Part 3 out of 7
supported by the exposed root of a tree. He had heard voices,
those of Indians, he believed, and he wished to see. Peering
through a fringe of bushes that lined the bank he saw seven
warriors and one white face sitting under the boughs of a great
oak. The face was that of Braxton Wyatt, who was now in his
element, with a better prospect of success than any that he had
ever known before. Henry shuddered, and for a moment he
regretted that he had spared Wyatt's life when he might have
But Henry was lying against the bank to hear what these men might
be saying, not to slay. Two of the warriors, as he saw by their
paint, were Wyandots, and he understood the Wyandot tongue.
Moreover, his slight knowledge of Iroquois came into service, and
gradually he gathered the drift of their talk. Two miles nearer
Forty Fort was a farmhouse one of the Wyandots had seen it-not
yet abandoned by its owner, who believed that his proximity to
Forty Fort assured his safety. He lived there with his wife and
five children, and Wyatt and the Indians planned to raid the
place before daylight and kill them all. Henry had heard enough.
He slid back from the bank to the water and crept into the boat.
"Pull back down the river as gently as you can," he whispered,
"and then I'll tell you."
The skilled oarsmen carried the boat without a splash several
hundred yards down the stream, and then Henry told the others of
the fiendish plan that he had heard.
"I know that man," said Shif'less Sol. "His name is Standish. I
was there nine or ten hours ago, an' I told him it wuz time to
take his family an' run. But he knowed more'n I did. Said he'd
stay, he wuzn't afraid, an' now he's got to pay the price."
"No, he mustn't do that," said Henry. "It's too much to pay for
just being foolish, when everybody is foolish sometimes. Boys,
we can yet save that man an' his wife and children. Aren't you
willing to do it?"
"Why, course," said Long Jim. "Like ez not Standish will shoot
at us when we knock on his door, but let's try it."
The others nodded assent.
"How far back from the river is the Standish house, Sol?" asked
"'Bout three hundred yards, I reckon, and' it ain't more'n a mile
"Then if we pull with all our might, we won't be too late. Tom,
you and Jim give Sol and me the oars now."
Henry and the shiftless one were fresh, and they sent the boat
shooting down stream, until they stopped at a point indicated by
Sol. They leaped ashore, drew the boat down the bank, and
hastened toward a log house that they saw standing in a clump of
trees. The enemy had not yet come, but as they swiftly
approached the house a dog ran barking at them. The shiftless
one swung his rifle butt, and the dog fell unconscious.
"I hated to do it, but I had to," he murmured. The next moment
Henry was knocking at the door.
"Up! Up!" he cried, "the Indians are at hand, and you must run
for your lives!"
How many a time has that terrible cry been heard on the American
The sound of a man's voice, startled and angry, came to their
ears, and then they heard him at the door.
"Who are you?" he cried. "Why are you beating on my door at such
"We are friends, Mr. Standish," cried Henry, "and if you would
save your wife and children you must go at once! Open the door!
Open, I say!"
The man inside was in a terrible quandary. It was thus that
renegades or Indians, speaking the white man's tongue, sometimes
bade a door to be opened, in order that they might find an easy
path to slaughter. But the voice outside was powerfully
insistent, it had the note of truth; his wife and children,
roused, too, were crying out, in alarm. Henry knocked again on
the door and shouted to him in a voice, always increasing in
earnestness, to open and flee. Standish could resist no longer.
He took down the bar and flung open the door, springing back,
startled at the five figures that stood before him. In the dusk
he did not remember Shif'less Sol.
"Mr. Standish," Henry said, speaking rapidly, "we are, as you can
see, white. You will be attacked here by Indians and renegades
within half an hour. We know that, because we heard them talking
from the bushes. We have a boat in the river; you can reach it
in five minutes. Take your wife and children, and pull for Forty
Standish was bewildered.
"How do I know that you are not enemies, renegades, yourselves?"
"If we had been that you'd be a dead man already," said Shif'less
It was a grim reply, but it was unanswerable, and Standish
recognized the fact. His wife had felt the truth in the tones of
the strangers, and was begging him to go. Their children were
crying at visions of the tomahawk and scalping knife now so near.
"We'll go," said Standish. "At any rate, it can't do any harm.
We'll get a few things together."
"Do not wait for anything! "exclaimed Henry. "You haven't a
minute to spare! Here are more blankets! Take them and run for
the boat! Sol and Jim, see them on board, and then come back!"
Carried away by such fire and earnestness, Standish and his
family ran for the boat. Jim and the shiftless one almost threw
them on board, thrust a pair of oars into the bands of Standish,
another into the hands of his wife, and then told them to pull
with all their might for the fort.
"And you," cried Standish, "what becomes of you?"
Then a singular expression passed over his face-he had guessed
"Don't you trouble about us," said the shiftless one. "We will
come later. Now pull! pull!"
Standish and his wife swung on the oars, and in two minutes the
boat and its occupants were lost in the darkness. Tom Ross and
Sol did not pause to watch them, but ran swiftly back to the
house. Henry was at the door.
"Come in," he said briefly, and they entered. Then he closed the
door and dropped the bar into place. Shif'less Sol and Paul were
already inside, one sitting on the chair and the other on the
edge of the bed. Some coals, almost hidden under ashes,
smoldered and cast a faint light in the room, the only one that
the house had, although it was divided into two parts by a rough
homespun curtain. Henry opened one of the window shutters a
little and looked out. The dawn had not yet come, but it was not
a dark night, and he looked over across the little clearing to
the trees beyond. On that side was a tiny garden, and near the
wall of the house some roses were blooming. He could see the
glow of pink and red. But no enemy bad yet approached.
Searching the clearing carefully with those eyes of his, almost
preternaturally keen, he was confident that the Indians were
still in the woods. He felt an intense thrill of satisfaction at
the success of his plan so far.
He was not cruel, he never rejoiced in bloodshed, but the
borderer alone knew what the border suffered, and only those who
never saw or felt the torture could turn the other cheek to be
smitten. The Standish house had made a sudden and ominous change
"It will soon be day," said Henry, "and farmers are early risers.
Kindle up that fire a little, will you, Sol? I want some smoke
to come out of the chimney."
The shiftless one raked away the ashes, and put on two or three
pieces of wood that lay on the hearth. Little flames and smoke
arose. Henry looked curiously about the house. It was the usual
cabin of the frontier, although somewhat larger. The bed on
which Shif'less Sol sat was evidently that of the father and
mother, while two large ones behind the curtain were used by the
children. On the shelf stood a pail half full of drinking water,
and by the side of it a tin cup. Dried herbs hung over the
fireplace, and two or three chests stood in the corners. The
clothing of the children was scattered about. Unprepared food
for breakfast stood on a table. Everything told of a hasty
flight and its terrible need. Henry was already resolved, but
his heart hardened within him as he saw.
He took the hatchet from his belt and cut one of the hooks for
the door bar nearly in two. The others said not a word. They
had no need to speak. They understood everything that he did.
He opened the window again and looked out. Nothing yet appeared.
"The dawn will come in three quarters of an hour," he said, "and
we shall not have to wait long for what we want to do."
He sat down facing the door. All the others were sitting, and
they, too, faced the door. Everyone had his rifle across his
knees, with one hand upon the hammer. The wood on the hearth
sputtered as the fire spread, and the flames grew. Beyond a
doubt a thin spire of smoke was rising from the chimney, and a
watching eye would see this sign of a peaceful and unsuspecting
"I hope Braxton Wyatt will be the first to knock at our door,"
said Shif'less Sol.
"I wouldn't be sorry," said Henry.
Paul was sitting in a chair near the fire, and he said nothing.
He hoped the waiting would be very short. The light was
sufficient for him to see the faces of his comrades, and he
noticed that they were all very tense. This was no common watch
that they kept. Shif'less Sol remained on the bed, Henry sat on
another of the chairs, Tom Ross was on one of the chests with his
back to the wall. Long Jim was near the curtain. Close by Paul
was a home-made cradle. He put down his hand and touched it. He
was glad that it was empty now, but the sight of it steeled his
heart anew for the task that lay before them.
Ten silent minutes passed, and Henry went to the window again.
He did not open it, but there was a crack through which he could
see. The others said nothing, but watched his face. When he
turned away they knew that the moment was at hand.
"They've just come from the woods," he said, "and in a minute
they'll be at the door. Now, boys, take one last look at your
A minute later there was a sudden sharp knock at the door, but no
answer came from within. The knock was repeated, sharper and
louder, and Henry, altering his voice as much as possible,
exclaimed like one suddenly awakened from sleep:
"Who is it? What do you want?"
Back came a voice which Henry knew to be that of Braxton Wyatt:
"We've come from farther up the valley. We're scouts, we've been
up to the Indian country. We're half starved. Open and give us
"I don't believe you," replied Henry. "Honest people don't
come to my door at this time in the morning."
Then ensued a few moments of silence, although Paul, with his
vivid fancy, thought he heard whispering on the other side of the
"Open!" cried Wyatt, "or we'll break your door down!" Henry said
nothing, nor did any of the others. They did not stir. The fire
crackled a little, but there was no other sound in the Standish
house. Presently they heard a slight noise outside, that of
"They are going for a log with which to break the door in,"
whispered Henry. "They won't have to look far. The wood pile
isn't fifty feet away."
"An' then," said Shif'less Sol, "they won't have much left to do
but to take the scalps of women an' little children."
Every figure in the Standish house stiffened at the shiftless
one's significant words, and the light in the eyes grew sterner.
Henry went to the door, put his ear to the line where it joined
the wall, and listened.
"They've got their log," he said, "and in half a minute they'll
rush it against the door."
He came back to his old position. Paul's heart began to thump,
and his thumb fitted itself over the trigger of his cocked rifle.
