Part 3 out of 6
Onondaga showed the utmost confidence, assuring him they would return
Colden became quite uneasy for them after they had been gone some
hours, and Robert, although he refused to show it, felt a trace of
apprehension. He knew their great skill in the forest, but Tandakora
was a master of woodcraft too, and the Frenchmen also were experienced
and alert. As he, Colden, Wilton and Carson watched at the palisade he
was in fear lest a triumphant shout from the Indian lines would show
that the hunter and the Onondaga had been trapped.
But the long hours passed without an alarm and about three o'clock in
the morning two shadows appeared at the palisade and whispered to
them. Robert felt great relief as Willet and Tayoga climbed silently
"We're half frozen," said the hunter. "Take us into the blockhouse and
over the fire we'll tell you all we've seen."
They always kept a bed of live coals on the hearth in the main
building, and the two who had returned bent over the grateful heat,
warming their hands and faces. Not until they were in a normal
physical condition did Colden or Robert ask them any questions and
then Willet said:
"Their ring about the fort is complete, but in the darkness we were
able to slip through and then back again. I should judge that they
have at least three hundred warriors and Tandakora is first among
them. There are about thirty Frenchmen. De Courcelles has taken off
his bandage, but he still has a bruise where Tayoga struck
him. Peeping from the bushes I saw him and his face has grown more
evil. It was evident to me that the blow of Tayoga has inflamed his
mind. He feels mortified and humiliated at the way in which he was
outwitted, and, as Tandakora also nurses a personal hatred against us,
it's likely that they'll keep up the siege all winter, if they think
in the end they can get us.
"Their camp, too, shows increasing signs of permanency. They've built
a dozen bark huts in which all the French, all the chiefs and some of
the warriors sleep, and there are skin lodges for the rest. Oh, it's
quite a village! And they've accumulated game, too, for a long time."
Colden looked depressed.
"We're not fulfilling our mission," he said. "We've come out here to
protect the settlers on the border, and give them a place of
refuge. Instead, it looks as if we'd pass the winter fighting for our
"I think I have a plan," said Robert, who had been very thoughtful.
"What is it?" asked Colden.
"I remember something I read in our Roman history in the school at
Albany. It was an event that happened a tremendously long time ago,
but I fancy it's still useful as an example. Scipio took his army over
to Africa to meet Hannibal, and one night his men set fire to the
tents of the Carthaginians. They destroyed their camp, created a
terrible tumult, and inflicted great losses."
Tayoga's eyes glistened.
"Then you mean," he said, "that we are to burn the camp of the French
and their allies?"
"It is a good plan. If Great Bear and the captain agree to it we will
"It's fearfully risky," said Colden.
"If Great Bear and I can go out once and come back safely," said
Tayoga, "we can do it twice."
The young captain looked at Willet.
"It's the best plan," said the hunter. "Robert hasn't read his Roman
history in vain."
"Then it's agreed," said Colden, "and as soon as another night as dark
as this comes we'll try it."
The plan being formed, they waited a week before a night, pitchy
THE RED WEAPON
The night was admirably suited to their purpose--otherwise they would
not have dared to leave Fort Refuge--and Willet, Tayoga and Robert
alone undertook the task. Wilton, Carson and others were anxious to
go, but, as an enterprise of such great danger required surpassing
skill, the three promptly ruled them out. The hunter and young Lennox
would have disguised themselves as Indians, but as they did not have
any paint in the fort they were compelled to go forth in their own
The cold had softened greatly, and, as heavy clouds had come with it,
there was promise of snow, which in truth the three hoped would fall,
since it would be an admirable cloak for their purpose. But in any
event theirs was to be a perilous path, and Colden shook hands with
the three as they lowered themselves softly from the palisade.
"Come back," he whispered. "If you find the task too dangerous let it
go and return at once. We need you here in the fort."
"We'll come back as victors," Robert replied with confidence. Then he
and his comrades crouched, close against the palisade and
listened. The Indian fires showed dimly in the heavy dusk, and they
knew that sentinels were on watch in the woods, but still keeping in
the shadow of the palisade they went to the far side, where the Indian
line was thinner. Then they dropped to hand and knee and crept toward
They stopped at intervals, lying flat upon the ground, looking with
all their eyes and listening with all their ears. They saw ahead but
one fire, apparently about four hundred yards away, and they heard
only a light damp wind rustling the dry boughs and bushes. But they
knew they could not afford to relax their caution by a hair, and they
continued a slow creeping progress until they reached the woods. Then
they rested on their elbows in a thicket, and took long breaths of
relief. They had been a quarter of an hour in crossing the open and it
was an immense relief to sit up again. They kept very close together,
while their muscles recovered elasticity, and still used their eyes
and ears to the utmost. It was impossible to say that a warrior was
not near crouching in the thicket as they were, and they did not
intend to run any useless risk. Moreover, if the alarm were raised
now, they would escape into the fort, and await another chance.
But they neither heard nor saw a hostile presence. In truth, they saw
nothing that betokened a siege, save the dim light flickering several
hundred yards ahead of them, and they resumed their advance, bent so
low that they could drop flat at the first menace. Their eyes looked
continually for a sentinel, but they saw none.
"Don't you think the wind is rising a bit, Tayoga?" whispered the
"Yes," replied the Onondaga.
"And it feels damper to the face?"
"Yes, Great Bear."
"And it doesn't mean rain, because the air's too cold, but it does
mean snow, for which the air is just right, and I think it's coming,
as the clouds grow thicker and thicker all the time."
"Which proves that we are favored. Tododaho from his great and shining
star, that we cannot see tonight, looks down upon us and will help us,
since we have tried to do the things that are right. We wish the snow
to come, because we wish a veil about us, while we confound our
enemies, and Tododaho will send it."
He spoke devoutly and Robert admired and respected his faith, the
center of which was Manitou, and Manitou in the mind of the Christian
boy was the same as God. He also shared the faith of Tayoga that
Tododaho would wrap the snow like a white robe about them to hide them
from their enemies. Meanwhile the three crept slowly toward the fire,
and Robert felt something damp brush his face. It was the first flake
of snow, and Tododaho, on his shining star, was keeping his unspoken
Tayoga looked up toward the point in the heavens where the great
chief's star shone on clear nights, and, even in the dark, Robert saw
the spiritual exaltation on his face. The Onondaga never doubted for
an instant. The mighty chief who had gone away four centuries ago had
answered the prayer made to him by one of his loyal children, and was
sending the snow that it might be a veil before them while they
destroyed the camp of their enemies. The soul of Tayoga leaped
up. They had received a sign. They were in the care of Tododaho and
they could not fail.
Another flake fell on Robert's face and a third followed, and then
they came down in a white and gentle stream that soon covered him,
Willet and Tayoga and hung like a curtain before them. He looked back
toward the fort, but the veil there also hung between and he could not
see it. Then he looked again, and the dim fire had disappeared in the
"Will it keep their huts and lodges from burning?" he whispered to
Willet shook his head.
"If we get a fire started well," he said, "the snow will seem to feed
it rather than put it out. It's going to help us in more ways than
one, too. I'd expected that we'd have to use flint and steel to touch
off our blaze, but as they're likely to leave their own fire and seek
shelter, maybe we can get a torch there. Now, you two boys keep close
to me and we'll approach that fire, or the place where it was."
They continued a cautious advance, their moccasins making no sound in
the soft snow, all objects invisible at a distance of twelve or
fifteen feet. Yet they saw one Indian warrior on watch, although he
did not see or hear them. He was under the boughs of a small tree and
was crouched against the trunk, protecting himself as well as he could
from the tumbling flakes. He was a Huron, a capable warrior with his
five senses developed well, and in normal times he was ambitious and
eager for distinction in his wilderness world, but just now he did not
dream that any one from the fort could be near. So the three passed
him, unsuspected, and drew close to the fire, which now showed as a
white glow through the dusk, sufficient proof that it was still
burning. Further progress proved that the warriors had abandoned it
for shelter, and they left the next task to Tayoga.
The Onondaga lay down in the snow and crept forward until he reached
the fire, where he paused and waited two or three minutes to see that
his presence was not detected. Then he took three burning sticks and
passed them back swiftly to his comrades. Willet had already discerned
the outline of a bark hut on his right and Robert had made out another
on his left. Just beyond were skin tepees. They must now act quickly,
and each went upon his chosen way.
Robert approached the hut on the left from the rear, and applied the
torch to the wall which was made of dry and seasoned bark. Despite the
snow, it ignited at once and burned with extraordinary speed. The
roar of flames from the right showed that the hunter had done as well,
and a light flash among the skin tepees was proof that Tayoga was not
The besieging force was taken completely by surprise. The three had
imitated to perfection the classic example of Scipio's soldiers in the
Carthaginian camp. The confusion was terrible as French and Indians
rushed for their lives from the burning huts and lodges into the
blinding snow, where they saw little, and, for the present, understood
less. Tayoga who, in the white dusk readily passed for one of their
own, slipped here and there, continually setting new fires, traveling
in a circle about the fort, while Robert and Willet kept near him, but
on the inner side of the circle and well behind the veil of snow.
The huts and lodges burned fiercely. Where they stood thickest each
became a lofty pyramid of fire and then blended into a mighty mass of
flames, forming an intense red core in the white cloud of falling
snow. French soldiers and Indian warriors ran about, seeking to save
their arms, ammunition and stores, but they were not always
successful. Several explosions showed that the flames had reached
powder, and Robert laughed to himself in pleasure. The destruction of
their powder was a better result than he had hoped or foreseen.
The hunter uttered a low whistle and Tayoga throwing down his torch,
at once joined him and Robert who had already cast theirs far from
"Back to the fort!" said Willet. "We've already done 'em damage they
can't repair in a long time, and maybe we've broken up their camp for
the winter! What a godsend the snow was!"
"It was Tododaho who sent it," said Tayoga, reverently. "They almost
make a red ring around our fort. We have succeeded because the mighty
chief, the founder of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, who went
away to his star four centuries ago, willed for us to succeed. How
splendidly the fires burn! Not a hut, not a lodge will be left!"
