Infomotions, Inc.D'Ri and I / Bacheller, Irving, 1859-1950



Author: Bacheller, Irving, 1859-1950
Title: D'Ri and I
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): louison; baroness; jerushy jane; judas priest
Contributor(s): Semeyn, J. [Illustrator]
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Size: 67,971 words (short) Grade range: 6-7 (grade school) Readability score: 77 (easy)
Identifier: etext12440
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Title: D'Ri and I

Author: Irving Bacheller

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Produced by Al Haines.  Thanks to Dave Maddock for the Lilypond work.




D'RI AND I



A TALE of DARING DEEDS in the SECOND WAR with the BRITISH.

Being the Memoirs of Colonel Ramon Bell, U.S.A.



BY IRVING BACHELLER, author of "Eben Holden."



1901





TO MY WIFE




PREFACE

This is a tale of the adventurous and rugged pioneers, who,
unconquered by other foes, were ever at war with the ancient
wilderness, pushing the northern frontier of the white man farther
and farther to the west.  Early in the last century they had
striped the wild waste of timber with roadways from Lake Champlain
to Lake Ontario, and spotted it with sown acres wide and fair; and
still, as they swung their axes with the mighty vigor of great
arms, the forest fell before them,

In a long valley south of the St. Lawrence, sequestered by river,
lake, and wilderness, they were slow to lose the simplicity, the
dialect, and the poverty of their fathers.

Some Frenchmen of wealth and title, having fled the Reign of
Terror, bought a tract of wild country there (six hundred and
thirty thousand acres) and began to fill it with fine homes.  It
was said the great Napoleon himself would some day build a chateau
among them.  A few men of leisure built manor-houses on the river
front, and so the Northern Yankee came to see something of the
splendor of the far world, with contempt, as we may well imagine,
for its waste of time and money.

Those days the North country was a theatre of interest and renown.
Its play was a tragedy; its setting the ancient wilderness; its
people of all conditions from king to farm hand.  Chateau and
cabin, trail and forest road, soldier and civilian, lake and river,
now moonlit, now sunlit, now under ice and white with snow, were of
the shifting scenes in that play.  Sometimes the stage was overrun
with cavalry and noisy with the clang of steel and the roar of the
carronade.

The most important episodes herein are of history,--so romantic was
the life of that time and region.  The marriage is almost literally
a matter of record.

A good part of the author's life has been spent among the children
of those old raiders--Yankee and Canadian--of the north and south
shores of the big river.  Many a tale of the camp and the night
ride he has heard in the firelight of a winter's evening; long
familiar to him are the ruins of a rustic life more splendid in its
day than any north of Virginia.  So his color is not all of books,
but of inheritance and of memory as well.

The purpose of this tale is to extend acquaintance with the plain
people who sweat and bled and limped and died for this Republic of
ours.  Darius, or "D'ri" as the woods folk called him, was a
pure-bred Yankee, quaint, rugged, wise, truthful; Ramon had the
hardy traits of a Puritan father, softened by the more romantic
temperament of a French mother.  They had no more love of fighting
than they had need of it.




CONTENTS


PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER
 I.
 II.
 III.
 IV.
 V.
 VI.
 VII.
 VIII.
 IX.
 X.
 XI.
 XII.
 XIII.
 XIV.
 XV.
 XVI.
 XVII.
 XVIII.
 XIX.
 XX.
 XXI.
 XXII.
 XXIII.
 XXIV.
 XXV.
 XXVI.
 XXVII.

[Transcriber's Note: The chapters in the original text were numbered,
but had no titles.]


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

LOUISE

D'RI AND I

I COULD NOT TELL WHICH OF THE TWO GIRLS I LOVED THE BETTER

HE WOULD HAVE FOUGHT TO THE DEATH IF I HAD BUT GIVEN HIM WORD

"COME, NOW, MY PRETTY PRISONER"

"WE 'LL TEK CARE O' THE OL' BRIG"

WE WERE BOTH NEAR BREAKING DOWN

"THEN I LEAVE ALL FOR YOU"




INTRODUCTION

From a letter of Captain Darius Hawkins, U. S. A., introducing
Ramon Bell to the Comte de Chaumont:--


"MY DEAR COUNT: I commend to your kind offices my young friend
Ramon Bell, the son of Captain Bell, a cavalry officer who long ago
warmed his sword in the blood of the British on many a
battle-field.  The young man is himself a born soldier, as brave as
he is tall and handsome.  He has been but a month in the army, yet
I have not before seen a man who could handle horse and sword as if
they were part of him.  He is a gentleman, also, and one after your
own heart, I know, my dear count, you will do everything you can to
further the work intrusted to him.

  "Your obedient servant,
  "DARIUS HAWKINS."


From a letter of Joseph Bonaparte, Comte de Survilliers,
introducing his friend Colonel Ramon Bell to Napoleon III of
France:--


"He has had a career romantic and interesting beyond that of any
man I have met in America.  In the late war with England he was the
master of many situations most perilous and difficult.  The scars
of ten bullets and four sabre-thrusts are on his body.  It gives me
great pleasure, my dear Louis, to make you to know one of the most
gallant and chivalrous of men.  He has other claims upon your
interest and hospitality, with which he will acquaint you in his
own delightful way."




D'RI AND I

I

A poet may be a good companion, but, so far as I know, he is ever
the worst of fathers.  Even as grandfather he is too near, for one
poet can lay a streak of poverty over three generations.  Doubt not
I know whereof I speak, dear reader, for my mother's father was a
poet--a French poet, too, whose lines had crossed the Atlantic long
before that summer of 1770 when he came to Montreal.  He died
there, leaving only debts and those who had great need of a better
legacy--my mother and grandmother.

As to my father, he had none of that fatal folly in him.  He was a
mountaineer of Vermont--a man of steely sinews that took well to
the grip of a sword.  He cut his way to fame in the Northern army
when the British came first to give us battle, and a bloody way it
was.  I have now a faded letter from Ethan Allen, grim old warrior,
in which he calls my father "the best swordsman that ever straddled
a horse." He was a "gallous chap" in his youth, so said my
grandmother, with a great love of good clothes and gunpowder.  He
went to Montreal, as a boy, to be educated; took lessons in
fencing, fought a duel, ran away from school, and came home with
little learning and a wife.  Punished by disinheritance, he took a
farm, and left the plough to go into battle.

I wonder often that my mother could put up with the stress and
hardship of his life, for she had had gentle breeding, of which I
knew little until I was grown to manhood, when I came to know also
what a woman will do for the love of her heart.  I remember well
those tales of knights and ladies she used to tell me as we sat
together of an evening, and also those adventures of her own
knight, my good father, in the war with the British.  My love of
arms and of a just quarrel began then.

After the war came hard times.  My father had not prospered
handsomely, when, near the end of the summer of 1803, he sold his
farm, and we all started West, over rough trails and roadways.
There were seven of us, bound for the valley of the St.
Lawrence--my father and mother, my two sisters, my grandmother,
D'ri, the hired man, and myself, then a sturdy boy of ten.  We had
an ox-team and -cart that carried our provision, the sacred feather
beds of my mother, and some few other things.

[Illustration: D'Ri and I.]

We drove with us the first flock of sheep that ever went West.
There were forty of them, and they filled our days with trouble.
But for our faithful dog Rover, I fear we should have lost heart
and left them to the wild wolves.  The cart had a low cover of
canvas, and my mother and grandmother sat on the feather beds, and
rode with small comfort even where the roads were level.  My father
let me carry my little pet rooster in a basket that hung from the
cart-axle when not in my keeping.  The rooster had a harder time
than any of us, I fancy, for the days were hot and the roads rough.
He was always panting, with open mouth and thoughtful eye, when I
lifted the cover.  But every day he gave us an example of
cheerfulness not wholly without effect.  He crowed triumphantly,
betimes, in the hot basket, even when he was being tumbled about on
the swamp ways.  Nights I always found a perch for him on the limb
of a near tree, above the reach of predatory creatures.  Every
morning, as the dawn showed faintly in the tree-tops, he gave it a
lusty cheer, napping his wings with all the seeming of delight.
Then, often, while the echo rang, I would open my eyes and watch
the light grow in .the dusky cavern of the woods.  He would sit
dozing awhile after the first outbreak, and presently as the flood
of light grew clearer, lift himself a little, take another peep at
the sky, and crow again, turning his head to hear those weird,
mocking roosters of the timber-land.  Then, shortly, I would hear
my father poking the fire or saying, as he patted the rooster:
"Sass 'em back, ye noisy little brat!  Thet 's right: holler.  Tell
D'ri it's time t' bring some wood fer the fire."

In a few minutes the pot and kettle would be boiling and the camp
all astir.  We had trout and partridge and venison a-plenty for our
meals, that were served in dishes of tin.  Breakfast over, we
packed our things.  The cart went on ahead, my father bringing the
oxen, while I started the sheep with D'ri.

Those sheep were as many thorns in our flesh that day we made off
in the deep woods from Lake Champlain.  Travel was new to them, and
what with tearing through thickets and running wild in every slash,
they kept us jumping.  When they were leg-weary and used to travel,
they began to go quietly.  But slow work it was at best, ten or
twelve miles a day being all we could do, for the weather was hot
and our road like the way of the transgressor.  Our second night in
the woods we could hear the wolves howling as we camped at dusk.
We built our fire near the shore of a big pond, its still water,
framed in the vivid green of young tamaracks.  A great hill rose on
the farther side of it, with galleries of timber sloping to the
summit, and peopled with many birds.  We huddled the sheep together
in a place where the trees were thick, while father brought from
the cart a coil of small rope.  We wound it about the trees, so the
sheep were shut in a little yard.  After supper we all sat by the
fire, while D'ri told how he had been chased by wolves in the
beaver country north of us.

D'ri was an odd character.  He had his own way of expressing the
three degrees of wonder, admiration, and surprise.
"Jerushy!"--accented on the second syllable--was the positive,
"Jerushy Jane!" the comparative, and "Jerushy Jane Pepper!" the
superlative.  Who that poor lady might be I often wondered, but
never ventured to inquire.  In times of stress I have heard him
swear by "Judas Priest," but never more profanely.  In his youth he
had been a sailor on the lake, when some artist of the needle had
tattooed a British jack on the back of his left hand--a thing he
covered, of shame now, when he thought of it.  His right hand had
lost its forefinger in a sawmill.  His rifle was distinguished by
the name of Beeswax,--"Ol' Beeswax" he called it sometimes,--for no
better reason than that it was "easy spoke an' hed a kind uv a
powerful soun' tew it." He had a nose like a shoemaker's thumb:
there was a deep incurve from its wide tip to his forehead.  He had
a large, gray, inquiring eye and the watchful habit of the
woodsman.  Somewhere in the midst of a story he would pause and
peer thoughtfully into the distance, meanwhile feeling the
pipe-stem with his lips, and then resume the narrative as suddenly
as he had stopped.  He was a lank and powerful man, six feet tall
in his stockings.  He wore a thin beard that had the appearance of
parched grass on his ruddy countenance.  In the matter of hair,
nature had treated him with a generosity most unusual.  His heavy
shock was sheared off square above his neck.

That evening, as he lay on his elbow in the firelight, D'ri had
just entered the eventful field of reminiscence.  The women were
washing the dishes; my father had gone to the spring for water.
D'ri pulled up suddenly, lifted his hat of faded felt, and
listened, peering into the dusk.

"Seems t' me them wolves is comin' nearer," he said thoughtfully.

Their cries were echoing in the far timber.  We all rose and
listened.  In a moment my father came hurrying back with his pail
of water.