Then they heard rapid feet, a smash, a crash, and the door flew
open. A half dozen Iroquois and a log that they held between
them were hurled into the middle of the room. The door had given
away so easily and unexpectedly that the warriors could not check
themselves, and two or three fell with the log. But they sprang
like cats to their feet, and with their comrades uttered a cry
that filled the whole cabin with its terrible sound and import.
The Iroquois, keen of eyes and quick of mind, saw the trap at
once. The five grim figures, rifle in hand and finger on
trigger, all waiting silent and motionless were far different
from what they expected. Here could be no scalps, with the long,
silky hair of women and children.
There was a moment's pause, and then the Indians rushed at their
foes. Five fingers pulled triggers, flame leaped from five
muzzles, and in an instant the cabin was filled with smoke and
war shouts, but the warriors never had a chance. They could only
strike blindly with their tomahawks, and in a half minute three
of them, two wounded, rushed through the door and fled to the
woods. They had been preceded already by Braxton Wyatt, who had
hung back craftily while the Iroquois broke down the door.
The five made no attempt to pursue. In fact, they did not leave
the cabin, but stood there a while, looking down at the fallen,
hideous with war paint, but now at the end of their last trail.
Their tomahawks lay upon the floor, and glittered when the light
from the fire fell upon them. Smoke, heavy with the odor of
burned gunpowder, drifted about the room.
Henry threw open the two shuttered windows, and fresh currents of
air poured into the room. Over the mountains in the east came
the first shaft of day. The surface of the river was lightening.
"What shall we do with them?" asked Paul, pointing to the silent
forms on the floor.
"Leave them," said Henry. "Butler's army is burning everything
before it, and this house and all in it is bound to go. You
notice, however, that Braxton Wyatt is not here."
"Trust him to escape every time," said Shif'less Sol. "Of course
he stood back while the Indians rushed the house. But ez shore
ez we live somebody will get him some day. People like that
can't escape always."
They slipped from the house, turning toward the river bank, and
not long after it was full daylight they were at Forty Fort
again, where they found Standish and his family. Henry replied
briefly to the man's questions, but two hours later a scout came
in and reported the grim sight that he had seen in the Standish
home. No one could ask for further proof of the fealty of the
five, who sought a little sleep, but before noon were off again.
They met more fugitives, and it was now too dangerous to go
farther up the valley. But not willing to turn back, they
ascended the mountains that hem it in, and from the loftiest
point that they could find sought a sight of the enemy.
It was an absolutely brilliant day in summer. The blue of the
heavens showed no break but the shifting bits of white cloud, and
the hills and mountains rolled away, solid masses of rich, dark
green. The river, a beautiful river at any time, seemed from
this height a great current of quicksilver. Henry pointed to a
place far up the stream where black dots appeared on its surface.
These dots were moving, and they came on in four lines.
"Boys," he said, "you know what those lines of black dots are?"
"Yes," replied Shif'less Sol, "it's Butler's army of Indians,
Tories, Canadians, an' English. They've come from Tioga Point on
the river, an' our Colonel Butler kin expect 'em soon."
The sunlight became dazzling, and showed the boats, despite the
distance, with startling clearness. The five, watching from
their peak, saw them turn in toward the land, where they poured
forth a motley stream of red men and white, a stream that was
quickly swallowed up in the forest.
"They are coming down through the woods on the fort, said Tom
"And they're coming fast," said Henry. "It's for us to carry the
They sped back to the Wyoming fort, spreading the alarm as they
passed, and once more they were in the council room with Colonel
Zebulon Butler and his officers around him.
"So they are at hand, and you have seen them?" said the colonel.
"Yes," replied Henry, the spokesman, "they came down from Tioga
Point in boats, but have disembarked and are advancing through
the woods. They will be here today."
There was a little silence in the room. The older men understood
the danger perhaps better than the younger, who were eager for
"Why should we stay here and wait for them?" exclaimed one of the
younger captains at length-some of these captains were mere boys.
"Why not go out, meet them, and beat them ?"
"They outnumber us about five to one," said Henry. "Brant, if he
is still with them, though be may have gone to some other place
from Tioga Point, is a great captain. So is Timmendiquas, the
Wyandot, and they say that the Tory leader is energetic and
"It is all true!" exclaimed Colonel Butler. "We must stay in the
fort! We must not go out to meet them! We are not strong
A murmur of protest and indignation came from the younger
"And leave the valley to be ravaged! Women and children to be
scalped, while we stay behind log walls!" said one of them
The men in the Wyoming fort were not regular troops, merely
militia, farmers gathered hastily for their own defense.
Colonel Butler flushed.
"We have induced as many as we could to seek refuge," he said.
"It hurts me as much as you to have the valley ravaged while we
sit quiet here. But I know that we have no chance against so
large a force, and if we fall what is to become of the hundreds
whom we now protect?"
But the murmur of protest grew. All the younger men were
indignant. They would not seek shelter for themselves while
others were suffering. A young lieutenant saw from a window two
fires spring up and burn like torch lights against the sky. They
were houses blazing before the Indian brand.
"Look at that!," he cried, pointing with an accusing finger, "and
we are here, under cover, doing nothing!"
A deep angry mutter went about the room, but Colonel Butler,
although the flush remained on his face, still shook his head.
He glanced at Tom Ross, the oldest of the five.
"You know about the Indian force," he exclaimed. What should we
The face of Tom Ross was very grave, and he spoke slowly, as was
"It's a hard thing to set here," he exclaimed, "but it will be
harder to go out an' meet 'em on their own ground, an' them four
or five to one."
"We must not go out," repeated the Colonel, glad of such backing.
The door was thrust open, and an officer entered.
"A rumor has just arrived, saying that the entire Davidson family
has been killed and scalped," he said.
A deep, angry cry went up. Colonel Butler and the few who stood
with him were overborne. Such things as these could not be
endured, and reluctantly the commander gave his consent. They
would go out and fight. The fort and its enclosures were soon
filled with the sounds of preparation, and the little army was
"We will fight by your side, of course," said Henry, "but we
wish to serve on the flank as an independent band. We can be of
more service in that manner."
The colonel thanked them gratefully.
"Act as you think best," he said.
The five stood near one of the gates, while the little force
formed in ranks. Almost for the first time they were gloomy upon
going into battle. They had seen the strength of that army of
Indians, renegades, Tories, Canadians, and English advancing
under the banner of England, and they knew the power and
fanaticism of the Indian leaders. They believed that the
terrible Queen Esther, tomahawk in hand, had continually chanted
to them her songs of blood as they came down the river. It was
now the third of July, and valley and river were beautiful in the
golden sunlight. The foliage showed vivid and deep green on
either line of high hills. The summer sun had never shown more
kindly over the lovely valley.
The time was now three o'clock. The gates of the fort were
thrown open, and the little army marched out, only three hundred,
of whom seventy were old men, or boys so young that in our day
they would be called children. Yet they marched bravely against
the picked warriors of the Iroquois, trained from infancy to the
forest and war, and a formidable body of white rovers who wished
to destroy the little colony of "rebels," as they called them.
Small though it might be, it was a gallant army. Young and old
held their heads high. A banner was flying, and a boy beat a
steady insistent roll upon a drum. Henry and his comrades were
on the left flank, the river was on the right. The great gates
had closed behind them, shutting in the women and the children.
The sun blazed down, throwing everything into relief with its
intense, vivid light playing upon the brown faces of the
borderers, their rifles and their homespun clothes. Colonel
Butler and two or three of his officers were on horseback,
leading the van. Now that the decision was to fight, the older
officers, who had opposed it, were in the very front. Forward
they went, and spread out a little, but with the right flank
still resting on the river, and the left extended on the plain.
The five were on the edge of the plain, a little detached from
the others, searching the forest for a sign of the enemy, who was
already so near. Their gloom did not decrease. Neither the
rolling of the drum nor the flaunting of the banner had any
effect. Brave though the men might be, this was not the way in
which they should meet an Indian foe who outnumbered them four or
five to one.
"I don't like it," muttered Tom Ross.
"Nor ' do I," said Henry, "but remember that whatever happens we
all stand together."
"We remember!" said the others.
On-they went, and the five moving faster were now ahead of the
main force some hundred yards. They swung in a little toward the
river. The banks here were highland off to the left was a large
swamp. The five now checked speed and moved with great wariness.
They saw nothing, and they heard nothing, either, until they went
forty or fifty yards farther. Then a low droning sound came to
their ears. It was the voice of one yet far away, but they knew
it. It was the terrible chant of Queen Esther, in this moment
the most ruthless of all the savages, and inflaming them
continuously for the combat.
The five threw themselves flat on their faces, and waited a
little. The chant grew louder, and then through the foliage they
saw the ominous figure approaching. She was much as she had been
on that night when they first beheld her. She wore the same
dress of barbaric colors, she swung the same great tomahawk about
her head, and sang all the time of fire and blood and death.
They saw behind her the figures of chiefs, naked to the breech
cloth for battle, their bronze bodies glistening with the war
paint, and bright feathers gleaming in their hair. Henry
recognized the tall form of Timmendiquas, notable by his height,
and around him his little band of Wyandots, ready to prove
themselves mighty warriors to their eastern friends the Iroquois.
Back of these was a long line of Indians and their white allies,
Sir John Johnson's Royal Greens and Butler's Rangers in the
center, bearing the flag of England. The warriors, of whom the
Senecas were most numerous, were gathered in greatest numbers on
their right flank, facing the left flank of the Americans.
Sangerachte and Hiokatoo, who had taken two English prisoners at
Braddock's defeat, and who had afterwards burned them both alive
with his own hand, were the principal leaders of the Senecas.
Henry caught a glimpse of "Indian" Butler in the center, with a
great blood-red handkerchief tied around his head, and, despite
the forest, he noticed with a great sinking of the heart how far
the hostile line extended. It could wrap itself like a python
around the defense.
