Part 4 out of 7
alone was left, and then it, too, was gone. But the five had
held the island, and Carpenter was leading the fugitives on
toward Fort Penn. They had not only held it, but they believed
that they could continue to hold it against anything, and their
hearts became exultant. Something, too, to balance against the
long score, lay out there in the swamp, and all the five, bitter
over Wyoming, were sorry that Braxton Wyatt was not among them.
The stillness came again. The sun did not break through the
heavy gray sky, and the somber shadows brooded over "The Shades
of Death." They heard again the splash of water animals, and a
swimming snake passed on the murky surface. Then they heard the
wolf's long cry, and the long cry of wolf replying.
"More Iroquois coming," said Shif'less Sol." Well, we gave them a
pretty warm how d'ye do, an' with our rifles and double-barreled
pistols I'm thinkin' that we kin do it ag'in."
"We can, except in one case," said Henry, " if the new party
brings their numbers up to fifty or sixty, and they wait for
night, they can surround us in the darkness. Perhaps it would be
better for us to slip away when twilight comes. Carpenter and
the train have a long lead now."
"Yes," said Shif'less Sol," Now, what in tarnation is that?"
"A white flag," said Paul. A piece of cloth that had once been
white had been hoisted on the barrel of a rifle at a point about
sixty yards away.
"They want a talk with us," said Henry.
"If it's Braxton Wyatt," said Long Jim, "I'd like to take a shot
at him, talk or no talk, an' ef I missed, then take another."
"We'll see what they have to say," said Henry, and he called
aloud: "What do you want with us?"
"To talk with you," replied a clear, full voice, not that of
"Very well," replied Henry, "show yourself and we will not fire
A tall figure was upraised upon a grassy hummock, and the hands
were held aloft in sign of peace. It was a splendid figure, at
least six feet four inches in height. At that moment some rays
of the setting sun broke through the gray clouds and shone full
upon it, lighting up the defiant scalp lock interwoven with the
brilliant red feather, the eagle face with the curved Roman beak,
and the mighty shoulders and chest of red bronze. It was a
genuine king of the wilderness, none other than the mighty
Timmendiquas himself, the great White Lightning of the Wyandots.
"Ware," he said, "I would speak with you. Let us talk as one
chief to another."
The five were amazed. Timmendiquas there! They were quite sure
that he had come up with the second force, and he was certain to
prove a far more formidable leader than either Braxton Wyatt or
Moses Blackstaffe. But his demand to speak with Henry Ware might
"Are you going to answer him?" said Shif'less Sol.
"Of course," replied Henry.
"The others, especially Wyatt and Blackstaffe, might shoot."
"Not while Timmendiquas holds the flag of truce; they would not
Henry stood up, raising himself to his full height. The same
ruddy sunlight piercing the somber gray of the clouds fell upon
another splendid figure, a boy only in years, but far beyond the
average height of man, his hair yellow, his eyes a deep, clear
blue, his body clothed in buckskin, and his whole attitude that
of one without fear. The two, the white and the red, kings of
their kind, confronted each other across the marsh.
"What do you wish with me, Timmendiquas?" asked Henry. In the
presence of the great Wyandot chief the feeling of hate and
revenge that had held his heart vanished. He knew that Paul and
Shif'less Sol would have sunk under the ruthless tomahawk of
Queen Esther, if it had not been for White Lightning. He himself
had owed him his life on another and more distant occasion, and
he was not ungrateful. So there was warmth in his tone when he
"Let us meet at the edge of the solid ground," said Timmendiquas,
"I have things to say that are important and that you will be
glad to hear."
Henry walked without hesitation to the edge of the swamp, and the
young chief, coming forward, met him. Henry held out his hand in
white fashion, and the young chief took it. There was no sound
either from the swamp or from those who lay behind the logs on
the island, but some of the eyes of those hidden in the swamps
watched both with burning hatred.
"I wish to tell you, Ware," said Timmendiquas, speaking with the
dignity becoming a great chief, "that it was not I who led the
pursuit of the white men's women and children. I, and the
Wyandots who came with me, fought as best we could in the great
battle, and I will slay my enemies when I can. We are warriors,
and we are ready to face each other in battle, but we do not seek
to kill the squaw in the tepee or the papoose in its birch-bark
The face of the great chief seemed stirred by some deep emotion,
which impressed Henry all the more because the countenance of
Timmendiquas was usually a mask.
"I believe that you tell the truth," said Henry gravely.
"I and my Wyandots," continued the chief, "followed a trail
through the woods. We found that others, Senecas and Mohawks,
led by Wyatt and Blackstaffe, who are of your race, had gone
before, and when we came up there had just been a battle. The
Mohawks and Senecas had been driven back. It was then we learned
that the trail was made by women and little children, save you
and your comrades who stayed to fight and protect them."
"You speak true words, Timmendiquas," said Henry.
"The Wyandots have remained in the East to fight men, not to kill
squaws and papooses," continued Timmendiquas. "So I say to you,
go on with those who flee across the mountains. Our warriors
shall not pursue you any longer. We will turn back to the valley
from which we come, and those of your race, Blackstaffe and
Wyatt, shall go with us."
The great chief spoke quietly, but there was an edge to his tone
that told that every word was meant. Henry felt a glow of
admiration. The true greatness of Timmendiquas spoke.
"And the Iroquois?" he said, "will they go back with you?"
"They will. They have killed too much. Today all the white
people in the valley are killed or driven away. Many scalps have
been taken, those of women and children, too, and men have died
at the stake. I have felt shame for their deeds, Ware, and it
will bring punishment upon my brethren, the Iroquois. It will
make so great a noise in the world that many soldiers will come,
and the villages of the Iroquois will cease to be."
"I think it is so, Timmendiquas," said Henry. "But you will be
far away then in your own land."
The chief drew himself up a little.
"I shall remain with the Iroquois," he said. "I have promised to
help them, and I must do so."
"I can't blame you for that," said Henry, "but I am glad that you
do not seek the scalps of women and children. We are at once
enemies and friends, Timmendiquas."
White Lightning bowed gravely. He and Henry touched hands again,
and each withdrew, the chief into the morass, while Henry walked
back toward his comrades, holding himself erect, as if no enemy
The four rose up to greet him. They had heard part of what was
said, and Henry quickly told them the rest.
"He's shorely a great chief," said Shif'less Sol. He'll keep his
word, too. Them people on ahead ain't got anything more to fear
He's a statesman, too," said Henry. "He sees what damage the
deeds of Wyoming Valley will do to those who have done them. He
thinks our people will now send a great army against the
Iroquois, and I think so, too."
"No nation can stand a thing like that," said Paul, and I didn't
dream it could happen."
They now left the oasis, and went swiftly along the trail left by
the fugitives. All of them had confidence in the word of
Timmendiquas. There was a remote chance that some other band had
entered the swamp at a different point, but it was remote,
indeed, and it did not trouble them much.
Night was now over the great swamp. The sun no longer came
through the gray clouds, but here and there were little flashes
of flame made by fireflies. Had not the trail been so broad and
deep it could easily have been lost, but, being what it was, the
skilled eyes of the frontiersmen followed it without trouble.
"Some uv 'em are gittin' pow'ful tired," said Tom Ross, looking
at the tracks in the mud. Then he suddenly added: "Here's whar
one's quit forever."
A shallow grave, not an hour old, had been made under some
bushes, and its length indicated that a woman lay there. They
passed it by in silence. Henry now appreciated more fully than
ever the mercy of Timmendiquas. The five and Carpenter could not
possibly have protected the miserable fugitives against the great
chief, with fifty Wyandots and Iroquois at his back.
Timmendiquas knew this, and he had done what none of the Indians
or white allies around him would have done.
In another hour they saw a man standing among some vines, but
watchful, and with his rifle in the hollow of his arm. It was
Carpenter, a man whose task was not less than that of the five.
They were in the thick of it and could see what was done, but he
had to lead on and wait. He counted the dusk figures as they
approached him, one, two, three, four, five, and perhaps no man
ever felt greater relief. He advanced toward them and said
"There was no fight! They did not attack!"
"There was a fight," said Henry, "and we beat them back; then a
second and a larger force came up, but it was composed chiefly of
Wyandots, led by their great chief, Timmendiquas. He came
forward and said that they would not pursue women and children,
and that we could go in safety."
Carpenter looked incredulous.
"It is true," said Henry, "every word of it."
"It is more than Brant would have done," said Carpenter, "and it
saves us, with your help."
"You were first, and the first credit is yours, Mr. Carpenter,"
said Henry sincerely.
They did not tell the women and children of the fight at the
oasis, but they spread the news that there would be no more
pursuit, and many drooping spirits revived. They spent another
day in the Great Dismal Swamp, where more lives were lost. On
the day after their emergence from the marsh, Henry and his
comrades killed two deer, which furnished greatly needed food,
and on the day after that, excepting those who had died by the
way, they reached Fort Penn, where they were received into
shelter and safety.
The night before the fugitives reached Fort Penn, the Iroquois
began the celebration of the Thanksgiving Dance for their great
victory and the many scalps taken at Wyoming. They could not
recall another time when they had secured so many of these
hideous trophies, and they were drunk with the joy of victory.
Many of the Tories, some in their own clothes, and some painted
and dressed like Indians, took part in it.
According to their ancient and honored custom they held a grand
council to prepare for it. All the leading chiefs were present,
Sangerachte, Hiokatoo, and the others. Braxton Wyatt,
Blackstaffe, and other white men were admitted. After their
deliberations a great fire was built in the center of the camp,
the squaws who had followed the army feeding it with brushwood
until it leaped and roared and formed a great red pyramid. Then
the chiefs sat down in a solemn circle at some distance, and
Presently the sound of a loud chant was heard, and from the
farthest point of the camp emerged a long line of warriors,
hundreds and hundreds of them, all painted in red and black with
horrible designs. They were naked except the breechcloth and
moccasins, and everyone waved aloft a tomahawk as he sang.
