Part 2 out of 7
"You look almost as if you could talk, old fellow," he said to
himself, "and if I knew your language I'd ask you a lot of
The bear, too, was motionless now, torn by doubt and curiosity.
It certainly was a singular figure that sat there, fifteen or
twenty yards before him, and he had the most intense curiosity to
solve the mystery of this creature. But caution held him back.
There was a sudden flaw in the light breeze. It shifted about
and brought the dreadful man odor to the nostrils of the honest
black bear. It was something entirely new to him, but it
contained the quality of fear. That still strange figure was his
deadliest foe. Dropping down upon his four paws, he fled among
the trees, and then scrambled somehow through the swamp to the
Henry sighed. Despite his own friendly feeling, the bear, warned
by instinct, was afraid of him, and, as he was bound to
acknowledge to himself, the bear's instinct was doubtless right.
He rose, went into the hut, and slept heavily through the night.
In the morning he left the islet once more to scout in the
direction of the Indian camp, but he found it a most dangerous
task. The woods were full of warriors hunting. As he had
judged, the game was abundant, and he heard rifles cracking in
several directions. He loitered, therefore, in the thickest of
the thickets, willing to wait until night came for his
enterprise. It was advisable, moreover, to wait, because be did
not see yet just how he was going to succeed. He spent nearly
the whole day shifting here and there through the forest, but
late in the afternoon, as the Indians yet seemed so numerous in
the woods, he concluded to go back toward the islet.
He was about two miles from the swamp when he heard a cry, sharp
but distant. It was that of the savages, and Henry instinctively
divined the cause. A party of the warriors had come somehow upon
his trail, and they would surely follow it. It was a mischance
that he had not expected. He waited a minute or two, and then
heard the cry again, but nearer. He knew that it would come no
more, but it confirmed him in his first opinion.
Henry had little fear of being caught, as the islet was so
securely hidden, but he did not wish to take even a remote chance
of its discovery. Hence he ran to the eastward of it, intending
as the darkness came, hiding his trail, to double back and regain
He proceeded at a long, easy gait, his mind not troubled by the
pursuit. It was to him merely an incident that should be ended
as soon as possible, annoying perhaps, but easily cured. So he
swung lightly along, stopping at intervals among the bushes to
see if any of the warriors had drawn near, but he detected
nothing. Now and then he looked up to the sky, willing that
night should end this matter quickly and peacefully.
His wish seemed near fulfillment. An uncommonly brilliant sun
was setting. The whole west was a sea of red and yellow fire,
but in the east the forest was already sinking into the dark. He
turned now, and went back toward the west on a line parallel with
the pursuit, but much closer to the swamp. The dusk thickened
rapidly. The sun dropped over the curve of the world, and the
vast complex maze of trunks and boughs melted into a solid black
wall. The incident of the pursuit was over and with it its petty
annoyances. He directed his course boldly now for the stepping
stones, and traveled fast. Soon the first of them would be less
than a hundred yards away.
But the incident was not over. Wary and skillful though the
young forest runner might be, he had made one miscalculation, and
it led to great consequences. As he skirted the edge of the
swamp in the darkness, now fully come, a dusky figure suddenly
appeared. It was a stray warrior from some small band, wandering
about at will. The meeting was probably as little expected by
him as it was by Henry, and they were so close together when they
saw each other that neither had time to raise his rifle. The
warrior, a tall, powerful man, dropping his gun and snatching out
a knife, sprang at once upon his enemy.
Henry was borne back by the weight and impact, but, making an
immense effort, he recovered himself and, seizing the wrist of
the Indian's knife hand, exerted all his great strength. The
warrior wished to change the weapon from his right band, but he
dared not let go with the other lest he be thrown down at once,
and with great violence. His first rush having failed, he was
now at a disadvantage, as the Indian is not generally a wrestler.
Henry pushed him back, and his hand closed tighter and tighter
around the red wrist. He wished to tear the knife from it, but
he, too, was afraid to let go with the other hand, and so the two
remained locked fast. Neither uttered a cry after the first
contact, and the only sounds in the dark were their hard
breathing, which turned to a gasp now and then, and the shuffle
of their feet over the earth.
Henry felt that it must end soon. One or the other must give
way. Their sinews were already strained to the cracking point,
and making a supreme effort he bore all his weight upon the
warrior, who, unable to sustain himself, went down with the youth
upon him. The Indian uttered a groan, and Henry, leaping
instantly to his feet, looked down upon his fallen antagonist,
who did not stir. He knew the cause. As they fell the point of
the knife bad been turned upward, and it had entered the Indian's
Although he had been in peril at his hands, Henry looked at the
slain man in a sort of pity. He had not wished to take anyone's
life, and, in reality, he had not been the direct cause of it.
But it was a stern time and the feeling soon passed. The
Wyandot, for such he was by his paint, would never have felt a
particle of remorse had the victory been his.
The moon was now coming out, and Henry looked down thoughtfully
at the still face. Then the idea came to him, in fact leaped up
in his brain, with such an impulse that it carried conviction.
He would take this warrior's place and go to the Indian camp. So
eager was he, and so full of his plan, that he did not feel any
repulsion as he opened the warrior's deerskin shirt and took his
totem from a place near his heart. It was a little deerskin bag
containing a bunch of red feathers. This was his charm, his
magic spell, his bringer of good luck, which had failed him so
woefully this time. Henry, not without a touch of the forest
belief, put it inside his own hunting shirt, wishing, although he
laughed at himself, that if the red man's medicine had any
potency it should be on his own side.
Then he found also the little bag in which the Indian carried his
war paint and the feather brush with which he put it on. The
next hour witnessed a singular transformation. A white youth was
turned into a red warrior. He cut his own hair closely, all
except a tuft in the center, with his sharp hunting knife. The
tuft and the close crop he stained black with the Indian's paint.
It was a poor black, but he hoped that it would pass in the
night. He drew the tuft into a scalplock, and intertwined it
with a feather from the Indian's own tuft. Then he stained his
face, neck, hands, and arms with the red paint, and stood forth a
powerful young warrior of a western nation.
He hid the Indian's weapons and his own raccoon-skin cap in the
brush. Then he took the body of the fallen warrior to the edge
of the swamp and dropped it in. His object was not alone
concealment, but burial as well. He still felt sorry for the
unfortunate Wyandot, and he watched him until he sank completely
from sight in the mire. Then he turned away and traveled a
straight course toward the great Indian camp.
He stopped once on the way at a clear pool irradiated by the
bright moonlight, and looked attentively at his reflection. By
night, at least, it was certainly that of an Indian, and,
summoning all his confidence, he continued upon his chosen and
Henry knew that the chances were against him, even with his
disguise, but he was bound to enter the Indian camp, and he was
prepared to incur all risks and to endure all penalties. He even
felt a certain lightness of heart as he hurried on his way, and
at length saw through the forest the flare of light from the
He approached cautiously at first in order that he might take a
good look into the camp, and he was surprised at what he saw. In
a single day the village had been enlarged much more. It seemed
to him that it contained at least twice as many warriors. Women
and children, too, had come, and he heard a stray dog barking
here and there. Many more fires than usual were burning, and
there was a great murmur of voices.
Henry was much taken aback at first. It seemed that he was about
to plunge into the midst of the whole Iroquois nation, and at a
time, too, when something of extreme importance was going on, but
a little reflection showed that he was fortunate. Amid so many
people, and so much ferment it was not at all likely that he
would be noticed closely. It was his intention, if the necessity
came, to pass himself off as a warrior of the Shawnee tribe who
had wandered far eastward, but he meant to avoid sedulously the
eye of Timmendiquas, who might, through his size and stature,
divine his identity.
As Henry lingered at the edge of the camp, in indecision whether
to wait a little or plunge boldly into the light of the fires, he
became aware that all sounds in the village-for such it was
instead of a camp-had ceased suddenly, except the light tread of
feet and the sound of many people talking low. He saw through
the bushes that all the Iroquois, and with them the detachment of
Wyandots under White Lightning, were going toward a large
structure in the center, which he surmised to be the Council
House. He knew from his experience with the Indians farther west
that the Iroquois built such structures.
He could no longer doubt that some ceremony of the greatest
importance was about to begin, and, dismissing indecision, he
left the bushes and entered the village, going with the crowd
toward the great pole building, which was, indeed, the Council
But little attention was paid to Henry. He would have drawn none
at all, had it not been for his height, and when a warrior or two
glanced at him he uttered some words in Shawnee, saying that he
had wandered far, and was glad to come to the hospitable
Iroquois. One who could speak a little Shawnee bade him welcome,
and they went on, satisfied, their minds more intent upon the
ceremony than upon a visitor.
The Council House, built of light poles and covered with poles
and thatch, was at least sixty feet long and about thirty feet
wide, with a large door on the eastern side, and one or two
smaller ones on the other sides. As Henry arrived, the great
chiefs and sub-chiefs of the Iroquois were entering the building,
and about it were grouped many warriors and women, and even
children. But all preserved a decorous solemnity, and, knowing
the customs of the forest people so well, he was sure that the
ceremony, whatever it might be, must be of a highly sacred
nature. He himself drew to one side, keeping as much as possible
in the shadow, but he was using to its utmost power every faculty
of observation that Nature had given him.
Many of the fires were still burning, but the moon had come out
with great brightness, throwing a silver light over the whole
village, and investing with attributes that savored of the mystic
and impressive this ceremony, held by a savage but great race
here in the depths of the primeval forest. Henry was about to
witness a Condoling Council, which was at once a mourning for
chiefs who had fallen in battle farther east with his own people
and the election and welcome of their successors.
The chiefs presently came forth from the Council House or, as it
was more generally called, the Long House, and, despite the
greatness of Thayendanegea, those of the Onondaga tribe, in
virtue of their ancient and undisputed place as the political
leaders and high priests of the Six Nations, led the way. Among
the stately Onondaga chiefs were: Atotarho (The Entangled),
Skanawati (Beyond the River), Tehatkahtons (Looking Both Ways),
Tehayatkwarayen (Red Wings), and Hahiron (The Scattered). They
were men of stature and fine countenance, proud of the titular
primacy that belonged to them because it was the Onondaga,
Hiawatha, who had formed the great confederacy more than four
hundred years before our day, or just about the time Columbus was
landing on the shores of the New World.