"It's a tale that will soon be told," said Paul.
They went back swiftly, and warned Colonel Butler that the enemy
was at band. Even as they spoke they heard the loud wailing
chant of Queen Esther, and then came the war whoop, pouring from
a thousand throats, swelling defiant and fierce like the cry of a
wounded beast. The farmers, the boys, and the old men, most of
whom had never been in battle, might well tremble at this ominous
sound, so great in volume and extending so far into the forest.
But they stood firm, drawing themselves into a somewhat more
compact body, and still advancing with their banners flying, and
the boy beating out that steady roll on the drum.
The enemy now came into full sight, and Colonel Butler deployed
his force in line of battle, his right resting on the high bank
of the river and his left against the swamp. Forward pressed the
motley army of the other Butler, he of sanguinary and cruel fame,
and the bulk of his force came into view, the sun shining down on
the green uniforms of the English and the naked brown bodies of
The American commander gave the order to fire. Eager fingers
were already on the trigger, and a blaze of light ran along the
entire rank. The Royal Greens and Rangers, although replying
with their own fire, gave back before the storm of bullets, and
the Wyoming men, with a shout of triumph, sprang forward. It was
always a characteristic of the border settler, despite many
disasters and a knowledge of Indian craft and cunning, to rush
straight at his foe whenever he saw him. His, unless a trained
forest warrior himself, was a headlong bravery, and now this
gallant little force asked for nothing but to come to close grips
with the enemy.
The men in the center with "Indian" Butler gave back still more.
With cries of victory the Wyoming men pressed forward, firing
rapidly, and continuing to drive the mongrel white force. The
rifles were cracking rapidly, and smoke arose over the two lines.
The wind caught wisps of it and carried them off down the river.
"It goes better than I thought," said Paul as he reloaded his
"Not yet," said Henry, "we are fighting the white men only.
Where are all the Indians, who alone outnumber our men more than
two to one?"
"Here they come," said Shif'less Sol, pointing to the depths of
the swamp, which was supposed to protect the left flank of the
The five saw in the spaces, amid the briars and vines, scores of
dark figures leaping over the mud, naked to the breech cloth,
armed with rifle and tomahawk, and rushing down upon the
unprotected side of their foe. The swamp had been but little
obstacle to them.
Henry and his comrades gave the alarm at once. As many as
possible were called off immediately from the main body, but they
were not numerous enough to have any effect. The Indians came
through the swamp in hundreds and hundreds, and, as they uttered
their triumphant yell, poured a terrible fire into the Wyoming
left flank. The defenders were forced to give ground, and the
English and Tories came on again.
The fire was now deadly and of great volume. The air was filled
with the flashing of the rifles. The cloud of smoke grew
heavier, and faces, either from heat or excitement, showed red
through it. The air was filled with bullets, and the Wyoming
force was being cut down fast, as the fire of more than a
thousand rifles converged upon it.
The five at the fringe of the swamp loaded and fired as fast as
they could at the Indian horde, but they saw that it was creeping
closer and closer, and that the hail of bullets it sent in was
cutting away the whole left flank of the defenders. They saw the
tall figure of Timmendiquas, a very god of war, leading on the
Indians, with his fearless Wyandots in a close cluster around
him. Colonel John Durkee, gathering up a force of fifty or
sixty, charged straight at the warriors, but he was killed by a
withering volley, which drove his men back.
Now occurred a fatal thing, one of those misconceptions which
often decide the fate of a battle. The company of Captain
Whittlesey, on the extreme left, which was suffering most
severely, was ordered to fall back. The entire little army,
which was being pressed hard now, seeing the movement of
Whittlesey, began to retreat. Even without the mistake it is
likely they would have lost in the face of such numbers.
The entire horde of Indians, Tories, Canadians, English, and
renegades, uttering a tremendous yell, rushed forward. Colonel
Zebulon Butler, seeing the crisis, rode up and down in front of
his men, shouting: "Don't leave me, my children! the victory is
ours!" Bravely his officers strove to stop the retreat. Every
captain who led a company into action was killed. Some of these
captains were but boys. The men were falling by dozens.
All the Indians, by far the most formidable part of the invading
force, were through the swamp now, and, dashing down their
unloaded rifles, threw themselves, tomahawk in hand, upon the
defense. Not more than two hundred of the Wyoming men were left
standing, and the impact of seven or eight hundred savage
warriors was so great that they were hurled back in confusion. A
wail of grief and terror came from the other side of the river,
where a great body of women and children were watching the
"The battle's lost," said Shif'less Sol,
"Beyond hope of saving it," said Henry, "but, boys, we five are
alive yet, and we'll do our best to help the others protect the
They kept under cover, fighting as calmly as they could amid such
a terrible scene, picking off warrior after warrior, saving more
than one soldier ere the tomahawk fell. Shif'less Sol took a
shot at "Indian" Butler, but he was too far away, and the bullet
"I'd give five years of my life if he were fifty yards nearer,"
exclaimed the shiftless one.
But the invading force came in between and he did not get another
shot. There was now a terrible medley, a continuous uproar, the
crashing fire of hundreds of rifles, the shouts of the Indians,
and the cries of the wounded. Over them all hovered smoke and
dust, and the air was heavy, too, with the odor of burnt
gunpowder. The division of old men and very young boys stood
next, and the Indians were upon them, tomahawk in hand, but in
the face of terrible odds all bore themselves with a valor worthy
of the best of soldiers. Three fourths of them died that day,
before they were driven back on the fort.
The Wyoming force was pushed away from the edge of the swamp,
which had been some protection to the left, and they were now
assailed from all sides except that of the river. "Indian"
Butler raged at the head of his men, who had been driven back at
first, and who had been saved by the Indians. Timmendiquas, in
the absence of Brant, who was not seen upon this field, became by
valor and power of intellect the leader of all the Indians for
this moment. The Iroquois, although their own fierce chiefs,
I-Tiokatoo, Sangerachte, and the others fought with them,
unconsciously obeyed him. Nor did the fierce woman, Queen
Esther, shirk the battle. Waving her great tomahawk, she was
continually among the warriors, singing her song of war and
They were driven steadily back toward the fort, and the little
band crumbled away beneath the deadly fire. Soon none would be
left unless they ran for their lives. The five drew away toward
the forest. They saw that the fort itself could not hold out
against such a numerous and victorious foe, and they had no mind
to be trapped. But their retreat was slow, and as they went they
sent bullet after bullet into the Indian flank. Only a small
percentage of the Wyoming force was left, and it now broke.
Colonel Butler and Colonel Dennison, who were mounted, reached
the fort. Some of the men jumped into the river, swam to the
other shore and escaped. Some swam to a little island called
Monocacy, and hid, but the Tories and Indians hunted them out and
slew them. One Tory found his brother there, and killed him with
his own hand, a deed of unspeakable horror that is yet mentioned
by the people of that region. A few fled into the forest and
entered the fort at night.
THE BLOODY ROCK
Seeing that all was lost, the five drew farther away into the
woods. They were not wounded, yet their faces were white despite
the tan. They had never before looked upon so terrible a scene.
The Indians, wild with the excitement of a great triumph and
thirsting for blood, were running over the field scalping the
dead, killing some of the wounded, and saving others for the
worst of tortures. Nor were their white allies one whit behind
them. They bore a full part in the merciless war upon the
conquered. Timmendiquas, the great Wyandot, was the only one to
show nobility. Several of the wounded he saved from immediate
death, and he tried to hold back the frenzied swarm of old squaws
who rushed forward and began to practice cruelties at which even
the most veteran warrior might shudder. But Queen Esther urged
them on, and "Indian" Butler himself and the chiefs were afraid
Henry, despite himself, despite all his experience and powers of
self-control, shuddered from head to foot at the cries that came
from the lost field, and he was sure that the others were doing
the same. The sun was setting, but its dying light, brilliant
and intense, tinged the field as if with blood, showing all the
yelling horde as the warriors rushed about for scalps, or danced
in triumph, whirling their hideous trophies about their heads.
Others were firing at men who were escaping to the far bank of
the Susquehanna, and others were already seeking the fugitives in
their vain hiding places on the little islet.
The five moved farther into the forest, retreating slowly, and
sending in a shot now and then to protect the retreat of some
fugitive who was seeking the shelter of the woods. The retreat
had become a rout and then a massacre. The savages raged up and
down in the greatest killing they had known since Braddock's
defeat. The lodges of the Iroquois would be full of the scalps
of white men.
All the five felt the full horror of the scene, but it made its
deepest impress, perhaps, upon Paul. He had taken part in border
battles before, but this was the first great defeat. He was not
blind to the valor and good qualities of the Indian and his claim
upon the wilderness, but he saw the incredible cruelties that he
could commit, and he felt a horror of those who used him as an
ally, a horror that he could never dismiss from his mind as long
as he lived.
"Look!" he exclaimed, "look at that!"
A man of seventy and a boy of fourteen were running for the
forest. They might have been grandfather and grandson.
Undoubtedly they had fought in the Battalion of the Very Old and
the Very Young, and now, when everything else was lost, they were
seeking to save their lives in the friendly shelter of the woods.
But they were pursued by two groups of Iroquois, four warriors in
one, and three in the other, and the Indians were gaining fast.
"I reckon we ought to save them," said Shif'less Sol.
"No doubt of it," said Henry. "Paul, you and Sol move off to the
right a little, and take the three, while the rest of us will
look out for the four."
The little band separated according to the directions, Paul and
Sol having the lighter task, as the others were to meet the group
of four Indians at closer range. Paul and Sol were behind some
trees, and, turning at an angle, they ran forward to intercept
the three Indians. It would have seemed to anyone who was not
aware of the presence of friends in the forest that the old man
and the boy would surely be overtaken and be tomahawked, but
three rifles suddenly flashed among the foliage. Two of the
warriors in the group of four fell, and a third uttered a yell of
pain. Paul and Shif'less Sol fired at the same time at the group
of three. One fell before the deadly rifle of Shif'less Sol, but
Paul only grazed his man. Nevertheless, the whole pursuit
stopped, and the boy and the old man escaped to the forest, and
subsequently to safety at the Moravian towns.
