Part 4 out of 6
"Every time I come here," said Willet, "it seems to me that the masts
increase in number. Truly it is a good town, and an abundant life
flows through it."
"Where shall we stop, Dave?" asked Robert. "Do you have a tavern in
"Not a tavern," replied the hunter. "My mind's on a private house,
belonging to a friend of mine. You have not met him because he is at
sea or in foreign parts most of the time. Yet we are assured of a
An hour later they said farewell to Captain Van Zouten, carried their
own light baggage, and entered the streets of the port.
The three walked toward the Battery, and, while Tayoga attracted more
attention in New York than in Quebec, it was not undue. The city was
used to Indians, especially the Iroquois, and although comments were
made upon Tayoga's height and noble appearance there was nothing
Meanwhile the two youths were using their excellent eyes to the
full. Although the vivid imagination of Robert had foreseen a great
future for New York he did not dream how vast it would be. Yet all
things are relative, and the city even then looked large to him and
full of life, both size and activity having increased visibly since
his last visit. Some of the streets were paved, or at least in part,
and the houses, usually of red brick, often several stories in height,
were comfortable and strong. Many of them had lawns and gardens as at
Albany, and the best were planted with rows of trees which would
afford a fine shade in warm weather. Above the mercantile houses and
dwellings rose the lofty spire of St. George's Chapel in Nassau
Street, which had been completed less than three years before, and
which secured Robert's admiration for its height and impressiveness.
The aspect of the whole town was a mixture of English and Dutch, but
they saw many sailors who were of neither race. Some were brown men
with rings in their ears, and they spoke languages that Robert did not
understand. But he knew that they came from far southern seas and that
they sailed among the tropic isles, looming large then in the world's
fancy, bringing with them a whiff of romance and mystery.
The sidewalks in many places were covered with boxes and bales brought
from all parts of the earth, and stalwart men were at work among
them. The pulsing life and the air of prosperity pleased Robert. His
nature responded to the town, as it had responded to the woods, and
his imagination, leaping ahead, saw a city many times greater than the
one before his eyes, though it still stopped far short of the gigantic
reality that was to come to pass.
"It's not far now to Master Hardy's," said Willet cheerfully. "It's
many a day since I've seen trusty old Ben, and right glad I'll be to
feel the clasp of his hand again."
On his way Willet bought from a small boy in the street a copy each of
the _Weekly Post-Boy_ and of the _Weekly Gazette_ and _Mercury_,
folding them carefully and putting them in an inside pocket of his
"I am one to value the news sheets," he said. "They don't tell
everything, but they tell something and 'tis better to know something
than nothing. Just a bit farther, my lads, and we'll be at the steps
of honest Master Hardy. There, you can see where fortunes are made and
lost, though we're a bit too late to see the dealers!"
He pointed to the Royal Exchange, a building used by the merchants at
the foot of Broad Street, a structure very unique in its plan. It
consisted of an upper story resting upon arches, the lower part,
therefore, being entirely open. Beneath these arches the merchants met
and transacted business, and also in a room on the upper floor, where
there were, too, a coffee house and a great room used for banquets,
and the meetings of societies, the Royal Exchange being in truth the
beginning of many exchanges that now mark the financial center of the
"Perhaps we'll see the merchants there tomorrow," said Willet. "You'll
note the difference between New York and Quebec. The French capital
was all military. You saw soldiers everywhere, but this is a town of
merchants. Now which, think you, will prevail, the soldiers or the
"I think that in the end the merchants will win," replied Robert.
"And so do I. Now we have come to the home of Master Hardy. See you
the big brick house with high stone steps? Well, that is his, and I
repeat that he is a good friend of mine, a good friend of old and of
today. I heard that in Albany, which tells me we will find him here
in his own place."
But the big brick house looked to Robert and Tayoga like a fortress,
with its massive door and iron-barred windows, although friendly smoke
rose from a high chimney and made a warm line against the frosty blue
Willet walked briskly up the high stone steps and thundered on the
door with a heavy brass knocker. The summons was quickly answered and
the door swung back, revealing a tall, thin, elderly man, neatly
dressed in the fashion of the time. He had the manner of one who
served, although he did not seem to be a servant. Robert judged at
once that he was an upper clerk who lived in the house, after the
custom of the day.
"Is Master Benjamin within, Jonathan?" asked Willet.
The tall man blinked and then stared at the hunter in astonishment.
"Is it in very truth you, Master Willet?" he exclaimed.
"None other. Come, Jonathan, you know my voice and my face and my
figure very well. You could not fail to recognize me anywhere. So
cease your doubting. My young friends here are Robert Lennox, of whom
you know, and Tayoga, a coming chief of the Clan of the Bear, of the
nation Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, known to you
as the Six Nations. He's impatient of disposition and unless you
answer my question speedily I'll have him tomahawk you. Come now, is
Master Benjamin within?"
"He is, Mr. Willet. I had no intent to delay my answer, but you must
allow something to surprise."
"I grant you pardon," said the hunter whimsically. "Robert and
Tayoga, this is Master Jonathan Pillsbury, chief clerk and man of
affairs for Master Benjamin Hardy. They are two old bachelors who live
in the same house, and who get along well together, because they're so
unlike. As for Master Jonathan, his heart is not as sour as his face,
and you could come to a worse place than the shop of Benjamin and
Jonathan. Master Jonathan, you will take particular notice of
Mr. Lennox. He is well grown and he appears intelligent, does he not?"
The old clerk blinked again, and then his appraising eyes swept over
"'Twould be hard to find a nobler youth," he said.
"I thought you would say so, and now lead us, without further delay,
to Master Hardy."
"Who is it who demands to be led to me?" thundered a voice from the
rear of the house. "I seem to know that voice! Ah, it's Willet! Good
old Willet! Honest Dave, who wields the sharpest sword in North
A tall, heavy man lunged forward. "Lunged" was the word that described
it to Robert, and his impetuous motion was due to the sight of Willet,
whom he grasped by both hands, shaking them with a vigor that would
have caused pain in one less powerful than the hunter, and as he shook
them he uttered exclamations, many of them bordering upon oaths and
all of them pertaining to the sea.
Robert's eyes had grown used to the half light of the hall, and he
took particular notice of Master Benjamin Hardy who was destined to
become an important figure in his life, although he did not then dream
of it. He saw a tall man of middle age, built very powerfully, his
face burnt almost the color of an Indian's by the winds and suns of
many seas. But his hair was thick and long and the eyes shining in the
face, made dark by the weather, were an intensely bright blue. Robert,
upon whom impressions were so swift and vivid, reckoned that here was
one capable of great and fierce actions, and also with a heart that
contained a large measure of kindness and generosity.
"Dave," said the tall man, who carried with him the atmosphere of the
sea, "I feared that you might be dead in those forests you love so
well, killed and perhaps scalped by the Hurons or some other savage
tribe. You've abundant hair, Dave, and you'd furnish an uncommonly
"And I feared, Benjamin, that you'd been caught in some smuggling
cruise near the Spanish Main, and had been put out of the way by the
Dons. You love gain too much, Ben, old friend, and you court risks too
great for its sake."
Master Benjamin Hardy threw back his head and laughed deeply and
heartily. The laugh seemed to Robert to roll up spontaneously from his
throat. He felt anew that here was a man whom he liked.
"Perchance 'tis the danger that draws me on," said Master Hardy. "You
and I are much alike, Dave. In the woods, if all that I hear be true,
you dwell continually in the very shadow of danger, while I incur it
only at times. Moreover, I am come to the age of fifty years, the head
is still on my shoulders, the breath is still in my body, and Master
Jonathan, to whom figures are Biblical, says the balance on my books
"You talk o'er much, Ben, old friend, but since it's the way of
seafaring men and 'tis cheerful it does not vex my ears. You behold
with me, Tayoga, a youth of the best blood of the Onondaga nation, one
to whom you will be polite if you wish to please me, Benjamin, and
Master Robert Lennox, grown perhaps beyond your expectations."
Master Benjamin turned to Robert, and, as Master Jonathan had done,
measured him from head to foot with those intensely bright blue eyes
of his that missed nothing.
"Grown greatly and grown well," he said, "but not beyond my
expectations. In truth, one could predict a noble bough upon such a
stem. But you and I, Dave, having many years, grow garrulous and
forget the impatience of youth. Come, lads, we'll go into the
drawing-room and, as supper was to have been served in half an hour,
I'll have the portions doubled."
"In Albany and New York alike," he said, "they welcome us to the
"Which is the utmost test of hospitality," said Master Benjamin.
They went into a great drawing-room, the barred windows of which
looked out upon a busy street, warehouses and counting houses and
passing sailors. Robert was conscious all the while that the brilliant
blue eyes were examining him minutely. His old wonder about his
parentage, lost for a while in the press of war and exciting events,
returned. He felt intuitively that Master Hardy, like Willet, knew who
and what he was, and he also felt with the same force that neither
would reply to any question of his on the subject. So he kept his
peace and by and by his curiosity, as it always did, disappeared
before immediate affairs.
The drawing-room was a noble apartment, with dark oaken beams, a
polished oaken floor, upon which eastern rugs were spread, and heavy
tables of foreign woods. A small model of a sloop rested upon one
table and a model of a schooner on another. Here and there were great
curving shells with interiors of pink and white, and upon the walls
were curious long, crooked knives of the Malay Islands. Everything
savored of the sea. Again Robert's imagination leaped up. The blazing
hues of distant tropic lands were in his eyes, and the odors of
strange fruits and flowers were in his nostrils.
"Sit down, Dave," said Master Benjamin, "and you, too, Robert and
Tayoga. I suppose you did not come to New Amsterdam--how the name
clings!--merely to see me."
"That was one purpose, Benjamin," replied Willet, "but we had others
in mind too."
"To join the war, I surmise, and to get yourselves killed?"
"The first part of your reckoning is true, Benjamin, but not the
second. We would go to the war, in which we have had some part
already, but not in order that we may be killed."
"You suffer from the common weakness. One entering war always thinks
that it's the other man and not he who will be killed. You're too old
for that, David."
"No, Benjamin," he said, "I'm not too old for it, and I never will
be. It's the belief that carries us all through danger."