"And it's time for us to be going," said the hunter. "Men like De
Courcelles, Jumonville and Tandakora will soon bring order out of all
that tumult, and they'll be looking for those who set the torch. The
snow is coming down heavier and heavier and it hides our flight,
although it is not able to put out the fires. You're right, Tayoga,
about Tododaho pouring his favor upon us."
It was easy for the three to regain the palisade, and they were not
afraid of mistaken bullets fired at them for enemies, since Colden and
Wilton had warned the soldiers that they might expect the return of
the three. Tododaho continued to watch over, them as they reached the
palisade, at the point where the young Philadelphia captain himself
stood upon the raised plank behind it.
"Captain Colden! Captain Colden!" called Willet through the white
"Is it you, Mr. Willet?" exclaimed Colden. "Thank God you've
come. I've been in great fear for you! I knew that you had set the
fires, because my own eyes tell me so, but I didn't know what had
become of you."
"I'm here, safe and well."
"And Mr. Lennox?"
"Here, unhurt, too," replied Robert.
"And the Onondaga?"
"All right and rejoicing that we have done even more than we hoped to
do," said Tayoga, in his measured and scholastic English.
The three, coated with snow until they looked like white bears,
quickly scaled the wall, and received the joyous welcome, given to
those who have done a great deed, and who return unhurt to their
comrades. Colden, Wilton and Carson shook their hands again and again
and Robert knew that it was due as much to pleasure at the return as
at the destruction of the besieging camp.
The entire population of Fort Refuge was at the palisade, heedless of
the snow, watching the burning huts and lodges. There was no wind, but
cinders and ashes fell near them, to be covered quickly with white.
Fierce yells now came from the forest and arrows and bullets were
fired at the fort, but they were harmless and the defenders did not
The flames began to decline by and by, then they sank fast, and after
a while the snow which still came down as if it meant never to stop
covered everything. The circling white wall enveloped the stronghold
completely, and Robert knew that the disaster to the French and
Indians had been overwhelming. Probably all of them had saved their
lives, but they had lost ammunition--the explosions had told him
that--much of their stores, and doubtless all of their food. They
would have to withdraw, for the present at least.
Robert felt immense exultation. They had struck a great blow, and it
was he who had suggested the plan. His pride increased, although he
hid it, when Willet put his large hand on his shoulder and said:
"'Twas well done, Robert, my lad, and 'twould not have been done at
all had it not been for you. Your mind bred the idea, from which the
"And you think the French and Indians have gone away now?"
"Surely, lad! Surely! Indians can stand a lot, and so can French, but
neither can stand still in the middle of a snow that bids fair to be
two feet deep and live. They may have to travel until they reach some
Indian village farther west and north."
"Such being the case, there can be no pressing need for me just at
present, and I think I shall sleep. I feel now as if I were bound to
"The best thing you could do, and I'll take a turn between the
Robert had a great sleep. Some of the rooms in the blockhouse offered
a high degree of frontier comfort, and he lay down upon a soft couch
of skins. A fine fire blazing upon a stone hearth dried his deerskin
garments, and, when he awoke about noon, he was strong and thoroughly
refreshed. The snow was still falling heavily. The wilderness in its
white blanket was beautiful, but it did not look like a possible home
to Robert now. His vivid imagination leaped up at once and pictured
the difficulties of any one struggling for life, even in that vast
Willet and Tayoga were up before him, and they were talking of another
expedition to see how far the besieging force had gone, but while they
were discussing it a figure appeared at the edge of the forest.
"It's a white man," exclaimed Wilton, "and so it must be one of the
Frenchmen. He's a bold fellow walking directly within our range. What
on earth can he want?"
One of the guards on the palisade raised his rifle, but Willet
promptly pushed down the muzzle.
"That's no Frenchman," he said.
"Then who is it?" asked Wilton.
"He's clothed in white, as any one walking in this snow is bound to
be, but I could tell at the first glimpse that it was none other than
our friend, Black Rifle."
"Coming to us for refuge, and so our fort is well named."
"Not for refuge. Black Rifle has taken care of himself too long in the
wilderness to be at a loss at any time. I suspect that he has
something of importance to tell us or he would not come at all."
At the command of Colden the great gate was thrown open that the
strange rover might enter in all honor, and as he came in, apparently
oblivious of the storm, his eyes gleamed a little at the sight of
Willet, his friend.
"You've come to tell us something," said the hunter.
"So I have," said Black Rifle.
"Brush off the snow, warm yourself by the fire, and then we'll
"I can tell it now. I don't mind the snow. I saw from a distance the
great fire last night, when the camp of the French and Indians
burned. It was clever to destroy their huts and lodges, and I knew at
once who did it. Such a thing as that could not have happened without
you having a hand in it, Dave Willet. I watched to see what the
French and Indians would do, and I followed them in their hurried
retreat into the north. I hid in the snowy bushes, and heard some of
their talk, too. They will not stop until they reach a village a full
hundred miles from here. The Frenchmen, De Courcelles and Jumonville
are mad with anger and disappointment, and so is the Indian chief
"And well they may be!" jubilantly exclaimed Captain Colden, off whose
mind a great weight seemed to have slid. "It was splendid tactics to
burn their home over their heads. I wouldn't have thought of it
myself, but since others have thought of it, and, it has succeeded so
admirably, we can now do the work we were sent here to do."
Tayoga and Willet made snow-shoes and went out on them a few days
later, confirming the report of Black Rifle. Then small parties were
sent forth to search the forest for settlers and their families. Robert
had a large share in this work, and sometimes he looked upon terrible
things. In more than one place, torch and tomahawk had already done
their dreadful work, but in others they found the people alive and
well, still clinging to their homes. It was often difficult, even in
the face of imminent danger, to persuade them to leave, and when they
finally went, under mild compulsion, it was with the resolve to return
to their log cabins in the spring.
Fort Refuge now deserved its name. There were many axes, with plenty
of strong and skillful arms to wield them, and new buildings were
erected within the palisade, the smoke rising from a half dozen
chimneys. They were rude structures, but the people who occupied
them, used all their lives to hardships, did not ask much, and they
seemed snug and comfortable enough to them. Fires always blazed on the
broad stone hearths and the voices of children were heard within the
log walls. The hands of women furnished the rooms, and made new
clothes of deerskin.
The note of life at Fort Refuge was comfort and good cheer. They felt
that they could hold the little fortress against any force that might
come. The hunters, Willet, Tayoga and Black Rifle at their head,
brought in an abundance of game. There was no ill health. The little
children grew mightily, and, thus thrown together in a group, they had
the happiest time they had ever known. Robert was their hero. No other
could tell such glorious tales. He had read fairy stories at Albany,
and he not only brought them all from the store of his memory but he
embroidered and enlarged them. He had a manner with him, too. His
musical, golden voice, his vivid eyes and his intense earnestness of
tone, the same that had impressed so greatly the fifty sachems in the
vale of Onondaga, carried conviction. If one telling a tale believed
in it so thoroughly himself then those who heard it must believe in it
Robert fulfilled a great mission. He was not the orator, the golden
mouthed, for nothing. If the winter came down a little too fiercely,
his vivid eyes and gay voice were sufficient to lift the
depression. Even the somber face of Black Rifle would light up when he
came near. Nor was the young Quaker, Wilton, far behind him. He was a
spontaneously happy youth, always bubbling with good nature, and he
formed an able second for Lennox.
"Will," said Robert, "I believe it actually gives you joy to be here
in this log fortress in the snow and wilderness. You do not miss the
great capital, Philadelphia, to which you have been used all your
"No, I don't, Robert. I like Fort Refuge, because I'm free from
restraints. It's the first time my true nature has had a chance to
come out, and I'm making the most of the opportunity. Oh, I'm
developing! In the spring you'll see me the gayest and most reckless
blade that ever came into the forest."
The deep snow lasted a long time. More snowshoes were made, but only
six or eight of the soldiers learned to use them well. There were
sufficient, however, as Willet, Robert, Tayoga and Black Rifle were
already adepts, and they ranged the forest far in all directions. They
saw no further sign of French or Indians, but they steadily increased
their supply of game.
Christmas came, January passed and then the big snow began to
melt. New stirrings entered Robert's mind. He felt that their work at
Fort Refuge was done. They had gathered into it all the outlying
settlers who could be reached, and Colden, Wilton and Carson were now
entirely competent to guard it and hold it. Robert felt that he and
Willet should return to Albany, and get into the main current of the
great war. Tayoga, of course, would go with them.
He talked it over with Willet and Tayoga, and they agreed with him at
once. Black Rifle also decided to depart about the same time, and
Colden, although grieved to see them go, could say nothing against it.
When the four left they received an ovation that would have warmed the
heart of any man. As they stood at the edge of the forest with their
packs on their backs, Captain Colden gave a sharp command. Sixty
rifles turned their muzzles upward, and sixty fingers pulled sixty
triggers. Sixty weapons roared as one, and the four with dew in their
eyes, lifted their caps to the splendid salute. Then a long, shrill
cheer followed. Every child in the fort had been lifted above the
palisade, and they sent the best wishes of their hearts with those who
"That cheer of the little ones was mostly for you, Robert," said
Willet, when the forest hid them.
"It was for all of us equally," said Robert modestly.
"No, I'm right and it must help us to have the good wishes of little
children go with us. If they and Tododaho watch over us we can't come
to much harm."
"It is a good omen," said Tayoga soberly. "When I lie down to sleep
tonight I shall hear their voices in my ear."
Black Rifle now left them, going on one of his solitary expeditions
into the wilderness and the others traveled diligently all the day,
but owing to the condition of the earth did not make their usual
progress. Most of the snow had melted and everything was dripping
with water. It fell from every bough and twig, and in every ravine and
gully a rivulet was running, while ponds stood in every
depression. Many swollen brooks and creeks had to be forded, and when
night came they were wet and soaked to the waist.
