged in
planting an ambush for those who would follow St. Luc. Shall we go
back, Great Bear, or shall we meet the Ojibway's ambush with an ambush
of our own?"
The black eyes of the Onondaga sparkled.
"We ought to turn back," replied Willet, "but I can't resist playing
Tandakora's own game with him. It may give us a chance to rid the
border of that scourge. We'll leave the trail, and go into the deep
Led by the hunter the little band plunged into the forest and began
a careful circle, intending to come back to the trail some distance
ahead, and to post themselves behind Tandakora in case that wily
savage was planning an ambush, as they felt sure he was. They
redoubled their precautions, ceasing all talk for the while, and
allowing no bushes to rustle as they passed. Willet led the line, and
Tayoga brought up the rear. Grosvenor was just behind Robert. He, too,
was now able to bring down his feet in soundless fashion, and to avoid
every stick or twig that might break with a crack beneath his weight.
While he was aware of the perils before them, his heart beat high. He
felt that he was making further progress, and that he was becoming a
worthy forest runner.
After two careful hours of travel, they came back again to the broad
trail which showed that St. Luc was still maintaining steady progress
toward the north. But both the hunter and the Onondaga felt sure that
Tandakora and a chosen band were now to the south, waiting in ambush
for those who would come in pursuit.
"We'd better draw 'em if we can," said Willet. "Let 'em know we're
here, but make 'em believe we're friends."
"I think I can do it," said Tayoga. "I know Huron and St. Regis
signals. It is likely that some of the warriors with Tandakora are
Hurons, and, in any event, the Ojibway will understand the signals."
He imitated the cawing of a crow, and presently the answer came
from the forest about a quarter of a mile to the south. The cry was
repeated, and the answer came duly a second time. No one in the little
band now doubted that Tandakora and his men were there.
"Shall we attack?" asked Robert.
"I think we can sting them a little," replied Willet. "Our numbers are
few, but the force of the Ojibway is not likely to be large. It was
his purpose to strike and get away, and that's what we'll do. Now,
Tayoga, we're relying upon you to get us into a good position on his
The Onondaga led them in another but much smaller circle toward the
forest, from which the answering caws of the crow had come. The way
went through dense thickets but, before he reached his chosen spot, he
"Look," he said, pointing to the earth, where there were faint traces
that Robert could scarcely see and over which he would have passed,
unnoticing. "Here is where Tandakora went on his way to the ambush. It
is a little trail, and it was to be only a little ambush. He has only
about ten warriors with him. The Ojibway has come back for revenge. He
could not bear to leave without striking at least one blow. Perhaps he
slipped away from Sharp Sword to try the ambush on his own account."
"They can't be far ahead," said the hunter.
"No," said the Onondaga. "They will be coming back in response to my
call, and I think we would better await them here."
They disposed themselves in good order for battle, and then sank to
the earth. Light waves of air registered delicately but clearly on
those wonderful eardrums of Tayoga's. Faint though the sound was,
he understood it. It was the careful tread of men. Tandakora and his
warriors were on the way, called by the crow. He knew when they came
within a hundred yards of where he and his companions lay, and he
knew when they spread out in cautious fashion, to see what manner of
friends these were who came. He knew, too, that Tandakora would not
walk into a trap, and he had not expected at any time that he would,
it having been merely his purpose when he cawed like a crow to call
him back to fair and honorable combat, ambush against ambush. He noted
when the thin line of detached warriors began to advance again, he was
even able to trace the step of Tandakora, heavier than the others,
and to discern when the Ojibway chief stopped a second time, trying to
pierce the thickets with his eyes.
"Tandakora is in doubt," he whispered to Robert. "The call of the crow
which at first seemed so friendly has another meaning now. He is not
so sure that friends are here after all, but he does not understand
how an enemy happens to be behind him. He is angry, too, that his own
pretty ambush, in which he was sitting so cunningly waiting for us,
is broken up. Tandakora's humor is far from good, but, because of it,
mine is excellent."
"You certainly learned the dictionary well when you were in our
schools," Robert whispered back, but as full as ever of admiration for
Tayoga's powers. "Has all sound ceased now?"
"They are not stirring. They have become quite sure that we are
enemies and they wait for us to act first."
"Then I'll give 'em a lead," said Willet, who lay on Tayoga's right.
He thrust out a foot, bringing it down on a dead stick so hard that
it broke with a sharp snap, but instantly drew away to the shelter of
another bush. A rifle cracked in front of them and a bullet cut the
air over the broken stick. Before the warrior who fired the bullet
could sink back Black Rifle pulled the trigger at a certain target,
and the man fell without a sound.
"A fine shot, Captain Jack," said Willet, and a few minutes later the
hunter himself made another just as good. For a half hour the combat
was waged in the deep thickets, mere glimpses serving for aim, but the
combatants were as fierce and tenacious as if the issue were joined
by great armies. Four warriors fell, Willet's band suffered only a few
scratches, and then, at a signal from him, they melted away into the
woods, curved about again, and took up the return journey toward their
"We did enough," said Willet, when he was sure they were not pursued
by Tandakora. "All we wanted to do was to sting the Ojibway and not to
let him forget that those who ambush may be ambushed. He'll be fairly
burning with anger."
"How are you feeling, Red Coat?" asked Tayoga.
"As well as could be expected after such an experience," replied
Grosvenor with pride. But the young Englishman was very sober, too.
A warrior had fallen before his rifle, and, with the heat of battle
over, he was very thoughtful.
THE FRENCH CAMP
They returned to the camp without further event. Colden and Strong
were gratified to learn that the retreat of St. Luc was real, and that
he was certainly going toward Champlain, with the obvious intention of
"We owe you a great debt of gratitude, Colonel," said the young
officer, frankly, to Elihu Strong. "If you had not come I don't think
we could have held out against St. Luc."
"We did the best we could," replied Elihu Strong. "If the Governor and
Legislature of Massachusetts had done their full duty we'd have been
here earlier, with twice as many men and guns, but as it is we did our
best, and man can do no more."
They decided that they would hold the point and await the coming of
the great army under Abercrombie which was to crush Montcalm. The
outworks were built higher and stronger and the brass cannon were
mounted upon them at points, where they could sweep the forest. These
fine twelve-pounders were sources of much moral courage and added
greatly to the spirits of the troops. They had shown their power at
the forcing of the ford and at the taking of the ridge, and their
brazen mouths, menacing the forest, looked well.
Willet and his comrades considered it their duty to stay there also,
and wait for Abercrombie, and, the third day after the retreat of St.
Luc, Robert and Tayoga went into the woods to see whether Tandakora
had turned back again with his warriors. They reckoned that the
Ojibway chief's anger was so strong that he would make another attempt
at revenge upon those who had defeated him. There was a rumor that
the Indians with the French were becoming much dissatisfied, that
they were awed by the reports of the mighty British and American force
advancing under Abercrombie, and might leave the French to meet it
"Do you think there is much in these rumors?" asked Robert, as he and
the Onondaga went into the forest.
