Part 4 out of 5
we've been dealing with affairs of life and death."
"We are cold or we are warm, Dagaeoga, and peril and suffering do not alter
it. But lo! the wind is bringing the great mists with it, and we will
escape in them."
They turned the canoe toward a point far to the east of the Indian camp and
began to paddle, not hastily but with long, slow, easy strokes that sent
the canoe over the water at a great rate. The fogs and vapors were thick
and close about them, but Tayoga knew the direction. Robert asked him if he
had heard of Willet, and the Onondaga said he had not seen him, but he had
learned from a Mohawk runner that the Great Bear had reached Waraiyageh
with the news of St. Luc's prospective advance, and Tayoga had also
contrived to get news through to him that he was lying in the forest,
waiting a chance to effect the rescue of Robert.
Toward morning they landed on a shore, clothed in deep and primeval forest,
and with reluctance abandoned their canoe.
"It is an Abenaki craft," said Tayoga. "It is made well, it has served us
well, and we will treat it well."
Instead of leaving it on the lake to the mercy of storms they drew it into
some bushes at the mouth of a small creek, where it would stay securely,
and probably serve some day some chance traveler. Then they plunged into
the deep forest, but when they saw a smoke Robert remained hidden while
Tayoga went on, but with the intention of returning.
The Onondaga was quite sure the smoke indicated the presence of a small
village and his quest was for clothes.
"Let Dagaeoga rest in peace here in the thicket," he said, "and when I come
back I shall be clad as a man. Have no fears for me. I will not enter the
village Until after dark."
He glided away without noise, and Robert, having supreme confidence in him,
lay down among the bushes, which were so dense that the keenest eyes could
not have seen him ten feet away. His frame was relaxed so thoroughly after
his immense exertions and he felt such utter thankfulness at his escape
that he soon fell into a deep slumber rather than sleep, and when he awoke
the dark had come, bringing with it Tayoga.
"Lo, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga, in a tone of intense satisfaction, "I
have done well. It is not pleasant to me to take the property of others,
but in this case what I have seized must have been captured from the
English. No watch was kept in the village, as they had heard of their great
victory and the warriors were away. I secured three splendid blankets, two
of green and one of brown. Since you have a coat, Dagaeoga, you can have
one green blanket and I will take the other two, one to wear and the other
to sleep in. I also took away more powder and lead, and as I have my bullet
molds we can increase our ammunition when we need it. I have added, too, a
supply of venison to our beef and bread."
"You're an accomplished burglar, Tayoga, but I think that in this case your
patron saint, Tododaho, will forgive you. I'm devoutly glad of the blanket.
I feel stiff and sore, after such great exertions, and I find I've grown
cold with the coming of the dark."
"It is a relapse," said Tayoga with some anxiety. "The strain on mind and
body has been too great. Better wrap yourself in the blanket at once, and
lie quiet in the thicket."
Robert was prompt to take his advice, as his body was hot and his sight
was wavering. He felt that he was going to be ill and he might get it over
all the quicker by surrendering to it at once. He rolled the blanket
tightly about himself and lay down on the softest spot he could find. In
the night he became delirious and talked continually of Langlade, St. Luc
and Montcalm. But Tayoga watched by him continually until late, when he
hunted through the forest by moonlight for some powerful herbs known to
the Indians. In the morning he beat them and bruised them and cooked them
as best he could without utensils, and then dropped the juices into his
comrade's mouth, after which he carefully put out the fire, lest it be seen
by savage rovers.
Robert was soon very much better. He had a profuse perspiration and came
out of his unconscious state, but was quite weak. He was also thoroughly
ashamed of himself.
"Nice time for me to be breaking down," he said, "here in the wilderness
near an Indian village, hundreds of miles from any of our friends, save
those who are captured. I make my apologies, Tayoga."
"They are not needed," said the Onondaga. "You defended me with your life
when I was wounded and the wolves sought to eat me, now I repay again.
There is nothing for Dagaeoga to do but to keep on perspiring, see that the
blanket is still wrapped around him, and tonight I will get something in
which to cook the food he needs."
"How will you do that?"
"I will go again to my village. I call it mine because it supplies what we
need and I will return with the spoil. Bide you in peace, Dagaeoga. You
have called me an accomplished burglar. I am more, I am a great one."
Robert had the utmost confidence in him, and it was justified. When he
awoke from a restless slumber, Tayoga stood beside him, holding in his hand
a small iron kettle made in Canada, and a great iron spoon.
"They are the best they had in the village," he said. "It is not a large
and rich village and so its possessions are not great, but I think these
will do. I have also brought with me some very tender meat of a young deer
that I found in one of the lodges."
"You're all you claimed to be and more, Tayoga," said Robert earnestly and
The Onondaga lighted a fire in a dip, and cutting the deer into tiny bits
made a most appetizing soup, which Robert's weak stomach was able to retain
and to crave more.
"No," said Tayoga, "enough for tonight, but you shall have twice as much in
the morning. Now, go to sleep again."
"I haven't been doing anything but sleep for the last day or two. I want to
get up and walk."
"And have your fever come back. Besides, you are not strong enough yet to
walk more than a few steps."
Robert knew that he would be forced to obey, and he passed the night partly
in dozing, and partly in staring at the sky. In the morning he was very
hungry and showed an increase of strength. Tayoga, true to his word, gave
him a double portion of the soup, but still forbade sternly any attempt at
"Lie there, Dagaeoga," he said, "and let the wind blow over you, and I'll
go farther into the forest to see if friend or enemy be near."
Robert, feeling that he must, lay peacefully on his back after the Onondaga
left him. He was free from fever, but he knew that Tayoga was right in
forbidding him to walk. It would be several days yet before he could
fulfill his old duties, as an active and powerful forest runner. Yet he was
very peaceful because the soreness of body that had troubled him was gone
and strength was flowing back into his veins. Despite the fact that he was
lying on his back alone in the wilderness, with savage foes not far away,
he believed that he had very much for which to be grateful. He had been
taken almost by a miracle out of the hands of his foes, and, when he was
ill and in his weakness might have been devoured by wild beasts or might
have starved to death, the most loyal and resourceful of comrades had been
by his side to save him.
He saw the great star on which Tayoga's Tododaho lived, and he accepted so
much of the Iroquois theology, believing that it was in spirit and essence
the same as his own Christian belief, that he almost imagined he could see
the great Onondaga chieftain who had gone away four centuries ago. In any
event, it was a beneficent star, and he was glad that it shone down on him
Tayoga before his departure had loaned him one of his blankets and now he
lay upon it, with the other wrapped around him, his loaded pistol in his
belt and his loaded rifle lying by his side. The fire that the Onondaga had
built in the dip not far away had been put out carefully and the ashes had
Although it was midsummer, the night, as often happened in that northern
latitude, had come on cool, and the warmth of the blankets was not
unwelcome. Robert knew that he was only a mote in all that vast wilderness,
but the contiguity of the Indian village might cause warriors, either
arriving or departing, to pass near him. So he was not surprised when he
heard footsteps in the bushes not far away, and then the sound of voices.
Instinctively he tried to press his body into the earth, and he also lifted
carefully the loaded rifle, but second thought told him he was not likely
to be seen.
Warriors presently came so near that they were visible, and to his surprise
and alarm he saw the huge figure of Tandakora among them. They were about a
dozen in number, walking in the most leisurely manner and once stopped very
close to him to talk. Although he raised himself up a little and clutched
the rifle more tightly he was still hopeful that they would not see him.
The Ojibway chieftain was in full war paint, with a fine new American
rifle, and also a small sword swinging from his belt. Both were undoubtedly
trophies of Oswego, and it was certain that after carrying the sword for a
while as a prize he would discard it. Indians never found much use for
Robert always believed that Tayoga's Tododaho protected him that night,
because for a while all the chances were against him. As the warriors stood
near talking a frightened deer started up in the thicket, and Tandakora
himself brought it down with a lucky bullet, the unfortunate animal falling
not thirty yards from the hidden youth. They removed the skin and cut it
into portions where it lay, the whole task taking about a half hour, and
all the time Robert, lying under the brush, saw them distinctly.
He was in mortal fear lest one of them wander into the dip where Tayoga had
built the fire, and see traces of the ashes, but they did not do so. Twice
warriors walked in that direction and his heart was in his mouth, but in
neither case did the errand take them so far. Tandakora was not alone in
bearing Oswego spoils. Nearly all of them had something, a rifle, a pistol
or a sword, and two wore officers' laced coats over their painted bodies.
The sight filled Robert with rage. Were his people to go on this way
indefinitely, sacrificing men and posts in unrelated efforts? Would they
allow the French, with inferior numbers, to beat them continuously? He had
seen Montcalm and talked with him, and he feared everything from that
daring and tenacious leader.
While the Indians prepared the deer the moon and stars came out with
uncommon brilliancy, filling the forest with a misty, silver light. Robert
now saw Tandakora and his men so clearly that it seemed impossible for them
not to see him. Once more he had the instinctive desire to press himself
into the earth, but his mind told him that absolute silence was the most
necessary thing. As he lay, he could have picked off Tandakora with a
bullet from his rifle, and, so far as the border was concerned, he felt
that his own life was worth the sacrifice, but he loved his life and the
Ojibway might be put out of the way at some other time and place.
Tayoga's Tododaho protected him once more. Two of the Indians wanted water
and they started in search of a brook which was never far away in that
region. It seemed for a moment or two that they would walk directly into
the dip, where scattered ashes lay, but the great Onondaga turned them
aside just in time and they found at another point the water they wished.
Robert's extreme tension lasted until they were back with the others.
Nevertheless their harmless return encouraged him in the belief that the
star was working in his behalf.
The Indians were in no hurry. They talked freely over their task of
dressing and quartering the deer, and often they were so near that Robert
could hear distinctly what they said, but only once or twice did they use a
dialect that he could understand, and then they were speaking of the great
victory of Oswego, in which they confirmed the inference, drawn from the
spoils, that they like Tandakora had taken a part. They were in high good
humor, expecting more triumphs, and regarded the new French commander,
Montcalm, as a great and invincible leader.
Robert was glad, then, that he was such an insignificant mote in the
wilderness and had he the power he would have made himself so small that he
would have become invisible, but as that was impossible he still trusted
in Tayoga's Tododaho. The Indian chief gave two of the warriors an order,
and they started on a course that would have brought them straight to him.
The lad gave himself up for lost, but, intending to make a desperate fight
for it, despite his weakness, his hand crept to the hammer and trigger of
his rifle. Something moved in the thicket, a bear, perhaps, or a lynx, and
the two Indians, when they were within twenty feet of him, turned aside to
investigate it. Then they went on, and it was quite clear again to Robert
that he had been right about the friendly intervention of Tododaho.