"Which way did you think of going in these warlike operations?"
"We shall join the force that comes out from England."
"The one that will march against Fort Duquesne?"
"I hear that it's to be commanded by a general named Braddock, Edward
Braddock. What do you know of him?"
"But you do know, David, that regular army officers fare ill in the
woods as a rule. You've told me often that the savages are a tricky
lot, and, fighting in the forest in their own way, are hard to beat."
"You speak truth, Benjamin, and I'll not deny it, but there are many
of our men in the woods who know the ways of the Indians and of the
French foresters. They should be the eyes and ears of General
"Well, maybe! maybe! David, but enough of war for the present. One
cannot talk about it forever. There are other things under the
sun. You will let these lads see New Amsterdam, will you not? Even
Tayoga can find something worth his notice in the greatest port of the
"Is any play being given here?" asked Robert.
"Aye, we're having plays almost nightly," replied Master Hardy, "and
they're being presented by some very good actors, too. Lewis Hallam,
who came several years ago from Goodman's Fields Theater in England,
and his wife, known on the stage as Mrs. Douglas, are offering the
best English plays in New York. Hallam is said to be extremely fine
in Richard III, in which tragedy he first appeared here, and he gives
it tomorrow night."
"Then we're going," said Robert eagerly. "I would not miss it for
"I had some thought of going myself, and if Dave hasn't changed, he
has a fine taste for the stage. I'll send for seats and we'll go
Willet's eyes sparkled.
"In truth I'll go, too, and right gladly," he said. "You and I,
Benjamin, have seen the plays of Master Shakespeare together in
London, and 'twill please me mightily to see one of them again with
you in New York. Jonathan, here, will be of our company, too, will he
Master Pillsbury pursed his lips and his expression became severe.
"'Tis a frivolous way of passing the time," he said, "but it would be
well for one of serious mind to be present in order that he might
impose a proper dignity upon those who lack it."
Benjamin Hardy burst into a roar of laughter. Robert had never known
any one else to laugh so deeply and with such obvious spontaneity and
enjoyment. His lips curled up at each end, his eyes rolled back and
then fairly danced with mirth, and his cheeks shook. It was
contagious. Not only did Master Benjamin laugh, but the others had to
laugh, not excluding Master Jonathan, who emitted a dry cackle as
became one of his habit and appearance.
"Do you know, Dave, old friend," said Hardy, "that our good Jonathan
is really the most wicked of us all? I go upon the sea on these
cruises, which you call smuggling, and what not, and of which he
speaks censoriously, but if they do not show a large enough profit on
his books he rates me most severely, and charges me with a lack of
enterprise. And now he would fain go to the play to see that we
observe the proper decorum there. My lads, you couldn't keep the
sour-visaged old hypocrite from it."
Master Jonathan permitted himself a vinegary smile, but made no other
reply, and, a Dutch serving girl announcing that supper was ready,
Master Hardy led them into the dining-room, where a generous repast
was spread. But the room itself continued and accentuated the likeness
of a ship. The windows were great portholes, and two large swinging
lamps furnished the light. Pictures of naval worthies and of sea
actions lined the walls. Two or three of the battle scenes were quite
spirited, and Robert regarded them with interest.
"Have you fought in any of those encounters, Mr. Hardy?" he asked.
Willet laid a reproving hand upon his shoulder.
"'Twas a natural question of yours, Robert," he said, "but 'tis the
fashion here and 'tis courtesy, too, never to ask Benjamin about his
past life. Then he has no embarrassing questions to answer."
Robert reddened and Hardy broke again into that deep, spontaneous
laughter which, in time, compelled all the others to laugh too and
with genuine enjoyment.
"Don't believe all that David tells you, Robert, my brave macaroni,"
he said. "I may not answer your questions, but faith they'll never
prove embarrassing. Bear in mind, lad, that our trade being
restricted by the mother country and English subjects in this land not
having the same freedom as English subjects in England, we must resort
to secrecy and stratagem to obtain what our fellow subjects on the
other side of the ocean may obtain openly. And when you grow older,
Master Robert, you will find that it's ever so in the world. Those to
whom force bars the way will resort to wiles and stratagems to achieve
their ends. The fox has the cunning that the bear lacks, because he
hasn't the bear's strength. Lads, you two will sit together on this
side of the table, Jonathan, you take the side next to the portholes,
and David, you and I will preside at the ends. Benjamin, David and
Jonathan, it has quite a Biblical sound, and at least the friendship
among the three of us, despite the sourness of Master Pillsbury, with
which I bear as best I can, is equal to that of David and
Jonathan. Now, lads, fall on and see which of you can keep pace with
me, for I am a mighty trencherman."
"Meanwhile tell us what is passing here," said Willet.
In the course of the supper Hardy talked freely of events in New York,
where a great division of councils still prevailed. Shirley, the
warlike and energetic governor of Massachusetts, had urged De Lancy,
the governor of New York, to join in an expedition against the French
in Canada, but there had been no agreement. Later, a number of the
royal governors expected to meet at Williamsburg in Virginia with
Dinwiddie, the governor of that province.
"At present there are plans for four enterprises, every one of an
aspiring nature," he said. "One expedition is to reduce Nova Scotia
entirely, another, under Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, is to
attack the French at Fort Niagara, Sir William Johnson with militia
and Mohawks is to head a third against Crown Point. The fourth, which
I take to be the most important, is to be led by General Braddock
against Fort Duquesne, its object being the recovery of the Ohio
country. I cannot vouch for it, but such plans, I hear, will be
presented at the conference of the governors at Williamsburg."
"As we mean to go to Williamsburg ourselves," said Willet, "we'll see
what fortune General Braddock may have. But now, for the sake of the
good lads, we'll speak of lighter subjects. Where is the play of
Richard III to be given, Benjamin?"
"Mr. Hallam has obtained a great room in a house that is the property
of Rip Van Dam in Nassau Street. He has fitted it up in the fashion
of a stage, and his plays are always attended by a great concourse of
ladies and gentlemen. Boston and Philadelphia say New York is light
and frivolous, but I suspect that something of jealousy lies at the
core of the charge. We of New Amsterdam--again the name leaps to my
lips--have a certain freedom in our outlook upon life, a freedom which
I think produces strength and not weakness. Manners are not morals,
but I grow heavy and it does not become a seafaring man to be
didactic. What is it, Piet?"
The door of the dining-room opened, admitting a serving man who
produced a letter.
"It comes by the Boston post," he said, handing it to Master Hardy.
"Then it must have an importance which will not admit delay in the
reading," said Master Hardy. "Your pardon, friends, while I peruse
He read it carefully, read it again with the same care, and then his
resonant laughter boomed forth with such volume and in such continuity
that he was compelled to take a huge red handkerchief and wipe the
tears from his eyes.
"What is it, Benjamin, that amuses you so vastly?" asked Willet.
"A brave epistle from one of my captains, James Dunbar, a valiant man
and a great mariner. In command of the schooner, _Good Hope_, he was
sailing from the Barbados with a cargo of rum and sugar for Boston,
which furnishes a most excellent market for both, when he was
overhauled by the French privateer, _Rocroi_."
"What do you find to laugh at in the loss of a good ship and a fine
"Did I say they were lost? Nay, David, I said nothing of the kind. You
don't know Dunbar, and you don't know the _Good Hope_, which carries a
brass twelve-pounder and fifteen men as valiant as Dunbar himself. He
returned the attack of the _Rocroi_ with such amazing skill and
fierceness that he was able to board her and take her, with only three
of his men wounded and they not badly. Moreover, they found on board
the privateer a large store of gold, which becomes our prize of
war. And Dunbar and his men shall have a fair share of it, too. How
surprised the Frenchies must have been when Dunbar and his sailors
"'Tis almost our only victory," said Willet, "and I'm right glad,
Benjamin, it has fallen to the lot of one of your ships to win it."
The long supper which was in truth a dinner was finished at
last. Hardy made good his boast, proving that he was a mighty
trencherman. Pillsbury pressed him closest, and the others, although
they did well, lingered at some distance in the rear. Afterward they
walked in the town, observing its varied life, and at a late hour
returned to Hardy's house which he called a mansion.
Robert and Tayoga were assigned to a room on the second floor, and
young Lennox again noted the numerous evidences of opulence. The
furniture was mostly of carved mahogany, and every room contained
articles of value from distant lands.
"Tayoga," said Robert, "what do you think of it all?"
"I think that the man Hardy is shrewd, Dagaeoga, shrewd like one of
our sachems, and that he has an interest in you, greater than he would
let you see. Do you remember him, Lennox?"
"No, I can't recall him, Tayoga. I've heard Dave speak of him many
times, but whenever we were in New York before he was away, and we did
not even come to his house. But he and Dave are friends of many
years. I think that long ago they must have been much together."
"Truly there is some mystery here, but it can wait. In its proper
time the unknown becomes the known."
"So it does, Tayoga, and I shall not vex my mind about the
matter. Just now, what I wish most of all is sleep."
"I wish it too, Lennox."
But Robert did not sleep well, his nerves being attuned more highly
than he had realized. Some of the talk that had passed between Willet
and Hardy related obviously to himself, and in the quiet of the room
it came back to him. He had not slept more than an hour when he awoke,
and, being unable to go to sleep again, sat up in bed. Tayoga was deep
in slumber, and Robert finally left the bed and went to the window,
the shutter of which was not closed. It was a curious, round window,
like a huge porthole, but the glass was clear and he had a good view
of the street. He saw one or two sailors swaying rather more than the
customary motion of a ship, pass by, and then a watchman carrying a
club in one hand and a lantern in the other, and blowing his frosty
breath upon his thick brown beard, indicating that the night although
bright was very cold.