Paul, watching the happy effect of the shots, was about to say
something to Shif'less Sol, when an immense force was hurled upon
him, and he was thrown to the ground. His comrade was served in
the same way, but the shiftless one was uncommonly strong and
agile. He managed to writhe half way to his knees, and he
shouted in a tremendous voice:
"Run, Henry, run! You can't do anything for us now!"
Braxton Wyatt struck him fiercely across the mouth. The blood
came, but the shiftless one merely spat it out, and looked
curiously at the renegade.
"I've often wondered about you, Braxton," he said calmly. " I
used to think that anybody, no matter how bad, had some good in
him, but I reckon you ain't got none."
Wyatt did not answer, but rushed forward in search of the
others. But Henry, Silent Tom, and Long Jim had vanished. A
powerful party of warriors had stolen upon Shif'less Sol and
Paul, while they were absorbed in the chase of the old man and
the boy, and now they were prisoners, bound securely. Braxton
Wyatt came back from the fruitless search for the three, but his
face was full of savage joy as he looked down at the captured
"We could have killed you just as easily," he said, "but we
didn't want to do that. Our friends here are going to have their
fun with you first."
Paul's cheeks whitened a little at the horrible suggestion, but
Shif'less Sol faced them boldly. Several white men in uniform
had come up, and among them was an elderly one, short and squat,
and with a great flame colored handkerchief tied around his bead.
"You may burn us alive, or you may do other things jest ez bad to
us, all under the English flag," said Shif'less Sol, " but I'm
thinkin' that a lot o' people in England will be ashamed uv it
when they hear the news."
"Indian" Butler and his uniformed soldiers turned away, leaving
Shif'less Sol and Paul in the hands of the renegade and the
Iroquois. The two prisoners were jerked to their feet and told
"Come on, Paul," said Shif'less Sol. "'Tain't wuth while fur us
to resist. But don't you quit hopin', Paul. We've escaped from
many a tight corner, an' mebbe we're goin' to do it ag'in."
"Shut up!" said Braxton Wyatt savagely. "If you say another word
I'll gag you in a way that will make you squirm."
Shif'less Sol looked him squarely in the eye. Solomon Hyde, who
was not shiftless at all, had a dauntless soul, and he was not
afraid now in the face of death preceded by long torture.
"I had a dog once, Braxton Wyatt," he said, "an' I reckon he wuz
the meanest, ornierest cur that ever lived. He liked to live on
dirt, the dirtier the place he could find the better; he'd rather
steal his food than get it honestly; he wuz sech a coward that he
wuz afeard o' a rabbit, but ef your back wuz turned to him he'd
nip you in the ankle. But bad ez that dog wuz, Braxton, he wuz a
gentleman 'longside o' you."
Some of the Indians understood English, and Wyatt knew it. He
snatched a pistol from his belt, and was about to strike Sol with
the butt of it, but a tall figure suddenly appeared before him,
and made a commanding gesture. The gesture said plainly: "Do
not strike; put that pistol back!" Braxton Wyatt, whose soul was
afraid within him, did not strike, and he put the pistol back.
It was Timmendiquas, the great White Lightning of the Wyandots,
who with his little detachment had proved that day how mighty the
Wyandot warriors were, full equals of Thayendanegea's Mohawks,
the Keepers of the Western Gate. He was bare to the waist. One
shoulder was streaked with blood from a slight wound, but his
countenance was not on fire with passion for torture and
slaughter like those of the others.
"There is no need to strike prisoners," he said in English.
"Their fate will be decided later."
Paul thought that he caught a look of pity from the eyes of the
great Wyandot, and Shif'less Sol said:
"I'm sorry, Timmendiquas, since I had to be captured, that you
didn't capture me yourself. I'm glad to say that you're a great
Wyatt growled under his breath, but he was still afraid to speak
out, although he knew that Timmendiquas was merely a distant and
casual ally, and had little authority in that army. Yet he was
overawed, and so were the Indians with him.
"We were merely taking the prisoners to Colonel Butler," he said.
"That is all."
Timmendiquas stared at him, and the renegade's face fell. But he
and the Indians went on with the prisoners, and Timmendiquas
looked after them until they were out of sight.
"I believe White Lightning was sorry that we'd been captured,"
whispered Shif'less Sol.
"I think so, too," Paul whispered back.
They had no chance for further conversation, as they were driven
rapidly now to that point of the battlefield which lay nearest to
the fort, and here they were thrust into the midst of a gloomy
company, fellow captives, all bound tightly, and many wounded.
No help, no treatment of any kind was offered for hurts. The
Indians and renegades stood about and yelled with delight when
the agony of some man's wound wrung from him a groan. The scene
was hideous in every respect. The setting sun shone blood red
over forest, field, and river. Far off burning houses still
smoked like torches. But the mountain wall in the east, was
growing dusky with the coming twilight. From the island, where
they were massacring the fugitives in their vain hiding places,
came the sound of shots and cries, but elsewhere the firing had
ceased. All who could escape had done so already, and of the
others, those who were dead were fortunate.
The sun sank like a red ball behind the mountains, and darkness
swept down over the earth. Fires began to blaze up here and
there, some for terrible purpose. The victorious Iroquois;
stripped to the waist and painted in glaring colors, joined in a
savage dance that would remain forever photographed on the eye of
Paul Cotter. As they jumped to and fro, hundreds of them, waving
aloft tomahawks and scalping knives, both of which dripped red,
they sang their wild chant of war and triumph. White men, too,
as savage as they, joined them. Paul shuddered again and again
from head to foot at this sight of an orgy such as the mass of
mankind escapes, even in dreams.
The darkness thickened, the dance grew wilder. It was like a
carnival of demons, but it was to be incited to a yet wilder
pitch. A singular figure, one of extraordinary ferocity, was
suddenly projected into the midst of the whirling crowd, and a
chant, shriller and fiercer, rose above all the others. The
figure was that of Queen Esther, like some monstrous creature out
of a dim past, her great tomahawk stained with blood, her eyes
bloodshot, and stains upon her shoulders. Paul would have
covered his eyes had his hands not been tied instead, he turned
his head away. He could not bear to see more. But the horrible
chant came to his ears, nevertheless, and it was reinforced
presently by other sounds still more terrible. Fires sprang up
in the forest, and cries came from these fires. The victorious
army of "Indian" Butler was beginning to burn the prisoners
alive. But at this point we must stop. The details of what
happened around those fires that night are not for the ordinary
reader. It suffices to say that the darkest deed ever done on
the soil of what is now the United States was being enacted.
Shif'less Sol himself, iron of body and soul, was shaken. He
could not close his ears, if he would, to the cries that came
from the fires, but he shut his eyes to keep out the demon dance.
Nevertheless, he opened them again in a moment. The horrible
fascination was too great. He saw Queen Esther still shaking her
tomahawk, but as he looked she suddenly darted through the
circle, warriors willingly giving way before her, and disappeared
in the darkness. The scalp dance went on, but it had lost some
of its fire and vigor.
Shif'less Sol felt relieved.
"She's gone," he whispered to Paul, and the boy, too, then opened
his eyes. The rest of it, the mad whirlings and jumpings of the
warriors, was becoming a blur before him, confused and without
Neither he nor Shif'less Sol knew how long they had been sitting
there on the ground, although it had grown yet darker, when
Braxton Wyatt thrust a violent foot against the shiftless one and
"Get up! You're wanted!"
A half dozen Seneca warriors were with him, and there was no
chance of resistance. The two rose slowly to their feet, and
walked where Braxton Wyatt led. The Senecas came on either side,
and close behind them, tomahawks in their hands. Paul, the
sensitive, who so often felt the impression of coming events from
the conditions around him, was sure that they were marching to
their fate. Death he did not fear so greatly, although he did
not want to die, but when a shriek came to him from one of the
fires that convulsive shudder shook him again from head to foot.
Unconsciously he strained at his bound arms, not for freedom, but
that he might thrust his fingers in his ears and shut out the
awful sounds. Shif'less Sol, because he could not use his hands,
touched his shoulder gently against Paul's.
"Paul," he whispered, "I ain't sure that we're goin' to die,
leastways, I still have hope; but ef we do, remember that we
don't have to die but oncet."
"I'll remember, Sol," Paul whispered back.
"Silence, there!" exclaimed Braxton Wyatt. But the two had said
all they wanted to say, and fortunately their senses were
somewhat dulled. They had passed through so much that they were
like those who are under the influence of opiates. The path was
now dark, although both torches and fires burned in the distance.
Presently they heard that chant with which they had become
familiar, the dreadful notes of the hyena woman, and they knew
that they were being taken into her presence, for what purpose
they could not tell, although they were sure that it was a bitter
one. As they approached, the woman's chant rose to an uncommon
pitch of frenzy, and Paul felt the blood slowly chilling within
"Get up there!" exclaimed Braxton Wyatt, and the Senecas gave
them both a push. Other warriors who were standing at the edge
of an open space seized them and threw them forward with much
violence. When they struggled into a sitting position, they saw
Queen Esther standing upon a broad flat rock and whirling in a
ghastly dance that had in it something Oriental. She still swung
the great war hatchet that seemed always to be in her hand. Her
long black hair flew wildly about her head, and her red dress
gleamed in the dusk. Surely no more terrible image ever appeared
in the American wilderness! In front of her, lying upon the
ground, were twenty bound Americans, and back of them were
Iroquois in dozens, with a sprinkling of their white allies.
