Part 1 out of 7
The Scouts of the Valley
by Joseph A. Altsheler
THE LONE CANOE
A light canoe of bark, containing a single human figure, moved
swiftly up one of the twin streams that form the Ohio. The
water, clear and deep, coming through rocky soil, babbled gently
at the edges, where it lapped the land, but in the center the
full current flowed steadily and without noise.
The thin shadows of early dusk were falling, casting a pallid
tint over the world, a tint touched here and there with living
fire from the sun, which was gone, though leaving burning embers
behind. One glowing shaft, piercing straight through the heavy
forest that clothed either bank, fell directly upon the figure in
the boat, as a hidden light illuminates a great picture, while
the rest is left in shadow. It was no common forest runner who
sat in the middle of the red beam. Yet a boy, in nothing but
years, he swung the great paddle with an ease and vigor that the
strongest man in the West might have envied. His rifle, with the
stock carved beautifully, and the long, slender blue barrel of
the border, lay by his side. He could bring the paddle into the
boat, grasp the rifle, and carry it to his shoulder with a
single, continuous movement.
His most remarkable aspect, one that the casual observer even
would have noticed, was an extraordinary vitality. He created in
the minds of those who saw him a feeling that he lived intensely
every moment of his life. Born and-bred in the forest, he was
essentially its child, a perfect physical being, trained by the
utmost hardship and danger, and with every faculty, mental and
physical, in complete coordination. It is only by a singular
combination of time and place, and only once in millions of
chances, that Nature produces such a being.
The canoe remained a few moments in the center of the red light,
and its occupant, with a slight swaying motion of the paddle,
held it steady in the current, while he listened. Every feature
stood out in the glow, the firm chin, the straight strong nose,
the blue eyes, and the thick yellow hair. The red blue, and
yellow beads on his dress of beautifully tanned deerskin flashed
in the brilliant rays. He was the great picture of fact, not of
fancy, a human being animated by a living, dauntless soul.
He gave the paddle a single sweep and shot from the light into
the shadow. His canoe did not stop until it grazed the northern
shore, where bushes and overhanging boughs made a deep shadow.
It would have taken a keen eye now to have seen either the canoe
or its occupant, and Henry Ware paddled slowly and without noise
in the darkest heart of the shadow.
The sunlight lingered a little longer in the center of the
stream. Then the red changed to pink. The pink, in its turn,
faded, and the whole surface of the river was somber gray,
flowing between two lines of black forest.
The coming of the darkness did not stop the boy. He swung a
little farther out into the stream, where the bushes and hanging
boughs would not get in his way, and continued his course with
some increase of speed.
The great paddle swung swiftly through the water, and the length
of stroke was amazing, but the boy's breath did not come faster,
and the muscles on his arms and shoulders rippled as if it were
the play of a child. Henry was in waters unknown to him. He had
nothing more than hearsay upon which to rely, and he used all the
wilderness caution that he had acquired through nature and
training. He called into use every faculty of his perfect
physical being. His trained eyes continually pierced the
darkness. At times, he stopped and listened with ears that could
hear the footfall of the rabbit, but neither eye nor ear brought
report of anything unusual. The river flowed with a soft,
sighing sound. Now and then a wild creature stirred in the
forest, and once a deer came down to the margin to drink, but
this was the ordinary life of the woods, and he passed it by.
He went on, hour after hour. The river narrowed. The banks grew
higher and rockier, and the water, deep and silvery under the
moon, flowed in a somewhat swifter current. Henry gave a little
stronger sweep to the paddle, and the speed of the canoe was
maintained. He still kept within the shadow of the northern
He noticed after a while that fleecy vapor was floating before
the moon. The night seemed to be darkening, and a rising wind
came out of the southwest. The touch of the air on, his face
was damp. It was the token of rain, and he felt that it would
not be delayed long.
It was no part of his plan to be caught in a storm on the
Monongahela. Besides the discomfort, heavy rain and wind might
sink his frail canoe, and he looked for a refuge. The river was
widening again, and the banks sank down until they were but
little above the water. Presently he saw a place that he knew
would be suitable, a stretch of thick bushes and weeds growing
into the very edge of the water, and extending a hundred yards or
more along the shore.
He pushed his canoe far into the undergrowth, and then stopped it
in shelter so close that, keen as his own eyes were, he could
scarcely see the main stream of the river. The water where he
came to rest was not more than a foot deep, but he remained in
the canoe, half reclining and wrapping closely around himself and
his rifle a beautiful blanket woven of the tightest fiber.
His position, with his head resting on the edge of the canoe and
his shoulder pressed against the side, was full of comfort to
him, and he awaited calmly whatever might come. Here and there
were little spaces among the leaves overhead, and through them he
saw a moon, now almost hidden by thick and rolling vapors, and a
sky that had grown dark and somber. The last timid star had
ceased to twinkle, and the rising wind was wet and cold. He was
glad of the blanket, and, skilled forest runner that he was, he
never traveled without it. Henry remained perfectly still. The
light canoe did not move beneath his weight the fraction of an
inch. His upturned eyes saw the little cubes of sky that showed
through the leaves grow darker and darker. The bushes about him
were now bending before the wind, which blew steadily from the
south, and presently drops of rain began to fall lightly on the
The boy, alone in the midst of all that vast wilderness,
surrounded by danger in its most cruel forms, and with a black
midnight sky above him, felt neither fear nor awe. Being what
nature and circumstance had made him, he was conscious, instead,
of a deep sense of peace and comfort. He was at ease, in a nest
for the night, and there was only the remotest possibility that
the prying eye of an enemy would see him. The leaves directly
over his head were so thick that they formed a canopy, and, as he
heard the drops fall upon them, it was like the rain on a roof,
that soothes the one beneath its shelter.
Distant lightning flared once or twice, and low thunder rolled
along the southern horizon, but both soon ceased, and then a
rain, not hard, but cold and persistent, began to fall, coming
straight down. Henry saw that it might last all night, but he
merely eased himself a little in the canoe, drew the edges of the
blanket around his chin, and let his eyelids droop.
The rain was now seeping through the leafy canopy of green, but
he did not care. It could not penetrate the close fiber of the
blanket, and the fur cap drawn far down on his head met the
blanket. Only his face was uncovered, and when a cold drop fell
upon it, it was to him, hardened by forest life, cool and
pleasant to the touch.
Although the eyelids still drooped, he did not yet feel the
tendency to sleep. It was merely a deep, luxurious rest, with
the body completely relaxed, but with the senses alert. The wind
ceased to blow, and the rain came down straight with an even beat
that was not unmusical. No other sound was heard in the forest,
as the ripple of the river at the edges was merged into it.
Henry began to feel the desire for sleep by and by, and, laying
the paddle across the boat in such a way that it sheltered his
face, he closed his eyes. In five minutes he would have been
sleeping as soundly as a man in a warm bed under a roof, but with
a quick motion he suddenly put the paddle aside and raised
himself a little in the canoe, while one hand slipped down under
the folds of the blanket to the hammer of his rifle.
His ear had told him in time that there was a new sound on the
river. He heard it faintly above the even beat of the rain, a
soft sound, long and sighing, but regular. He listened, and then
he knew it. It was made by oars, many of them swung in unison,
keeping admirable time.
Henry did not yet feel fear, although it must be a long boat full
of Indian warriors, as it was not likely, that anybody else would
be abroad upon these waters at such a time. He made no attempt
to move. Where he lay it was black as the darkest cave, and his
cool judgment told him that there was no need of flight.
The regular rhythmic beat of the oars came nearer, and presently
as he looked through the covert of leaves the dusky outline of a
great war canoe came into view. It contained at least twenty
warriors, of what tribe he could not tell, but they were wet, and
they looked cold and miserable. Soon they were opposite him, and
he saw the outline of every figure. Scalp locks drooped in the
rain, and he knew that the warriors, hardy as they might be, were
Henry expected to see the long boat pass on, but it was turned
toward a shelving bank fifty or sixty yards below, and they
beached it there. Then all sprang out, drew it up on the land,
and, after turning it over, propped it up at an angle. When this
was done they sat under it in a close group, sheltered from the
rain. They were using their great canoe as a roof, after the
habit of Shawnees and Wyandots.
The boy watched them for a long time through one of the little
openings in the bushes, and he believed that they would remain as
they were all night, but presently he saw a movement among them,
and a little flash of light. He understood it. They were trying
to kindle a fire-with flint and steel, under the shelter of the
boat. He continued to watch them 'lazily and without alarm.
Their fire, if they succeeded in making it, would cast no light
upon him in the dense covert, but they would be outlined against
the flame, and he could see them better, well enough, perhaps, to
tell to what tribe they belonged.
He watched under his lowered eyelids while the warriors, gathered
in a close group to make a shelter from stray puffs of wind,
strove with flint and steel. Sparks sprang up and went out, but
Henry at last saw a little blaze rise and cling to life. Then,
fed with tinder and bark, it grew under the roof made by the boat
until it was ruddy and strong. The boat was tilted farther back,
and the fire, continuing to grow, crackled cheerfully, while the
flames leaped higher.
By a curious transfer of the senses, Henry, as he lay in the
thick blackness felt the influence of the fire, also. Its warmth
was upon his face, and it was pleasing to see the red and yellow
light victorious against the sodden background of the rain and
dripping forest. The figures of the warriors passed and repassed
before the fire, and the boy in the boat moved suddenly. His
body was not shifted more than an inch, but his surprise was
A warrior stood between him and the fire, outlined perfectly
against the red light. It was a splendid figure, young, much
beyond the average height, the erect and noble head crowned with
the defiant scalplock, the strong, slightly curved nose and the
massive chin cut as clearly as if they had been carved in copper.
The man who had laid aside a wet blanket was bare now to the
waist, and Henry could see the powerful muscles play on chest and
shoulders as he moved.
The boy knew him. It was Timmendiquas, the great White Lightning
of the Wyandots, the youngest, but the boldest and ablest of all
the Western chiefs. Henry's pulses leaped a little at the sight
of his old foe and almost friend. As always, he felt admiration
at the sight of the young chief. It was not likely that he would
ever behold such another magnificent specimen of savage manhood.
The presence of Timmendiquas so far east was also full of
significance. The great fleet under Adam Colfax, and with Henry
and his comrades in the van, had reached Pittsburgh at last.