Still singing and brandishing the tomahawks, which gleamed in the
red light, the long procession entered the open space, and danced
and wheeled about the great fire, the flames casting a lurid
light upon faces hideous with paint or the intoxication of
triumph. The glare of their black eyes was like those of Eastern
eaters of hasheesh or opium, and they bounded to and fro as if
their muscles were springs of steel. They sang:
We have met the Bostonians* in battle,
We slew them with our rifles and tomahawks.
Few there are who escaped our warriors.
Ever-victorious is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee.
[*Note: All the Americans were often called Bostonians by the
Indians as late as the Revolutionary War.]
Mighty has been our taking of scalps,
They will fill all the lodges of the Iroquois.
We have burned the houses of the Bostonians.
Ever-victorious is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee.
The wolf will prowl in their corn-fields,
The grass will grow where their blood has soaked;
Their bones will lie for the buzzard to pick.
Ever-victorious is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee.
We came upon them by river and forest;
As we smote Wyoming we will smite the others,
We will drive the Bostonians back to the sea.
Ever-victorious is the League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee.
The monotonous chant with the refrain, "Ever-victorious is the
League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee," went on for many verses.
Meanwhile the old squaws never ceased to feed the bonfire, and
the flames roared, casting a deeper and more vivid light over the
distorted faces of the dancers and those of the chiefs, who sat
Higher and higher leaped the warriors. They seemed unconscious
of fatigue, and the glare in their eyes became that of maniacs.
Their whole souls were possessed by the orgy. Beads of sweat,
not of exhaustion, but of emotional excitement, appeared upon
their faces and naked bodies, and the red and black paint
streaked together horribly.
For a long time this went on, and then the warriors ceased
suddenly to sing, although they continued their dance. A moment
later a cry which thrilled every nerve came from a far point in
the dark background. It was the scalp yell, the most terrible of
all Indian cries, long, high-pitched, and quavering, having in it
something of the barking howl of the wolf and the fiendish shriek
of a murderous maniac. The warriors instantly took it up, and
gave it back in a gigantic chorus.
A ghastly figure bounded into the circle of the firelight. It
was that of a woman, middle-aged, tall and powerful, naked to the
waist, her body covered with red and black paint, her long black
hair hanging in a loose cloud down her back. She held a fresh
scalp, taken from a white head, aloft in either band. It was
Catharine Montour, and it was she who had first emitted the scalp
yell. After her came more warriors, all bearing scalps. The
scalp yell was supposed to be uttered for every scalp taken, and,
as they had taken more than three hundred, it did not cease for
hours, penetrating every part of the forest. All the time
Catharine Montour led the dance. None bounded higher than she.
None grimaced more horribly.
While they danced, six men, with their hands tied behind them and
black caps on their heads, were brought forth and paraded around
amid hoots and yells and brandishing of tomahawks in their faces.
They were the surviving prisoners, and the black caps meant that
they were to be killed and scalped on the morrow. Stupefied by
all through which they had gone, they were scarcely conscious
Midnight came. The Iroquois still danced and sang, and the calm
stars looked down upon the savage and awful scene. Now the
dancers began to weary. Many dropped unconscious, and the others
danced about them where they lay. After a while all ceased.
Then the chiefs brought forth a white dog, which Hiokatoo killed
and threw on the embers of the fire. When it was thoroughly
roasted, the chiefs cut it in pieces and ate it. Thus closed the
Festival of Thanksgiving for the victory of Wyoming.
A FOREST PAGE
When the survivors of the band of Wyoming fugitives that the five
had helped were behind the walls of Fort Penn, securing the food
and rest they needed so greatly, Henry Ware and his comrades felt
themselves relieved of a great responsibility. They were also
aware how much they owed to Timmendiquas, because few of the
Indians and renegades would have been so forbearing.
Thayendanegea seemed to them inferior to the great Wyandot.
Often when Brant could prevent the torture of the prisoners and
the slaughter of women and children, he did not do it. The five
could never forget these things in after life, when Brant was
glorified as a great warrior and leader. Their minds always
turned to Timmendiquas as the highest and finest of Indian types.
While they were at Fort Penn two other parties came, in a fearful
state of exhaustion, and also having paid the usual toll of death
on the way. Other groups reached the Moravian towns, where they
were received with all kindness by the German settlers. The five
were able to give some help to several of these parties, but the
beautiful Wyoming Valley lay utterly in ruins. The ruthless fury
of the savages and of many of the Tories, Canadians, and
Englishmen, can scarcely be told. Everything was slaughtered or
burned. As a habitation of human beings or of anything
pertaining to human beings, the valley for a time ceased to be.
An entire population was either annihilated or driven out, and
finally Butler's army, finding that nothing more was left to be
destroyed, gathered in its war parties and marched northward with
a vast store of spoils, in which scalps were conspicuous. When
they repassed Tioga Point, Timmendiquas and his Wyandots were
still with them. Thayendanegea was also with them here, and so
was Walter Butler, who was destined shortly to make a reputation
equaling that of his father, "Indian" Butler. Nor had the
terrible Queen Esther ever left them. She marched at the head of
the army, singing, horrid chants of victory, and swinging the
great war tomahawk, which did not often leave her hand.
The whole force was re-embarked upon the Susquehanna, and it was
still full of the impulse of savage triumph. Wild Indian songs
floated along the stream or through the meadows, which were quiet
now. They advanced at their ease, knowing that there was nobody
to attack them, but they were watched by five woodsmen, two of
whom were boys. Meanwhile the story of Wyoming, to an extent
that neither Indians nor woodsmen themselves suspected, was
spreading from town to town in the East, to invade thence the
whole civilized world, and to stir up an indignation and horror
that would make the name Wyoming long memorable. Wyoming had
been a victory for the flag under which the invaders fought, but
it sadly tarnished the cause of that flag, and the consequences
were to be seen soon.
Henry Ware, Paul Cotter, Sol Hyde, Tom Ross, and Jim Hart were
thinking little of distant consequences, but they were eager for
the present punishment of these men who had committed so much
cruelty. From the bushes they could easily follow the canoes,
and could recognize some of their occupants. In one of the rear
boats sat Braxton Wyatt and a young man whom they knew to be
Walter Butler, a pallid young man, animated by the most savage
ferocity against the patriots. He and Wyatt seemed to be on the
best of terms, and faint echoes of their laughter came to the
five who were watching among the bushes on the river bank.
Certainly Braxton Wyatt and he were a pair well met.
"Henry," said Shif'less Sol longingly, "I think I could jest
about reach Braxton Wyatt with a bullet from here. I ain't over
fond o' shootin' from ambush, but I done got over all scruples so
fur ez he's concerned. Jest one bullet, one little bullet,
Henry, an' ef I miss I won't ask fur a second chance."
"No, Sol, it won't do," said Henry. "They'd get off to hunt us.
The whole fleet would be stopped, and we want 'em to go on as
fast as possible."
"I s'pose you're right, Henry," said the shiftless one sadly,
"but I'd jest like to try it once. I'd give a month's good
huntin' for that single trial."
After watching the British-Indian fleet passing up the river,
they turned back to the site of the Wyoming fort and the houses
near it. Here everything had been destroyed. It was about dusk
when they approached the battlefield, and they heard a dreadful
howling, chiefly that of wolves.
I think we'd better turn away," said Henry. " We couldn't do
anything with so many."
They agreed with him, and, going back, followed the Indians up
the Susquehanna. A light rain fell that night, but they slept
under a little shed, once attached to a house which had been
destroyed by fire. In some way the shed had escaped the flames,
and it now came into timely use. The five, cunning in forest
practice, drew up brush on the sides, and half-burned timber
also, and, spreading their blankets on ashes which had not long
been cold, lay well sheltered from the drizzling rain, although
they did not sleep for a long time.
It was the hottest period of the year in America, but the night
had come on cool, and the rain made it cooler. The five,
profiting by experience, often carried with them two light
blankets instead of one heavy one. With one blanket beneath the
body they could keep warmer in case the weather was cold.
Now they lay in a row against the standing wall of the old
outhouse, protected by a six- or seven-foot slant of board roof.
They had eaten of a deer that they had shot in the morning, and
they had a sense of comfort and rest that none of them had known
before in many days. Henry's feelings were much like those that
he had experienced when he lay in the bushes in the little canoe,
wrapped up from the storm and hidden from the Iroquois. But here
there was an important increase of pleasure, the pattering of the
rain on the board roof, a pleasant, soothing sound to which
millions of boys, many of them afterwards great men, have
listened in America.
It grew very dark about them, and the pleasant patter, almost
musical in its rhythm, kept up. Not much wind was blowing, and
it, too, was melodious. Henry lay with his head on a little heap
of ashes, which was covered by his under blanket, and, for the
first time since he had brought the warning to Wyoming, he was
free from all feeling of danger. The picture itself of the
battle, the defeat, the massacre, the torture, and of the savage
Queen Esther cleaving the heads of the captives, was at times as
vivid as ever, and perhaps would always return now and then in
its original true colors, but the periods between, when youth,
hope, and strength had their way, grew longer and longer.
Now Henry's eyelids sank lower and lower. Physical comfort and
the presence of his comrades caused a deep satisfaction that
permeated his whole being. The light wind mingled pleasantly
with the soft summer rain. The sound of the two grew strangely
melodious, almost piercingly sweet, and then it seemed to be
human. They sang together, the wind and rain, among the leaves,
and the note that reached his heart, rather than his ear,
thrilled him with courage and hope. Once more the invisible
voice that had upborne him in the great valley of the Ohio told
him, even here in the ruined valley of Wyoming, that what was
lost would be regained. The chords ended, and the echoes,
amazingly clear, floated far away in the darkness and rain.
Henry roused himself, and came from the imaginative borderland.
He stirred a little, and said in a quiet voice to Shif'less Sol:
"Did you hear anything, Sol?"
"Nothin' but the wind an' the rain."
Henry knew that such would be the answer.
"I guess you didn't hear anything either, Henry," continued the
shiftless one, "'cause it looked to me that you wuz 'bout ez near
sleep ez a feller could be without bein' ackshooally so."
"I was drifting away," said Henry.