Next to the Onondagas came the fierce and warlike Mohawks, who
lived nearest to Albany, who were called Keepers of the Eastern
Gate, and who were fully worthy of their trust. They were
content that the Onondagas should lead in council, so long as
they were first in battle, and there was no jealousy between
them. Among their chiefs were Koswensiroutha (Broad Shoulders)
and Satekariwate (Two Things Equal).
Third in rank were the Senecas, and among their chiefs were
Kanokarih (The Threatened) and Kanyadariyo (Beautiful Lake).
These three, the Onondagas, Mohawks, and Senecas, were esteemed
the three senior nations. After them, in order of precedence,
came the chiefs of the three junior nations, the Oneidas,
Cayugas, and Tuscaroras. All of the great chiefs had assistant
chiefs, usually relatives, who, in case of death, often succeeded
to their places. But these assistants now remained in the crowd
with other minor chiefs and the mass of the warriors. A little
apart stood Timmendiquas and his Wyandots. He, too, was absorbed
in the ceremony so sacred to him, an Indian, and he did not
notice the tall figure of the strange Shawnee lingering in the
deepest of the shadows.
The head chiefs, walking solemnly and never speaking, marched
across the clearing, and then through the woods to a glen, where
two young warriors had kindled a little fire of sticks as a
signal of welcome. The chiefs gathered around the fire and spoke
together in low tones. This was Deyuhnyon Kwarakda, which means
"The Reception at the Edge of the Wood."
Henry and some others followed, as it was not forbidden to see,
and his interest increased. He shared the spiritual feeling
which was impressed upon the red faces about him. The bright
moonlight, too, added to the effect, giving it the tinge of an
old Druidical ceremony.
The chiefs relapsed into silence and sat thus about ten minutes.
Then rose the sound of a chant, distant and measured, and a
procession of young and inferior chiefs, led by Oneidas,
appeared, slowly approaching the fire. Behind them were
warriors, and behind the warriors were many women and children.
All the women were in their brightest attire, gay with feather
headdresses and red, blue, or green blankets from the British
The procession stopped at a distance of about a dozen yards from
the chiefs about the council fire, and the Oneida, Kathlahon,
formed the men in a line facing the head chiefs, with the women
and children grouped in an irregular mass behind them. The
singing meanwhile had stopped. The two groups stood facing each
other, attentive and listening.
Then Hahiron, the oldest of the Onondagas, walked back and forth
in the space between the two groups, chanting a welcome. Like
all Indian songs it was monotonous. Every line he uttered with
emphasis and a rising inflection, the phrase "Haih-haih" which
may be translated "Hail to thee!" or better, "All hail!"
Nevertheless, under the moonlight in the wilderness and with rapt
faces about him, it was deeply impressive. Henry found it so.
Hahiron finished his round and went back to his place by the
fire. Atotarho, head chief of the Onondagas, holding in his
hands beautifully beaded strings of Iroquois wampum, came forward
and made a speech of condolence, to which Kathlahon responded.
Then the head chiefs and the minor chiefs smoked pipes together,
after which the head chiefs, followed by the minor chiefs, and
these in turn by the crowd, led the way back to the village.
Many hundreds of persons were in this procession, which was still
very grave and solemn, every one in it impressed by tile sacred
nature of this ancient rite. The chief entered the great door of
the Long House, and all who could find places not reserved
followed. Henry went in with the others, and sat in a corner,
making himself as small as possible. Many women, the place of
whom was high among the Iroquois, were also in the Long House.
The head chiefs sat on raised seats at the north end of the great
room. In front of them, on lower seats, were the minor chiefs of
the three older nations on the left, and of the three younger
nations on the right. In front of these, but sitting on the bark
floor, was a group of warriors. At the east end, on both high
and low seats, were warriors, and facing them on the western side
were women, also on both high and low seats. The southern side
facing the chiefs was divided into sections, each with high and
low seats. The one on the left was occupied by men, and the one
on the right by women. Two small fires burned in the center of
the Long House about fifteen feet apart.
It was the most singular and one of the most impressive scenes
that Henry had ever beheld. When all had found their seats there
was a deep silence. Henry could hear the slight crackling made
by the two fires as they burned, and the light fell faintly
across the multitude of dark, eager faces. Not less than five
hundred people were in the Long House, and here was the red man
at his best, the first of the wild, not the second or third of
the civilized, a drop of whose blood in his veins brings to the
white man now a sense of pride, and not of shame, as it does when
that blood belongs to some other races.
The effect upon Henry was singular. He almost forgot that he was
a foe among them on a mission. For the moment he shared in their
feelings, and he waited with eagerness for whatever might come.
Thayendanegea, the Mohawk, stood up in his place among the great
chiefs. The role he was about to assume belonged to Atotarho,
the Onondaga, but the old Onondaga assigned it for the occasion
to Thayendanegea, and there was no objection. Thayendanegea was
an educated man, be had been in England, he was a member of a
Christian church, and be had translated a part of the Bible from
English into his own tongue, but now he was all a Mohawk, a son
of the forest.
He spoke to the listening crowd of the glories of the Six
Nations, how Hah-gweh-di-yu (The Spirit of Good) had inspired
Hiawatha to form the Great Confederacy of the Five Nations,
afterwards the Six; how they had held their hunting grounds for
nearly two centuries against both English and French; and how
they would hold them against the Americans. He stopped at
moments, and deep murmurs of approval went through the Long
House. The eyes of both men and women flashed as the orator
spoke of their glory and greatness. Timmendiquas, in a place of
honor, nodded approval. If he could he would form such another
league in the west.
The air in the Long House, breathed by so many, became heated.
It seemed to have in it a touch of fire. The orator's words
burned. Swift and deep impressions were left upon the excited
brain. The tall figure of the Mohawk towered, gigantic, in the
half light, and the spell that he threw over all was complete.
He spoke about half an hour, but when he stopped he did not sit
down. Henry knew by the deep breath that ran through the Long
House that something more was coming from Thayendanegea.
Suddenly the red chief began to sing in a deep, vibrant voice,
and this was the song that he sung:
This was the roll of you,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
You that joined in the work,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
You that finished the task,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
The Great League,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
There was the same incessant repetition of "Haih haih!" that
Henry had noticed in the chant at the edge of the woods, but it
seemed to give a cumulative effect, like the roll of thunder, and
at every slight pause that deep breath of approval ran through
the crowd in the Long House. The effect of the song was
indescribable. Fire ran in the veins of all, men, women, and
children. The great pulses in their throats leaped up. They
were the mighty nation, the ever-victorious, the League of the
Ho-de-no-sau-nee, that had held at bay both the French and the
English since first a white man was seen in the land, and that
would keep back the Americans now.
Henry glanced at Timmendiquas. The nostrils of the great White
Lightning were twitching. The song reached to the very roots of
his being, and aroused all his powers. Like Thayendanegea, he
was a statesman, and he saw that the Americans were far more
formidable to his race than English or French had ever been. The
Americans were upon the ground, and incessantly pressed upon the
red man, eye to eye. Only powerful leagues like those of the
Iroquois could withstand them.
Thayendanegea sat down, and then there was another silence, a
period lasting about two minutes. These silences seemed to be a
necessary part of all Iroquois rites. When it closed two young
warriors stretched an elm bark rope across the room from east to
west and near the ceiling, but between the high chiefs and the
minor chiefs. Then they hung dressed skins all along it, until
the two grades of chiefs were hidden from the view of each other.
This was the sign of mourning, and was followed by a silence.
The fires in the Long House had died down somewhat, and little
was to be seen but the eyes and general outline of the people.
Then a slender man of middle years, the best singer in all the
Iroquois nation, arose and sang:
To the great chiefs bring we greeting,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
To the dead chiefs, kindred greeting,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
To the strong men 'round him greeting,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
To the mourning women greeting,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
There our grandsires' words repeating,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
Graciously, Oh, grandsires, hear,
All hail! All hail! All hail!
The singing voice was sweet, penetrating, and thrilling, and the
song was sad. At the pauses deep murmurs of sorrow ran through
the crowd in the Long House. Grief for the dead held them all.
When he finished, Satekariwate, the Mohawk, holding in his hands
three belts of wampum, uttered a long historical chant telling of
their glorious deeds, to which they listened patiently. The
chant over, he handed the belts to an attendant, who took them to
Thayendanegea, who held them for a few moments and looked at them
One of the wampum belts was black, the sign of mourning; another
was purple, the sign of war; and the third was white, the sign of
peace. They were beautiful pieces of workmanship, very old.
When Hiawatha left the Onondagas and fled to the Mohawks he
crossed a lake supposed to be the Oneida. While paddling along
he noticed that man tiny black, purple, and white shells clung to
his paddle. Reaching the shore he found such shells in long rows
upon the beach, and it occurred to him to use them for the
depiction of thought according to color. He strung them on
threads of elm bark, and afterward, when the great league was
formed, the shells were made to represent five clasped hands.
For four hundred years the wampum belts have been sacred among
Now Thayendanegea gave the wampum belts back to the attendant,
who returned them to Satekariwate, the Mohawk. There was a
silence once more, and then the chosen singer began the Consoling
Song again, but now he did not sing it alone. Two hundred male
voices joined him, and the time became faster. Its tone changed
from mourning and sorrow to exultation and menace. Everyone
thought of war, the tomahawk, and victory. The song sung as it
was now became a genuine battle song, rousing and thrilling. The
Long House trembled with the mighty chorus, and its volume poured
forth into the encircling dark woods.
All the time the song was going on, Satekariwate, the Mohawk,
stood holding the belts in his hand, but when it was over he gave
them to an attendant, who carried them to another head chief.
Thayendanegea now went to the center of the room and, standing
between the two fires, asked who were the candidates for the
places of the dead chiefs.
The dead chiefs were three, and three tall men, already chosen
among their own tribes, came forward to succeed them. Then a
fourth came, and Henry was startled. It was Timmendiquas, who,
as the bravest chief of the brave Wyandots, was about to become,
as a signal tribute, and as a great sign of friendship, an
adopted son and honorary chief of the Mohawks, Keepers of the
Western Gate, and most warlike of all the Iroquois tribes.