Thence the arms, ammunition, and other supplies were started on
the overland journey for the American army, but the five lingered
before beginning the return to Kentucky. A rumor came that the
Indian alliance was spreading along the entire frontier, both
west and north. It was said that Timmendiquas, stung to fiery
energy by his defeats, was coming east to form a league with the
Iroquois, the famous Six Nations. These warlike tribes were
friendly with the Wyandots, and the league would be a formidable
danger to the Colonies, the full strength of which was absorbed
already in the great war.
But the report was a new call of battle to Henry, Shif'less Sol,
and the others. The return to Kentucky was postponed. They
could be of greater service here, and they plunged into the great
woods to the north and, east to see what might be stirring among
Now Henry, as be looked at Timmendiquas, knew that report had
told the truth. The great chief would not be on the fringe of
the Iroquois country, if be did not have such a plan, and he had
the energy and ability to carry it through. Henry shuddered at
the thought of the tomahawk flashing along every mile of a
frontier so vast, and defended so thinly. He was glad in every
fiber that he and his comrades had remained to hang upon the
Indian hordes, and be heralds of their marches. In the forest a
warning usually meant the saving of life.
The rain ceased after a while, although water dripped from the
trees everywhere. But the big fire made an area of dry earth
about it, and the warriors replaced the long boat in the water.
Then all but four or five of them lay beside the coals and went
to sleep. Timmendiquas was one of those who remained awake, and
Henry saw that he was in deep thought. He walked back and forth
much like a white man, and now and then he folded his hands
behind his back, looking toward the earth, but not seeing it.
Henry could guess what was in his mind. He would draw forth the
full power of the Six Nations, league them with the Indians of
the great valley, and hurl them all in one mass upon the
frontier. He was planning now the means to the end.
The chief, in his little walks back and forth, came close to the
edge of the bushes in which Henry lay, It was not at all probable
that he would conclude to search among them, but some accident, a
chance, might happen, and Henry began to feel a little alarm.
Certainly, the coming of the day would make his refuge insecure,
and he resolved to slip away while it was yet light.
The boy rose a little in the boat, slowly and with the utmost
caution, because the slightest sound out of the common might
arouse Timmendiquas to the knowledge of a hostile presence. The
canoe must make no plash in the water. Gradually he unwrapped
the blanket and tied it in a folded square at his back. Then he
took thought a few moments. The forest was so silent now that he
did not believe he could push the canoe through the bushes
without being heard. He would leave it there for use another day
and go on foot through the woods to his comrades.
Slowly he put one foot down the side until it rested on the
bottom, and then he remained still. The chief had paused in his
restless walk back and forth. Could it be possible that he had
heard so slight a sound as that of a human foot sinking softly
into the water? Henry waited with his rifle ready. If necessary
he would fire, and then dart away among the bushes.
Five or six intense moments passed, and the chief resumed his
restless pacing. If he had heard, he had passed it by as
nothing, and Henry raised the other foot out of the canoe. He
was as delicate in his movement as a surgeon mending the human
eye, and he had full cause, as not eye alone, but life as well,
depended upon his success. Both feet now rested upon the muddy
bottom, and he stood there clear of the boat.
The chief did not stop again, and as the fire had burned higher,
his features were disclosed more plainly in his restless walk
back and forth before the flames. Henry took a final look at the
lofty features, contracted now into a frown, then began to wade
among the bushes, pushing his way softly. This was the most
delicate and difficult task of all. The water must not be
allowed to plash around him nor the bushes to rustle as he
passed. Forward he went a yard, then two, five, ten, and his
feet were about to rest upon solid earth, when a stick submerged
in the mud broke under his moccasin with a snap singularly loud
in the silence of the night.
Henry sprang at once upon dry land, whence he cast back a single
swift glance. He saw the chief standing rigid and gazing in the
direction from which the sound had come. Other warriors were
just behind him, following his look, aware that there was an
unexpected presence in the forest, and resolved to know its
Henry ran northward. So confident was he in his powers and the
protecting darkness of the night that he sent back a sharp cry,
piercing and defiant, a cry of a quality that could come only
from a white throat. The warriors would know it, and he intended
for them to know it. Then, holding his rifle almost parallel
with his body, he darted swiftly away through the black spaces of
the forest. But an answering cry came to his, the Indian yell
taking up his challenge, and saying that the night would not
Henry maintained his swift pace for a long time, choosing the
more open places that he might make no noise among the bushes and
leaves. Now and then water dripped in his face, and his
moccasins were wet from the long grass, but his body was warm and
dry, and he felt little weariness. The clouds were now all gone,
and the stars sprang out, dancing in a sky of dusky blue.
Trained eyes could see far in the forest despite the night, and
Henry felt that he must be wary. He recalled the skill and
tenacity of Timmendiquas. A fugitive could scarcely be trailed
in the darkness, but the great chief would spread out his forces
like a fan and follow.
He had been running perhaps three hours when he concluded to stop
in a thicket, where he lay down on the damp grass, and rested
with his head under his arm.
His breath had been coming a little faster, but his heart now
resumed its regular beat. Then he heard a soft sound, that of
footsteps. He thought at first that some wild animal was
prowling near, but second thought convinced him that human beings
had come. Gazing through the thicket, he saw an Indian warrior
walking among the trees, looking searchingly about him as if he
were a scout. Another, coming from a different direction,
approached him, and Henry felt sure that they were of the party
of Timmendiquas. They had followed him in some manner, perhaps
by chance, and it behooved Mm now to lie close.
A third warrior joined them and they began to examine the ground.
Henry realized that it was much lighter. Keen eyes under such a
starry sky could see much, and they might strike his trail. The
fear quickly became fact. One of the warriors, uttering a short
cry, raised his head and beckoned to the others. He had seen
broken twigs or trampled grass, and Henry, knowing that it was no
time to hesitate, sprang from his covert. Two of the warriors
caught a glimpse of his dusky figure and fired, the bullets
cutting the leaves close to his head, but Henry ran so fast that
he was lost to view in an instant.
The boy was conscious that his position contained many elements
of danger. He was about to have another example of the tenacity
and resource of the great young chief of the Wyandots, and he
felt a certain anger. He, did not wish to be disturbed in his
plans, he wished to rejoin his comrades and move farther east
toward the chosen lands of the Six Nations; instead, he must
spend precious moments running for his life.
Henry did not now flee toward the camp of his friends. He was
too wise, too unselfish, to bring a horde down upon them, and he
curved away in a course that would take him to the south of them.
He glanced up and saw that the heavens were lightening yet more.
A thin gray color like a mist was appearing in the east. It was
the herald of day, and now the Indians would be able to find his
trail. But Henry was not afraid. His anger over the loss of
time quickly passed, and he ran swiftly on, the fall of his
moccasins making scarcely any noise as be passed.
It was no unusual incident. Thousands of such pursuits occurred
in the border life of our country, and were lost to the
chronicler. For generations they were almost a part of the daily
life of the frontier, but the present, while not out of the
common in itself, had, uncommon phases. It was the most splendid
type of white life in all the wilderness that fled, and the
finest type of red life that followed.
It was impossible for Henry to feel anger or hate toward
Timmendiquas. In his place he would have done what he was doing.
It was hard to give up these great woods and beautiful lakes and
rivers, and the wild life that wild men lived and loved. There
was so much chivalry in the boy's nature that he could think of
all these things while he fled to escape the tomahawk or the
Up came the sun. The gray light turned to silver, and then to
red and blazing gold. A long, swelling note, the triumphant cry
of the pursuing warriors, rose behind him. Henry turned his head
for one look. He saw a group of them poised for a moment on the
crest of a low hill and outlined against the broad flame in the
east. He saw their scalp locks, the rifles in their hands, and
their bare chests shining bronze in the glow. Once more he sent
back his defiant cry, now in answer to theirs, and then, calling
upon his reserves of strength and endurance, fled with a speed
that none of the warriors had ever seen surpassed.
Henry's flight lasted all that day, and he used every device to
evade the pursuit, swinging by vines, walking along fallen logs,
and wading in brooks. He did not see the warriors again, but
instinct warned him that they were yet following. At long
intervals he would rest for a quarter of an hour or so among the
bushes, and at noon he ate a little of the venison that he always
carried. Three hours later he came to the river again, and
swimming it he turned on his course, but kept to the southern
side. When the twilight was falling once more he sat still in
dense covert for a long time. He neither saw nor heard a sign of
human presence, and he was sure now that the pursuit had failed.
Without an effort he dismissed it from his mind, ate a little
more of the venison, and made his bed for the night.
The whole day had been bright, with a light wind blowing, and the
forest was dry once more. As far as Henry could see it circled
away on every side, a solid dark green, the leaves of oak and
beech, maple and elm making a soft, sighing sound as they waved
gently in the wind. It told Henry of nothing but peace. He had
eluded the pursuit, hence it was no more. This was a great,
friendly forest, ready to shelter him, to soothe him, and to
receive him into its arms for peaceful sleep.
He found a place among thick trees where the leaves of last year
lay deep upon the ground. He drew up enough of them for a soft
bed, because now and for the moment he was a forest sybarite. He
was wise enough to take his ease when he found it, knowing that
it would pay his body to relax.
He lay down upon the leaves, placed the rifle by his side, and
spread the blanket over himself and the weapon. The twilight was
gone, and the night, dark and without stars, as he wished to see
it, rolled up, fold after fold, covering and hiding everything.
He looked a little while at a breadth of inky sky showing through
the leaves, and then, free from trouble or fear, he fell asleep.
THE MYSTERIOUS HAND
Henry slept until a rosy light, filtering through the leaves,
fell upon his face. Then he sprang up, folded the blanket once
more upon his back, and looked about him. Nothing had come in
the night to disturb him, no enemy was near, and the morning sun
was bright and beautiful. The venison was exhausted, but he
bathed his face in the brook and resumed his journey, traveling
with a long, swift stride that carried him at great speed.
The boy was making for a definite point, one that he knew well,
although nearly all the rest of this wilderness was strange to
him. The country here was rougher than it usually is in the
great valley to the west, and as he advanced it became yet more
broken, range after range of steep, stony hills, with fertile but
narrow little valleys between. He went on without hesitation for
at least two hours, and then stopping under a great oak he
uttered a long, whining cry, much like the howl of a wolf.