"I do," replied Tayoga. "The warriors with the French do not like the
cannon, and they say the force that is coming against Montcalm is very
vast. A great battle may be fought, but Tandakora and his men are not
likely to be there. They will go away and await a better day."
"Then I'm glad they'll desert for a while. They're the eyes and ears
of the French. That will leave our own scouts and forest runners the
lords of the wild, though it seems to me, Tayoga, that you're the true
and veritable lord of the wild."
"Then if that were so, though you praise my skill too much, Dagaeoga,
you and the Great Bear and Black Rifle also are lords of the wild."
"Lords of the wild! I like the term. It is something to be that
at this time and in this region. We're mainly a wilderness people,
Tayoga, and our wars are waged in the woods. We're not more than two
miles from the camp now, and yet we're completely lost in the forest.
There's not a trace of man. I don't even see any smoke soiling the
"It is so, Dagaeoga, and we are again in the shadow of peril. Dangers
in the forest are as thick as leaves on the trees. Here is an old
trail of our enemies."
"I'm not interested in old trails. What we're looking for is new
"If we keep going toward the north it may be that we will find them,
Several miles farther on they came to other trails which the Onondaga
examined with great interest and care. Two or three he pronounced
quite recent, but he did not read any particular purpose in them.
"It is likely that they were made by hunters," he said. "While the
armies are gathering, the warriors are sure to seek game. Here two of
them passed, and here they stood behind a tree. It is sure now that
those two were hunting. I think they stood behind a tree to ambush a
deer. The deer was to the west of them. The traces they left in
the soft earth under the tree show that the toes of their moccasins
pointed toward the west and so they were looking that way, at the
deer, which probably stood in the thicket over there nibbling at its
food. They must have had an easy shot. Now, we'll enter the thicket.
Lo, Dagaeoga, here is where the deer fell! Look at the little bushes
broken and at the dark stain on the ground where its life flowed out.
They dragged the body to the other side of the thicket, and cut it up
there. Nothing could be plainer, the traces are so numerous. They were
casual hunters, and it is not worth our while to follow them."
Northward they still pursued their course, and struck another and
larger trail which made Tayoga look grave.
"This is the path of seven or eight warriors," he said, "and it is
likely that they are a scouting party. They have come back, as we
expected, to spy upon us and to cut off stragglers from our camp. We
will follow it a little while."
It led south by west and seemed to go on with a definite purpose, but,
after a mile or so, it divided, four warriors, as Tayoga said, going
in one direction and three in the other.
"Suppose I follow those on the north a short distance while you take
those on the south," suggested Robert.
"We will do so," said Tayoga, "and in an hour come back to this
The three warriors were on the north, and, as the earth was soft,
Robert saw their trail quite clearly leading steadily west by north.
His own ambition to excel as a trailer was aroused and he followed it
with great energy. Two or three times when the ground became hard and
rocky he lost it, but a little search always disclosed it again, and
he renewed the pursuit with increased zeal. He went on over a hill
and then into a wide valley, well grown with thickets. Pushing his way
through the bushes he sought the traces and was startled by a sound
almost at his shoulder. Keyed to the dangers of the forest he whirled
instantly, but it was too late. A powerful warrior threw himself upon
him, and though Robert, by a great effort, threw him off he sprang
back and another on the other side also seized him. He was borne to
the earth and a third Indian coming up, he was quickly secured.
Robert at first was so sick with chagrin that he did not think about
his life. In nine cases out of ten the warriors would have tomahawked
him, and this he soon realized, thankful at the same time that he had
been spared, for the present, at least. Yet his mortification endured.
What would Tayoga say when he saw by the trail that he had been
caught so easily? He had fairly walked into the trap, and he was now
a prisoner the second time. Yet he showed the stoicism that he had
learned in a forest life. While the Indians bound his wrists tightly
with rawhide thongs he stood up and looked them squarely in the face.
One of the warriors took his rifle and examined it with a pleased
eye. Another appropriated his pistol and a third helped himself to his
knife and hatchet.
"I've four shillings in an inside pocket," said Robert. "If you want
'em, take 'em."
But the warriors did not understand English and shook their heads.
Evidently they were satisfied with the spoil they had taken already.
"Which way?" asked Robert.
They replied by leading him to the northwest. He was hopeful at first
that Tayoga might rescue him as he had done once before, but the
warriors were wary and powerful, and three, too, were too many for the
Onondaga alone to attack. The thought passed and by an effort of the
will he resigned himself to his immediate captivity. They did not mean
to take his life, and while there was no hope for the present there
was plenty of it for the future. He could be in a far worse case. His
unfailing optimism broke through the shell of mortification, and he
became resolutely cheerful.
"Which way, my friends?" he said to the warriors.
But again they understood no English and shook their heads.
"Don't plume yourself too much on that rifle," he said, speaking to
the warrior who had taken his favorite weapon. "You have it for the
present, but when I escape for the second time I mean to take it with
me. I give you fair warning."
The warrior, who seemed to be good natured, shook his head once more,
and grinned, not abating at all his air of proprietorship so far as
the rifle was concerned.
"And you with the pistol," continued the prisoner, "I beg to tell
you it's mine, not yours, and I shall claim it again. What, you don't
understand? Well, I'll have to find some way to make you comprehend
The three warriors walked briskly and Robert, of course, had no choice
but to keep pace with them. They indicated very conclusively that they
knew where they meant to go, and so he assumed that a hostile camp was
not very far away. Resolved to show no sign of discouragement, he held
his head erect and stepped springily.
About three miles, and he saw a gleam of uniforms through the trees,
a few steps more and his heart gave a leap. He beheld a group
of Indians, and several Frenchmen, and one of them, tall, young,
distinguished, was St. Luc.
The Chevalier was in a white uniform, trimmed with silver, a silver
hilted small sword by his side, and his smile was not unpleasant when
he said to Robert:
"I sent out these three warriors to find me a prisoner and bring him
in, but I little suspected that it would be you."
"I suspected as little that it was you to whom I was being taken,"
said Robert. "But since I had to be a prisoner I'm glad I'm yours
instead of De Courcelles' or Jumonville's, as those two soldiers of
France have as little cause to love me as I have to love them."
"Monsieur De Courcelles is suffering from a bullet wound."
"It was my bullet."
"You say that rather proudly, but perhaps I'd better not tell it to
him. It seems, Mr. Lennox, that you have a certain facility in getting
yourself captured, as this is the second time within a year."
"I was treated so well by the French that I thought I could risk it
again," said Robert jauntily.
The Chevalier smiled. Robert felt again that current of understanding
and sympathy, that, so it seemed to him, had passed so often between
"I see," said St. Luc, "that you are willing to give credit to France,
the evergreen nation, the nation of light and eternal life. We may
lose at times, we may be defeated at times, but we always rise anew.