He was beginning to realize that he had a great power, or rather
gift. Paul was the sensitive, imaginative boy, seeing everything
in brilliant colors, a great builder of castles, not all of air,
but Henry's gift went deeper. It was the power to evoke the
actual living picture of the event that bad not yet occurred,
something akin in its nature to prophecy, based perhaps upon the
wonderful power of observation, inherited doubtless, from
countless primitive ancestors. The finest product of the
wilderness, he saw in that wilderness many things that others did
not see, and unconsciously he drew his conclusions from superior
The song had ceased a full ten minutes, and then came another
note, a howl almost plaintive, but, nevertheless, weird and full
of ferocity. All knew it at once. They had heard the cry of
wolves too often in their lives, but this had an uncommon note
like the yell of the Indian in victory. Again the cry arose,
nearer, haunting, and powerful. The five, used to the darkness,
could see one another's faces, and the look that all gave was the
same, full of understanding and repulsion.
"It has been a great day for the wolf in this valley," whispered
Paul, "and striking our trail they think they are going to find
what they have been finding in such plenty before."
"Yes," nodded Henry, "but do you remember that time when in the
house we took the place of the man, his wife and children, just
before the Indians came?"
"Yes," said Paul.
"We'll treat them wolves the same way," said Shif'less Sol.
"I'm glad of the chance," said Long Jim.
"Me, too," said Tom Ross.
The five rose up to sitting positions against the board wall, and
everyone held across his knees a long, slender barreled rifle,
with the muzzle pointing toward the forest. All accomplished
marksmen, it would only be a matter of a moment for the stock to
leap to the shoulder, the eye to glance down the barrel, the
finger to pull the trigger, and the unerring bullet to leap
"Henry, you give the word as usual," said Shif'less Sol.
Presently in the darkness they heard the pattering of light feet,
and they saw many gleaming eyes draw near. There must have been
at least thirty of the wolves, and the five figures that they saw
reclining, silent and motionless, against the unburned portion of
the house might well have been those of the dead and scalped,
whom they had found in such numbers everywhere. They drew near
in a semicircular group, its concave front extended toward the
fire, the greatest wolves at the center. Despite many feastings,
the wolves were hungry again. Nothing had opposed them before,
but caution was instinctive. The big gray leaders did not mind
the night or the wind or the rain, which they had known all their
lives, and which they counted as nothing, but they always had
involuntary suspicion of human figures, whether living or not,
and they approached slowly, wrinkling back their noses and
sniffing the wind which blew from them instead of the five
figures. But their confidence increased as they advanced. They
had found many such burned houses as this, but they had found
nothing among the ruins except what they wished.
The big leaders advanced more boldly, glaring straight at the
human figures, a slight froth on their lips, the lips themselves
curling back farther from the strong white teeth. The outer ends
of the concave semicircle also drew in. The whole pack was about
to spring upon its unresisting prey, and it is, no doubt, true
that many a wolfish pulse beat a little higher in anticipation.
With a suddenness as startling as it was terrifying the five
figures raised themselves, five long, dark tubes leaped to their
shoulders, and with a suddenness that was yet more terrifying, a
gush of flame shot from five muzzles. Five of the wolves-and
they were the biggest and the boldest, the leaders-fell dead upon
the ashes of the charred timbers, and the others, howling their
terror to the dark, skies, fled deep into the forest.
Henry strode over and pushed the body of the largest wolf with
"I suppose we only gratified a kind of sentiment in shooting
those wolves," he said, " but I for one am glad we did it."
"So am I," said Paul.
"Me, too," said the other three together.
They went back to their positions near the wall, and one by one
fell asleep. No more wolves howled that night anywhere near
When the five awakened the next morning the rain had ceased, and
a splendid sun was tinting a blue sky with gold. Jim Hart built
a fire among the blackened logs, and cooked venison. They had
also brought from Fort Penn a little coffee, which Long Jim
carried with a small coffee pot in his camp kit, and everyone had
a small tin cup. He made coffee for them, an uncommon wilderness
luxury, in which they could rarely indulge, and they were
heartened and strengthened by it.
Then they went again up the valley, as beautiful as ever, with
its silver river in the center, and its green mountain walls on
either side. But the beauty was for the eye only. It did not
reach the hearts of those who had seen it before. All of the
five loved the wilderness, but they felt now how tragic silence
and desolation could be where human life and all the daily ways
of human life had been.
It was mid-summer, but the wilderness was already reclaiming its
own. The game knew that man was gone, and it had come back into
the valley. Deer ate what had grown in the fields and gardens,
and the wolves were everywhere. The whole black tragedy was
written for miles. They were never out of sight of some trace of
it, and their anger grew again as they advanced in the blackened
path of the victorious Indians.
It was their purpose now to hang on the Indian flank as scouts
and skirmishers, until an American army was formed for a campaign
against the Iroquois, which they were sure must be conducted
sooner or later. Meanwhile they could be of great aid, gathering
news of the Indian plans, and, when that army of which they
dreamed should finally march, they could help it most of all by
warning it of ambush, the Indian's deadliest weapon.
Everyone of the five had already perceived a fact which was
manifest in all wars with the Indians along the whole border from
North to South, as it steadily shifted farther West. The
practical hunter and scout was always more than a match for the
Indian, man for man, but, when the raw levies of settlers were
hastily gathered to stem invasion, they were invariably at a
great disadvantage. They were likely to be caught in ambush by
overwhelming numbers, and to be cut down, as had just happened at
Wyoming. The same fate might attend an invasion of the Iroquois
country, even by a large army of regular troops, and Henry and
his comrades resolved upon doing their utmost to prevent it. An
army needed eyes, and it could have none better than those five
pairs. So they went swiftly up the valley and northward and
eastward, into the country of the Iroquois. They had a plan of
approaching the upper Mohawk village of Canajoharie, where one
account says that Thayendanegea was born, although another
credits his birthplace to the upper banks of the Ohio.
They turned now from the valley to the deep woods. The trail
showed that the great Indian force, after disembarking again,
split into large parties, everyone loaded with spoil and bound
for its home village. The five noted several of the trails, but
one of them consumed the whole attention of Silent Tom Ross.
He saw in the soft soil near a creek bank the footsteps of about
eight Indians, and, mingled with them, other footsteps, which he
took to be those of a white woman and of several children,
captives, as even a tyro would infer. The soul of Tom, the good,
honest, and inarticulate frontiersman, stirred within him. A
white woman and her children being carried off to savagery, to be
lost forevermore to their kind! Tom, still inarticulate, felt
his heart pierced with sadness at the tale that the tracks in the
soft mud told so plainly. But despair was not the only emotion
in his heart. The silent and brave man meant to act.
"Henry," he said, "see these tracks here in the soft spot by the
The young leader read the forest page, and it told him exactly
the same tale that it had told Tom Ross.
"About a day old, I think," he said.
"Just about," said Tom; "an' I reckon, Henry, you know what's in
"I think I do," said Henry, " and we ought to overtake them by
to-morrow night. You tell the others, Tom."
Tom informed Shif'less Sol, Paul, and Long Jim in a few words,
receiving from everyone a glad assent, and then the five followed
fast on the trail. They knew that the Indians could not go very
fast, as their speed must be that of the slowest, namely, that of
the children, and it seemed likely that Henry's prediction of
overtaking them on the following night would come true.
It was an easy trail. Here and there were tiny fragments of
cloth, caught by a bush from the dress of a captive. In one
place they saw a fragment of a child's shoe that had been dropped
off and abandoned. Paul picked up the worn piece of leather and
"I think it was worn by a girl," he said, "and, judging from its
size, she could not have been more than eight years old. Think
of a child like that being made to walk five or six hundred miles
through these woods!"
"Younger ones still have had to do it," said Shif'less Sol
gravely, "an' them that couldn't-well, the tomahawk."
The trail was leading them toward the Seneca country, and they
had no doubt that the Indians were Senecas, who had been more
numerous than any others of the Six Nations at the Wyoming
battle. They came that afternoon to a camp fire beside which the
warriors and captives had slept the night before.
"They ate bar meat an' wild turkey," said Long Jim, looking at
some bones on the ground.
"An' here," said Tom Ross, "on this pile uv bushes is whar the
women an' children slept, an' on the other side uv the fire is
whar the warriors lay anywhars. You can still see how the bodies
uv some uv 'cm crushed down the grass an' little bushes."
"An' I'm thinkin'," said Shif'less Sol, as he looked at the trail
that led away from the camp fire, "that some o' them little ones
wuz gittin' pow'ful tired. Look how these here little trails are
"Hope we kin come up afore the Injuns begin to draw thar
tomahawks," said Tom Ross.
The others were silent, but they knew the dreadful significance
of Tom's remark, and Henry glanced at them all, one by one.
"It's the greatest danger to be feared," he said, "and we must
overtake them in the night when they are not suspecting. If we
attack by day they will tomahawk the captives the very first
"Shorely,', said the shiftless one.
"Then," said Henry, " we don't need to hurry. "We'll go on until
about midnight, and then sleep until sunrise."
They continued at a fair pace along a trail that frontiersmen far
less skillful than they could have followed. But a silent dread
was in the heart of every one of them. As they saw the path of
the small feet staggering more and more they feared to behold
some terrible object beside the path.
"The trail of the littlest child is gone," suddenly announced
"Yes," said Henry, "but the mother has picked it up and is
carrying it. See how her trail has suddenly grown more uneven."
"Poor woman," said Paul. "Henry, we're just bound to overtake
"We'll do it," said Henry.
At the appointed time they sank down among the thickest bushes
that they could find, and slept until the first upshot of dawn.
Then they resumed the trail, haunted always by that fear of
finding something terrible beside it. But it was a trail that
continually grew slower. The Indians themselves were tired, or,
feeling safe from pursuit, saw no need of hurry. By and by the
trail of the smallest child reappeared.
"It feels a lot better now," said Tom Ross. "So do I."
They came to another camp fire, at which the ashes were not yet
cold. Feathers were scattered about, indicating that the Indians
had taken time for a little side hunt, and had shot some birds.