It was not a loud note, but it was singularly penetrating,
carrying far through the forest. A sound like an echo came back,
but Henry knew that instead of an echo it was a reply to his own
signal. Then he advanced boldly and swiftly and came to the edge
of a snug little valley set deep among rocks and trees like a
bowl. He stopped behind the great trunk of a beech, and looked
into the valley with a smile of approval.
Four human figures were seated around a fire of smoldering coals
that gave forth no smoke. They appeared to be absorbed in some
very pleasant task, and a faint odor that came to Henry's
nostrils filled him with agreeable anticipations. He stepped
forward boldly and called:
"Jim, save that piece for me!"
Long Jim Hart halted in mid-air the large slice of venison that
he had toasted on a stick. Paul Cotter sprang joyfully to his
feet, Silent Tom Ross merely looked up, but Shif'less Sol said:
"Thought Henry would be here in time for breakfast."
Henry walked down in the valley, and the shiftless one regarded
"I should judge, Henry Ware, that you've been hevin' a foot
race," he drawled.
"And why do you think that?" asked Henry.
"I kin see where the briars hev been rakin' across your leggins.
Reckon that wouldn't happen, 'less you was in a pow'ful hurry."
"You're right," said Henry. "Now, Jim, you've been holding that
venison in the air long enough. Give it to me, and after I've
eaten it I'll tell you all that I've been doing, and all that's
been done to me."
Long Jim handed him the slice. Henry took a comfortable seat in
the circle before the coals, and ate with all the appetite of a
powerful human creature whose food had been more than scanty for
at least two days.
"Take another piece," said Long Jim, observing him with approval.
"Take two pieces, take three, take the whole deer. I always like
to see a hungry man eat. It gives him sech satisfaction that I
git a kind uv taste uv it myself."
Henry did not offer a word 'of explanation until his breakfast
was over. Then lie leaned back, sighing twice with deep content,
"Boys, I've got a lot to tell."
Shif'less Sol moved into an easier position on the leaves.
"I guess it has somethin' to do with them scratches on your
"It has," continued Henry with emphasis," and I want to say to
you boys that I've seen Timmendiquas, the great White Lightning
of the Wyandots."
"Timmendiquas!" exclaimed the others together.
"No less a man than he," resumed Henry. " I've looked upon his
very face, I've seen him in camp with warriors, and I've had the
honor of being pursued by him and his men more hours than I can
tell. That's why you see those briar scratches on my leggins,
"Then we cannot doubt that he is here to stir the Six Nations to
continued war," said Paul Cotter, "and he will succeed. He is a
mighty chief, and his fire and eloquence will make them take up
the hatchet. I'm glad that we've come. We delayed a league once
between the Shawnees and the Miamis; I don't think we can stop
this one, but we may get some people out of the way before the
"Who are these Six Nations, whose name sounds so pow'ful big up
here?" asked Long Jim.
"Their name is as big as it sounds," replied Henry. They are the
Onondagas, the Mohawks, Oneidas, Senecas, Cayugas, and
Tuscaroras. They used to be the Five Nations, but the Tuscaroras
came up from the south and fought against them so bravely that
they were adopted into the league, as a new and friendly tribe.
The Onondagas, so I've heard, formed the league a long, long time
ago, and their head chief is the grand sachem or high priest of
them all, but the head chief of the Mohawks is the leading war
"I've heard," said Paul, "that the Wyandots are kinsmen of all
these tribes, and on that account they will listen with all the
more friendliness to Timmendiquas."
"Seems to me," said Tom Ross, "that we've got a most
tre-men-je-ous big job ahead."
"Then," said Henry, "we must make a most tremendous big effort."
"That's so," agreed all.
After that they spoke little. The last coals were covered up,
and the remainder of the food was put in their pouches. Then
they sat on the leaves, and every one meditated until such time
as he might have something worth saying. Henry's thoughts
traveled on a wide course, but they always came back to one
point. They had heard much at Pittsburgh of a famous Mohawk
chief called Thayendanegea, but most often known to the Americans
as Brant. He was young, able, and filled with intense animosity
against the white people, who encroached, every year, more and
more upon the Indian hunting grounds. His was a soul full kin to
that of Timmendiquas, ;and if the two met it meant a great
council and a greater endeavor for the undoing of the white man.
What more likely than that they intended to meet?
"All of you have heard of Thayendanegea, the Mohawk?" said Henry.
"It's my opinion that Timmendiquas is on the way to meet him. I
remember hearing a hunter say at Pittsburgh that about a hundred
miles to the east of this point was a Long House or Council House
of the Six Nations. Timmendiquas is sure to go there, and we
must go, too. We must find out where they intend to strike.
What do you say?"
"We go there!" exclaimed four voices together.
Seldom has a council of war been followed by action so promptly.
As Henry spoke the last word he rose, and tile others rose with
him. Saying no more, he led toward the east, and the others
followed him, also saying no more. Separately every one of them
was strong, brave, and resourceful, but when the five were
together they felt that they had the skill and strength of
twenty. The long rest at Pittsburgh had restored them after the
dangers and hardship of their great voyage from New Orleans.
They carried in horn and pouch ample supplies of powder and
bullet, and they did not fear any task.
Their journey continued through hilly country, clothed in heavy
forest, but often without undergrowth. They avoided the open
spaces, preferring to be seen of men, who were sure to be red
men, as little as possible. Their caution was well taken. They
saw Indian signs, once a feather that had fallen from a scalp
lock, once footprints, and once the bone of a deer recently
thrown away by him who had eaten the meat from it. The country
seemed to be as wild as that of Kentucky. Small settlements, so
they had heard, were scattered at great distances through the
forest, but they saw none. There was no cabin smoke, no trail of
the plow, just the woods and the hills and the clear streams.
Buffalo had never reached this region, but deer were abundant,
and they risked a shot to replenish their supplies.
They camped the second night of their march on a little peninsula
at the confluence of two creeks, with the deep woods everywhere.
Henry judged that they were well within the western range of the
Six Nations, and they cooked their deer meat over a smothered
fire, nothing more than a few coals among the leaves. When
supper was over they arranged soft places for themselves and
their blankets, all except Long Jim, whose turn it was to scout
among the woods for a possible foe.
"Don't be gone long, Jim," said Henry as he composed himself in a
comfortable position. "A circle of a half mile about us will
"I'll not be gone more'n an hour," said Long Jim, picking up his
rifle confidently, and flitting away among the woods.
" Not likely he'll see anything," said Shif'less Sol, but I'd
shorely like to know what White Lightning is about. He must be
terrible stirred up by them beatin's he got down on the Ohio, an'
they say that Mohawk, Thayendanegea is a whoppin' big chief, too.
They'll shorely make a heap of trouble."
"But both of them are far from here just now," said Henry, "and
we won't bother about either."
He was lying on some leaves at the foot of a tree with his arm
under his head and his blanket over his body. He had a
remarkable capacity for dismissing trouble or apprehension, and
just then he was enjoying great physical and mental peace. He
looked through half closed eyes at his comrades, who also were
enjoying repose, and his fancy could reproduce Long Jim in the
forest, slipping from tree to tree and bush to bush, and finding
"Feels good, doesn't it, Henry?" said the shiftless one. " I like
a clean, bold country like this. No more plowin' around in
swamps for me."
Yes," said Henry sleepily, " it's a good country."
The hour slipped smoothly by, and Paul said:
" Time for Long Jim to be back."
"Jim don't do things by halves," said the shiftless one. "Guess
he's beatin' up every squar' inch o' the bushes. He'll be here
A quarter of an hour passed, and Long Jim did not return; a half
hour, and no sign of him. Henry cast off the blanket and stood
up. The night was not very dark and he could see some distance,
but he did not see their comrade.
"I wonder why he's so slow," he said with a faint trace of
"He'll be 'long directly," said Tom Ross with confidence.
Another quarter of an hour, and no Long Jim. Henry sent forth
the low penetrating cry of the wolf that they used so often as a
"He cannot fail to hear that," he said, "and he'll answer."
No answer came. The four looked at one another in alarm. Long
Jim had been gone nearly two hours, and he was long overdue. His
failure to reply to the signal indicated either that something
ominous had happened or that- he had gone much farther than they
meant for him to go.
The others had risen to their feet, also, and they stood a little
while in silence.
"What do you think it means?" asked Paul.
"It must be all right," said Shif'less Sol. "Mebbe Jim has lost
Henry shook his head.
"It isn't that," he said. "Jim is too good a woodsman for such a
mistake. I don't want to look on the black side, boys, but I
think something has happened to Jim."
"Suppose you an' me go an' look for him," said Shif'less Sol,
"while Paul and Tom stay here an' keep house."
"We'd better do it," said Henry. "Come, Sol."
The two, rifles in the hollows of their arms, disappeared in the
darkness, while Tom and Paul withdrew into the deepest shadow of
the trees and waited.
Henry and the shiftless one pursued an anxious quest, going about
the camp in a great circle and then in another yet greater. They
did not find Jim, and the dusk was so great that they saw no
evidences of his trail. Long Jim had disappeared as completely
as if he had left the earth for another planet. When they felt
that they must abandon the search for the time, Henry and
Shif'less Sol looked at each other in a dismay that the dusk
could not hide.
"Mebbe be saw some kind uv a sign, an' has followed it," said the
shiftless one hopefully. "If anything looked mysterious an'
troublesome, Jim would want to hunt it down."
"I hope so," said Henry, "but we've got to go back to the camp
now and report failure. Perhaps he'll show up to-morrow, but I
don't like it, Sol, I don't like it!"
"No more do I," said Shif'less Sol. "'Tain't like Jim not to
come back, ef he could. Mebbe he'll drop in afore day, anyhow."
They returned to the camp, and two inquiring figures rose up out
of the darkness.
"You ain't seen him?" said Tom, noting that but two figures had
"Not a trace," replied Henry. "It's a singular thing."
The four talked together a little while, and they were far from
cheerful. Then three sought sleep, while Henry stayed on watch,
sitting with his back against a tree and his rifle on his knees.
All the peace and content that be had felt earlier in the evening
were gone. He was oppressed by a sense of danger, mysterious and
powerful. It did not seem possible that Long Jim could have gone
away in such a noiseless manner, leaving no trace behind. But it
He watched with both ear and eye as much for Long Jim as for an
enemy. He was still hopeful that he would see the long, thin
figure coming among the bushes, and then hear the old pleasant
drawl. But he did not see the figure, nor did he hear the drawl.