He looked through the glass at least a half hour, and then turned back
to the bed, but found himself less inclined than ever to
sleep. Throwing his coat over his shoulders, he opened the unlocked
door and went into the hall, intending to walk back and forth a
little, believing that the easy exercise would induce desire for
He was surprised to find a thread of light in the dusk of the hall, at
a time when he was quite sure everybody in the house except himself
was buried in slumber, and when he traced it he found it came from
another room farther down. It was, upon the instant, his belief that
robbers had entered. In a port like New York, where all nations come,
there must be reckless and desperate men who would hesitate at no risk
He moved cautiously along the hall, until he reached the door from
which the light shone. It was open about six inches, not allowing a
look into the room except at the imminent risk of discovery, but by
placing his ear at the sill he would be able to hear the footsteps of
men if they were moving within. The sound of voices instead came to
him, and as he listened he was able to note that it was two men
talking in low tones. Undoubtedly they were robbers, who were common
in all great towns in those days, and this must be a chamber in which
Master Hardy kept many valuables. Doubtless they were assured that
everybody was deep in slumber, or they would be more cautious.
Driven by an intense curiosity, Robert edged his head a little farther
forward, and was able to look into the room, where, to his intense
amazement, he saw no robbers at all, but Willet and Master Hardy
seated at a small table opposite each other, with a candle, account
books and papers between. Hardy had been reading a paper, and stopping
at intervals to talk about it with the hunter.
"As you see, David," he said, "the list of the ships is three larger
than it was five years ago. One was lost to the Barbary corsairs,
another was wrecked on the coast of the Brazils, but we have five new
"You have done well, Benjamin, but I knew you would," said the hunter.
"With the help of Jonathan. Don't forget him, David. In name he is my
head clerk, and he pretends to serve me, but at times I think he is my
master. A shrewd Massachusetts man, David, uncommonly shrewd, and
"And the lands, Benjamin?"
"They're in abeyance, and are likely to be for some years, their title
depending upon the course of events which are now in train."
"And they're uncertain, Benjamin, as uncertain as the winds. But give
me your honest opinion of the lad, Benjamin. Have I done well with
"None could have done better. He's an eagle, David. I marked him
well. Spirit, imagination, force; youth and honesty looking out of his
eyes. But have you no fears, David, that you will get him killed in
"I could not keep him from going to them if I would, Benjamin. There
my power stops. You old sailors have superstitions or beliefs, and I,
a landsman, have a conviction, too. The invisible prophets tell me
that he will not be killed."
"I don't laugh at such things, David. The greatness and loneliness of
the sea does breed superstition in mariners. I know there is no such
thing as the supernatural, and yet I am swayed at times by the
"At least I will watch over him as best I can, and he has uncommon
skill in taking care of himself."
Robert's will triumphed over a curiosity that was intense and burning,
and he turned away. He knew they were speaking of him, and he seemed
to be connected with great affairs. It was enough to stir the most
apathetic youth, and he was just the opposite. It required the utmost
exertion of a very strong mind to pull himself from the door and then
to drag his unwilling feet along the hall. Matter was in complete
rebellion and mind was compelled to win its triumph, unaided, but win
it did and kept the victory.
He reached his own room and softly closed the door behind him. Tayoga
was still sleeping soundly. Robert went again to the window. His eyes
were turned toward the street, but he did not see anything there,
because he was looking inward. The talk of Willet and Hardy came back
to him. He could say it over, every word, and none could deny that it
was charged with significance. But he knew intuitively that neither of
them would answer a single one of his questions, and he must wait for
time and circumstance to disclose the truth. Nor could he bear to tell
them that he had been listening at the door, despite the fact that it
had been brought about by accident, and that he had come away, when he
might have heard more.
Having resigned himself to necessity, he went back to bed and now,
youth triumphing over excitement, he soon slept. The next morning,
directly after breakfast, the three elders and the two lads went to
the Royal Exchange, where there was soon a great concourse of
merchants, clerks and seafaring men. Master Hardy was received with
great respect, and many congratulations were given to him, when he
told the story of the _Good Hope_ and Captain Dunbar. In one of the
rooms above the pillars he met another captain of his who had arrived
the day before at New York itself.
This captain, a New England man, Eliphalet Simmons, had brought his
schooner from the Mediterranean, and he told in a manner as brief and
dry as his own log how he had outsailed one Barbary corsair by day,
and by changing his course had tricked another in the night. But the
voyage had been most profitable, and Master Jonathan duly entered the
amount of gain in an account book, with a reward of ten pounds to
Captain Simmons, five pounds to the first mate, three pounds to the
second mate, and one pound to every member of the crew for their
bravery and seamanship.
Captain Simmons' thanks were as brief and dry as his report, but
Robert saw his eyes glisten, and knew that he was not lacking in
gratitude. After the business was settled and the rewards adjusted
they adjourned to a coffee house near Hanover Square where very good
Madeira was brought and served to the men, Robert and Tayoga
declining. Then Benjamin, David and Jonathan drank to the health of
Eliphalet, while the two lads, the white and the red, devoted their
attention to the others in the coffee house, of whom there were at
least a dozen.
One who sat at a table very near was already examining Tayoga with the
greatest curiosity. He wore the uniform of an English second
lieutenant, very trim, and very red, he had an exceeding ruddiness of
countenance, he was tall and well built, and he was only a year or two
older than Robert. His curiosity obviously had been aroused by the
appearance of Tayoga in the full costume of an Iroquois. It was
equally evident to Robert that he was an Englishman, a member of the
royal forces then in New York. Americans still called themselves
Englishmen and Robert instantly had a feeling of kinship for the young
officer who had a frank and good face.
The English youth's hat was lying upon the table beside him, and a
gust of wind blowing it upon the floor, rolled it toward Robert, who
picked it up and tendered it to its owner.
"Thanks," said the officer. "'Twas careless of me."
"By no means," said Robert. "The wind blows when it pleases, and you
were taken by surprise."
The Englishman smiled, showing very white and even teeth.
"I haven't been very long in New York," he said, "but I find it a
polite and vastly interesting town. My name is Grosvenor, Alfred
Grosvenor, and I'm a second lieutenant in the regiment of Colonel
Brandon, that arrived but recently from England."
Master Hardy looked up and passed an investigating eye over the young
"You're related to one of the ducal families of England," he said,
"but your own immediate branch of it has no overplus of wealth. Still,
your blood is reckoned highly noble in England, and you have an
excellent standing in your regiment, both as an officer and a man."
Young Grosvenor's ruddy face became ruddier.
"How do you happen to know so much about me?" he asked. But there was
no offense in his tone.
Hardy smiled, and Pillsbury, pursing his thin lips, measured Grosvenor
with his eyes.
"I make it my business," replied Hardy, "to discover who the people
are who come to New York. I'm a seafaring man and a merchant and I
find profit in it. It's true, in especial, since the war has begun,
and New York begins to fill with the military. Many of these sprightly
young officers will be wishing to borrow money from me before long,
and it will be well for me to know their prospects of repayment."
The twinkle in his eye belied the irony of his words, and the
"And since you're alone," continued the merchant, "we ask you to join
us, and will be happy if you accept. This is Mr. Robert Lennox, of
very good blood too, and this is Tayoga, of the Clan of the Bear, of
the nation Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, who,
among his own people has a rank corresponding to a prince of the blood
among yours, and who, if you value such things, is entitled therefore
to precedence over all of us, including yourself. Mr. David Willet,
Mr. Jonathan Pillsbury and Mr. Benjamin Hardy, who is myself,
complete the catalogue."
He spoke in a tone half whimsical, half earnest, but the young
Englishman, who evidently had a friendly and inquiring mind, received
it in the best spirit and gladly joined them. He was soon deep in the
conversation, but his greatest interest was for Tayoga, from whom he
could seldom take his eyes. It was evident to Robert that he had
expected to find only a savage in an Indian, and the delicate manners
and perfect English of the Onondaga filled him with surprise.
"I would fain confess," he said at length, "that America is not what I
expected to find. I did not know that it contained princes who could
put some of our own to shame."
He bowed to Tayoga, who smiled and replied:
"What small merit I may possess is due to the training of my people."
"Do you expect early service, Lieutenant Grosvenor?" Mr. Hardy asked.
"Not immediate--I think I may say so much," replied the Englishman,
"but I understand that our regiment will be with the first force that
takes the field, that of General Braddock. 'Tis well known that we
intend to march against Fort Duquesne, an expedition that should be
easy. A powerful army like General Braddock's can brush aside any
number of forest rovers."
Robert and Willet exchanged glances, but the face of Tayoga remained a
"It's not well to take the French and Indians too lightly," said
Mr. Hardy with gravity.
"But wandering bands can't face cannon and the bayonet."
"They don't have to face 'em. They lie hid on your flank and cut you
down, while your fire and steel waste themselves on the uncomplaining
They were words which were destined to come back to Robert some day
with extraordinary force, but for the present they were a mere
generalization that did not stay long in his mind.
"Our leaders will take all the needful precautions," said young
Grosvenor with confidence.
Mr. Hardy did not insist, but spoke of the play they expected to
witness that evening, suggesting to Lieutenant Grosvenor if he had
leave, that he go with them, an invitation that was accepted promptly
and with warmth. The liking between him and Robert, while of sudden
birth, was destined to be strong and permanent. There was much
similarity of temperament. Grosvenor also was imaginative and
curious. His mind invariably projected itself into the future, and he
was eager to know. He had come to America, inquiring, without
prejudices, wishing to find the good rather than the bad, and he
esteemed it a great stroke of fortune that he should make so early the
acquaintance of two such remarkable youths as Robert and Tayoga. The
three men with them were scarcely less interesting, and he knew that
in their company at the play they would talk to him of strange new
things. He would be exploring a world hidden from him hitherto, and
nothing could have appealed to him more.
"You landed a week ago," said Hardy.
"Truly, sir," laughed Grosvenor, "you seem to know not only who I am,
but what I do."
"And then, as you've had a certain amount of military duty, although
'tis not excessive, you've had little chance to see this most
important town of ours. Can you not join this company of mine at my
house for supper, and then we'll all go together to the play? I'll
obtain your seat for you."