"They can't be more than two or three hours ahead," said Henry,
"and we'll have to go on now very cautiously."
They were in a country of high hills, well covered with forests,
a region suited to an ambush, which they feared but little on
their own account; but, for the sake of extreme caution, they now
advanced slowly. The afternoon was long and warm, but an hour
before sunset they looked over a hill into a glade, and saw the
warriors making camp for the night.
The sight they beheld made the pulses of the five throb heavily.
The Indians had already built their fire, and two of them were
cooking venison upon it. Others were lying on the grass,
apparently resting, but a little to one side sat a woman, still
young and of large, strong figure, though now apparently in the
last stages of exhaustion, with her feet showing through the
fragments of shoes that she wore. Her head was bare, and her
dress was in strips. Four children lay beside her' the youngest
two with their heads in her lap. The other two, who might be
eleven and thirteen each, had pillowed their heads on their arms,
and lay in the dull apathy that comes from the finish of both
strength and hope. The woman's face was pitiful. She had more
to fear than the children, and she knew it. She was so worn that
the skin hung loosely on her face, and her eyes showed despair
only. The sad spectacle was almost more than Paul could stand.
"I don't like to shoot from ambush," he said, "but we could cut
down half of those warriors at our firs fire and rush in on the
"And those we didn't cut down at our first volley would tomahawk
the woman and children in an instant," replied Henry. " We
agreed, you know, that it would be sure to happen. We can't do
anything until night comes, and then we've got to be mighty
Paul could not dispute the truth of his words, and they withdrew
carefully to the crest of a hill, where they lay in the
undergrowth, watching the Indians complete their fire and their
preparations for the night. It was evident to Henry that they
considered themselves perfectly safe. Certainly they had every
reason for thinking so. It was not likely that white enemies
were within a hundred miles of them, and, if so, it could only be
a wandering hunter or two, who would flee from this fierce band
of Senecas who bad taken revenge for the great losses that they'
had suffered the year before at the Oriskany.
They kept very little watch and built only a small fire, just
enough for broiling deer meat which they carried. They drank at
a little spring which ran from under a ledge near them, and gave
portions of the meat to the woman and children. After the woman
had eaten, they bound her hands, and she lay back on the grass,
about twenty feet from the camp fire. Two children lay on either
side of her, and they were soon sound asleep. The warriors, as
Indians will do when they are free from danger and care, talked a
good deal, and showed all the signs of having what was to them a
luxurious time. They ate plentifully, lolled on the grass, and
looked at some hideous trophies, the scalps that they carried at
their belts. The woman could not keep from seeing these, too,
but her face did not change from its stony aspect of despair.
Then the light of the fire went out, the sun sank behind the
mountains, and the five could no longer see the little group of
captives and captors.
They still waited, although eagerness and impatience were tugging
at the hearts of every one of them. But they must give the
Indians time to fall asleep if they would secure rescue, and not
merely revenge. They remained in the bushes, saying but little
and eating of venison that they carried in their knapsacks.
They let a full three hours pass, and the night remained dark,
but with a faint moon showing. Then they descended slowly into
the valley, approaching by cautious degrees the spot where they
knew the Indian camp lay. This work required at least three
quarters of an hour, and they reached a point where they could
see the embers of the fire and the dark figures lying about it.
The Indians, their suspicions lulled, had put out no sentinels,
and all were asleep. But the five knew that, at the first shot,
they would be as wide awake as if they had never slept, and as
formidable as tigers. Their problem seemed as great as ever. So
they lay in the bushes and held a whispered conference.
"It's this," said Henry. " We want to save the woman and the
children from the tomahawks, and to do so we must get them out of
range of the blade before the battle begins." "How?" said Tom
"I've got to slip up, release the woman, arm her, tell her to run
for the woods with the children, and then you four must do the
most of the rest."
"Do you think you can do it, Henry ?" asked Shif'less Sol.
I can, as I will soon show you. I'm going to steal forward to
the woman, but the moment you four hear an alarm open with your
rifles and pistols. You can come a little nearer without being
All of them moved up close to the Indian camp, and lay hidden in
the last fringe of bushes except Henry. He lay almost flat upon
the ground, carrying his rifle parallel with his side, and in his
right hand. He was undertaking one of the severest and most
dangerous tests known to a frontiersman. He meant to crawl into
the very midst of a camp of the Iroquois, composed of the most
alert woodsmen in the world, men who would spring up at the
slightest crackle in the brush. Woodmen who, warned by some
sixth sense, would awaken at the mere fact of a strange presence.
The four who remained behind in the bushes could not keep their
hearts from beating louder and faster. They knew the tremendous
risk undertaken by their comrade, but there was not one of them
who would have shirked it, had not all yielded it to the one whom
they knew to be the best fitted for the task.
Henry crept forward silently, bringing to his aid all the years
of skill that he had acquired in his life in the wilds. His body
was like that of a serpent, going forward, coil by coil. He was
near enough now to see the embers of the fire not yet quite dead,
the dark figures scattered about it, sleeping upon the grass with
the long ease of custom, and then the outline of the woman apart
from the others with the children about her. Henry now lay
entirely flat, and his motions were genuinely those of a serpent.
It was by a sort of contraction and relaxation of the body that
he moved himself, and his progress was absolutely soundless.
The object of his advance was the woman. He saw by the faint
light of the moon that she was not yet asleep. Her face, worn
and weather beaten, was upturned to the skies, and the stony look
of despair seemed to have settled there forever. She lay upon
some pine boughs, and her hands were tied behind her for the
night with deerskin.
Henry contorted himself on, inch by inch, for all the world like
a great snake. Now he passed the sleeping Senecas, hideous with
war paint, and came closer to the woman. She was not paying
attention to anything about her, but was merely looking up at the
pale, cold stars, as if everything in the world had ceased for
Henry crept a little nearer. He made a slight noise, as of a
lizard running through the grass, but the woman took no notice.
He crept closer, and. there he lay flat upon the grass within six
feet of her, his figure merely a slightly darker blur against the
dark blur of the earth. Then, trusting to the woman's courage
and strength of mind, he emitted a hiss very soft and low, like
the warning of a serpent, half in fear and half in anger.
The woman moved a little, and looked toward the point from which
the sound had come. It might have been the formidable hiss of a
coiling rattlesnake that she heard, but she felt no fear. She
was too much stunned, too near exhaustion to be alarmed by
anything, and she did not look a second time. She merely settled
back on the pine boughs, and again looked dully up at the pale,
cold stars that cared so little for her or hers.
Henry crept another yard nearer, and then he uttered that low
noise, sibilant and warning, which the woman, the product of the
border, knew to be made by a human being. She raised herself a
little, although it was difficult with her bound hands to sit
upright, and saw a dark shadow approaching her. That dark shadow
she knew to he the figure of a man. An Indian would not be
approaching in such a manner, and she looked again, startled into
a sudden acute attention, and into a belief that the incredible,
the impossible, was about to happen. A voice came from the
figure, and its quality was that of the white voice, not the red.
"Do not move," said that incredible voice out of the unknown. "I
have come for your rescue, and others who have come for the same
purpose are near. Turn on one side, and I will cut the bonds
that hold your arms."
The voice, the white voice, was like the touch of fire to Mary
Newton. A sudden fierce desire for life and for the lives of her
four children awoke within her just when hope had gone the call
to life came. She had never heard before a voice so full of
cheer and encouragement. It penetrated her whole being.
Exhaustion and despair fled away.
"Turn a little on your side," said the voice.
She turned obediently, and then felt the sharp edge of cold steel
as it swept between her wrists and cut the thongs that held them
together. Her arms fell apart, and strength permeated every vein
of her being.
"We shall attack in a few moments," said the voice, "but at the
first shots the Senecas will try to tomahawk you and your
children. Hold out your hands."
She held out both hands obediently. The handle of a tomahawk was
pressed into one, and the muzzle of a double-barreled pistol into
the other. Strength flowed down each hand into her body.
"If the time comes, use them; you are strong, and you know how,"
said the voice. Then she saw the dark figure creeping away.
THE PURSUIT ON THE RIVER
The story of the frontier is filled with heroines, from the far
days of Hannah Dustin down to the present, and Mary Newton, whom
the unknown figure in the dark had just aroused, is one of them.
It had seemed to her that God himself had deserted her, but at
the last moment he had sent some one. She did not doubt, she
could not doubt, because the bonds had been severed, and there
she lay with a deadly weapon in either hand. The friendly
stranger who had come so silently was gone as he had come, but
she was not helpless now. Like many another frontier woman, she
was naturally lithe and powerful, and, stirred by a great hope,
all her strength had returned for the present.
Nobody who lives in the wilderness can wholly escape
superstition, and Mary Newton began to believe that some
supernatural creature had intervened in her behalf. She raised
herself just a little on one elbow and surveyed the surrounding
thicket. She saw only the dead embers of the fire, and the dark
forms of the Indians lying upon the bare ground. Had it not been
for the knife and pistol in her hand, she could have believed
that the voice was only a dream.
There was a slight rustling in the thicket, and a Seneca rose
quickly to his knees, grasping his rifle in both hands. The
woman's fingers clutched the knife and pistol more tightly, and
her whole gaunt figure trembled. The Seneca listened only a
moment. Then he gave a sharp cry, and all the other warriors
sprang up. But three of them rose only to fall again, as the
rifles cracked in the bushes, while two others staggered from
The triumphant shout of the frontiersmen came from the thicket,
and then they rushed upon the camp. Quick as a flash two of the
Senecas started toward the woman and children with their
tomahawks, but Mary Newton was ready. Her heart had leaped at
the shots when the Senecas fell, and she kept her courage. Now
she sprang to her full height, and, with the children screaming
at her feet, fired one barrel of the pistol directly into the
face of the first warrior, and served the second in the same way
with the other barrel when he was less than four feet away.
Then, tomahawk in hand, she rushed forward. In judging Mary
Newton, one must consider time and place.