Time passed with the usual slow step when one watches. Paul,
Sol, and Tom were asleep, but Henry was never wider awake in his
life. He tried to put away the feeling of mystery and danger.
He assured himself that Long Jim would soon come, delayed by some
trail that he had sought to solve. Nothing could have happened
to a man so brave and skillful. His nerves must be growing weak
when he allowed himself to be troubled so much by a delayed
But the new hours came, one by one, and Long Jim came with none
of them. The night remained fairly light, with a good moon, but
the light that it threw over the forest was gray and uncanny.
Henry's feeling of mystery and danger deepened. Once he thought
he heard a rustling in the thicket and, finger on the trigger of
his rifle, he stole among the bushes to discover what caused it.
He found nothing and, returning to his lonely watch, saw that
Paul, Sol, and Tom were still sleeping soundly. But Henry was
annoyed greatly by the noise, and yet more by his failure to
trace its origin. After an hour's watching he looked a second
time. The result was once more in vain, and he resumed his seat
upon the leaves, with his back reclining against an oak. Here,
despite the fact that the night was growing darker, nothing
within range of a rifle shot could escape his eyes.
Nothing stirred. The noise did not come a second time from the
thicket. The very silence was oppressive. There was no wind,
not even a stray puff, and the bushes never rustled. Henry
longed for a noise of some kind to break that terrible,
oppressive silence. What he really wished to hear was the soft
crunch of Long Jim's moccasins on the grass and leaves.
The night passed, the day came, and Henry awakened his comrades.
Long Jim was still missing and their alarm was justified.
Whatever trail lie might have struck, he would have returned in
the night unless something had happened to him. Henry had vague
theories, but nothing definite, and he kept them to himself. Yet
they must make a change in their plans. To go on and leave Long
Jim to whatever fate might be his was unthinkable. No task could
interfere with the duty of the five to one another.
"We are in one of the most dangerous of all the Indian
countries," said Henry. "We are on the fringe of the region over
which the Six Nations roam, and we know that Timmendiquas and a
band of the Wyandots are here also. Perhaps Miamis and Shawnees
have come, too."
"We've got to find Long Jim," said Silent Tom briefly.
They went about their task in five minutes. Breakfast consisted
of cold venison and a drink from a brook. Then they began to
search the forest. They felt sure that such woodsmen as they,
with the daylight to help them, would find some trace of Long
Jim, but they saw none at all, although they constantly widened
their circle, and again tried all their signals. Half the
forenoon passed in the vain search, and then they held a council.
I think we'd better scatter," said Shif'less Sol, "an' meet here
again when the sun marks noon."
It was agreed, and they took careful note of the place, a little
hill crowned with a thick cluster of black oaks, a landmark easy
to remember. Henry turned toward the south, and the forest was
so dense that in two minutes all his comrades were lost to sight.
He went several miles, and his search was most rigid. He was
amazed to find that the sense of mystery and danger that he
attributed to the darkness of the night did not disappear wholly
in the bright daylight. His spirit, usually so optimistic, was
oppressed by it, and he had no belief that they would find Long
At the set time he returned to the little hill crowned with the
black oaks, and as he approached it from one side he saw
Shif'less Sol coming from another. The shiftless one walked
despondently. His gait was loose and shambling-a rare thing with
him, and Henry knew that he, too, had failed. He realized now
that he had not expected anything else. Shif'less Sol shook
his head, sat down on a root and said nothing. Henry sat down,
also, and tile two exchanged a look of discouragement.
"The others will be here directly," said Henry, "and perhaps Long
Jim will be with one of them."
But in his heart he knew that it would not be so, and the
shiftless one knew that he had no confidence in his own words.
" If not," said Henry, resolved to see the better side, we'll
stay anyhow until we find him. We can't spare good old Long
Shif'less Sol did not reply, nor did Henry speak again, until lie
saw the bushes moving slightly three or four hundred yards away.
"There comes Tom," he said, after a single comprehensive glance,
"and he's alone."
Tom Ross was also a dejected figure. He looked at the two on the
hill, and, seeing that the man for whom they were searching was
not with them, became more dejected than before.
"Paul's our last chance," he said, as he joined them. He's
gen'rally a lucky boy, an' mebbe it will be so with him to-day."
I hope so," said Henry fervently. " He ought to be along in a
They waited patiently, although they really had no belief that
Paul would bring in the missing man, but Paul was late. The noon
hour was well past. Henry took a glance at the sun. Noon was
gone at least a half hour, and he stirred uneasily.
"Paul couldn't get lost in broad daylight," he said.
"No," said Shif'less Sol, "he couldn't get lost!"
Henry noticed his emphasis on the word "lost," and a sudden fear
sprang up in his heart. Some power had taken away Long Jim;
could the same power have seized Paul? It was a premonition, and
he paled under his brown, turning away lest the others see his
face. All three now examined the whole circle of the horizon for
a sight of moving bushes that would tell of the boy's coming.
The forest told nothing. The sun blazed brightly over
everything, and Paul, like Long Jim, did not come. He was an
hour past due, and the three, oppressed already by Long jim's
disappearance, were convinced that he would not return. But they
gave him a half hour longer. Then Henry said:
"We must hunt for him, but we must not separate. Whatever
happens we three must stay together."
I'm not hankerin' to roam 'roun jest now all by myself," said the
shiftless one, with an uneasy laugh.
The three hunted all that afternoon for Paul. Once they saw
trace of footsteps, apparently his, in some soft earth, but they
were quickly, lost on hard ground, and after that there was
nothing. They stopped shortly before sunset at the edge of a
narrow but deep creek.
"What do you think of it, Henry?" asked Shif'less Sol.
"I don't know what to think," replied the youth, "but it seems to
me that whatever took away Jim has taken away Paul, also."
"Looks like it," said Sol, "an' I guess it follers that we're in
the same kind o' danger."
"We three of us could put up a good fight," said Henry, " and I
propose that we don't go back to that camp, but spend the night
"Yes, an' watch good," said Tom Ross.
Their new camp was made quickly in silence, merely the grass
under the low boughs of a tree. Their supper was a little
venison, and then they watched the coming of the. darkness. It
was a heavy hour for the three. Long Jim was gone, and then
Paul-Paul, the youngest, and, in a way, the pet of the little
"Ef we could only know how it happened," whispered Shif'less Sol,
"then we might rise up an' fight the danger an' git Paul an' Jim
back. But you can't shoot at somethin' you don't see or hear.
In all them fights o' ours, on the Ohio an' Mississippi we knowed
what wuz ag'inst us, but here we don't know nothin'."
" It is true, Sol," sighed Henry. "We were making such big
plans, too, and before we can even start our force is cut nearly
in half. To-morrow we'll begin the hunt again. We'll never
desert Paul and Jim, so long as we don't know they're dead."
"It's my watch," said Tom. "You two sleep. We've got to keep
Henry and the shiftless one acquiesced, and seeking the softest
spots under the tree sat down. Tom Ross took his place about ten
feet in front of them, sitting on the ground, with his hands
clasped around his knees, and his rifle resting on his arm.
Henry watched him idly for a little while, thinking all the time
of his lost comrades. The night promised to be dark, a good
thing for them, as the need of hiding was too evident.
Shif'less Sol soon fell asleep, as Henry, only three feet away,
knew by his soft and regular breathing, but the boy himself was
The darkness seemed to sink down like a great blanket dropping
slowly, and the area of Henry's vision narrowed to a small
circle. Within this area the distinctive object was the figure
of Tom Ross, sitting with his rifle across his knees. Tom had an
infinite capacity for immobility. Henry had never seen another
man, not even an Indian, who could remain so long in one position
contented and happy. He believed that the silent one could sit
as he was all night.
His surmise about Tom began to have a kind of fascination for
him. Would he remain absolutely still? He would certainly shift
an arm or a leg. Henry's interest in the question kept him
awake. He turned silently on the other side, but, no matter how
intently he studied the sitting figure of his comrade, he could
not see it stir. He did not know how long he had been awake,
trying thus to decide a question that should be of no importance
at such a time. Although unable to sleep, be fell into a dreamy
condition, and continued vaguely to watch the rigid and silent
He suddenly saw Tom stir, and he came from his state of languor.
The exciting question was solved at last. The man would not sit
all night absolutely immovable. There could be no doubt of the
fact that he had raised an arm, and that his figure had
straightened. Then he stood up, full height, remained motionless
for perhaps ten seconds, and then suddenly glided away among the
Henry knew what this meant. Tom had heard something moving in
the thickets, and, like a good sentinel, be had gone to
investigate. A rabbit, doubtless, or perhaps a sneaking raccoon.
Henry rose to a sitting position, and drew his own rifle across
his knees. He would watch while Tom was gone, and then lie would
sink quietly back, not letting his comrade know that lie had
taken his place.
The faintest of winds began to stir among the thickets. Light
clouds drifted before the moon. Henry, sitting with his rifle
across his knees, and Shif'less Sol, asleep in the shadows, were
invisible, but Henry saw beyond the circle of darkness that
enveloped them into the grayish light that fell over the bushes.
He marked the particular point at which he expected Tom Ross to
appear, a slight opening that held out invitation for the passage
of a man.
He waited a long time, ten minutes, twenty, a half hour, and the
sentinel did not return. Henry came abruptly out of his dreamy
state. He felt with all the terrible thrill of certainty that
what happened to Long Jim and Paul had happened also to Silent
Tom Ross. He stood erect, a tense, tall figure, alarmed, but not
afraid. His eyes searched the thickets, but saw nothing. The
slight movement of the bushes was made by the wind, and no other
sound reached his ears.
But he might be mistaken after all! The most convincing
premonitions were sometimes wrong! He would give Tom ten minutes
more, and he sank down in a crouching position, where he would
offer the least target for the eye.
The appointed time passed, and neither sight nor sound revealed
any sign of Tom Ross. Then Henry awakened Shif'less Sol, and
whispered to him all that he had seen.
"Whatever took Jim and Paul has took him," whispered the
shiftless one at once.
"An' we're bound to look for him right now," continued Shif'less
" Yes," said Henry, " but we must stay together. If we follow
the others, Sol, we must follow 'em together."