As Timmendiquas stood before Thayendanegea, a murmur of approval
deeper than any that had gone before ran through all the crowd in
the Long House, and it was deepest on the women's benches, where
sat many matrons of the Iroquois, some of whom were chiefs-a
woman could be a chief among the Iroquois.
The candidates were adjudged acceptable by the other chiefs, and
Thayendanegea addressed them on their duties, while they listened
in grave silence. With his address the sacred part of the rite
was concluded. Nothing remained now but the great banquet
outside - although that was much - and they poured forth to it
joyously, Thayendanegea, the Mohawk, and Timmendiquas, the
Wyandot, walking side by side, the finest two red chiefs on all
the American continent.
THE EVIL SPIRIT'S WORK
Henry slipped forth with the crowd from the Long House, stooping
somewhat and shrinking into the smallest possible dimensions.
But there was little danger now that any one would notice him, as
long as he behaved with prudence, because all grief and solemnity
were thrown aside, and a thousand red souls intended to rejoice.
A vast banquet was arranged. Great fires leaped up all through
the village. At every fire the Indian women, both young and old,
were already far forward with the cooking. Deer, bear, squirrel,
rabbit, fish, and every other variety of game with which the
woods and rivers of western New York and Pennsylvania swarmed
were frying or roasting over the coals, and the air was permeated
with savory odors. There was a great hum of voices and an
incessant chattering. Here in the forest, among themselves, and
in complete security, the Indian stoicism was relaxed. According
to their customs everybody fell to eating at a prodigious rate,
as if they had not tasted anything for a month, and as if they
intended to eat enough now to last another month.
It was far into the night, because the ceremonies had lasted a
long time, but a brilliant moon shone down upon the feasting
crowd, and the flames of the great fires, yellow and blue, leaped
and danced. This was an oasis of light and life. Timmendiquas
and Thayendanegea sat together before the largest fire, and they
ate with more restraint than the others. Even at the banquet
they would not relax their dignity as great chiefs. Old
Skanawati, the Onondaga, old Atotarho, Onondaga, too,
Satekariwate, the Mohawk, Kanokarih, the Seneca, and others, head
chiefs though they were of the three senior tribes, did not
hesitate to eat as the rich Romans of the Empire ate, swallowing
immense quantities of all kinds of meat, and drinking a sort of
cider that the women made. Several warriors ate and drank until
they fell down in a stupor by the fires. The same warriors on
the hunt or the war path would go for days without food, enduring
every manner of hardship. Now and then a warrior would leap up
and begin a chant telling of some glorious deed of his. Those at
his own fire would listen, but elsewhere they took no notice.
In the largest open space a middle-aged Onondaga with a fine face
suddenly uttered a sharp cry: " Hehmio!" which he rapidly
repeated twice. Two score voices instantly replied, "Heh!" and a
rush was made for him. At least a hundred gathered around him,
but they stood in a respectful circle, no one nearer than ten
feet. He waved his hand, and all sat down on the ground. Then,
he, too, sat down, all gazing at him intently and with
He was a professional story-teller, an institution great and
honored among the tribes of the Iroquois farther back even than
Hiawatha. He began at once the story of the warrior who learned
to talk with the deer and the bear, carrying it on through many
chapters. Now and then a delighted listener would cry " Hah!"
but if anyone became bored and fell asleep it was considered an
omen of misfortune to the sleeper, and he was chased
ignominiously to his tepee. The Iroquois romancer was better
protected than the white one is. He could finish some of his
stories in one evening, but others were serials. When he arrived
at the end of the night's installment he would cry, "Si-ga!"
which was equivalent to our "To be continued in our next." Then
all would rise, and if tired would seek sleep, but if not they
would catch the closing part of some other story-teller's
At three fires Senecas were playing a peculiar little wooden
flute of their own invention, that emitted wailing sounds not
without a certain sweetness. In a corner a half dozen warriors
hurt in battle were bathing their wounds with a soothing lotion
made from the sap of the bass wood.
Henry lingered a while in the darkest corners, witnessing the
feasting, hearing the flutes and the chants, listening for a
space to the story-tellers and the enthusiastic "Hahs!" They
were so full of feasting and merrymaking now that one could
almost do as he pleased, and he stole toward the southern end of
the village, where he had noticed several huts, much more
strongly built than the others. Despite all his natural skill
and experience his heart beat very fast when he came to the
first. He was about to achieve the great exploration upon which
he had ventured so much. Whether he would find anything at the
end of the risk he ran, he was soon to see.
The hut, about seven feet square and as many feet in height, was
built strongly of poles, with a small entrance closed by a
clapboard door fastened stoutly on the outside with withes. The
hut was well in the shadow of tepees, and all were still at the
feasting and merrymaking. He cut the withes with two sweeps of
his sharp hunting knife, opened the door, bent his head, stepped
in and then closed the door behind him, in order that no Iroquois
might see what had happened.
It was not wholly dark in the hut, as there were cracks between
the poles, and bars of moonlight entered, falling upon a floor of
bark. They revealed also a figure lying full length on one side
of the but. A great pulse of joy leaped up in Henry's throat,
and with it was a deep pity, also. The figure was that of
Shif'less Sol, but be was pale and thin, and his arms and legs
were securely bound with thongs of deerskin.
Leaning over, Henry cut the thongs of the shiftless one, but he
did not stir. Great forester that Shif'less Sol was, and usually
so sensitive to the lightest movement, be perceived nothing now,
and, had he not found him bound, Henry would have been afraid
that he was looking upon his dead comrade. The hands of the
shiftless one, when the hands were cut, had fallen limply by his
side, and his face looked all the more pallid by contrast with
the yellow hair which fell in length about it. But it was his
old-time friend, the dauntless Shif'less Sol, the last of the
five to vanish so mysteriously.
Henry bent down and pulled him by the shoulder. The captive
yawned, stretched himself a little, and lay still again with
closed eyes. Henry shook him a second time and more violently.
Shif'less Sol sat up quickly, and Henry knew that indignation
prompted the movement. Sol held his arms and legs stiffly and
seemed to be totally unconscious that they were unbound. He cast
one glance upward, and in the dim light saw the tall warrior
bending over him.
"I'll never do it, Timmendiquas or White Lightning, whichever
name you like better!" he exclaimed. "I won't show you how to
surprise the white settlements. You can burn me at the stake or
tear me in pieces first. Now go away and let me sleep."
He sank back on the bark, and started to close his eyes again.
It was then that he noticed for the first time that his hands
were unbound. He held them up before his face, as if they were
strange objects wholly unattached to himself, and gazed at them
in amazement. He moved his legs and saw that they, too, were
unbound. Then he turned his startled gaze upward at the face of
the tall warrior who was looking down at him. Shif'less Sol was
wholly awake now. Every faculty in him was alive, and he pierced
through the Shawnee disguise. He knew who it was. He knew who
had come to save him, and he sprang to his feet, exclaiming the
The hands of the comrades met in the clasp of friendship which
only many dangers endured together can give.
"How did you get here?" asked the shiftless one in a whisper.
"I met an Indian in the forest," replied Henry, "and well I am
Shif'less Sol laughed under his breath.
"I see," said he, "but how did you get through the camp? It's a
big one, and the Iroquois are watchful. Timmendiquas is here,
too, with his Wyandots."
"They are having a great feast," replied Henry, "and I could go
about almost unnoticed. Where are the others, Sol?"
"In the cabins close by."
"Then we'll get out of this place. Quick! Tie up your hair! In
the darkness you can easily pass for an Indian."
The shiftless one drew his hair into a scalp lock, and the two
slipped from the cabin, closing the door behind them and deftly
retying the thongs, in order that the discovery of the escape
might occur as late as possible. Then they stood a few moments
in the shadow of the hut and listened to the sounds of revelry,
the monotone of the story-tellers, and the chant of the singers.
"You don't know which huts they are in, do you?" asked Henry,
"No, I don't," replied tile shiftless one.
"Get back!" exclaimed Henry softly. "Don't you see who's passing
"Braxton Wyatt," said Sol. "I'd like to get my hands on that
scoundrel. I've had to stand a lot from him."
"The score must wait. But first we'll provide you with weapons.
See, the Iroquois have stacked some of their rifles here while
they're at the feast."
A dozen good rifles had been left leaning against a hut near by,
and Henry, still watching lest he be observed, chose the best,
with its ammunition, for his comrade, who, owing to his
semi-civilized attire, still remained in the shadow of the other
"Why not take four?" whispered the shiftless one. "We'll need
them for the other boys."
Henry took four, giving two to his comrade, and then they hastily
slipped back to the other side of the hut. A Wyandot and a
Mohawk were passing, and they had eyes of hawks. Henry and Sol
waited until the formidable pair were gone, and then began to
examine the huts, trying to surmise in which their comrades lay.
"I haven't seen 'em a-tall, a-tall," said Sol, "but I reckon from
the talk that they are here. I was s'prised in the woods, Henry.
A half dozen reds jumped on me so quick I didn't have time to
draw a weepin. Timmendiquas was at the head uv 'em an' he just
grinned. Well, he is a great chief, if he did truss me up like a
fowl. I reckon the same thing happened to the others."
"Come closer, Sol! Come closer!" whispered Henry. More warriors
are walking this way. The feast is breaking up, and they'll
spread all through the camp."
A terrible problem was presented to the two. They could no
longer search among the strong huts, for their comrades. The
opportunity to save had lasted long enough for one only. But
border training is stern, and these two had uncommon courage and
"We must go now, Sol," said Henry, "but we'll come back."
"Yes," said the shiftless one, "we'll come back."
Darting between the huts, they gained the southern edge of the
forest before the satiated banqueters could suspect the presence
of an enemy. Here they felt themselves safe, but they did not
pause. Henry led the way, and Shif'less Sol followed at a fair
degree of speed.
"You'll have to be patient with me for a little while, Henry,"
said Sol in a tone of humility. "When I wuz layin' thar in the
lodge with my hands an' feet tied I wuz about eighty years old,
jest ez stiff ez could be from the long tyin'. When I reached
the edge o' the woods the blood wuz flowin' lively enough to make
me 'bout sixty. Now I reckon I'm fifty, an' ef things go well
I'll be back to my own nateral age in two or three hours."