"D'ri," said he, quietly, as he threw some wood on the fire, "they
smell mutton.  Mek the guns ready.  We may git a few pelts.
There's a big bounty on 'em here 'n York State."

We all stood about the fire listening as the wolves came nearer.

"It 's the sheep thet brings 'em," said my father.

"Quite a consid'able number on 'em, tew," said D'ri, as he stood
cleaning the bore of his rifle.

My young sisters began to cry.

"Need n't be scairt," said father.  "They won't come very near.
'Fraider of us 'n we are o' 'em, a good deal."

"Tow-w-w!" said D'ri, with a laugh.  "They 'll be apt t' stub ther
toes 'fore they git very nigh us."

This did not quite agree with the tales he had previously been
telling.  I went for my sword, and buckled its belt about me, the
scabbard hanging to my heels.  Presently some creature came
bounding over the brush.  I saw him break through the wall of
darkness and stop quickly in the firelight.  Then D'ri brought him
down with his rifle.

"Started him up back there 'n the woods a few mild," said D'ri.
"He was mekin' fer this 'ere pond--thet 's what he was dewin'."

"What for?" I inquired.

"'Cause fer the reason why he knowed he would n't mek no tracks 'n
the water, ner no scent," said D'ri, with some show of contempt for
my ignorance.

The deer lay floundering in the briers some fifty feet away.  My
father ran with his knife and put him quickly out of misery.  Then
we hauled the carcass to clear ground.

"Let it lie where 't is fer now," said he, as we came back to the
fire.  Then he got our two big traps out of the cart and set them
beside the carcass and covered them with leaves.  The howling of
the wolves had ceased.  I could hear only the creaking of a dead
limb high above us, and the bellow of frogs in the near pond.  We
had fastened the trap chains and were coming back to the fire, when
the dog rose, barking fiercely; then we heard the crack of D'ri's
rifle.

"More 'n fifty wolves eroun' here," he whispered as we ran up to
him.  "Never see sech a snag on 'em."

The sheep were stirring nervously.  Near the pen a wolf lay kicking
where D'ri had dropped him.

"Rest on 'em snooked off when the gun hollered," he went on,
whispering as before.

My mother and grandmother sat with my sisters in the cart, hushing
their murmurs of fear.  Early in the evening I had tied Rover to
the cart-wheel, where he was growling hotly, impatient of the leash.

"See?" said D'ri, pointing with his finger.  "See 'em?--there 'n
the dark by thet air big hemlock."

We could make out a dim stir in the shadows where he pointed.
Presently we heard the spring and rattle of a trap.  As we turned
that way, the other trap took hold hard; as it sprang, we could
hear a wolf yelp.

"Meks 'em holler," said D'ri, "thet ol' he-trap does, when it teks
holt.  Stay here by the sheep, 'n' I 'll go over 'n' give 'em
somethin' fer spraint ankles."

Other wolves were swarming over the dead deer, and the two in the
traps were snarling and snapping at them.  My father and D'ri fired
at the bunch, killing one of the captives and another--the largest
wolf I ever saw.  The pack had slunk away as they heard the rifles.
Our remaining captive struggled to get free, but in a moment D'ri
had brained him with an axe.  He and my father reset our traps and
hauled the dead wolves into the firelight.  There they began to
skin them, for the bounty was ten dollars for each in the new
towns--a sum that made our adventure profitable.  I built fires on
the farther side of the sheep, and, as they brightened, I could
see, here and there, the gleaming eyes of a wolf in the darkness.
I was up all night heaping wood upon the fires, while D'ri and my
father skinned the wolves and dressed the deer.  I remember, as
they worked, D'ri calmed himself with the low-sung, familiar music
of:--

  Li too rul I oorul I oorul I ay.

They had just finished when the cock crew.

"Holler, ye gol-dum little cuss!"   D'ri shouted as he went over to
him.  "Can't no snookin' wolf crack our bones fer _us_.  Peeled
'em--thet 's what we done tew 'em!  Tuk 'n' knocked 'em head over
heels.  Judas Priest!  He can peck a man's finger some, can't he?"

The light was coming, and he went off to the spring for water,
while I brought the spider and pots.  The great, green-roofed
temple of the woods, that had so lately rung with the howl of
wolves, began to fill with far wandering echoes of sweet song.

"They was a big cat over there by the spring las' night," said
D'ri, as we all sat down to breakfast.  "Tracks bigger 'n a
griddle!  Smelt the mutton, mos' likely."

"Like mutton?" I inquired.

"Yis-sir-ee, they dew," said he.  "Kind o' mince-pie fer 'em.  Like
deer-meat, tew.  Snook eroun' the ponds efter dark.  Ef they see a
deer 'n the water they wallop 'im quicker 'n lightnin'; jump right
in k'slap 'n' tek 'im."

We were off at sunrise, on a road that grew rougher every mile.  At
noon we came to a river so swollen as to make a dangerous ford.
After dinner my father waded in, going hips under where the water
was deep and swift.  Then he cut a long pole and took my mother on
his shoulders and entered the broad stream, steadying himself with
the pole.  When she had got down safe on the other side, he came
back for grandmother and my sisters, and took them over in the same
way.  D'ri, meanwhile, bound up the feather beds and carried them
on his head, leaving the dog and me to tend the sheep.  All our
blankets and clothing were carried across in the same manner.  Then
I mounted the cart, with my rooster, lashing the oxen till they
took to the stream.  They had tied the bell-wether to the axle,
and, as I started, men and dog drove the sheep after me.  The oxen
wallowed in the deep water, and our sheep, after some hesitation,
began to swim.  The big cart floated like a raft part of the way,
and we landed with no great difficulty.  Farther on, the road
became nothing better than a rude trail, where, frequently, we had
to stop and chop through heavy logs and roll them away.  On a steep
hillside the oxen fell, breaking the tongue, and the cart tipped
sidewise and rolled bottom up.  My rooster was badly flung about,
and began crowing and flapping as the basket settled.  When I
opened it, he flew out, running for his life, as if finally
resolved to quit us.  Fortunately, we were all walking, and nobody
was hurt.  My father and D'ri were busy half a day "righting up,"
as they called it, mending the tongue and cover, and getting the
cart on its wheels and down the steep pitch.

After two days of trail travel we came out on the Chateaugay road,
stopping awhile to bait our sheep and cattle on the tame grass and
tender briers.  It was a great joy to see the clear road, with here
and there a settler's cabin, its yard aglow with the marigold, the
hollyhock, and the fragrant honeysuckle.  We got to the tavern at
Chateaugay about dusk, and put up for the night, as becomes a
Christian.

Next afternoon we came to rough roads again, camping at sundown
along the shore of a noisy brook.  The dog began to bark fiercely
while supper was making, and scurried off into a thicket.

D'ri was stooping over, cooking the meat.  He rose and listened.

"Thet air dog's a leetle scairt," said he.  "Guess we better go 'n'
see whut 's the matter."

He took his rifle and I my sword,--I never thought of another
weapon,--making off through the brush.  The dog came whining to
D'ri and rushing on, eager for us to follow.  We hurried after him,
and in a moment D'ri and the dog, who were ahead of me, halted
suddenly.

"It 's a painter," said D'ri, as I came up.  "See 'im in thet air
tree-top.  I 'll larrup 'im with Ol' Beeswax, then jes' like es not
he 'll mek some music.  Better grab holt o' the dog.  'T won't dew
fer 'im to git tew rambunctious, er the fust thing he knows he
won't hev no insides in 'im."

I could see the big cat clinging high in the top boughs of a birch
and looking calmly down at us.  The tree-top swayed, quivering, as
it held the great dun beast.  My heart was like to smother me when
D'ri raised his rifle and took aim.  The dog broke away at the
crack of it.  The painter reeled and spat; then he came crashing
through the branches, striking right and left with his fore paws to
save himself.  He hit the ground heavily, and the dog was on him.
The painter lay as if dead.  Before I could get near, Rover began
shaking him by the neck.  He came to suddenly, and struck the dog
with a front claw, dragging him down.  A loud yelp followed the
blow.  Quick as a flash D'ri had caught the painter by the tail and
one hind leg.  With a quick surge of his great, slouching
shoulders, he flung him at arm's-length.  The lithe body doubled on
a tree trunk, quivered, and sank down, as the dog came free.  In a
jiffy I had run my sword through the cat's belly and made an end of
him.

"Knew 'f he got them hind hooks on thet air dog he 'd rake his ribs
right off," said D'ri, as he lifted his hat to scratch his head.
"Would n't 'a' left nothin' but the backbone,--nut a thing,--an'
thet would n't 'a' been a real fust-class one, nuther."

When D'ri was very positive, his words were well braced with
negatives.

We took the painter by the hind legs and dragged him through the
bushes to our camp.  The dog had a great rip across his shoulder,
where the claws had struck and made furrows; but he felt a mighty
pride in our capture, and never had a better appetite for a meal.

There were six more days of travel in that journey--travel so
fraught with hardships, I wonder that some days we had the heart to
press on.  More than all, I wonder that the frail body of my mother
was equal to it.  But I am writing no vain record of endurance.  I
have written enough to suggest what moving meant in the wilderness.
There is but one more color in the scenes of that journey.  The
fourth day after we left Chateaugay my grandmother fell ill and
died suddenly there in the deep woods.  We were far from any
village, and sorrow slowed our steps.  We pushed on, coming soon to
a sawmill and a small settlement.  They told us there was neither
minister nor undertaker within forty miles.  My father and D'ri
made the coffin of planed lumber, and lined it with deerskin, and
dug the grave on top of a high hill.  When all was ready, my
father, who had always been much given to profanity, albeit I know
he was a kindly and honest man with no irreverence in his heart,
called D'ri aside.

"D'ri," said he, "ye 've alwus been more proper-spoken than I hev.
Say a word o' prayer?"

"Don't much b'lieve I could," said he, thoughtfully.  "I hev been
t' meeting but I hain't never been no great hand fer prayin'."

"'T wouldn't sound right nohow, fer me t' pray," said my father, "I
got s' kind o' rough when I was in the army."

"'Fraid it 'll come a leetle unhandy fer me," said D'ri, with a
look of embarrassment, "but I don't never shirk a tough job ef it
hes t' be done."

Then he stepped forward, took off his faded hat, his brow wrinkling
deep, and said, in a drawling preacher tone that had no sound of
D'ri in it: "O God, tek care o' gran'ma.  Help us t' go on careful,
an' when we 're riled, help us t' keep er mouths shet.  O God, help
the ol' cart, an' the ex in pertic'lar.  An' don't be noway hard on
us.  Amen."





II

June was half over when we came to our new home in the town of
Madrid--then a home only for the foxes and the fowls of the air and
their wild kin of the forest.  The road ran through a little valley
thick with timber and rock-bound on the north.  There were four
families within a mile of us, all comfortably settled in small log
houses.  For temporary use we built a rude bark shanty that had a
partition of blankets, living in this primitive manner until my
father and D'ri had felled the timber and built a log house.  We
brought flour from Malone,--a dozen sacks or more,--and while they
were building, I had to supply my mother with fish and game and
berries for the table--a thing easy enough to do in that land of
plenty.  When the logs were cut and hewn I went away, horseback, to
Canton for a jug of rum.  I was all day and half the night going
and coming, and fording the Grasse took me stirrups under.

Then the neighbors came to the raising--a jolly company that
shouted "Hee, oh, hee!" as they lifted each heavy log to its place,
and grew noisier quaffing the odorous red rum, that had a mighty
good look to me, although my father would not hear of my tasting
it.  When it was all over, there was nothing to pay but our
gratitude.