But happily there was no need for her to use her tomahawk. As
the five rushed in, four of them emptied their double-barreled
pistols, while Henry swung his clubbed rifle with terrible
effect. It was too much for the Senecas. The apparition of the
armed woman, whom they had left bound, and the deadly fire from
the five figures that sprang upon them, was like a blow from the
hand of Aieroski. The unhurt and wounded fled deep into the
forest, leaving their dead behind. Mary Newton, her great deed
done, collapsed from emotion and weakness. The screams of the
children sank in a few moments to frightened whimpers. But the
oldest, when they saw the white faces, knew that rescue had come.
Paul brought water from the brook in his cap, and Mary Newton was
revived; Jim was reassuring the children, and the other three
were in the thickets, watching lest the surviving Senecas return
"I don't know who you are, but I think the good God himself must
have sent you to our rescue," said Mary Newton reverently.
"We don't know," said Paul, "but we are doing the best we can.
Do you think you can walk now?"
"Away from the savages? Yes!" she said passionately. She looked
down at the dead figures of the Senecas, and she did not feel a
single trace of pity for them. Again it is necessary to consider
time and place.
"Some of my strength came back while I was lying here," she said,
"and much more of it when you drove away the Indians."
"Very well," said Henry, who had returned to the dead camp fire
with his comrades, "we must start on the back trail at once. The
surviving Senecas, joined by other Iroquois, will certainly
pursue, and we need all the start that we can get."
Long Jim picked up one of the two younger children and flung him
over his shoulder; Tom Ross did as much for the other, but the
older two scorned help. They were full of admiration for the
great woodsmen, mighty heroes who had suddenly appeared out of
the air, as it were, and who had swept like a tornado over the
Seneca band. It did not seem possible now that they, could be
But Mary Newton, with her strength and courage, had also
recovered her forethought.
"Maybe it will not be better to go on the back trail," she said.
"One of the Senecas told me to-day that six or seven miles
farther on was a river flowing into the Susquehanna, and that
they would cross this river on a boat now concealed among bushes
on the bank. The crossing was at a sudden drop between high
banks. Might not we go on, find the boat, and come back in it
down the river and into the Susquehanna?"
"That sounds mighty close to wisdom to me," said Shif'less Sol.
"Besides, it's likely to have the advantage o' throwin' the
Iroquois off our track. They'll think, o' course, that we've
gone straight back, an' we'll pass 'em ez we're going forward."
"It's certainly the best plan," said Henry, "and it's worth our
while to try for that hidden boat of the Iroquois. Do you know
the general direction?"
"Almost due north."
"Then we'll make a curve to the right, in order to avoid any
Iroquois who may be returning to this camp, and push for it."
Henry led the way over hilly, rough ground, and the others
followed in a silent file, Long Jim and Tom still carrying the
two smallest children, who soon fell asleep on their shoulders.
Henry did not believe that the returning Iroquois could follow
their trail on such a dark night, and the others agreed with him.
After a while they saw the gleam of water. Henry knew that it
must be very near, or it would have been wholly invisible on such
a dark night.
"I think, Mrs. Newton," he said, "that this is the river of which
you spoke, and the cliffs seem to drop down just as you said they
The woman smiled.
"Yes," she said, "you've done well with my poor guess, and the
boat must be hidden somewhere near here."
Then she sank down with exhaustion, and the two older children,
unable to walk farther, sank down beside her. But the two who
slept soundly on the shoulders of Long Jim and Tom Ross did not
awaken. Henry motioned to Jim and Tom to remain there, and
Shif'less Sol bent upon them a quizzical and approving look.
"Didn't think it was in you, Jim Hart, you old horny-handed
galoot," he said, "carryin' a baby that tender. Knew Jim could
sling a little black bar 'roun' by the tail, but I didn't think
you'd take to nussin' so easy."
"I'd luv you to know, Sol Hyde," said Jim Hart in a tone of high
condescension, "that Tom Ross an' me are civilized human bein's.
In face uv danger we are ez brave ez forty thousand lions, but
with the little an' the weak we're as easy an' kind an' soft ez
human bein's are ever made to be."
"You're right, old hoss," said Tom Ross.
"Well," said the shiftless one, "I can't argify with you now, ez
the general hez called on his colonel, which is me, an' his
major, which is Paul, to find him a nice new boat like one o'
them barges o' Clepatry that Paul tells about, all solid silver,
with red silk sails an' gold oars, an' we're meanin' to do it."
Fortune was with them, and in a quarter of an hour they
discovered, deep among bushes growing in the shallow water, a
large, well-made boat with two pairs of oars and with small
supplies of parched corn and venison hidden in it.
"Good luck an' bad luck come mixed," said the shift-less one,
"an' this is shorely one o' our pieces o' good luck. The woman
an' the children are clean tuckered out, an' without this boat we
could never hev got them back. Now it's jest a question o'
rowin' an' fightin'."
"Paul and I will pull her out to the edge of the clear water,"
said Henry, "while you can go back and tell the others, Sol."
"That just suits a lazy man," said Sol, and he walked away
jauntily. Under his apparent frivolity he concealed his joy at
the find, which he knew to be of such vast importance. He
approached the dusky group, and his really tender heart was
stirred with pity for the rescued captives. Long Jim and Silent
Tom held the smaller two on their shoulders, but the older ones
and the woman, also, had fallen asleep. Sol, in order to conceal
his emotion, strode up rather roughly. Mary Newton awoke.
"Did you find anything?" she asked.
"Find anything?" repeated Shif'less Sol. "Well, Long Jim an' Tom
here might never hev found anything, but Henry an' Paul an' me,
three eddicated men, scholars, I might say, wuz jest natcherally
bound to find it whether it wuz thar or not. Yes, we've
unearthed what Paul would call an argosy, the grandest craft that
ever floated on this here creek, that I never saw before, an'
that I don't know the name uv. She's bein' floated out now, an'
I, the Gran' Hidalgo an' Majordomo, hev come to tell the princes
and princesses, an' the dukes and dukesses, an' all the other
gran' an' mighty passengers, that the barge o' the Dog o' Venice
is in the stream, an' the Dog, which is Henry Ware, is waitin',
settin' on the Pup to welcome ye."
"Sol," said Long Jim, "you do talk a power uv foolishness, with
your Dogs an' Pups."
"It ain't foolishness," rejoined the shiftless one. "I heard
Paul read it out o' a book oncet, plain ez day. They've been
ruled by Dogs at Venice for more than a thousand years, an' on
big 'casions the Dog comes down a canal in a golden barge,
settin' on the Pup. I'll admit it 'pears strange to me, too, but
who are you an' me, Jim Hart, to question the ways of foreign
countries, thousands o' miles on the other side o' the sea?"
"They've found the boat," said Tom Ross, "an' that's enough!"
"Is it really true?" asked Mrs. Newton.
"It is," replied Shif'less Sol, "an' Henry an' Paul are in it,
waitin' fur us. We're thinkin', Mrs. Newton, that the roughest
part of your trip is over."
In another five minutes all were in the boat, which was a really
fine one, and they were delighted. Mary Newton for the first
time broke down and wept, and no one disturbed her. The five
spread the blankets on the bottom of the boat, where the children
soon went to sleep once more, and Tom Ross and Shif'less Sol took
"Back in a boat ag'in," said the shiftless one exultantly.
"Makes me feel like old times. My fav'rite mode o' travelin'
when Jim Hart, 'stead o' me, is at the oars."
"Which is most o' the time," said Long Jim.
It was indeed a wonderful change to these people worn by the
wilderness. They lay at ease now, while two pairs of powerful
arms, with scarcely an effort, propelled the boat along the
stream. The woman herself lay down on the blankets and fell
asleep with the children. Henry at the prow, Tom Ross at the
stern, and Paul amidships watched in silence, but with their
rifles across their knees. They knew that the danger was far
from over. Other Indians were likely to use this stream, unknown
to them, as a highway, and those who survived of their original
captors could pick up their trail by daylight. And the Senecas,
being mad for revenge, would surely get help and follow.
Henry believed that the theory of returning toward the Wyoming
Valley was sound. That region had been so thoroughly ravaged now
that all the Indians would be going northward. If they could
float down a day or so without molestation, they would probably
be safe. The creek, or, rather, little river, broadened, flowing
with a smooth, fairly swift current. The forest on either side
was dense with oak, hickory, maple, and other splendid trees,
often with a growth of underbrush. The three riflemen never
ceased to watch intently. Henry always looked ahead. It would
have been difficult for any ambushed marksman to have escaped his
notice. But nothing occurred to disturb them. Once a deer came
down to drink, and fled away at sight of the phantom boat gliding
almost without noise on the still waters. Once the far scream of
a panther came from the woods, but Mary Newton and her children,
sleeping soundly, did not hear it. The five themselves knew the
nature of the sound, and paid no attention. The boat went
steadily on, the three riflemen never changing their position,
and soon the day began to come. Little arrows of golden light
pierced through the foliage of the trees, and sparkled on the
surface of the water. In the cast the red sun was coming from
his nightly trip. Henry looked down at the sleepers. They were
overpowered by exhaustion, and would not awake of their own
accord for a long time.
Shif'less Sol caught his look.
"Why not let 'em sleep on?" he said.
Then he and Jim Hart took the oars, and the shiftless one and Tom
Ross resumed their rifles. The day was coming fast, and the
whole forest was soon transfused with light.
No one of the five had slept during the night. They did not feel
the need of sleep, and they were upborne, too, by a great
exaltation. They had saved the prisoners thus far from a
horrible fate, and they were firmly resolved to reach, with them,
some strong settlement and safety. They felt, too, a sense of
exultation over Brant, Sangerachte, Hiokatoo, the Butlers, the
Johnsons, Wyatt, and all the crew that had committed such
terrible devastation in the Wyoming Valley and elsewhere.
The full day clothed the earth in a light that turned from silver
to gold, and the woman and the children still slept. The five
chewed some strips of venison, and looked rather lugubriously at
the pieces they were saving for Mary Newton and the children.
"We ought to hev more'n that," said Shif'less Sol. Ef the worst
comes to the worst, we've got to land somewhar an' shoot a deer."