But Tayoga then achieved a great triumph. In the face of difficulties
that seemed insuperable, he coaxed a fire in the lee of a hill, and
the three fed it, until it threw out a great circle of heat in which
they warmed and dried themselves. When they had eaten and rested a
long time they put out the fire, waited for the coals and ashes to
cool, and then spread over them their blankets, thus securing a dry
base upon which to sleep. They were so thoroughly exhausted, and they
were so sure that the forest contained no hostile presence that all
three went to sleep at the same time and remained buried in slumber
throughout the night.
Tayoga was the first to awake, and he saw the dawn of a new winter
day, the earth reeking with cold damp and the thawing snow. He
unrolled himself from his blankets and arose a little stiffly, but
with a few movements of the limbs all his flexibility returned. The
air was chill and the scene in the black forest of winter was
desolate, but Tayoga was happy. Tododaho on his great shining star had
watched over him and showered him with favors, and he had no doubt
that he would remain under the protection of the mighty chief who had
gone away so long ago.
Tayoga looked down at his comrades, who still slept soundly, and
smiled. The three were bound together by powerful ties, and the events
of recent months had made them stronger than ever. In the school at
Albany he had absorbed much of the white man's education, and, while
his Indian nature remained unchanged, he understood also the white
point of view. He could meet both Robert and Willet on common ground,
and theirs was a friendship that could not be severed.
Now he made a circle about their camp, and, being assured that no
enemy was near, came back to the point where Robert and Willet yet
slept. Then he took his flint and steel, and, withdrawing a little,
kindled a fire, doing so as quietly as he could, in order that the two
awaking might have a pleasant surprise. When the little flames were
licking the wood, and the sparks began to fly upwards, he shook Robert
by the shoulder.
"Arise, sluggard," he said. "Did not our teacher in Albany tell us it
was proof of a lazy nature to sleep while the sun was rising? The fire
even has grown impatient and has lighted itself while you abode with
Tarenyawagon (the sender of dreams). Get up and cook our breakfast,
Oh, Heavy Head!"
Robert sat up and so did Willet. Then Robert drew his blankets about
his body and lay down again.
"You've done so well with the fire, Tayoga, and you've shown such a
spirit," he said, "that it would be a pity to interfere with your
activity. Go ahead, and awake me again when breakfast is ready."
Tayoga made a rush, seized the edge of his blanket and unrolled it,
depositing Robert in the ashes. Then he darted away among the bushes,
avoiding the white youth's pursuit. Willet meanwhile warmed himself by
the fire and laughed.
"Come back, you two," he said. "You think you're little lads again at
your school in Albany, but you're not. You're here in the wilderness,
confronted by many difficulties, all of which you can overcome, and
subject to many perils, all of which you know how to avoid."
"I'll come," said Robert, "if you promise to protect me from this
fierce Onondaga chief who is trying to secure my scalp."
"Tayoga, return to the fire and cook these strips of venison. Here is
the sharp stick left from last night. Robert, take our canteens, find
a spring and fill them with fresh water. By right of seniority I'm in
command this morning, and I intend to subject my army to extremely
severe discipline, because it's good for it. Obey at once!"
Tayoga obediently took the sharpened stick and began to fry strips of
venison. Robert, the canteens over his shoulder, found a spring near
by and refilled them. Like Tayoga, the raw chill of the morning and
the desolate forest of winter had no effect upon him. He too, was
happy, uplifted, and he sang to himself the song he had heard De
"Hier sur le pont d'Avignon
J'ai oui chanter la belle,
J'ai oui chanter la belle,
Elle chantait d'un ton si doux
Comme une demoiselle,
Comme une demoiselle."
All that seemed far away now, yet the words of the song brought it
back, and his extraordinary imagination made the scenes at Bigot's
ball pass before his eyes again, almost as vivid as reality. Once more
he saw the Intendant, his portly figure swaying in the dance, his red
face beaming, and once more he beheld the fiery duel in the garden
when the hunter dealt with Boucher, the bully and bravo.
Quebec was far away. He had been glad to go to it, and he had been
glad to come away, too. He would be glad to go to it again, and he
felt that he would do so some day, though the torrent of battle now
rolled between. He was still humming the air when he came back to the
fire, and saluting Willet politely, tendered a canteen each to him and
"Sir David Willet, baronet and general," he said, "I have the honor to
report to you that in accordance with your command I have found the
water, spring water, fine, fresh, pure, as good as any the northern
wilderness can furnish, and that is the best in the world. Shall I
tender it to you, sir, on my bended knee!"
"No, Mr. Lennox, we can dispense with the bended knee, but I am glad,
young sir, to note in your voice the tone of deep respect for your
elders which sometimes and sadly is lacking."
"If Dagaeoga works well, and always does as he is bidden," said
Tayoga, "perhaps I'll let him look on at the ceremonies when I take my
place as one of the fifteen sachems of the Onondaga nation."
While they ate their venison and some bread they had also brought with
them, they discussed the next stage of their journey, and Tayoga made
a suggestion. Traveling would remain difficult for several days, and
instead of going directly to Albany, their original purpose, they
might take a canoe, and visit Mount Johnson, the seat of Colonel
William Johnson, who was such a power with the Hodenosaunee, and who
was in his person a center of important affairs in North America. For
a while, Mount Johnson might, in truth, suit their purpose better than
The idea appealed at once to both Robert and Willet. Colonel Johnson,
more than any one else could tell them what to do, and owing to his
strong alliance, marital and otherwise, with the Mohawks, they were
likely to find chiefs of the Ganeagaono at his house or in the
"It is agreed," said Willet, after a brief discussion. "If my
calculations be correct we can reach Mount Johnson in four days, and I
don't think we're likely to cross the trail of an enemy, unless
St. Luc is making some daring expedition."
"In any event, he's a nobler foe than De Courcelles or Jumonville,"
"I grant you that, readily," said the hunter. "Still, I don't think
we're likely to encounter him on our way to Mount Johnson."
But on the second day they did cross a trail which they attributed to
a hostile force. It contained, however, no white footsteps, and not
pausing to investigate, they continued their course toward their
destination. As all the snow was now gone, and the earth was drying
fast, they were able almost to double their speed and they pressed
forward, eager to see the celebrated Colonel William Johnson, who was
now filling and who was destined to fill for so long a time so large a
place in the affairs of North America.
Now, a few pleasant days of winter came. The ground dried under
comparatively warm winds, and the forest awoke. They heard everywhere
the ripple of running water, and wild animals came out of their
dens. Tayoga shot a young bear which made a welcome addition to their
"I hold that there's nothing better in the woods than young bear,"
said Willet, as he ate a juicy steak Robert had broiled over the
coals. "Venison is mighty good, especially so when you're hungry, but
you can get tired of it. What say you, Tayoga?"
"It is true," replied the Onondaga. "Fat young bear is very fine. None
of us wants one thing all the time, and we want something besides
meat, too. The nations of the Hodenosaunee are great and civilized,
much ahead of the other red people, because they plant gardens and
orchards and fields, and have grain and vegetables, corn, beans,
squash and many other things good for the table."
"And the Iroquois, while they grow more particular about the table,
remain the most valiant of all the forest people. I see your point,
Tayoga. Civilization doesn't take anything from a man's courage and
tenacity. Rather it adds to them. There are our enemies, the French,
who are as brave and enduring as anybody, and yet they're the best
cooks in the world, and more particular about their food than any
"You always speak of the French with a kind of affection, Dave," said
"I suppose I do," said the hunter. "I have reasons."
"As I know now, Dave, you've been in Paris, can't you tell us
something about the city?"
"It's the finest town in the world, Robert, and they've the brightest,
gayest life there, at least a part of 'em have, but things are not
going right at home with the French. They say a whole nation's fortune
has been sunk in the palace at Versailles, and the people are growing
poorer all the time, but the government hopes to dazzle 'em by waging
a successful and brilliant war over here. I repeat, though, Robert,
that I like the French. A great nation, sound at the core, splendid
soldiers as we're seeing, and as we're likely to see for a long time
They pushed on with all speed toward Mount Johnson, the weather still
favoring them, making their last camp in a fine oak grove, and
reckoning that they would achieve their journey's end before noon the
next day. They did not build any fire that night, but when they rose
at dawn they saw the smoke of somebody else's fire on the eastern
"It couldn't be the enemy," said Willet. "He wouldn't let his smoke go
up here for all the world to see, so near to the home of Colonel
William Johnson and within the range of the Mohawks."
"That is so," said Tayoga. "It is likely to be some force of Colonel
Johnson himself, and we can advance with certainty."
Looking well to their arms in the possible contingency of a foe, they
pushed forward through the woodland, the smoke growing meanwhile as if
those who had built the fire either felt sure of friendly territory,
or were ready to challenge the world. The Onondaga presently held up a
hand and the three stopped.
"What is it, Tayoga?" asked the hunter.
"I wish to sing a song."
"Then sing it, Tayoga."
A bird suddenly gave forth a long, musical, thrilling note. It rose in
a series of trills, singularly penetrating, and died away in a
haunting echo. A few moments of silence and then from a point in the
forest in front of them another bird sang a like song.
"They are friends," said Tayoga, who was the first bird, "and it may
be, since we are within the range of the Mohawks, that it is our
friend, the great young chief Daganoweda, who replied. I do not think
any one else could sing a song so like my own."
"I'm wagering that it's Daganoweda and nobody else," said Willet
confidently, and scorning cover now they advanced at increased speed
toward the fire.
A splendid figure, tall, heroic, the nose lofty and beaked like that
of an ancient Roman, the feather headdress brilliant and defiant like
that of Tayoga, came forward to meet them, and Robert saw with intense
pleasure that it was none other than Daganoweda himself. Nor was the
delight of the young Mohawk chieftain any less--the taciturnity and
blank faces of Indians disappeared among their friends--and he came
forward, smiling and uttering words of welcome.
"Daganoweda," said Willet, "the sight of you is balm to the eyes. Your
name means in our language, 'The Inexhaustible' and you're an
inexhaustible friend. You're always appearing when we need you most,
and that's the very finest kind of a friend."