"You shall have rest before morning," said Henry, "and it will be
in a good place, too. I can promise that."
Shif'less Sol looked at him inquiringly, but he did not say
anything. Like the rest of the five, Sol had acquired the most
implicit confidence in their bold young leader. He had every
reason to feel good. That painful soreness was disappearing from
his ankles. As they advanced through the woods, weeks dropped
from him one by one. Then the months began to roll away, and at
last time fell year by year. As they approached the deeps of the
forest where the swamp lay, Solomon Hyde, the so called shiftless
one, and wholly undeserving of the name, was young again.
"I've got a fine little home for us, Sol," said Henry. "Best
we've had since that time we spent a winter on the island in the
lake. This is littler, but it's harder to find. It'll be a fine
thing to know you're sleeping safe and sound with five hundred
Iroquois warriors only a few miles away."
"Then it'll suit me mighty well," said Shif'less Sol, grinning
broadly. "That's jest the place fur a lazy man like your humble
servant, which is me."
They reached the stepping stones, and Henry paused a moment.
"Do you feel steady enough, Sol, to jump from stone to stone?" he
"I'm feelin' so good I could fly ef I had to," he replied. "Jest
you jump on, Henry, an' fur every jump you take you'll find me
only one jump behind you!"
Henry, without further ado, sprang from one stone to another, and
behind him, stone for stone, came the shiftless one. It was now
past midnight, and the moon was obscured. The keenest eyes
twenty yards away could not have seen the two dusky figures as
they went by leaps into the very heart of the great, black swamp.
They reached the solid ground, and then the hut.
"Here, Sol," said Henry, "is my house, and yours, also, and soon,
I hope, to be that of Paul, Tom, and Jim, too."
"Henry," said Shif'less Sol, " I'm shorely glad to come."
They went inside, stacked their captured rifles against the wall,
and soon were sound asleep.
Meanwhile sleep was laying hold of the Iroquois village, also.
They had eaten mightily and they had drunk mightily. Many times
had they told the glories of Hode-no-sau-nee, the Great League,
and many times had they gladly acknowledged the valor and worth
of Timmendiquas and the brave little Wyandot nation.
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea had sat side by side throughout
the feast, but often other great chiefs were with them-Skanawati,
Atotarho, and Hahiron, the Onondagas; Satekariwate, the Mohawk;
Kanokarih and Kanyadoriyo, the Senecas; and many others.
Toward midnight the women and the children left for the lodges,
and soon the warriors began to go also, or fell asleep on tile
ground, wrapped in their blankets. The fires were allowed to
sink low, and at last the older chiefs withdrew, leaving only
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea.
"You have seen the power and spirit of the Iroquois," said
Thayendanegea. "We can bring many more warriors than are here
into the field, and we will strike the white settlements with
"The Wyandots are not so many as the warriors of the Great
League," said Timmendiquas proudly, "but no one has ever been
before them in battle."
"You speak truth, as I have often heard it," said Thayendanegea
thoughtfully. Then be showed Timmendiquas to a lodge of honor,
the finest in the village, and retired to his own.
The great feast was over, but the chiefs had come to a momentous
decision. Still chafing over their defeat at Oriskany, they
would make a new and formidable attack upon the white
settlements, and Timmendiquas and his fierce Wyandots would help
them. All of them, from the oldest to the youngest, rejoiced in
the decision, and, not least, the famous Thayendanegea. He hated
the Americans most because they were upon the soil, and were
always pressing forward against the Indian. The Englishmen were
far away, and if they prevailed in the great war, the march of
the American would be less rapid. He would strike once more with
the Englishmen, and the Iroquois could deliver mighty blows on
the American rearguard. He and his Mohawks, proud Keepers of the
Western Gate, would lead in the onset. Thayendanegea considered
it a good night's work, and he slept peacefully.
The great camp relapsed into silence. The warriors on the ground
breathed perhaps a little heavily after so much feasting, and the
fires were permitted to smolder down to coals. Wolves and
panthers drawn by the scent of food crept through the thickets
toward the faint firelight, but they were afraid to draw near.
Morning came, and food and drink were taken to the lodges in
which four prisoners were held, prisoners of great value, taken
by Timmendiquas and the Wyandots, and held at his urgent
insistence as hostages.
Three were found as they had been left, and when their bonds were
loosened they ate and drank, but the fourth hut was empty. The
one who spoke in a slow, drawling way, and the one who seemed to
be the most dangerous of them all, was gone. Henry and Sol had
taken the severed thongs with them, and there was nothing to show
how the prisoner had disappeared, except that the withes
fastening the door had been cut.
The news spread through the village, and there was much
excitement. Thayendanegea and Timmendiquas came and looked at
the empty hut. Timmendiquas may have suspected how Shif'less Sol
had gone, but he said nothing. Others believed that it was the
work of Hahgweh-da-et-gah (The Spirit of Evil), or perhaps Ga-oh
(The Spirit of the Winds) had taken him away.
"It is well to keep a good watch on the others," said
Timmendiquas, and Thayendanegea nodded.
That day the chiefs entered the Long House again, and held a
great war council. A string of white wampum about a foot in
length was passed to every chief, who held it a moment or two
before handing it to his neighbors. It was then laid on a table
in the center of the room, the ends touching. This signified
harmony among the Six Nations. All the chiefs had been summoned
to this place by belts of wampum sent to the different tribes by
runners appointed by the Onondagas, to whom this honor belonged.
All treaties had to be ratified by the exchange of belts, and now
this was done by the assembled chiefs.
Timmendiquas, as an honorary chief of the Mohawks, and as the
real head of a brave and allied nation, was present throughout
the council. His advice was asked often, and when he gave it the
others listened with gravity and deference. The next day the
village played a great game of lacrosse, which was invented by
the Indians, and which had been played by them for centuries
before the arrival of the white man. In this case the match was
on a grand scale, Mohawks and Cayugas against Onondagas and
The game began about nine o'clock in the morning in a great
natural meadow surrounded by forest. The rival sides assembled
opposite each other and bet heavily. All the stakes, under the
law of the game, were laid upon the ground in heaps here, and
they consisted of the articles most precious to the Iroquois. In
these heaps were rifles, tomahawks, scalping knives, wampum,
strips of colored beads, blankets, swords, belts, moccasins,
leggins, and a great many things taken as spoil in forays on the
white settlements, such is small mirrors, brushes of various
kinds, boots, shoes, and other things, the whole making a vast
These heaps represented great wealth to the Iroquois, and the
older chiefs sat beside them in the capacity of stakeholders and
The combatants, ranged in two long rows, numbered at least five
hundred on each side, and already they began to show an
excitement approaching that which animated them when they would
go into battle. Their eyes glowed, and the muscles on their
naked backs and chests were tense for the spring. In order to
leave their limbs perfectly free for effort they wore no clothing
at all, except a little apron reaching from the waist to the
The extent of the playground was marked off by two pair of "byes"
like those used in cricket, planted about thirty rods apart. But
the goals of each side were only about thirty feet apart.
At a signal from the oldest of the chiefs the contestants
arranged themselves in two parallel lines facing each other,
inside the area and about ten rods apart. Every man was armed
with a strong stick three and a half to four feet in length, and
curving toward the end. Upon this curved end was tightly
fastened a network of thongs of untanned deerskin, drawn until
they were rigid and taut. The ball with which they were to play
was made of closely wrapped elastic skins, and was about the size
of an ordinary apple.
At the end of the lines, but about midway between them, sat the
chiefs, who, besides being judges and stakeholders, were also
score keepers. They kept tally of the game by cutting notches
upon sticks. Every time one side put the ball through the
other's goal it counted one, but there was an unusual power
exercised by the chiefs, practically unknown to the games of
white men. If one side got too far ahead, its score was cut down
at the discretion of the chiefs in order to keep the game more
even, and also to protract it sometimes over three or four days.
The warriors of the leading side might grumble among one another
at the amount of cutting the chiefs did, but they would not dare
to make any protest. However, the chiefs would never cut the
leading side down to an absolute parity with the other. It was
always allowed to retain a margin of the superiority it had won.
The game was now about to begin, and the excitement became
intense. Even the old judges leaned forward in their eagerness,
while the brown bodies of the warriors shone in the sun, and the
taut muscles leaped up under the skin. Fifty players on each
side, sticks in hand, advanced to the center of the ground, and
arranged themselves somewhat after the fashion of football
players, to intercept the passage of the ball toward their goals.
Now they awaited the coming of the ball.
There were several young girls, the daughters of chiefs. The most
beautiful of these appeared. She was not more than sixteen or
seventeen years of age, as slender and graceful as a young deer,
and she was dressed in the finest and most richly embroidered
deerskin. Her head was crowned with a red coronet, crested with
plumes, made of the feathers of the eagle and heron. She wore
silver bracelets and a silver necklace.
The girl, bearing in her hand the ball, sprang into the very
center of the arena, where, amid shouts from all the warriors,
she placed it upon the ground. Then she sprang back and joined
the throng of spectators. Two of the players, one from each
side, chosen for strength and dexterity, advanced. They hooked
the ball together in their united bats and thus raised it aloft,
until the bats were absolutely perpendicular. Then with a quick,
jerking motion they shot it upward. Much might be gained by this
first shot or stroke, but on this occasion the two players were
equal, and it shot almost absolutely straight into the air. The
nearest groups made a rush for it, and the fray began.
Not all played at once, as the crowd was so great, but usually
twenty or thirty on each side struck for tile ball, and when they
became exhausted or disabled were relieved by similar groups.
All eventually came into action.
The game was played with the greatest fire and intensity,
assuming sometimes the aspect of a battle. Blows with the
formidable sticks were given and received. Brown skins were
streaked with blood, heads were cracked, and a Cayuga was killed.
Such killings were not unusual in these games, and it was always
considered the fault of the man who fell, due to his own
awkwardness or unwariness. The body of the dead Cayuga was taken
away in disgrace.
All day long the contest was waged with undiminished courage and
zeal, party relieving party. The meadow and the surrounding
forest resounded with the shouts and yells of combatants and
spectators. The old squaws were in a perfect frenzy of
excitement, and their shrill screams of applause or condemnation
rose above every other sound.