Nor was it long until the truth was demonstrated to him once more, and in a
conclusive manner. The entire party departed, taking with them the portions
of the deer, and they passed so very close to him that their wary eyes,
which always watched on all sides, would have been compelled to see him, if
Tododaho, or perhaps it was Areskoui, or even Manitou, had not seen fit
just at that moment to draw a veil before the moon and stars and make the
shadow so deep under the bush where young Lennox lay that he was invisible,
although they stepped within fifteen feet of him. They went on in their
usual single file, disappearing in the direction of the village, while he
lay still and gave thanks.
They had not been gone more than fifteen minutes when there was a faint
rustle in the thicket, and Tayoga stood before him.
"I was hid in a clump of weeds not far away and I saw," said the Onondaga.
"It was a narrow escape, but you were protected by the great powers of the
earth and the air. Else they would have seen you."
"It is so," said Robert, devoutly, "and it makes me all the more glad to
see you, Tayoga. I hope your journey, like all the others, has been
The Onondaga smiled in the dusk.
"It is a good village to which I go," he replied in his precise fashion.
"You will recall that they had in Albany what they call in the English
tongue a chemist's shop. It is such that I sought in the village, and I
found it in one lodge, the owners of which were absent, and which I could
reach at my leisure. Here is a gourd of Indian tea, very strong, made from
the essence of the sassafras root. It will purge the impurities from your
blood, and, in another day, your appetite will be exceedingly strong. Then
your strength will grow so fast that in a short time you will be ready for
a long journey. I have also brought a small sack filled with samp."
Robert uttered a little cry of joy. He craved bread, or at least something
that would take its place, and samp, a variation of which is known as
hominy, was a most acceptable substitute.
"You are, in truth, a most efficient burglar, Tayoga," he said.
"I obtained also information," continued the Onondaga. "While I lay in one
of the lodges, hidden under furs, I heard two of the old men talking. They
believe since they have taken Oswego that all things are possible for them
and the French. Montcalm appears to them the greatest of all leaders and
he will take them from one victory to another. Their defeat by Andiatarocte
is forgotten, and they plan a great advance toward the south. But they
intend first to sweep up all the scouts and bands of the Americans and
English. Their first attack will be upon Rogers, him whom we call the
"Rogers! Is he somewhere near us?" exclaimed Robert eagerly.
"Far to the east toward Andiatarocte, but they mean to strike him. The
Frenchmen De Courcelles and Jumonville will join with Tandakora, then St.
Luc will go too and he will lead a great force against the Mountain Wolf,
with whom, I suspect, our friend the Great Bear now is, hoping perhaps, as
they hunt through the forest, to discover some traces of us."
"I knew all along, Tayoga, that Dave would seek me and rescue me if you
didn't, or if I didn't rescue myself, provided I remained alive, as you see
"The Great Bear is the most faithful of all comrades. He would never desert
a friend in the hands of the enemy."
"You think then that we should try to meet the Mountain Wolf and his
"Of a certainty. As soon as Dagaeoga is strong enough. Now lie still, while
I scout through the forest. If no enemy is near I will heat the tea, and
then you must drink, and drink deep."
He made a wide circuit, and, coming back, lighted a little fire on which he
warmed the tea in the pot that he had taken from the village on an earlier
night. Then, under the insistence of Tayoga, Robert drank a quantity that
amounted to three cups, and soon fell into a deep sleep, from which he
awoke the next day with an appetite so sharp that he felt able to bite a
big piece out of a tree.
"I think I'll go hunt a buffalo, kill him and eat him whole," he said in a
large, round voice.
"If so Dagaeoga will have to roam far," said Tayoga sedately. "The buffalo
is not found east of the Alleghanies, as you well know."
"Of course I know it, but what are time and distance to a Samson like me? I
say I will go forth and slay a buffalo, unless I am fed at once and in
"Would a haunch of venison and a gallon of samp help Dagaeoga a little?"
"Yes, a little, they'd serve as appetizers for something real and
substantial to come."
"Then if you feel so strong and are charged so full of ambition you can
help cook breakfast. You have had an easy time, Dagaeoga, but life
henceforth will not be all eating and sleeping."
They had a big and pleasant breakfast together and Robert rejoiced in his
new vigor. It was wonderful to be so strong after having been so weak, it
was like life after death, and he was eager to start at once.
"It is a good thing to have been ill," he said, "because then you know how
fine it is to be well."
"But we will not depart before tomorrow," said the Onondaga decisively.
"Because you have lived long enough in the wilderness, Dagaeoga, to know
that one must always fight the weather. Look into the west, and you will
see a little cloud moving up from the horizon. It does not amount to much
at present, but it contains the seed of great things. It has been sent by
the Rain God, and it will not do yet for Dagaeoga, despite his new
strength, to travel in the rain."
Robert became anxious as he watched the little cloud, which seemed to swell
as he looked at it, and which soon assumed an angry hue. He knew that
Tayoga had told the truth. Coming out of his fever it would be a terrible
risk for him to become drenched.
"We will make a shelter such as we can in the dip where we built the fire,"
said Tayoga, "and now you can use your new strength as much as you will in
wielding a tomahawk."
They cut small saplings with utmost speed and speedily accomplished one of
the most difficult tasks of the border, making a rude brush shelter which
with the aid of their blankets would protect them from the storm. By the
time they had finished, the little cloud which had been at first a mere
signal had grown so prodigiously that it covered the whole heavens, and the
day became almost as dark as twilight. The lightning began to flash in
great, blazing strokes, and the thunder was so nearly continuous that the
earth kept up an incessant jarring. Then the rain poured heavily and Robert
saw Tayoga's wisdom. Although the shelter and his blanket kept the rain
from him he felt cold in the damp, and shivered as if with a chill.
"When the storm stops, which will not be before dark," said Tayoga, "I
shall go to the village and get you a heavy buffalo robe. They have some,
acquired in trade from the Indians of the western plains, and one of them
belongs to you. So, Dagaeoga, I will get it."
"Tayoga, you have taken too much risk for me already. I can make out very
well as I am, and suppose we start tonight in search of Rogers and Willet."
"I mean to have my way, because in this case my way is right. We work
together as partners, and the partnership becomes ineffective when one
member of it cannot endure the hardships of a long march, and perhaps of
battle. And has not Dagaeoga said that I am an accomplished burglar? I
prove it anew tonight. As soon as the rain ceases I will go to the village,
the great storehouse of our supplies."
The Onondaga spoke in a light tone with a whimsical inflection, but Robert
saw that he was intensely in earnest, and that it was not worth while for
him to say more. The great storm passed on to the southward, the rain sank
to a drizzle, but it was very cold in the forest, and Robert's teeth
chattered, despite every effort to control his body.
"I go, Dagaeoga," said Tayoga, "and I shall return with the great, warm
buffalo robe that belongs to you."
Then he melted without noise into the darkness and Robert was alone. He
knew the mission of the Onondaga to be a perilous one, but he did not doubt
his success. The cold drizzle fell on the shelter of brush and saplings,
and some of it seeped through. Now and then a drop found its way down his
neck, and it felt like ice. Physically he was very miserable, and it began
to depress his spirit. He hoped that Tayoga would not be long in obtaining
the buffalo robe.
The thunder moaned a little far to the south, and then died down entirely.
There were one or two stray flashes of lightning and then no more. He sank
into a sort of doze that was more like a stupor, from which he was awakened
by a dusky figure in the doorway of the little shelter. It was Tayoga, and
he bore a heavy dark bundle over his arm.
"I have brought the buffalo robe that belongs to you, Dagaeoga," he said
cheerfully. "It was in the lodge of the head chief of the village and I had
to wait until he went forth to greet Tandakora, who came with a band of his
warriors to claim shelter, food and rest. Then I took what was your own and
here it is, one of the finest I have ever seen."
He held up the great buffalo robe, tanned splendidly and rich in fur and
the sight of it made Robert's teeth stop chattering. He wrapped it around
his body and sufficient warmth came back.
"You're a marvel, Tayoga," he said. "Does the village contain anything else
that belongs to us?"
"Nothing that I can think of now. The rain will cease entirely in an hour,
and then we will start."
His prediction was right, and they set forth in the dark forest, Robert
wearing the great buffalo robe which stored heat and consequent energy in
his frame. But the woods were so wet, and it was so difficult to find a
good trail that they did not make very great progress, and when dawn came
they were only a few miles away. Robert's strength, however, stood the
test, and they dared to light a fire and have a warm breakfast. Much
refreshed they plunged on anew, hunting for friends who could not be much
more than motes in the wilderness. Robert hoped that some chance would
enable him to meet Willet, to whom he owed so much, and who stood in the
place of a father to him. It did not seem possible that the Great Bear
could have fallen in one of the numerous border skirmishes, which must have
been fought since his capture. He could not associate death with a man so
powerful and vital as Willet.
The day was bright and warm, and he took off the buffalo robe. It was quite
a weight to be carried, but he knew he would need it again when night came
and particularly if there were other storms. They saw many trails in the
afternoon and Tayoga was quite sure they were made by war bands. Nearly all
of them led southeast.
"The savages in the west and about the Great Lakes," he said, "have heard
of the victory at Oswego, and so they pour out to the French standard,
expecting many scalps and great spoils. Whenever the French win a triumph
it means more warriors for them."
"And may not some of the bands going to the war stumble on our own trail?"
"It is likely, Dagaeoga. But if it comes to battle see how much better it
is that you should be strong and able."
"Yes, I concede now, Tayoga, that it was right for us to wait as long as
The trails grew much more numerous as they advanced. Evidently swarms of
warriors were about them and before midday Tayoga halted.
"It will not be wise for us to advance farther," he said. "We must seek
some hiding place."
"Hark to that!" exclaimed Robert.
A breeze behind them bore a faint shout to his ear. Tayoga listened
intently, and it was repeated once.
"Pursuit!" he said briefly. "They have come by chance upon our trail. It
may be Tandakora himself and it is unfortunate. They will never leave us
now, unless they are driven back."
"Then we'd better turn back towards the north, as the thickest of the
swarms are sure to be to the south of us."
"It is so. Again the longest of roads becomes the safest for us, but we
will not make it wholly north, we will bear to the east also. I once left a
canoe, hidden in the edge of a lake there, and we may find it."
"What will we do with it if we find it?"
"Tandakora will not be able to follow the trail of a canoe. But now we must
press forward with all speed, Dagaeoga. See, there is a smoke in the south
and now another answers it in the north. They are talking about us."