You British and Americans will realize that some day."
"I do not hate France."
"I don't think you do. But this is scarcely a time for me to give you
a lecture on French qualities. Sit down on this log. I trust that my
warriors did not treat you with undue harshness."
"I've nothing to complain of. They took my weapons, but that is
the law of war. I'd have done the same in their place. As I see it,
they're not particularly bad Indians. But if you don't mind, I'd like
you to cut these rawhide thongs that bind my wrists. They're beginning
The Chevalier drew a knife and with one sweep of its keen edge severed
the rawhide. Robert's wrists flew apart and the blood once more flowed
freely through his veins. Though the stinging did not cease he felt
"I thank you," he said politely, "but, as I told you before, I do not
hold it against your warriors, because they bound me. I'd have escaped
had they given me any chance at all, and I warn you now, as I warned
them, that I intend to escape later on."
St. Luc smiled.
"I'll accept the challenge," he said, "and I'll see that you don't
make good your boast. I can assure you, too, if by any possibility you
should escape, it certainly will not be before the great battle."
"Great battle! What great battle? You don't mean that Montcalm will
dare to meet Abercrombie?"
"Such an idea was in my mind."
"Why, we'll come with four or five to one! The Marquis de Montcalm
cannot stand against such a powerful force as ours. We've definite
information that he won't be able to muster more than three or four
thousand men. We hear, too, that the Indians, frightened by our power,
are leaving him, for the time, at least."
"Some of your surmises may be correct, but your facts don't follow
from them. The Marquis de Montcalm, our great leader, will await your
Abercrombie, no matter what your force may be. I violate no military
secret when I tell you that, and I tell you also that you are very far
from being assured of any victory."
The Chevalier suddenly dropped his light manner, and became intensely
earnest. His eyes gleamed for an instant with blue fire, but it was
only a passing moment of emotion. He was in an instant his old, easy
"We talk like the debaters of the schools," he said, "when we are
at war. I am to march in a few minutes. I suggest that in return for
certain liberties you give me your pledge to attempt no escape until
we arrive at the camp of the Marquis de Montcalm."
"I can't do it. Since I've promised you that I will escape I must
neglect no chance."
"So be it. Then I must guard you well, but I will not have your wrists
bound again. Here comes an expert rover of the forest who will be your
A white man at the head of several warriors was approaching through
the woods. He was young, lean, with a fierce, hooked Roman nose, and
a bold, aggressive face, tanned to the color of mahogany. Robert
recognized him at once, and since he had to be a prisoner a second
time, he took a certain pleasure in the meeting.
"How do you do, Monsieur Langlade?" he said. "You see, I've come back.
I forgot to tell you good-by, and I'm here to make amends for my lack
of politeness. And how is the patient and watchful spouse, the Dove?"
Robert spoke in good French and the partisan stared in astonishment.
Then a pleased look of recognition came into his eyes.
"Ah, it's young Mr. Lennox," he exclaimed. "Young Mr. Lennox come back
to us. It's not mere politeness that makes me tell you I'm glad to
see you. You did make a very clever escape with the aid of that Indian
friend of yours. I hope to capture Tayoga some day, and, if I do, it
will be an achievement of which I shall boast all the rest of my life.
But we'll take good care that you don't leave us again."
"He has just warned me that he intends to escape a second time," said
"Then it will be a pretty test of mettle," said the Owl, appreciation
showing in his tone, "and we welcome it. Have you any commands for me,
He spoke with great respect when he addressed the query to St. Luc,
and the Chevalier replied that they would march in a half hour. Then
Langlade gave Robert food, and took a little himself, sitting with the
prisoner and informing him that the Dove had worried greatly over his
escape. Although she was not to blame, she considered that in some
indirect manner it was a reflection upon her vigilance, and it was
many months before she was fully consoled.
"I must send word to her by one of our runners that you have been
retaken," said the Owl, "and I wish to tell you, Mr. Lennox, that the
Dove's younger sister, who is so much like her in looks and character,
is still unmarried and perhaps it may come into the mind of the
Chevalier de St. Luc or the Marquis de Montcalm to send you back to
"You're once more most polite," laughed Robert, "but I'm far too
young, yet, to think of marriage."
"It's not an offer that I'd make to many young men," said Langlade
regretfully. "In truth, I know of none other to whom I'd have
When they took up the march the force numbered about fifty men, and
Robert walked between Langlade and a stalwart Indian. St. Luc
was further on. They did not seem to fear any ambush and Langlade
chattered after his fashion. He made the most of the French resources.
He spoke as if the Marquis de Montcalm had ten or fifteen thousand
veteran French regulars, and half as many Indian warriors.
"Don't consider me contentious, Monsieur Langlade," said Robert, at
last, "but I know full well that your general has not half that many
troops, no, not a third, and that nearly all his Indians are about to
"And how do you know that?" exclaimed the Owl. "Well, one Frenchman
equals two of the English or the Bostonnais, and that doubles our
numbers. You don't see any chance to escape, do you?"
"Not at present," laughed Robert.
"Not now, nor at any other time. No man ever escapes twice from the
The talk of Langlade, his frank egotism and boastfulness for himself
personally and for the French collectively, beguiled the journey which
soon became strenuous, the force advancing at a great pace through
the forest. At night a fire was built in the deep woods, the knapsacks
furnished plenty of food, and Robert slept soundly on a blanket until
dawn. He had seen before closing his eyes that a strict guard was set,
and he knew that it was not worth while to keep awake in the hope of
escape. Like a wise man he dismissed the hope of the impossible at
once, and waited calmly for another time. He knew too that St. Luc had
originally sent out his warriors to capture a prisoner from whom
they might drag information, but that the Chevalier would not try to
cross-examine him, knowing its futility.
They traveled northward by east all the next day, through very rough
country, slept another night in the forest, and on the third day
approached a great camp, which held the main French force. Robert's
heart thrilled. Here was the center of the French power in North
America. Vaudreuil and Bigot at Quebec might plan and plot and weave
their webs, but in the end the mighty struggle between French and
English and their colonies must be decided by the armies.
He knew that this was the outlet of Lake George and he knew also that
the army of Abercrombie was gathering at the head of the same lake.
His interest grew keener as they drew nearer. He saw clusters of
tents, cannon parked, and many fires. There were no earthworks or
other fortifications, and he inferred from their absence that Montcalm
was undecided whether to go or stay. But Robert thought proudly that
he would surely go, when the invincible Anglo-American army advanced
from its base at the head of the lake. The whole camp lay under his
eye, and he had enough military experience now to judge the French
numbers by its size. He did not think they were much in excess of
three thousand, and as Abercrombie would come four or five to one,
Montcalm must surely retreat.
"I take it that this is Ticonderoga," he said to St. Luc.