"With great pleasure, sir," replied Grosvenor. "'Twill be easy for me
to secure the needed leave, and I'll be at your house with
He departed presently for his quarters, and the three men also went
away together on an errand of business, leaving Robert and Tayoga to
go whithersoever they pleased and it pleased them to wander along the
shores of the port. Young Lennox was impressed more than ever by the
great quantity of shipping, and the extreme activity of the town. The
war with France, so far from interfering with this activity, had but
Privateering was a great pursuit of the day, all nations deeming it
legal and worthy in war, and bold and enterprising merchants like
Mr. Hardy never failed to take advantage of it. The weekly news sheets
that Willet had bought contained lists of vessels captured already,
and Robert's hasty glances showed him that at least sixty or seventy
had been taken by the privateers out of New York. Most of the prizes
had been in the West India trade, although some had been captured far
away near the coast of Africa, and nearly all had been loaded richly.
They saw several of the privateers in port, armed powerfully, and as
they were usually built for speed, Robert admired their graceful
lines. He felt anew the difference between military Quebec and
commercial New York. Quebec was prepared to send forth forces for
destruction, but, here, life-giving commerce flowed in and flowed out
again through arteries continually increasing in number and
power. Once again came to him the thought that the merchant more than
the soldier was the builder of a great nation. The impression made
upon him was all the more vivid because New York, even in the middle
of the eighteenth century, when it was in its infancy, surprised even
travelers from Europe with its manifold activities and intense energy.
After a day, long but of extraordinary interest, they returned to the
house of Mr. Hardy, where Grosvenor joined them in half an hour, and
then, after another abundant supper, they all went to the play.
They were all arrayed in their very best clothes, even Master Jonathan
having powdered his hair, and tied it in an uncommonly neat queue,
while his buckled shoes, stockings and small clothes, though of
somewhat ancient fashion, were of fine quality. Mr. Hardy gazed at him
"Jonathan," he said, "you are usually somewhat sour of visage, but
upon occasion you can ruffle it with the best macaroni of them all."
Master Jonathan pursed his lips, and smiled with satisfaction. All of
them, in truth, presented a most gallant appearance, but by far the
most noticeable figure was that of Tayoga. Indians often appeared in
New York, but such Indians as the young Onondaga were rare
anywhere. He rose half a head above the ordinary man, and he wore the
costume of a chief of the mighty League of the Hondenosaunee, the
feathers in his lofty headdress blowing back defiantly with the
wind. He attracted universal, and at the same time respectful,
They were preceded by a stout link boy who bore aloft a blazing torch,
and as they walked toward the building in Nassau Street, owned by Rip
Van Dam, in which the play was to be given, they overtook others who
were upon the same errand. A carriage drawn by two large white horses
conveyed Governor de Lancey and his wife, and another very much like
it bore his brother-in-law, the conspicuous John Watts, and
Mrs. Watts. All of them saw Mr. Hardy and his party and bowed to them
with great politeness. Robert already understood enough of the world
to know that it denoted much importance on the part of the merchant.
"A man of influence in our community," said Master Benjamin, speaking
of Mr. Watts. "An uncommonly clear mind and much firmness and
decision. He will leave a great name in New York."
As he spoke they overtook a tall youth about twenty-three years old,
walking alone, and dressed in the very latest fashion out of
England. Mr. Hardy hailed him with great satisfaction and asked him to
"Master Edward Charteris,[A] who is soon to become a member of the
Royal Americans," he said to the others. "He is a native of this town
and belongs to one of our best families here. When he does become a
Royal American he will probably have the finest uniform in his
regiment, because Edward sets the styles in raiment for young men of
his age here."
[Footnote A: The story of Edward Charteris, and his adventures at
Ticonderoga and Quebec are told in the author's novel, "A Soldier of
Charteris smiled. It was evident that he and the older man were on the
most friendly footing. But he held himself with dignity and had pride,
qualities which Robert liked in him. His manner was most excellent
too, when Mr. Hardy introduced all of his party in turn, and he
readily joined them, speaking of his pleasure in doing so.
"I shall be able to exchange my seat and obtain one with you," he
said. "We shall be early, but I am glad of it. Mr. Hallam and his fine
company have been performing in Philadelphia, and as we now welcome
them back to New York, nearly all the notable people of our city will
be present. Unless Mr. Hardy wishes to do so, it will give me pleasure
to point them out to you."
"No, no!" exclaimed Master Benjamin. "The task is yours, Edward, my
lad. You can put more savor and unction into it than I can."
"Then let it be understood that I'm the guide and expounder," laughed
"He has a great pride in his city, and it won't suffer from his
telling," said Master Benjamin.
They were now in Nassau Street near the improvised theater, and many
other link boys, holding aloft their torches, were preceding their
masters and mistresses. Heavy coaches were rolling up, and men and
women in gorgeous costumes were emerging from them. The display of
wealth was amazing for a town in the New World, but Mr. Hardy and his
company quickly went inside and obtained their seats, from which they
watched the fashion of New York enter. Charteris knew them all, and
to many of them he was related.
The number of De Lanceys was surprising and there was also a profusion
of Livingstons, the two families between them seeming to dominate the
city, although they lived in bitter rivalry, as Charteris whispered to
Robert. There were also Wattses and Morrises and Crugers and Waltons
and Van Rensselaers, Van Cortlandts and Kennedys and Barclays and
Nicolls and Alexanders, and numerous others that endured for
generations in New York. The diverse origin of these names, English,
Scotch, Dutch and Huguenot French, showed even at such an early date
the cosmopolitan nature of New York that it was destined to maintain.
Robert was intensely interested. Charteris' fund of information was
wonderful, and he flavored it with a salt of his own. He not only knew
the people, but he knew all about them, their personal idiosyncrasies,
their rivalries and jealousies. Robert soon gathered that New York was
not only a seething city commercially, but socially as well. Family
was of extreme importance, and the great landed proprietors who had
received extensive grants along the Hudson in the earlier days from
the Dutch Government, still had and exercised feudal rights, and were
as full of pride and haughtiness as ducal families in Europe. Class
distinctions were preserved to the utmost possible extent, and, while
the original basis of the town had been Dutch, the fashion was now
distinctly English. London set the style for everything.
When they were all seated, the display of fine dress and jewels was
extraordinary, just as the wealth and splendor shown in some of the
New York houses had already attracted the astonished attention of many
of the British officers, to whom the finest places in their own
country were familiar.
And while Robert was looking so eagerly, the party to which he
belonged did not pass unnoticed by any means. Master Benjamin Hardy
was well known. He was bold and successful and he was a man of great
substance. He had qualities that commanded respect in colonial New
York, and people were not averse to being seen receiving his friendly
nod. And those who surrounded him and who were evidently his guests
were worthy of notice too. There was Edward Charteris, as well born as
any in the hall, and a pattern in manners and dress for the young men
of New York, and there was the tall youth with the tanned face, and
the wonderful, vivid eyes, who must surely, by his appearance, be the
representative of some noble family, there was the young Indian chief,
uncommon in height and with the dignity and majesty of the forest, an
Indian whose like had never been seen in New York before, and there
was the gigantic Willet, whose massive head and calm face were so
redolent of strength. Beyond all question it was a most unusual and
striking company that Master Benjamin Hardy had brought with him, and
old and young whispered together as they looked at them, especially at
Robert and Tayoga.
Mr. Hardy was conscious of the stir he had made, and he liked it, not
for himself alone, but also for another. He glanced at Robert and saw
how finely and clearly his features were cut, how clear was the blue
of his eyes and the great width between them, and he drew a long
breath of satisfaction.
"'Tis a good youth. Nature, lineage and Willet have done well," he
said to himself.
More of the fashion of New York came in and then a group of British
officers, several of whom nodded to Grosvenor.
"The tall man with the gray hair at the temples is my colonel,
Brandon," he said. "Very strict, but just to his men, and we like
him. He spent some years in the service of the East India Company, in
one of the hottest parts of the peninsula. That's why he's so brown,
and it made his blood thin, too. He can't endure cold. The officer
with him is one of our majors, Apthorpe. He has had less experience
than the colonel, but thinks he knows more. His opinion of the French
is very poor. Believes we ought to brush 'em aside with ease."
"I hope you don't think that way, Grosvenor," said Robert. "We in this
country know that the French is one of the most valiant races the
world has produced."
"And so do most thinking Englishmen. The only victories we boast much
about are those we have won over the French, which shows that we
consider them foes worthy of anybody's steel. But the play is going to
begin, I believe. The hall is well filled now, and I'm not trying to
make an appeal to your local pride, Lennox, when I tell you 'tis an
audience that will compare well with one at Drury Lane or Covent
Garden for splendor, and for variety 'twill excel it."
Robert was pleased secretly. Although more identified with Albany than
New York, he considered himself nevertheless one of the people who
belonged to the city at the mouth of the Hudson, and he felt already
its coming greatness.
"We call ourselves Englishmen," he said modestly, "and we hope to
achieve as much as the older Englishmen, our brethren across the
"Have you seen many plays, Lennox?"
"But few, and none by great actors like Mr. Hallam and Mrs. Douglas. I
suppose, Grosvenor, you've seen so many that they're no novelty to
"I can scarcely lay claim to being such a man about town as that. I
have seen plays, of course, and some by the great Master Will, and I
do confess that the mock life I behold beyond the footlights often
thrills me more than the real life I see this side of them. Once, I
witnessed this play 'Richard III,' which we are now about to see, and
it stirred me so I could scarce contain myself, though some do say
that our Shakespeare has made the hunchback king blacker than he
Presently a little bell rang, the curtain rolled up, and Robert passed
into an enchanted land. To vivid and imaginative youth the great style
and action of Shakespeare make an irresistible appeal. Robert had
never seen one of the mighty bard's plays before, and now he was in
another world of romance and tragedy, suffused with poetry and he was
held completely by the spell. Shakespeare may have blackened the
character of the hunchback, but Robert believed him absolutely. To
him Richard was exactly what the play made him.
Although the stage was but a temporary one, built in the hall of Rip
Van Dam, it was large, the seating capacity was great and Hallam and
his wife were among the best actors of their day, destined to a long
career as stars in the colonies, and also afterward, when they ceased
to be colonies. They and an able support soon took the whole audience
captive, and all, fashionable and unfashionable alike, hung with
breathless attention upon the play. Robert forgot absolutely
everything around him, Willet was carried back to days of his youth,
and Master Benjamin Hardy, who at heart was a lover of adventure and
romance, responded to the great speeches the author has written for
his characters. Tayoga did not stir, his face of bronze was unmoved,
but now and then his dark eyes gleamed.