"Great Bear, Tayoga and Dagaeoga come out of the great wilderness,"
said Daganoweda, smiling.
"So we do, Daganoweda. We've been there a long time, but we were not
"I have heard of the fort that was built in the forest and how the
young white soldiers with the help of Great Bear, Tayoga and Dagaeoga
beat off the French and the savage tribes."
"I supposed that runners of the Hodenosaunee would keep you
informed. Well, the fort is there and our people still hold it, and we
are here, anxious to get back into the main stream of big events. Who
are at the fire, Daganoweda?"
"Waraiyageh (Colonel William Johnson) himself is there. He was fishing
yesterday, it being an idle time for a few days, and with ten of my
warriors I joined him last night. He will be glad to see you, Great
Bear, whom he knows. And he will be glad to meet Tayoga and Dagaeoga
who are to bear great names."
"Easy, Daganoweda, easy!" laughed Willet.
"These are fine lads, but don't flatter 'em too much just yet. They've
done brave deeds, but before this war is over they'll have to do a lot
more. We'll go with you and meet Colonel Johnson."
As they walked toward the fire a tall, strongly built man, of middle
years, dressed in the uniform of an English officer, came forward to
meet them. His face, with a distinct Irish cast, was frank, open and
"Ah, Willet, my friend," he said, extending his hand. "So you and I
meet again, and glad I am to hold your fingers in mine once more. A
faithful report has come to us of what you did in Quebec, and it seems
the Willet of old has not changed much."
The hunter reddened under his tan.
"It was forced upon me, colonel," he said.
Colonel William Johnson laughed heartily.
"And he who forced it did not live to regret it," he said. "I've heard
that French officers themselves did not blame you, but as for me,
knowing you as I do, I'd have expected no less of David Willet."
He laughed again, and his laugh was deep and hearty. Robert, looking
closely at him, thought him a fine, strong man, and he was quite sure
he would like him. The colonel glanced at him and Tayoga, and the
"Colonel Johnson, I wish to present Tayoga, who is of the most ancient
blood of the Onondagas, a member of the Clan of the Bear, and destined
to be a great chief. A most valiant and noble youth, too, I assure
you, and the white lad is Robert Lennox, to whom I stand in the place
of a father."
"I have heard of Tayoga," said Colonel Johnson, "and his people and
mine are friends."
"It is true," said Tayoga, "Waraiyageh has been the best friend among
the white people that the nations of the Hodenosaunee have ever
had. He has never tricked us. He has never lied to us, and often he
has incurred great hardship and danger to help us."
"It is pleasant in my ears to hear you say so, Tayoga," said Colonel
Johnson, "and as for Mr. Lennox, who, my eyes tell me is also a noble
and gallant youth, it seems to me I've heard some report of him
too. You carried the private letters from the Governor of New York to
the Marquis Duquesne, Governor General of Canada?"
"I did, sir," replied Robert.
"And of course you were there with Willet. Your mission, I believe,
was kept as secret as possible, but I learned at Albany that you bore
yourself well, and that you also gave an exhibition with the sword."
It was Robert's turn to flush.
"I'm a poor swordsman, sir," he said, "by the side of Mr. Willet."
"Good enough though, for the occasion. But come, I'll make an end to
badinage. You must be on your way to Mount Johnson."
"That was our destination," said Willet.
"Then right welcome guests you'll be. I have a little camp but a short
distance away. Molly is there, and so is that young eagle, her
brother, Joseph Brant. Molly will see that you're well served with
food, and after that you shall stay at Mount Johnson as long as you
like, and the longer you'll stay the better it will please Molly and
me. You shall tell us of your adventures, Mr. Lennox, and about that
Quebec in which you and Mr. Willet seem to have cut so wide a swath
with your rapiers."
"We did but meet the difficulties that were forced upon us," protested
Colonel Johnson laughed once more, and most heartily.
"If all people met in like fashion the difficulties that were forced
upon them," he said, "it would be a wondrous efficient world, so much
superior to the world that now is that one would never dream they had
been the same. But just beyond the hill is our little camp which, for
want of a better name, I'll call a bower. Here is Joseph, now, coming
to meet us."
An Indian lad of about eleven years, but large and uncommonly strong
for his age, was walking down the hill toward them. He was dressed
partly in civilized clothing, and his manner was such that he would
have drawn the notice of the observing anywhere. His face was open
and strong, with great width between the eyes, and his gaze was direct
and firm. Robert knew at once that here was an unusual boy, one
destined if he lived to do great things. His prevision was more than
fulfilled. It was Joseph Brant, the renowned Thayendanegea, the most
famous and probably the ablest Indian chief with whom the white men
ever came into contact.
"This is Joseph Brant, the brother of Molly, my wife, and hence my
young brother-in-law," said Colonel Johnson. "Joseph, our new friends
are David Willet, known to the Hodenosaunee as the Great Bear, Robert
Lennox, who seems to be in some sort a ward of Mr. Willet, and Tayoga,
of the Clan of the Bear, of your great brother nation, Onondaga."
Young Thayendanegea saluted them all in a friendly but dignified
way. He, like Tayoga, had a white education, and spoke perfect, but
"We welcome you," he said. "Colonel Johnson, sir, my sister has
already seen the strangers from the hill, and is anxious to greet
"Molly, for all her dignity, has her fair share of curiosity," laughed
Colonel Johnson, "and since it's our duty to gratify it, we'll go
Robert had heard often of Molly Brant, the famous Mohawk wife of
Colonel, afterward Sir William Johnson, a great figure in that region
in her time, and he was eager to see her. He beheld a woman, young,
tall, a face decidedly Iroquois, but handsome and lofty. She wore the
dress of the white people, and it was of fine material. She obviously
had some of the distinguished character that had already set its seal
upon her young brother, then known as Keghneghtada, his famous name of
Thayendanegea to come later. Her husband presented the three, and she
received them in turn in a manner that was quiet and dignified,
although Robert could see her examining them with swift Indian eyes
that missed nothing. And with his knowledge of both white heart and
red heart, of white manner and red manner, he was aware that he stood
in the presence of a great lady, a great lady who fitted into her
setting of the vast New York wilderness. So, with the ornate manner
of the day, he bent over and kissed her hand as he was presented.
"Madam," he said, "it is a great pleasure to us to meet Colonel
Johnson here in the forest, but we have the unexpected and still
greater pleasure of meeting his lady also."
Colonel Johnson laughed, and patted Robert on the shoulder.
"Mr. Willet has been whispering to me something about you," he
said. "He has been telling me of your gift of speech, and by my faith,
he has not told all of it. You do address the ladies in a most
graceful fashion, and Molly likes it. I can see that."
"Assuredly I do, sir," said she who had been Molly Brant, the Mohawk,
but who was now the wife of the greatest man in the north
country. "Tis a goodly youth and he speaks well. I like him, and he
shall have the best our house can offer."
Colonel Johnson's mellow laugh rang out again.
"Spoken like a woman of spirit, Molly," he said. "I expected none the
less of you. It's in the blood of the Ganeagaono and had you answered
otherwise you would have been unworthy of your cousin, Daganoweda,
The young Mohawk chieftain smiled. Johnson, who had married a girl of
their race, could jest with the Mohawks almost as he pleased, and
among themselves and among those whom they trusted the Indians were
fond of joking and laughter.
"The wife of Waraiyageh not only has a great chief for a husband," he
said, "but she is a great chief herself. Among the Wyandots she would
be one of the rulers."
The women were the governing power in the valiant Wyandot nation, and
Daganoweda could pay his cousin no higher compliment.
"We talk much," said Colonel Johnson, "but we must remember that our
friends are tired. They've come afar in bad weather. We must let them
rest now and give them refreshment."
He led the way to the light summer house that he had called a
bower. It was built of poles and thatch, and was open on the eastern
side, where it faced a fine creek running with a strong current. A
fire was burning in one corner, and a heavy curtain of tanned skins
could be draped over the wide doorway. Articles of women's apparel
hung on the walls, and others indicating woman's work stood
about. There were also chairs of wicker, and a lounge covered with
haircloth. It was a comfortable place, the most attractive that Robert
had seen in a long time, and his eyes responded to it with a glitter
that Colonel Johnson noticed.
"I don't wonder that you like it, lad," he said. "I've spent some
happy hours here myself, when I came in weary or worn from hunting or
fishing. But sit you down, all three of you. I'll warrant me that
you're weary enough, tramping through this wintry forest. Blunt, shove
the faggots closer together and make up a better fire."
The command was to a white servant who obeyed promptly, but Madame
Johnson herself had already shifted the chairs for the guests, and had
taken their deerskin cloaks. Without ceasing to be the great lady she
moved, nevertheless, with a lightness of foot and a celerity that was
all a daughter of the forest. Robert watched her with fascinated eyes
as she put the summer house in order and made it ready for the comfort
of her guests. Here was one who had acquired civilization without
losing the spirit of the wild. She was an educated and well bred
woman, the wife of the most powerful man in the colonies, and she was
at the same time a true Mohawk. Robert knew as he looked at her that
if left alone in the wilderness she could take care of herself almost
as well as her cousin, Daganoweda, the young chief.
Then his gaze shifted from Molly Brant to her brother. Despite his
youth all his actions showed pride and unlimited confidence in
himself. He stood near the door, and addressed Robert in English,
asking him questions about himself, and he also spoke to Tayoga,
showing him the greatest friendliness.
"We be of the mighty brother nations, Onondaga and Mohawk, the first
of the great League," he said, "and some day we will sit together in
the councils of the fifty sachems in the vale of Onondaga."
"It is so," said Tayoga gravely, speaking to the young lad as man to
man. "We will ever serve the Hodenosaunee as our fathers before us
"Leave the subject of the Hodenosaunee," said Colonel Johnson
cheerily. "I know that you lads are prouder of your birth than the old
Roman patricians ever were, but Mr. Willet, Mr. Lennox and I were not
fortunate enough to be born into the great League, and you will
perhaps arouse our jealousy or envy. Come, gentlemen, sit you down
and eat and drink."