While they were building bunks, I went off to sawmill with the oxen
for boards and shingles.  Then, shortly, we had a roof over us, and
floors to walk on, and that luxury D'ri called a "pyaz," although
it was not more than a mere shelf with a roof over it.  We chinked
the logs with moss and clay at first, putting up greased paper in
the window spaces.  For months we knew not the luxury of the glass
pane.

That summer we "changed work" with the neighbors, and after we had
helped them awhile they turned to in the clearing of our farm.  We
felled the trees in long, bushy windrows, heaping them up with
brush and small wood when the chopping was over.  That done, we
fired the rows, filling the deep of heaven with smoke, as it seemed
to me, and lighting the night with great billows of flame.

By mid-autumn we had cleared to the stumps a strip half down the
valley from our door.  Then we turned to on the land of our
neighbors, my time counting half, for I was sturdy and could swing
the axe to a line, and felt a joy in seeing the chips fly.  But my
father kept an eye on me, and held me back as with a leash,

My mother was often sorely tried for the lack of things common as
dirt these better days.  Frequently our only baking-powder was
white lye, made by dropping ash-cinders into wafer.  Our cinders
were made by letting the sap of green timber drip into hot ashes.
Often deer's tallow, bear's grease, or raccoon's oil served for
shortening, and the leaves of the wild raspberry for tea.  Our
neighbors went to mill at Canton--a journey of five days, going and
coming, with an ox-team, and beset with many difficulties.  Then
one of them hollowed the top of a stump for his mortar and tied his
pestle to the bough of a tree.  With a rope he drew the bough down,
which, as it sprang back, lifted the pestle that ground his grain.

But money was the rarest of all things in our neighborhood those
days.  Pearlash, black-salts, West India pipe-staves, and rafts of
timber brought cash, but no other products of the early settler.
Late that fall my mother gave a dance, a rude but hearty pleasuring
that followed a long conference in which my father had a part.
They all agreed to turn to, after snowfall, on the river-land, cut
a raft of timber, and send it to Montreal in the spring.  Our
things had come, including D'ri's fiddle, so that we had chairs and
bedsteads and other accessories of life not common among our
neighbors.  My mother had a few jewels and some fine old furniture
that her father had given her,--really beautiful things, I have
since come to know,--and she showed them to those simple folk with
a mighty pride in her eyes.

Business over, D'ri took down his fiddle, that hung on the wall,
and made the strings roar as he tuned them.  Then he threw his long
right leg over the other, and, as be drew the bow, his big foot
began to pat the floor a good pace away.  His chin lifted, his
fingers flew, his bow quickened, the notes seemed to whirl and
scurry, light-footed as a rout of fairies.  Meanwhile the toe of
his right boot counted the increasing tempo until it came up and
down like a ratchet.

Darius Olin was mostly of a slow and sober manner.  To cross his
legs and feel a fiddle seemed to throw his heart open and put him
in full gear.  Then his thoughts were quick, his eyes merry, his
heart was a fountain of joy.  He would lean forward, swaying his
head, and shouting "Yip!" as the bow hurried.  D'ri was a
hard-working man, but the feel of the fiddle warmed and limbered
him from toe to finger.  He was over-modest, making light of his
skill if he ever spoke of it, and had no ear for a compliment.
While our elders were dancing, I and others of my age were playing
games in the kitchen--kissing-games with a rush and tumble in them,
puss-in-the-corner, hunt-the-squirrel, and the like.  Even then I
thought I was in love with pretty Rose Merriman.  She would never
let me kiss her, even though I had caught her and had the right.
This roundelay, sung while one was in the centre of a circling
group, ready to grab at the last word, brings back to me the sweet
faces, the bright eyes, the merry laughter of that night and others
like it:

  Oh, hap-py is th' mil-ler who
  lives by him-self!  As th' wheel gos round, he
  gath-ers in 'is wealth, One hand on the
  hop-per and the oth-er on the bag; As the
  wheel goes round, he cries out, "Grab!"  Oh,
  ain't you a lit-tle bit a-shamed o' this, Oh,
  ain't you a lit-tle bit a-sham'd o' this, Oh,
  ain't you a lit-tle bit a-sham'd o' this--To
  stay all night for one sweet kiss?  Oh, etc.

[Transcriber's note:  A Lilypond (www.lilypond.org) rendition of
this song is at the end of this e-book.]

My mother gave me all the schooling I had that winter.  A year
later they built a schoolhouse, not quite a mile away, where I
found more fun than learning.  After two years I shouldered my axe
and went to the river-land with the choppers every winter morning.

My father was stronger than any of them except D'ri, who could
drive his axe to the bit every blow, day after day.  He had the
strength of a giant, and no man I knew tried ever to cope with him.
By the middle of May we began rolling in for the raft.  As soon as
they were floating, the logs were withed together and moored in
sections.  The bay became presently a quaking, redolent plain of
timber.

When we started the raft, early in June, that summer of 1810, and
worked it into the broad river with sweeps and poles, I was aboard
with D'ri and six other men, bound for the big city of which I had
heard so much.  I was to visit the relatives of my mother and spend
a year in the College de St. Pierre.  We had a little frame house
on a big platform, back of the middle section of the raft, with
bunks in it, where we ate and slept and told stories.  Lying on the
platform, there was a large flat stone that held our fires for both
cooking and comfort.  D'ri called me in the dusk of the early
morning, the first night out, and said we were near the Sault.  I
got up, rubbed my eyes, and felt a mighty thrill as I heard the
roar of the great rapids and the creaking withes, and felt the lift
of the speeding water.  D'ri said they had broken the raft into
three parts, ours being hindmost.  The roaring grew louder, until
my shout was as a whisper in a hurricane.  The logs began to heave
and fall, and waves came rushing through them.  Sheets of spray
shot skyward, coming down like a shower.  We were shaken as by an
earthquake in the rough water.  Then the roar fell back of us, and
the raft grew steady.

"Gin us a tough twist," said D'ri, shouting down at me--"kind uv a
twist o' the bit 'n' a kick 'n the side."

It was coming daylight as we sailed into still water, and then D'ri
put his hands to his mouth and hailed loudly, getting an answer out
of the gloom ahead.

"Gol-dum ef it hain't the power uv a thousan' painters!" D'ri
continued, laughing as he spoke.  "Never see nothin' jump 'n' kick
'n' spit like thet air, 'less it hed fur on--never 'n all my born
days."

D'ri's sober face showed dimly now in the dawn.  His hands were on
his hips; his faded felt hat was tipped sideways.  His boots and
trousers were quarrelling over that disputed territory between his
knees and ankles.  His boots had checked the invasion.

"Smooth water now," said he, thoughtfully, "Seems terrible still.
Hain't a breath uv air stirrin'.  Jerushy Jane Pepper!  Wha' does
thet mean?"

He stepped aside quickly as some bits of bark and a small bough of
hemlock fell at our feet.  Then a shower of pine needles came
slowly down, scattering over us and hitting the timber with a faint
hiss.  Before we could look up, a dry stick as long as a log fell
rattling on the platform.

"Never see no sech dom's afore," said D'ri, looking upward.
"Things don't seem t' me t' be actin' eggzac'ly nat'ral--nut jest
es I 'd like t' see 'em."

As the light came clearer, we saw clouds heaped black and blue over
the tree-tops in the southwest.  We stood a moment looking.  The
clouds were heaping higher, pulsing with light, roaring with
thunder.  What seemed to be a flock of pigeons rose suddenly above
the far forest, and then fell as if they had all been shot.  A gust
of wind coasted down the still ether, fluttering like a rag and
shaking out a few drops of rain.

"Look there!" I shouted, pointing aloft.

"Hark!" said D'ri, sharply, raising his hand of three fingers.

We could hear a far sound like that of a great wagon rumbling on a
stony road.

"The Almighty 's whippin' his hosses," said D'ri.  "Looks es ef he
wus plungin' 'em through the woods 'way yender.  Look a' thet air
sky."

The cloud-masses were looming rapidly.  They had a glow like that
of copper.

"Tryin' t' put a ruf on the world," my companion shouted.
"Swingin' ther hammers hard on the rivets."

A little peak of green vapor showed above the sky-line.  It loomed
high as we looked.  It grew into a lofty column, reeling far above
the forest.  Below it we could see a mighty heaving in the
tree-tops.  Something like an immense bird was hurtling and
pirouetting in the air above them.  The tower of green looked now
like a great flaring bucket hooped with fire and overflowing with
darkness.  Our ears were full of a mighty voice out of the heavens.
A wind came roaring down some tideway of the air like water in a
flume.  It seemed to tap the sky.  Before I could gather my
thoughts we were in a torrent of rushing air, and the raft had
begun to heave and toss.  I felt D'ri take my hand in his.  I could
just see his face, for the morning had turned dark suddenly.  His
lips were moving, but I could hear nothing he said.  Then he lay
flat, pulling me down.  Above and around were all the noises that
ever came to the ear of man--the beating of drums, the bellowing of
cattle, the crash of falling trees, the shriek of women, the rattle
of machinery, the roar of waters, the crack of rifles, the blowing
of trumpets, the braying of asses, and sounds the like of which I
have never heard and pray God I may not hear again, one and then
another dominating the mighty chorus.  Behind us, in the gloom, I
could see, or thought I could see, the reeling mass of green
ploughing the water, like a ship with chains of gold flashing over
bulwarks of fire.  In a moment something happened of which I have
never had any definite notion.  I felt the strong arm of D'ri
clasping me tightly.  I heard the thump and roll and rattle of the
logs heaping above us; I felt the water washing over me; but I
could see nothing.  I knew the raft had doubled; it would fall and
grind our bones: but I made no effort to save myself.  And thinking
how helpless I felt is the last I remember of the great windfall of
June 3, 1810, the path of which may be seen now, fifty years after
that memorable day, and I suppose it will be visible long after my
bones have crumbled.  I thought I had been sleeping when I came to;
at least, I had dreamed.  I was in some place where it was dark and
still.  I could hear nothing but the drip of water; I could feel
the arm of D'ri about me, and I called to him, and then I felt him
stir.

"Thet you, Ray?" said he, lifting his head.

"Yes," I answered.  "Where are we?"

"Judas Priest!  I ain' no idee.  Jes' woke up.  Been a-layin' here
tryin' t' think.  Ye hurt?"

"Guess not," said I.

"Ain't ye got no pains or aches nowhere 'n yer body?"

"Head aches a little," said I.

He rose to his elbow, and made a light with his flint and tinder,
and looked at me.

"Got a goose-egg on yer for'ard," said he, and then I saw there was
blood on his face.

"Ef it hed n't been fer the withes they 'd 'a' ground us t' powder."

We were lying alongside the little house, and the logs were leaning
to it above us.

"Jerushy Jane Pepper!" D'ri exclaimed, rising to his knees.  "'S
whut I call a twister."

He began to whittle a piece of the splintered platform.  Then he
lit a shaving.

"They 's ground here," said he, as he began to kindle a fire,
"ground a-plenty right under us."

The firelight gave us a good look at our cave under the logs.  It
was about ten feet long and probably half as high.  The logs had
crashed through the side of the house in one or two places, and its
roof was a wreck.

"Hungry?" said D'ri, as he broke a piece of board on his knee.

"Yes," I answered.

"So 'm I," said he, "hungrier 'n a she-wolf.  They 's some bread
'n' ven'son there 'n the house; we better try t' git 'em."