In reality the influence of the tragedy upon Tayoga was as great as it
was upon Robert. The Onondaga had an unusual mind and being sent at an
early age to school at Albany he had learned that the difference
between white man and red was due chiefly to environment. Their hopes
and fears, their rivalries and ambitions were, in truth, about the
same. He had seen in some chief a soul much like that of humpbacked
Richard, but, as he looked and listened, he also had a certain feeling
of superiority. As he saw it, the great League, the Hodenosaunee, was
governed better than England when York and Lancaster were tearing it
to pieces. The fifty old sachems in the vale of Onondaga would decide
more wisely and more justly than the English nobles. Tayoga, in that
moment, was prouder than ever that he was born a member of the Clan of
the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, and doubtless his patron saint,
Tododaho, in his home on the great, shining star, agreed with him.
The first act closed amid great applause, several recalls of smiling
and bowing actors followed, and then, during the wait, came a great
buzz of talk. Robert shook himself and returned to the world.
"What do you like best about it, Lennox?" asked Grosvenor.
"The poetry. The things the people say. Things I've thought often
myself, but which I haven't been able to put in a way that makes them
strike upon you like a lightning flash."
"I think that describes Master Will. In truth, you've given me a
description for my own feelings. Once more I repeat to you, Lennox,
that 'tis a fine audience. I see here much British and Dutch wealth,
and people whose lives have been a continuous drama."
"Truly it's so," said Robert, and, as his examining eye swept the
crowd, he almost rose in his seat with astonishment, with difficulty
suppressing a cry. Then he charged himself with being a fool. It could
not be so! The thing was incredible! The man might look like him, but
surely he would not be so reckless as to come to such a place.
Then he looked again, and he could no longer doubt. The stranger sat
near the door and his dress was much like that of a prosperous
seafaring man of the Dutch race. But Robert knew the blue eyes, lofty
and questing like those of the eagle, and he was sure that the reddish
beard had grown on a face other than the one it now adorned. It was
St. Luc, whom he knew to be romantic, adventurous, and ready for any
Robert moved his body forward a little, in order that it might be
directly between Tayoga and the Frenchman, it being his first impulse
to shelter St. Luc from the next person who was likely to recognize
him. But the Onondaga was not looking in that direction. The young
English officer, moved by his intense interest, had engaged him in
conversation continually, surprised that Tayoga should know so much
about the white race and history.
Robert looked so long at St. Luc, and with such a fixed and powerful
gaze, that at last the chevalier turned and their eyes met. Robert's
"Why are you here? Your life is in danger every moment. If caught you
will be executed as a spy."
"I'm not afraid," replied the eyes of St. Luc. "You alone have seen me
as I am."
"But others will see you."
"I think not."
"How do you know that I will not proclaim at once who you are?"
"You will not because you do not wish to see me hanged or shot."
Then the eyes of St. Luc left Robert and wandered ever the audience,
which was now deeply engrossed in talk, although the Livingstons and
the De Lanceys kept zealously away from one another, and the families
who were closely allied with them by blood, politics or business also,
stayed near their chiefs. Robert began to fancy that he might have
been mistaken, it was not really St. Luc, he had allowed an imaginary
resemblance to impose upon him, but reflection told him that it was no
error. He would have known the intense gaze of those burning blue eyes
anywhere. He was still careful to keep his own body between Tayoga and
The curtain rose and once more Robert fell under the great writer's
spell. Vivid action and poetic speech claimed him anew, and for the
moment he forgot St. Luc. When the second act was finished, and while
the applause was still filling the hall, he cast a fearful glance
toward the place where he had seen the chevalier. Then, in truth, he
rubbed his eyes. No St. Luc was there. The chair in which he had sat
was not empty, but was occupied by a stolid, stout Dutchman, who
seemed not to have moved for hours.
It had been a vision, a figment of the fancy, after all! But it was
merely an attempt of the will to persuade himself that it was so. He
could not doubt that he had seen St. Luc, who, probably listening to
some counsel of providence, had left the hall. Robert felt an immense
relief, and now he was able to assume his best manner when Mr. Hardy
began to present him and Tayoga to many of the notables. He met the
governor, Mr. Watts, and more De Lanceys, Wilsons and Crugers than he
could remember, and he received invitations to great houses, and made
engagements which he intended to keep, if it were humanly
possible. Willet and Hardy exchanged glances when they noticed how
easily he adapted himself to the great world of his day. He responded
here as he had responded in Quebec, although Quebec and New York, each
a center in its own way, were totally unlike.
The play went on, and Robert was still absorbed in the majestic
lines. At the next intermission there was much movement in the
audience. People walked about, old acquaintances spoke and strangers
were introduced to one another. Robert looked sharply for St. Luc, but
there was no trace of him. Presently Mr. Hardy was introducing him to
a heavy man, dressed very richly, and obviously full of pride.
"Mynheer Van Zoon," he said, "this is young Robert Lennox. He has been
for years in the care of David Willet, whom you have met in other and
different times. Robert, Mynheer Van Zoon is one of our greatest
merchants, and one of my most active rivals."
Robert was about to extend his hand, but noticing that Mynheer Van
Zoon did not offer his he withheld his own. The merchant's face, in
truth, had turned to deeper red than usual, and his eyes lowered. He
was a few years older than Hardy, somewhat stouter, and his heavy
strong features showed a tinge of cruelty. The impression that he made
upon Robert was distinctly unfavorable.
"Yes, I have met Mr. Willet before," said Van Zoon, "but so many years
have passed that I did not know whether he was still living. I can say
the same about young Mr. Lennox."
"Oh, they live hazardous lives, but when one is skilled in meeting
peril life is not snuffed out so easily," rejoined Mr. Hardy who
seemed to be speaking from some hidden motive. "They've returned to
civilization, and I think and trust, Adrian, that we'll hear more of
them than for some years past. They're especial friends of mine, and I
shall do the best I can for them, even though my mercantile rivalry
with you absorbs, of necessity, so much of my energy."
Van Zoon smiled sourly, and then Robert liked him less than ever.
"The times are full of danger," he said, "and one must watch to keep
He bowed, and turned to other acquaintances, evidently relieved at
parting with them.
"He does not improve with age," said Willet thoughtfully.
Robert was about to ask questions concerning this Adrian Van Zoon, who
seemed uneasy in their presence, but once more he restrained himself,
his intuition telling him as before that neither Willet nor Master
Hardy would answer them.
The play moved on towards its dramatic close and Robert was back in
the world of passion and tragedy, of fancy and poetry. Van Zoon was
forgotten, St. Luc faded quite away, and he was not conscious of the
presence of Tayoga, or of Grosvenor, or of any of his friends.
Shakespeare's _Richard_ was wholly the humpbacked villain to him, and
when he met his fate on Bosworth Field he rejoiced greatly. As the
curtain went down for the last time he saw that Tayoga, too, was
"The English king was a wicked man," he said, "but he died like a
They all passed out now, the street was filled with carriages and the
torches of the link boys and there was a great hum of conversation.
St. Luc returned to Robert's mind, but he kept to himself the fact
that he had been in the theater. It might be his duty to state to the
military that he had seen in the city an important Frenchman who must
have come as a spy, but he could not do so. Nor did he feel any
pricklings of the conscience about it, because he believed, even if he
gave warning of St. Luc's presence, the wary chevalier would escape.
They stood at the edge of the sidewalk, watching the carriages, great
high-bodied vehicles, roll away. Mr. Hardy had a carriage of his own,
but the distance between his house and the theater was so short that
he had not thought it necessary to use it. The night was clear, very
cold and the illusion of the play was still upon the younger members
of his group.
"You liked it?" said Mr. Hardy, looking keenly at Robert.
"It was another and wonderful world to me," replied the youth.
"I thought it would make a great appeal to you," said Master Benjamin.
"Your type of mind always responds quickly to the poetic drama. Ah,
there goes Mynheer Adrian Van Zoon. He has entered his carriage
without looking once in our direction."
He and Willet and Master Jonathan laughed together, softly but with
evident zest. Whatever the feeling between them and whatever the cause
might be, Robert felt that they had the advantage of Mynheer Van Zoon
that night and were pushing it. They watched the crowd leave and the
lights fade in the darkness, and then they walked back together to the
solid red brick house of Mr. Hardy, where Grosvenor took leave of
them, all promising that the acquaintance should be continued.
"A fine young man," said Mr. Hardy, thoughtfully. "I wish that more
of his kind would come over. We can find great use for them in this
Charteris also said farewell to them, telling them that his own house
was not far away, and offering them his services in any way they
wished as long as they remained in the city.
"Another fine young man," said Master Benjamin, as the tall figure of
Charteris melted away in the darkness. "A good representative of our
city's best blood and manners, and yes, of morals, too."
Robert went alone the next morning to the new public library, founded
the year before and known as the New York Society Library, a novelty
then and a great evidence of municipal progress. The most eminent men
of the city, appointed by Governor de Lancey, were its trustees, and,
the collection already being large, Robert spent a happy hour or two
glancing through the books. History and fiction appealed most to him,
but he merely looked a little here and there, opening many volumes. He
was proud that the intelligence and enterprise of New York had founded
so noble an institution and he promised himself that if, in the time
to come, he should be a permanent resident of the city, his visits
there would be frequent.
When he left the library it was about noon, the day being cloudy and
dark with flurries of snow, those who were in the streets shivering
with the raw cold. Robert drew his own heavy cloak closely about him,
and, bending his head a little, strolled toward the Battery, in order
to look again at the ships that came from so many parts of the
earth. A stranger, walking in slouching fashion, and with the collar
of his coat pulled well up about his face, shambled directly in his
way. When Robert turned the man turned also and said in a low tone:
"St. Luc!" exclaimed Robert. "Are you quite mad? Don't you know that
your life is in danger every instant?"
"I am not mad, nor is the risk as great as you think. Walk on by my
side, as if you knew me."
"I did not think, chevalier, that your favorite role was that of a
"Nor is it. This New York of yours is a busy city, and a man, even a
Frenchman, may come here for other reasons than to learn military
Robert stared at him, but St. Luc admonished him again to look in
front of him, and walk on as if they were old acquaintances on some
"I don't think you want to betray me to the English," he said.