What it all meant, what was about to come to pass, nether Paul
nor Shif'less Sol could guess, but Queen Esther sang:
We have found them, the Yengees
Who built their houses in the valley,
They came forth to meet us in battle,
Our rifles and tomahawks cut them down,
As the Yengees lay low the forest.
Victory and glory Aieroski gives to his children,
The Mighty Six Nations, greatest of men.
There will be feasting in the lodges of the Iroquois,
And scalps will hang on the high ridge pole,
But wolves will roam where the Yengees dwelt
And will gnaw the bones of them all,
Of the man, the woman, and the child.
Victory and glory Aieroski gives to his children,
The Mighty Six Nations, greatest of men.
Such it sounded to Shif'less Sol, who knew the tongue of the
Iroquois, and so it went on, verse after verse, and at the end of
each verse came the refrain, in which the warriors joined:
"Victory and glory Aieroski gives to his children. The mighty Six
Nations, greatest of men."
"What under the sun is she about?" whispered Shif'less Sol.
"It is a fearful face," was Paul's only reply.
Suddenly the woman, without stopping her chant, made a gesture to
the warriors. Two powerful Senecas seized one of the bound
prisoners, dragged him to his feet, and held him up before her.
She uttered a shout, whirled the great tomahawk about her head,
its blade glittering in the moonlight, and struck with all her
might. The skull of the prisoner was cleft to the chin, and
without a cry he fell at the feet of the woman who had killed
him. Paul uttered a shout of horror, but it was lost in the
joyful yells of the Iroquois, who, at the command of the woman,
offered a second victim. Again the tomahawk descended, and again
a man fell dead without a sound.
Shif'less Sol and Paul wrenched at their thongs, but they could
not move them. Braxton Wyatt laughed aloud. It was strange to
see how fast one with a bad nature could fall when the
opportunities were spread before him. Now he was as cruel as the
Indians themselves. Wilder and shriller grew the chant of the
savage queen. She was intoxicated with blood. She saw it
everywhere. Her tomahawk clove a third skull, a fourth, a fifth,
a sixth, a seventh, and eighth. As fast as they fell the
warriors at her command brought up new victims for her weapon.
Paul shut his eyes, but he knew by the sounds what was passing.
Suddenly a stern voice cried:
"Hold, woman! Enough of this! Will your tomahawk never be
Paul understood it , the meaning, but not the words. He opened
his eyes and saw the great figure of Timmendiquas striding
forward, his hand upraised in protest.
The woman turned her fierce gaze upon the young chief.
"Timmendiquas," she said, "we are the Iroquois, and we are the
masters. You are far from your own land, a guest in our lodges,
and you cannot tell those who have won the victory how they shall
use it. Stand back!"
A loud laugh came from the Iroquois. The fierce old chiefs,
Hiokatoo and Sangerachte, and a dozen warriors thrust themselves
before Timmendiquas. The woman resumed her chant, and a hundred
throats pealed out with her the chorus:
Victory and glory Aieroski gives to his children The mighty Six
Nations, greatest of men.
She gave the signal anew. The ninth victim stood before her, and
then fell, cloven to the chin; then the tenth, and the eleventh,
and the twelfth, and the thirteenth, and the fourteenth, and the
fifteenth, and the sixteenth-sixteen bound men killed by one
woman in less than fifteen minutes. The four in that group who
were left had all the while been straining fearfully at their
bonds. Now they bad slipped or broken them, and, springing to
their feet, driven on by the mightiest of human impulses, they
dashed through the ring of Iroquois and into the forest. Two
were hunted down by the warriors and killed, but the other two,
Joseph Elliott and Lebbeus Hammond, escaped and lived to be old
men, feeling that life could never again hold for them anything
so dreadful as that scene at "The Bloody Rock."
A great turmoil and confusion arose as the prisoners fled and the
Indians pursued. Paul and Shif'less Sol; full of sympathy and
pity for the fugitives and having felt all the time that their
turn, too, would come under that dreadful tomahawk, struggled to
their feet. They did not see a form slip noiselessly behind
them, but a sharp knife descended once, then twice, and the bands
of both fell free.
"Run! run!" exclaimed the voice of Timmendiquas, low but
penetrating. "I would save you from this!"
Amid the darkness and confusion the act of the great Wyandot was
not seen by the other Indians and the renegades. Paul flashed
him one look of gratitude, and then he and Shif'less Sol darted
away, choosing a course that led them from the crowd in pursuit
of the other flying fugitives.
At such a time they might have secured a long lead without being
noticed, had it not been for the fierce swarm of old squaws who
were first in cruelty that night. A shrill wild howl arose, and
the pointing fingers of the old women showed to the warriors the
two in flight. At the same time several of the squaws darted
forward to intercept the fugitives.
"I hate to hit a woman," breathed Shif'less Sol to Paul, "but I'm
goin' to do it now."
A hideous figure sprang before them. Sol struck her face with
his open hand, and with a shriek she went down. He leaped over
her, although she clawed at his feet as he passed, and ran on,
with Paul at his side. Shots were now fired at him, but they
went wild, but Paul, casting a look backward out of the corner of
his eye, saw that a real pursuit, silent and deadly, had begun.
Five Mohawk warriors, running swiftly, were only a few hundred
yards away. They carried rifle, tomahawk, and knife, and Paul
and Shif'less Sol were unarmed. Moreover, they were coming fast,
spreading out slightly, and the shiftless one, able even at such
a time to weigh the case coolly, saw that the odds were against
them. Yet he would not despair. Anything might happen. It was
night. There was little organization in the army of the Indians
and of their white allies, which was giving itself up to the
enjoyment of scalps and torture. Moreover, he and Paul were,
animated by the love of life, which is always stronger than the
desire to give death.
Their flight led them in a diagonal line toward the mountains.
Only once did the pursuers give tongue. Paul tripped over a
root, and a triumphant yell came from the Mohawks. But it merely
gave him new life. He recovered himself in an instant and ran
faster. But it was terribly hard work. He could hear Shif'less
Sol's sobbing breath by his side, and he was sure that his own
must have the same sound for his comrade.
"At any rate one uv 'em is beat," gasped Shif'less Sol. "Only
four are ban-in' on now."
The ground rose a little and became rougher. The lights from the
Indian fires had sunk almost out of sight behind them, and a
dense thicket lay before them. Something stirred in the thicket,
and the eyes of Shif'less Sol caught a glimpse of a human
shoulder. His heart sank like a plummet in a pool. The Indians
were ahead of them. They would be caught, and would be carried
back to become the victims of the terrible tomahawk.
The figure in the bushes rose a little higher, the muzzle of a
rifle was projected, and flame leaped from the steel tube.
But it was neither Shif'less Sol nor Paul who fell. They heard a
cry behind them, and when Shif'less Sol took a hasty glance
backward he saw one of the Mohawks fall. The three who were left
hesitated and stopped. When a second shot was fired from the
bushes and another Mohawk went down, the remaining two fled.
Shif'less Sol understood now, and he rushed into the bushes,
dragging Paul after him. Henry, Tom, and Long Jim rose up to
"So you wuz watchin' over us! "exclaimed the shiftless one
joyously. "It wuz you that clipped off the first Mohawk, an' we
didn't even notice the shot."
"Thank God, you were here!" exclaimed Paul. "You don't know what
Sol and I have seen!"
Overwrought, he fell forward, but his comrades caught him.
THE MELANCHOLY FLIGHT
Paul revived in a few minutes. They were still lying in the
bushes, and when he was able to stand up again, they moved at an
angle several hundred yards before they stopped. One pistol was
thrust into Paul's hand and another into that of Shif'less Sol.
Keep those until we can get rifles for you," said Henry. "You may
need 'em to-night."
They crouched down in the thicket and looked back toward the
Indian camp. The warriors whom they had repulsed were not
returning with help, and, for the moment, they seemed to have no
enemy to fear, yet they could still see through the woods the
faint lights of the Indian camps, and to Paul, at least, came the
echoes of distant cries that told of things not to be written.
"We saw you captured, and we heard Sol's warning cry," said
Henry. " There was nothing to do but run. Then we hid and
waited a chance for rescue."
"It would never have come if it had not been for Timmendiquas,"
"Timmendiquas!" exclaimed Henry.
"Yes, Timmendiquas," said Paul, and then be told the story of
"The Bloody Rock," and how, in the turmoil and excitement
attending the flight of the last four, Timmendiquas had cut the
bonds of Shif'less Sol and himself.
"I think the mind o' White Lightnin', Injun ez he is," said
Shif'less Sol, "jest naterally turned aginst so much slaughter
an' torture o' prisoners."
"I'm sure you're right," said Henry.
"'Pears strange to me," said Long Jim Hart, "that Timmendiquas
was made an Injun. He's jest the kind uv man who ought to be
white, an' he'd be pow'ful useful, too. I don't jest eggzactly
"He has certainly saved the lives of at least three of us," said
Henry. "I hope we will get a chance to pay him back in full."
"But he's the only one," said Shif'less Sol, thinking of all that
he had seen that night. "The Iroquois an' the white men that's
allied with 'em won't ever get any mercy from me, ef any uv 'em
happen to come under my thumb. I don't think the like o' this
day an' night wuz ever done on this continent afore. I'm for
revenge, I am, like that place where the Bible says, 'an eye for
an eye, an' a tooth for a tooth,' an' I'm goin' to stay in this
part o' the country till we git it!"
It was seldom that Shif'less Sol spoke with so much passion and
"We're all going to stay with you, Sol," said Henry. We're
needed here. I think we ought to circle about the fort, slip in
if we can, and fight with the defense."
"Yes, we'll do that," said Shif'less Sol, "but the Wyoming fort
can't ever hold out. Thar ain't a hundred men left in it fit to
fight, an' thar are more than than a thousand howlin' devils
outside ready to attack it. Thar may be worse to come than
anything we've yet seen."