On this occasion, as the contest did not last longer than one
day, the chiefs never cut down the score of the leading side.
The game closed at sunset, with the Senecas and Onondagas
triumphant, and richer by far than they were in the morning. The
Mohawks and Cayugas retired, stripped of their goods and
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea, acting as umpires watched the
game closely to its finish, but not so the renegades Braxton
Wyatt and Blackstaffe. They and Quarles had wandered eastward
with some Delawares, and had afterward joined the band of
Wyandots, though Timmendiquas gave them no very warm welcome.
Quarles had left on some errand a few days before. They had
rejoiced greatly at the trapping of the four, one by one, in the
deep bush. But they had felt anger and disappointment when the
fifth was not taken, also. Now both were concerned and alarmed
over the escape of Shif'less Sol in the night, and they drew
apart from the Indians to discuss it.
"I think," said Wyatt, "that Hyde did not manage it himself, all
alone. How could he? He was bound both hand and foot; and I've
learned, too, Blackstaffe, that four of the best Iroquois rifles
have been taken. That means one apiece for Hyde and the three
prisoners that are left."
The two exchanged looks of meaning and understanding.
"It must have been the boy Ware who helped Hyde to get away,"
said Blackstaffe, "and their taking of the rifles means that he
and Hyde expect to rescue the other three in the same way. You
think so, too?"
"Of course," replied Wyatt. "What makes the Indians, who are so
wonderfully alert and watchful most of the time, become so
careless when they have a great feast?"
Blackstaffe shrugged his shoulders.
"It is their way," he replied. "You cannot change it. Ware
must have noticed what they were about, and he took advantage of
it. But I don't think any of the others will go that way."
"The boy Cotter is in here," said Braxton Wyatt, tapping the
side of a small hut. "Let's go in and see him."
"Good enough," said Blackstaffe. "But we mustn't let him know
that Hyde has escaped."
Paul, also bound hand and foot, was lying on an old wolfskin.
He, too, was pale and thin-the strict confinement had told upon
him heavily-but Paul's spirit could never be daunted. He looked
at the two renegades with hatred and contempt.
"Well, you're in a fine fix," said Wyatt sneeringly. "We just
came in to tell you that we took Henry Ware last night."
Paul looked him straight and long in the eye, and he knew that
the renegade was lying.
"I know better," he said.
"Then we will get him," said Wyatt, abandoning the lie, "and all
of you will die at the stake."
"You, will not get him," said Paul defiantly, "and as for the
rest of us dying at the stake, that's to be seen. I know this:
Timmendiquas considers us of value, to be traded or exchanged,
and he's too smart a man to destroy what be regards as his own
property. Besides, we may escape. I don't want to boast,
Braxton Wyatt, but you know that we're hard to hold."
Then Paul managed to turn over with his face to the wall, as if
he were through with them. They went out, and Braxton Wyatt said
"Nothing to be got out of him."
"No," said Blackstaffe, "but we must urge that the strictest
kind of guard be kept over the others."
The Iroquois were to remain some time at the village, because all
their forces were not yet gathered for the great foray they had
in mind. The Onondaga runners were still carrying the wampum
belts of purple shells, sign of war, to distant villages of the
tribes, and parties of warriors were still coming in. A band of
Cayugas arrived that night, and with them they brought a half
starved and sick, Lenni-Lenape, whom they had picked up near the
camp. The Lenni-Lenape, who looked as if he might have been when
in health a strong and agile warrior, said that news had reached
him through the Wyandots of the great war to be waged by the
Iroquois on the white settlements, and the spirits would not let
him rest unless he bore his part in it. He prayed therefore to
be accepted among them.
Much food was given to the brave Lenni-Lenape, and he was sent to
a lodge to rest. To-morrow he would be well, and he would be
welcomed to the ranks of the Cayugas, a Younger nation. But when
the morning came, the lodge was empty. The sick Lenni-Lenape was
gone, and with him the boy, Paul, the youngest of the prisoners.
Guards bad been posted all around the camp, but evidently the two
had slipped between. Brave and advanced as were the Iroquois,
superstition seized upon them. Hah-gweli-da-et-gah was at work
among them, coming in the form of the famished Lenni-Lenape. He
had steeped them in a deep sleep, and then he had vanished with
the prisoner in Se-oh (The Night). Perhaps lie had taken away
the boy, who was one of a hated race, for some sacrifice or
mystery of his own. The fears of the Iroquois rose. If the
Spirit of Evil was among them, greater harm could be expected.
But the two renegades, Blackstaffe and Wyatt, raged. They did
not believe in the interference of either good spirits or bad
spirits, and just now their special hatred was a famished
"Why on earth didn't I think of it?" exclaimed Wyatt. "I'm sure
now by his size that it was the fellow Hyde. Of Course he
slipped to the lodge, let Cotter out, and they dodged about in
the darkness until they escaped in the forest. I'll complain to
He was as good as his word, speaking of the laxness of both
Iroquois and Wyandots. The great White Lightning regarded him
with an icy stare.
"You say that the boy, Cotter, escaped through carelessness?" he
"I do," exclaimed Wyatt.
"Then why did you not prevent it?"
Wyatt trembled a little before the stern gaze of the chief.
Since when," continued Timmendiquas, "have you, a deserter front
your own people, had the right to hold to account the head chief
of the Wyandots?" Braxton Wyatt, brave though he undoubtedly
was, trembled yet more. He knew that Timmendiquas did not like
him, and that the Wyandot chieftain could make his position among
the Indians precarious.
"I did not mean to say that it was the fault of anybody in
particular," he exclaimed hastily, "but I've been hearing so much
talk about the Spirit of Evil having a hand in this that I
couldn't keep front saying something. Of course, it was Henry
Ware and Hyde who did it!"
"It may be," said Timmendiquas icily, "but neither the Manitou of
the Wyandots, nor the Aieroski of the Iroquois has given to me
the eyes to see everything that happens in the dark."
Wyatt withdrew still in a rage, but afraid to say more. He and
Blackstaffe held many conferences through the day, and they
longed for the presence of Simon Girty, who was farther west.
That night an Onondaga runner arrived from one of the farthest
villages of the Mohawks, far east toward Albany. He had been
sent from a farther village, and was not known personally to the
warriors in the great camp, but he bore a wampum belt of purple
shells, the sign of war, and he reported directly to
Thayendanegea, to whom he brought stirring and satisfactory
words. After ample feasting, as became one who had come so far,
he lay upon soft deerskins in one of the bark huts and sought
But Braxton Wyatt, the renegade, could not sleep. His evil
spirit warned him to rise and go to the huts, where the two
remaining prisoners were kept. It was then about one o'clock in
the morning, and as he passed he saw the Onondaga runner at the
door of one of the prison lodges. He was about to cry out, but
the Onondaga turned and struck him such a violent blow with the
butt of a pistol, snatched from under his deerskin tunic, that he
fell senseless. When a Mohawk sentinel found and revived him an
hour later, the door of the hut was open, and the oldest of the
prisoners, the one called Ross, was gone.
Now, indeed, were the Iroquois certain that the Spirit of Evil
was among them. When great chiefs like Timmendiquas and
Thayendanegea were deceived, how could a common warrior hope to
escape its wicked influence!
But Braxton Wyatt, with a sore and aching head, lay all day on a
bed of skins, and his friend, Moses Blackstaffe, could give him
The following night the camp was swept by a sudden and tremendous
storm of thunder and lightning, wind and rain. Many of the
lodges were thrown down, and when the storm finally whirled
itself away, it was found that the last of the prisoners, he of
the long arms and long legs, had gone on the edge of the blast.
Truly the Evil Spirit had been hovering over the Iroquois
The five lay deep in the swamp, reunited once more, and full of
content. The great storm in which Long Jim, with the aid of his
comrades, had disappeared, was whirling off to the eastward. The
lightning was flaring its last on the distant horizon, but the
rain still pattered in the great woods.
It was a small hut, but the five could squeeze in it. They were
dry, warm, and well armed, and they had no fear of the storm and
the wilderness. The four after their imprisonment and privations
were recovering their weight and color. Paul, who had suffered
the most, had, on the other hand, made the quickest recovery, and
their present situation, so fortunate in contrast with their
threatened fate a few days before, made a great appeal to his
imagination. The door was allowed to stand open six inches , and
through the crevice he watched the rain pattering on the dark
earth. He felt an immense sense of security and comfort. Paul
was hopeful by nature and full of courage, but when he lay bound
and alone in a hut in the Iroquois camp it seemed to him that no
chance was left. The comrades had been kept separate, and he had
supposed the others to be dead. But here he was snatched from
the very pit of death, and all the others had been saved from a
"If I'd known that you were alive and uncaptured, Henry," he
said, " I'd never have given up hope. It was a wonderful thing
you did to start the chain that drew us all away."
"It's no more than Sol or Tom or any of you would have done,"
"We might have tried it," said Long Jim Hart, "but I ain't sure
that we'd have done it. Likely ez not, ef it had been left to me
my scalp would be dryin' somewhat in the breeze that fans a
Mohawk village. Say, Sol, how wuz it that you talked Onondaga
when you played the part uv that Onondaga runner. Didn't know
you knowed that kind uv Injun lingo."
Shif'less Sol drew himself up proudly, and then passed a
thoughtful hand once or twice across his forehead.
"Jim," he said, "I've told you often that Paul an' me hez the
instincts uv the eddicated. Learnin' always takes a mighty
strong hold on me. Ef I'd had the chance, I might be a
purfessor, or mebbe I'd be writin' poetry. I ain't told you
about it, but when I wuz a young boy, afore I moved with the
settlers, I wuz up in these parts an' I learned to talk Iroquois
a heap. I never thought it would be the use to me it hez been
now. Ain't it funny that sometimes when you put a thing away an'
it gits all covered with rust and mold, the time comes when that
same forgot little thing is the most vallyble article in the
world to you."
"Weren't you scared, Sol," persisted Paul, "to face a man like
Brant, an' pass yourself off as an Onondaga?"