Robert saw the familiar signals which always meant peril to them, and he
was willing to go forward at the uttermost speed. He had become hardened in
a measure to danger, though it seemed to him that he was passing through
enough of it to last a lifetime. But his soul rose to meet it.
They used all the customary devices to hide their traces, wading when there
was water, walking on stones or logs when they were available, but they
knew these stratagems would only delay Tandakora, they could not throw him
off the trail entirely. They hoped more from the coming dark, and, when
night came, it found them going at great speed. Just at twilight they heard
a faint shout again and the faint shout in reply, telling them the pursuit
was maintained, but the night fortunately proved to be very dark, and, an
hour or two later, they came to a heavy windrow, the result of some old
hurricane into which they drew for shelter and rest. They knew that not
even the Indian trailers could find them there in such darkness, and for
the present they were without apprehension.
"Do you think they will pass us in the night?" asked Robert.
"No," replied Tayoga. "They will wait until the dawn and pick up the trail
"Then we'd better start again about midnight."
"I think so, too."
Meanwhile, lying comfortably among the fallen trees and leaves, they waited
THE MYSTIC VOYAGE
The long stay in the windrow served Robert well, more than atoning for the
drain made upon his strength by their rapid flight. In three or four hours
he was back in his normal state, and he felt proudly that he was now as
good as he had ever been. The night, as they had expected, was cold, and he
was thankful that he had hung on to the buffalo robe, in which he wrapped
himself once more, while Tayoga was snug between two big blankets.
Robert dozed, but he was awakened by something stirring near them, and he
sat up with his finger on the trigger of his rifle. The Onondaga was
already listening and watching, ready with his weapon. Presently the white
youth heard his companion laughing softly, and his own tension relaxed, as
he knew Tayoga would not laugh without good cause.
"It is a bear," said Tayoga, "and he has a lair in the windrow, not more
than twenty feet away. He has been out very late at night, too late for a
good, honest home-keeping bear, but he is back at last, and he smells us."
"And alarmed by the odor he does not know whether to enter his home or not.
Well, I hope he'll conclude to take his rest. We eat bear at times,
Tayoga, but just now I wouldn't dream of harming one."
"Nor would I, Dagaeoga, and maybe the bear will divine that we are
harmless, that is, Tododaho or Areskoui will tell him in some way of which
we know nothing that his home is his own to be entered without fear."
"I think I hear him moving now, and also puffing a little."
"You hear aright, Dagaeoga. Tododaho has whispered to him, even as I said,
and he is going into his den which I know is snug and warm, in the very
thickest part of the windrow. Now he is lying down in it with the logs and
branches about him, and soon he will be asleep, dreaming happy dreams of
tender roots and wild honey with no stings of bees to torment him."
"You grow quite poetical, Tayoga."
"Although foes are hunting us, I feel the spirit of the forest and of peace
strong upon me, Dagaeoga. Moreover, Tododaho, as I told you, has whispered
to the animals that we are not to be feared tonight. Hark to the tiny
rustling just beyond the log against which we lie!"
"Yes, I hear it, and what do you make of it, Tayoga?"
"Rabbits seeking their nests. They, too, have snuffed about, noticing the
man odor, which man himself cannot detect, and once they started away in
alarm, but now they are reassured, and they have settled themselves down to
sleep in comfort and security."
"Tayoga, you talk well and fluently, but as I have told you before, you
talk out of a dictionary."
"But as I learned my English out of a dictionary I cannot talk otherwise.
That is why my language is always so much superior to yours, Dagaeoga."
"I'll let it be as you claim it, you boaster, but what noise is that now? I
seem to hear the light sound of hoofs."
The Onondaga raised himself to his full height and peered over the dense
masses of trunks and boughs, his keen eyes cutting the thick dusk. Then he
sank back, and, when he replied, his voice showed distinct pleasure.
"Two deer have come into a little open space, around which the arms of the
windrow stretch nearly all the way, and they have crouched there, where
they will rest, indifferent to the nearness of the bear. Truly, O Dagaeoga,
we have come into the midst of a happy family, and we have been accepted,
for the night, as members of it."
"It must be so, Tayoga, because I see a figure much larger than that of the
deer approaching. Look to the north and behold that shadow there under the
"I see it, Dagaeoga. It is the great northern moose, a bull. Perhaps he has
wandered down from Canada, as they are rare here. They are often
quarrelsome, but the bull is going to take his rest, within the shelter of
the windrow, and leave its other people at peace. Now he has found a good
place, and he will be quiet for the night."
"Suppose you sleep a while, Tayoga. You have done all the watching for a
long time, and, as I'm fit and fine now, it's right for me to take up my
share of the burden."
"Very well, but do not fail to awaken me in about three hours. We must not
be caught here in the morning by the warriors."
He was asleep almost instantly, and Robert sat in a comfortable position
with his rifle across his knees. Responsibility brought back to him
self-respect and pride. He was now a full partner in the partnership, and
will and strength together made his faculties so keen that it would have
been difficult for anything about the windrow to have escaped his
attention. He heard the light rustlings of other animals coming to comfort
and safety, and flutterings as birds settled on upthrust boughs, many of
which were still covered with leaves. Once he heard a faint shout deep in
the forest, brought by the wind a great distance, and he was sure that it
was the cry of their Indian pursuers. Doubtless it was a signal and had
connection with the search, but he felt no alarm. Under the cover of
darkness Tayoga and he were still motes in the wilderness, and, while the
night lasted, Tandakora could not find them.
When he judged that the three hours had passed he awoke the Onondaga and
they took their silent way north by east, covering much more distance by
dawn. But both were certain that warriors of Tandakora would pick up their
traces again that day. They would spread through the forest, and, when one
of them struck the trail, a cry would be sufficient to call the others.
But they pressed on, still adopting every possible device to throw off
their pursuers, and they continued their flight several days, always
through an unbroken forest, over hills and across many streams, large and
small. It seemed, at times, to Robert that the pursuit must have dropped
away, but Tayoga was quite positive that Tandakora still followed. The
Ojibway, he said, had divined the identity of the fugitives and every
motive would make him follow, even all the way across the Province of New
York and beyond, if need be.
They came at last to a lake, large, beautiful, extending many miles through
the wilderness, and Tayoga, usually so calm, uttered a little cry of
delight, which Robert repeated, but in fuller volume.
"I think lakes are the finest things in the world," he said. "They always
"And that is why Manitou put so many and such splendid ones in the land of
the Hodenosaunee," said Tayoga. "This is Ganoatohale, which you call in
your language Oneida, and it is on its shores that I hid the canoe of which
I spoke to you. I think we shall find it just as I left it."
"I devoutly hope so. A canoe and paddles would give me much pleasure just
now, and Ganoatohale will leave no trail."
They walked northward along the shore of the lake, and they came to a place
where many tall reeds grew thick and close in shallow water. Tayoga plunged
into the very heart of them and Robert's heart rose with a bound, when he
reappeared dragging after him a large and strong canoe, containing two
"It has rested in quiet waiting for us," he said. "It is a good canoe, and
it knew that I would come some time to claim it."
"Before we go upon our voyage," said Robert, "I think we shall have to pay
some attention to the question of food. My pouch is about empty."
"And so is mine. We shall have to take the risk, Dagaeoga, and shoot a
deer. Tandakora may be so far behind that none of his warriors will hear
the shot, but even so we cannot live without eating. We will, however, hunt
from the canoe. Since the war began, all human beings have gone away from
this lake, and the deer should be plentiful."
They launched the canoe on the deep waters, and the two took up the
paddles, sending their little craft northward, with slow, deliberate
strokes. They had the luck within the hour to find a deer drinking, and
with equal luck Robert slew it at the first shot. They would have taken the
body into the canoe, but the burden was too great, and Tayoga cut it up and
dressed it with great dispatch, while Robert watched. Then they made room
for the four quarters and again paddled northward. Fearing that Tandakora
had come much nearer, while they were busy with the deer, they did not dare
the wide expanse of the lake, but remained for the present under cover of
the overhanging forest on the western shore.
"If we put the lake between Tandakora and ourselves," said Robert, "we
ought to be safe."
"It is likely that they, too, have canoes hidden in the reeds," said
Tayoga. "Since the French and their allies have spread so far south they
would provide for the time when they wanted to go upon the waters of
Ganoatohale. It is almost a certainty that we shall be pursued upon the
They continued northward, never leaving the dark shadow cast by the dense
leafage, and, as they went slowly, they enjoyed the luxury of the canoe.
After so much walking through the wilderness it was a much pleasanter
method of traveling. But they did not forget vigilance, continually
scanning the waters, and Robert's heart gave a sudden beat as he saw a
black dot appear upon the surface of the lake in the south. It was followed
in a moment by another, then another and then three more.
"It is the band of Tandakora, beyond a doubt," said Tayoga with conviction.
"They had their canoes among the reeds even as we had ours, and now it is
well for us that water leaves no trail."
"Shall we hide the canoe again, and take to the woods?"
"I think not, Dagaeoga. They have had no chance to see us yet. We will
withdraw among the reeds until night comes, and then under its cover cross
Keeping almost against the bank, they moved gently until they came to a
vast clump of reeds into which they pushed the canoe, while retaining their
seats in it. In the center they paused and waited. From that point they
could see upon the lake, while remaining invisible themselves, and they
The six canoes or large boats, they could not tell at the distance which
they were, went far out into the lake, circled around for a while, and then
bore back toward the western shore, along which they passed, inspecting it
carefully, and drawing steadily nearer to Robert and Tayoga.
"Now, let us give thanks to Tododaho, Areskoui and to Manitou himself,"
said the Onondaga, "that they have been pleased to make the reeds grow in
this particular place so thick and so tall."
"Yes," said Robert, "they're fine reeds, beautiful reeds, a greater bulwark
to us just now than big oaks could be. Think you, Tayoga, that you
recognize the large man in the first boat?"
"Aye, Dagaeoga, I know him, as you do also. How could we mistake our great
enemy, Tandakora? It is a formidable fleet, too strong for us to resist,
and, like the wise man, we hide when we cannot fight."
Robert's pulses beat so hard they hurt, but he would not show any
uneasiness in the presence of Tayoga, and he sat immovable in the canoe.
Nearer and nearer came the Indian fleet, partly of canoes and partly of
boats, and he counted in them sixteen warriors, all armed heavily. Now he
prayed to Manitou, and to his own God who was the same as Manitou, that no
thought of pushing among the reeds would enter Tandakora's head. The fleet
soon came abreast of them, but his prayers were answered, as Tandakora led
ahead, evidently thinking the fugitives would not dare to hide and lie in
waiting, but would press on in flight up the western shore.