An opening under the logs let me around the house corner to its
door.  I was able to work my way through the latter, although it
was choked with heavy timbers.  Inside I could hear the wash of the
river, and through its shattered window on the farther wall I could
see between the heaped logs a glow of sunlit water.  I handed our
axe through a break in the wall, and then D'ri cut away some of the
baseboards and joined me.  We had our meal cooking in a few
minutes--our dinner, really, for D'ri said it was near noon.
Having eaten, we crawled out of the window, and then D'ri began to
pry the logs apart.

"Ain't much 'fraid o' their tumblin' on us," said he.  "They 're
withed so they 'll stick together."

We got to another cave under the logs, at the water's edge, after
an hour of crawling and prying.  A side of the raft was in the
water.

"Got t' dive," said D'ri, "an' swim fer daylight."

A long swim it was, but we came up in clear water, badly out of
breath.  We swam around the timber, scrambling over a dead cow, and
up-shore.  The ruined raft was torn and tumbled into a very
mountain of logs at the edge of the water.  The sun was shining
clear, and the air was still.  Limbs of trees, bits of torn cloth,
a broken hay-rake, fragments of wool, a wagon-wheel, and two dead
sheep were scattered along the shore.  Where we had seen the
whirlwind coming, the sky was clear, and beneath it was a great gap
in the woods, with ragged walls of evergreen.  Here and there in
the gap a stub was standing, trunk and limbs naked.

"Jerushy Jane Pepper!" D'ri exclaimed, with a pause after each
word.  "It's cut a swath wider 'n this river.  Don't b'lieve a
mouse could 'a' lived where the timber 's down over there."

Our sweepers and the other sections of the raft were nowhere in
sight.




III

We left the logs, and walked to Cornwall, and took a sloop down the
river.  It was an American  boat, bound for Quebec with
pipe-staves.  It had put in at Cornwall when the storm began.  The
captain said that the other sections of our raft had passed safely.
In the dusk of the early evening a British schooner brought us to.

"Wonder what that means?" said the skipper, straining his eyes in
the dusk,

A small boat, with three officers, came along-side.  They climbed
aboard, one of them carrying a lantern.  They were armed with
swords and pistols.  We sat in silence around the cockpit.  They
scanned each of us carefully in the light of the lantern.  It
struck me as odd they should look so closely at our hands.

"Wha' d' ye want?" the skipper demanded.  "This man," said one of
them, pointing to D'ri.  "He's a British sailor.  We arrest him--"

He got no farther.  D'ri's hand had gone out like the paw of a
painter and sent him across the cockpit.  Before I knew what was
up, I saw the lank body of D'ri leaping backward into the river.  I
heard a splash and a stroke of his long arms, and then all was
still.  I knew he was swimming under water to get away.  The
officers made for their boat.  My blood was up, and I sprang at the
last of them, giving him a hard shove as he was climbing over, so
that he fell on the boat, upsetting it.  They had business enough
then for a little, and began hailing for help.  I knew I had done a
foolish thing, and ran forward, climbing out upon the bowsprit, and
off with my coat and vest, and dived into the dark water.  I swam
under as long as I could hold my breath, and then came up quietly,
turning on my back in the quick current, and floating so my face
only was above water.  It had grown dark, and I could see nothing
but the glimmer of the stars above me.  My boots were heavy and
dragged hard.  I was going fast with the swift water, for at first
I had heard a great hubbub on the schooner; but now its voices had
grown faint.  Other sounds were filling my ear.

After dark it is weird business to be swimming in strange
water--the throne of mystery, of a thousand terrors.  It is as if
one's grave, full of the blackness of the undiscovered country,
were pursuing him and ever yawning beneath his body.  And that big
river is the very tiger of waters, now stealing on pussy-footed,
now rushing with cat-like swiftness, hissing and striking with
currents that have in them mighty sinews.  I was now companion of
those cold-mouthed monsters of the river bottom, many of which I
had seen.  What if one should lay hold on me and drag me under?
Then I thought of rapids that might smother me with their spray or
dash me to hidden rocks.  Often I lifted my ears, marvelling at the
many voices of the river.  Sometimes I thought I heard a roaring
like that of the Sault, but it was only a ripple growing into
fleecy waves that rocked me as in a cradle.  The many sounds were
above, below, and beside me, some weird and hollow and unearthly.
I could hear rocks rolling over in their sleep on the bottom, and,
when the water was still, a sound like the cropping of lily-pads
away off on the river-margin.  The bellowing of a cow terrified me
as it boomed over the sounding sheet of water.  The river rang like
a mighty drum when a peal of far thunder beat upon it.  I put out
my hands to take a stroke or two as I lay on my back, and felt
something floating under water.  The feel of it filled me with
horror.  I swam faster; it was at my heels.  I knew full well what
my hand had touched--a human head floating face downward: I could
feel the hair in my fingers.  I turned and swam hard, but still it
followed me.  My knees hit upon it, and then my feet.  Again and
again I could feel it as I kicked.  Its hand seemed to be clutching
my trousers.  I thought I should never get clear of the ghastly
thing.  I remember wondering if it were the body of poor D'ri.  I
turned aside, swimming another way, and then I felt it no more.

In the dead of the night I heard suddenly a kind of throbbing in
the breast of the river.  It grew to a noisy heart-beat as I
listened.  Again and again I heard it, striking, plashing, like a
footfall, and coming nearer.  Somehow I got the notion of a giant,
like those of whom my mother had told me long ago, striding in the
deep river.  I could hear his boots dripping as he lifted them.  I
got an odd fear that he would step on me.  Then I heard music and
lifted my ears above water.  It was a voice singing in the
distance,--it must have been a mile off,--and what I had taken for
a near footfall shrank away.  I knew now it was the beat of oars in
some far bay.

A long time after I had ceased to hear it, something touched my
shoulder and put me in a panic.  Turning over, I got a big mouthful
of water.  Then I saw it was a gang of logs passing me, and quickly
caught one.  Now, to me the top side of a log was as easy and
familiar as a rocking-chair.  In a moment I was sitting comfortably
on my captive.  A bit of rubbish, like that the wind had sown,
trailed after the gang of logs, I felt it over, finding a straw hat
and a piece of board some three feet long, with which latter I
paddled vigorously.

It must have been long past midnight when I came to an island
looming in the dark ahead.  I sculled for it, stranding on a rocky
beach, and alighted, hauling the log ashore.  The moon came out as
I stood wringing my trouser legs.  I saw the island rose high and
narrow and was thickly wooded.  I remember saying something to
myself, when I heard a quick stir in the bushes near me.  Looking
up, I saw a tall figure.  Then came a familiar voice:--

"Thet you, Ray?  Judas Priest!"

I was filled with joy at the sight of D'ri, and put my arms about
him and lifted him off his feet, and, faith!  I know my eyes were
wet as my trousers.  Then, as we sat down, I told him how I had
taken to the river.

"Lucky ye done it!" said he.  "Jerushy Jane!  It is terrible lucky!
They 'd 'a' tuk ye sartin.  Somebody see thet jack on the back o'
my hand, there 'n Cornwall, 'n' put 'em efter me.  But I was bound
'n' detarmined they 'd never tek me alive, never!  Ef I ever dew
any fightin', 't ain't a-goin' t' be fer England, nut by a side o'
sole-leather.  I med up my mind I 'd begin the war right then an'
there."

"That fellow never knew what hit him," I remarked.  "He did n't get
up for half a minute."

"Must 'a' swatted 'im powerful," said D'ri, as he felt his
knuckles.  "Gol-dum ther picturs!  Go 'n' try t' yank a man right
off a boat like thet air when they hain' no right t' tech 'im.   Ef
I 'd 'a' hed Ol' Beeswax, some on 'em 'd 'a' got hurt."

"How did you get here?" I inquired.

"Swum," said he.  "Could n't go nowheres else.  Current fetched me
here.  Splits et the head o' the island--boun' ter land ye right
here.  Got t' be movin'.  They 'll be efter us, mebbe--'s the fust
place they 'd look."

A few logs were stranded on the stony point of the island.  We
withed three others to mine, setting sail with two bits of
driftwood for paddles.  We pulled for the south shore, but the
current carried us rapidly down-river.  In a bay some two miles
below we found, to our joy, the two sections of the big raft
undergoing repairs.  At daybreak D'ri put off in the woods for home.

"Don't like the idee o' goin' int' the British navy," said he.  "'D
ruther chop wood 'n' ketch bears over 'n St. Lawrence County.
Good-by, Ray!  Tek care o' yerself."

Those were the last words he said to me, and soon I was on the raft
again, floating toward the great city of my dreams.  I had a mighty
fear the schooner would overhaul us, but saw nothing more of her.
I got new clothes in Montreal, presenting myself in good repair.
They gave me hearty welcome, those good friends of my mother, and I
spent a full year in the college, although, to be frank, I was near
being sent home more than once for fighting and other deviltry.

It was midsummer when I came back again.  I travelled up the river
road, past our island refuge of that dark night; past the sweeping,
low-voiced currents that bore me up; past the scene of our wreck in
the whirlwind; past the great gap in the woods, to stand open God
knows how long.  I was glad to turn my face to the south shore, for
in Canada there was now a cold welcome for most Yankees, and my
fists were sore with resenting the bitter taunt.  I crossed in a
boat from Iroquois, and D'ri had been waiting for me half a day at
the landing.  I was never so glad to see a man--never but once.
Walking home I saw corn growing where the forest had been--acres of
it.

"D'ri," said I, in amazement, "how did you ever do it?  There 's
ten years' work here."

"God helped us," said he, soberly.   "The trees went over 'n the
windfall,--slammed 'em down luk tenpins fer a mild er more,--an' we
jes' burnt up the rubbish."




IV

April was near its end.  The hills were turning green, albeit we
could see, here and there on the high ledge above us, little
patches of snow--the fading footprints of winter.  Day and night we
could hear the wings of the wild fowl roaring in the upper air as
they flew northward.  Summer was coming,--the summer of 1812,--and
the war with the British.  The President had called for a hundred
thousand volunteers to go into training for battle.  He had also
proclaimed there would be no more whipping in the ranks.  Then my
father told me that, since I could have no peace at home, I should
be off to the war and done with it.

We were working near the road that day Thurst Miles came galloping
out of the woods, waving his cap at us.  We ran to meet him--my
father and I and the children.  He pulled up a moment, his horse
lathered to the ears.

"Injuns!" he shouted.  "Git out o' here quick 'n' mek fer the
Corners!  Ye 'll be all massacreed ef ye don't."

Then he whacked the wet flank of his horse with a worn beech bough,
and off he went.

We ran to the house in a great panic.  I shall never forget the
crying of the children.  Indians had long been the favorite bugbear
of the border country.  Many a winter's evening we had sat in the
firelight, fear-faced, as my father told of the slaughter in Cherry
Valley; and, with the certainty of war, we all looked for the red
hordes of Canada to come, in paint and feathers.

"Ray," my father called to me, as he ran, "ketch the cow quick an'
bring 'er 'long."

I caught her by the horn and brought her to the door quickly.
Mother was throwing some clothes into a big bundle.  Father met me
with a feather bed in his arms.  He threw it over the back of the
cow and bound it on with a bed-cord.  That done, he gave me the
leading-rope to tie about her horns.  The hoofs of the flying horse
were hardly out of hearing when we were all in the road.  My mother
carried the baby, and my father his sword and rifle and one of the
little ones.  I took the three older children and set them on the
feather bed that was bound to the back of the cow.  They clung to
the bed-cord, their hair flying, as the old cow ran to keep up with
us, for at first we were all running.  In a moment we could hear
the voices of people coming behind.  One of the women was weeping
loudly as she ran.  At the first cross-road we saw Arv Law and his
family coming, in as great a hurry as we, Arv had a great pike-pole
in his hand.  Its upper end rose twenty feet above his head.