His Mohawk wife seconded the request and food and drink were
served. Robert saw that the bower was divided into two rooms the one
beyond them evidently being a sleeping chamber, but the evidences of
comfort, even luxury, were numerous, making the place an oasis in the
wilderness. Colonel Johnson had wine, which Robert did not touch, nor
did Tayoga nor Daganoweda, and there were dishes of china or silver
brought from England. He noticed also, and it was an unusual sight in
a lodge in the forest, about twenty books upon two shelves. From his
chair he read the titles, Le Brun's "Battles of Alexander," a bound
volume of _The Gentleman's Magazine,_ "Roderick Random," and several
others. Colonel Johnson's eyes followed him.
"I see that you are a reader," he said. "I know it because your eyes
linger upon my books. I have packages brought from time to time from
England, and, before I came upon this expedition, I had these sent
ahead of me to the bower that I might dip into them in the evenings if
I felt so inclined. Reading gives us a wider horizon, and, at the same
time, takes us away from the day's troubles."
"I agree with you heartily, sir," said Robert, "but, unfortunately, we
have little time for reading now."
"That is true," sighed Colonel Johnson. "I fear it's going to be a
long and terrible war. What do you see, Joseph?"
Young Brant was sitting with his face to the door, and he had risen
"A runner comes," he replied. "He is in the forest beyond the creek,
but I see that he is one of our own people. He comes fast."
Colonel Johnson also arose.
"Can it be some trouble among the Ganeagaono?" he said.
"I think not," said the Indian boy.
The runner emerged from the wood, crossed the creek and stood in the
doorway of the bower. He was a tall, thin young Mohawk, and he panted
as if he had come fast and long.
"What is it, Oagowa?" asked Colonel Johnson.
"A hostile band, Hurons, Abenakis, Caughnawagas, and others, has
entered the territory of the Ganeagaono on the west," replied the
warrior. "They are led by an Ojibway chief, a giant, called
Robert uttered an exclamation.
"The name of the Ojibway attracts your attention," said Colonel
"We've had many encounters with him," replied the youth. "Besides
hating the Hodenosaunee and all the white people, I think he also has
a personal grievance against Mr. Willet, Tayoga and myself. He is the
most bitter and persistent of all our enemies."
"Then this man must be dealt with. I can't go against him
myself. Other affairs press too much, but I can raise a force with
"Let me go, sir, against Tandakora!" exclaimed young Brant eagerly and
Colonel Johnson looked at him a moment, his eyes glistening, and then
he laughed, not with irony but gently and with approval.
"Truly 'tis a young eagle," he said, "but, Joseph, you must remember
that your years are yet short of twelve, and you still have much time
to spend over the books in which you have done so well. If I let you
be cut off at such an early age you can never become the great chief
you are destined to be. Bide a while, Joseph, and your cousin,
Daganoweda, will attend to this Ojibway who has wandered so far from
his own country."
Young Brant made no protest. Trained in the wonderful discipline of
the Hodenosaunee he knew that he must obey before he could command. He
resumed his seat quietly, but his eager eyes watched his tall cousin,
the young Mohawk chieftain, as Colonel Johnson gave him orders.
"Take with you the warriors that you have now, Daganoweda," he
said. "Gather the fifty who are now encamped at Teugega. Take thirty
more from Talaquega, and I think that will be enough. I don't know
you, Daganoweda, and I don't know your valiant Mohawk warriors, if you
are not able to account thoroughly for the Ojibway and his men. Don't
come back until you've destroyed them or driven them out of your
Colonel Johnson's tone was at once urgent and complimentary. It
intimated that the work was important and that Daganoweda would be
sure to do it. The Mohawk's eyes glittered in his dark face. He lifted
his hand in a salute, glided from the bower, and a moment later he and
his warriors passed from sight in the forest.
"That cousin of yours, Molly, deserves his rank of chief," said
Colonel Johnson. "The task that he is to do I consider as good as done
already. Tandakora was too daring, when he ventured into the lands of
the Ganeagaono. Now, if you gentlemen will be so good as to be our
guests we'll pass the night here, and tomorrow we'll go to Mount
It was agreeable to Robert, Willet and Tayoga, and they spent the
remainder of the day most pleasantly at the bower. Colonel Johnson,
feeling that they were three whom he could trust, talked freely and
unveiled a mind fitted for great affairs.
"I tell you three," he said, "that this will be one of the most
important wars the world has known. To London and Paris we seem lost
in the woods out here, and perhaps at the courts they think little of
us or they do not think at all, but the time must come when the New
World will react upon the Old. Consider what a country it is, with its
lakes, its forests, its rivers, and its fertile lands, which extend
beyond the reckoning of man. The day will arrive when there will be a
power here greater than either England or France. Such a land cannot
help but nourish it."
He seemed to be much moved, and spoke a long time in the same vein,
but his Indian wife never said a word. She moved about now and then,
and, as before, her footsteps making no noise, being as light as those
of any animal of the forest.
The dusk came up to the door. They heard the ripple of the creek, but
could not see its waters. Madam Johnson lighted a wax candle, and
Colonel Johnson stopped suddenly.
"I have talked too much. I weary you," he said.
"Oh, no, sir!" protested Robert eagerly. "Go on! We would gladly
listen to you all night."
"That I think would be too great a weight upon us all," laughed
Colonel Johnson. "You are weary. You must be so from your long
marching and my heavy disquisitions. We'll have beds made for you
three and Joseph here. Molly and I sleep in the next room."
Robert was glad to have soft furs and a floor beneath him, and when he
lay down it was with a feeling of intense satisfaction. He liked
Colonel William Johnson, and knew that he had a friend in him. He was
anxious for advancement in the great world, and he understood what it
was to have powerful support. Already he stood high with the
Hodenosaunee, and now he had found favor with the famous Waraiyageh.
They left in the morning for Mount Johnson, and there were horses for
all except the Indians, although one was offered to Tayoga. But he
declined to ride--the nations of the Hodenosaunee were not horsemen,
and kept pace with them at the long easy gait used by the Indian
runner. Robert himself was not used to the saddle, but he was glad
enough to accept it, after their great march through the wilderness.
The weather continued fine for winter, crisp, clear, sparkling with
life and the spirits of all were high. Colonel Johnson beckoned to
Robert to ride by the side of him and the two led the way. Kegneghtada,
despite his extreme youth, had refused a horse also, and was swinging
along by the side of Tayoga, stride for stride. A perfect understanding
and friendship had already been established between the Onondaga and
the Mohawk, and as they walked they talked together earnestly, young
Brant bearing himself as if he were on an equal footing with his
brother warrior, Tayoga. Colonel Johnson looked at them, smiled
approval and said to Robert:
"I have called my young brother-in-law an eagle, and an eagle he truly
is. We're apt to think, Mr. Lennox, that we white people alone gather
our forces and prepare for some aim distant but great. But the Indian
intellect is often keen and powerful, as I have had good cause to
know. Many of their chiefs have an acuteness and penetration not
surpassed in the councils of white men. The great Mohawk whom we call
King Hendrick probably has more intellect than most of the sovereigns
on their thrones in Europe. And as for Joseph, the lad there who so
gallantly keeps step with the Onondaga, where will you find a white
boy who can excel him? He absorbs the learning of our schools as fast
as any boy of our race whom I have ever known, and, at the same time,
he retains and improves all the lore and craft of the red people."
"You have found the Mohawks a brave and loyal race," said Robert,
knowing the colonel was upon a favorite theme of his.
"That I have, Mr. Lennox. I came among them a boy. I was a trader
then, and I settled first only a few miles from their largest town,
Dyiondarogon. I tried to keep faith with them and as a result I found
them always keeping faith with me. Then, when I went to Oghkwaga, I
had the same experience. The Indians were defrauded in the fur trade
by white swindlers, but dishonesty, besides being bad in itself, does
not pay, Mr. Lennox. Bear that in mind. You may cheat for a while with
success, but in time nobody will do business with you. Though you, I
take it, will never be a merchant."
"It is not because I frown upon the merchant's calling, sir. I esteem
it a high and noble one. But my mind does not turn to it."
"So I gather from what I have seen of you, and from what Mr. Willet
tells me. I've been hearing of your gift of oratory. You need not
blush, my lad. If we have a gift we should accept it thankfully, and
make the best use of it we can. You, I take it, will be a lawyer, then
a public man, and you will sway the public mind. There should be grand
occasions for such as you in a country like this, with its unlimited
They came presently into a region of cultivation, fields which would
be green with grain in the spring, showing here and there, and the
smoke from the chimney of a stout log house rising now and then.
Where a creek broke into a swift white fall stood a grist mill, and
from a wood the sound of axes was heard.
Robert's vivid imagination, which responded to all changes, kindled at
once. He liked the wilderness, and it always made a great impression
upon him, and he also took the keenest interest and delight in
everything that civilization could offer. Now his spirit leaped up to
meet what lay before him.
He found at Mount Johnson comfort and luxury that he had not expected,
an abundance of all that the wilderness furnished, mingled with
importations from Europe. He slept in a fine bed, he looked into more
books, he saw on the walls reproductions of Titian and Watteau, and
also pictures of race horses that had made themselves famous at
Newmarket, he wrote letters to Albany on good paper, he could seal
them with either black or red wax, and there were musical instruments
upon one or two of which he could play.
Robert found all these things congenial. The luxury or what might have
seemed luxury on the border, had in it nothing of decadence. There was
an air of vigor, and Colonel Johnson, although he did not neglect his
guests, plunged at once and deeply into business. A little village,
dependent upon him and his affairs had grown up about him, and there
were white men more or less in his service, some of whom he sent at
once on missions for the war. Through it all his Indian wife glided
quietly, but Robert saw that she was a wonderful help, managing with
ease, and smoothing away many a difficulty.