"But not yet," said Henry in a whisper, lest he wake the
sleepers. "I think we'll come into the Susquehanna pretty soon,
and its width will be a good thing for us. I wish we were there
now. I don't like this narrow stream. Its narrowness affords
too good an ambush."
"Anyway, the creek is broadenin' out fast," said the shiftless
one, "an' that is a good sign., What's that you see ahead,
Henry-ain't it a river?"
"It surely is," replied Henry, who caught sight of a broad
expanse of water, "and it's the Susquehanna. Pull hard, Sol! In
five more minutes we'll be in the river."
It was less than five when they turned into the current of the
Susquehanna, and less than five more when they heard a shout
behind them, and saw at least a dozen canoes following. The
canoes were filled with Indians and Tories, and they had spied
"Keep the women and the children down, Paul," cried Henry.
All knew that Henry and Shif'less Sol were the best shots, and,
without a word, Long Jim and Tom, both powerful and skilled
watermen, swung heavily on the oars, while Henry and Shif'less
Sol sat in the rear with their rifles ready. Mary Newton awoke
with a cry at the sound of the shots, and started to rise, but
Paul pushed her down.
"We're on the Susquehanna now, Mrs. Newton," he said, " and we
are pursued. The Indians and Tories have just seen us, but don't
be afraid. The two who are watching there are the best shots in
He looked significantly at Henry and Shif'less Sol, crouching in
the stern of the boat like great warriors from some mighty past,
kings of the forest whom no one could overcome, and her courage
came back. The children, too, had awakened with frightened
cries, but she and Paul quickly soothed them, and, obedient to
commands, the four, and Mary Newton with them, lay flat upon the
bottom of the boat, which was now being sent forward rapidly by
Jim Hart and Tom. Paul took up his rifle and sat in a waiting
attitude, either to relieve one of the men at the oars or to
shoot if necessary.
The clear sun made forest and river vivid in its light. The
Indians, after their first cry, made no sound, but so powerful
were Long Jim and Tom that they were gaining but little, although
some of the boats contained six or eight rowers.
As the light grew more intense Henry made out the two white faces
in the first boat. One was that of Braxton Wyatt, and the other,
he was quite sure, belonged to the infamous Walter Butler. Hot
anger swept through all his veins, and the little pulses in his
temples began to beat like trip hammers. Now the picture of
Wyoming, the battle, the massacre, the torture, and Queen Esther
wielding her great tomahawk on the bound captives, grew
astonishingly vivid, and it was printed blood red on his brain.
The spirit of anger and defiance, of a desire to taunt those who
had done such things, leaped up in his heart.
"Are you there, Braxton Wyatt?" he called clearly across the
intervening water. "Yes, I see that it is you, murderer of women
and children, champion of the fire and stake, as savage as any of
the savages. And it is you, too, Walter Butler, wickeder son of
a wicked father. Come a little closer, won't you? We've
messengers here for both of you!"
He tapped lightly the barrel of his own rifle and that of
Shif'less Sol, and repeated his request that they come a little
They understood his words, and they understood, also, the
significant gesture when he patted the barrel of the rifles. The
hearts of both Butler and Wyatt were for the moment afraid, and
their boat dropped back to third place. Henry laughed aloud when
he saw. The Viking rage was still upon him. This was the
primeval wilderness, and these were no common foes.
"I see that you don't want to receive our little messengers," he
cried. "Why have you dropped back to third place in the line,
Braxton Wyatt and Walter Butler, when you were first only a
moment ago? Are you cowards as well as murderers of women and
"That's pow'ful good talk," said Shif'less Sol admiringly.
"Henry, you're a real orator. Give it to 'em, an' mebbe I'll get
a chance at one o' them renegades."
It seemed that Henry's words had an effect, because the boat of
the renegades pulled up somewhat, although it did not regain
first place. Thus the chase proceeded down the Susquehanna.
The Indian fleet was gaining a little, and Shif'less Sol called
Henry's attention to it.
"Don't you think I'd better take a shot at one o' them rowers in
the first boat?" he said to Henry. "Wyatt an' Butler are a
leetle too fur away."
"I think it would give them a good hint, Sol!" said Henry. "Take
that fellow on the right who is pulling so hard."
The shiftless one raised his rifle, lingered but a little over
his aim, and pulled the trigger. The rower whom Henry had
pointed out fell back in the boat, his hands slipping from the
handles of his oars. The boat was thrown into confusion, and
dropped back in the race. Scattering shots were fired in return,
but all fell short, the water spurting up in little jets where
Henry, who had caught something of the Indian nature in his long
stay among them in the northwest, laughed in loud irony.
"That was one of our little messengers, and it found a listener!"
he shouted. "And I see that you are afraid, Braxton Wyatt and
Walter Butler, murderers of women and children! Why don't you
keep your proper places in the front?"
"That's the way to talk to 'em," whispered Shif'less Sol, as he
reloaded. "Keep it up, an' mebbe we kin git a chance at Braxton
Wyatt hisself. Since Wyoming I'd never think o' missin' sech a
"Nor I, either," said Henry, and he resumed in his powerful
tones: "The place of a leader is in front, isn't it? Then why
don't you come up?"
Braxton Wyatt and Walter Butler did not come up. They were not
lacking in courage, but Wyatt knew what deadly marksmen the
fugitive boat contained, and he had also told Butler. So they
still hung back, although they raged at Henry Ware's taunts, and
permitted the Mohawks and Senecas to take the lead in the chase.
"They're not going to give us a chance," said Henry. "I'm
satisfied of that. They'll let redskins receive our bullets,
though just now I'd rather it were the two white ones. What do
you think, Sol, of that leading boat? Shouldn't we give another
"I agree with you, Henry," said the shiftless one. They're
comin' much too close fur people that ain't properly interduced
to us. This promiskus way o' meetin' up with strangers an'
lettin' 'em talk to you jest ez ef they'd knowed you all their
lives hez got to be stopped. It's your time, Henry, to give 'em
a polite hint, an' I jest suggest that you take the big fellow in
the front o' the boat who looks like a Mohawk."
Henry raised his rifle, fired, and the Mohawk would row no more.
Again confusion prevailed in the pursuing fleet, and there was a
decline of enthusiasm. Braxton Wyatt and Walter Butler raged and
swore, but, as they showed no great zeal for the lead themselves,
the Iroquois did not gain on the fugitive boat. They, too, were
fast learning that the two who crouched there with their rifles
ready were among the deadliest marksmen in existence. They fired
a dozen shots, perhaps, but their rifles did not have the long
range of the Kentucky weapons, and again the bullets fell short,
causing little jets of water to spring up.
"They won't come any nearer, at least not for the present," said
Henry, "but will hang back just out of rifle range, waiting for
some chance to help them."
Shif'less Sol looked the other way, down the Susquehanna, and
announced that he could see no danger. There was probably no
Indian fleet farther down the river than the one now pursuing
them, and the danger was behind them, not before.
Throughout the firing, Silent Tom Ross and Long Jim Hart had not
said a word, but they rowed with a steadiness and power that
would have carried oarsmen of our day to many a victory.
Moreover, they had the inducement not merely of a prize, but of
life itself, to row and to row hard. They had rolled up their
sleeves, and the mighty muscles on those arms of woven steel rose
and fell as they sent the boat swiftly with the silver current of
Mary Newton still lay on the bottom of the boat. The children
had cried out in fright once or twice at the sound of the firing,
but she and Paul bad soothed them and kept them down. Somehow
Mary Newton had become possessed of a great faith. She noticed
the skill, speed, and success with which the five always worked,
and, so long given up to despair, she now went to the other
extreme. With such friends as these coming suddenly out of the
void, everything must succeed. She had no doubt of it, but lay
peacefully on the bottom of the boat, not at all disturbed by the
sound of the shots.
Paul and Sol after a while relieved Long Jim and Tom at the oars.
The Iroquois thought it a chance to creep up again, but they were
driven back by a third bullet, and once more kept their distance.
Shif'less Sol, while he pulled as powerfully as Tom Ross, whose
place he had taken, nevertheless was not silent.
"I'd like to know the feelin's o' Braxton Wyatt an' that feller
Butler," he said. " Must be powerful tantalizin' to them to see
us here, almost where they could stretch out their hands an' put
'em on us. Like reachn' fur ripe, rich fruit, an' failin' to git
it by half a finger's length."
"They are certainly not pleased," said Henry," but this must end
some way or other, you know."
"I say so, too, now that I'm a-rowin'," rejoined the shiftless
one, "but when my turn at the oars is finished I wouldn't care.
Ez I've said more'n once before, floatin' down a river with
somebody else pullin' at the oars is the life jest suited to me."
Henry looked up. "A summer thunderstorm is coming," he said, "
and from the look of things it's going to be pretty black.
Then's when we must dodge 'em."
He was a good weather prophet. In a half hour the sky began to
darken rapidly. There was a great deal of thunder and lightning,
but when the rain came the air was almost as dark as night. Mary
Newton and her children were covered as much as possible with the
blankets, and then they swung the boat rapidly toward the eastern
shore. They had already lost sight of their pursuers in the
darkness, and as they coasted along the shore they found a large
creek flowing into the river from the east.
They ran up the creek, and were a full mile from its mouth when
the rain ceased. Then the sun came out bright and warm, quickly
They pulled about ten miles farther, until the creek grew too
shallow for them, when they hid the boat among bushes and took to
the land. Two days later they arrived at a strong fort and
settlement, where Mary Newton and her four children, safe and
well, were welcomed by relatives who had mourned them as dead.
They arrived at the fort as evening was coming on, and as soon as
food was served to them the five sought sleep. The frontiersmen
usually slept soundly and for a long time after prodigious
exertions, and Henry and his comrades were too wise to make an
exception. They secured a single room inside the fort, one given
to them gladly, because Mary Newton had already spread the fame
of their exploits, and, laying aside their hunting shirts and
leggins, prepared for rest.
"Jim," said Shif'less Sol, pointing to a low piece of furniture,
flat and broad, in one corner of the room, "that's a bed. Mebbe
you don't think it, but people lay on top o' that an' sleep
Long Jim grinned.