"No, I wuzn't," replied the shiftless one thoughtfully, "I've
been wuss scared over little things. I guess that when your life
depends on jest a motion o' your hand or the turnin' o' a word,
Natur' somehow comes to your help an' holds you up. I didn't get
good an' skeered till it wuz all over, an' then I had one fit
right after another."
"I've been skeered fur a week without stoppin'," said Tom Ross;
"jest beginnin' to git over it. I tell you, Henry, it wuz
pow'ful lucky fur us you found them steppin' stones, an' this
solid little place in the middle uv all that black mud."
"Makes me think uv the time we spent the winter on that island
in the lake," said Long Jim. "That waz shorely a nice place an'
pow'ful comf'table we wuz thar. But we're a long way from it
now. That island uv ours must be seven or eight hundred miles
from here, an' I reckon it's nigh to fifteen hundred to New
Orleans, whar we wuz once."
"Shet up," said Tom Ross suddenly. "Time fur all uv you to go to
sleep, an' I'm goin' to watch."
"I'll watch," said Henry.
"I'm the oldest, an' I'm goin' to have my way this time," said
"Needn't quarrel with me about it," said Shif'less Sol. "A lazy
man like me is always willin' to go to sleep. You kin hev my
watch, Tom, every night fur the next five years."
He ranged himself against the wall, and in three minutes was
sound asleep. Henry and Paul found room in the line, and they,
too, soon slept. Tom sat at the door, one of the captured rifles
across his knees, and watched the forest and the swamp. He saw
the last flare of the distant lightning, and he listened to the
falling of the rain drops until they vanished with the vanishing
wind, leaving the forest still and without noise.
Tom was several years older than any of the others, and, although
powerful in action, be was singularly chary of speech. Henry was
the leader, but somehow Tom looked upon himself as a watcher over
the other four, a sort of elder brother. As the moon came out a
little in the wake of the retreating clouds, he regarded them
"One, two, three, four, five," he murmured to himself. "We're
all here, an' Henry come fur us. That is shorely the greatest
boy the world hez ever seed. Them fellers Alexander an' Hannibal
that Paul talks about couldn't hev been knee high to Henry.
Besides, ef them old Greeks an' Romans hed hed to fight Wyandots
an' Shawnees an' Iroquois ez we've done, whar'd they hev been?"
Tom Ross uttered a contemptuous little sniff, and on the edge of
that sniff Alexander and Hannibal were wafted into oblivion.
Then he went outside and walked about the islet, appreciating for
the tenth time what a wonderful little refuge it was. He was
about to return to the hut when he saw a dozen dark blots along
the high bough of a tree. He knew them. They were welcome
blots. They were wild turkeys that had found what had seemed to
be a secure roosting place in the swamp.
Tom knew that the meat of the little bear was nearly exhausted,
and here was more food come to their hand. "We're five pow'ful
feeders, an' we'll need you," he murmured, looking up at the
turkeys, " but you kin rest thar till nearly mornin'."
He knew that the turkeys would not stir, and he went back to the
hut to resume his watch. just before the first dawn he awoke
"Henry," he said, "a lot uv foolish wild turkeys hev gone to rest
on the limb of a tree not twenty yards from this grand manshun uv
ourn. 'Pears to me that wild turkeys wuz made fur hungry fellers
like us to eat. Kin we risk a shot or two at 'em, or is it too
"I think we can risk the shots," said Henry, rising and taking
his rifle. " We're bound to risk something, and it's not likely
that Indians are anywhere near."
They slipped from the cabin, leaving the other three still sound
asleep, and stepped noiselessly among the trees. The first pale
gray bar that heralded the dawn was just showing in the cast.
"Thar they are," said Tom Ross, pointing at the dozen dark blots
on the high bough.
"We'll take good aim, and when I say 'fire!' we'll both pull
trigger," said Henry.
He picked out a huge bird near the end of the line, but be
noticed when be drew the bead that a second turkey just behind
the first was directly in his line of fire. The fact aroused his
ambition to kill both with one bullet. It was not a mere desire
to slaughter or to display marksmanship, but they needed the
extra turkey for food.
"Are you ready, Tom?" he asked. " Then fire."
They pulled triggers, there were two sharp reports terribly loud
to both under the circumstances, and three of the biggest and
fattest of the turkeys fell heavily to the ground, while the rest
flapped their wings, and with frightened gobbles flew away.
Henry was about to rush forward, but Silent Tom held him back.
"Don't show yourself, Henry! Don't show yourself!" he cried
in tense tones.
"Why, what's the matter?" asked the boy in surprise.
"Don't you see that three turkeys fell, and we are only two to
shoot? An Injun is layin' 'roun' here some whar, an' he drawed a
bead on one uv them turkeys at the same time we did."
Henry laughed and put away Tom's detaining hand.
"There's no Indian about," he said. "I killed two turkeys with
one shot, and I'm mighty proud of it, too. I saw that they were
directly in the line of the bullet, and it went through both."
Silent Tom heaved a mighty sigh of relief, drawn up from great
"I'm tre-men-jeous-ly glad uv that, Henry," he said. "Now when I
saw that third turkey come tumblin' down I wuz shore that one
Injun or mebbe more had got on this snug little place uv ourn in
the swamp, an' that we'd hev to go to fightin' ag'in. Thar come
times, Henry, when my mind just natchally rises up an' rebels
ag'in fightin', 'specially when I want to eat or sleep. Ain't
thar anythin' else but fight, fight, fight, 'though I 'low a
feller hez got to expect a lot uv it out here in the woods?"
They picked up the three turkeys, two gobblers and a hen, and
found them large and fat as butter. More than once the wild
turkey had come to their relief, and, in fact, this bird played a
great part in the life of the frontier, wherever that frontier
might be, as it shifted steadily westward. As they walked back
toward the hut they faced three figures, all three with leveled
"All right, boys," sang out Henry. "It's nobody but Tom and
myself, bringing in our breakfast."
The three dropped their rifles.
"That's good," said Shif'less Sol. "When them shots roused us
out o' our beauty sleep we thought the whole Iroquois nation,
horse, foot, artillery an' baggage wagons, wuz comin' down upon
us. So we reckoned we'd better go out an' lick 'em afore it wuz
"But it's you, an' you've got turkeys, nothin' but turkeys. Sho'
I reckoned from the peart way Long Jim spoke up that you wuz
loaded down with hummin' birds' tongues, ortylans, an' all them
other Roman and Rooshian delicacies Paul talks about in a way to
make your mouth water. But turkeys! jest turkeys! Nothin' but
"You jest wait till you see me cookin' 'em, Sol Hyde," said Long
Jim. "Then your mouth'll water, an' it'll take Henry and Tom both
to hold you back."
But Shif'less Sol's mouth was watering already, and his eyes were
glued on the turkeys.
"I'm a pow'ful lazy man, ez you know, Saplin'," he said, "but I'm
goin' to help you pick them turkeys an' get 'em ready for the
coals. The quicker they are cooked the better it'll suit me."
While they were cooking the turkeys, Henry, a little anxious lest
the sound of the shots had been heard, crossed on the stepping
stones and scouted a bit in the woods. But there was no sign of
Indian presence, and, relieved, he returned to the islet just as
breakfast was ready.
Long Jim had exerted all his surpassing skill, and it was a
contented five that worked on one of the turkeys - the other two
being saved for further needs.
"What's goin' to be the next thing in the line of our duty,
Henry?" asked Long Jim as they ate.
"We'll have plenty to do, from all that Sol tells us," replied
the boy. "It seems that they felt so sure of you, while you were
prisoners, that they often talked about their plans where you
could hear them. Sol has told me of two or three talks between
Timmendiquas and Thayendanegea, and from the last one he gathered
that they're intending a raid with a big army against a place
called Wyoming, in the valley of a river named the Susquehanna.
It's a big settlement, scattered all along the river, and they
expect to take a lot of scalps. They're going to be helped by
British from Canada and Tories. Boys, we're a long way from
home, but shall we go and tell them in Wyoming what's coming?"
"Of course," said the four together.
"Our bein' a long way from home don't make any difference " said
Shif'less Sol. "We're generally a long way from home, an' you
know we sent word back from Pittsburgh to Wareville that we wuz
stayin' a while here in the east on mighty important business."
"Then we go to the Wyoming Valley as straight and as fast as we
can," said Henry. "That's settled. What else did you bear about
their plans, Sol?"
"They're to break up the village here soon and then they'll march
to a place called Tioga. The white men an' I hear that's to be a
lot uv 'em-will join 'em thar or sooner. They've sent chiefs all
the way to our Congress at Philydelphy, pretendin' peace, an'
then, when they git our people to thinkin' peace, they'll jump on
our settlements, the whole ragin' army uv 'em, with tomahawk an'
knife. A white man named John Butler is to command 'em."
"I've heard of him," he said. "They called him 'Indian' Butler
at Pittsburgh. He helped lead the Indians in that terrible
battle of the Oriskany last year. And they say he's got a son,
Walter Butler, who is as bad as he is, and there are other white
leaders of the Indians, the Johnsons and Claus."
"'Pears ez ef we would be needed," said Tom Ross.
"I don't think we ought to hurry," said Henry. The more we know
about the Indian plans the better it will be for the Wyoming
people. We've a safe and comfortable hiding place here, and we
can stay and watch the Indian movements."
"Suits me," drawled Shif'less Sol. "My legs an' arms are still
stiff from them deerskin thongs an' ez Long Jim is here now to
wait on me I guess I'll take a rest from travelin."
"You'll do all your own waitin' on yourself," rejoined Long Jim;
'an I'm afraid you won't be waited on so Pow'ful well, either,
but a good deal better than you deserve."
They lay on the islet several days, meanwhile keeping a close
watch on the Indian camp. They really had little to fear except
from hunting parties, as the region was far from any settled
portion of the country, and the Indians were not likely to
suspect their continued presence. But the hunters were numerous,
and all the squaws in the camp were busy jerking meat. It was
obvious that the Indians were preparing for a great campaign, but
that they would take their own time. Most of the scouting was
done by Henry and Sol, and several times they lay in the thick
brushwood and watched, by the light of the fires, what was
passing in the Indian camp.
On the fifth night after the rescue of Long Jim, Henry and
Shif'less Sol lay in the covert. It was nearly midnight, but the
fires still burned in the Indian camp, warriors were polishing
their weapons, and the women were cutting up or jerking meat.