"I could pick him off from here with a bullet," said Robert, looking at the
huge, painted chest of the Ojibway chief.
"But our lives would be the forfeit," the Onondaga whispered back.
"I had no intention of doing it."
"Now they have passed us, and for the while we are safe. They will go on up
the lake, until they find no trace of us there, and then Tandakora will
"But how does he know we have a canoe?"
"He does not know it, but he feels sure of it because our trail led
straight to the lake, and we would not purposely come up against such a
barrier, unless we knew of a way to cross it."
"That sounds like good logic. Of course when they return they'll make a
much more thorough search of the lake's edge, and then they'd be likely to
find us if we remained here."
"It is so, but perhaps the night will come before Tandakora, and then we'll
take flight upon the lake."
They pushed their canoe back to the edge of the reeds, and watched the
Indian boats passing in single file northward, becoming smaller and smaller
until they almost blended with the water, but both knew they would return,
and in that lay their great danger. The afternoon was well advanced, but
the sun was very brilliant, and it was hot within the reeds. Great
quantities of wild fowl whirred about them and along the edges of the
"No warriors are in hiding near us," said Tayoga, "or the wild fowl would
fly away. We can feel sure that we have only Tandakora and his band to
Robert had never watched the sun with more impatience. It was already going
down the western arch, but it seemed to him to travel with incredible
slowness. Far in the north the Indian boats were mere black dots on the
water, but they were turning. Beyond a doubt Tandakora was now coming back.
"Suppose we go slowly south, still keeping in the shadow of the trees," he
said. "We can gain at least that much advantage."
Fortunately the scattered fringe of reeds and bushes, growing in the water,
extended far to the south, and they were able to keep in their protecting
shadow a full hour, although their rate of progress was not more than
one-third that of the Indians, who were coming without obstruction in open
water. Nevertheless, it was a distinct gain, and, meanwhile, they awaited
the coming of the night with the deepest anxiety. They recognized that
their fate turned upon a matter of a half hour or so. If only the night
would arrive before Tandakora! Robert glanced at the low sun, and, although
at all times, it was beautiful, he had never before prayed so earnestly
that it would go over the other side of the world, and leave their own side
The splendor of the great yellow star deepened as it sank. It poured
showers of rays upon the broad surface of the lake, and the silver of the
waters turned to orange and gold. Everything there was enlarged and made
more vivid, standing out twofold against the burning western background.
Nothing beyond the shadow could escape the observation of the Indians in
the boats, and they themselves in Robert's intense imagination changed from
a line of six light craft into a great fleet.
Nevertheless the sun, lingering as if it preferred their side of the world
to any other, was bound to go at last. The deep colors in the water faded.
The orange and gold changed back to silver, and the silver, in its turn,
gave way to gray, twilight began to draw a heavy veil over the east, and
Tayoga said in deep tones:
"Lo, the Sun God has decided that we may escape! He will let the night come
Then the sun departed all at once, and the brilliant afterglow soon faded.
Night settled down, thick and dark, with the waters, ruffled by a light
wind, showing but dimly. The line of Tandakora became invisible, and the
two youths felt intense relief.
"Now we will start toward the northeastern end of the lake," said Tayoga.
"It will be wiser than to seek the shortest road across, because Tandakora
will think naturally that we have gone that way, and he will take it also."
"And it's paddling all night for us," said Robert "Well, I welcome it."
They were interrupted by the whirring of the wild fowl again, though on a
much greater scale than before. The twilight was filled with feathered
bodies. Tayoga, in an instant, was all attention.
"Something has frightened them," he said.
"Perhaps a bear or a deer," said Robert.
"I think not. They are used to wild animals, and would not be startled at
their approach. There is only one being that everything in the forest
"Even so, Dagaeoga."
"Perhaps we'd better pull in close to the bank and look."
"It would be wise."
Robert saw that the Onondaga, with his acute instincts, was deeply alarmed,
and he too felt that the wild fowl had given warning. They sent the canoe
with a few silent strokes through the shallow water almost to the edge of
the land, and, as it nearly struck bottom, two dusky figures rising among
the bushes threw their weight upon them. The light craft sank almost to the
edges with the weight, but did not overturn, and both attackers and
attacked fell out of it into the lake.
Robert for a moment saw a dusky face above him, and instinctively he
clasped the body of a warrior in his arms. Then the two went down together
in the water. The Indian was about to strike at him with a knife, but the
lake saved him. As the water rushed into eye, mouth and nostril the two
fell apart, but Robert was able to keep his presence of mind in that
terrible moment, and, as he came up again, he snatched out his own knife
and struck almost blindly.
He felt the blade encounter resistance, and then pass through it. He heard
a choked cry and he shuddered violently. All his instincts were for
civilization and against the taking of human life, and he had struck merely
to save his own, but almost articulate words of thankfulness bubbled to his
lips as he saw the dark figure that had hovered so mercilessly over him
disappear. Then a second figure took the place of the first and he drew
back the fatal blade again, but a soft voice said:
"Do not strike, Dagaeoga. I also have accounted for one of the warriors who
attacked us, and no more have yet come. We may thank the wild fowl. Had
they not warned us we should have perished."
"And even then we had luck, or your Tododaho is still watching over us. I
struck at random, but the blade was guided to its mark."
"And so was mine. What you say is also proved to be true by the fact that
the canoe did not overturn, when they threw themselves upon us. The chances
were at least ninety-nine out of a hundred that it would do so."
"And our arms and ammunition and our deer?"
"All in the canoe, except the weapons that are in our belts."
"Then, Tayoga, it is quite sure that your Tododaho has been watching over
us. But where is the canoe?"
Robert was filled with alarm and horror. They were standing above their
knees in the water, and they no longer saw the little craft, which had
become a veritable ship of refuge to them. They peered about frantically
in the dusk and then Tayoga said:
"There is a strong breeze blowing from the land and waves are beginning to
run on the water. They have taken the canoe out into the lake. We must swim
in search of it."
"And if we don't find it?"
"Then we drown, but O Dagaeoga, death in the water is better than death in
the fires that Tandakora will kindle."
"We might escape into the woods."
"Warriors who have come upon our trail are there, and would fall upon us at
once. The attack by the two who failed proves their presence."
"Then, Tayoga, we must take the perilous chance and swim for the canoe."
"It is so, Dagaeoga."
Both were splendid swimmers, even with their clothes on, and, wading out
until the water was above their waists, they began to swim with strong and
steady strokes toward the middle of the lake, following with exactness the
course of the wind. All the time they sought with anxious eyes through the
dusk for a darker shadow that might be the canoe. The wind rose rapidly,
and now and then the crest of a wave dashed over them. Less expert swimmers
would have sunk, but their muscles were hardened by years of forest
life--all Robert's strength had come back to him--and an immense vitality
made the love of life overwhelming in them. They fought with all the
powers of mind and body for the single chance of overtaking the canoe.
"I hope you see it, Tayoga," said Robert.
"Not yet," replied the Onondaga. "The darkness is heavy over the lake, and
the mists and vapors, rising from the water, increase it."
"It was a fine canoe, Tayoga, and it holds our rifles, our ammunition, our
deer, my buffalo robe, and all our precious belongings. We have to find
"It is so, Dagaeoga. We have no other choice. We truly swim for life. One
could pray at this time to have all the powers of a great fish. Do you see
anything behind us?"
Robert twisted his head and looked over his shoulder.
"I see no pursuit," he replied. "I cannot even see the shore, as the mists
and vapors have settled down between. In a sense we're out at sea, Tayoga."
"And Ganoatohale is large. The canoe, too, is afloat upon its bosom and is,
as you say, out at sea. We and it must meet or we are lost. Are you weary,
"Not yet. I can still swim for quite a while."
"Then float a little, and we can take the exact course of the wind again.
The canoe, of course, will continue to go the way the wind goes."
"Unless it's deflected by currents which do not always follow the wind."
"I do not notice any current, and to follow the wind is our only hope. The
mists and vapors will hide the canoe from us until we are very close to it"
"And you may thank Tododaho that they will hide something else also.
Unless I make a great mistake, Tayoga, I hear the swish of paddles."
"You make no mistake, Dagaeoga. I too hear paddles, ten, a dozen, or more
of them. It is the fleet of Tandakora coming back and it will soon be
passing between us and the shore. Truly we may be thankful, as you say, for
the mists and vapors which, while they hide the canoe from us, also hide us
from our enemies."
"I shall lie flat upon my back and float, and I'll blend with the water."
"It is a wise plan, Dagaeoga. So shall I. Then Tandakora himself would not
see us, even if he passed within twenty feet of us."
"He is passing now, and I can see the outlines of their boats."
The two were silent as the fish themselves, sustained by imperceptible
strokes, and Robert saw the fleet of Tandakora pass in a ghostly line. They
looked unreal, a shadow following shadows, the huge figure of the Ojibway
chief in the first boat a shadow itself. Robert's blood chilled, and it was
not from the cold of the water. He was in a mystic and unreal world, but a
world in which danger pressed in on every side. He felt like one living
back in a primeval time. The swish of the paddles was doubled and tripled
by his imagination, and the canoes seemed to be almost on him.
The questing eyes of Tandakora and his warriors swept the waters as far as
the night, surcharged with mists and vapors, would allow, but they did not
see the two human figures, so near them and almost submerged in the lake.
The sound of the swishing paddles moved southward, and the line of ghostly
canoes melted again, one by one, into the darkness.
"They're gone, Tayoga," whispered Robert in a tone of immense relief.
"So they are, Dagaeoga, and they will seek us long elsewhere. Are you yet
"I might be at another time, but with my life at stake I can't afford to
grow tired. Let us follow the wind once more."
They swam anew with powerful strokes, despite the long time they had been
in the water, and no sailors, dying of thirst, ever scanned the sea more
eagerly for a sail than they searched through the heavy dusk for their lost
canoe. The wind continued to rise, and the waves with it. Foam was often
dashed over their heads, the water grew cold to their bodies, now and then
they floated on their backs to rest themselves and thus the singular chase,
with the wind their only guide, was maintained.
Robert was the first to see a dim shape, but he would not say anything
until it grew in substance and solidity. Nevertheless hope flooded his
heart, and then he said:
"The wind has guided us aright, Tayoga. Unless some evil spirit has taught
my eyes to lie to me that is our canoe straight ahead."
"It has all the appearance of a canoe, Dagaeoga, and since the only canoe
on this part of the lake is our canoe, then our canoe it is."