"No, I don't," said Robert, "though my duty, perhaps, should make me
"But you won't. I felt assured of it, else I should not have spoken to
"What duty, other than that of a spy, can have brought you to New
"Why make it a duty? It is true the times are troubled, and full of
wars, but one, on occasion, may seek his pleasure, nevertheless. Let
us say that I came to New York to see the play which both of us
witnessed last night. 'Twas excellently done. I have seen plays
presented in worse style at much more pretentious theaters in
Paris. Moreover I, a Frenchman, love Shakespeare. I consider him the
equal of our magnificent Moliere."
"Which means that if you were not a Frenchman you would think him
"A pleasant wit, Mr. Lennox. I am glad to see it in you. But you will
admit that I have come a long distance and incurred a great risk to
attend a play by a British author given in a British town, though it
must be admitted that the British town has strong Dutch
lineaments. Furthermore, I do bear witness that I enjoyed the play
greatly. 'Twas worth the trouble and the danger."
"Since you insist, chevalier, that you came so great a distance and
incurred so great a risk merely to worship at the shrine of our
Shakespeare, as one gentleman to another I cannot say that I doubt
your word. But when we sailed down the Hudson on a sloop, and were
compelled to tie up in a cove to escape the wrath of a storm, I saw
you on the slope above me."
"I saw you, too, then, Mr. Lennox, and I envied you your snug place on
the sloop. That storm was one of the most unpleasant incidents in my
long journey to New York to see Shakespeare's 'Richard III.' Still,
when one wishes a thing very badly one must be willing to pay a high
price for it. It was a good play by a good writer, the actors were
most excellent, and I have had sufficient reward for my trouble and
The collar of his cloak was drawn so high now that it formed almost a
hood around his head and face, but he turned a little, and Robert saw
the blue eyes, as blue as his own, twinkling with a humorous light. It
was borne upon him with renewed force that here was a champion of
romance and high adventure. St. Luc was a survival. He was one of
those knights of the Middle Ages who rode forth with lance and sword
to do battle, perhaps for a lady's favor, and perhaps to crush the
infidel. His own spirit, which had in it a lightness, a gayety and a
humor akin to St. Luc's, responded at once.
"Since you found the play most excellent, and I had the same delight,
I presume that you will stay for all the others. Mr. Hallam and his
fine company are in New York for two weeks, if not longer. Having come
so far and at such uncommon risks, you will not content yourself with
a single performance?"
"Alas! that is the poison in my cup. The leave of absence given me by
the Governor General of Canada is but brief, and I can remain in this
city and stronghold of my enemy but a single night."
They passed several men, but none took any notice of them. The day had
increased in gloominess. Heavy clouds were coming up from the sea,
enveloping the solid town in a thick and somber atmosphere. Snow
began to fall and a sharp wind drove the flakes before it. Pedestrians
bent forward, and drew their cloaks or coats about their faces to
protect themselves from the storm.
"The weather favors us," said St. Luc. "The people of New York
defending themselves from the wind and the flakes will have no time to
be looking for an enemy among them."
"Where are we going, chevalier?"
"That I know not, but being young, healthy and strong, perhaps we walk
in a circle for the sake of exercise."
"For which also you have come to New York--in order that you may walk
about our Battery and Bowling Green."
"True! Quite true! You have a most penetrating mind, Mr. Lennox, and
since we speak of the objects of my errand here I recall a third, but
of course, a minor motive."
"I am interested in that third and minor motive, Chevalier de
"I noticed last night at the play that you were speaking to a
merchant, one Adrian Van Zoon."
"'Tis true, but how do you know Van Zoon?"
"Let it suffice, lad, that I know him and know him well. I wish you to
beware of him."
He spoke with a sudden softness of tone that touched Robert, and there
could be no doubt that his meaning was good. They were still walking
in the most casual manner, their faces bent to the driving snow, and
almost hidden by the collars of their cloaks.
"What can Adrian Van Zoon and I have in common?" asked Robert.
"Lad, I bid thee again to beware of him! Look to it that you do not
fall into his treacherous hands!"
His sudden use of the pronoun "thee," and his intense earnestness,
stirred Robert deeply.
"Friends seem to rise around me, due to no merit of mine," he
said. "Willet has always watched over me. Tayoga is my brother.
Jacobus Huysman has treated me almost as his own son, and
Master Benjamin Hardy has received me with great warmth of heart. And
now you deliver to me a warning that I cannot but believe is given
with the best intent. But again I ask you, why should I fear Adrian
"That, lad, I will not tell you, but once more I bid you beware of
him. Think you, I'd have taken such a risk to prepare you for a
danger, if it were not real?"
"I do not. I feel, Chevalier de St. Luc, that you are a friend in
truth. Shall I speak of this to Mr. Willet? He will not blame me for
hiding the knowledge of your presence here."
"No. Keep it to yourself, but once more I tell you beware of Adrian
Van Zoon. Now you will not see me again for a long time, and perhaps
it will be on the field of battle. Have no fears for my safety. I can
leave this solid town of yours as easily as I entered it. Farewell!"
"Farewell!" said Robert, with a real wrench at the heart. St. Luc left
him and walked swiftly in the direction of St. George's Chapel. The
snow increased so much and was driving so hard that in forty or fifty
paces he disappeared entirely and Robert, wishing shelter, went back
to the house of Benjamin Hardy, moved by many and varied emotions.
He could not doubt that St. Luc's warning was earnest and important,
but why should he have incurred such great risks to give it? What was
he to Adrian Van Zoon? and what was Adrian Van Zoon to him? And what
did the talk at night between Willet and Hardy mean? He, seemed to be
the center of a singular circle of complications, of which other
people might know much, but of which he knew nothing.
Mr. Hardy's house was very solid, very warm and very comfortable. He
was still at the Royal Exchange, but Mr. Pillsbury had come home, and
was standing with his back to a great fire, his coattails drawn under
either arm in front of him. A gleam of warmth appeared in his solemn
eyes at the sight of Robert.
"A fierce day, Master Robert," he said. "'Tis good at such a time to
stand before a red fire like this, and have stout walls between one
and the storm."
"Spoken truly, Master Jonathan," said Robert, as he joined him before
the fire, and imitated his position.
"You have been to our new city library? We are quite proud of it."
"Yes, I was there, but I have also been thinking a little."
"Thought never hurts one. We should all be better if we took more
thought upon ourselves."
"I was thinking of a man whom we saw at the play last night, the
merchant, Adrian Van Zoon."
Master Jonathan let his coattails fall from under his arms, and then
he deliberately gathered them up again.
"A wealthy and powerful merchant. He has ships on many seas."
"I have inferred that Mr. Hardy does not like him."
"Considering my words carefully, I should say that Mr. Hardy does not
like Mr. Van Zoon and that Mr. Van Zoon does not like Mr. Hardy."
"I'm not seeking to be intrusive, but is it just business rivalry?"
"You are not intrusive, Master Robert. But my knowledge seldom extends
beyond matters of business."
"Which means that you might be able to tell me, but you deem it wiser
not to do so."
"The storm increases, Master Robert. The snow is almost blinding. I
repeat that it is a most excellent fire before which we are
standing. Mr. Hardy and your friends will be here presently and we
shall have food."
"It seems to me, Master Jonathan, that the people of New York eat much
"It sustains life and confers a harmless pleasure."
"To return a moment to Adrian Van Zoon. You say that his ships are
upon every sea. In what trade are they engaged, mostly?"
"In almost everything, Master Robert. They say he does much
smuggling--but I don't object to a decent bit of smuggling--and I fear
that certain very fast vessels of his know more than a little about
the slave trade."
"I trust that Mr. Hardy has never engaged in such a traffic."
"You may put your mind at rest upon that point, Master Robert. No
amount of profit could induce Mr. Hardy to engage in such commerce."
Mr. Hardy, Tayoga and Willet came in presently, and the merchant
remained a while after his dinner. The older men smoked pipes and
talked together and Robert and Tayoga looked out at the driving snow.
Tayoga had received a letter from Colonel William Johnson that
morning, informing him that all was well at the vale of Onondaga, and
the young Onondaga was pleased. They were speaking of their expected
departure to join Braddock's army, but they had heard from Willet that
they were to remain longer than they had intended in New York, as the
call to march demanded no hurry.
Robert spent more days in New York, and they were all pleasant. His
own handsome face and winning manner would have made his way anywhere,
but it became known universally that a great interest was taken in him
by Mr. Benjamin Hardy, who was a great figure in the city, a man not
to be turned lightly into an enemy. It also seemed that some mystery
enveloped him--mystery always attracts--and the lofty and noble figure
of the young Onondaga, who was nearly always by his side, heightened
the romantic charm he had for all those with whom he came in
contact. Both Hardy and Willet urged him to go wherever he was asked
by the great, and clothes fitted to such occasions were provided
"I am not able to pay for these," said Robert to Willet when he was
being measured for the first of his fine raiment.
"Don't trouble yourself about it," said the hunter, smiling, "I have
sufficient to meet the bills, and I shall see that all your tailors
are reimbursed duly. Some one must always look after a man of
"I wish I knew more than I do," said Robert in troubled tones,
"because I've a notion that the money with which you will pay my
tailor comes from the till of Master Benjamin Hardy. It's uncommon
strange that he does so much for me. I'm very grateful, but surely
there must be some motive behind it."
He glanced at Willet to see how he took his words, but the hunter
merely smiled, and Robert knew that the smile was a mask through which
he could not penetrate.
"Take the goods the gods provide thee," said the hunter.
"I will," said Robert, cheerfully, "since it seems I can't do anything
And he did. His response to New York continued to be as vigorous as it
had been to Quebec, and while New York lacked some of the brilliancy,
some of the ultimate finish that, to his mind, had distinguished
Quebec, it was more solid, there was more of an atmosphere of
resource, and it was all vastly interesting. Charteris proved himself
a right true friend, and he opened for him whatever doors he cared to
enter that Mr. Hardy may have left unlocked. He was also thrown much
with Grosvenor, and the instinctive friendship between the two ripened
On the fifth day of his stay in New York a letter came out of the
wilderness from Wilton at Fort Refuge. It had been brought by an
Oneida runner to Albany, and was sent thence by post to New York.