Despite the restraint of manner, the people at Mount Johnson were full
of excitement. The news from Canada and also from the west became
steadily more ominous. The French power was growing fast and the
warriors of the wild tribes were crowding in thousands to the Bourbon
banner. Robert heard again of St. Luc and of some daring achievement
of his, and despite himself he felt as always a thrill at the name,
and a runner also brought the news that more French troops had gone
into the Ohio country.
The fourth night of their stay at Mount Johnson Robert remained awake
late. He and young Brant, the great Thayendanegea that was to be, had
already formed a great friendship, the beginning of which was made
easier by Robert's knowledge of Indian nature and sympathy with
it. The two wrapped in fur cloaks had gone a little distance from the
house, because Brant said that a bear driven by hunger had come to the
edge of the village, and they were looking for its tracks. But Robert
was more interested in observing the Indian boy than in finding the
foot prints of the bear.
"Joseph," he said, "you expect, of course, to be a great warrior and
chief some day."
The boy's eyes glittered.
"There is nothing else for which I would care," he replied. "Hark,
Dagaeoga, did you hear the cry of a night bird?"
"I did, Joseph, but like you I don't think it's the voice of a real
bird. It's a signal."
"So it is, and unless I reckon ill it's the signal of my cousin
Daganoweda, returning from the great war trail that he has trod
against the wild Ojibway, Tandakora."
The song of a bird trilled from his own throat in reply, and then from
the forest came Daganoweda and his warriors in a dusky file. Robert
and young Brant fell in with them and walked toward the house. Not a
word was spoken, but the eyes of the Mohawk chieftain were gleaming,
and his bearing expressed the very concentrated essence of haughty
pride. At the house they stopped, and, young Brant going in, brought
forth Colonel Johnson.
"Well, Daganoweda," said the white man.
"I met Tandakora two days' journey north of Mount Johnson," replied
the Mohawk. "His numbers were equal to our own, but his warriors were
not the warriors of the Hodenosaunee. Six of the Ganeagaono are gone,
Waraiyageh, and sixteen more have wounds, from which they will
recover, but when Tandakora began his flight toward Canada eighteen of
his men lay dead, eight more fell in the pursuit, which was so fast
that we bring back with us forty muskets and rifles."
"Well done, Daganoweda," said Colonel Johnson. "You have proved
yourself anew a great warrior and chief, but you did not have to prove
it to me. I knew it long ago. Fine new rifles, and blankets of blue or
red or green have just come from Albany, half of which shall be
distributed among your men in the morning."
"Waraiyageh never forgets his friends," said the appreciative Mohawk.
He withdrew with his warriors, knowing that the promise would be kept.
"Why was I not allowed to go with them?" mourned young Brant.
Colonel Johnson laughed and patted his shiny black head.
"Never mind, young fire-eater," he said. "We'll all of us soon have
our fill of war--and more."
Robert was present at the distribution of rifles and blankets the next
morning, and he knew that Colonel Johnson had bound the Mohawks to him
and the English and American cause with another tie. Daganoweda and
his warriors, gratified beyond expression, took the war path again.
"They'll remain a barrier between us and the French and their allies,"
said Colonel Johnson, "and faith we'll need 'em. The other nations of
the Hodenosaunee wish to keep out of the war, but the Mohawks will be
with us to the last. Their great chief, King Hendrick, is our devoted
friend, and so is his brother, Abraham. This, too, in spite of the bad
treatment of the Ganeagaono by the Dutch at Albany. O, I have nothing
to say against the Dutch, a brave and tenacious people, but they have
their faults, like other races, and sometimes they let avarice
overcome them! I wish they could understand the nations of the
Hodenosaunee better. Do what you can at Albany, Mr. Lennox, with that
facile tongue of yours, to persuade the Dutch--and the others
too--that the danger from the French and Indians is great, and that we
must keep the friendship of the Six Nations."
"I will do my best, sir," promised Robert modestly. "I at least ought
to know the power and loyalty of the Hodenosaunee, since I have been
adopted into the great League and Tayoga, an Onondaga, is my brother,
in all but blood."
"And I stand in the same position," said Willet firmly. "We
understand, sir, your great attachment for the Six Nations, and the
vast service you have done for the English among them. If we can
supplement it even in some small degree we shall spare no effort to do
"I know it, Mr. Willet, and yet my heart is heavy to see the land I
love devastated by fire and sword."
Colonel Johnson loaned them horses, and an escort of two of his own
soldiers who would bring back the horses, and they started for Albany
amid many hospitable farewells.
"You and I shall meet again," said young Brant to Robert.
"I hope so," said Robert.
"It will be as allies and comrades on the battle field."
"But you are too young, Joseph, yet to take part in war."
"I shall not be next year, and the war will not be over then, so my
brother, Colonel William Johnson says, and he knows."
Robert looked at the sturdy young figure and the eager eyes, and he
knew that the Indian lad would not be denied.
Then the little party rode into the woods, and proceeded without event
It was with emotion that Robert came to Albany, an emotion that was
shared by his Onondaga comrade, Tayoga, who had spent a long time in a
white school there. The staid Dutch town was the great outpost of the
Province of New York in the wilderness, and although his temperament
was unlike that of the Dutch burghers he had innumerable pleasant
memories of it, and many friends there. It was, in his esteem, too, a
fine town, on its hills over-looking that noble river, the Hudson, and
as the little group rode on he noted that despite the war its
appearance was still peaceful and safe.
Their way led along the main street which was broad and with grass on
either side. The solid Dutch houses, with their gable ends to the
street, stood every one on its own lawn, with a garden behind
it. Every house also had a portico in front of it, on which the people
sat in summer evenings, or where they visited with one another. Except
that it was hills where the old country was flat, it was much like
Holland, and the people, keen and thrifty, had preserved their
national customs even unto the third and fourth generations. Robert
understood them as he understood the Hodenosaunce, and, with his
adaptable temperament, and with his mind that could understand so
readily the minds of others, he was able to meet them on common
ground. As they rode into the city he looked questioningly at Willet,
and the hunter, understanding the voiceless query, smiled.
"We couldn't think of going to any other place," he said. "If we did
we could never secure his forgiveness."
"I shall be more than glad to see him. A right good friend of ours,
isn't he, Tayoga?"
"Though his tongue lashes us his heart is with us," replied the
Onondaga. "He is a great white chief, three hundred pounds of
They stopped before one of the largest of the brick houses, standing
on one of the widest and neatest of the lawns, and Robert and Tayoga,
entering the portico, knocked upon the door with a heavy brass
knocker. They heard presently the rattle of chains inside, and the
rumble of a deep, grumbling voice. Then the two lads looked at each
other and laughed, laughed in the careless, joyous way in which youth
alone can laugh.
"It is he, Mynheer Jacobus himself, come to let us in," said Robert.
"And he has not changed at all," said Tayoga. "We can tell that by
the character of his voice on the other side of the door."
"And I would not have him changed."
"Nor would I."
The door was thrown open, but as all the windows were closed there was
yet gloom inside. Presently something large, red and shining emerged
from the dusk and two beams of light in the center of the redness
played upon them. Then the outlines of a gigantic human figure, a man
tall and immensely stout, were disclosed. He wore a black suit with
knee breeches, thick stockings and buckled shoes, and his powdered
hair was tied in a queue. His eyes, dazzled at first by the light from
without, began to twinkle as he looked. Then a great blaze of joy
swept over his face, and he held out two fat hands, one to the white
youth and one to the red.
"Ah, it iss you, Robert, you scapegrace, and it iss you, Tayoga, you
wild Onondaga! It iss a glad day for me that you haf come, but I
thought you both dead, und well you might be, reckless, thoughtless
lads who haf not the thought uf the future in your minds."
Robert shook the fat hand in both of his and laughed.
"You are the same as of old, Mynheer Jacobus," he said, "and before
Tayoga and I saw you, but while we heard you, we agreed that there had
been no change, and that we did not want any."
"And why should I change, you two young rascals? Am I not goot enough
as I am? Haf I not in the past given the punishment to both uf you und
am I not able to do it again, tall and strong as the two uf you haf
grown? Ah, such foolish lads! Perhaps you haf been spared because pity
wass taken on your foolishness. But iss it Mynheer Willet beyond you?
That iss a man of sense."
"It's none other than Dave, Mynheer Jacobus," said Robert.
"Then why doesn't he come in?" exclaimed Mynheer Jacobus Huysman. "He
iss welcome here, doubly, triply welcome, und he knows it."
"Dave! Dave! Hurry!" called Robert, "or Mynheer Jacobus will chastise
you. He's so anxious to fall on your neck and welcome you that he
Willet came swiftly up the brick walk, and the hands of the two big
men met in a warm clasp.
"You see I've brought the boys back to you again, Jacob," said the
"But what reckless lads they've become," grumbled Mynheer Huysman. "I
can see the mischief in their eyes now. They wass bad enough when they
went to school here und lived with me, but since they've run wild in
the forests this house iss not able to hold them."
"Don't you worry, Jacob, old friend. These arms and shoulders of mine
are still strong, and if they make you trouble I will deal with
them. But we just stopped a minute to inquire into the state of your
health. Can you tell us which is now the best inn in Albany?"
The face of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman flamed, and his eyes blazed in the
center of it, two great red lights.
"Inn! Inn!" he roared in his queer mixture of English, Dutch and
German accent "Iss it that your head hass been struck by lightning und
you haf gone crazy? If there wass a thousand inns at Albany you und
Robert und Tayoga could not stop at one uf them. Iss not the house uf
Jacobus Huysman good enough for you?"
Robert, Tayoga and the hunter laughed aloud.
"He did but make game of you, Mynheer Jacobus," said Robert. "We will
alter your statement and say if there were a thousand inns in Albany
you could not make us stay at any one of them. Despite your commands
we would come directly to your house."
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman permitted himself to smile. But his voice
renewed its grumbling tone.
"Ever the same," he said. "You must stay here, although only the good
Lord himself knows in what condition my house will be when you
leave. You are two wild lads. It iss not so strange uf you, Robert
Lennox, who are white, but I would expect better uf Tayoga, who is to
be a great Onondaga chief some day."