"And none too soon. I'm not yet worn out, but the cold of the water is
entering my bones. I can see very clearly now that it's the canoe, our
canoe. It stands up like a ship, the strongest canoe, the finest canoe, the
friendliest canoe that ever floated on a lake or anywhere else. I can hear
it saying to us: 'I have been waiting for you. Why didn't you come
"Truly when Dagaeoga is an old, old man, nearly a hundred, and the angel of
death comes for him, he will rise up in his bed and with the rounded words
pouring from his lips he will say to the angel: 'Let me make a speech only
an hour long and then I will go with you without trouble, else I stay here
and refuse to die.'"
"I'm using words to express my gratitude, Tayoga. Look, the canoe is moving
slowly toward the center of the lake, but it stays back as much as the wind
will let it and keeps beckoning to us. A few more long, swift strokes,
Tayoga, and we're beside it."
"Aye, Dagaeoga, and we must be careful how we climb into it. It is no light
task to board a canoe in the middle of a lake. Since Tododaho would not let
it be overturned, when we fell out of it, we must not overturn it ourselves
when we get back into it, else we lose all our arms, ammunition and other
The canoe was now not more than fifty feet in front of them, moving
steadily farther and farther from land before the wind that blew out of the
west, but, sitting upright on the waters like a thing of life, bearing its
precious freight. The mists and vapors had closed in so much now that their
chance of seeing it had been only one in a thousand, and yet that lone
chance had happened. The devout soul of Tayoga was filled with gratitude.
Even while swimming he looked up at the great star that he could not see
beyond the thick veil of cloud, but, knowing it was there, he returned
thanks to the mighty Onondaga chieftain who had saved them so often.
"The canoe retreats before us, Dagaeoga," he said, "but it is not to escape
us, it is to beckon us on, out of the path of Tandakora's boats which soon
may be returning again and which will now come farther out into the lake,
thinking that we may possibly have made a dash under the cover of the
"What you predict is already coming true, Tayoga," said Robert, "because I
hear the first faint dip of their paddles once more, and they can't be more
than two hundred yards behind us."
The regular swishing grew louder and came closer, but the courage of the
two youths was still high. They had been drawn on so steadily by the canoe,
apparently in a predestined course, and they had been victors over so many
dangers, that they were confident the boats of Tandakora would pass once
more and leave them unseen.
"They're almost abreast of us now, Tayoga," said Robert.
"Aye, Dagaeoga," said the Onondaga, looking back. "They do not appear
through the mist and we hear only the paddles, but we know the threat is
there, and we can follow them as well with ear as with eye. They keep
straight on, going back toward the north. Nothing tells them we are here,
as our canoe beckons to us, nothing guides them to that for which they are
looking. Now the sound of their paddles becomes less, now it is faint and
now it is gone wholly. They have missed us once more! Let us summon up the
last of our strength and overtake the canoe."
They put all their energy into a final effort and presently drew up by the
side of the canoe. Tayoga steadied it with his hands while Robert was the
first to climb into it. The Onondaga followed and the two lay for a few
minutes exhausted on the bottom. Then Tayoga sat up and said in a full
"Lo, Dagaeoga, let us give thanks to Manitou for our wonderful escape,
because we have looked into the face of death."
Robert, awed by time and circumstance, shared fully the belief of Tayoga
that their escape was a miracle. His nature contained much that was devout
and spiritual and he, too, with his impressionable imagination, peopled
earth and air almost unconsciously with spirits, good and bad. The good and
bad often fought together, and sometimes the good prevailed as they had
just done. There lay in the canoe the paddles, which they had lifted out of
the water in their surprise at the sudden attack, and beside them were the
rifles and everything else they needed.
They were content to let the canoe travel its own course for a long time,
and that course was definite and certain, as if guided by the hand of man.
The wind always carried it toward the northeast and farther and farther
away from the fleet of Tandakora. But they took off their clothing, wrung
out as much water as they could, and wrapped themselves in the dry blankets
from their packs. Robert's spirits, stimulated by the reaction, bubbled up
in a wonderful manner.
"We'll see no more of Tandakora for a long time, at least," he exclaimed,
"and now, ho! for our wonderful voyage!"
They drew the wet charges from their pistols and reloaded them, they
polished anew their hatchets and knives and then, these tasks done, they
still sat for a long time in the canoe, idle and content. Their little boat
needed no help or guidance from their hands. That favoring wind always
carried it away from their enemies and in the direction in which they
wished it to go. And yet the wind did not blow away the mists and vapors,
that grew thicker and thicker around them, until they could not see twenty
Robert's feeling that they were protected, his sense of the spiritual and
mystic, grew, and he saw that the mind of Tayoga was under the same spell.
The waters of the lake were friendly now. As they lapped around the canoe
they made a soothing sound, and the wind that guided and propelled them
sang a low but pleasant song.
"We are in the arms of Tododaho," said Tayoga in a reverential tone, "and
Hayowentha, the great Mohawk, also looks on and smiles. What need for us to
strive when the gods themselves take us in their keeping?"
Hours passed before they spoke again. They had been at the uttermost verge
of exhaustion when they climbed into the canoe, and perhaps physical
weakness had made their minds more receptive to the belief that they were
in hands mightier than their own, but even as strength came back the
conviction remained in all its primitive force. Warmth returned to their
bodies, wrapped in the blankets, and they felt an immense peace. Midnight
passed and the boat bore steadily on with its two silent occupants.
THE MARVELOUS TRAILER
"Where are we, Tayoga?"
Robert stirred from a doze and the words were involuntary. He looked upon
water, covered with mists and vapors, and the driving wind was still behind
"I know not, Dagaeoga," replied the Onondaga in devout tones. "I too have
dozed for a while, and awoke to find nothing changed. All I know is that we
are yet on the bosom of Ganoatohale, and that the west wind has borne us
on. I have always loved the west wind, Dagaeoga. Its breath is sweet on my
face. It comes from the setting sun, from the greatest of all seas that
lies beyond our continent, it blows over the vast unknown plains that are
trodden by the buffalo in myriads, it comes across the mighty forests of
the great valley, it is loaded with all the odors and perfumes of our
immense land, and now it carries us, too, to safety."
"You talk in hexameters, Tayoga, but I think your rhapsody is justified. I
also have plenty of cause now to love the west wind. How long do you think
it will be until we feel the dawn on our faces?"
"Two hours, perhaps, but we may reach land before then. While I cannot
smell the dawn I seem to perceive the odor of the forest. Now it grows
stronger, and lo, Dagaeoga, there is another sign! Do you not notice it?"
"No, what is it?"
"The west wind that has served us so well is dying. _Gaoh_, which in
our language of the Hodenosaunee is the spirit of the winds, knows that we
need it no more. Surely the land is near because _Gaoh_ after being a
benevolent spirit to us so long would not desert us at the last moment."
"I think you must be right, Tayoga, because now I also notice the strong,
keen perfume of the woods, and our west wind has sunk to almost nothing."
"Nay, Dagaeoga, it is more than that. It has died wholly. _Gaoh_
tells us that having brought us so near the land we can now fend for
The air became absolutely still, the swell ceased, the surface of the lake
became as smooth as glass, and, as if swept back by a mighty, unseen hand,
the mists and vapors suddenly floated away toward the east. Tayoga and
Robert uttered cries of admiration and gratitude, as a high, green shore
appeared, veiled but not hidden in the dusk.
"So Tododaho has brought us safely across the waters of Ganoatohale," said
"Have you any idea of the point to which we have come?" asked Robert.
"No, but it is sufficient that we have come to the shore anywhere. And see,
Dagaeoga, the mists and vapors still hang heavily over the western half of
the lake, forming an impenetrable wall that shuts us off from Tandakora
and his warriors. Truly we are for the time the favorites of the gods."
"Even so, Tayoga, you see, too, that we have come to land just where a
little river empties into the lake, and we can go on up it."
They paddled with vigorous arms into the mouth of the stream, and did not
stop until the day came. It was a beautiful little river, the massed
vegetation growing in walls of green to the very water's edge, the songs of
innumerable birds coming out of the cool gloom on either side. Robert was
enchanted. His spirits were still at the high key to which they had been
raised by the events of the night. Both he and Tayoga had enjoyed many
hours of rest in the canoe, and now they were keen and strong for the day's
work. So, it was long after dawn when they stopped paddling, and pushed
their prow into a little cove.
"And now," said Robert, "I think we can land, dress, and cook some of this
precious deer, which we have brought with us in spite of everything."
Their clothing had been dried by the sun, and they resumed it. Then, taking
all risks, they lighted a fire, broiled tender steaks and ate like giants
who had finished great labors.
"I think," said Tayoga, "that when we proceed a few miles farther it will
be better to leave the canoe. It is likely that as we advance the river
will become narrower, and we would be an easy target for a shot from the
"I don't like to abandon a canoe which has brought us safely across the
"We will put it away where it can await our coming another time. But I
think we can dare the river for some distance yet."
Robert had spoken for the sake of precaution, and he was easily persuaded
to continue in the river some miles, as traveling by canoe was pleasant,
and after their miraculous escape or rather rescue, as it seemed to them,
their spirits, already high, were steadily rising higher. The lone little
river of the north, on which they were traveling, presented a spectacle of
uncommon beauty. Its waters flowed in a clear, silver stream down to the
lake, deeper in tint on the still reaches, and, flashing in the sunlight,
where it rushed over the shallows.
All the time they moved between two lofty, green walls, the forest growing
so densely on either shore that they could not see back into it more than
fifty yards, while the green along its lower edges was dotted with pink and
blue and red, where the delicate wild flowers were blooming. The birds in
the odorous depths of the foliage sang incessantly, and Robert had never
before heard them sing so sweetly.
"I don't think any of our foes can be in ambush along the river," he said.
"It's too peaceful and the birds sing with too much enthusiasm. You
remember how they warned us of danger once by all going away?"
"True, Dagaeoga, and at any time now they may leave. But, like you, I am
willing to take the risk for several hours more. Most of the warriors must
be far south of us unless the rangers are in this region, and a special
force has been sent to meet them."
They came by and by to a long stretch of rippling shallows, and they were
compelled to carry the canoe with its load through the woods and around
them, the task, owing to the density of the forest and thicket and the
weight of their burden, straining their muscles and drawing perspiration
from their faces. But they took consolation from the fact that game was
amazingly plentiful. Deer sprang up everywhere, and twice they caught
glimpses of bears shambling away. Squirrels chattered over their heads and
the little people of the forest rustled all about them.
"It shows that no human being has been through here recently," said Tayoga,
"else the game, big and little, would not have been stirring abroad with so
"Then as soon as we make the portage we can return to the river with the
"Dagaeoga grows lazy. Does he not know that to do the hard thing
strengthens both mind and body? Has he forgotten what Mynheer Jacobus
Huysman told us so often in Albany? Now is a splendid opportunity for
Dagaeoga to harden himself a great deal."