It would be safer," said Sol. " I've an idee that we won't find
Tom, an' I want to tell you, Henry, this thing is gittin' on my
It was certainly on Henry's, also, but without reply he led the
way into the bushes, and they sought long and well for Silent
Tom, keeping at the same time a thorough watch for any danger
that might molest themselves. But no danger showed, nor did they
find Tom or his trail. He, too, had vanished into nothingness,
and Henry and Sol, despite their mental strength, felt cold
shivers. They came back at last, far toward morning, to the bank
of the creek. It was here as elsewhere a narrow but deep stream
flowing between banks so densely wooded that they were almost
"It will be daylight soon," said Shif'less Sol, "an' I think we'd
better lay low in thicket an' watch. It looks ez ef we couldn't
find anything, so we'd better wait an' see what will find us."
"It looks like the best plan to me," said Henry, " but I think we
might first hunt a while on the other side of the creek. We
haven't looked any over there."
"That's so," replied Shif'less Sol, "but the water is at least
seven feet deep here, an' we don't want to make any splash
swimmin'. Suppose you go up stream, an' I go down, an' the one
that finds a ford first kin give a signal. One uv us ought to
strike shallow water in three or four hundred yards."
Henry followed the current toward the south, while Sol moved up
the stream. The boy went cautiously through the dense foliage,
and the creek soon grew wider and shallower. At a distance of
about three hundred yards lie came to a point where it could be
waded easily. Then he uttered the low cry that was their signal,
and went back to meet Shif'less Sol. He reached the exact point
at which they had parted, and waited. The shiftless one did not
come. The last of his comrades was gone, and he was alone in the
THE HUT ON THE ISLET
Henry Ware waited at least a quarter of an hour by the creek on
the exact spot at which he and Solomon Hyde, called the shiftless
one, had parted, but he knew all the while that his last comrade
was not coming. The same powerful and mysterious hand that swept
the others away had taken him, the wary and cunning Shif'less
Sol, master of forest lore and with all the five senses developed
to the highest pitch. Yet his powers had availed him nothing,
and the boy again felt that cold chill running down his spine.
Henry expected the omnipotent force to come against him, also,
but his instinctive caution made him turn and creep into the
thickest of the forest, continuing until he found a place in the
bushes so thoroughly hidden that no one could see him ten feet
away. There he lay down and rapidly ran over in his mind the
events connected with the four disappearances. They were few,
and he had little on which to go, but his duty to seek his four
comrades, since he alone must do it, was all the greater. Such a
thought as deserting them and fleeing for his own life never
entered his mind. He would not only seek them, but he would
penetrate the mystery of the power that had taken them.
It was like him now to go about his work with calmness and
method. To approach an arduous task right one must possess
freshness and vigor, and one could have neither without sleep.
His present place of hiding seemed to be as secure as any that
could be found. So composing himself he took all chances and
sought slumber. Yet it needed a great effort of the will to calm
his nerves, and it was a half hour before he began to feel any of
the soothing effect that precedes sleep. But fall asleep he did
at last, and, despite everything, he slept soundly until the
Henry did not awake to a bright day. The sun had risen, but it
was obscured by gray clouds, and the whole heavens were somber.
A cold wind began to blow, and with it came drops of rain. He
shivered despite the enfolding blanket. The coming of the
morning had invariably brought cheerfulness and increase of
spirits, but now he felt depression. He foresaw heavy rain
again, and it would destroy any but the deepest trail. Moreover,
his supplies of food were exhausted and he must replenish them in
some manner before proceeding further.
A spirit even as bold and strong as Henry's might well have
despaired. He had found his comrades, only to lose them again,
and the danger that had threatened them, and the elements as
well, now threatened him, too. An acute judge of sky and air, he
knew that the rain, cold, insistent, penetrating, would fall all
day, and that he must seek shelter if he would keep his strength.
The Indians themselves always took to cover at such times.
He wrapped the blanket around himself, covering his body well
from neck to ankle, putting his rifle just inside the fold, but
with his hand upon it, ready for instant use if it should be
needed. Then he started, walking straight ahead until he came to
the crown of a little hill. The clouds meanwhile thickened, and
the rain, of the kind that he had foreseen and as cold as ice,
was blown against him. The grass and bushes were reeking, and
his moccasins became sodden. Despite the vigorous walking, lie
felt the wet cold entering his system. There come times when the
hardiest must yield, and be saw the increasing need of refuge.
He surveyed the country attentively from the low hill. All
around was a dull gray horizon from which the icy rain dripped
everywhere. There was no open country. All was forest, and the
heavy rolling masses of foliage dripped with icy water, too.
Toward the south the land seemed to dip down, and Henry surmised
that in a valley he would be more likely to find the shelter that
he craved. He needed it badly. As he stood there he shivered
again and again from head to foot, despite the folds of the
blanket. So he started at once, walking fast, and feeling little
fear of a foe. It was not likely that any would be seeking him
at such a time. The rain struck him squarely in the face now.
Water came from his moccasins every time his foot was pressed
against the earth, and, no matter how closely he drew the folds
of the blanket, little streams of it, like ice to the touch,
flowed down his neck and made their way under his clothing. He
could not remember a time when he had felt more miserable.
He came in about an hour to the dip which, as he had surmised,
was the edge of a considerable valley. He ran down the slope,
and looked all about for some place of shelter, a thick windbreak
in the lee of a hill, or an outcropping of stone, but he saw
neither, and, as he continued the search, he came to marshy
ground. He saw ahead among the weeds and bushes the gleam of
standing pools, and he was about to turn back, when he noticed
three or four stones, in a row and about a yard from one another,
projecting slightly above the black muck. It struck him that the
stones would not naturally be in the soft mud, and, his curiosity
aroused, he stepped lightly from one stone to another. When he
came to the last stone that he had seen from the hard ground he
beheld several more that had been hidden from him by the bushes.
Sure now that he had happened upon something not created by
nature alone, he followed these stones, leading like steps into
the very depths of the swamp, which was now deep and dark with
ooze all about him. He no longer doubted that the stones, the
artificial presence of which might have escaped the keenest eye
and most logical mind, were placed there for a purpose, and he
was resolved to know its nature.
The stepping stones led him about sixty yards into the swamp, and
the last thirty yards were at an angle from the first thirty.
Then he came to a bit of hard ground, a tiny islet in the mire,
upon which he could stand without sinking at all. He looked back
from there, and he could not see his point of departure. Bushes,
weeds, and saplings grew out of the swamp to a height of a dozen
or fifteen feet, and he was inclosed completely. All the
vegetation dripped with cold water, and the place was one of the
most dismal that he had ever seen. But he had no thought of
Henry made a shrewd guess as to whither the path led, but he
inferred from the appearance of the stepping stones-chiefly from
the fact that an odd one here and there had sunk completely out
of sight-that they had not been used in a long time, perhaps for
years. He found on the other side of the islet a second line of
stones, and they led across a marsh, that was almost like a black
liquid, to another and larger island.
Here the ground was quite firm, supporting a thick growth of
large trees. It seemed to Henry that this island might be
seventy or eighty yards across, and he began at once to explore
it. In the center, surrounded so closely by swamp oaks that they
almost formed a living wall, he found what he had hoped to find,
and his relief was so great that, despite his natural and trained
stoicism, he gave a little cry of pleasure when he saw it.
A small lodge, made chiefly of poles and bark after the Iroquois
fashion, stood within the circle of the trees, occupying almost
the whole of the space. It was apparently abandoned long ago,
and time and weather had done it much damage. But the bark
walls, although they leaned in places at dangerous angles, still
stood. The bark roof was pierced by holes on one side, but on
the other it was still solid, and shed all the rain from its
The door was open, but a shutter made of heavy pieces of bark
cunningly joined together leaned against the wall, and Henry saw
that he could make use of it. He stepped inside. The hut had a
bark floor which was dry on one side, where the roof was solid,
but dripping on the other. Several old articles of Indian use
lay about. In one corner was a basket woven of split willow and
still fit for service. There were pieces of thread made of
Indian hemp and the inner bark of the elm. There were also a
piece of pottery and a large, beautifully carved wooden spoon
such as every Iroquois carried. In the corner farthest from the
door was a rude fireplace made of large flat stones, although
there was no opening for the smoke.
Henry surveyed it all thoughtfully, and he came to the conclusion
that it was a hut for hunting, built by some warrior of an
inquiring mind who had found this secret place, and who had
recognized its possibilities. Here after an expedition for game
he could lie hidden from enemies and take his comfort without
fear. Doubtless he had sat in this hut on rainy days like the
present one and smoked his pipe in the long, patient calm of
which the Indian is capable.
Yes, there was the pipe, unnoticed before, trumpet shaped and
carved beautifully, lying on a small bark shelf. Henry picked it
tip and examined the bowl. It was as dry as a bone, and not a
particle of tobacco was left there. He believed that it had not
been used for at least a year. Doubtless the Indian who had
built this hunting lodge had fallen in some foray, and the secret
of it had been lost until Henry Ware, seeking through the cold
and rain, had stumbled upon it.
It was nothing but a dilapidated little lodge of poles and bark,
all a-leak, but the materials of a house were there, and Henry
was strong and skillful. He covered the holes in tile roof with
fallen pieces of bark, laying heavy pieces of wood across them to
hold them in place. Then he lifted the bark shutter into
position and closed the door. Some drops of rain still came in
through the roof, but they were not many, and he would not mind
them for the present. Then he opened the door and began his
He intended to build a fire on the flat stones, and, securing
fallen wood, he stripped off the bark and cut splinters from the
inside. It was slow work and he was very cold, his wet feet
sending chills through him, but be persevered, and the little
heap of dry splinters grew to a respectable size. Then he cut
larger pieces, laying them on one side while he worked with his
flint and steel on the splinters.
Flint and steel are not easily handled even by the most skillful,
and Henry saw the spark leap up and die out many times before it
finally took hold of the end of the tiniest splinter and grew.
He watched it as it ran along the little piece of wood and
ignited another and then another, the beautiful little red and
yellow flames leaping up half a foot in height. Already he felt
the grateful warmth and glow, but he would not let himself
indulge in premature joy. He fed it with larger and larger
pieces until the flames, a deeper and more beautiful red and
yellow, rose at least two feet, and big coals began to form. He
left the door open a while in order that the smoke might go out,
but when the fire had become mostly coals he closed it again, all
except a crack of about six inches, which would serve at once to
let any stray smoke out, and to let plenty of fresh air in.