"Aye," replied the Chevalier.
"And in effect you have Champlain on one side of you and George on the
other. But you can't hold the place against our great force. I'm here
in time to join you in your retreat."
"We don't seem to be retreating, as you'll notice, Mr. Lennox, and I
don't know that we will. Still, that rests on the knees of the gods.
I think you'll find here some old friends and enemies of yours, and
though your people have made a great outcry against the Marquis de
Montcalm because of the affair at Fort William Henry, I am sure you
will find that the French know how to treat a prisoner. I shall put
you for the present in the care of Monsieur Langlade, with whom you
appear to have no quarrel. He has his instructions."
It was the second time that Robert had entered the camp of Montcalm
and his keen interest drove away for the present all thought of
himself. He noted anew the uniforms, mostly white faced with blue or
violet or red or yellow, and with black, three-cornered hats. There
were the battalions of Guienne, La Reine, Bearn, La Sarre, Languedoc,
Berry and Royal Roussillon. The Canadians, swarthy, thick and strong,
wore white with black facings. Some Indians were about, but fewer than
Robert had expected. It was true then that they had become alarmed at
Abercrombie's advancing might, and were leaving the French to their
"You are to stay in a tent with me," said Langlade, "and you will be
so thoroughly surrounded by the army, that you will have no earthly
chance of escape. So I think it better that you pledge your word not
to attempt it for a while, and I can make things easier for you."
"No, I decline again to give such a pledge," said Robert firmly. "I
warn you, as I've warned the Chevalier de St. Luc, that I'm going to
Langlade looked at him searchingly, and then the face of the partisan
"I believe you mean it!" he exclaimed. "You rely on yourself and you
think, too, that clever Onondaga, Tayoga, will come again to your
aid. I acknowledge that he's a great trailer, that he's master of some
things that even I, Charles Langlade, the Owl, do not know, but he
cannot steal you away a second time."
"I admit that I've been thinking of Tayoga. He may be here now close
The Owl gave a startled look at the empty air, as if he expected
Tayoga to be hovering there, formidable but invisible.
"I see you do fear him," laughed Robert.
"I do, but we shall be a match for him this time, though I never
underrate his powers."
A young officer in a captain's uniform stopped suddenly and looked at
Robert. Then he advanced and extended his hand.
"It is evident that you like the French," he said, "since you are
continually coming back to them."
"De Galissonniere!" exclaimed Robert, as he warmly shook the extended
hand. "Yes, here I am, and I do like many of the French. I'm sorry
we're official enemies."
"I know that our people will treat you well," jested De Galissonniere,
"and then, when we take New York, you can tell the inhabitants of that
city what good masters we are and teach them to be reconciled."
Young Lennox made a reply in like spirit, and De Galissonniere passed
on. But a man walking near with his shoulder well bound greeted him in
no such friendly manner. Instead a heavy frown came over his face
and his eyes flashed cruelly. It was De Courcelles, nursing the wound
Robert had given him, and at the same time increasing his anger. The
youth returned his gaze defiantly.
"Colonel De Courcelles does not like you," said Langlade, who had
noticed the brief exchange.
"He does not," replied Robert. "It was my bullet that hurt his
shoulder, but I gave him the wound in fair combat."
"And he hates you because of it?"
"That and other things."
"What a strange man! A wound received in fair and honorable battle
should be a tie that binds. If you had given it to me in a combat on
equal terms I'd have considered it an honor conferred upon me by you.
It would have wiped away all grievance and have made us friends."
"Then, Monsieur Langlade, I'm afraid I missed my opportunity to make
our friendship warmer than it is."
"How is that?"
"I held you also under the muzzle of my rifle in that battle in the
forest, but when I recognized you I could not send the bullet. I
turned the weapon aside."
"Ah, that was in truth a most worthy and chivalrous act! Embrace me,
"No! No! We American men never embrace or kiss one another!"
"I should have remembered. A cold people! But never mind! You are my
brother, and I esteem you so highly that I shall let nothing on earth
take you away from us. Can you not reconsider your decision about
the sister of the Dove? She would make you a most admirable wife, and
after the war we could become the greatest rangers, you and I, that
the forest has ever known. And the life in the woods is marvelous in
its freedom and variety!"
But Robert plead extreme youth once more, and the Owl was forced to be
resigned. The small tent in which guard and prisoner were to sleep was
almost in the center of the camp and Robert truly would have needed
wings and the power of invisibility to escape then. Instead of it he
let the thought pass for a while and went to sleep on a blanket.
* * * * *
While young Lennox slept St. Luc was in the tent of Montcalm talking
with his leader. The Marquis was in much perplexity. His spies had
brought him word of the great force that was mustering in the south,
and he did not know whether to await the attack at Ticonderoga or
to retreat to the powerful fortifications at Crown Point on Lake
Champlain. His own ardent soul, flushed by the successes he had
already won, told him to stay, but prudence bade him go. Now he wanted
to hear what St. Luc had to say and wanting it he knew also that the
Chevalier was the most valiant and daring of his captains. He wished
to hear from the dauntless leader just what he wished to hear and
"Your observations, then, confirm what the spies have reported?" he
said. "The enemy can easily control Lake George!"
"He has only to make an effort to do so, my general," replied St.
Luc. "I could have captured the boat builders on the point or have
compelled their retirement, but large forces came to their relief. The
numbers of the foe are even greater than we had feared."
"How many men do you think General Abercrombie will have when he
advances against us?"
"Not less than fifteen thousand, sir, perhaps more."
The face of Montcalm fell.
"As many as that!" he exclaimed. "It is more than four to one!"
"He cannot have less, sir," repeated St. Luc positively.
Montcalm's brow clouded and he paced back and forth.
"And the Indians who have been so powerful an ally," he said at last.
"They are frightened by the reports concerning the Anglo-American
army. After their fashion they wish to run away before superior force,
and fight when the odds are not so great. It is most embarrassing to
lose their help, at such a critical time. Can you do nothing with this
sullen giant, Tandakora, who has such influence over them?"
"I fear not, sir. He was with me on the expedition from which I have
just returned, and he fared ill. He is in a most savage humor. He is
like a bear that will hide in the woods and lick its hurts until the
sting has passed. I think we may consider it certain, sir, that they
will desert us, for the time."
"And we shall have but little more than three thousand French and
Canadians to defend the honor of France and His Majesty's great colony
in North America. We might retreat to the fortifications at Crown
Point, and make an advantageous stand there, but it goes ill with me
to withdraw. Still, prudence cries upon me to do so. I have talked
with Bourlamaque, Trepezec, Lotbiniere, the engineer, Langy, the
partisan, and other of my lieutenants whom you know. They express
varying opinions. Now, Colonel de St. Luc, I want yours, an opinion
that is absolutely your own."