Wilton wrote that time would pass rather heavily with them in the
little fortress, if the hostile Indians allowed it. Small bands now
infested that region, and the soldiers were continually making marches
against them. The strange man, whom they called Black Rifle, was of
vast help, guiding them and saving them from ambush.
Wilton wrote that he missed Philadelphia, which was certainly the
finest city outside of Europe, but he hoped to go back to it, seasoned
and improved by life in the woods. New York, where he supposed Robert
now to be, was an attractive town, in truth, a great port, but it had
not the wealth and cultivation of Philadelphia, as he hoped to show
Robert some day. Meanwhile he wished him well.
Robert smiled. He had pleasant memories of Wilton, Colden, Carson and
the others, and while he was making new friends he did not commit the
crime of forgetting old ones. It was his hope that he should meet them
all again, not merely after the war, but long before.
In his comings and goings among the great of their day Robert kept a
keen eye for the vision of St. Luc. He half hoped, half feared that
some time in the twilight or the full dusk of the night he would see
in some narrow street the tall figure wrapped in its great cloak. But
the chevalier did not appear, and Robert felt that he had not really
come as a spy upon the English army and its preparations. He must have
gone, days since.
He met Adrian Van Zoon three times, that is, he was in the same room
with him, although they spoke together only once. The merchant had in
his presence an air of detachment. He seemed to be one who continually
carried a burden, and a stripling just from the woods could not long
have a place, either favorable or unfavorable, in his memory. Robert
began to wonder if St. Luc had net been mistaken. What could a man
born and bred in France, and only in recent years an inhabitant of
Canada, know of Adrian Van Zoon of New York? What, above all, could he
know that would cause him to warn Robert against him? But this, like
all his other questions, disappeared in the enjoyments of the
moment. Nature, which had been so kind in giving to him a vivid
imagination, had also given with it an intense appreciation. He liked
nearly everything, and nearly everybody, he could see a rosy mist
where the ordinary man saw only a cloud, and just now New York was so
kind to him that he loved it all.
A week in the city and he attended a brilliant ball given by William
Walton in the Walton mansion, in Franklin Square, then the most
elaborate and costly home in North America. It was like a great
English country house, with massive brick walls and woodwork, all
imported and beautifully carved. The staircase in particular made of
dark ebony was the wonder of its day, and, in truth, the whole
interior was like that of a palace, instead of a private residence, at
that time, in America.
Robert enjoyed himself hugely. He realized anew how close was the
blood relationship among all those important families, and he was
already familiar with their names. The powerful sponsorship of Mr.
Hardy had caused them to take him in as one of their number, and for
that reason he liked them all the more. He was worldly wise enough
already to know that we are more apt to call a social circle snobbish
when we do not belong to it. Now, he was a welcome visitor at the best
houses in New York, and all was rose to him.
Adrian Van Zoon, who had not only wealth but strong connections, was
there, but, as on recent occasions he took no notice of Robert, until
late in the evening when the guests were dancing the latest Paris and
London dances in the great drawing-room. Robert was resting for a
little space and as he leaned against the wall the merchant drew near
him and addressed him with much courtesy.
"I fear, Mr. Lennox," he said, "that I have spoken to you rather
brusquely, for which I offer many apologies. It was due, perhaps, to
the commercial rivalries of myself and Mr. Hardy, in whose house you
are staying. It was but natural for me to associate you with him."
"I wish to be linked with him," said Robert, coldly. "I have a great
liking and respect for Mr. Hardy."
Mynheer Van Zoon laughed and seemed not at all offended.
"The answer of a lad, and a proper one for a lad," he said. "'Tis well
to be loyal to one's friends, and I must admit, too, that Mr. Hardy is
a man of many high qualities, a fact that a rivalry in business
extending over many years, has proved to me. He and I cannot become
friends, but I do respect him."
He had imparted some warmth to his tone, and his manner bore the
appearance of geniality. Robert, so susceptible to courtesy in others,
began to find him less repellent. He rejoined in the same polite
manner, and Mynheer Van Zoon talked to him a little while as a busy
man of middle age would speak to a youth. He asked him of his
experiences at Quebec, of which he had heard some rumor, and Robert,
out of the fullness of his mind, spoke freely on that subject.
"Is it true," asked Mynheer Van Zoon, "that David Willet in a duel
with swords slew a famous bravo?"
"It's quite true," replied Robert. "I was there, and saw it with my
own eyes. Pierre Boucher was the man's name, and never was a death
"Willet is a marvel with the sword."
"You knew him in his youth, Mynheer Van Zoon?"
"I did not say that. It is possible that I was thinking of some one
who had talked to me about him. But, whatever thought may have been in
my mind, David Willet and I are not likely to tread the same path. I
repeat, Master Lennox, that although my manner may have seemed to you
somewhat brusque in the past, I wish you well. Do you remain much
longer in New York?"
"Only a few days, I think."
"And you still find much of interest to see?"
"Enough to occupy the remainder of my time. I wish to see a bit of
Long Island, but tomorrow I go to Paulus Hook to find one Nicholas
Suydam and to carry him a message from Colonel William Johnson, which
has but lately come to me in the post. I suppose it will be easy to
get passage across the Hudson."
"Plenty of watermen will take you for a fare, but if you are familiar
with the oars yourself it would be fine exercise for a strong youth
like you to row over and then back again."
"It's a good suggestion, as I do row, and I think I'll adopt it."
Mynheer Van Zoon passed on a moment or two later, and Robert, with his
extraordinary susceptibility to a friendly manner, felt a pleasant
impression. Surely St. Luc, who at least was an official enemy, did
not know the truth about Van Zoon! And if the Frenchman did happen to
be right, what did he have to fear in New York, surrounded by friends?
The evening progressed, but Mynheer Van Zoon left early, and then in
the pleasures of the hour, surrounded by youth and brightness, Robert
forgot him, too. A banquet was served late, and there was such a
display of silver and gold plate that the British officers themselves
opened their eyes and later wrote letters to England, telling of the
amazing prosperity and wealth of New York, as proven by what they had
seen in the Walton and other houses.
Robert did not go back to the home of Mr. Hardy, until a very late
hour, and he slept late the next day. When he rose he found that all
except himself had gone forth for one purpose or another, but it
suited his own plan well, as he could now take the letter of Colonel
William Johnson to his friend, Master Nicholas Suydam, in Paulus
Hook. It was another dark, gloomy day, but clouds and cold had little
effect on his spirits, and when he walked along the shore of the North
River, looking for a boat, he met the chaff of the watermen with
humorous remarks of his own. They discouraged his plan to row himself
across, but being proud of his skill he clung to it, and, having
deposited two golden guineas as security for its return, he selected a
small but strong boat and rowed into the stream.
A sharp wind was blowing in from the sea, but he was able to manage
his little craft with ease, and, being used to rough water, he enjoyed
the rise and dip of the waves. A third of the way out and he paused
and looked back at New York, the steeple of St. George's showing
above the line of houses. He could distinguish from the mass other
buildings that he knew, and his heart suddenly swelled with affection
for this town, in which he had received such a warm welcome. He would
certainly live here, when the wars were over, and he could settle down
to his career.
Then he turned his eyes to the inner bay, where he saw the usual
amount of shipping, sloops, schooners, brigs and every other kind of
vessel known to the times. Behind them rose the high wooded shores of
Staten Island, and through the channel between it and Long Island
Robert saw other ships coming in. Truly, it was a noble bay,
apparently made for the creation of a great port, and already busy man
was putting it to its appointed use. Then he looked up the Hudson at
the lofty Palisades, the precipitous shores facing them, and his eyes
came back to the stream. Several vessels under full sail were steering
for the mouth of the Hudson, but he looked longest at a schooner,
painted a dark color, and very trim in her lines. He saw two men
standing on her decks, and two or three others visible in her rigging.
Evidently she was a neat and speedy craft, but he was not there to
waste his time looking at schooners. The letter of Colonel William
Johnson to Master Nicholas Suydam in Paulus Hook must be delivered,
and, taking up his oars, he rowed vigorously toward the hamlet on the
When he was about two-thirds of the way across he paused to look back
again, but the air was so heavy with wintry mists that New York did
not show at all. He was about to resume the oars once more when the
sound of creaking cordage caused him to look northward. Then he
shouted in alarm. The dark schooner was bearing down directly upon
him, and was coming very swiftly. A man on the deck whom he took to be
the captain shouted at him, but when Robert, pulling hard, shot his
boat ahead, it seemed to him that the schooner changed her course
It was the last impression he had of the incident, as the prow of the
schooner struck his boat and clove it in twain. He jumped
instinctively, but his head received a glancing blow, and he did not
remember anything more until he awoke in a very dark and close
place. His head ached abominably, and when he strove to raise a hand
to it he found that he could not do so. He thought at first that it
was due to weakness, a sort of temporary paralysis, coming from the
blow that he dimly remembered, but he realized presently that his
hands were bound, tied tightly to his sides.
He moved his body a little, and it struck against wood on either
side. His feet also were bound, and he became conscious of a swaying
motion. He was in a ship's bunk and he was a prisoner of somebody. He
was filled with a fierce and consuming rage. He had no doubt that he
was on the schooner that had run him down, nor did he doubt either
that he had been run down purposely. Then he lay still and by long
staring was able to make out a low swaying roof above him and very
narrow walls. It was a strait, confined place, and it was certainly
deep down in the schooner's hold. A feeling of horrible despair seized
him. The darkness, his aching head, and his bound hands and feet
filled him with the worst forebodings. Nor did he have any way of
estimating time. He might have been lying in the bunk at least a week,
and he might now be far out at sea.
In misfortune, the intelligent and imaginative suffer most because
they see and feel everything, and also foresee further misfortunes to
come. Robert's present position brought to him in a glittering train
all that he had lost. Having a keen social sense his life in New York
had been one of continuing charm. Now the balls and receptions that
he had attended at great houses came back to him, even more brilliant
and vivid than their original colors had been. He remembered the many
beautiful women he had seen, in their dresses of silk or satin, with
their rosy faces and powdered hair, and the great merchants and feudal
landowners, and the British and American officers in their bright new
uniforms, talking proudly of the honors they expected to win.