Now Henry, all his preparations made, no detail neglected,
proceeded to luxuriate. He spread the soaked blanket out on the
bark floor, took off the sodden moccasins and placed them at one
angle of the fire, while he sat with his bare feet in front.
What a glorious warmth it was! It seemed to enter at his toes
and proceed upward through his body, seeking out every little
nook and cranny, to dry and warm it, and fill it full of new glow
He sat there a long time, his being radiating with physical
comfort. The moccasins dried on one side, and he turned the
other. Finally they dried all over and all through, and he put
them on again. Then he hung the blanket on the bark wall near
the fire, and it, too, would be dry in another hour or so. He
foresaw a warm and dry place for the night, and sleep. Now if
one only had food! But he must do without that for the present.
He rose and tested all his bones and muscles. No stiffness or
soreness had come from the rain and cold, and he was satisfied.
He was fit for any physical emergency. He looked out through the
crevice. Night was coming, and on the little island in the swamp
it looked inexpressibly black and gloomy. His stomach
complained, but he shrugged his shoulders, acknowledging
primitive necessity, and resumed his seat by the fire. There he
sat until the blanket had dried, and deep night had fully come.
In the last hour or two Henry did not move. He remained before
the fire, crouched slightly forward, while the generous heat fed
the flame of life in him. A glowing bar, penetrating the crevice
at the door, fell on the earth outside, but it did not pass
beyond the close group of circling trees. The rain still fell
with uncommon steadiness and persistence, but at times hail was
mingled with it. Henry could not remember in his experience a
more desolate night. It seemed that the whole world dwelt in
perpetual darkness, and that he was the only living being on it.
Yet within the four or five feet square of the hut it was warm
and bright, and he was not unhappy.
He would forget the pangs of hunger, and, wrapping himself in the
dry blanket, he lay down before the bed of coals, having first
raked ashes over them, and he slept one of the soundest sleeps of
his life. All night long, the dull cold rain fell, and with it,
at intervals, came gusts of hail that rattled like bird shot on
the bark walls of the hut. Some of the white pellets blew in at
the door, and lay for a moment or two on the floor, then melted
in the glow of the fire, and were gone.
But neither wind, rain nor hail awoke Henry. He was as safe, for
the time, in the hut on the islet, as if he were in the fort at
Pittsburgh or behind the palisades at Wareville. Dawn came, the
sky still heavy and dark with clouds, and the rain still falling.
Henry, after his first sense of refreshment and pleasure, became
conscious of a fierce hunger that no amount of the will could now
keep quiet. His was a powerful system, needing much nourishment,
and he must eat. That hunger became so great that it was acute
physical pain. He was assailed by it at all points, and it could
be repelled by only one thing, food. He must go forth, taking
all risks, and seek it.
He put on fresh wood, covering it with ashes in order that it
might not blaze too high, and left the islet. The stepping
stones were slippery with water, and his moccasins soon became
soaked again, but he forgot the cold and wet in that ferocious
hunger, the attacks of which became more violent every minute.
He was hopeful that he might see a deer, or even a squirrel, but
the animals themselves were likely to keep under cover in such a
rain. He expected a hard hunt, and it would be attended also by
much danger - these woods must be full of Indians - but be
thought little of the risk. His hunger was taking complete
possession of his mind. He was realizing now that one might want
a thing so much that it would drive away all other thoughts.
Rifle in hand, ready for any quick shot, he searched hour after
hour through the woods and thickets. He was wet, bedraggled, and
as fierce as a famishing panther, but neither skill nor instinct
guided him to anything. The rabbit hid in his burrow, the
squirrel remained in his hollow tree, and the deer did not leave
Henry could not well calculate the passage of time, it seemed so
fearfully long, and there was no one to tell him, but he judged
that it must be about noon, and his temper was becoming that of
the famished panther to which he likened himself. He paused and
looked around the circle of the dripping woods. He had retained
his idea of direction and he knew that he could go straight back
to the hut in the swamp. But he had no idea of returning now. A
power that neither he nor anyone else could resist was pushing
him on his search.
Searching the gloomy horizon again, he saw against the dark sky a
thin and darker line that he knew to be smoke. He inferred,
also, with certainty, that it came from an Indian camp, and,
without hesitation, turned his course toward it. Indian camp
though it might be, and containing the deadliest of foes, he was
glad to know something lived beside himself in this wilderness.
He approached with great caution, and found his surmise to be
correct. Lying full length in a wet thicket he saw a party of
about twenty warriors-Mohawks he took them to be-in an oak
opening. They had erected bark shelters, they had good fires,
and they were cooking. He saw them roasting the strips over the
coals-bear meat, venison, squirrel, rabbit, bird-and the odor, so
pleasant at other times, assailed his nostrils. But it was now
only a taunt and a torment. It aroused every possible pang of
hunger, and every one of them stabbed like a knife.
The warriors, so secure in their forest isolation, kept no
sentinels, and they were enjoying themselves like men who had
everything they wanted. Henry could hear them laughing and
talking, and he watched them as they ate strip after strip of the
delicate, tender meat with the wonderful appetite that the Indian
has after long fasting. A fierce, unreasoning anger and jealousy
laid hold of him. He was starving, and they rejoiced in plenty
only fifty yards away. He began to form plans for a piratical
incursion upon them. Half the body of a deer lay near the edge
of the opening, he would rush upon it, seize it, and dart away.
It might be possible to escape with such spoil.
Then he recalled his prudence. Such a thing was impossible. The
whole band of warriors would be upon him in an instant. The best
thing that he could do was to shut out the sight of so much
luxury in which he could not share, and he crept away among the
bushes wondering what he could do to drive away those terrible
pains. His vigorous system was crying louder than ever for the
food that would sustain it. His eyes were burning a little too
brightly, and his face was touched with fever.
Henry stopped once to catch a last glimpse of the fires and the
feasting Indians under the bark shelters. He saw a warrior raise
a bone, grasping it in both hands, and bite deep into the tender
flesh that clothed it. The sight inflamed him into an anger
almost uncontrollable. He clenched his fist and shook it at the
warrior, who little suspected the proximity of a hatred so
intense. Then he bent his head down and rushed away among the
wet bushes which in rebuke at his lack of caution raked him
across the face.
Henry walked despondently back toward the islet in the swamp.
The aspect of air and sky had not changed. The heavens still
dripped icy water, and there was no ray of cheerfulness anywhere.
The game remained well hidden.
It was a long journey back, and as he felt that he was growing
weak he made no haste. He came to dense clumps of bushes, and
plowing his way through them, he saw a dark opening under some
trees thrown down by an old hurricane. Having some vague idea
that it might be the lair of a wild animal, he thrust the muzzle
of his rifle into the darkness. It touched a soft substance.
There was a growl, and a black form shot out almost into his
face. Henry sprang aside, and in an instant all his powers and
faculties returned. He had stirred up a black bear, and before
the animal, frightened as much as he was enraged, could run far
the boy, careless how many Indians might hear, threw up his rifle
His aim was good. The bear, shot through the head, fell, and was
dead. Henry, transformed, ran up to him. Bear life had been
given up to sustain man's. Here was food for many days, and he
rejoiced with a great joy. He did not now envy those warriors
The bear, although small, was very fat. Evidently he had fed
well on acorns and wild honey, and he would yield up steaks
which, to one with Henry's appetite, would be beyond compare. He
calculated that it was more than a mile to the swamp, and, after
a few preliminaries, he flung the body of the bear over his
shoulder. Through some power of the mind over the body his full
strength had returned to him miraculously, and when he reached
the stepping stones he crossed from one to another lightly and
firmly, despite the weight that he carried.
He came to the little bark hut which he now considered his own.
The night had fallen again, but some coals still glowed under the
ashes, and there was plenty of dry wood. He did everything
decently and in order. He took the pelt from the bear, carved
the body properly, and then, just as the Indians had done, he
broiled strips over the coals. He ate them one after another,
slowly, and tasting all the savor, and, intense as was the mere
physical pleasure, it was mingled with a deep thankfulness. Not
only was the life nourished anew in him, but he would now regain
the strength to seek his comrades.
When he had eaten enough he fastened the body of the bear, now in
several portions, on hooks high upon the walls, hooks which
evidently had been placed there by the former owner of the hut
for this very purpose. Then, sure that the savor of the food
would draw other wild animals, he brought one of the stepping
stones and placed it on the inside of the door. The door could
not be pushed aside without arousing him, and, secure in the
knowledge, he went to sleep before the coals.
THE RED CHIEFS
Henry awoke only once, and that was about half way between
midnight and morning, when his senses, never still entirely, even
in sleep, warned him that something was at the door. He rose
cautiously upon his arm, saw a dark muzzle at the crevice, and
behind it a pair of yellow, gleaming eyes. He knew at once that
it was a panther, probably living in the swamp and drawn by the
food. It must be very hungry to dare thus the smell of man.
Henry's hand moved slowly to the end of a stick, the other end of
which was a glowing coal. Then he seized it and hurled it
directly at the inquisitive head.
The hot end of the stick struck squarely between the yellow eyes.
There was a yelp of pain, and the boy heard the rapid pad of the
big cat's feet as it fled into the swamp. Then he turned over on
his side, and laughed in genuine pleasure at what was to him a
true forest joke. He knew the panther would not come, at least
not while he was in the hut, and he calmly closed his eyes once
more. The old Henry was himself again.
He awoke in the morning to find that the cold rain was still
falling. It seemed to him that it had prepared to rain forever,
but he was resolved, nevertheless, now that he had food and the
strength that food brings, to begin the search for his comrades.
The islet in the swamp would serve as his base-nothing could be
better-and he would never cease until he found them or discovered
what had become of them.
A little spring of cold water flowed from the edge of the islet
to lose itself quickly in the swamp. Henry drank there after his
breakfast, and then felt as strong and active as ever. As he
knew, the mind may triumph over the body, but the mind cannot
save the body without food. Then he made his precious bear meat
secure against the prowling panther or others of his kind, tying
it on hanging boughs too high for a jump and too slender to
support the weight of a large animal. This task finished
quickly, he left the swamp and returned toward the spot where lie
had seen the Mohawks.