St. Luc drew himself up and his warrior soul flashed through his blue
"Sir," he said, "it goes as ill with me as it does with you to
retreat. My heart is here at Ticonderoga. Nor does prudence suggest to
me that we retreat to Crown Point. My head agreeing with my heart says
that we should stand here."
"And that is your conviction?"
"It is, sir. Ticonderoga is ours and we can keep it."
"Upon what do you base this opinion? In such a crisis as this we must
be influenced by sound military reasons and not by sentiment."
"My reasons, sir, are military. That is why my heart goes with
my head. It is true that the Anglo-American army will come in
overwhelming numbers, but they may be overwhelming numbers that will
not overwhelm. As we know, the British commanders have not adapted
themselves as well as the French to wilderness, campaigning. Their
tactics and strategy are the same as those they practice in the open
fields of Europe, and it puts them at a great disadvantage. We have
been willing to learn from the Indians, who have practiced forest
warfare for centuries. And the British Colonials, the Bostonnais,
fall into the faults of the parent country. In spite of all experience
they, continue to despise wilderness wile and stratagem, and in a
manner that is amazing. They walk continually into ambush, and are cut
up before they can get out of it. I am not one to cheapen the valor
of British and British Colonials. It has been proved too often on
desperate fields, but in the kind of war we must wage here deep in the
wilds of North America, valor is often unavailing, and I think, sir,
that we can rely upon one fact. The enemy will take us too lightly. He
is sure to do something that will keep him from using his whole force
at the right moment against us. Our forest knowledge will work all
the time in our behalf. I entreat you, sir, to keep the army here at
Ticonderoga and await the attack."
St. Luc spoke with intense earnestness, and his words had all the ring
of conviction. Montcalm's dark face was illumined. Again he walked
back and forth, in deep thought.
"The engineer, Lotbiniere, a man whose opinion I respect, is of
your mind," he said at last. "He says that whether Crown Point or
Ticonderoga, it's merely either horn of the dilemma, and naturally, if
the dangers of the two places are even, we prefer Ticonderoga and no
retreat. The Marquis de Vaudreuil had a plan to save Ticonderoga by
means of a diversion with a heavy force under Bourlamaque, De Levis
and Longueuil into the Mohawk Valley. But some American rangers taken
near Lake George by Langy told him that Abercrombie already had thirty
thousand men at the head of George and the Marquis at once abandoned
the scheme. It was lucky for us the rangers exaggerated so much that
the plan was destined to failure, as we needed here the men who were
sent on it. We save or lose Ticonderoga by fighting at Ticonderoga
itself and by nothing else. I thank you, Colonel de St. Luc, for your
gallant and timely words, I have been wavering and they have decided
me. We stay here and await the Anglo-American army."
"And the star of France will not fail us," said St Luc, with intense
"I trust not. I feel more confidence since I have decided, and I
do know this: the young men who are my lieutenants are as brave and
skillful leaders as any chief could desire. And the troops will fight
even ten to one, if I ask it of them. It is a pleasure and a glory to
command troops of such incomparable bravery as the French. But we must
try to keep the Indians with us. I confess that I know little about
dealing with them. Has this savage chief, Tandakora, come back to
"I think he is here, sir. Do you wish me to talk with him?"
"I do. I wish it very much."
"He is very sullen, sir. He holds that the Indians have received no
rewards for their services."
"We have given them blankets and food and muskets and ammunition."
"He takes those as a matter of course. But he means something else.
To tell you the truth, sir, the savages want us to give prisoners to
Montcalm's face clouded again.
"To burn at the stake, or to torture to death otherwise!" he
exclaimed. "My reputation and what is more, the reputation of France,
suffers already from the massacre at William Henry, though God knows
I would have prevented it if I could. It happened so suddenly and so
unexpectedly that I could not stop it, until the harm was done. But
never, St. Luc, never will I give up a prisoner to them for their
tortures, though every savage in our armies desert us!"
"I hold with you, sir, that we cannot surrender prisoners to them,
even though the cause of France should suffer."
"Then talk to this savage chief. Make him see reason. Promise him and
his people what you wish in muskets, ammunition, blankets and such
things, but no prisoners, not one."
St. Luc, with a respectful salute, left the tent. He was torn by
conflicting emotions. He was depressed over the smallness of the
French numbers, and yet he was elated by Montcalm's decision to stay
at Ticonderoga and await Abercrombie. He was confident, as he had
said, that some lucky chance would happen, and that the overwhelming
superiority of the Anglo-American army would be nullified.
The Chevalier cast a discriminating eye over the French position. The
staunch battalion of Berry lay near the foot of Lake George, but the
greater part of the army under the direct command of Montcalm was in
camp near a saw mill. The valiant Bourlamaque was at the head of
the portage, and another force held the point of embarkation on Lake
George. But he knew that Montcalm would change these dispositions when
the day of battle came.
On the westward side of the camp several fires burned and dark
figures lay near them. St. Luc marked one of these, a gigantic savage,
stretched at his ease, and he walked toward him. He pretended, at
first, that his errand had nothing to do with Tandakora, but stood
thoughtfully by the fire, for a minute or two. Nor did the Ojibway
chief take any notice. He lay at ease, and it was impossible to tell
what thoughts were hidden behind his sullen face.
"Does Tandakora know what the commander of the French army has decided
to do?" said St. Luc, at last.
"Tandakora is not thinking much about it," replied the chief.
"Montcalm is a brave general. He shows that he is not afraid of the
great army the English and the Bostonnais have gathered. He will not
retreat to Crown Point or anywhere else, but will stay at Ticonderoga
and defeat his foes."
The black eyes of the Ojibway flickered.
"Tandakora does not undertake to tell Montcalm what he must do," he
said, "nor must Montcalm undertake to tell Tandakora what he should
do. What Montcalm may do will not now keep Tandakora awake."
St. Luc's heart filled with hot anger, but he was used to dealing
with Indians. He understood their minds from the inside, and he had a
superb self-control of his own.
"We know that Tandakora is a great chief," he said evenly. "We know
too that he and his men are as free as the winds. As they blow where
they please so the warriors of Tandakora go where they wish. But
Onontio [The Governor-General of Canada.] and Tandakora have long been
friends. They have been allies, they have fought side by side in many
a battle. If Onontio falls, Tandakora falls with him. If the British
and Bostonnais are victorious, there will be room for none of the
tribes save the League of the Hodenosaunee, and them Tandakora hates.
Onontio will not be able to protect them any more, and they will be
driven from all their hunting grounds."
He paused to watch his words take effect and they obviously stirred
the soul of the savage chief who moved uneasily.
"It is true," he said. "Sharp Sword never tells a falsehood. If
Onontio is struck down then the British, the Bostonnais and the
Hodenosaunee triumph, but my warriors bring me word that our enemies
have gathered the greatest force the world has ever seen at the head
of Andiatarocte. They come thicker than the leaves of the forest. They
have more guns than we can count. They will trample Montcalm and his
soldiers under their feet. So, according to our custom, Tandakora and
his warriors would go away into the forest, until the British and
the Bostonnais scatter, unable to find us. Then, when they are not
looking, we will strike them and take many scalps."