"You make a great mistake, Mynheer Jacobus," said Robert. "Tayoga is
far worse than I am. All the mischief that I have ever done was due to
his example and persuasion. It is my misfortune that I have a weak
nature, and I am easily led into evil by my associates."
"It iss not so. You are equally bad. Bring in your baggage und I will
see if Caterina, der cook, cannot find enough for you three, who
always eat like raging lions."
The soldiers, who were to return immediately to Colonel William
Johnson, rode away with their horses, and Robert, Tayoga and Willet
took their packs into the house of Mynheer Huysman, who grumbled
incessantly while he and a manservant and a maidservant made them as
comfortable as possible.
"Would you und Tayoga like to haf your old room on the second floor?"
he said to Robert.
"Nothing would please us better," replied the lad.
"Then you shall haf it," said Mynheer, as he led the way up the stair
and into the room. "Do you remember, Tayoga, how wild you wass when
you came here to learn the good ways und bad ways uf the white
"I do," replied Tayoga, "and the walls and the roof felt oppressive to
me, although we have stout log houses of our own in our villages. But
they were not our own walls and our own roof, and there was the great
young warrior, Lennox, whom we now call Dagaeoga, who was to stay in
the same room and even in the same bed with me. Do you wonder that I
felt like climbing out of a window at night, and escaping into the
"You were eleven then," said Robert, "and I was just a shade
younger. You were as strange to me as I was to you, and I thought, in
truth, that you were going to run away into the wilderness. But you
didn't, and you began to learn from books faster than I thought was
possible for one whose mind before then had been turned in another
"But you helped me, Dagaeoga. After our first and only battle in the
garden, which I think was a draw, we became allies."
"Und you united against me," said Mynheer Huysman.
"And you helped me with the books," continued Tayoga. "Ah, those first
months were hard, very hard!"
"And you taught me the use of the bow and arrow," continued Robert,
"and new skill in both fishing and hunting."
"Und the two uf you together learned new tricks und new ways uf making
my life miserable," grumbled Mynheer Huysman.
"But you must admit, Jacob," said Willet, "that they were not the
worst boys in the world."
"Well, not the worst, perhaps, David, because I don't know all the
boys uf all the countries in the world, but when you put an Onondaga
lad und an American lad together in alliance it iss hard to find any
one who can excel them, because they haf the mischief uf two nations."
"But you are tremendously glad to see them again, Jacob. Don't deny
it. I read it over and over again in your eyes."
Willet's own eyes twinkled as he spoke, and he saw also that there was
a light in those of the big Dutchman. But Huysman would admit
"Here iss your room," he said to Robert and Tayoga.
Robert saw that it was not changed. All the old, familiar objects were
there, and they brought to him a rush of emotion, as inanimate things
often do. On a heavy mahogany dresser lay two worn volumes that he
touched affectionately. One was his Caesar and the other his
algebra. Once he had hated both, but now he thought of them tenderly
as links with, the peaceful boyhood that was slipping away. Hanging
from a hook on the wall was an unstrung bow, the first weapon of the
kind with which he had practiced under the teaching of Tayoga. He
passed his hand over it gently and felt a thrill at the touch of the
Tayoga, also was moving about the room. On a small shelf lay an
English dictionary and several readers. They too were worn. He had
spent many a grieving hour over them when he had come from the
Iroquois forests to learn the white man's lore. He recalled how he had
hated them for a time, and how he had looked out of his school windows
at the freedom for which he had longed. But he was made of wrought
steel, both mind and body, and always the white youth, Lennox, his
comrade, was at his elbow in those days of his scholastic infancy to
help him. It had been a great episode in the life of Tayoga, who had
the intellect of a mighty chief, the mind of Pontiac or Thayendanegea,
or Tecumseh, or Sequoia. He had forced himself to learn and in
learning his books he had learned also to like the people of another
race around him who were good to him and who helped him in the first
hard days on the new road. So the young Onondaga felt an emotion much
like that of Robert as he walked about the room and touched the old
familiar things. Then he turned to Huysman.
"Mynheer Jacobus," he said, "you have a mighty body, and you have in
it a great heart. If all the men at Albany were like you there would
never be any trouble between them and the Hodenosaunee."
"Tayoga," said Huysman, "you haf borrowed Robert's tongue to cozen und
flatter. I haf not a great heart at all. I haf a very bad heart. I
could not get on in this world if I didn't."
Tayoga laughed musically, and Mynheer Jacobus gruffly bidding them not
to destroy anything, while he was gone, departed to see that Caterina,
the Dutch cook, fat like her master, should have ready a dinner,
drawing upon every resource of his ample larder. It is but truth to
say that the heart of Mynheer Jacobus was very full. A fat old
bachelor, with no near kin, his heart yearned over the two lads who
had spent so long a period in his home, and he knew them, too, for
what they were, each a fine flower of his own racial stock.
They were to remain several days in Albany, and after dinner they
visited Alexander McLean, the crusty teacher who had given them such a
severe drilling in their books. Master McLean allowed himself a few
brief expressions of pleasure when they came into his house, and then
questioned them sharply:
"Do you remember any of your ancient history, Tayoga?" he asked. "Are
the great deeds of the Greeks and Romans still in your mind?"
"At times they are, sir," replied the young Onondaga.
"Um-m. Is that so? What was the date of the battle of Zama?"
"It was fought 202 B.C., sir."
"You're correct, but it must have been only a lucky guess. I'll try
you again. What was the date of the battle of Hastings?"
"It was fought 1066 A.D., sir."
"Very good. Since you have answered correctly twice it must be
knowledge and not mere surmise on your part. Robert, whom do you
esteem the greatest of the Greek dramatic poets?"
"Because he combined the vigor and power of Aeschylus with the polish
and refinement of Euripides."
"Correct. I see that you remember what I told you, as you have quoted
almost my exact words. And now, lads, be seated, while I order
refreshments for you."
"We thank you, sir," said Robert, "but 'tis less than an hour since we
almost ate ourselves to death at the house of Mynheer Jacobus
"A good man, Jacob, but too fat, and far too brusque in speech,
especially to the young. I'll warrant me he has been addressing
upbraiding words to you, finding fault, perhaps, with your manners and
your parts of speech."
The two youths hid their smiles.
"Mynheer Jacobus was very good to us," said Robert. "Just as you are,
"I am not good to you, if you mean by it weakness and softness of
heart. Never spoil the young. Speak sternly to them all the time. Use
the strap and the rod freely upon them and you may make men of them."
Again Robert and Tayoga hid their smiles, but each knew that he had a
soft place in the heart of the crusty teacher, and they spent a
pleasant hour with him. That night they slept in their old room at
Mynheer Huysman's and two days later they and Willet went on board a
sloop for New York, where they intended to see Governor de
Lancey. Before they left many more alarming reports about the French
and Indians had come to Albany. They had made new ravages in the north
and west, and their power was spreading continually. France was
already helping her colonists. When would England help hers?
But Robert forgot all alarm in the pleasure of the voyage. It was a
good sloop, it had a stout Dutch captain, and with a favoring wind
they sped fast southward. Pride in the splendid river swelled in
Robert's soul and he and Tayoga, despite the cold, sat together on the
deck, watching the lofty shores and the distant mountains.
But Willet, anxious of mind, paced back and forth. He had seen much
at Albany that did not please him. The Indian Commissioners were
doing little to cement the alliance with the Hodenosaunee. The
Mohawks, alone of the great League, were giving aid against the
French. The others remained in their villages, keeping a strict
neutrality. That was well as far as it went, but the hunter had hoped
that all the members of the Hodenosaunee would take the field for the
English. He believed that Father Drouillard would soon be back among
the Onondagas, seeking to sway his converts to France, and he dreaded,
too, the activity and persistency of St. Luc.
But he kept his anxieties from Robert, knowing how eagerly the lad
anticipated his arrival in New York, and not blaming him at all for
it, since New York, although inferior in wealth, size and power to
Philadelphia, and in leadership to Boston, was already, in the eye of
the prophets, because of its situation, destined to become the first
city of America. And Willet felt his own pulses beat a little faster
at the thought of New York, a town that he knew well, and already a
port famous throughout the world.
Tayoga, although he wore his Indian dress, attracted no particular
attention from Captain Van Zouten and his crew. Indians could be seen
daily at Albany, and along the river, and they had been for
generations a part of American life. Captain Van Zouten, in truth,
noticed the height and fine bearing of the Onondaga, but he was a
close mouthed Dutchman, and if he felt like asking questions he put
due Dutch restraint upon himself.
The wind held good all day long, and the sloop flew southward, leaving
a long white trail in the blue water, but toward night it rose to a
gale, with heavy clouds that promised snow. Captain Hendrick Van
Zouten looked up with some anxiety at his sails, through which the
wind was now whistling, and, after a consultation with his mate,
decided to draw into a convenient cove and anchor for the night.
"I'm sorry," he said to Willet, "that our voyage to New York will be
delayed, but there'll be nasty weather on the river, and I don't like
to risk the sloop in it. But I didn't promise you that I'd get you to
the city at any particular time."
"We don't blame wind, weather and water upon you, Captain Van Zouten,"
laughed Willet, "and although I'm no seaman if you'd have consulted me
I too would have suggested shelter for the night."
Captain Van Zouten breathed his relief.
"If my passengers are satisfied," he said, "then so am I."
All the sails were furled, the sloop was anchored securely in a cove
where she could not injure herself, no matter how fiercely the wind
might beat, and Robert and Tayoga, wrapped in their fur cloaks, stood
on her deck, watching the advance of the fierce winter storm, and
remembering those other storms they had passed through on Lake
Champlain, although there was no danger of Indians here.
It began to snow heavily, and a fierce wind whistled among the
mountains behind them, lashing the river also into high waves, but the
sloop was a tight, strong craft, and it rocked but little in its snug
cove. Despite snow, wind and darkness Robert, Tayoga and the hunter
remained a long, time on deck. The Onondaga's feather headdress had
been replaced by a fur cap, similar to those now worn by Robert and
Willet, and all three were wrapped in heavy cloaks of furs.