"What ye goin' t' dew with thet?" my father asked him.

"Goin' t' run it through the fust Injun I see," said he.  "I 've
broke the lock o' my gun."

There was a crowd at Jerusalem Four Corners when we got there.
Every moment some family was arriving in a panic--the men, like my
father, with guns and babies and baskets.  The women, with the
young, took refuge at once in the tavern, while the men surrounded
it.  Inside the line were youths, some oddly armed with slings or
clubs or cross-guns.  I had only the sword my father gave me and a
mighty longing to use it.  Arv Law rested an end of his pike-pole
and stood looking anxiously for "red devils" among the stumps of
the farther clearing.  An old flint-lock, on the shoulder of a man
beside him, had a barrel half as long as the pole.  David Church
was equipped with axe and gun, that stood at rest on either side of
him.

Evening came, and no sign of Indians.  While it was growing dusk I
borrowed a pail of the innkeeper and milked the cow, and brought
the pail, heaped with froth, to my mother, who passed brimming cups
of milk among the children.  As night fell, we boys, more daring
than our fathers, crept to the edge of the timber and set the big
brush-heaps afire, and scurried back with the fear of redmen at our
heels.  The men were now sitting in easy attitudes and had begun to
talk.

"Don't b'lieve there's no Injuns comin'," said Bill Foster.  "Ef
they wus they 'd come."

"'Cordin' t' my observation," said Arv Law, looking up at the sky,
"Injuns mos' gen'ally comes when they git ready."

"An' 't ain't when yer ready t' hev 'em, nuther," said Lon
Butterfield.

"B'lieve they come up 'n' peeked out o' the bushes 'n' see Arv with
thet air pike-pole, 'n' med up their minds they hed n't better run
up ag'in' it," said Bill Foster.  "Scairt 'em--thet's whut's th'
matter."

"Man 'et meks light o' this pole oughter hev t' carry it," said
Arv, as he sat impassively resting it upon his knee.

"One things sure," said Foster; "ef Arv sh'u'd cuff an Injun with
thet air he 'll squ'sh 'im."

"Squ'sh 'im!" said Arv, with a look of disgust.  "'T ain't med t'
squ'sh with, I cal'late t' p'int it at 'em 'n' jab."

And so, as the evening wore away and sleep hushed the timid, a
better feeling came over us.  I sat by Rose Merriman on the steps,
and we had no thought of Indians.  I was looking into her big hazel
eyes, shining in the firelight, and thinking how beautiful she was.
And she, too, was looking into my eyes, while we whispered
together, and the sly minx read my thoughts, I know, by the look of
her.

Great flames were now leaping high as the timber-tops at the edge
of the clearing.  A dead spruce caught fire as we were looking.
The flames threw over it a lacy, shimmering, crackling net of gold.
Then suddenly it burst into a red, leaping tower.  A few moments,
and the cavern of the woods, along the timber side, was choked with
fire.  The little hamlet had become a spring of light in the
darkness.  We could see the stumps and houses far afield, as if it
had been noonday.  Suddenly we all jumped to our feet.  A wild yell
came echoing through the woods.

"There they be!" said Asher Eastman, as he cocked his gun.  "I tol'
ye so."

As a matter of fact, he had told us nothing of the kind.  He was
the one man who had said nothing.

Arv Law stood erect, his pike-pole poised in both hands, and we
were all ready for action.  We could hear the rattle of many hoofs
on the road.  As soon as the column showed in the firelight, Bill
Foster up with his musket and pulled the trigger.  I could hear the
shot scatter on stump and stone.  Every man had his gun to his eye.

"Wait till they come nearer," said Asher Eastman.

The Indians had halted.  Far behind them we could hear the wild
hallooing of many voices.  In a moment we could see those on
horseback go galloping off in the direction whence they had come.
Back in the house a number of the women were praying.  My mother
came out, her face whiter than I had ever seen it before, and
walked to my father, and kissed him without ever saying a word.
Then she went back into the house.

"Scairt?" I inquired, turning to Rose, who now stood beside me.

"I should think I was," she whispered.  "I 'm all of a tremble."

"If anything happens, I 'd like something to remember you by."

"What?" she whispered.

I looked at her beautiful red lips.  She had never let me kiss them.

"A kiss, if nothing more," I answered.

She gave me a kiss then that told me something of what was in her
heart, and went away into the house.

"Goin' t' surround us," said Arv Law--"thet 's whut 's th' matter."

"Mus' be ready t' rassle 'em any minute," said Asher Eastman, as he
sidled over to a little group.

A young man came out of the house and took his place in line with a
big squirt-gun and a pail of steaming-hot water.

The night wore on; our fires burned low.  As the approaching day
began to light the clearing, we heard a sound that brought us all
to our feet.  A burst of bugle notes went chasing over the
timber-land to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."  We looked at one
another in surprise.  Then there came a thunder of hoofs in the
distance, the ragged outline of a troop of cavalry.

"Soldiers!" said Arv, as he raised his pike.

"The British?" somebody asked.

"Dunno," said he.  "Ain' no Injuns, I don't b'lieve."

A troop of cavalry was approaching at a gallop.  They pulled up a
few rods away and jammed into a big crescent of rearing, trampling
horses.  We could see they were American soldiers.  We all lowered
our guns.

"Who are you?" one of them shouted.

"Citizens," my father answered.

"Why are you armed?"

"To fight Injuns."

A chorus of laughter came from the cavalry.

They loosed rein, letting their horses advance.

"My dear man," said one of them, a big shako on his head, "there
ain't an Indian 'tween here an' St. Regis.  We thought you were
British, an' it's lucky we did n't charge in the dark; we 'd have
cut you all to pieces before we knew who you were,"

A body of infantry was marching down the pike.  They were the
volunteers of Captain Darius Hawkins, on their way to Ogdensburg,
with an escort of cavalry from Sackett's Harbor.  The scare was
over.  Women came out, laughing and chattering.  In a few moments
they were all in the road, going home--men, women, and children.

I enlisted with Captain Hawkins, and hurried to the house, and
packed my things, and bade them all good-by.




V

I followed the camp and took my place in the ranks at Ogdensburg.
We went immediately into barracks--a structure long and low and
weather-stained, overlooking the St. Lawrence.  There was a fine
level field in front of it, and a flag waving at the top of a high
staff.  The men cheered lustily that afternoon as they passed it,
where stood General Jacob Brown, his cocked hat in his hand--a
splendid figure of a man, My delight in the life of a soldier began
that hour, and has never left me.

There was a lot of horse-play that night, in which some of the
green boys were roughly handled.  They told me, I remember, that
all new recruits had to fight a duel; but when they gave me the
choice of weapons I was well content.  I had the sure eye of my
father, and the last time I had fenced with him, there at home, he
said my arm was stronger and quicker than his had ever been.
Indeed, I was no sooner tall enough to swing a sword than he began
teaching me how to use it.  In the wood back of the barracks that
night, they learned I was not a man to be fooled with.  The tall
sergeant who stood before me saw his sword go flying in the gloom
the second thrust he made at me, and ran for his life, amid roars
of laughter.  I had no lack of friends after that day.

It was a year of surprises in the Northern army, and D'ri was the
greatest of all.  That long, wiry, sober-faced Yankee conquered the
smartness of the new camp in one decisive and immortal victory.  At
first they were disposed to poke fun at him.

"Looks a little tired," said the sergeant of the guard.

"Needs rest--that's what's matter o' him," said the captain.

"Orter be turned out t' grass a leetle while," the adjutant
suggested.

The compliments he failed to hear soon came to him indirectly, and
he had much to put up with.  He kept his temper and smoked
thoughtfully, and took it ail in good part.  The night after he
came they put him on guard duty--a greenhorn, with no knowledge of
any orders but gee and haw.  They told him he should allow nobody
to pass him while on duty, but omitted to mention the countersign.
They instructed him in the serious nature of his task, adding that
his failure to comply with orders would incur the penalty of death.
D'ri looked very sober as he listened.  No man ever felt a keener
sense of responsibility.  They intended, I think, to cross the
lines and take his gun away and have fun with him, but the
countersign would have interfered with their plans.

D'ri went to his post a little after sundown.  The guard was
posted.  The sergeant, with his party of six, started back to the
guard-house, but they never got there.  They went as far as D'ri.
He stood with his gun raised.

"Come another step," said he, "an' I'll let the moonlight through
ye."

They knew he meant it, and they stood still.

"Come for'ard--one et a time," said D'ri, "Drop yer guns 'n' set
down.  Ye look tired."

They did as he commanded, for they could see he meant business, and
they knew he had the right to kill.

Another man came along shortly.

"Halt!  Who comes there?" D'ri demanded,

"Friend with the countersign," he replied.

"Can't fool me," said D'ri.  "Come up here 'n' set down 'n' mek
yerself t' hum.  Drop yer gun fust.  Drop it, er I 'll drop you."

He dropped his gun promptly and accepted the invitation to sit
down.  This last man had some arguments to offer, but D'ri stood
sternly and made no reply.

At eleven o'clock Captain Hawkins sent out inquiries for the
sergeant of the guard and his relief.  He could find nobody who had
seen them since dark.  A corporal was also missing.  The captain
sent a man to look for them.  He got as far as D'ri and sat down.
They waited for him in vain.  The captain stood looking into the
darkness and wondering about his men.  He conferred with Adjutant
Church.  Then he set out with two men to go the rounds.  They got
as far as D'ri.

"Halt!  Who comes there?" he demanded.

"Grand rounds," was the answer of the captain.

"Lay down yer arms," said D'ri, "an" come up here 'n' set down."

"Haven't time," said the captain, failing at first to grasp the
situation.

"You tek time, er I 'll put a hole 'n yer jacket," said D'ri.

One of the privates turned quickly and ran.  D'ri sent a shot after
him, that only grazed a leg, and he kept on.  Then D'ri gave all
attention to his new prisoners.  They could see no amusement in
dodging bullets; they threw their arms on the side-hill and sat
down with the others.

The captain swore as he submitted,

"Don't rile yerself," said D'ri; "you need rest."

"No, I don't, nuther," said the captain.

"Ye'll hev t' hev it, anyway," said D'ri.

"This beats h--!" the captain answered, with a laugh.

A feeling of alarm began to spread.  The adjutant was standing in a
group of men at headquarters soon after midnight.  They were ears
under in the mystery.  The escaped soldier came running toward them
out of the dark.  He was breathing heavily; his leg was bleeding
and sore.

"Wall, what is it?" the adjutant demanded.

"D'ri!" the man gasped, and dropped down exhausted.

"D'ri?" the officer inquired.

"D'ri!" the man repeated.  "It's thet air man they call D'ri.  He's
roped in everybody thet come his way.  They 're all settin' on the
hill up there beside him.  Won't let a man move when he gits him."

The adjutant snickered as he spat an oath.  He was made of iron,
that man Church.

"Post a guard around him," said he, turning to an officer.  "The
dem fool 'd tek the hull garrison ef we did n't.  I 'll go 'n' try
t' pull him off his perch."

"He 'll lay ye up," said the returned private, baring his bloody
leg.  "Eff ye try t' fool with him ye'll limp.  See what he done t'
me."

The adjutant swore again.

"Go t' the hospital," he commanded.

Then he strode away, but he did not return that night.

The moon was shining as the adjutant came, in sight and hailed the
group of prisoners.

"What ye settin' there fer?" he shouted.

"You 'll know 'n a minute," said one of them.

"Halt!  Who comes there?" D'ri demanded.