"Still, we'll go in an' help," said Henry. "Sol, when you an'
Paul have rested a little longer we'll make a big loop around in
the woods, and come up to the fort on the other side."
They were in full accord, and after an hour in the bushes, where
they lay completely hidden, recovering their vitality and energy,
they undertook to reach the fort and cabins inclosed by the
palisades. Paul was still weak from shock, but Shif'less Sol had
fully recovered. Neither bad weapons, but they were sure that
the want could be supplied soon. They curved around toward the
west, intending to approach the fort from the other side, but
they did not wholly lose sight of the fires, and they heard now
and then the triumphant war whoop. The victors were still
engaged in the pleasant task of burning the prisoners to death.
Little did the five, seeing and feeling only their part of it
there in the dark woods, dream that the deeds of this day and
night would soon shock the whole civilized world, and remain, for
generations, a crowning act of infamy. But they certainly felt
it deeply enough, and in each heart burned a fierce desire for
revenge upon the Iroquois.
It was almost midnight when they secured entrance into the fort,
which was filled with grief and wailing. That afternoon more
than one hundred and fifty women within those walls had been made
widows, and six hundred children had been made orphans. But few
men fit to bear arms were left for its defense, and it was
certain that the allied British and Indian army would easily take
it on the morrow. A demand for its surrender in the name of King
George III of England had already been made, and, sitting at a
little rough table in the cabin of Thomas Bennett, the room
lighted only by a single tallow wick, Colonel Butler and Colonel
Dennison were writing an agreement that the fort be surrendered
the next day, with what it should contain. But Colonel Butler
put his wife on a horse and escaped with her over the mountains.
Stragglers, evading the tomahawk in the darkness, were coming in,
only to be surrendered the next day; others were pouring forth in
a stream, seeking the shelter of the mountains and the forest,
preferring any dangers that might be found there to the mercies
of the victors.
When Shif'less Sol learned that the fort was to be given up, be
"It looks ez ef we had escaped from the Iroquois jest in time to
beg 'em to take us back."
"I reckon I ain't goin' to stay 'roun' here while things are
bein' surrendered," said Long Jim Hart.
"I'll do my surrenderin' to Iroquois when they've got my hands
an' feet tied, an' six or seven uv 'em are settin' on my back,"
said Tom Ross.
"We'll leave as soon as we can get arms for Sol and Paul," said
Henry. "Of course it would be foolish of us to stay here and be
captured again. Besides, we'll be needed badly enough by the
women and children that are going."
Good weapons were easily obtained in the fort. It was far better
to let Sol and Paul have them than to leave them for the Indians.
They were able to select two fine rifles of the Kentucky pattern,
long and slender barreled, a tomahawk and knife for each, and
also excellent double-barreled pistols. The other three now had
double-barreled pistols, too. In addition they resupplied
themselves with as much ammunition as scouts and hunters could
conveniently carry, and toward morning left the fort.
Sunrise found them some distance from the palisades, and upon the
flank of a frightened crowd of fugitives. It was composed of one
hundred women and children and a single man, James Carpenter, who
was doing his best to guide and protect them. They were
intending to flee through the wilderness to the Delaware and
Lehigh settlements, chiefly Fort Penn, built by Jacob Stroud,
where Stroudsburg now is.
When the five, darkened by weather and looking almost like
Indians themselves, approached, Carpenter stepped forward and
raised his rifle. A cry of dismay rose from the melancholy line,
a cry so intensely bitter that it cut Henry to the very heart.
He threw up his hand, and exclaimed in a loud voice:
"We are friends, not Indians or Tories! We fought with you
yesterday, and we are ready to fight for you now!"
Carpenter dropped the muzzle of the rifle. He had fought in the
battle, too, and he recognized the great youth and his comrades
who had been there with him.
"What do you want of us?" asked he.
"Nothing," replied Henry, "except to help you."
Carpenter looked at them with a kind of sad pathos.
"You don't belong here in Wyoming," he said, "and there's nothing
to make you stick to us. What are you meaning to do?"
"We will go with you wherever you intend to go," replied Henry;
"do fighting for you if you need it, and hunt game for you, which
you are certain to need."
The weather-beaten face of the farmer worked.
"I thought God had clean deserted us," he said, "but I'm ready to
take it back. I reckon that he has sent you five to help me with
all these women and little ones."
It occurred to Henry that perhaps God, indeed, had sent them for
this very purpose, but he replied simply:
"You lead on, and we'll stay in the rear and on the sides to
watch for the Indians. Draw into the woods, where we'll be
Carpenter, obscure hero, shouldered his rifle again, and led on
toward the woods. The long line of women and children followed.
Some of the women carried in their arms children too small to
walk. Yet they were more hopeful now when they saw that the five
were friends. These lithe, active frontiersmen, so quick, so
skillful, and so helpful, raised their courage. Yet it was a
most doleful flight. Most of these women had been made widows
the day before, some of them had been made widows and childless
at the same time, and wondered why they should seek to live
longer. But the very mental stupor of many of them was an aid.
They ceased to cry out, and some even ceased to be afraid.
Henry, Shif'less Sol, and Tom dropped to the rear. Paul and Long
Jim were on either flank, while Carpenter led slowly on toward
"'Pears to me," said Tom, "that the thing fur us to do is to
hurry 'em up ez much ez possible."
"So the Indians won't see 'em crossing the plain," said Henry.
"We couldn't defend them against a large force, and it would
merely be a massacre. We must persuade them to walk faster."
Shif'less Sol was invaluable in this crisis. He could talk
forever in his-placid way, and, with his gentle encouragement,
mild sarcasm, and anecdotes of great feminine walkers that he had
known, he soon had them moving faster.
Henry and Tom dropped farther to the rear. They could see ahead
of them the long dark line, coiling farther into the woods, but
they could also see to right and left towers of smoke rising in
the clear morning sunlight. These, they knew, came from burning
houses, and they knew, also, that the valley would be ravaged
from end to end and from side to side. After the surrender of
the fort the Indians would divide into small bands, going
everywhere, and nothing could escape them.
The sun rose higher, gilding the earth with glowing light, as if
the black tragedy had never happened, but the frontiersmen
recognized their greatest danger in this brilliant morning.
Objects could be seen at a great distance, and they could be seen
Keen of sight and trained to know what it was they saw, Henry,
Sol, and Tom searched the country with their eyes, on all sides.
They caught a distant glimpse of the Susquehanna, a silver spot
among some trees, and they saw the sunlight glancing off the
opposite mountains, but for the present they saw nothing that
They allowed the distance between them and the retreating file to
grow until it was five or six hundred yards, and they might have
let it grow farther, but Henry made a signal, and the three lay
down in the grass.
"You see 'em, don't you!" the youth whispered to his comrade.
"Yes, down thar at the foot o' that hillock," replied Shif'less
Sol; " two o' em, an' Senecas, I take it."
"They've seen that crowd of women and children," said Henry.
It was obvious that the flying column was discovered. The two
Indians stepped upon the hillock and gazed under their hands. It
was too far away for the three to see their faces, but they knew
the joy that would be shown there. The two could return with a
few warriors and massacre them all.
"They must never get back to the other Indians with their news,"
whispered Henry. "I hate to shoot men from ambush, but it's got
to be done. Wait, they're coming a little closer."
The two Senecas advanced about thirty yards, and stopped again.
"S'pose you fire at the one on the right, Henry," said Tom, " an'
me an' Sol will take the one to the left." " All right," said
They wasted no time, but pulled trigger. The one at whom Henry
had aimed fell, but the other, uttering a cry, made off, wounded,
but evidently with plenty of strength left.
"We mustn't let him escape! We mustn't let him carry a
warning!" cried Henry.
But Shif'less Sol and Tom Ross were already in pursuit, covering
the ground with long strides, and reloading as they ran. Under
ordinary circumstances no one of the three would have fired at a
man running for his life, but here the necessity was vital. If
he lived, carrying the tale that he had to tell, a hundred
innocent ones might perish. Henry followed his comrades,
reloading his own rifle, also, but he stayed behind. The Indian
had a good lead, and he was gaining, as the others were compelled
to check speed somewhat as they put the powder and bullets in
their rifles. But Henry was near enough to Shif'less Sol and
Silent Tom to hear them exchange a few words.
"How far away is that savage?" asked Shif'less Sol.
"Hundred and eighty yards," said Tom Ross.
"Well, you take him in the head, and I'll take him in the body."
Henry saw the two rifle barrels go up and two flashes of flame
leap from the muzzles. The Indian fell forward and lay still.
They went up to him, and found that he was shot through the head
and also through the body.
"We may miss once, but we don't twice," said Tom Ross.
The human mind can be influenced so powerfully by events that the
three felt no compunction at all at the shooting of this fleeing
Indian. It was but a trifle compared with what they had seen the
day and night before.
"We'd better take the weapons an' ammunition o' both uv 'em,"
said Sol. "They may be needed, an' some o ' the women in that
crowd kin shoot."
They gathered up the arms, powder, and ball, and waited a little
to see whether the shots had been heard by any other Indians, but
there was no indication of the presence of more warriors, and the
rejoined the fugitives. Long Jim had dropped back to the end of
the line, and when he saw that his comrades carried two extra
rifles, he understood.
"They didn't give no alarm, did they?" he asked in a tone so low
that none of the fugitives could hear.
"They didn't have any chance," replied Henry. "We've brought
away all their weapons and ammunition, but just say to the women
that we found them in an abandoned house."
The rifles and the other arms were given to the boldest and most
stalwart of the women, and they promised to use them if the need
came. Meanwhile the flight went on, and the farther it went the
sadder it became. Children became exhausted, and had to be
carried by people so tired that they could scarcely walk
themselves. There was nobody in the line who had not lost some
beloved one on that fatal river bank, killed in battle, or
tortured to death. As they slowly ascended the green slope of
the mountain that inclosed a side of the valley, they looked back
upon ruin and desolation. The whole black tragedy was being
consummated. They could see the houses in flames, and they knew
that the Indian war parties were killing and scalping everywhere.