"I realize it, Tayoga, but I don't want my mind and body to grow too hard.
When one is all steel one ceases to be receptive. Can you see the river
through the trees there?"
"I catch the glitter of sunlight on the water."
"I hope it looks like deep water."
"It is sufficient to float the canoe and the lazy Dagaeoga can take to his
They put their boat back into the stream, uttering great sighs of relief,
and resumed the far more pleasant travel by water, the day remaining golden
as if doing its best to please them. They had another long stretch of good
water, and they did not stop until they were well into the afternoon. Then
Tayoga proposed that they make a fire and cook all of the deer.
"It seems that the risk here is not great," he said, "and we may not have
the chance later on."
Robert, who still felt that they were protected and that for a day or two
no harm could come to them under any circumstances, was more than willing,
and they spent the remainder of the day in their culinary task. After dark
he slept three hours, to be followed by Tayoga for the same length of time,
and about midnight they started up the stream again, with their food cooked
and ready beside them.
Although the Onondaga shared Robert's feeling that they were protected for
the time, both exercised all their usual caution, believing thoroughly in
the old saying that heaven helps those who help themselves. It was this
watchfulness, particularly of ear, that caused them to hear the dip of
paddles approaching up the stream. Softly and in silence, they lifted the
canoe out of water and hid with it in the greenwood. Then they saw a fleet
of eight large canoes go by, all containing warriors, armed heavily and in
full war paint.
"Hurons," whispered Tayoga. "They go south for a great taking of scalps,
doubtless to join Montcalm, who is surely meditating another sudden and
"And he will strike at our forts by Andiatarocte," rejoined Robert. "I hope
we can find Willet and Rogers soon and take the news. All the woods must be
full of warriors going south to Montcalm."
"They have French guns, and good ones too, and they are wrapped in French
blankets. Onontio does not forget the power of the warriors and draws them
The silent file of war canoes passed on and out of sight, and, for a space,
Robert's heart was heavy within him. He felt the call of battle, he ought
to be in the south, giving what he could to the defense against the might
of Montcalm, but to go now would be merely a dash in the dark. They must
continue to seek Willet and Rogers.
When the last Indian canoe was far beyond hearing they relaunched their own
and paddled until nearly daybreak, coming to a place where bushes and tall
grass grew thick in the shallow water at the edge of the river.
"Here," said Tayoga, "we will leave the canoe. A good hiding place offers
itself, and with the dawn it will be time for us to take to the woods."
They concealed with great art the little boat that had served them so well,
sinking it in the heart of the densest growth and then drawing back the
bushes and weeds so skillfully that the keenest Indian eye would not have
noticed that anyone had ever been there.
"I hope," said Robert sincerely, "that we'll have the chance to return
here some time or other and use it again."
"That rests in the keeping of Manitou," said the Onondaga, "and now we will
take up our packs and go eastward toward Oneadatote."
"But we won't go fast, because my pack, with all this venison in it, is by
no means light."
"It is no heavier than mine, Dagaeoga, but, as you say, we will not hasten,
lest we pass the Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf in the forest and not
know it. But I think we are safe in going toward Oneadatote, as Rogers and
his rangers usually operate in the region of George and Champlain."
They traveled two days and two nights and came once more among the high
ridges and peaks. They saw many Indian trails and always they watched for
another. On the third day Tayoga discovered traces in moss and he said with
great satisfaction to his comrade:
"Lo, Dagaeoga, we, too, be wise in our time. The print here speaks to me
like the print on the page of a book. It says that the Great Bear has
passed this way."
"I can tell that the traces were made by the feet of a white man," said
Robert, "but how do you know they are Dave's?"
"I have noticed that the Great Bear's feet are more slender than the
average. Also he bears less upon the heel. He poises himself more upon the
toe, like the great swordsman we saw him to be that time in Quebec."
"The distinctions are too fine for me, Tayoga, but I don't question your
own powers of observation. I accept your statement with gratitude and joy,
too, because now we know that Dave is alive, and somewhere in the great
northern forest of the Province of New York. I knew he could not be dead,
but it's a relief anyhow to have the proof. But as I see no other traces,
how is it, do you think, that he happens to be alone?"
"The Great Bear may have been making a little scout by himself. I still
think that he is with Rogers and the rangers, and when we follow his trail
we are likely to find soon that he has rejoined them."
The traces led north and east until they came to rocky ground, where they
were lost, and Tayoga assumed from the fact that they were several days
old, otherwise he could have made them out even in the more difficult
region. But when the path, despite all his searching, vanished in the air,
he began to look higher than the earth. Soon he smiled and said:
"Ah, the Great Bear is as wise as the fox and the serpent combined. He
knows that a little chance may lead to great results, and so he neglects
none of the little chances."
"I don't understand you," said Robert, puzzled.
The Onondaga bent over a bush and showed where a twig had been cut off.
"See the wound made by his knife," he said, "and look! here is another on a
bush farther on. Both wounds are partly healed, showing that the cut of the
knife was made several days ago. It occurred to the Great Bear that we
might strike his trail some time or other, and when he came to the stony
uplift upon which his moccasins would leave no sign, he made traces
elsewhere. He knew the chance of our ever seeing them was slight, and he
may have made thousands of other traces that we never will see, but the
possibility that we would see some one of the many became a probability."
"As you present it, it seems simple, Tayoga, but what an infinity of pains
he must have taken!"
"The Great Bear is that kind of a man."
The hard, rocky ground extended several miles and their progress over it
was, of necessity, very slow, as Tayoga was compelled to look with extreme
care for the signs the hunter might have left. He found the cut twigs five
times and twice footprints where softer soil existed between the rocks,
making the proofs conclusive to both, and when they emerged into a normal
region beyond they picked up his defined and clear trail once more.
"I shall be glad to see the Great Bear," said the Onondaga, "and I think he
will be as pleased to know certainly that we are alive as we are to be
assured that he is."
"He'd never desert us, and if you hadn't come to the Indian village I think
he'd have done so later on."
"The Great Bear is a man such as few men are. Now, his trail leads on,
straight and bold. He took no trouble to hide it, which proves that he had
friends in this region, and was not afraid to be followed. Here he sat on a
fallen log and rested a while."
"How do you know that, Tayoga?"
"See the prints in front of the log. They were made by the heels of his
moccasins only. He tilted his feet up until they rested merely on the
heels. The Great Bear could not have been in that attitude while standing.
Nay, there is more. The Great Bear sat down here not to rest but to think."
"It's just supposition with you, Tayoga."
"It is not supposition at all, Dagaeoga, it is certainty. Look, several
little pieces of the bark on the dead log where the Great Bear sat, are
picked off. Here are the places from which they were taken, and here are
the fragments themselves lying on the ground. The Great Bear must have been
thinking very hard and he must have been in great doubt to have had uneasy
hands, because, as you and I know, Dagaeoga, his mind and nerves are of the
"What, then, do you think was on his mind?"
"He was undecided whether to go on towards Oneadatote or to turn back and
seek us anew. Here are three or four traces, a short and detached trail
leading in the direction from which we have come. Then the traces suddenly
turn. He sat down again and thought it over a second time."
"You can't possibly know that he resumed his seat on the log!"
"Oh, yes, I can, Dagaeoga. I wish all that we had to see was as easy,
because here is the second place on the log where he picked at the bark.
Mighty as the Great Bear is he cannot sit in two places at once. Not
Tododaho himself could do that."
"It's conclusive, and I find here at the end of the log his trail, leading
on toward the east."
"And he went fast, because the distance between his footprints lengthens.
But he did not do so long. He became very slow suddenly. The space between
the footprints shortens all at once. He turned aside, too, from his course,
and crept through the bushes toward the south."
"How do you know that he crept?"
"Because for many steps he rested his weight wholly on his toes. The traces
show it very clearly. The Great Bear was stalking something, and it was not
"That, at least, is supposition, Tayoga."
"Not supposition, Dagaeoga, and while not absolute certainty it is a great
probability. The toeprints lead straight toward the tiny little lake that
you see shining through the foliage. It was game and not a foe that the
Great Bear was seeking. He wished to shoot a wild fowl. Look, the edge of
the lake here is low, and the tender water grasses grow to a distance of
several yards from the shore. It is just the place where wild ducks or wild
geese would be found, and the Great Bear secured the one he wanted. If you
will look closely, Dagaeoga, you will see the faint trace of blood on the
grass. Blood lasts a long time. Manitou has willed that it should be so,
because it is the life fluid of his creatures. It was a wild goose that the
Great Bear shot."
"And why not a wild duck?"
"Because here are two of the feathers, and even Dagaeoga knows they are
the feathers of a goose and not of a duck. It was, too, the fattest goose
in the flock."
"Which you have no possible way of knowing, Tayoga."
"But I do, Dagaeoga. It was the fattest goose of the flock, because the
fattest goose of the flock was the one that so wise and skillful a hunter
as the Great Bear would, as a matter of course, select and kill. Learn, O,
Dagaeoga, to trail with your mind as well as with your eye, and ear. The
day may come when the white man will equal the red man in intellect, but it
is yet far off. The Great Bear was very, very hungry, and we shall soon
reach the place where he cleaned and cooked his goose."
"Come, come, Tayoga! You may draw good conclusions from what you see, but
there are no prophets nowadays. You don't know anything about the state of
Dave's appetite, when he shot that goose, and you can't predict with
certainty that we'll soon come to the place where he made it ready for the
"I cannot, Dagaeoga! Why, I am doing it this very instant. Mind! Mind! Did
I not tell you to use your mind? O, Dagaeoga, when will you learn the
simpler things of life? The Great Bear would not have risked a shot at a
wild goose in enemy country, if he had not been very hungry. Otherwise he
would have waited until he rejoined the rangers to obtain food. And, having
risked his shot, and having obtained his goose, which was the fattest in
the flock, he became hungrier than ever. And having risked so much he was
willing to risk more in order to complete the task he had undertaken,
without which the other risks that he had run would have been all in vain."
"Tayoga, I can almost believe that you have your dictionary with you in
"Not in my knapsack, Dagaeoga, but in my head, where yours also ought to
be. Ah, here is where the Great Bear began to make preparations to cook his
goose! His trail wanders back and forth. He was looking for fallen wood to
build the fire. And there, in the little sink between the hills, was where
he built it. Even you, Dagaeoga, can see the ashes and burnt ends of
sticks. The Great Bear must have been as hungry as a wolf to have eaten a
whole goose, and the fattest goose of the flock, too. How do I know he ate
it all? Look in the grass and leaves and you will find enough bones to make
the complete frame of a goose, and every bone is picked clean. Wild animals
might have gleaned on them, you say? No. Here is the trail of a wolf that
came to the dip after the Great Bear had gone, drawn by the savory odors,
but he turned back. He never really entered the dip. Why? When he stood at
the edge his acute and delicate senses told him no meat was left on the
bones, and a wolf neither makes idle exertion, nor takes foolish risk. He
went back at once. And if the wolf had not come, there is another reason
why I knew the Great Bear ate all the goose. He would not have thrown away
any of the bones with flesh still on them. He is too wise a man to waste.