"Friend with--"

"Don't ye purten' t' be my friend," D'ri answered.  "'T won't work.
Come up here 'n' set down."

"Stop foolin', man," said the adjutant.

"I ain't a-foolin'."

"He ain't a-foolin'; he means business," said one of the prisoners.

"Don't ye tamper with me.  I 'll teach you--" the adjutant
threatened.

"Ain't a-goin' t' tamper with ye a minute," said D'ri.  "If ye
don't set down here quick, I 'll put a hole in ye."

"Lunatic! wha' d' ye mean?"

"I mean t' turn ye out t' grass a leetle while," D'ri answered
soberly.  "Ye look tired."

The officer made at him, but in a flash D'ri had knocked him down
with his musket.  The adjutant rose and, with an oath, joined the
others.

"Dunno but he 'll tek the hull garrison 'fore sunrise," he
muttered.  "Let 'em come--might es well hev comp'ny."

A little before daylight a man sick in the hospital explained the
situation.  He had given D'ri his orders.  They brought him out on
a stretcher.  The orders were rescinded, the prisoners released.

Captain Hawkins, hot to his toes with anger, took D'ri to
headquarters.  General Brown laughed heartily when he heard the
facts, and told D'ri he was made of the right stuff.

"These greenhorns are not nice to play with," he said.  "They're
like some guns--loaded when you don't expect it.  We 've had enough
skylarking."

And when the sick man came out of hospital he went to the
guard-house.

After we had shown our mettle the general always had a good word
for D'ri and me, and he put us to the front in every difficult
enterprise.




VI

We had been four months in Ogdensburg, waiting vainly for some
provocation to fight.  Our own drilling was the only sign of war we
could see on either side of the river.  At first many moved out of
the village, but the mill was kept running, and after a little they
began to come back.  The farms on each side of the river looked as
peaceful as they had ever looked.  The command had grown rapidly.
Thurst Miles of my own neighborhood had come to enlist shortly
after D'ri and I enlisted, and was now in my company.

In September, General Brown was ordered to the Western frontier,
and Captain Forsyth came to command us.  Early in the morning of
October 2, a man came galloping up the shore with a warning, saying
that the river was black with boats a little way down.  Some of us
climbed to the barracks roof, from which we could see and count
them.  There were forty, with two gunboats.  Cannonading began
before the town was fairly awake.  First a big ball went over the
house-tops, hitting a cupola on a church roof and sending bell and
timbers with a crash into somebody's dooryard.  Then all over the
village hens began to cackle and children to wail.  People came
running out of doors half dressed.  A woman, gathering chips in her
dooryard, dropped them, lifted her dress above her head, and ran
for the house.  Unable to see her way, she went around in a wide
circle for a minute or two, while the soldiers were laughing.
Another ball hit a big water-tank on top of the lead-works.   It
hurled broken staves and a big slop of water upon the housetops,
and rolled a great iron hoop over roofs into the street below,
where it rolled on, chasing a group of men, who ran for their lives
before it.  The attack was an odd sort of comedy all through, for
nobody was hurt, and all were frightened save those of us who were
amused.  Our cannon gave quick reply, and soon the British stopped
firing and drew near.  We knew that they would try to force a
landing, and were ready for them.  We drove them back, when they
put off, and that was the end of it.

Next came the fight on the ice in February--a thing not highly
creditable to us, albeit we were then but a handful and they were
many.  But D'ri and I had no cause for shame of our part in it.  We
wallowed to our waists in the snow, and it was red enough in front
of us.  But the others gave way there on the edge of the river, and
we had to follow.  We knew when it was time to run; we were never
in the rear rank even then.  We made off with the others, although
a sabre's point had raked me in the temple, and the blood had
frozen on me, and I was a sight to scare a trooper.  Everybody ran
that day, and the British took the village, holding it only
twenty-four hours.  For our part in it D'ri got the rank of
corporal and I was raised from lieutenant to captain.  We made our
way to Sackett's Harbor, where I went into hospital for a month.

Then came a galling time of idleness.  In June we went with General
Brown--D'ri and I and Thurst Miles and Seth Alexander and half a
dozen others--down the river to the scene of our first fighting at
Ogdensburg, camping well back in the woods.  It was the evening of
the 27th of June that the general sent for me.  He was at the
mansion of Mr. Parish, where he had been dining.  He was sitting in
his dress-suit.  His dark side-whiskers and hair were brushed
carefully forward.  His handsome face turned toward me with a
kindly look.

"Bell," said he, "I wish to send you on very important business.
You have all the qualities of a good scout.  You know the woods.
You have courage and skill and tact.  I wish you to start
immediately, go along the river to Morristown, then cut over into
the Black River country and deliver this letter to the Comte de
Chaumont, at the Chateau Le Ray, in Leraysville.  If you see any
signs of the enemy, send a report to me at once.  I shall be here
three days.  Take Alexander, Olin, and Miles with you; they are all
good men.  When your letter is delivered, report at the Harbor as
soon as possible."

I was on the road with my party in half an hour.  We were all good
horsemen.  D'ri knew the shortest way out of the woods in any part
of the north country.  Thurst had travelled the forest from Albany
to Sackett's Harbor, and was the best hunter that ever trod a trail
in my time.  The night was dark, but we rode at a gallop until we
had left the town far behind us.  We were at Morristown before
midnight, pounding on the door of the Red Tavern.  The landlord
stuck his head out of an upper window, peering down at us by the
light of a candle.

"Everything quiet?" I asked.

"Everything quiet," said he.  "Crossed the river yesterday.  Folks
go back 'n' forth 'bout the same as ever.  Wife's in Elizabethtown
now, visiting."

We asked about the west roads and went on our way.  Long before
daylight we were climbing the steep road at Rossie to the inn of
the Travellers' Rest--a tavern famous in its time, that stood half
up the hill, with a store, a smithy, and a few houses grouped about
it, We came up at a silent walk on a road cushioned with sawdust.
D'ri rapped on the door until I thought he had roused the whole
village.  At last a man came to the upper window.   He, too,
inspected us with a candle.  Then he opened the door and gave us a
hearty welcome.  We put up our horses for a bite, and came into the
bar.

"Anything new?" I inquired.

"They say the British are camped this side of the river, north of
us," said he, "with a big tribe of Injuns.  Some of their cavalry
came within three miles of us to-day.  Everybody scairt t' death."

He began to set out a row of glasses.

"What 'll ye hev?" he inquired.

"Guess I 'll tip a little blue ruin int' me," said D'ri, with a
shiver; "'s a col' night."

Seth and I called for the same.

"An' you?" said the landlord, turning to Thurst.

"Wal," said the latter, as he stroked his thin beard, "when I tuk
the pledge I swore et I hoped t' drop dead 'fore I see myself tek
another drink.  I 'm jest goin' t' shet my eyes 'n' hold out my
glass.  I don' care what ye gi' me s' long es it's somethin'
powerful."

We ate crackers and cheese while the landlord was telling of the
west roads and the probable location of the British.  He stopped
suddenly, peered over my shoulder, and blew out the candle.  We
could hear a horse neighing in the yard.

"Some one et the window," he whispered.  Then he ran to the door
and drew the bolt.  "Ain' much idee who 't is," he added, peering
out of the window.  "By gosh! more 'n a dozen folks out here,
soldiers tew, most uv 'em on horseback.  Come quick."

We followed him upstairs, in the dark, as they began to pound the
door.  From the yard a light flashed up.  They were evidently
building a fire so that they would have better shooting if we came
out.

"May set the house afire," said the landlord.

He quickly unwound a big hose that ran up to a tank in the peak
above us.

"Plenty o' water?" D'ri whispered.

"Rivers uv it," said the landlord.  "Tank's connected with the
reservoir o' the lead-works on the hill up there.  Big wooden pipe
comes in the gable-end."

"Turn 'er on," said D'ri, quickly, "an' let me hev thet air hose."

The landlord ran up a ladder.   D'ri stuck the hose out of the
window.  The stream shot away with a loud hiss.  I stood by and saw
the jet of water leap forth as big as a pikestaff.  A man went off
his horse, sprawling as if he had been hit with a club.  The jet
leaped quickly from one to another, roaring on man and beast.
There was a mighty scurry.  Horses went headlong down the hill,
some dragging their riders.  In the silence of the night, bedlam
had broken loose.  The shouting men, the plunging horses, the
stream of water roaring on rock and road, woke the village.  Men
came running from behind the house to see what had happened, then
rushed after their horses.  Some fell cursing as the water hit
them.  The landlord put his mouth to my ear.

"Mek fer yer hosses," he hissed.

We were below-stairs and out of the door in a jiffy.  Two men fled
before us at the stable, scrambled over the fence, and went
tumbling downhill.  We bridled our horses with all speed, leaped
upon them, and went rushing down the steep road, our swords in
hand, like an avalanche.  They tried to stop us at the foot of the
hill, but fell away as we came near.  I could hear the snap of
their triggers in passing.  Only one pistol-shot came after us, and
that went high.

"Guess their ammunition 's a leetle wet," said D'ri, with a shout
that turned into laughter as we left the British behind us.

A party of four or five mounted and gave chase; but our powder was
a bit drier than theirs, and for a time we raked the road with our
bullets.  What befell them I know not, I only know that they held
up and fell out of hearing.

Crossing a small river at daylight, we took the bed of it, making
our way slowly for half a mile or so into the woods.  There we
built a fire, and gave the horses half the feed in our saddle-bags,
and ate our mess on a flat rock.

"Never hed no sech joemightyful time es thet afore," said D'ri, as
he sat down, laughing, and shook his head.  "Jerushy Jane!  Did n't
we come down thet air hill!  Luk slidin' on a greased pole."

"Comin' so luk the devil they did n't dast git 'n er way," said
Thurst.

"We wus all rippin' th' air 'ith them air joemightyful big sabres,
tew," D'ri went on.  "Hed a purty middlin' sharp edge on us.  Stuck
out luk a haystack right 'n' left."

He began bringing wood as he sang the chorus of his favorite
ballad:--

  Li toorul I oorul I oorul I ay, etc.

Thurst knew a trail that crossed the river near by and met the
Caraway Pike a few miles beyond.  Having eaten, I wrote a despatch
to be taken back by Thurst as soon as we reached the pike.  Past
ten o'clock we turned into a rough road, where the three of us went
one way and Thurst another.

I rode slowly, for the horses were nearly fagged.  I gave them an
hour's rest when we put up for dinner.  Then we pushed on, coming
in sight of the Chateau Le Ray at sundown.  A splendid place it
was, the castle of gray stone fronting a fair stretch of wooded
lawn, cut by a brook that went splashing over rocks near by, and
sent its velvet voice through wood and field.  A road of fine
gravel led through groves of beech and oak and pine to a grassy
terrace under the castle walls.  A servant in livery came to meet
us at the door, and went to call his master.  Presently a tall,
handsome man, with black eyes and iron-gray hair and mustache, came
down a path, clapping his hands.

"Welcome, gentlemen!  It is the Captain Bell?" said he, with a
marked accent, as he came to me, his hand extended.  "You come from
Monsieur the General Brown, do you not?"

"I do," said I, handing him my message.

He broke the seal and read it carefully.

"I am glad to see you--ver' glad to see you!" said he, laying his
hands upon my shoulders and giving me a little shake.

Two servants went away with D'ri and Seth and the horses.

"Come, captain," said my host, as he led the way.  "You are in good
time for dinner."