While they were watching they heard from a point to the north the
sound of a voice rising and failing in a kind of chant.
"Another war party comin'," whispered Shif'less Sol, "an' singin'
about the victories that they're goin' to win."
"But did you notice that voice?" Henry whispered back. " It's
not a man's, it's a woman's."
"Now that you speak of it, you're right," said Shif'less Sol.
"It's funny to hear an Injun woman chantin' about battles as she
comes into camp. That's the business o' warriors."
"Then this is no ordinary woman," said Henry.
"They'll pass along that trail there within twenty yards of us,
Sol, and we want to see her."
"So we do," said Sol, "but I ain't breathin' while they pass."
They flattened themselves against the earth until the keenest eye
could not see them in the darkness. All the time the singing was
growing louder, and both remained, quite sure that it was the
voice of a woman. The trail was but a short distance away, and
the moon was bright. The fierce Indian chant swelled, and
presently the most .singular figure that either had ever seen
came into view.
The figure was that of an Indian woman, but lighter in color than
most of her kind. She was middle-aged, tall, heavily built, and
arrayed in a strange mixture of civilized and barbaric finery,
deerskin leggins and moccasins gorgeously ornamented with heads,
a red dress of European cloth with a red shawl over it, and her
head bare except for bright feathers, thrust in her long black
hair, which hung loosely down her back. She held in one hand a
large sharp tomahawk, which she swung fiercely in time to her
song. Her face had the rapt, terrible expression of one who had
taken some fiery and powerful drug, and she looked neither to
right nor to left as she strode on, chanting a song of blood, and
swinging the keen blade.
Henry and Shif'less Sol shuddered. They had looked upon terrible
human figures, but nothing so frightful as this, a woman with the
strength of a man and twice his rage and cruelty. There was
something weird and awful in the look of that set, savage face,
and the tone of that Indian chant. Brave as they were, Henry and
the shiftless one felt fear, as perhaps they had never felt it
before in their lives. Well they might! They were destined to
behold this woman again, under conditions the most awful of which
the human mind can conceive, and to witness savagery almost
unbelievable in either man or woman. The two did not yet know
it, but they were looking upon Catharine Montour, daughter of a
French Governor General of Canada and an Indian woman, a
chieftainess of the Iroquois, and of a memory infamous forever on
the border, where she was known as "Queen Esther."
Shif'less Sol shuddered again, and whispered to Henry:
"I didn't think such women ever lived, even among the Indians."
A dozen warriors followed Queen Esther, stepping in single file,
and their manner showed that they acknowledged her their leader
in every sense. She was truly an extraordinary woman. Not even
the great Thayendanegea himself wielded a stronger influence
among the Iroquois. In her youth she had been treated as a white
woman, educated and dressed as a white woman, and she had played
a part in colonial society at Albany, New York, and Philadelphia.
But of her own accord she had turned toward the savage half of
herself, had become wholly a savage, had married a savage chief,
bad been the mother of savage children, and here she was, at
midnight, striding into an Iroquois camp in the wilderness, her
head aflame with visions of blood, death, and scalps.
The procession passed with the terrifying female figure still
leading, still singing her chant, and the curiosity of Henry and
Shif'less Sol was so intense that, taking all risks, they slipped
along in the rear to see her entry.
Queen Esther strode into the lighted area of the camp, ceased her
chant, and looked around, as if a queen had truly come and was
waiting to be welcomed by her subjects. Thayendanegea, who
evidently expected her, stepped forward and gave her the Indian
salute. It may be that he received her with mild enthusiasm.
Timmendiquas, a Wyandot and a guest, though an ally, would not
dispute with him his place as real head of the Six Nations, but
this terrible woman was his match ' and could inflame the
Iroquois to almost anything that she wished.
After the arrival of Queen Esther the lights in the Iroquois
village died down. It was evident to both Henry and the
shiftless one that they had been kept burning solely in the
expectation of the coming of this formidable woman and her
escort. It was obvious that nothing more was to be seen that
night, and they withdrew swiftly through the forest toward their
islet. They stopped once in an oak opening, and Shif'less Sol
"Henry," he said, "I feel all through me that somethin' terrible
is comin'. That woman back thar has clean give me the shivers.
I'm more afraid of her than I am of Timmendiquas or
Thayendanegea. Do you think she is a witch?"
"There are no such things as witches, but she was uncanny. I'm
afraid, Sol, that your feeling about something terrible going to
happen is right."
It was about two o'clock in the morning when they reached the
islet. Tom Ross was awake, but the other two slumbered
peacefully on. They told Tom what they had seen, and he told
them the identity of the terrible woman.
"I heard about her at Pittsburgh, an' I've heard tell, too, about
her afore I went to Kentucky to live. She's got a tre-men-jeous
power over the Iroquois. They think she ken throw spells, an'
all that sort of thing-an' mebbe she kin."
Two nights later it was Henry and Tom who lay in the thickets,
and then they saw other formidable arrivals in the Indian camp.
Now they were white men, an entire company in green uniforms, Sir
John Johnson's Royal Greens, as Henry afterward learned; and with
them was the infamous John Butler, or " Indian" Butler, as he was
generally known on the New York and Pennsylvania frontier,
middle-aged, short and fat, and insignificant of appearance, but
energetic, savage and cruel in nature. He was a descendant of
the Duke of Ormond, and had commanded the Indians at the terrible
battle of the Oriskany, preceding Burgoyne's capture the year
Henry and Tom were distant spectators at an extraordinary council
around one of the fires. In this group were Timmendiquas,
Thayendanegea, Queen Esther, high chiefs of the distant nations,
and the white men, John Butler, Moses Blackstaffe, and the boy,
Braxton Wyatt. It seemed to Henry that Timmendiquas, King of the
Wyandots, was superior to all the other chiefs present, even to
Thayendanegea. His expression was nobler than that of the great
Mohawk, and it had less of the Indian cruelty.
Henry and Tom could not hear 'anything that was said, but they
felt sure the Iroquois were about to break up their village and
march on the great campaign they had planned. The two and their
comrades could render no greater service than to watch their
march, and then warn those upon whom the blow was to fall.
The five left their hut on the islet early the next morning, well
equipped with provisions, and that day they saw the Iroquois
dismantle their village, all except the Long House and two or
three other of the more solid structures, and begin the march.
Henry and his comrades went parallel with them, watching their
movements as closely as possible.
A CHANGE OF TENANTS
The five were engaged upon one of their most dangerous tasks, to
keep with the Indian army, and yet to keep out of its hands, to
observe what was going on, and to divine what was intended from
what they observed. Fortunately it, was early summer, and the
weather being very beautiful they could sleep without shelter.
Hence they found it convenient to sleep sometimes by daylight,
posting a watch always, and to spy upon the Indian camp at night.
They saw other reinforcements come for the Indian army,
particularly a strong division of Senecas, under two great war
chiefs of theirs, Sangerachte and Hiokatoo, and also a body of
Then they saw them go into their last great camp at Tioga,
preparatory to their swift descent upon the Wyoming Valley.
About four hundred white men, English Canadians and Tories, were
present, and eight hundred picked warriors of the Six Nations
under Thayendanegea, besides the little band of Wyandots led by
the resolute Timmendiquas. "Indian" Butler was in general
command of the whole, and Queen Esther was the high priestess of
the Indians, continually making fiery speeches and chanting songs
that made the warriors see red. Upon the rear of this
extraordinary army hung a band of fierce old squaws, from whom
every remnant of mercy and Gentleness had departed.
From a high rock overlooking a valley the five saw "Indian"
Butler's force start for its final march upon Wyoming. It was
composed of many diverse elements, and perhaps none more
bloodthirsty ever trod the soil of America. In some preliminary
skirmish a son of Queen Esther had been slain, and now her fury
knew no limits. She took her place at the very head of the army,
whirling her great tomahawk about her head, and neither "Indian"
Butler nor Thayendanegea dared to interfere with her in anything
great or small.
Henry and his comrades, as they left their rock and hastened
toward the valley of Wyoming, felt that now they were coming into
contact with the great war itself. They had looked upon a
uniformed enemy for the first time, and they might soon see the
colonial buff and blue of the eastern army. Their hearts
thrilled high at new scenes and new dangers.
They had gathered at Pittsburgh, and, through the captivity of
the four in the Iroquois camp, they had some general idea of the
Wyoming Valley and the direction in which it lay, and, taking one
last look at the savage army, they sped toward it. The time was
the close, of June, and the foliage was still dark green. It was
a land of low mountain, hill, rich valley, and clear stream, and
it was beautiful to every one of the five. Much of their course
lay along the Susquehanna, and soon they saw signs of a more
extended cultivation than any that was yet to be witnessed in
Kentucky. From the brow of a little hill they beheld a field of
green, and in another field a man plowing.
"That's wheat," said Tom Ross.
"But we can't leave the man to plow," said Henry, "or he'll
never harvest that wheat. We'll warn him."
The man uttered a cry of alarm as five wild figures burst into
his field. He stopped abruptly, and snatched up a rifle that lay
across the plow handles. Neither Henry nor his companions
realized that their forest garb and long life in the wilderness
made them look more like Indians than white men. But Henry threw
up a hand as a sign of peace.
"We're white like yourselves," he cried, "and we've come to warn
you! The Iroquois and the Tories are marching into the valley!"
The man's face blanched, and he cast a hasty look toward a little
wood, where stood a cabin from which smoke was rising. He could
not doubt on a near view that these were white like himself, and
the words rang true.
"My house is strong," he said, "and I can beat them off. Maybe
you will help me."
"We'd help you willingly enough," said Henry, "if this were any
ordinary raiding band, but 'Indian' Butler, Brant, and Queen
Esther are coming at the head of twelve or fifteen hundred men.
How could we hold a house, no matter how thick its walls, against
such an army as that? Don't hesitate a moment! Get up what you
can and gallop."
The man, a Connecticut settler-Jennings was his name-left his
plow in the furrow, galloped on his horse to his house, mounted
his wife and children on other horses, and, taking only food and
clothing, fled to Stroudsburg, where there was a strong fort. At
a later day he gave Henry heartfelt thanks for his warning, as
six hours afterward the vanguard of the horde burned his home
and raged because its owner and his family were gone with their
scalps on their own heads.