They knew, too, that other bodies of fugitives, as stricken as
their own, were fleeing into the mountains, they scarcely knew
As they paused a few moments and looked back, a great cry burst
from the weakest of the women and children. Then it became a sad
and terrible wail, and it was a long time before it ceased. It
was an awful sound, so compounded of despair and woe and of
longing for what they had lost that Henry choked, and the tears
stood in Paul's eyes. But neither the five nor Carpenter made
any attempt to check the wailing. They thought it best for them
to weep it out, but they hurried the column as much as they
could, often carrying some of the smaller children themselves.
Paul and Long Jim were the best as comforters. The two knew how,
each in his own way, to soothe and encourage. Carpenter, who
knew the way to Fort Penn, led doggedly on, scarcely saying a
word. Henry, Shif'less Sol, and Tom were the rear guard, which
was, in this case, the one of greatest danger and responsibility.
Henry was thankful that it was only early summer the Fourth of
July, the second anniversary of the Declaration of
Independence-and that the foliage was heavy and green on the
slopes of the mountain. In this mass of greenery the desolate
column was now completely hidden from any observer in the valley,
and he believed that other crowds of fugitives would be hidden in
the same manner. He felt sure that no living human being would
be left in the valley, that it would be ravaged from end to end
and then left to desolation, until new people, protected by
American bayonets, should come in and settle it again.
At last they passed the crest of the ridge, and the fires in the
valley, those emblems of destruction, were hidden. Between them
and Fort Penn, sixty miles away, stretched a wilderness of
mountain, forest, and swamp. But the five welcomed the forest.
A foe might lie there in ambush, but they could not see the
fugitives at a distance. What the latter needed now was
obscurity, the green blanket of the forest to hide them.
Carpenter led on over a narrow trail; the others followed almost
in single file now, while the five scouted in the woods on either
flank and at the rear. Henry and Shif'less Sol generally kept
together, and they fully realized the overwhelming danger should
an Indian band, even as small as ten or a dozen warriors, appear.
Should the latter scatter, it would be impossible to protect all
the women and children from their tomahawks.
The day was warm, but the forest gave them coolness as well as
shelter. Henry and Sol were seldom so far back that they could
not see the end of the melancholy line, now moving slowly,
overborne by weariness. The shiftless one shook his head sadly.
"No matter what happens, some uv 'em will never get out o' these
His words came true all too soon. Before the afternoon closed,
two women, ill before the flight, died of terror and exhaustion,
and were buried in shallow graves under the trees. Before dark a
halt was made at the suggestion of Henry, and all except
Carpenter and the scouts sat in a close, drooping group. Many of
the children cried, though the women had all ceased to weep.
They had some food with them, taken in the hurried flight, and
now the men asked them to eat. Few could do it, and others
insisted on saving what little they had for the children. Long
Jim found a spring near by, and all drank at it.
The six men decided that, although night had not yet come, it
would be best to remain there until the morning. Evidently the
fugitives were in no condition, either mental or physical, to go
farther that day, and the rest was worth more than the risk.
When this decision was announced to them, most of the women took
it apathetically. Soon they lay down upon a blanket, if one was
to be had; otherwise, on leaves and branches. Again Henry
thanked God that it was summer, and that these were people of the
frontier, who could sleep in the open. No fire was needed, and,
outside of human enemies, only rain was to be dreaded.
And yet this band, desperate though its case, was more fortunate
than some of the others that fled from the Wyoming Valley. It
had now to protect it six men Henry and Paul, though boys in
years, were men in strength and ability - five of whom were the
equals of any frontiersmen on the whole border. Another crowd of
women was escorted by a single man throughout its entire flight.
Henry and his comrades distributed themselves in a circle about
the group. At times they helped gather whortleberries as food
for the others, but they looked for Indians or game, intending to
shoot in either case. When Paul and Henry were together they
once heard a light sound in a thicket, which at first they were
afraid was made by an Indian scout, but it was a deer, and it
bounded away too soon for either to get a shot. They could not
find other game of any kind, and they came back toward the
camp-if a mere stop in the woods, without shelter of any kind,
could be called a camp.
The sun was now setting, blood red. It tinged the forest with a
fiery mist, reminding the unhappy group of all that they had
seen. But the mist was gone in a few moments, and then the
blackness of night came with a weird moaning wind that told of
desolation. Most of the children, having passed through every
phase of exhaustion and terror, had fallen asleep. Some of the
women slept, also, and others wept. But the terrible wailing
note, which the nerves of no man could stand, was heard no
The five gathered again at a point near by, and Carpenter came to
"Men," he said simply, "don't know much about you, though I
know you fought well in the battle that we lost, but for what
you're doin' now nobody can ever repay you. I knew that I never
could get across the mountains with all these weak ones."
The five merely said that any man who was a man would help at
such a time. Then they resumed their march in a perpetual circle
about the camp.
Some women did not sleep at all that night. It is not easy to
conceive what the frontier women of America endured so many
thousands of times. They had seen their husbands, brothers, and
sons killed in the battle, and they knew that the worst of
torture had been practiced in the Indian camp. Many of them
really did not want to live any longer. They merely struggled
automatically for life. The darkness settled down thicker and
thicker; the blackness in the forest was intense, and they could
see the faces of one another only at a little distance. The
desolate moan of the wind came through the leaves, and, although
it was July, the night grew cold. The women crept closer
together, trying to cover up and protect the children. The wind,
with its inexpressibly mournful note, was exactly fitted to their
feelings. Many of them wondered why a Supreme Being had
permitted such things. But they ceased to talk. No sound at all
came from the group, and any one fifty yards away, not
forewarned, could not have told that they were there.
Henry and Paul met again about midnight, and sat a long time on a
little hillock. Theirs had been the most dangerous of lives on
the most dangerous of frontiers, but they had never been stirred
as they were tonight. Even Paul, the mildest of the five, felt
something burning within him, a fire that only one thing could
"Henry," said he, "we're trying to get these people to Fort Penn,
and we may get some of them there, but I don't think our work
will be ended them. I don't think I could ever be happy again if
we went straight from Fort Penn to Kentucky."
Henry understood him perfectly.
"No, Paul," he said, "I don't want to go, either, and I know the
others don't. Maybe you are not willing to tell why we want to
stay, but it is vengeance. I know it's Christian to forgive your
enemies, but I can't see what I have seen, and hear what I have
heard, and do it."
"When the news of these things spreads," said Paul, "they'll send
an army from the east. Sooner or later they'll just have to do
it to punish the Iroquois and their white allies, and we've got
to be here to join that army."
"I feel that way, too, Paul," said Henry.
They were joined later by the other three, who stayed a little
while, and they were in accord with Henry and Paul.
Then they began their circles about the camp again, always
looking and always listening. About two o'clock in the morning
they heard a scream, but it was only the cry of a panther.
Before day there were clouds, a low rumble of distant thunder,
and faint far flashes of lightning. Henry was in dread of rain,
but the lightning and thunder ceased, and the clouds went away.
Then dawn came, rosy and bright, and all but three rose from the
earth. The three-one woman and two children-had died in silence
in the night, and they were buried, like the others, in shallow
graves in the woods. But there was little weeping or external
mourning over them. All were now heavy and apathetic, capable of
but little more emotion.
Carpenter resumed his position at the head of the column, which
now moved slowly over the mountain through a thick forest matted
with vines and bushes and without a path. The march was now so
painful and difficult that they did not make more than two miles
an hour. The stronger of them helped the men to gather more
whortleberries, as it was easy to see that the food they had with
them would never last until they reached Fort Penn, should they
ever reach it.
The condition of the country into which they had entered steadily
grew worse. They were well into the mountains, a region
exceedingly wild and rough, but little known to the settlers, who
had gone around it to build homes in the fertile and beautiful
valley of Wyoming. The heavy forest was made all the more
difficult by the presence everywhere of almost impassable
undergrowth. Now and then a woman lay down under the bushes, and
in two cases they died there because the power to live was no
longer in them. They grew weaker and weaker. The food that they
had brought from the Wyoming fort was almost exhausted, and the
wild whortleberries were far from sustaining. Fortunately there
was plenty of water flowing tinder the dark woods and along the
mountainside. But they were compelled to stop at intervals of an
hour or two to rest, and the more timid continually expected
The five met shortly after noon and took another reckoning of the
situation. They still realized to the full the dangers of Indian
pursuit, which in this case might be a mere matter of accident.
Anybody could follow the broad trail left by the fugitives, but
the Iroquois, busy with destruction in the valley, might not
follow, even if they saw it. No one could tell. The danger of
starvation or of death from exhaustion was more imminent, more
pressing, and the five resolved to let scouting alone for the
rest of the day and seek game.
"There's bound to be a lot of it in these woods," said Shif'less
Sol, "though it's frightened out of the path by our big crowd,
but we ought to find it."
Henry and Shif'less Sol went in one direction, and Paul, Tom, and
Long Jim in another. But with all their hunting they succeeded
in finding only one little deer, which fell to the rifle of
Silent Tom. It made small enough portions for the supper and
breakfast of nearly a hundred people, but it helped wonderfully,
and so did the fires which Henry and his comrades would now have
built, even had they not been needed for the cooking. They saw
that light and warmth, the light and warmth of glowing coals,
would alone rouse life in this desolate band.
They slept the second night on the ground among the trees, and
the next morning they entered that gloomy region of terrible
memory, the Great Dismal Swamp of the North, known sometimes, to
this day, as "The Shades of Death."
THE SHADES OF DEATH
"The Shades of Death" is a marsh on a mountain top, the great,
wet, and soggy plain of the Pocono and Broad mountains. When the
fugitives from Wyoming entered it, it was covered with a dense
growth of pines, growing mostly out of dark, murky water, which
in its turn was thick with a growth of moss and aquatic plants.