"Mebbe you're right, Sol," he said. "I hev seen sech things ez
that, an' mebbe I've slep' on 'em, but in all them gran' old
tales Paul tells us about I never heard uv no big heroes sleepin'
in beds. I guess the ground wuz good 'nough for A-killus,
Hector, Richard-Kur-de-Leong, an' all the rest uv that fightin'
crowd, an' ez I'm that sort uv a man myself I'll jest roll down
here on the floor. Bein' as you're tender, Sol Hyde, an' not
used to hard life in the woods, you kin take that bed yourself,
an' in the mornin' your wally will be here with hot water in a
silver mug an' a razor to shave you, an' he'll dress you in a
ruffled red silk shirt an' a blue satin waistcoat, an' green
satin breeches jest comin' to the knee, where they meet yellow
silk stockin's risin' out uv purple satin slippers, an' then
he'll clap on your head a big wig uv snow-white hair, fallin' all
about your shoulders an' he'll buckle a silver sword to your
side, an' he'll say: "Gentlemen, him that hez long been known ez
Shif'less Sol, an' desarvin' the name, but who in reality is the
King o' France, is now before you. Down on your knees an' say
Shif'less Sol stared in astonishment.
"You say a wally will do all that fur me, Jim? Now, what under
the sun is a wally ?"
"I heard all about 'em from Paul," replied Long Jim in a tone of
intense satisfaction. "A wally is a man what does fur you what
you ought to do fur yourself."
"Then I want one," said Shif'less Sol emphatically. "He'd jest
suit a lazy man like me. An' ez fur your makin' me the King o'
France, mebbe you're more'n half right about that without knowin'
it. I hev all the instincts uv a king. I like to be waited on,
I like to eat when I'm hungry, I like to drink when I'm thirsty,
I like to rest when I'm tired, an' I like to sleep when I'm
sleepy. You've heard o' children changed at birth by fairies an'
sech like. Mebbe I'm the real King o' France, after all, an' my
instincts are handed down to me from a thousand royal ancestors."
"Mebbe it's so," rejoined Long Jim. "I've heard that thar hev
been a pow'ful lot uv foolish kings."
With that he put his two blankets upon the floor, lay down upon
them, and was sound asleep in five minutes. But Shif'less Sol
beat him to slumberland by at least a minute, and the others were
not more than two minutes behind Sol.
Henry was the first up the next morning. A strong voice shouted
in his ear: "Henry Ware, by all that's glorious," and a hand
pressed his fingers together in an iron grasp. Henry beheld the
tall, thin figure and smiling brown face of Adam Colfax, with
whom he had made that adventurous journey up the Mississippi and
"And the others?" was the first question of Adam Colfax.
"They're all here asleep inside. We've been through a lot of
things, but we're as sound as ever."
"That's always a safe prediction to make," said Adam Colfax,
smiling. "I never saw five other human beings with such a
capacity for getting out of danger."
"We were all at Wyoming, and we all still live."
The face of the New Englander darkened.
"Wyoming!" he exclaimed. "I cannot hear of it without every vein
growing hot within me."
"We saw things done there," said Henry gravely, the telling of
which few men can bear to hear."
"I know! I know!" exclaimed Adam Colfax. "The news of it has
"What we want," said Henry, "is revenge. It is a case in which
we must strike back, and strike hard. If this thing goes on, not
a white life will be safe on the whole border from the St.
Lawrence to the Mississippi."
"It is true," said Adam Colfax, "and we would send an army now
against the Iroquois and their allies, but, Henry, my lad, our
fortunes are at their lowest there in the East, where the big
armies are fighting. That is the reason why nobody has been sent
to protect our rear guard, which has suffered so terribly. You
may be sure, too, that the Iroquois will strike in this region
again as often and as hard as they can. I make more than half a
guess that you and your comrades are here because you know this."
He looked shrewdly at the boy.
"Yes," said Henry, "that is so. Somehow we were drawn into it,
but being here we are glad to stay. Timmendiquas, the great
chief who fought us so fiercely on the Ohio, is with the
Iroquois, with a detachment of his Wyandots, and while he, as I
know, frowns on the Wyoming massacre, he means to help
Thayendanegea to the end."
Adam Colfax looked graver than ever.
"That is bad," he said. "Timmendiquas is a mighty warrior and
leader, but there is also another way of looking at it. His
presence here will relieve somewhat the pressure on Kentucky. I
ought to tell you, Henry, that we got through safely with our
supplies to the Continental army, and they could not possibly
have been more welcome. They arrived just in time."
The others came forth presently and were greeted with the same
warmth by Adam Colfax.
"It is shore mighty good for the eyes to see you, Mr. Colfax,"
said Shif'less Sol, "an' it's a good sign. Our people won when
you were on the Mississippi an' the Ohio' - an' now that you're
here, they're goin' to win again."
"I think we are going to win here and everywhere," said Adam
Colfax, "but it is not because there is any omen in my presence.
It is because our people will not give up, and because our
quarrel is just."
The stanch New Englander left on the following day for points
farther east, planning and carrying out some new scheme to aid
the patriot cause, and the five, on the day after that, received
a message written on a piece of paper which was found fastened to
a tree on the outskirts of the settlement. It was addressed to
"Henry Ware and Those with Him," and it read:
"You need not think because you escaped us at Wyoming and on
the Susquehanna that you will ever get back to Kentucky.
There is amighty league now on the whole border between the
Indians and the soldiers of the king. You have seen at
Wyoming what we can do, and you will see at other places and
on a greater scale what we will do.
"I find my own position perfect. It is true that
Timmendiquas does not like me, but he is not king here. I
am the friend of the great Brant; and Hiokatoo, Sangerachte,
Hahiron, and the other chiefs esteem me. I am thick with
Colonel John Butler, the victor of Wyoming; his son, the
valiant and worthy Walter Butler; Sir John Johnson, Colonel
Guy Johnson, Colonel Daniel Claus, and many other eminent
men and brave soldiers.
"I write these words, Henry Ware, both to you and your
comrades, to tell you that our cause will prevail over
yours. I do not doubt that when you read this you will try
to escape to Kentucky, but when we have destroyed everything
along the eastern border, as we have at Wyoming, we shall
come to Kentucky, and not a rebel face will be left there.
"I am sending this to tell you that there is no hole in
which you can hide where we cannot reach you. With my
respects, BRAXTON WYATT."
Henry regarded the letter with contempt.
"A renegade catches something of the Indian nature," he said,
"and always likes to threaten and boast."
But Shif'less Sol was highly indignant.
"Sometimes I think," he said, "that the invention o' writin' wuz
a mistake. You kin send a man a letter an' call him names an'
talk mighty big when he's a hundred miles away, but when you've
got to stan' up to him face to face an' say it, wa'al, you change
your tune an' sing a pow'ful sight milder. You ain't gen'ally
any roarin' lion then."
"I think I'll keep this letter," said Henry, "an' we five will
give an answer to it later on."
He tapped the muzzle of his rifle, and every one of the four
gravely tapped the muzzle of his own rifle after him. It was a
significant action. Nothing more was needed.
The next morning they bade farewell to the grateful Mary Newton
and her children, and with fresh supplies of food and ammunition,
chiefly ammunition, left the fort, plunging once more into the
deep forest. It was their intention to do as much damage as they
could to the Iroquois, until some great force, capable of dealing
with the whole Six Nations, was assembled. Meanwhile, five
redoubtable and determined borderers could achieve something.
It was about the first of August, and they were in the midst of
the great heats. But it was a period favoring Indian activity,
which was now at its highest pitch. Since Wyoming, loaded with
scalps, flushed with victory, and aided by the king's men, they
felt equal to anything. Only the strongest of the border
settlements could hold them back. The colonists here were so
much reduced, and so little help could be sent them from the
East, that the Iroquois were able to divide into innumerable
small parties and rake the country as with a fine tooth comb.
They never missed a lone farmhouse, and rarely was any fugitive
in the woods able to evade them. And they were constantly fed
from the North with arms, ammunition, rewards for scalps,
bounties, and great promises.
But toward the close of August the Iroquois began to hear of a
silent and invisible foe, an evil spirit that struck them, and
that struck hard. There were battles of small forces in which
sometimes not a single Iroquois escaped. Captives were retaken
in a half-dozen instances, and the warriors who escaped reported
that their assailants were of uncommon size and power. They had
all the cunning of the Indian and more, and they carried rifles
that slew at a range double that of those served to them at the
British posts. It was a certainty that they were guided by the
evil spirit, because every attempt to capture them failed
miserably. No one could find where they slept, unless it was
those who never came back again.
The Iroquois raged, and so did the Butlers and the Johnsons and
Braxton Wyatt. This was a flaw in their triumph, and the British
and Tories saw, also, that it was beginning to affect the
superstitions of their red allies. Braxton Wyatt made a shrewd
guess as to the identity of the raiders, but he kept quiet. It
is likely, also, that Timmendiquas knew, but be, too, said
nothing. So the influence of the raiders grew. While their acts
were great, superstition exaggerated them and their powers
manifold. And it is true that their deeds were extraordinary.
They were heard of on the Susquehanna, then on the Delaware and
its branches, on the Chemung and the Chenango, as far south as
Lackawaxen Creek, and as far north as Oneida Lake. It is likely
that nobody ever accomplished more for a defense than did those
five in the waning months of the summer. Late in September the
most significant of all these events occurred. A party of eight
Tories, who had borne a terrible part in the Wyoming affair, was
attacked on the shores of Otsego Lake with such deadly fierceness
that only two escaped alive to the camp of Sir John Johnson.
Brant sent out six war parties, composed of not less than twenty
warriors apiece, to seek revenge, but they found nothing.
Henry and his comrades had found a remarkable camp at the edge of
one of the beautiful small lakes in which the region abounds.