We entered a great triangular hall, lighted by wide windows above
the door, and candelabra of shining brass that hung from its high
ceiling.  There were sliding doors of polished wood on each side of
it.  A great stairway filled the point of the triangle.  I was
shown to my room, which was as big as a ball-room, it seemed to me,
and grandly furnished; no castle of my dreams had been quite so
fine.  The valet of the count looked after me, with offers of new
linen and more things than I could see use for.  He could not speak
English, I remember, and I addressed him in the good French my
mother had taught me.

The kind of life I saw in this grand home was not wholly new to me,
for both my mother and father had known good living in their youth,
and I had heard much of it.  I should have been glad of a new
uniform; but after I had had my bath and put on the new shirt and
collar the valet had brought me, I stood before the long pier-glass
and saw no poor figure of a man.

The great dining-hall of the count was lighted with many candles
when we came in to dinner.  It had a big fireplace, where logs were
blazing, for the night had turned cool, and a long table with a big
epergne of wrought silver, filled with roses, in its centre.  A
great silken rug lay under the table, on a polished floor, and the
walls were hung with tapestry.  I sat beside the count, and
opposite me was the daughter of the Sieur Louis Francois de
Saint-Michel, king's forester under Louis XVI.  Therese, the
handsome daughter of the count, sat facing him at the farther end
of the table, and beside her was the young Marquis de Gonvello.  M.
Pidgeon, the celebrated French astronomer, Moss Kent, brother of
the since famous chancellor, the Sieur Michel, and the Baroness de
Ferre, with her two wards, the Misses Louise and Louison de
Lambert, were also at dinner.  These young ladies were the most
remarkable of the company; their beauty was so brilliant, so
fascinating, it kindled a great fire in me the moment I saw it.
They said little, but seemed to have much interest in all the talk
of the table.  I looked at them more than was polite, I am sure,
but they looked at me quite as often.  They had big, beautiful
brown eyes, and dark hair fastened high with jewelled pins, and
profiles like those of the fair ladies of Sir Peter Lely, so finely
were they cut.  One had a form a bit fuller and stronger than the
other's, but they were both as tall and trim as a young beech, with
lips cherry-red and cheeks where one could see faintly the glow of
their young blood.  Their gowns were cut low, showing the graceful
lines of neck and shoulder and full bosom.  I had seen pretty
girls, many of them, but few high-bred, beautiful young women.
The moment I saw these two some new and mighty force came into me.
There were wine and wit a-plenty at the count's table, and other
things that were also new to me, and for which I retained perhaps
too great a fondness.

The count asked me to tell of our journey, and I told the story
with all the spirit I could put into my words.  I am happy to say
it did seem to hit the mark, for I was no sooner done with our
adventure than the ladies began to clap their hands, and the Misses
de Lambert had much delight in their faces when the baroness retold
my story in French.

Dinner over, the count invited me to the smoking-room, where, in a
corner by ourselves, I had some talk with him.  He told me of his
father--that he had been a friend of Franklin, that he had given a
ship and a cargo of gunpowder to our navy in '76.  Like others I
had met under his roof, the count had seen the coming of the Reign
of Terror in France, and had fled with his great fortune.  He had
invested much of it there in the wild country.  He loved America,
and had given freely to equip the army for war.  He was, therefore,
a man of much influence in the campaign of the North, and no doubt
those in authority there were instructed, while the war was on, to
take special care of his property.

"And will you please tell me," I said at length, "who are the
Misses de Lambert?"

"Daughters of a friend in Paris," said the count.  "He is a great
physician.  He wishes not for them to marry until they are
twenty-one.  Mon Dieu! it was a matter of some difficulty.  They
were beautiful."

"Very beautiful!" I echoed.

"They were admired," he went on.  "The young men they began to make
trouble.  My friend he send them here, with the baroness, to
study--to finish their education.  It is healthy, it is quiet,
and--well, there are no young gentlemen.  They go to bed early;
they are up at daylight; they have the horse; they have boats; they
amuse themselves ver' much.  But they are impatient; they long for
Paris--the salon, the theatre, the opera.  They are like prisoners:
they cannot make themselves to be contented.  The baroness she has
her villa on a lake back in the woods, and, mon ame! it is
beautiful there--so still, so cool, so delightful!  At present they
have a great fear of the British.  They lie awake; they listen;
they expect to be carried off; they hear a sound in the night, and,
mon Dieu! it is the soldiers coming."

The count laughed, lifting his shoulders with a gesture of both
hands.  Then he puffed thoughtfully at his cigarette.

"Indeed," he went on presently, "I think the invasion is not far
away.  They tell me the woods in the north are alive with British
cavalry.  I am not able to tell how many, but, Dieu! it is enough.
The army should inform itself immediately.  I think it is better
that you penetrate to the river to-morrow, if you are not afraid,
to see what is between, and to return by the woods.  I shall
trouble you to take a letter to the General Brown.  It will be
ready at any hour."

"At six?" I inquired.

"At six, certainly, if you desire to start then," he replied.

He rose and took my arm affectionately and conducted me to the big
drawing-room.  Two of the ladies were singing as one played the
guitar.  I looked in vain for the Misses de Lambert.  The others
were all there, but they had gone.  I felt a singular depression at
their absence and went to my room shortly to get my rest, for I had
to be off early in the morning.  Before going to bed, however, I
sat down to think and do some writing.  But I could not for the
life of me put away the thought of the young ladies.  They looked
alike, and yet I felt sure they were very different.  Somehow I
could not recall in what particular they differed.  I sat a time
thinking over it.  Suddenly I heard low voices, those of women
speaking in French; I could not tell from where they came.

"I do wish she would die, the hateful thing!" said one.  (It must
be understood these words are more violent in English than they
seem in French.)

"The colonel is severe to-night," said another.

"The colonel--a fine baroness indeed--vieille tyran!  I cannot love
her.  Lord!  I once tried to love a monkey and had better luck.
The colonel keeps all the men to herself.  Whom have I seen for a
year?  Dieu! women, grandpapas, greasy guides!  Not a young man
since we left Paris."

"My dear Louison!" said the other, "there are many things better
than men."

"Au nom de Dieu!  But I should like to know what they are.  I have
never seen them."

"But often men are false and evil," said the other, in a sweet, low
voice.

"Nonsense!" said the first, impatiently.  "I had rather elope with
a one-legged hostler than always live in these woods."

"Louison!  You ought to cross yourself and repeat a Hail Mary."

"Thanks!  I have tried prayer.  It is n't what I need.  I am no nun
like you.  My dear sister, don't you ever long for the love of a
man--a big, handsome, hearty fellow who could take you up in his
arms and squeeze the life out of you?"

"Eh bien," said the other, with a sigh, "I suppose it is very nice.
I do not dare to think of it."

"Nice!  It is heaven, Louise!  And to see a man like that and not
be permitted to--to speak to him!  Think of it!  A young and
handsome man--the first I have seen for a year!  Honestly I could
poison the colonel."

"My dear, it is the count as much as the colonel.  She is under his
orders, and he has an eagle eye."

"The old monkey!  He enrages me!  I could rend him limb from limb!"

I could not help hearing what they said, but I did not think it
quite fair to share their confidence any further, so I went to one
of the windows and closed a shutter noisily.  The voices must have
come from a little balcony just under my room.

"My dear sister, you are very terrible," said one of them, and then
the shutter came to, and I heard no more.

A full moon lighted the darkness.  A little lake gleamed like
silver between the tree-tops.  Worn out with hard travel, I fell
into bed shortly, and lay a long time thinking of those young
ladies, of the past, of to-morrow and its perils, and of the
farther future.   A new life had begun for me.




VII

The sun was lifting above the tree-tops when the count's valet
called me that morning at the Chateau Le Ray.  Robins were calling
under my windows, and the groves rang with tournaments of happy
song.  Of that dinner-party only the count was at breakfast with
me.  We ate hurriedly, and when we had risen the horses were at the
door.  As to my own, a tall chestnut thoroughbred that Mr. Parish
had brought over from England, I never saw him in finer fettle.  I
started Seth by Caraway Pike for Ogdensburg with the count's
message.

Mine host laid hold of my elbow and gave it a good shake as I left
him, with D'ri, taking a trail that led north by west in the deep
woods.  They had stuffed our saddle-bags with a plenty for man and
horse.

I could not be done thinking of the young ladies.  It put my heart
in a flutter when I looked back at the castle from the wood's edge
and saw one of them waving her handkerchief in a window.  I lifted
my hat, and put my spurs to the flank with such a pang in me I
dared not look again.  Save for that one thing, I never felt
better.  The trail was smooth, and we galloped along in silence for
a mile or so.  Then it narrowed to a stony path, where one had
enough to do with slow going to take care of his head, there were
so many boughs in the way.

"Jerushy Jane!" exclaimed D'ri, as he slowed down.  "Thet air's a
gran' place.  Never hed my karkiss in no sech bed as they gin me
las' night--softer 'n wind, an' hed springs on like them new wagins
ye see over 'n Vermont.  Jerushy!  Dreamed I was flyin'."

I had been thinking of what to do if we met the enemy and were hard
pressed.  We discussed it freely, and made up our minds that if
there came any great peril of capture we would separate, each to
take his own way out of the difficulty.

We halted by a small brook at midday, feeding the horses and
ourselves out of the saddle-bags.

"Ain't jest eggzac'ly used t' this kind uv a sickle," said D'ri, as
he felt the edge of his sabre, "but I 'll be dummed ef it don't
seem es ef I 'd orter be ruther dang'rous with thet air 'n my hand."

He knew a little about rough fighting with a sabre.  He had seen my
father and me go at each other hammer and tongs there in our
door-yard every day of good weather.  Stormy days he had always
stood by in the kitchen, roaring with laughter, as the good steel
rang and the house trembled.  He had been slow to come to it, but
had had his try with us, and had learned to take an attack without
flinching.  I went at him hard for a final lesson that day in the
woods--a great folly, I was soon to know.  We got warm and made
more noise than I had any thought of.  My horse took alarm and
pulled away, running into a thicket.  I turned to catch him.

"Judas Priest!" said D'ri.

There, within ten feet of us, I saw what made me, ever after, a
more prudent man.  It was an English officer leaning on his sword,
a tall and handsome fellow of some forty years, in shiny top-hoots
and scarlet blouse and gauntlets of brown kid.

"You are quite clever," said he, touching his gray mustache.

I made no answer, but stood pulling myself together.

"You will learn," he added, smiling, with a tone of encouragement.
"Let me show you a trick."

He was most polite in his manner, like a play-hero, and came toward
me as he spoke.  Then I saw four other Britishers coming out to
close in upon us from behind trees.

He came at me quickly, and I met him.  He seemed to think it would
be no trick to unhand my weapon.  Like a flash, with a whip of his
sabre, he tried to wrench it away.  D'ri had begun to shoot,
dodging between trees, and a redcoat had tumbled over.  I bore in
upon my man, but he came back at me with surprising vigor.  On my
word, he was the quickest swordsman I ever had the honor of facing.

But he had a mean way of saying "Ha!" as he turned my point.  He
soon angered me, whereupon I lost a bit of caution, with some
blood, for he was at me like a flash, and grazed me on the hip
before I could get my head again.  It was no parlor play, I can
tell you.  We were fighting for life, and both knew it.  We fought
up and down through brakes and bushes and over stones--a perilous
footing.  I could feel his hand weakening.  I put all my speed to
the steel then, knowing well that, barring accident, I should win.
I could hear somebody coming up behind me.

"Keep away there," my adversary shouted, with a fairness I admire
when I think of it.  "I can handle him.  Get the other fellow."

I went at him to make an end of it.

"I'll make you squint, you young cub," he hissed, lunging at me.