Tandakora spoke in his most impressive manner, and, when he ceased,
his eyes met St. Luc's defiantly. Again the blood of the Chevalier
burned with wrath, but as before he restrained himself, and his smooth
voice gave no hint of anger as he replied:
"Odds are of no avail against Montcalm. The children of Onontio are
used to dealing with them. Remember, Tandakora, the great victories
Montcalm won at Oswego and William Henry. He has the soul of a mighty
chief. He has decided to stay here at Ticonderoga and await the enemy,
confident that he will win the victory. Tandakora is a great warrior,
is he willing to have no share in such a triumph?"
The cruel eyes of the Ojibway glistened.
"The heart of Tandakora is heavy within him," he said. "He and his
warriors are not afraid of the British and the Bostonnais. They
have fought by the side of Montcalm, but they do not receive all the
rewards that Onontio owes them."
"Onontio has given to them freely of his muskets and powder and
bullets, and of his blankets and food."
"But he takes from them the prisoners. We have no scalps to carry
"It is against the custom of the French to put prisoners to death or
torture. Moreover, we have no prisoners here. The rangers taken by
Langy have already been sent to Canada."
"There is one in the camp now. He was captured by three of my
warriors, those you sent out, and by the law of war he belongs to me.
Yet Sharp Sword and Montcalm hold him. I speak of the youth Lennox,
the comrade of the Onondaga, Tayoga, who is my bitterest enemy. I hate
Lennox too because he has stood so often in my way and I demand him,
to do with as I please, because it is my right."
The Ojibway moved close to St. Luc and the fierce black eyes glared
into those of stern blue. The Chevalier did not change his smooth,
placatory tone as he replied:
"I cannot give up Lennox. It is true that he was taken by your
warriors, but they were then in my service, so he is my prisoner. But
he is only a single captive, a lad. Ask for some other and greater
reward, Tandakora, and it shall be yours."
"Give me the prisoner, Lennox, and I and my warriors stay and fight
with you at Ticonderoga. Refuse him and we go."
The chief's words were sharp and decisive and St. Luc understood him.
He knew that the savage Ojibway hated young Lennox intensely, and
would put him to the torture. He never hesitated an instant.
"I cannot yield the prisoner to you," he said. "The custom of the
French will not permit it."
"The warriors are a great help in battle, and the reward I ask is but
small. St. Luc knows that Montcalm needs men here. What is this boy to
St. Luc that he refuses so great a price for him?"
"It cannot be done, Tandakora. I keep the prisoner, Lennox, and later
I will send him to Canada to be held there until the war is over."
"Then the forest to-morrow will swallow up Tandakora and his
The chief returned to the fire and lay at ease in his blanket. St. Luc
walked thoughtfully back toward the tent of Montcalm. He knew that it
was his duty to report the offer of Tandakora to his chief, but he did
"You have refused it already?" said the Marquis.
"I have, sir," replied St. Luc.
"Then you have done well. I confirm you in the refusal."
St. Luc saluted with great respect, and again retired from the tent.
EVE OF BATTLE
Robert awoke the next morning, well physically, but depressed
mentally. He believed that a great battle--and a great victory for the
Anglo-American army--was coming, and he would have no part in it. The
losses of Braddock's defeat and the taking of Fort William Henry by
Montcalm would be repaired, once more the flag of his native land and
of his ancestral land, would be triumphant, but he would be merely
a spectator, even if he were as much as that. It was a bitter
reflection, and again he thought of escape. But no plan seemed
possible. He was held as firmly in the center of an army, as if he
were in the jaws of a powerful vise. Nor was it possible for Tayoga,
however great his skill and daring, to reach him there. He strove
to be philosophical, but it is hard for youth to reconcile itself at
first, though it may soon forget.
Breakfast was given to him, and he was permitted to go outside the
tent into a small open space, though not beyond. On all sides of him
stretched the impassable lines of the French army. There were several
other prisoners within the enclosure, a ranger, a hunter, and three or
four farmers who had been taken in forays farther south.
The fresh air and the brilliant sunshine revived Robert's spirits. He
looked eagerly about him, striving to divine the French intentions,
but he could make nothing of them. He knew, however, upon reflection,
that this would be so. The French would not put any prisoners in a
position to obtain information that would be of great value in the
possible event of escape.
He undertook to talk with the other prisoners, but they were a
melancholy lot, not to be cheered. They were all thinking of a long,
in truth, an indefinite, imprisonment in Canada, and they mourned.
Many people had been taken into Canada by French and Indians in former
forays and had been lost forever.
Robert turned away from his comrades and sat down on a stone, where
he speculated idly on what was passing about him. He believed that the
French would withdraw to Crown Point, at least, and might retreat all
the way to Canada, leaving Lake Champlain, as well as Lake George, to
the complete control of the Anglo-American forces. He expected to see
preparations to that effect, and, when he saw none, he concluded that
they were merely postponed for a day or two. So far as he could judge,
the aspect of the French army was leisurely. He did not observe any
signs of trepidation, but then, withdrawal was always easy in the
great North American wilderness. There was yet plenty of time for it.
He noticed a complete absence of Indians, and the fact struck him with
great surprise. While he was advancing various theories to account
for it, young Captain Louis de Galissonniere came, and greeted him
"I hope you understand that we French know how to treat a prisoner,"
"I've nothing of which to complain," replied Robert. "This is the
second time that I've been with you, and on this occasion, as on the
first, I seem to be more of a guest than a captive."
"You're the special prisoner of Colonel de St. Luc, who stands
extremely high with the Marquis de Montcalm. The colonel wishes you to
be treated well and seems to favor you. Why is it?"
"Frankly, I don't know, but I learned long since that he was a most
chivalrous foe. I suppose I am to be sent into Canada along with the
"I suppose so, but there is no way for you to go just now."
"Why can't I go with your army?"
"With our army?"
"It retreats, of course, before our overwhelming force."
De Galissonniere laughed.
"You are disposed to be facetious," he said. "You will observe that we
are not retreating. You see no preparations to do so, but that's all
I will tell you. More would be valuable information for the enemy,
should you escape."
"I've warned Colonel de St. Luc that I mean to escape in due time. I
don't like to reject such noble hospitality as you're showing me, but
my duty to my country demands it."
Robert was now in a most excellent humor. His sanguine temperament
was asserting itself to the full. What he wished to see he saw. He was
slipping away from the French; and he was advancing with the English
and Americans to a great and brilliant victory. His face was flushed
and his eyes sparkled. De Galissonniere looked at him curiously, but
"I observe one very significant fact," continued Robert.
"What is that?"