The falling rain and the somber clouds helped Henry, in a way, as
the whole forest was enveloped in a sort of gloom, and he was
less likely to be seen. But when he had gone about half the
distance he heard Indians signaling to one another, and, burying
himself as usual in the wet bushes, he saw two small groups of
warriors meet and talk. Presently they separated, one party
going toward the east and the other toward the west. Henry
thought they were out hunting, as the Indians usually took little
care of the morrow, eating all their food in a few days, no
matter how great the supply might be.
When he drew near the place he saw three more Indians, and these
were traveling directly south. He was quite sure now that his
theory was correct. They were sending out hunters in every
direction, in order that they might beat up the woods thoroughly
for game, and his own position anywhere except on the islet was
becoming exceedingly precarious. Nevertheless, using all his
wonderful skill, he continued the hunt. He had an abiding faith
that his four comrades were yet alive, and he meant to prove it.
In the afternoon the clouds moved away a little, and the rain
decreased, though it did not cease. The Indian signs multiplied,
and Henry felt sure that the forest within a radius of twenty
miles of his islet contained more than one camp. Some great
gathering must be in progress and the hunters were out to supply
it with food. Four times he heard the sound of shots, and thrice
more he saw warriors passing through the forest. Once a wounded
deer darted past him, and, lying down in the bushes, he saw the
Indians following the fleeing animal. As the day grew older the
trails multiplied. Certainly a formidable gathering of bands was
in progress, and, feeling that he might at any time be caught in
a net, he returned to the islet, which had now become a veritable
fort for him.
It was not quite dark when he arrived, and he found all as it had
been except the tracks of two panthers under the boughs to which
he had fastened the big pieces of bear meat. Henry felt a
malicious satisfaction at the disappointment of the panthers.
"Come again, and have the same bad luck," he murmured."
At dusk the rain ceased entirely, and he prepared for a journey
in the night. He examined his powder carefully to see that no
particle of it was wet, counted the bullets in his pouch, and
then examined the skies. There was a little moon, not too much,
enough to show him the way, but not enough to disclose him to an
enemy unless very near. Then he left the islet and went swiftly
through the forest, laying his course a third time toward the
Indian camp. He was sure now that all the hunters had returned,
and he did not expect the necessity of making any stops for the
purpose of hiding. His hopes were justified, and as he drew near
the camp he became aware that its population had increased
greatly. It was proved by many signs. New trails converged upon
it, and some of them were very broad, indicating that many
warriors had passed. They had passed, too, in perfect
confidence, as there was no effort at concealment, and Henry
surmised that no white force of any size could be within many
days' march of this place. But the very security of the Indians
helped his own design. They would not dream that any one of the
hated race was daring to come almost within the light of their
Henry had but one fear just now, and that was dogs. If the
Indians had any of their mongrel curs with them, they would
quickly scent him out and give the alarm with their barking. But
he believed that the probabilities were against it. This, so he
thought then, was a war or hunting camp, and it was likely that
the Indians would leave the dogs at their permanent villages. At
any rate he would take the risk, and he drew slowly toward the
oak opening, where some Indians stood about. Beyond them, in
another dip of the valley, was a wider opening which he had not
seen on his first trip, and this contained not only bark
shelters, but buildings that indicated a permanent village. The
second and larger opening was filled with a great concourse of
Fortunately the foliage around the opening was very dense, many
trees and thickets everywhere. Henry crept to the very rim,
where, lying in the blackest of the shadows, and well hidden
himself, he could yet see nearly everything in the camp. The men
were not eating now, although it was obvious that the hunters had
done well. The dressed bodies of deer and bear hung in the bark
shelters. Most of the Indians sat about the fires, and it seemed
to Henry that they had an air of expectancy. At least two
hundred were present, and all of them were in war paint, although
there were several styles of paint. There was a difference in
appearance, too, in the warriors, and Henry surmised that
representatives of all the tribes of the Iroquois were there,
coming to the extreme western boundary or fringe of their
While Henry watched them a half dozen who seemed by their bearing
and manner to be chiefs drew together at a point not far from him
and talked together earnestly. Now and then they looked toward
the forest, and he was quite sure that they were expecting
somebody, a person of importance. He became deeply interested.
He was lying in a dense clump of hazel bushes, flat upon his
stomach, his face raised but little above the ground. He would
have been hidden from the keenest eye only ten feet away, but the
faces of the chiefs outlined against the blazing firelight were
so clearly visible to him that he could see every change of
expression. They were fine-looking men, all of middle age, tall,
lean, their noses hooked, features cut clean and strong, and
their heads shaved, all except the defiant scalp lock, into which
the feather of an eagle was twisted. Their bodies were draped in
fine red or blue blankets, and they wore leggins and moccasins of
beautifully tanned deerskin.
They ceased talking presently, and Henry heard a distant wailing
note from the west. Some one in the camp replied with a cry in
kind, and then a silence fell upon them all. The chiefs stood
erect, looking toward the west. Henry knew that he whom they
expected was at hand.
The cry was repeated, but much nearer, and a warrior leaped into
the opening, in the full blaze of the firelight. He was entirely
naked save for a breech cloth and moccasins, and he was a wild
and savage figure. He stood for a moment or two, then faced the
chiefs, and, bowing before them, spoke a few words in the Wyandot
tongue-Henry knew already by his paint that he was a Wyandot.
The chiefs inclined their heads gravely, and the herald, turning,
leaped back into the forest. In two or three minutes six men,
including the herald, emerged from the woods, and Henry moved a
little when he saw the first of the six, all of whom were
Wyandots. It was Timmendiquas, head chief of the Wyandots, and
Henry had never seen him more splendid in manner and bearing than
he was as he thus met the representatives of the famous Six
Nations. Small though the Wyandot tribe might be, mighty was its
valor and fame, and White Lightning met the great Iroquois only
as an equal, in his heart a superior.
It was an extraordinary thing, but Henry, at this very moment,
burrowing in the earth that be might not lose his life at the
hands of either, was an ardent partisan of Timmendiquas. It was
the young Wyandot chief whom he wished to be first, to make the
greatest impression, and he was pleased when he heard the low hum
of admiration go round the circle of two hundred savage warriors.
It was seldom, indeed, perhaps never, that the Iroquois had
looked upon such a man as Timmendiquas.
Timmendiquas and his companions advanced slowly toward the
chiefs, and the Wyandot overtopped all the Iroquois. Henry could
tell by the manner of the chiefs that the reputation of the
famous White Lightning had preceded him, and that they had
already found fact equal to report.
The chiefs, Timmendiquas among them, sat down on logs before the
fire, and all the warriors withdrew to a respectful distance,
where they stood and watched in silence. The oldest chief took
his long pipe, beautifully carved and shaped like a trumpet, and
filled it with tobacco which he lighted with a coal from the
fire. Then he took two or three whiffs and passed the pipe to
Timmendiquas, who did the same. Every chief smoked the pipe, and
then they sat still, waiting in silence.
Henry was so much absorbed in this scene, which was at once a
spectacle and a drama, that he almost forgot where he was, and
that he was an enemy. He wondered now at their silence. If this
was a council surely they would discuss whatever question had
brought them there! But he was soon enlightened. That low far
cry came again, but from the east. It was answered, as before,
from the camp, and in three or four minutes a warrior sprang from
the forest into the opening. Like the first, he was naked except
for the breech cloth and moccasins. The chiefs rose at his
coming, received his salute gravely, and returned it as gravely.
Then he returned to the forest, and all waited in the splendid
calm of the Indian.
Curiosity pricked Henry like a nettle. Who was coming now? It
must be some man of great importance, or they would not wait so
silently. There was the same air of expectancy that had preceded
the arrival of Timmendiquas. All the warriors looked toward the
eastern wall of the forest, and Henry looked the same way.
Presently the black foliage parted, and a man stepped forth,
followed at a little distance by seven or eight others. The
stranger, although tall, was not equal in height to Timmendiquas,
but he, too, had a lofty and splendid presence, and it was
evident to anyone versed at all in forest lore that here was a
great chief. He was lean but sinewy, and he moved with great
ease and grace. He reminded Henry of a powerful panther. He was
dressed, after the manner of famous chiefs, with the utmost care.
His short military coat of fine blue cloth bore a silver epaulet
on either shoulder. His head was not bare, disclosing the scalp
lock, like those of the other Indians; it was covered instead
with a small hat of felt, round and laced. Hanging carelessly
over one shoulder was a blanket of blue cloth with a red border.
At his side, from a belt of blue leather swung a silver-mounted
small sword. His leggins were of superfine blue cloth and his
moccasins of deerskin. Both were trimmed with small beads of
The new chief advanced into the opening amid the dead silence
that still held all, and Timmendiquas stepped forward to meet
him. These two held the gaze of everyone, and what they and they
alone did had become of surpassing interest. Each was haughty,
fully aware of his own dignity and importance, but they met half
way, looked intently for a moment or two into the eyes of each
other, and then saluted gravely.
All at once Henry knew the stranger. He had never seen him
before, but his impressive reception, and the mixture of military
and savage attire revealed him. This could be none other than
the great Mohawk war chief, Thayendanegea, the Brant of the white
men, terrible name on the border. Henry gazed at him eagerly
from his covert, etching his features forever on his memory. His
face, lean and strong, was molded much like that of Timmendiquas,
and like the Wyandot he was young, under thirty.
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea-it was truly he-returned to the
fire, and once again the trumpet-shaped pipe was smoked by all.
The two young chiefs received the seats of favor, and others sat
about them. But they were not the only great chiefs present,
though all yielded first place to them because of their character
Henry was not mistaken in his guess that this was an important
council, although its extent exceeded even his surmise.
Delegates and head chiefs of all the Six Nations were present to
confer with the warlike Wyandots of the west who had come so far
east to meet them. Thayendanegea was the great war chief of the
Mohawks, but not their titular chief. The latter was an older
man, Te-kie-ho-ke (Two Voices), who sat beside the younger. The
other chiefs were the Onondaga, Tahtoo-ta-hoo (The Entangled) ;
the Oneida, 0-tat-sheh-te (Bearing a Quiver) ; the Cayuga,
Te-ka-ha-hoonk (He Who Looks Both Ways) ; the Seneca,
Kan-ya-tai-jo (Beautiful Lake) ; and the Tuscarora,
Ta-ha-en-te-yahwak-hon (Encircling and Holding Up a Tree). The
names were hereditary, and because in a dim past they had formed
the great confederacy, the Onondagas were first in the council,
and were also the high priests and titular head of the Six
Nations. But the Mohawks were first on-the war path.