He would have taken with him what was left of the goose. Having finished
his most excellent dinner, the Great Bear looked for a brook."
"Why a brook?"
"Because he was thirsty. Everyone is thirsty after a heavy meal. He turned
to the right, as the ground slopes down in that direction. Even you,
Dagaeoga, know that one is more likely to find a brook in a valley than on
a hilltop. Here is the brook, a fine, clear little stream with a sandy
bottom, and here is where the Great Bear knelt and drank of the cool water.
The prints of his strong knees show like carving on a wall. Finding that he
was still thirsty he came back for another drink, because the second prints
are a little distance from the first.
"Then, after rejoicing over the tender goose and his renewed strength, he
suddenly became very cautious. The danger from the warriors, which he had
forgotten or overlooked in his hunger, returned in acute form to his mind.
He came to the brook a third time, but not to drink. He intended to wade in
the stream that he might hide his trail, which, as you well know, Dagaeoga,
is the oldest and best of all forest devices for such purposes. How many
millions of times must the people of the wilderness have used it!
"Now the Great Bear had two ways to go in the water, up the stream or down
the stream, and you and I, Dagaeoga, think he went down the stream, because
the current leads on the whole eastward, which was the way in which he
wished to go. At least, we will choose that direction and I will take one
side of the bank and you the other."
They followed the brook more than a mile with questing eyes, and Tayoga
detected the point at which Willet had emerged, plunging anew into the
"Warriors, if they had picked up his trail, could have followed the brook
as we did," said Robert.
"Of course," said Tayoga, "but the object of the Great Bear was not so much
to hide his flight as to gain time. While we went slowly, looking for the
emergence of his trail, he went fast. Now I think he meant to spend the
night in the woods alone. The rangers must still have been far away. If
they had been near he would not have felt the need of throwing off possible
They followed the dim traces several hours, and then Tayoga announced with
certainty that the hunter had slept alone in the forest, wrapped in his
"He crept into this dense clump of bushes," he said, "and lay within their
heart, sheltered and hidden by them. You, Dagaeoga, can see where his
weight has pressed them down. Why, here is the outline of a human body
almost as clear and distinct as if it were drawn with black ink upon white
paper! And the Great Bear slept well, too. The bushes are not broken or
shoved aside except in the space merely wide enough to contain his frame.
Perhaps the goose was so very tender and his nerves and tissues had craved
it so much that they were supremely happy when he gave it to them. That is
why they rested so well.
"In the morning the Great Bear resumed his journey toward the east. He had
no breakfast and doubtless he wished for another goose, but he was
refreshed and he was very strong. The traces are fainter than they were,
because the Great Bear was so vigorous that his feet almost spurned the
"Don't you think, Tayoga, that he'll soon turn aside again to hunt? So
strong a man as Dave won't go long without food, especially when the forest
is full of it. We've noticed everywhere that the war has caused the game to
increase greatly in numbers."
"It will depend upon the position of the force to which the Great Bear
belongs. If it is near he will not seek game, waiting for food until he
rejoins the rangers, but if they are distant he will look for a deer or
another goose, or maybe a duck. But by following we will see what he did.
It cannot be hidden from us. The forest has few secrets from those who are
born in it. Ah, what is this? The Great Bear hid in a bush, and he leaped
suddenly! Behold the distance between the footprints! He saw something that
alarmed him. It may have been a war party passing, and of which he suddenly
caught sight. If so we can soon tell."
A hundred yards beyond the clump of bushes they found a broad trail,
indicating that at least twenty warriors had gone by, their line of march
leading toward the southeast.
"They were in no hurry," said the Onondaga, "as they had no fear of
enemies. Their steps are irregular, showing that sometimes they stopped and
talked. Doubtless they meant to join Montcalm, but as they can travel much
faster than an army they were taking their time about it. We will now
return to the bushes in which the Great Bear lay hidden while he watched.
The traces of his footsteps in the heart of the clump are much deeper than
usual, which proves that he stood there quite a while. It is also another
proof that the warriors stopped and talked when they were near him, else he
would not have remained in the clump so long. It is likely, too, that the
Great Bear followed them when they resumed their journey. Yes, here is his
trail leading from the bushes. But it is faint, the Great Bear was stepping
lightly and here is where it merges with the trail of the warriors. He
could not have been more than three or four hundred yards behind them. The
Great Bear was very bold, or else they were very careless. He will not
follow them long, as he merely wishes to get a general idea of their
course, it being his main object to rejoin the rangers."
"And at this point he turned away from their trail," said Robert, after
they had followed it about a mile. "He is now going due east, and his
traces lead on so straight that he must have known exactly where he
intended to go."
"Stated with much correctness," said Tayoga in his precise school English.
"Dagaeoga is taking to heart my assertion that the mind is intended for
human use, and he is beginning to think a little. But we shall have to stop
soon for a while, because the night comes. We, too, will sleep in the heart
of the bushes as the Great Bear did."
"And glad am I to stop," said Robert. "My burden of buffalo robe and deer
and arms and ammunition is beginning to weigh on me. A buffalo robe doesn't
seem of much use on a warm, summer day, but it is such a fine one and you
took so much trouble to get it for me, Tayoga, that I haven't had the heart
to abandon it."
"It is well that you have brought it, in spite of its weight," said the
Onondaga, "as the night, at this height, is sure to be cold, and the robe
will envelop you in its warmth. See, the dark comes fast."
The sun sank behind the forest, and the twilight advanced, the deeper dusk
following in its trail, a cold wind began to blow out of the north, and
Robert, as Tayoga had predicted, was thankful now that he had retained the
buffalo robe, despite its weight. He wrapped it around his body and sat on
a blanket in a thicket. Tayoga, by his side, used his two blankets in a
similar manner, and they ate of the deer which they had had the forethought
to cook, and make ready for all times.
The dusk deepened into the thick dark, and the night grew colder, but they
were warm and at ease. Robert was full of courage and hope. The elements
and all things had served them so much that he was quite sure they would
succeed in everything they undertook. By and by, he stretched himself on
the blanket, and clothed from head to foot in the great robe he slept the
deep sleep of one who had toiled hard and well. An hour later Tayoga also
slept, but in another hour he awoke and sat up, listening with all the
marvelous powers of hearing that nature and cultivation had given him.
Something was stirring in the thicket, not any of the wild animals, big or
little, but a human being, and Tayoga knew the chances were a hundred to
one that it was a hostile human being. He put his ear to the earth and the
sound came more clearly. Now his wonderful gifts of intuition and forest
reasoning told him what it was. Slowly he rose again, cleared himself of
the blankets, and put his rifle upon them. Then, loosening the pistol in
his belt, but drawing his long hunting knife, he crept from the thicket.
Tayoga, despite his thorough white education and his constant association
with white comrades, was always an Indian first. Now, as he stole from the
thicket in the dark, knife in hand, he was the very quintessence of a great
warrior of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the great
League of the Hodenosaunee. He was what his ancestors had been for
unnumbered generations, a primeval son of the wilderness, seeking the life
of the enemy who came seeking his.
He kept to his hands and knees, and made no sound as he advanced, but at
intervals he dropped his ear to the ground, and heard the faint rustling
that was drawing nearer. He decided that it was a single warrior who by
some chance had struck their trail in the dusk, and who, with minute pains
and with slowness but certainty, was following it.
His course took him about thirty yards among the bushes and then through
high grass growing luxuriantly in the open. In the grass his eye also
helped him, because at a point straight ahead the tall stems were moving
slightly in a direction opposed to the wind. He took the knife in his teeth
and went on, sure that bold means would be best.
The stalking warrior who in his turn was stalked did not hear him until he
was near, and then, startled, he sprang to his feet, knife in hand. Tayoga
snatched his own from his teeth and stood erect facing him. The warrior, a
Huron, was the heavier though not the taller of the two, and recognizing an
enemy, a hated Iroquois, he stared fiercely into the eyes that were so
close to his. Then he struck, but, agile as a panther, Tayoga leaped aside,
and the next instant his own blade went home. The Huron sank down without a
sound, and the Onondaga stood over him, the spirit of his ancestors
swelling in fierce triumph.
But the feeling soon died in the heart of Tayoga. His second nature, which
was that of his white training and association, prevailed. He was sorry
that he had been compelled to take life, and, dragging the heavy body much
farther away, he hid it in the bushes. Then, making a circle through the
forest to assure himself that no other enemies were near, he went swiftly
back to the thicket and lay down again between his blankets. He had a
curious feeling that he did not want Robert to know what had happened.
Tayoga remained awake the remainder of the night, and, although he did not
stir again from the thicket, he kept a vigilant watch. He would hear any
sound within a hundred yards and he would know what it was, but there was
none save the rustlings of the little animals, and dawn came, peaceful and
clear. Robert moved, threw off the buffalo robe and stood up among the
"A big sleep and a fine sleep, Tayoga," he said.
"It was a good time for Dagaeoga to sleep," said the Onondaga.
"I was warm, and your Tododaho watched over me."
"Aye, Dagaeoga, Tododaho was watching well last night."
"And you slept well, too, Tayoga?"
"I slept as I should, Dagaeoga. No man can ask more."
"Philosophical and true. It's breakfast now, slices of deer, and water of a
brook. Deer is good, Tayoga, but I'm beginning to find I could do without
it for quite a long time. I envy Dave the fat goose he had, and I don't
wonder that he ate it all at one time. Maybe we could find a juicy goose or
duck this morning."
"But we have the deer and the Great Bear had nothing when he sought the
goose. We will even make the best of what we have, and take no risk."
"It was merely a happy thought of mine, and I didn't expect it to be
accepted. My happiest thoughts are approved by myself alone, and so I'll
keep 'em to myself. My second-rate thoughts are for others, over the heads
of whom they will not pass."
"Dagaeoga is in a good humor this morning."
"It is because I slept so well last night. Now, having had a sufficiency of
the deer I shall seek a brook. I'm pretty sure to find one in the low
ground over there."
He started to the right, but Tayoga immediately suggested that he go to
the left--the hidden body of the warrior lay in the bushes on the
right--and Robert, never dreaming of the reason, tried the left where he
found plenty of good water. Tayoga also drank, and with some regret they
left the lair in the bushes.