"I see no Indians, who are usually so numerous about your camps. You
needn't tell me what has happened, but I've been among Indians a great
deal. I know their ways, and I'll tell you. They see that yours is a
lost cause, and they've deserted you. Now, isn't that so?"
The young Frenchman was silent, but it was the turn of his face to
"I didn't expect you to answer me in words," continued Robert,
triumphantly, "but I can see. The Indians never fight in a battle that
they consider lost before it's joined, and you know as well as I do,
Captain de Galissonniere, that if the Marquis de Montcalm awaits our
attack his army will be destroyed."
"I do not know it at all."
Then Robert felt ashamed because he had been led away by his
enthusiasm, and apologized for a speech that might have seemed
boastful to the young Frenchman, who had been so kind to him. But De
Galissonniere, with his accustomed courtesy, said it was nothing, and
when he left, presently, both were in the best of humors.
Robert, convinced that he had been right about the Indians, watched
for them as the morning went on, but he never saw a single warrior.
There could be no doubt now that they had gone, and while he could not
consider them chivalric they were at least wise.
The next familiar face that he beheld was one far from welcome to him.
It was that of a man who happened to pass near the enclosure and who
stopped suddenly when he caught sight of Robert. He was in civilian
dress, but he was none other than Achille Garay, that spy whose secret
message had been wrested from him in the forest by Robert and Tayoga.
The gaze that Garay bent upon Robert was baleful. His capture by the
three and the manner in which he had been compelled to disclose the
letter had been humiliating, and Robert did not doubt that the man
would seek revenge. He shivered a little, feeling that as a prisoner
he was in a measure helpless. Then his back stiffened.
"I'm glad to see, Garay, that you're where you belong--with the
French," he called out. "I hope you didn't suffer any more from hunger
in the woods when Willet, the Onondaga and I let you go."
The spy came closer, and his look was so full of venom that young
Lennox, despite himself, shuddered.
"Time makes all things even," he said. "I don't forget how you and
your friends held me in your power in the forest, but here you are a
prisoner. I have a good chance to make the score even."
Robert remembered also how this man had attempted his life in Albany,
for some reason that he could not yet fathom, and he felt that he
was now, and, in very truth, a most dangerous enemy. Nevertheless, he
"That was an act of war. You were carrying a message for the enemy.
We were wholly within our rights when we forced you to disclose the
"It makes no difference," said Garay. "I owe you and your comrades a
debt and I shall pay it."
Robert turned his back on him and walked to the other side of the
enclosure. When he turned around, five minutes later, Garay was gone.
But Robert felt uncomfortable. Here was a man who did not have the
gallantry and chivalry that marked so many of the French. If he could
he would strike some great blow.
He strove to dismiss Garay from his mind, and, in his interest in what
was going on about him, he finally succeeded. He saw Frenchmen and
Canadians leaving the camp and others returning. His knowledge of war
made him believe that those coming had been messengers sent forth to
watch the Anglo-American army, and those going were dispatched on the
same service. Their alarm must be great, he reflected pleasantly,
and none could bring to Montcalm any reassuring news. Once he saw
Montcalm, and once St. Luc, but neither spoke to him.
He and his comrades, the other prisoners, slept that night in the
open, the weather being warm. A blanket was allotted to every one by
their captors, and Robert, long used to unlimited fresh air, preferred
the outside to the inside of a tent. Nothing disturbed his slumbers,
but he expected that the French retreat would begin the next day. On
the contrary, Montcalm stayed in his camp, nor was there any sign of
withdrawal on the second and third days, or on others that came. He
inferred then that the advance of Abercrombie had been delayed,
and the French were merely hanging on until their retreat became
He had been in the camp about a week, and as he saw no more of Garay
he concluded that the man had been sent away on some errand. It
was highly probable that he was now in the south spying upon the
Anglo-American army. It was for just such duties that he was fitted.
Then he began to think of him less and less.
His old impatience and keen disappointment because he was a prisoner
when such great days were coming, returned with doubled vigor. He
chafed greatly and looked around again for an opportunity to escape,
but did not see the remotest possibility of it. After all, he must
reconcile himself. His situation could be far worse. He was well
treated, and some of the French leaders, while official enemies, were
His mind also dwelled upon the singular fact that the French army did
not retreat. He tried to glean something from De Galissonniere, who
talked with him several times, but the young captain would not depart
from generalities. He invariably shut up, tight, when they approached
any detail of the present military situation.
A dark night came with much wind and threat of rain. Robert thought
that he and his fellow captives would have to ask the shelter of
tents, but the rain passed farther to the west, though the heavy
darkness remained. He was glad, as the weather was now oppressively
warm, and he greatly preferred to sleep on a blanket in the open air.
The night was somewhat advanced when he lay down. The other prisoners
were asleep already. He had not found any kindred minds among them,
and, as they were apathetic, he had not talked with them much. Now,
he did not miss them at all as he lay on his blanket and watched the
wavering lights of the camp. It was still quite dark, with a moaning
wind, but his experience of weather told him that the chance of
rain was gone. Far in the west, lightning flickered and low thunder
grumbled there now and then, but in the camp everything was dry. Owing
to the warmth, the fires used for cooking had been permitted to burn
out, and the whole army seemed at peace.
Robert himself shared this feeling of rest. The storm, passing so far
away, soothed and lulled him. It was pleasant to lie there, unharmed,
and witness its course at a far point. He dozed a while, fell asleep,
and awoke again in half an hour. Nothing had changed. There was still
an occasional flicker of lightning and mutter of thunder and the
darkness remained heavy. He could dimly see the forms of his comrades
lying on their blankets. Not one of them stirred. They slept heavily
and he rather envied them. They had little imagination, and, when one
was in bad case, he was lucky to be without it.
The figure lying nearest him he took to be that of the hunter, a
taciturn man who talked least of them all, and again Robert felt envy
because he could lose all care so thoroughly and so easily in sleep.
The man was as still and unconcerned as one of the mountain peaks that
looked down upon them. He would imitate him, and although sleep might
be unwilling, he would conquer it. A resolute mind could triumph over
He shut his eyes and his will was so strong that he held them shut
a full ten minutes, although sleep did not come. When he opened them
again he thought that the hunter had moved a little. After all, the
man was mortal, and had human emotions. He was not an absolute log.
"Tilden!" he called--Tilden was the hunter's name.
But Tilden did not stir, nor did he respond in any way when he called
a second time. He had been mistaken. He had given the man too much
credit. He was really a log, a dull, apathetic fellow to whom the
extraordinary conditions around them made no appeal. He would not
speak to him again as long as they were prisoners together, and,
closing his eyes anew, he resolutely wooed slumber once more.
Robert's hearing was not so wonderfully keen as Tayoga's, but it was
very keen, nevertheless, and as he lay, eyes shut, something impinged
upon the drums of his ears. It was faint, but it did not seem to be a
part of the usual sounds of the night. His ear at once registered an
alarm on his brain.