All the Six Nations were divided into clans, and every clan,
camping in its proper place, was represented at this meeting.
Henry had heard much at Pittsburgh of the Six Nations, their
wonderful league, and their wonderful history. He knew that
according to the legend the league had been formed by Hiawatha,
an Onondaga. He was opposed in this plan by Tododaho, then head
chief of the Onondagas, but he went to the Mohawks and gained the
support of their great chief, Dekanawidah. With his aid the
league was formed, and the solemn agreement, never broken, was
made at the Onondaga Lake. Now they were a perfect little state,
with fifty chiefs, or, including the head chiefs, fifty-six.
Some of these details Henry was to learn later. He was also to
learn many of the words that the chiefs said through a source of
which he little dreamed at the present. Yet he divined much of
it from the meeting of the fiery Wyandots with the highly
developed and warlike power of the Six Nations.
Thayendanegea was talking now, and Timmendiquas, silent and
grave, was listening. The Mohawk approached his subject
indirectly through the trope, allegory, and simile that the
Indian loved. He talked of the unseen deities that ruled the
life of the Iroquois through mystic dreams. He spoke of the
trees, the rocks, and the animals, all of which to the Iroquois
had souls. He called on the name of the Great Spirit, which was
Aieroski before it became Manitou, the Great Spirit who, in the
Iroquois belief, had only the size of a dwarf because his soul
was so mighty that he did not need body.
This land is ours, the land of your people and mine, oh, chief of
the brave Wyandots," he said to Timmendiquas. "Once there was no
land, only the waters, but Aieroski raised the land of Konspioni
above the foam. Then he sowed five handfuls of red seed in it,
and from those handfuls grew the Five Nations. Later grew up the
Tuscaroras, who have joined us and other tribes of our race, like
yours, great chief of the brave Wyandots."
Timmendiquas still said nothing. He did not allow an eyelid to
flicker at this assumption of superiority for the Six Nations
over all other tribes. A great warrior he was, a great
politician also, and he wished to unite the Iroquois in a firm
league with the tribes of the Ohio valley. The coals from the
great fire glowed and threw out an intense heat. Thayendanegea
unbuttoned his military coat and threw it back, revealing a bare
bronze chest, upon which was painted the device of the Mohawks, a
flint and steel. The chests of the Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca
head chiefs were also bared to the glow. The device on the chest
of the Onondaga was a cabin on top of a hill, the Caytiga's was a
great pipe, and the figure of a mountain adorned the Seneca
"We have had the messages that you have sent to us,
Timmendiquas," said Thayendanegea, "and they are good in the eyes
of our people, the Rotinonsionni (the Mohawks). They please,
too, the ancient tribe, the Kannoseone (the Onondagas), the
valiant Hotinonsionni (the Senecas), and all our brethren of the
Six Nations. All the land from the salt water to the setting sun
was given to the red men by Aieroski, but if we do not defend it
we cannot keep it."
"It is so," said Timmendiquas, speaking for the first time. "We
have fought them on the Ohio and in Kaintuck-ee, where they come
with their rifles and axes. The whole might of the Wyandots, the
Shawnees, the Miamis, the Illinois, the Delawares, and the
Ottawas has gone forth against them. We have slain many of them,
but we have failed to drive them back. Now we have come to ask
the Six Nations to press down upon them in the east with all your
power, while we do the same in the west. Surely then your
Aieroski and our Manitou, who are the same, will not refuse us
The eyes of Thayendanegea glistened.
"You speak well, Timmendiquas," he said. " All the red men must
unite to fight for the land of Konspioni which Aieroski raised
above the sea, and we be two, you and I, Timmendiquas, fit to
lead them to battle."
"It is so," said Timmendiquas gravely.
THE IROQUOIS TOWN
Henry lay fully an hour in the bushes. He had forgotten about
the dogs that he dreaded, but evidently he was right in his
surmise that the camp contained none. Nothing disturbed him
while he stared at what was passing by the firelight. There
could be no doubt that the meeting of Timmendiquas and
Thayendanegea portended great things, but he would not be stirred
from his task of rescuing his comrades or discovering their fate.
They two, great chiefs, sat long in close converse. Others-older
men, chiefs, also-came at times and talked with them. But these
two, proud, dominating, both singularly handsome men of the
Indian type, were always there. Henry was almost ready to steal
away when he saw a new figure approaching the two chiefs. The
walk and bearing of the stranger were familiar, and HENRY knew
him even before his face was lighted tip by the fire. It was
Braxton Wyatt, the renegade, who had escaped the great battles on
both the Ohio and the Mississippi, and who was here with the
Iroquois, ready to do to his own race all the evil that he could.
Henry felt a shudder of repulsion, deeper than any Indian could
inspire in him. They fought for their own land and their own
people, but Braxton Wyatt had violated everything that an honest
man should hold sacred.
Henry, on the whole, was not surprised to see him. Such a chance
was sure to draw Braxton Wyatt. Moreover, the war, so far as it
pertained to the border, seemed to be sweeping toward the
northeast, and it bore many stormy petrels upon its crest.
He watched Wyatt as he walked toward one of the fires. There the
renegade sat down and talked with the warriors, apparently on the
best of terms. He was presently joined by two more renegades,
whom Henry recognized as Blackstaffe and Quarles. Timmendiquas
and Thayendanegea rose after a while, and walked toward the
center of the camp, where several of the bark shelters had been
enclosed entirely. Henry judged that one had been set apart for
each, but they were lost from his view when they passed within
the circling ring of warriors.
Henry believed that the Iroquois and Wyandots would form a
fortified camp here, a place from which they would make sudden
and terrible forays upon the settlements. He based his opinion
upon the good location and the great number of saplings that had
been cut down already. They would build strong lodges and then a
palisade around them with the saplings. He was speedily
confirmed in this opinion when he saw warriors come to the forest
with hatchets and begin to cut down more saplings. He knew then
that it was time to go, as a wood chopper might blunder upon him
at any time.
He slipped from his covert and was quickly gone in the forest.
His limbs were somewhat stiff from lying so long in one position,
but that soon wore away, and he was comparatively fresh when he
came once more to the islet in the swamp. A good moon was now
shining, tipping the forest with a fine silvery gray, and Henry
purveyed with the greatest satisfaction the simple little shelter
that he had found so opportunely. It was a good house, too, good
to such a son of the deepest forest as was Henry. It was made of
nothing but bark and poles, but it had kept out all that long,
penetrating rain of the last three or four days, and when he
lifted the big stone aside and opened the door it seemed as snug
a place as he could have wished.
He left the door open a little, lighted a small fire on the flat
stones, having no fear that it would be seen through the dense
curtain that shut him in, and broiled big bear steaks on the
coals. When he had eaten and the fire had died he went out and
sat beside the hut. He was well satisfied with the day's work,
and he wished now to think with all the concentration that one
must put upon a great task if he expects to achieve it. He
intended to invade the Indian camp, and he knew full well that it
was the most perilous enterprise that he had ever attempted. Yet
scouts and hunters had done such things and had escaped with
their lives. He must not shrink from the path that others had
He made up his mind firmly, and partly thought out his plan of
operations. Then he rested, and so sanguine was his temperament
that he began to regard the deed itself as almost achieved.
Decision is always soothing after doubt, and he fell into a
pleasant dreamy state. A gentle wind was blowing, the forest was
dry and the leaves rustled with the low note that is like the
softest chord of a violin. It became penetrating, thrillingly
sweet, and hark! it spoke to him in a voice that he knew. It was
the same voice that he had heard on the Ohio, mystic, but telling
him to be of heart and courage. He would triumph over hardships
and dangers, and he would see his friends again.
Henry started up from his vision. The song was gone, and he
heard only the wind softly moving the leaves. It had been vague
and shadowy as gossamer, light as the substance of a dream, but
it was real to him, nevertheless, and the deep glow of certain
triumph permeated his being, body and mind. It was not strange
that he had in his nature something of the Indian mysticism that
personified the winds and the trees and everything about him.
The Manitou of the red man and the ancient Aieroski of the
Iroquois were the same as his own God. He could not doubt that
he had a message. Down on the Ohio he had had the same message
more than once, and it had always come true.
He heard a slight rustling among the bushes, and, sitting
perfectly still, he saw a black bear emerge into the open. It
had gained the islet in some manner, probably floundering through
the black mire, and the thought occurred to him that it was the
mate of the one he had slain, drawn perhaps by instinct on the
trail of a lost comrade. He could have shot the bear as he
sat-and he would need fresh supplies of food soon-but he did not
have the heart to do it.
The bear sniffed a little at the wind, which was blowing the
human odor away from him, and sat back on his haunches. Henry
did not believe that the animal had seen him or was yet aware of
his presence, although he might suspect. There was something
humorous and also pathetic in the visitor, who cocked his head on
one side and looked about him. He made a distinct appeal to
Henry, who sat absolutely still, so still that the little bear
could not be sure at first that he was a human being. A minute
passed, and the red eye of the bear rested upon the boy. Henry
felt pleasant and sociable, but he knew that he could retain
friendly relations only by remaining quiet.
If I have eaten your comrade, my friend," he said to himself, "it
is only because of hard necessity." The bear, little, comic, and
yet with that touch of pathos about him, cocked his head a little
further over on one side, and as a silver shaft of moonlight fell
upon him Henry could see one red eye gleaming. It was a singular
fact, but the boy, alone in the wilderness, and the loser of his
comrades, felt for the moment a sense of comradeship with the
bear, which was also alone, and doubtless the loser of a comrade,
also. He uttered a soft growling sound like the satisfied purr
of a bear eating its food.
The comical bear rose a little higher on his hind paws, and
looked in astonishment at the motionless figure that uttered
sounds so familiar. Yet the figure was not familiar. He had
never seen a human being before, and the shape and outline were
very strange to him. It might be some new kind of animal, and he
was disposed to be inquiring, because there was nothing in these
forests which the black bear was afraid of until man came.
He advanced a step or two and growled gently. Then he reared up
again on his hind paws, and cocked his held to one side in his
amusing manner. Henry, still motionless, smiled at him. Here,
for an instant at least, was a cheery visitor and companionship.
He at least would not break the spell.