"It was a good house," said Robert. "It lacked only walls, a roof and a
floor, and it had an abundance of fresh air. I've known worse homes for the
"Take up your buffalo robe again," said the Onondaga, "because when another
night comes you will need it as before."
They shouldered their heavy burdens and resumed the trail of the hunter,
expecting that it would soon show a divergence from its straight course.
"The rangers seem to be farther away than we thought," said Tayoga, "and
the Great Bear must eat. One goose, however pleasant the memory, will not
last forever. It is likely that he will turn aside again to one of the
little lakes or ponds that are so numerous in this region."
In two hours they found that he had done so, and this time his victim was a
duck, as the feathers showed. They saw the ashes where he had cooked it,
and as before only the bones were left. Evidently he had lingered there
some time, as Tayoga announced a distinctly fresher trail, indicating that
they were gaining upon him fast, and they increased their own speed, hoping
that they would soon overtake him.
But the traces led on all day, and the next morning, after another night
spent in the thickets, Tayoga said that the Great Bear was still far
ahead, and it was possible they might not overtake him until they
approached the shores of Champlain.
"But if necessary we'll follow him there, won't we, Tayoga?" said Robert.
"To Oneadatote and beyond, if need be," said the Onondaga with confidence.
READING THE SIGNS
On the third day the trail of the Great Bear was well among the ranges and
Tayoga calculated that they could not be many hours behind him, but all the
evidence, as they saw it, showed conclusively that he was going toward Lake
"It seems likely to me," said the Onondaga, "that he left the rangers to
seek us, and that Rogers meanwhile would move eastward. Having learned in
some way or other that he could not find us, he will now follow the rangers
wherever they may go."
"And we will follow him wherever he goes," said Robert.
An hour later the Onondaga uttered an exclamation, and pointed to the
trail. Another man coming from the south had joined Willet. The traces were
quite distinct in the grass, and it was also evident from the character of
the footsteps that the stranger was white.
"A wandering hunter or trapper? A chance meeting?" said Robert.
Tayoga shook his head.
"Then a ranger who was out on a scout, and the two are going on together to
"Wrong in both cases," he said. "I know who joined the Great Bear, as well
as if I saw him standing there in the footprints he has made. It was not a
wandering hunter and it was not a ranger. You will notice, Dagaeoga, that
these traces are uncommonly large. They are not slender like the footprints
of the Great Bear, but broad as well as long. Why, I should know anywhere
in the world what feet made them. Think, Dagaeoga!"
"I don't seem to recall."
"Willet is a great hunter and scout, among the bravest of men, skillful on
the trail, and terrible in battle, but the man who is now with him is all
these also. A band attacking the two would have no easy task to conquer
them. You have seen both on the trail in the forest and you have seen both
in battle. Try hard to think, Dagaeoga!"
"None other. It is far north for him, but he has come, and he and the Great
Bear were glad to see each other. Here they stood and shook hands."
"There is not a possible sign to indicate such a thing."
"Only the certain rules of logic. Once again I bid you use your mind. We
see with it oftener than with the eye. White men, when they are good
friends and meet after a long absence, always shake hands. So my mind tells
me with absolute certainty that the Great Bear and Black Rifle did so. Then
they talked together a while. Now the eye tells me, because here are
footsteps in a little group that says so, and then they walked on,
fearless of attack. It is an easy trail to follow."
He announced in a half hour that they were about to enter an old camp of
the two men.
"Any child of the Hodenosaunee could tell that it is so," he said, "because
their trails now separate. Black Rifle turns off to the right, and the
Great Bear goes to the left. We will follow Black Rifle first. He wandered
about apparently in aimless fashion, but he had a purpose nevertheless. He
was looking for firewood. We need not follow the trail of the Great Bear,
because his object was surely the same. They were so confident of their
united strength that they built a fire to cook food and take away the
coldness of the night. Although Great Bear had no food it was not necessary
for him to hunt, because Black Rifle had enough for both. The fact that the
Great Bear did not go away in search of game proves it.
"I think we will find the remains of their fire just beyond the low hill on
the crest of which the bushes grow so thick. Once more it is mind and not
eye that tells me so, Dagaeoga. They would build a fire near because they
had begun to look for firewood, which is always plentiful in the forest,
and they would surely choose the dip which lies beyond the hill, because
the circling ridge with its frieze of bushes would hide the flames.
Although sure of their strength they did not neglect caution."
They passed over the hill, and found the dead embers of the fire.
"After they had built it Black Rifle sat on that side and the Great Bear
on this," said Tayoga, "and while they were getting it ready the Great Bear
concluded to add something on his own account to the supper."
"What do you mean, Tayoga? Is this mind or eye?"
"A combination of the two. The Great Bear is a wonderful marksman, as we
know, and while sitting on the log that he had drawn up before the fire, he
shot his game out of the tall oak on our right."
"This is neither eye nor mind, Tayoga, it is just fancy."
"No, Dagaeoga, it is mostly eye, though helped by mind. My conclusion that
he was sitting, when he pulled the trigger is mind chiefly. He would not
have drawn up the log unless he had been ready to sit down, and everything
was complete for the supper. The Great Bear never rests until his work is
done, and he is so marvelous with the rifle that it was not necessary for
him to rise when he fired. Wilderness life demands so much of the body that
the Great Bear never makes needless exertion. There mind works, Dagaeoga,
but the rest is all eye. The squirrel was on the curved bough of the oak,
the one that projects toward the north."
"You assume a good deal to say that it was a squirrel and surely mind not
eye would select the particular bough on which he sat."
"No, Dagaeoga, eye served the whole purpose. All the other branches are
almost smothered in leaves, but the curved one is nearly bare. It is only
there that the casual glance of the Great Bear, who was not at that time
seeking game, would have caught sight of the squirrel. Also, he must have
been there, otherwise his body could not have fallen directly beneath it,
when the bullet went through his head."
"Now tell me how your eye knows his body fell from the bough."
"Ah, Dagaeoga! Your eye was given to you for use as mine was given to me,
then you should use it; in the forest you are lost unless you do. It was my
eye that saw the unmistakable sign, the sign from which all the rest
followed. Look closely and you will detect a little spot of red on the
grass just beneath the bare bough. It was blood from the squirrel."
"You cannot be sure that it was a squirrel. It might have been a pigeon or
some other bird."
"That, O, Dagaeoga, would be the easiest of all, even for you, if you could
only use your eyes, as I bid you. Almost at your feet lies a slender bone
that cannot be anything but the backbone of a squirrel. Beyond it are two
other bones, which came from the same body. We know as certainly that it
was a squirrel as we know that the Great Bear ate first a wild goose, and
then a wild duck. But it is a good camp that those two great men made, and,
as the night is coming, we will occupy it."
They relighted the abandoned fire, warmed their food and ate, and Robert
was once more devoutly glad that he had kept the heavy buffalo robe. Deep
fog came over the mountain soon after dark, and, after a while, a fine
cold, and penetrating rain was shed from the heart of it. They kept the
fire burning and wrapped, Tayoga in his blankets, and, Robert in the robe,
crouched before it. Then they drew the logs that the Great Bear and Black
Rifle had left, in such position that they could lean their backs against
them, and slept, though not the two at the same time. They agreed that it
was wise to keep watch and Robert was sentinel first.
Tayoga, supported by the log, slept soundly, the flames illuminating his
bronze face and showing the very highest type of the Indian. Robert sat
opposite, his rifle across his knees, but covered by his blanket to protect
it from the fine rain, which was not only cold but insidious, trying to
insert itself beneath his clothing and chill his body. But he kept himself
covered so well that none reached him, and the very wildness of his
surroundings increased his sense of intense physical comfort.
He did not stir, except now and then to put a fresh chunk of wood on the
fire, and the red blaze between Tayoga and himself was for a time the
center of the world. The cold, white fog was rolling up everywhere thick
and impenetrable, and the fine rain, like a heavy dew that was distilled
from it, fell incessantly. Robert knew that it was moving up the valleys
and clothing all the peaks and ridges. He knew, too, that it would hide
them from their enemies and his sense of comfort grew with the knowledge.
But his conviction that they were safe did not make him relax caution, and,
since eye was useless in the fog, he made extreme call upon ear.
It seemed to him that the fog was a splendid conductor of sound. It brought
him the rustling of the foliage, the moaning of the light wind through the
ravines, and, at last, another sound, sharp, distinct, a discordant note in
the natural noises of the wilderness, which were always uniform and
harmonious. He heard it a second time, to his right, down the hill, and he
was quite sure that it indicated the presence of man, man who in reality
was near, but whom the fog took far away. The vapors, however, would lift,
then man might come close, and he felt that it was his part to discover who
and what he was.
Still wrapped in the buffalo robe, he rose and took a few steps from the
fire. Tayoga did not stir, and he was proud that his tread had been without
noise. Beyond the rim of firelight, he paused and listening again heard the
clank twice, not very loud but coming sharp and definite as before through
the vapory air. He parted the bushes very carefully and went down the side
of a ravine, the wet boughs and twigs making no noise as they closed up
after his passage.
But his progress was very slow, purposely so, as he knew that any mistake
or accident might be fatal, and he intended that no fault of his should
precipitate such a crisis. Once or twice he thought of going back, deeming
his a foolish quest, lost in a wilderness of bushes and blinding fog, but
the sharp, clear clank stirred his purpose anew, and he went on down the
slope, until he saw a red glow in the heart of the fog. Then he sank down
among the bushes and listened with intentness. Presently the faint hum of
voices came to his ear, and he was quite sure that many men were not far
He resumed his slow advance, but now he was glad the bushes were soaked
with water, as they did not crackle or snap with the passage of his body,
and the luminous glow in front of him broadened and deepened steadily. Near
the bottom of a deep valley he stopped and from his covert saw where great
fires had driven the fog away. Around the fires were many warriors, some of
them sleeping in their blankets, while others were eating prodigiously,
after their manner. Rifles and muskets were stacked in French fashion and
the clank, clank that Robert had heard had been made by the warriors as
they put up their weapons.
Many were talking freely and seemed to rejoice in the food and fires. It
was Robert's surmise that they had arrived but recently and were weary.
Their numbers were large, they certainly could not be less than four or
five hundred, and his experience was great enough now to tell him that half
of them, at least, were Canadian Indians. All were in war paint, and they
had an abundance of arms.
Robert's eager eye sought Tandakora, but did not find him. He had no doubt,
however, that this great body of warriors was moving against Rogers and his
rangers, and that it would soon be joined by the Ojibway chief. Tandakora,
anxious for revenge upon the Great Bear and the Mountain Wolf, would be