The five were now well into the Wyoming Valley, where the
Lenni-Lenape, until they were pushed westward by other tribes,
had had their village Wy-wa-mieh, which means in their language
Wyoming. It was a beautiful valley running twenty miles or more
along the Susquehanna, and about three miles broad. On either
side rose mountain walls a thousand feet in height, and further
away were peaks with mists and vapors around their crests. The
valley itself blazed in the summer sunshine, and the river
sparkled, now in gold, now in silver, as the light changed and
More cultivated fields, more houses, generally of stout logs,
appeared, and to all that they saw the five bore the fiery
beacon. Simon Jennings was not the only man who lived to thank
them for the warning. Others were incredulous, and soon paid the
terrible price of unbelief.
The five hastened on, and as they went they looked about them
with wondering eyes-there were so many houses, so many cultivated
fields, and so many signs of a numerous population. They had
emerged almost for the first time from the wilderness, excepting
their memorable visit to New Orleans, although this was a very
different region. Long Jim spoke of it.
"I think I like it better here than at New Or-leeyuns," he said.
"We found some nice Frenchmen an' Spaniards down thar, but the
ground feels firmer under my feet here."
"The ground feels firmer," said Paul, who had some of the
prescience of the seer, "but the skies are no brighter. They
look red to me sometimes, Jim."
Tom Ross glanced at Paul and shook his head ominously. A
woodsman, he had his superstitions, and Paul's words weighed upon
his mind. He began to fear a great disaster, and his experienced
eye perceived at once the defenseless state of the valley. He
remembered the council of the great Indian force in the deep
woods, and the terrible face of Queen Esther was again before
"These people ought to be in blockhouses, every one uv 'em," he
said. "It ain't no time to be plowin' land."
Yet peace seemed to brood still over the valley. It was a fine
river, beautiful with changing colors. The soil on either side
was as deep and fertile as that of Kentucky, and the line of the
mountains cut the sky sharp and clear. Hills and slopes were
dark green with foliage.
It must have been a gran' huntin' ground once," said Shif'less
The alarm that the five gave spread fast, and other hunters and
scouts came in, confirming it. Panic seized the settlers, and
they began to crowd toward Forty Fort on the west side of the
river. Henry and his comrades themselves arrived there toward
the close of evening, just as the sun had set, blood red, behind
the mountains. Some report of them had preceded their coming,
and as soon as they had eaten they were summoned to the presence
of Colonel Zebulon Butler, who commanded the military force in
the valley. Singularly enough, he was a cousin of "Indian"
Butler, who led the invading army.
The five, dressed in deerskin hunting shirts, leggins, and
moccasins, and everyone carrying a rifle, hatchet, and knife,
entered a large low room, dimly lighted by some wicks burning in
tallow. A man of middle years, with a keen New England face, sat
at a little table, and several others of varying ages stood near.
The five knew instinctively that the man at the table was
Colonel Butler, and they bowed, but they did not show the
faintest trace of subservience. They had caught suspicious
glances from some of the officers who stood about the commander,
and they stiffened at once. Colonel Butler looked involuntarily
at Henry-everybody always took him, without the telling, for
leader of the group.
"We have had report of you," he said in cool noncommittal tones,"
and you have been telling of great Indian councils that you have
seen in the woods. May I ask your name and where you belong?"
"My name," replied Henry with dignity, "is Henry Ware, and I come
from Kentucky. My friends here are Paul Cotter, Solomon Hyde,
Tom Ross, and Jim Hart. They, too, come from Kentucky."
Several of the men gave the five suspicious glances. Certainly
they were wild enough in appearance, and Kentucky was far away.
It would seem strange that new settlers in that far land should
be here in Pennsylvania. Henry saw clearly that his story was
"Kentucky, you tell me?" said Colonel Butler. "Do you mean to
say you have come all that tremendous distance to warn us of an
attack by Indians and Tories?"
Several of the others murmured approval, and Henry flushed a
little, but he saw that the commander was not unreasonable. It
was a time when men might well question the words of strangers.
Remembering this, he replied:
"No, we did not come from Kentucky just to warn you. In fact, we
came from a point much farther than that. We came from New
Orleans to Pittsburgh with a fleet loaded with supplies for the
Continental armies, and commanded by Adam Colfax of New
The face of Colonel Butler brightened.
"What!" he exclaimed, "you were on that expedition? It seems to
me that I recall hearing of great services rendered to it by some
"When we reached Pittsburgh," continued Henry, ""it was our first
intention to go back to Kentucky, but we heard that a great war
movement was in progress to the eastward, and we thought that we
would see what was going on. Four of us have been captives among
the Iroquois. We know much of their plans, and we know, too,
that Timmendiquas, the great chief of the Wyandots, whom we
fought along the Ohio, has joined them with a hand of his best
warriors. We have also seen Thayendanegea, every one of us."
"You have seen Brant?" exclaimed Colonel Butler, calling the
great Mohawk by his white name.
"Yes," replied Henry. "We have seen him, and we have also seen
the woman they call Queen Esther. She is continually urging the
Colonel Butler seemed convinced, and invited them to sit down.
He also introduced the officers who were with him, Colonel John
Durkee, Colonel Nathan Dennison, Lieutenant Colonel George
Dorrance, Major John Garrett, Captain Samuel Ransom, Captain
Dethrie Hewitt, and some others.
"Now, gentlemen, tell us all that you saw," continued Colonel
Butler courteously." You will pardon so many questions, but we
must be careful. You will see that yourselves. But I am a New
England man myself, from Connecticut, and I have met Adam Colfax.
I recall now that we have heard of you, also, and we are grateful
for your coming. Will you and your comrades tell us all that you
have seen and heard?"
The five felt a decided change in the atmosphere. They were no
longer possible Tories or renegades, bringing an alarm at one
point when it should be dreaded at another. The men drew closely
around them, and listened as the tallow wicks sputtered in the
dim room. Henry spoke first, and the others in their turn.
Every one of them spoke tersely but vividly in the language of
the forest. They felt deeply what they had seen, and they drew
the same picture for their listeners. Gradually the faces of the
Wyoming men became shadowed. This was a formidable tale that
they were hearing, and they could not doubt its truth.
"It is worse than I thought it could be," said Colonel Butler at
last." How many men do you say they have, Mr. Ware?"
"Close to fifteen hundred."
"All trained warriors and soldiers. And at the best we cannot
raise more than three hundreds including old men and boys, and
our men, too, are farmers."
"But we can beat them. Only give us a chance, Colonel!"
exclaimed Captain Ransom.
"I'm afraid the chance will come too soon," said Colonel Butler,
and then turning to the five: "Help us all you can. We need
scouts and riflemen. Come to the fort for any food and
ammunition you may need."
The five gave their most earnest assurances that they would stay,
and do all in their power. In fact, they had come for that very
purpose. Satisfied now that Colonel Butler and his officers had
implicit faith in them they went forth to find that, despite the
night and the darkness, fugitives were already crossing the river
to seek refuge in Forty Fort, bringing with them tales of death
and devastation, some of which were exaggerated, but too many
true in all their hideous details. Men had been shot and scalped
in the fields, houses were burning, women and children were
captives for a fate that no one could foretell. Red ruin was
already stalking down the valley.
The farmers were bringing their wives and children in canoes and
dugouts across the river. Here and there a torch light flickered
on the surface of the stream, showing the pale faces of the women
and children, too frightened to cry. They had fled in haste,
bringing with them only the clothes they wore and maybe a blanket
or two. The borderers knew too well what Indian war was, with
all its accompaniments of fire and the stake.
Henry and his comrades helped nearly all that night. They
secured a large boat and crossed the river again and again,
guarding the fugitives with their rifles, and bringing comfort to
many a timid heart. Indian bands had penetrated far into the
Wyoming Valley, but they felt sure that none were yet in the
neighborhood of Forty Fort.
It was about three o'clock in the morning when the last of the
fugitives who had yet come was inside Forty Fort, and the labors
of the five, had they so chosen, were over for the time. But
their nerves were tuned to so high a pitch, and they felt so
powerfully the presence of danger, that they could not rest, nor
did they have any desire for sleep.
The boat in which they sat was a good one, with two pairs of
oars. It had been detailed for their service, and they decided
to pull up the river. They thought it possible that they might
see the advance of the enemy and bring news worth the telling.
Long Jim and Tom Ross took the oars, and their powerful arms sent
the boat swiftly along in the shadow of the western bank. Henry
and Paul looked back and saw dim lights at the fort and a few on
either shore. The valley, the high mountain wall, and everything
else were merged in obscurity.
Both the youths were oppressed heavily by the sense of danger,
not for themselves, but for others. In that Kentucky of theirs,
yet so new, few people lived beyond the palisades, but here were
rich and scattered settlements; and men, even in the face of
great peril, are always loth to abandon the homes that they have
built with so much toil.
Tom Ross and Long Jim continued to pull steadily with the long
strokes that did not tire them, and the lights of the fort and
houses sank out of sight. Before them lay the somber surface of
the rippling river, the shadowy hills, and silence. The world
seemed given over to the night save for themselves, but they knew
too well to trust to such apparent desertion. At such hours the
Indian scouts come, and Henry did not doubt that they were
already near, gathering news of their victims for the Indian and
Tory horde. Therefore, it was the part of his comrades and
himself to use the utmost caution as they passed up the river.
They bugged the western shore, where they were shadowed by banks
and bushes, and now they went slowly, Long Jim and Tom Ross
drawing their oars so carefully through the water that there was
never a plash to tell of their passing. Henry was in the prow of
the boat, bent forward a little, eyes searching the surface of
the river, and ears intent upon any sound that might pass on the
bank. Suddenly he gave a little signal to the rowers and they
let their oars rest.
"Bring the boat in closer to the bank," he whispered. Push it
gently among those bushes where we cannot be seen from above."
Tom and Jim obeyed. The boat slid softly among tall bushes that
shadowed the water, and was hidden completely. Then Henry
stepped out, crept cautiously nearly up the bank, which was here
very low, and lay pressed closely against the earth, but