Robert was still thinking of New York, a town that he knew to some
extent, and yet he was traveling toward it with a feeling akin to that
with which he had approached Quebec. It was in a way and for its time
a great port, in which many languages were spoken and to which many
ships came. Despite its inferiority in size it was already the chief
window through which the New World looked upon the Old. He expected
to see life in the seething little city at the mouth of the Hudson and
he expected also that a crisis in his fortunes would come there.
"Dave," he said to the hunter, "have you any plans for us in New
"They've not taken very definite shape," replied Willet, "but you know
you want to serve in the war, and so do I. A great expedition is
coming out from England, and in conjunction with a Colonial force it
will march against Fort Duquesne. The point to which that force
advances is bound to be the chief scene of action."
"And that, Dave, is where we want to go."
"With proper commissions in the army. We must maintain our dignity and
"Of course, Dave. And you, Tayoga, are you willing to go with us?"
"It is far from the vale of Onondaga," replied the young Indian, "but
I have already made the great journey to Quebec with my comrades,
Dagaeoga and the Great Bear. I am willing to see more of the world of
which I read in the books at Albany. If the fortunes of Dagaeoga take
him on another long circle I am ready to go with him."
"Spoken like a warrior, Tayoga," said the hunter. "I have some
influence, and if we join the army that is to march against Fort
Duquesne I'll see that you receive a place befitting your Onondaga
rank and your quality as a man."
"And so that is settled," said Robert. "We three stand together no
matter what may come."
"Stand together it is, no matter what may come," said Willet.
"We are, perhaps, as well in one place as in another," said Tayoga
philosophically, "because wherever we may be Manitou holds us in the
hollow of his hand."
A great gust of wind came with a shriek down one of the gorges, and
the snow was whipped into their faces, blinding them for a moment.
"It is good to be aboard a stout sloop in such a storm," said Robert,
as he wiped his eyes clear. "It would be hard to live up there on
those cliffs in all this driving white winter."
A deep rumbling sound came back from the mountains, and he felt a
chill that was not of the cold creep into his bones.
"It is the wind in the deep gorges," said Tayoga, "but the winds
themselves are spirits and the mountains too are spirits. On such a
wild night as this they play together and the rumbling you hear is
their voices joined in laughter."
Robert's vivid mind as usual responded at once to Tayoga's imagery,
and his fancy went as far as that of the Onondaga, and perhaps
farther. He filled the air with spirits. They lined the edge of the
driving white storm. They flitted through every cleft and gorge, and
above every ridge and peak. They were on the river, and they rode upon
the waves that were pursuing one another over its surface. Then he
laughed a little at himself.
"My fancy is seeing innumerable figures for me," he said, "where my
eyes really see none. No human being is likely to be abroad on the
river on such a night as this."
"And yet my own eyes tell me that I do see a human being," said
Tayoga, "one that is living and breathing, with warm blood running in
"A living, breathing man! where, Tayoga?"
"Look at the sloping cliff above us, there where the trees grow close
together. Notice the one with the boughs hanging low, and by the dark
trunk you will see the figure. It is a tall man with his hat drawn low
over his eyes, and a heavy cloak wrapped closely around his body."
"I see him now, Tayoga! What could a man want at such a place on such
a night? It must be a farmer out late, or perhaps a wandering hunter!"
"Nay, Dagaeoga, it is not a farmer, nor yet a wandering hunter. The
shoulders are set too squarely. The figure is too upright. And even
without these differences we would be sure that it is not the farmer,
nor yet the wandering hunter, because it is some one else whom we
"What do you mean, Tayoga?"
"Look! Look closely, Dagaeoga!"
"Now the wind drives aside the white veil of snow and I see him
better. His figure is surely familiar!"
"Aye, Dagaeoga, it is! And do you not know him?"
"St. Luc! As sure as we live, Tayoga, it's St. Luc."
"Yes," said the hunter, who had not spoken hitherto. "It's St. Luc,
and I could reach him from here with a rifle shot."
"But you must not! You must not fire upon him!" exclaimed Robert.
"I wasn't thinking of doing so," he said. "And now it's too
late. St. Luc has gone."
The dark figure vanished from beside the trunk, and Robert saw only
the lofty slope, and the whirling snow. He passed his hands before his
"Did we really see him?" he said.
"We beheld him alive and in the flesh," replied the hunter, "deep down
in His Britannic Majesty's province of New York."
"What could have brought him here at such a time?"
"The cause of France, no doubt. He speaks English as well as you and
I, and he is probably in civilian clothing, seeking information for
his country. I know something of St. Luc. He has in him a spice of the
daring and romantic. Luck and adventure would appeal to him. He
probably knows already what forces we have at Albany and Kingston and
what is their state of preparation. Valuable knowledge for Quebec,
"Do you think St. Luc will venture to New York?"
"Scarce likely, lad. He can obtain about all he wishes to know without
going so far south."
"I'm glad of that, Dave. I shouldn't want him to be captured and
hanged as a spy."
"Nor I, Robert. St. Luc is the kind of man who, if he falls at all in
this war, should fall sword in hand on the battle field. He must know
this region or he would not dare to come here, on such a terrible
night. He has probably gone now to shelter. And, since there is
nothing more to be seen we might do the same."
But Robert and Tayoga were not willing to withdraw yet. Well wrapped
and warm, they found a pleasure in the fierce storm that raged among
the mountains and over the river, and their own security on the deck
of the stout sloop, fastened so safely in the little cove. They
listened to the wind rumbling anew like thunder through the deep
gorges and clefts, and they saw the snow swept in vast curtains of
white over the wild river.
"I wonder what we shall find in New York, Tayoga," said Robert.
"We shall find many people, of many kinds, Dagaeoga, but what will
happen to us there Manitou alone knows. But he has us in his
keeping. Look how he watched over us in Quebec, and look how the sword
of the Great Bear was stretched before you when your enemies planned
to slay you."
"That's true, Tayoga. I don't look forward to New York with any
apprehension, but I do wonder what fate has prepared for us there."
"We must await it with calm," said Tayoga philosophically.
The Onondaga himself was not a stranger to New York. He had gone there
once with the chiefs of the Hodenosaunee for a grand council with the
British and provincial authorities, and he had gone twice with Robert
when they were schoolboys together in Albany. His enlightened mind,
without losing any of its dignity and calm, took a deep interest in
everything he saw at the port, through which the tide of nations
already flowed. He had much of the quality shown later by the fiery
Thayendanegea, who bore himself with the best in London and who was
their equal in manners, though the Onondaga, while as brave and daring
as the Mohawk, was gentler and more spiritual, being, in truth, what
his mind and circumstances had made him, a singular blend of red and
Willet, also wrapped in a long fur cloak, came from the cabin of the
sloop and looked at the two youths, each of whom had such a great
place in his heart. Both were white with snow as they stood on the
deck, but they did not seem to notice it.
"Come now," said the hunter with assumed brusqueness. "You needn't
stand here all night, looking at the river, the cliffs and the
storm. Off to your berths, both of you."
"Good advice, or rather command, Dave," said Robert, "and we'll obey
Their quarters were narrow, because sloops plying on the river in
those days were not large, but the three who slept so often in the
forest were not seekers after luxury. Robert undressed, crept into his
bunk, which was not over two feet wide, and slept soundly until
morning. After midnight the violence of the storm abated. It was still
snowing, but Captain Van Zouten unfurled his sails, made for the
middle of the river, and, when the sun came up over the eastern hills,
the sloop was tearing along at a great rate for New York.
So when Robert awoke and heard the groaning of timbers and the creak
of cordage he knew at once that they were under way and he was
glad. The events of the night before passed rapidly through his mind,
but they seemed vague and indistinct. At first he thought the vision
of St. Luc on the cliff in the storm was but a dream, and he had to
make an effort of the will to convince himself that it was
reality. But everything came back presently, as vivid as it had been
when it occurred, and rising he dressed and went on deck. Tayoga and
Willet were already there.
"Sluggard," said the Onondaga. "The French warships would capture you
while you are still in the land of dreams."
"We'll find no French warships in the Hudson," retorted Robert, "and
as for sluggards, how long have you been on deck yourself, Tayoga?"
"Two minutes, but much may happen in two minutes. Look, Dagaeoga, we
come now into a land of plenty. See, how many smokes rise on either
shore, and the smoke is not of camps, but of houses."
"It comes from strong Dutch farmhouses, and from English manor houses,
Tayoga. They nestle in the warm shelter of the hills or at the mouths
of the creeks. Surely, the world cannot furnish a nobler scene."
All the earth was pure white from the fallen snow, but the river
itself was a deep blue, reflected from the dazzling blue of the sky
overhead. The air, thin and cold, was exhilarating, and as the sloop
fled southward a panorama, increasing continually in magnificence,
unfolded before them. Other vessels appeared upon the river, and
Captain Van Zouten gave them friendly signals. Tiny villages showed
and the shores were an obvious manifestation of comfort and opulence.
"I have heard that the French, if their success continues, mean to
attack Albany," said Robert, "but we must stop them there, Dave. We
can never let them invade such a region as this."
"They'll invade it, nevertheless," said the hunter, "unless stout arms
and brave hearts stop them. We can drive both French and Indians back,
if we ever unite. There lies the trouble. We must get some sort of
"And New York is the best place to see whether it will be done or
"So it is."
The wind remained favorable all that day, the next night there was a
calm, but the following day they drew near to New York, Captain Van
Zouten assuring them he would make a landing before sunset.
He was well ahead of his promise, because the sun was high in the
heavens when the sloop began to pass the high, wooded hills that lie
at the upper end of Manhattan Island, and they drew in to their
anchorage near the Battery. They did not see the stone government
buildings that had marked Quebec, nor the numerous signs of a fortress
city, but they beheld more ships and more indications of a great