The cliff at that point was high, but a creek entered into it
through a ravine. At the entrance of the creek into the river
they found a deep alcove, or, rather, cave in the rock. It ran
so far back that it afforded ample shelter from the rain, and
that was all they wanted. It was about halfway between the top
and bottom of the cliff, and was difficult of approach both from
below and above. Unless completely surprised-a very unlikely
thing with them-the five could hold it against any force as long
as their provisions lasted. They also built a boat large enough
for five, which they hid among the bushes at the lake's edge.
They were thus provided with a possible means of escape across
the water in case of the last emergency.
Jim and Paul, who, as usual, filled the role of housekeepers,
took great delight in fitting up this forest home, which the
fittingly called " The Alcove." The floor of solid stone was
almost smooth, and with the aid of other heavy stones they broke
off all projections, until one could walk over it in the dark in
perfect comfort. They hung the walls with skins of deer which
they killed in the adjacent woods, and these walls furnished many
nooks and crannies for the storing of necessities. They also,
with much hard effort, brought many loads of firewood, which Long
Jim was to use for his cooking. He built his little fireplace of
stones so near the mouth of "The Alcove" that the smoke would
pass out and be lost in the thick forest all about. If the wind
happened to be blowing toward the inside of the cave, the smoke,
of course, would come in on them all, but Jim would not be
Nor did their operations cease until they had supplied "The
Alcove" plentifully with food, chiefly jerked deer meat, although
there was no way in which they could store water, and for that
they had to take their chances. But their success, the product
of skill and everlasting caution, was really remarkable. Three
times they were trapped within a few miles of "The Alcove," but
the pursuers invariably went astray on the hard, rocky ground,
and the pursued would also take the precaution to swim down the
creek before climbing up to "The Alcove." Nobody could follow a
trail in the face of such difficulties.
It was Henry and Shif'less Sol who were followed the second time,
but they easily shook off their pursuers as the twilight was
coming, half waded, half swam down the creek, and climbed up to
"The Alcove," where the others were waiting for them with cooked
food and clear cold water. When they had eaten and were
refreshed, Shif'less Sol sat at the mouth of "The Alcove," where
a pleasant breeze entered, despite the foliage that hid the
entrance. The shiftless one was in an especially happy mood.
"It's a pow'ful comf'table feelin',"he said,"to set up in a nice
safe place like this, an' feel that the woods is full o' ragin'
heathen, seekin' to devour you, and wonderin' whar you've gone
to. Thar's a heap in knowin' how to pick your home. I've
thought more than once 'bout that old town, Troy, that Paul tells
us 'bout, an' I've 'bout made up my mind that it wuzn't destroyed
'cause Helen eat too many golden apples. but 'cause old King
Prime, or whoever built the place, put it down in a plain. That
wuz shore a pow'ful foolish thing. Now, ef he'd built it on a
mountain, with a steep fall-off on every side, thar wouldn't hev
been enough Greeks in all the earth to take it, considerin' the
miserable weepins they used in them times. Why, Hector could hev
set tight on the walls, laughin' at 'em, 'stead o' goin' out in
the plain an' gittin' killed by A-killus, fur which I've always
"It's 'cause people nowadays have more sense than they did in
them ancient times that Paul tells about," said Long Jim. "Now,
thar wuz 'Lyssus, ten or twelve years gittin' home from Troy.
Allus runnin' his ship on the rocks, hoppin' into trouble with
four-legged giants, one-eyed women, an' sech like. Why didn't he
walk home through the woods, killin' game on the way, an' hevin'
the best time he ever knowed? Then thar wuz the keerlessness of
A-killus' ma, dippin' him in that river so no arrow could enter
him, but holdin' him by the heel an' keepin' it out o' the water,
which caused his death the very first time Paris shot it off with
his little bow an' arrer. Why didn't she hev sense enough to let
the heel go under, too. She could hev dragged it out in two
seconds an' no harm done 'ceptin', perhaps, a little more yellin'
on the part of A-killus."
"I've always thought Paul hez got mixed 'bout that Paris story,"
said Tom Ross. "I used to think Paris was the name uv a town,
not a man, an' I'm beginnin' to think so ag'in, sence I've been
in the East, 'cause I know now that's whar the French come from."
"But Paris was the name of a man," persisted Paul. "Maybe the
French named their capital after the Paris of the Trojan wars."
"Then they showed mighty poor jedgment," said Shif'less Sol. "Ef
I'd named my capital after any them old fellers, I'd have called
"You can have danger enough ,when you're on the tops of hills,"
said Henry, who was sitting near the mouth of the cave. "Come
here, you fellows, and see what's passing down the lake."
They looked out, and in the moonlight saw six large war canoes
being rowed slowly down the lake, which, though narrow, was quite
long. Each canoe held about a dozen warriors, and Henry believed
that one of them contained two white faces, evidently those of
Braxton Wyatt and Walter Butler.
"Like ez not they've been lookin' fur us," said Tom Ross.
"Quite likely," said Henry, "and at the same time they may be
engaged in some general movement. See, they will pass within
fifty feet of the base of the cliff."
The five lay on the cave floor, looking through the vines and
foliage, and they felt quite sure that they were in absolute
security. The six long war canoes moved slowly. The moonlight
came out more brightly, and flooded all the bronze faces of the
Iroquois. Henry now saw that he was not mistaken, and that
Braxton Wyatt and Walter Butler were really in the first boat.
From the cover of the cliff he could have picked off either with
a rifle bullet, and the temptation was powerful. But he knew
that it would lead to an immediate siege, from which they might
not escape, and which at least would check their activities and
plans for a long time. Similar impulses flitted through the
minds of the other four, but all kept still, although fingers
flitted noiselessly along rifle stocks until they touched
The Iroquois war fleet moved slowly on, the two renegades never
dreaming of the danger that had threatened them. An unusually
bright ray of moonshine fell full upon Braxton Wyatt's face as he
paused, and Henry's finger played with the trigger of his rifle.
It was hard, very hard, to let such an opportunity go by, but it
must be done.
The fleet moved steadily down the lake, the canoes keeping close
together. They turned into mere dots upon the water, became
smaller and smaller still, until they vanished in the darkness.
"I'm thinkin'," said Shif'less Sol, "that thar's some kind uv a
movement on foot. While they may hev been lookin' fur us, it
ain't likely that they'd send sixty warriors or so fur sech a
purpose. I heard something three or four days ago from a hunter
about an attack upon the Iroquois town of Oghwaga."
"It's most likely true," said Henry, "and it seems to me that
it's our business to join that expedition. What do you fellows
"Just as you do," they replied with unanimity.
"Then we leave this place and start in the morning," said Henry.
THE FIRST BLOW
Summer was now waning, the foliage was taking on its autumn hues,
and Indian war parties still surged over the hills and mountains,
but the five avoided them all. On one or two occasions they
would have been willing to stop and fight, but they had bigger
work on hand. They had received from others confirmation of the
report that Long Jim had heard from the hunters, and they were
quite sure that a strong force was advancing to strike the first
blow in revenge for Wyoming. Curiously enough, this body was
commanded by a fourth Butler, Colonel William Butler, and
according to report it was large and its leaders capable.
When the avenging force lay at the Johnstown settlement on the
Delaware, it was joined by the five. They were introduced to the
colonel by the celebrated scout and hunter, Tini Murphy, whom
they had met several times in the woods, and they were received
"I've heard of you," said Colonel Butler with much warmth," both
from hunters and scouts, and also from Adam Colfax. Two of you
were to have been tomahawked by Queen Esther at Wyoming."
Henry indicated the two.
"What you saw at Wyoming is not likely to decrease your zeal
against the Indians and their white allies," continued Colonel
"Anyone who was there," said Henry, " would feel all his life,
the desire to punish those who did it."
"I think so, too, from all that I have heard," continued Colonel
Butler. "It is the business of you young men to keep ahead of
our column and warn us of what lies before us. I believe you
have volunteered for that duty."
The five looked over Colonel Butler's little army, which numbered
only two hundred and fifty men, but they were all strong and
brave, and it was the best force that could yet be sent to the
harassed border. It might, after all, strike a blow for Wyoming
if it marched into no ambush, and Henry and his comrades were
resolved to guard it from that greatest of all dangers.
When the little column moved from the Johnstown settlement, the
five were far ahead, passing through the woods, up the
Susquehanna, toward the Indian villages that lay on its banks,
though a great distance above Wyoming. The chief of these was
Oghwaga, and, knowing that it was the destination of the little
army, they were resolved to visit it, or at least come so near it
that they could see what manner of place it was.
"If it's a big village," said Colonel Butler, "it will be too
strong to attack, but it may be that most of the warriors are
absent on expeditions."
They had obtained before starting very careful descriptions of
the approaches to the village, and toward the close of an October
evening they knew that they were near Oghwaga, the great base of
the Iroquois supplies. They considered it very risky and unwise
to approach in the daytime, and accordingly they lay in the woods
until the dark should come.
The appearance of the wilderness had changed greatly. in the
three months since Wyoming. All the green was now gone, and it
was tinted red and yellow and brown. The skies were a mellow
blue, and there was a slight haze over the forest, but the air
had the wonderful crispness and freshness of the American autumn.
It inspired every one of the five with fresh zeal and energy,
because they believed the first blow was about to be struck.
About ten o'clock at night they approached Oghwaga, and the
reports of its importance were confirmed. They had not before
seen an Indian village with so many signs of permanence. They
passed two or three orchards of apple and peach trees, and they
saw other indications of cultivation like that of the white
"It ain't a bad-lookin' town," said Long Jim Hart. "But it'll
look wuss," said Shif'less Sol, "onless they've laid an ambush
somewhar. I don't like to see houses an' sech like go up in fire
an' smoke, but after what wuz done at Wyomin' an' all through
that valley, burnin' is a light thing."
"We're bound to strike back with all our might," said Paul, who
had the softest heart of them all.
"Now, I wonder who's in this here town," said Tom Ross. "Mebbe
Timmendiquas an' Brant an' all them renegades."
"It may be so," said Henry. "This is their base and store of
supplies. Oh, if Colonel Butler were only here with all his men,
what a rush we could make!"
So great was their eagerness that they crept closer to the