Then that splendid dream was gone, vanishing like a mist before a
wind, and he was back in the swaying darkness of the bunk, hands and
feet bound, and head aching. All things are relative. He felt now if
only the cruel cords were taken off his wrists and ankles he could be
happy. Then he would be able to sit up, move his limbs, and his head
would stop aching. He called all the powers of his will to his
aid. Since he could not move he would not cause himself any increase
of pain by striving to do so. He commanded his body to lie still and
compose itself and it obeyed. In a little while his head ceased to
ache so fiercely, and the cords did not bite so deep.
Then he took thought. He was still sure that he was on board the
schooner that had run him down. He remembered the warning of St. Luc
against Adrian Van Zoon, and Adrian Van Zoon's suggestion that he row
his own boat across to Paulus Hook. But it seemed incredible. A
merchant, a rich man of high standing in New York, could not plan his
murder. Where was the motive? And, if such a motive did exist, a man
of Van Zoon's standing could not afford to take so great a risk. In
spite of St. Luc and his faith in him he dismissed it as an
impossibility. If Van Zoon had wished his death he would not have
been taken out of the river. He must seek elsewhere the reason of his
He listened attentively, and it seemed to him that the creaking and
groaning of the cordage increased. Once or twice he thought he heard
footsteps over his head, but he concluded that it was merely the
imagination. Then, after an interminable period of waiting, the door
to the room opened and a man carrying a ship's lantern entered,
followed closely by another. Robert was able to turn on his side and
stare at them.
The one who carried the lantern was short, very dark, and had gold
rings in his ears. Robert judged him to be a Portuguese. But his
attention quickly passed to the man behind him, who was much taller,
rather spare, his face clean shaven, his hard blue eyes set close
together. Robert knew instinctively that he was master of the ship.
"Hold up the lantern, Miguel," the tall man said, "and let's have a
look at him."
The Portuguese obeyed.
Then Robert felt the hard blue eyes fastened upon him, but he raised
himself as much as he could and gave back the gaze fearlessly.
"Well, how's our sailorman?" said the captain, laughing, and his
laughter was hideous to the prisoner.
"I don't understand you," said Robert.
"My meaning is plain enough, I take it."
"I demand that you set me free at once and restore me to my friends in
The tall man laughed until he held his sides, and the short man
laughed with him, laugh for laugh. Their laughter so filled Robert
with loathing and hate that he would have attacked them both had he
"Come now, Peter," said the captain at last. "Enough of your grand
manner. You carry it well for a common sailor, and old Nick himself
knows where you got your fine clothes, but here you are back among
your old comrades, and you ought to be glad to see 'em."
"What do you mean?" asked the astonished Robert.
"Now, don't look so surprised. You can keep up a play too long. You
know as well as we do that you're plain Peter Smith, an able young
sailorman, when you're willing, who deserted us in Baltimore three
months ago, and you with a year yet to serve. And here's your
particular comrade, Miguel, so glad to see you. When we ran your boat
down, all your own fault, too, Miguel jumped overboard, and he didn't
dream that the lad he was risking his life to save was his old
chum. Oh, 'twas a pretty reunion! And now, Peter, thank Miguel for
bringing you back to life and to us."
A singular spirit seized Robert. He saw that he was at the mercy of
these men, who utterly without scruple wished for some reason to hold
him. He could be a player too, and perhaps more was to be won by being
"I'm sorry," he said, "but I was tempted by the follies of the land,
and I've had enough of 'em. If you'll overlook it and let the past be
buried, captain, you'll have no better seaman than Peter Smith.
You've always been a just but kind man, and so I throw myself on your
The captain and Miguel exchanged astonished glances.
"I know you'll do it, captain," Robert went on in his most winning
tones, "because, as I've just said, you've always been a kind man,
especially kind to me. I suppose when I first signed with you that I
was as ignorant and awkward a land lubber as you ever saw. But your
patient teaching has made me a real sailor. Release me now, and I
think that in a few hours I will be fit to go to work again."
"Cut the lashings, Miguel," said the captain.
Miguel's sharp knife quickly severed them, and Robert sat up in the
bunk. When the blood began to flow freely in the veins, cut off
hitherto, he felt stinging pains at first, but presently heavenly
relief came. The captain and Miguel stood looking at him.
"Peter," said the captain, "you were always a lad of spirit, and I'm
glad to get you back, particularly as we have such a long voyage ahead
of us. One doesn't go to the coast of Africa, gather a cargo of slaves
and get back in a day."
In spite of himself Robert could not repress a shudder of horror. A
slaver and he a prisoner on board her! He might be gone a year or
more. Never was a lad in worse case, but somewhere in him was a spark
of hope that refused to be extinguished. He gave a more imperious
summons than ever to his will, and it returned to his aid.
"You've been kind to Peter Smith. Few captains would forgive what I've
done, but I'll try to make it up to you. How long are we out from New
York?" he said.
"It might be an hour or it might be a day or what's more likely it
might be two days. You see, Peter, a lad who gets a crack on the head
like yours lies still and asleep for a long time. Besides, it don't
make any difference to you how long we've been out. So, just you stay
in your bunk a little while longer, and Miguel will bring you
something to eat and drink."
"Thank you, captain. You're almost a father to me."
"That's a good lad, Peter. I am your father, I'm the father of all my
crew, and don't forget that a father sometimes has to punish his
children, so just you stay in your bunk till you're bid to come out of
"Thank you, captain. I wouldn't think of disobeying you. Besides, I'm
too weak to move yet."
The captain and Miguel went out, and Robert heard them fastening the
door on the outside. Then the darkness shut him in again, and he lay
back in his bunk. The spark of hope somewhere in his mind had grown a
little larger. His head had ceased to ache and his limbs were
free. The physical difference made a mental difference yet
greater. Although there seemed to be absolutely no way out, he would
The door was opened again, and Miguel, bearing the ship's lantern in
one hand and a plate of food in the other, came in. It was rough food
such as was served on rough ships, but Robert sat up and looked at it
hungrily. Miguel grinned, and laughed until the gold hoops in his ears
"You, Peter Smith," he said. "Me terrible glad to see you again. Miss
my old comrade. Mourn for him, and then when find him jump into the
cold river to save him."
"It's true," said Robert, "it was a long and painful parting, but here
we are, shipmates again. It was good of you, Miguel, to risk your life
to save me, and now that we've had so many polite interchanges,
suppose you save me from starving to death and pass that plate of
"With ver' good will, Peter. Eat, eat with the great heartiness,
because we have ver', ver' hard work before us and for a long
time. The captain will want you to do as much work in t'ree mont' as
t'ree men do, so you can make up the t'ree mont' you have lost."
"Tell him I'm ready. I've already confessed all my sins to him."
"He won't let you work as sailor at first. He make you help me in the
"I'm willing to do that too. You know I can cook. You'll remember,
Miguel, how I helped you in the Mediterranean, and how I did almost
all your work that time you were sick, when we were cruising down to
"You have the great courage, you Peter," he said. "You always
have. Feel better now?"
"A lot, Miguel. The bread was hard, I suppose, and better potatoes
have been grown, but I didn't notice the difference. That was good
water, too. I've always thought that water was a fine drink. And now,
Miguel, hunger and thirst being satisfied, I'll get up and stretch my
limbs a while. Then I'll be ready to go to work."
"I tell you when the captain wants you. Maybe an hour from now, maybe
He took his lantern and the empty plate and withdrew, but Robert heard
him fastening the door on the outside again. Evidently they did not
yet wholly trust the good intentions of Peter Smith, the deserter,
whom they had recaptured in the Hudson. But the spark of hope lodged
somewhere in the mind of Peter Smith was still growing and
glowing. The removal of the bonds from his wrist and ankles had
brought back a full and free circulation, and the food and water had
already restored strength to one so young and strong. He stood up,
flexed his muscles and took deep breaths.
He had no familiarity with the sea, but he was used to navigation in
canoes and boats on large and small lakes in the roughest kind of
weather, and the rocking of the schooner, which continued, did not
make him seasick, despite the close foul air of the little room in
which he was locked. He still heard the creaking of cordage and now he
heard the tumbling of waves too, indicating that the weather was
rough. He tried to judge by these sounds how fast the schooner was
moving, but he could make nothing of it. Then he strained his memory
to see if he could discover in any manner how long he had been on the
vessel, but the period of his unconsciousness remained a mystery,
which he could not unveil by a single second.
Long stay in the room enabled him to penetrate its dusk a little, and
he saw that its light and air came in normal times from a single small
porthole, closed now. Nevertheless a few wisps of mist entered the
tiny crevices, and he inferred the vessel was in a heavy fog. He was
glad of it, because he believed the schooner would move slowly at such
a time, and anything that impeded the long African journey was to his
A period which seemed to be six hours but which he afterward knew to
be only one, passed, and his door swung back for the third time. The
face of Miguel appeared in the opening and again he grinned, until his
mouth formed a mighty slash across his face.
"You come on deck now, you Peter," he said, "captain wants you."
Robert's heart gave a mighty beat. Only those who have been shut up in
the dark know what it is to come out into the light. That alone was
sufficient to give him a fresh store of courage and hope. So he
followed Miguel up a narrow ladder and emerged upon the deck. As he
had inferred, the schooner was in a heavy fog, with scarcely any wind
and the sails hanging dead.
The captain stood near the mast, gazing into the fog. He looked
taller and more evil than ever, and Robert saw the outline of a pistol
beneath his heavy pea jacket. Several other men of various
nationalities stood about the deck, and they gave Robert malicious
smiles. Forward he saw a twelve pound brass cannon, a deadly and
dangerous looking piece. It was extremely cold on deck, too, the raw
fog seeming to be so much liquid ice, but, though Robert shivered, he
liked it. Any kind of fresh air was heaven after that stuffy little
"How are you feeling, Peter?" asked the captain, although there was no
note of sympathy in his voice.