Snakes and all kinds of creeping things swarmed in the ooze.
Bear and panther were numerous.
Carpenter did not know any way around this terrible region, and
they were compelled to enter it. Henry was again devoutly
thankful that it was summer. In such a situation with winter on
top of it only the hardiest of men could survive.
But they entered the swamp, Carpenter silent and dogged, still
leading. Henry and his comrades kept close to the crowd. One
could not scout in such a morass, and it proved to be worse than
they bad feared. The day turned gray, and it was dark among the
trees. The whole place was filled with gloomy shadows. It was
often impossible to judge whether fairly solid soil or oozy murk
lay before them. Often they went down to their waists.
Sometimes the children fell and were dragged up again by the
stronger. Now and then rattle snakes coiled and hissed, and the
women killed them with sticks. Other serpents slipped away in
the slime. Everybody was plastered with mud, and they became
mere images of human beings.
In the afternoon they reached a sort of oasis in the terrible
swamp, and there they buried two more of their number who had
perished from exhaustion. The rest, save a few, lay upon the
ground as if dead. On all sides of them stretched the pines and
the soft black earth. It looked to the fugitives like a region
into which no human beings had ever come, or ever would come
again, and, alas! to most of them like a region from which no
human being would ever emerge.
Henry sat upon a piece of fallen brushwood near the edge of the
morass, and looked at the fugitives, and his heart sank within
him. They were hardly in the likeness of his own kind, and they
seemed practically lifeless now. Everything was dull, heavy, and
dead. The note of the wind among the leaves was somber. A long
black snake slipped from the marshy grass near his feet and
disappeared soundlessly in the water. He was sick, sick to death
at the sight of so much suffering, and the desire for vengeance,
slow, cold, and far more lasting than any hot outburst, grew
within him. A slight noise, and Shif'less Sol stood beside him.
"Did you hear?" asked the shiftless one, in a significant tone.
"Hear what?" asked Henry, who had been deep in thought.
"The wolf howl, just a very little cry, very far away an' under
the horizon, but thar all the same. Listen, thar she goes
Henry bent his ear and distinctly heard the faint, whining note,
and then it came a third time.
He looked tip at Shif'less Sol, and his face grew white -- but
not for himself.
"Yes," said Shif'less Sol. He understood the look. We are
pursued. Them wolves howlin' are the Iroquois. What do you
reckon we're goin' to do, Henry?"
"Fight!" replied the youth, with fierce energy. "Beat 'em off!"
Henry circled the little oasis with the eye of a general, and his
"You'll stand here, where the earth gives a footing," he said,
"you, Solomon Hyde, as brave a man as I ever saw, and with you
will be Paul Cotter, Tom Ross, Jim Hart, and Henry Ware, old
friends of yours. Carpenter will at once lead the women and
children on ahead, and perhaps they will not hear the battle that
is going to be fought here."
A smile of approval, slow, but deep and comprehensive, stole over
the face of Solomon Hyde, surnamed, wholly without fitness, the
shiftless one. "It seems to me," he said, "that I've heard o'
them four fellers you're talkin' about, an' ef I wuz to hunt all
over this planet an' them other planets that Paul tells of, I
couldn't find four other fellers that I'd ez soon have with me."
"We've got to stand here to the death," said Henry.
"You're shorely right," said Shif'less Sol.
The hands of the two comrades met in a grip of steel.
The other three were called and were told of the plan, which met
with their full approval. Then the news was carried to
Carpenter, who quickly agreed that their course was the wisest.
He urged all the fugitives to their feet, telling them that they
must reach another dry place before night, but they were past
asking questions now, and, heavy and apathetic, they passed on
into the swamp.
Paul watched the last of them disappear among the black bushes
and weeds, and turned back to his friends on the oasis. The five
lay down behind a big fallen pine, and gave their weapons a last
look. They had never been armed better. Their rifles were good,
and the fine double-barreled pistols, formidable weapons, would
be a great aid, especially at close quarters.
"I take it," said Tom Ross, "that the Iroquois can't get through
at all unless they come along this way, an' it's the same ez ef
we wuz settin' on solid earth, poppin' em over, while they come
sloshin' up to us."
"That's exactly it," said Henry. "We've a natural defense which
we can hold against much greater numbers, and the longer we hold
'em off, the nearer our people will be to Fort Penn."
"I never felt more like fightin' in my life," said Tom Ross.
It was a grim utterance, true of them all, although not one among
them was bloodthirsty.
"Can any of you hear anything?" asked Henry. "Nothin'," replied
Shif'less Sol, after a little wait, "nothin' from the women
goin', an' nothin' from the Iroquois comin'."
"We'll just lie close," said Henry. "This hard spot of ground
isn't more than thirty or forty feet each way, and nobody can get
on it without our knowing it."
The others did not reply. All lay motionless upon their sides,
with their shoulders raised a little, in order that they might
take instant aim when the time came. Some rays of the sun
penetrated the canopy of pines, and fell across the brown,
determined faces and the lean brown hands that grasped the long,
slender-barreled Kentucky rifles. Another snake slipped from the
ground into the black water and swam away. Some water animal
made a light splash as he, too, swam from the presence of these
strange intruders. Then they beard a sighing sound, as of a foot
drawn from mud, and they knew that the Iroquois were approaching,
savages in war, whatever they might be otherwise, and expecting
an easy prey. Five brown thumbs cocked their rifles, and five
brown forefingers rested upon the triggers. The eyes of woodsmen
who seldom missed looked down the sights.
The sound of feet in the mud came many times. The enemy was
evidently drawing near.
"How many do you think are out thar?" whispered Shif'less Sol to
"Twenty, at least, it seems to me by the sounds." "I s'pose the
best thing for us to do is to shoot at the first head we see."
"Yes, but we mustn't all fire at the same man."
It was suggested that Henry call off the turns of the marksmen,
and he agreed to do so. Shif'less Sol was to fire first. The
sounds now ceased. The Iroquois evidently had some feeling or
instinct that they were approaching an enemy who was to be
feared, not weak and unarmed women and children.
The five were absolutely motionless, finger on trigger. The
American wilderness had heroes without number. It was Horatius
Cocles five times over, ready to defend the bridge with life.
Over the marsh rose the weird cry of an owl, and some water birds
called in lonely fashion.
Henry judged that the fugitives were now three quarters of a mile
away, out of the sound of rifle shot. He had urged Carpenter to
marshal them on as far as be could. But the silence endured yet
a while longer. In the dull gray light of the somber day and the
waning afternoon the marsh was increasingly dreary and mournful.
It seemed that it must always be the abode of dead or dying
The wet grass, forty yards away, moved a little, and between the
boughs appeared the segment of a hideous dark face, the painted
brow, the savage black eyes, and the hooked nose of the Mohawk.
Only Henry saw it, but with fierce joy-the tortures at Wyoming
leaped up before him-he fired at the painted brow. The Mohawk
uttered his death cry and fell back with a splash into the mud
and water of the swamp. A half dozen bullets were instantly
fired at the base of the smoke that came from Henry's rifle, but
the youth and his comrades lay close and were unharmed.
Shif'less Sol and Tom were quick enough to catch glimpses of
brown forms, at which they fired, and the cries coming back told
that they had hit.
"That's something," said Henry. "One or two Iroquois at least
will not wear the scalp of white woman or child at their belts."
"Wish they'd try to rush us," said Shif'less Sol. "I never felt
so full of fight in my life before."
"They may try it," said Henry. "I understand that at the big
battle of the Oriskany, farther up in the North, the Iroquois
would wait until a white man behind a tree would fire, then they
would rush up and tomahawk him before he could reload."
"They don't know how fast we kin reload," said Long Jim, "an'
they don't know that we've got these double-barreled pistols,
"No, they don't," said Henry, "and it's a great thing for us to
have them. Suppose we spread out a little. So long as we keep
them from getting a lodging on the solid earth we hold them at a
Henry and Paul moved off a little toward the right, and the
others toward the left. They still had good cover, as fallen
timber was scattered all over the oasis, and they were quite sure
that another attack would be made soon. It came in about fifteen
minutes. The Iroquois suddenly fired a volley at the logs and
brush, and when the five returned the fire, but with more deadly
effect, they leaped forward in the mud and attempted to rush the
oasis, tomahawk in hand.
But the five reloaded so quickly that they were able to send in a
second volley before the foremost of the Iroquois could touch
foot on solid earth. Then the double barreled pistols came into
play. The bullets sent from short range drove back the savages,
who were amazed at such a deadly and continued fire. Henry
caught sight of a white face among these assailants, and he knew
it to be that of Braxton Wyatt. Singularly enough he was not
amazed to see it there. Wyatt, sinking deeper and deeper into
savagery and cruelty, was just the one to lead the Iroquois in
such a pursuit. He was a fit match for Walter Butler, the
infamous son of the Indian leader, who was soon to prove himself
worse than the worst of the savages, as Thayendanegea himself has
Henry drew a bead once on Braxton Wyatt-he had no scruples now
about shooting him-but just as he was about to pull the trigger
Wyatt darted behind a bush, and a Seneca instead received the
bullet. He also saw the renegade, Blackstaffe, but he was not
able to secure a shot at him, either. Nevertheless, the Iroquois
attack was beaten back. It was a foregone conclusion that the
result would be so, unless the force was in great numbers. It is
likely, also, that the Iroquois at first had thought only a
single man was with the fugitives, not knowing that the five had
joined them later.
Two of the Iroquois were slain at the very edge of the solid
ground, but their bodies fell back in the slime, and the others,
retreating fast for their lives, could not carry them off. Paul,
with a kind of fascinated horror, watched the dead painted bodies
sink deeper. Then one was entirely gone. The hand of the other