His eyes opened. The man whom he had taken to be the hunter was
bending over him, and, dark though it was, he distinctly saw the gleam
of a knife in his hand. His first feeling, passing in a flash, was one
of vague wonderment that anybody should menace him in such a manner,
and then he saw the lowering face of Garay. He had been a fool to
forget him. With a convulsive and powerful effort he threw his body to
one side, and, when the knife fell, the blade missed him by an inch.
Then Robert sprang to his feet, but Garay, uttering an angry
exclamation at his missed stroke, did not attempt another. Instead,
agile as a cat, he ran lightly away, and disappeared in the darkness
of the camp. Robert sat down, somewhat dazed. It had all been an
affair of a minute, and it was hard for him to persuade himself that
it was real. His comrades still slept soundly, and the camp seemed as
peaceful as ever.
For a time Robert could not decide what to do. He knew that he had
been threatened by a formidable danger, and that instinct, more than
anything else, had saved him. He was almost prepared to believe that
Tayoga's Tododaho, looking down from his remote star, had intervened
in his behalf.
The question solved itself. Although he knew that Garay had made
a foul attempt upon his life he had no proof. His story would seem
highly improbable. Moreover, he was a prisoner, while Garay was one
of the French. Nobody would believe his tale. He must keep quiet and
watch. He was glad to see that the night was now lightening. Garay
would not come back then, at least. But Robert was sure that he would
repeat the attack some time or other. Revenge was a powerful motive,
and he undoubtedly had another as strong. He must guard against Garay
with all his five senses.
The night continued to brighten. The lightning ceased to flicker,
the storm had blown itself out in the distance, and a fine moon and a
myriad of stars came out. Things in the camp became clearly visible,
and, feeling that Garay would attempt nothing more at such a time,
Robert closed his eyes again. He soon slept, and did not awaken until
all the other prisoners were up.
"Mr. Tilden," he said to the hunter, "I offer you my sincere
"Apologies," said the hunter in surprise. "What for?"
"Because I mistook a much worse man for you. You didn't know anything
about it at the time, but I did it, and I'm sorry I wronged you so
much, even in thought."
The hunter touched his forehead. Clearly the misfortunes of the young
prisoner were weighing too heavily upon him. One must endure captivity
better than that.
"Don't take it so hard, Mr. Lennox," he said. "It's not like being in
the hands of the Indians, and there is always the chance of escape."
De Galissonniere visited him again that morning, and Robert, true to
his resolution, said nothing of Garay. The captain did not speak of
the Anglo-American army, but Robert judged from his manner that he was
highly expectant. Surely, Abercrombie was about to advance, and
the retreat of Montcalm could not be more than a day away. De
Galissonniere stayed only ten minutes, and then Robert was left to his
own devices. He tried to talk to Tilden, but the hunter lapsed again
into an apathetic state, and, having little success, he fell back on
his own thoughts and what his eyes might behold.
In the afternoon he saw Montcalm at some distance, talking with St.
Luc and Bourlamaque, and then he saw a man whose appearance betokened
haste and anxiety approach them. Robert did not know it then, but it
was the able and daring French partisan, Langy, and he came out of the
forest with vital news.
* * * * *
Meanwhile Langy saluted Montcalm with the great respect that his
successes had won from all the French. When the Marquis turned his
keen eye upon him he knew at once that his message, whatever it might
be, was of supreme importance.
"What is it, Monsieur Langy?"
"A report on the movements of the enemy."
"Come to my tent and tell me of it fully, and do you, St. Luc and
Bourlamaque, come with me also. You should hear everything."
They went into the tent and all sat down. St. Luc's eyes never left
the partisan, Langy. He saw that the man was full of his news, eager
to tell it, and was impressed with its importance. He knew Langy even
better than Montcalm did. Few were more skillful in the forest, and he
had a true sense of proportion that did not desert him under stress.
His eyes traveled over the partisan's attire, and there his own great
skill as a ranger told him much. His garments were disarranged. Burrs
and one or two little twigs were clinging to them. Obviously he had
come far and in haste. The thoughts of St. Luc, and, in truth, the
thoughts of all of them, went to the Anglo-American army.
"Speak, Monsieur Langy," said Montcalm. "I can see that you have come
swiftly, and you would not come so without due cause."
"I wish to report to you, sir," said Langy, "that the entire army of
the enemy is now embarked on the Lake of the Holy Sacrament, and is
advancing against us."
Montcalm's eyes sparkled. His warlike soul leaped up at the thought of
speedy battle that was being offered. A flame was lighted also in
St. Luc's blood, and Bourlamaque was no less eager. It was no lack of
valor and enterprise that caused the French to lose their colonies in
"You know this positively?" asked the commander-in-chief.
"I have seen it with my own eyes."
"Tell it as you saw it."
"I lay in the woods above the lake with my men, and I saw the British
and Americans go into their boats, a vast flock of them. They are all
afloat on the lake at this moment, and are coming against us."
"Could you make a fair estimate of their numbers?"
"I obtained the figures with much exactitude from one or two
stragglers that we captured on the land. My eyes confirm these
figures. There are about seven thousand of the English regulars, and
about nine thousand of the American colonials."
"So many as that! Five to one!"
"You tell us they are all in boats," said St. Luc. "How many of these
boats contain their artillery?"
"They have not yet embarked the cannon. As nearly as we can gather,
the guns will not come until the army is at Ticonderoga."
"It is as I tell you," replied Langy to St. Luc. "The guns cannot come
up the lake until a day or two after the army is landed. Their
force is so great that they do not seem to think they will need the
St. Luc, his face glowing, turned to Montcalm.
"Sir," he said, "I made to you the prophecy that some chance, some
glorious chance, would yet help us, and that chance has come. Their
very strength has betrayed them into an error that may prove fatal.
Despising us, they give us our opportunity. No matter how great the
odds, we can hold earthworks and abattis against them, unless they
bring cannon, or, at least we may make a great attempt at it."
The swarthy face of Montcalm was illumined by the light from his eyes.
"I verily believe that your gallant soul speaks truth, Chevalier de
St. Luc!" he exclaimed. "I said once that we would stand and I say it
again. We'll put all to the hazard. Since they come without cannon
we do have our chance. Go, Langy, and take your needed rest. You have
served us well. And now we'll have the others here and talk over our
The engineers Lotbiniere and Le Mercier were, as before, zealous
for battle at Ticonderoga, and their opinion counted for much with
Montcalm. De Levis, held back by the vacillating Vaudreuil, had not
yet come from Montreal, and the swiftest of the Canadian paddlers was
sent down Lake Ticonderoga in a canoe to hurry him on. Then the entire
battalion of Berry went to work at once with spade and pick and ax
to prepare a breastwork and abattis, stretching a line of defense in
front of the fort, and not using the fort itself.