He ripped my blouse at the shoulder, and, gods of war! we made the
sparks fly.  Then he went down, wriggling; I had caught him in the
side, poor fellow!  Like a flash I was off in a thicket.  One of
the enemy got out of my way and sent a bullet after me.  I could
feel it rip and sting in the muscle as it rubbed my ribs.  I kept
foot and made for my horse.  He had caught his reins, and I was on
him and off in the bush, between bullets that came ripping the
leaves about me, before they could give chase.

Drums were beating the call to arms somewhere.  I struck the trail
in a minute, and, leaning low in the saddle, went bounding over
logs and rocks and down a steep hillside as if the devil were after
me.  I looked back, and was nearly raked off by a bough.  I could
hear horses coming in the trail behind with quick and heavy jumps.
But I was up to rough riding and had little fear they would get a
sight of me.  However, crossing a long stretch of burnt timber,
they must have seen me.  I heard a crack of pistols far behind; a
whiz of bullets over my head.  I shook out the reins and let the
horse go, urging with cluck and spur, never slacking for rock or
hill or swale.  It was a wilder ride than any I have known since or
shall again, I can promise you, for, God knows, I have been hurt
too often.  Fast riding over a new trail is leaping in the dark and
worse than treason to one's self.  Add to it a saddle wet with your
own blood, then you have something to give you a turn of the
stomach thinking of it.

When I was near tumbling with a kind of rib-ache and could hear no
pursuer, I pulled up.  There was silence about me, save the sound
of a light breeze in the tree-tops.  I rolled off my horse, and
hooked my elbow in the reins, and lay on my belly, grunting with
pain.  I felt better, having got my breath, and a rod of beech to
bite upon--a good thing if one has been badly stung and has a
journey to make.  In five minutes I was up and off at a slow jog,
for I knew I was near safety.

I thought much of poor D'ri and how he might be faring.  The last I
had seen of him, he was making good use of pistol and legs, running
from tree to tree.  He was a dead shot, little given to wasting
lead.  The drums were what worried me, for they indicated a big
camp, and unless he got to the stirrups in short order, he must
have been taken by overwhelming odds.  It was near sundown when I
came to a brook and falls I could not remember passing.  I looked
about me.  Somewhere I had gone off the old trail--everything was
new to me.  It widened, as I rode on, up a steep hill.  Where the
tree-tops opened, the hill was covered with mossy turf, and there
were fragrant ferns on each side of me.  The ground was clear of
brush and dead timber.  Suddenly I heard a voice singing--a sweet
girl voice that thrilled me, I do not know why, save that I always
longed for the touch of a woman if badly hurt.  But then I have
felt that way having the pain of neither lead nor steel.  The voice
rang in the silent woods, but I could see no one nor any sign of
human habitation.  Shortly I came out upon a smooth roadway
carpeted with sawdust.  It led through a grove, and following it, I
came suddenly upon a big green mansion among the trees, with Doric
pillars and a great portico where hammocks hung with soft cushions
in them, and easy-chairs of old mahogany stood empty.  I have said
as little as possible of my aching wound: I have always thought it
bad enough for one to suffer his own pain.  But I must say I was
never so tried to keep my head above me as when I came to that
door.  Two figures in white came out to meet me.  At first I did
not observe--I had enough to do keeping my eyes open--that they
were the Mlles. de Lambert.

"God save us!" I heard one of them say.  "He is hurt; he is pale.
See the blood running off his boot-leg."

Then, as one took the bit, the other eased me down from my saddle,
calling loudly for help.  She took her handkerchief--that had a
perfume I have not yet forgotten--as she supported me, and wiped
the sweat and dust from my face.  Then I saw they were the splendid
young ladies I had seen at the count's table.  The discovery put
new life in me; it was like a dash of water in the face.  I lifted
my hat and bowed to them.

"Ladies, my thanks to you," I said in as good French as I knew.  "I
have been shot.  May I ask you to send for a doctor?"

A butler ran down the steps; a gardener and a stable-boy hurried
out of the grove.

"To the big room--the Louis-Quinze," said one of the girls,
excitedly, as the men came to my help.

The fat butler went puffing upstairs, and they followed, on each
side of me.

"Go for a doctor, quick," said one of them to the gardener, who was
coming behind--a Frenchman who prayed to a saint as he saw my blood.

They led me across a great green rug in a large hall above-stairs
to a chamber of which I saw little then save its size and the
wealth of its appointments.  The young ladies set me down, bidding
one to take off my boots, and sending another for hot water.  They
asked me where I was hurt.  Then they took off my blouse and
waistcoat.

"Mon Dieu!" said one to the other.  "What can we do?  Shall we cut
the shirt?"

"Certainly.  Cut the shirt," said the other.  "We must help him.
We cannot let him die."

"God forbid!" was the answer.  "See the blood.  Poor fellow!  It is
terrible!"

They spoke very tenderly as they cut my shirt with scissors, and
bared my back, and washed my wound with warm water.  I never felt a
touch so caressing as that of their light fingers, but, gods of
war! it did hurt me.  The bathing done, they bound me big with
bandages and left the room until the butler had helped me into bed.
They came soon with spirits and bathed my face and hands.  One
leaned over me, whispering, and asking what I would like to eat.
Directly a team of horses came prancing to the door.

"The colonel!" one of them whispered, listening.

"The colonel, upon my soul!" said the other, that sprightly
Louison, as she tiptoed to the window.  They used to call her
"Tiptoes" at the Hermitage.

The colonel!  I remembered she was none other than the Baroness de
Ferre; and thinking of her and of the grateful feeling of the
sheets of soft linen, I fell asleep.




VIII

The doctor came that night, and took out of my back a piece of
flattened lead.  It had gone under the flesh, quite half round my
body, next to the ribs, without doing worse than to rake the bone
here and there and weaken me with a loss of blood.  I woke awhile
before he came.  The baroness and the fat butler were sitting
beside me.  She was a big, stout woman of some forty years, with
dark hair and gray eyes, and teeth of remarkable whiteness and
symmetry.  That evening, I remember, she was in full dress.

"My poor boy!" said she, in English and in a sympathetic tone, as
she bent over me.

Indeed, my own mother could not have been kinder than that good
woman.  She was one that had a heart and a hand for the sick-room.
I told her how I had been hurt and of my ride.  She heard me
through with a glow in her eyes.

"What a story!" said she.  "What a daredevil!  I do not see how it
has been possible for you to live."

She spoke to me always in English of quaint wording and quainter
accent.  She seemed not to know that I could speak French.

An impressive French tutor--a fine old fellow, obsequious and
bald-headed--sat by me all night to give me medicine.  In the
morning I felt as if I had a new heart in me, and was planning to
mount my horse.  I thought I ought to go on about my business, but
I fear I thought more of the young ladies and the possibility of my
seeing them again.  The baroness came in after I had a bite to eat.
I told her I felt able to ride,

"You are not able, my child.  You cannot ride the horse now," said
she, feeling my brow; "maybe not for a ver' long time.  I have a
large house, plenty servant, plenty food.  Parbleu! be content.  We
shall take good care of you.  If there is one message to go to your
chief, you know I shall send it."

I wrote a brief report of my adventure with the British, locating
the scene as carefully as might be, and she sent it by mounted
messenger to "the Burg."

"The young ladies they wish to see you," said the baroness.  "They
are kind-hearted; they would like to do what they can.  But I tell
them no; they will make you to be very tired."

"On the contrary, it will rest me.  Let them come," I said.

"But I warn you," said she, lifting her finger as she left the
room, "do not fall in love.  They are full of mischief.  They do
not study.  They do not care.  You know they make much fun all day."

The young ladies came in presently.  They wore gray gowns admirably
fitted to their fine figures.  They brought big bouquets and set
them, with a handsome courtesy, on the table beside me.  They took
chairs and sat solemn-faced, without a word, as if it were a Quaker
meeting they had come to.  I never saw better models of sympathetic
propriety.  I was about to speak.  One of them shook her head, a
finger on her lips.

"Do not say one word," she said solemnly in English.  "It will make
you ver' sick."

It was the first effort of either of them to address me in English.
As I soon knew, the warning had exhausted her vocabulary.  The
baroness went below in a moment.   Then the one who had spoken came
over and sat near me, smiling.

"She does not know you can speak French," said she, whispering and
addressing me in her native tongue, as the other tiptoed to the
door.  "On your life, do not let her know.  She will never permit
us to see you.  She will keep us under lock and key.  She knows we
cannot speak English, so she thinks we cannot talk with you.  It is
a great lark.  Are you better?"

What was I to do under orders from such authority?  As they bade
me, I hope you will say, for that is what I did.  I had no easy
conscience about it, I must own.  Day after day I took my part in
the little comedy.  They came in Quaker-faced if the baroness were
at hand, never speaking, except to her, until she had gone.
Then--well, such animation, such wit, such bright eyes, such
brilliancy, I have never seen or heard.

My wound was healing.  War and stern duty were as things of the far
past.  The grand passion had hold of me.  I tried to fight it down,
to shake it off, but somehow it had the claws of a tiger.  There
was an odd thing about it all: I could not for the life of me tell
which of the two charming girls I loved the better.  It may seem
incredible; I could not understand it myself.  They looked alike,
and yet they were quite different.  Louison was a year older and of
stouter build.  She had more animation also, and always a quicker
and perhaps a brighter answer.  The other had a face more serious,
albeit no less beautiful, and a slower tongue.  She had little to
say, but her silence had much in it to admire, and, indeed, to
remember.  They appealed to different men in me with equal force, I
did not then know why.  A perplexing problem it was, and I had to
think and suffer much before I saw the end of it, and really came
to know what love is and what it is not.

[Illustration: "I could not for the life of me tell which of the
two charming girls I loved the better."]

Shortly I was near the end of this delightful season of illness.  I
had been out of bed a week.  The baroness had read to me every day,
and had been so kind that I felt a great shame for my part in our
deception.  Every afternoon she was off in a boat or in her
caleche, and had promised to take me with her as soon as I was able
to go.

"You know," said she, "I am going to make you to stay here a full
month.  I have the consent of the general."

I had begun to move about a little and enjoy the splendor of that
forest home.  There were, indeed, many rare and priceless things in
it that came out of her chateau in France.  She had some curious
old clocks, tokens of ancestral taste and friendship.  There was
one her grandfather had got from the land of Louis XIV.--_Le Grand
Monarque_, of whom my mother had begun to tell me as soon as I
could hear with understanding.  Another came from the bedchamber of
Philip II of Spain--a grand high clock that had tolled the hours in
that great hall beyond my door.  A little thing, in a case of
carved ivory, that ticked on a table near my bed, Moliere had given
to one of her ancestors, and there were many others of equal
interest.

Her walls were adorned with art treasures of the value of which I
had little appreciation those days.  But I remember there were
canvases of Correggio and Rembrandt and Sir Joshua Reynolds.  She
was, indeed, a woman of fine taste, who had brought her best to
America; for no one had a doubt, in the time of which I am writing,
that the settlement of the Compagnie de New York would grow into a
great colony, with towns and cities and fine roadways, and the full
complement of high living.  She had built the Hermitage,--that was
the name of the mansion,--fine and splendid as it was, for a mere
temporary shelter pending the arrival of those better days.

She had a curious fad, this hermit baroness of the big woods.  She
loved nature and was a naturalist of no poor attainments.  Wasps
and hornets were the special study of this remarkable woman.  There
were at least a score of their nests on her front portico--big and
little, and some of them oddly shaped.  She hunted them in wood and
field.  When she found a nest she had it moved carefully after
nightfall, under a bit of netting, and fastened somewhere about the
gables.  Around the Hermitage there were many withered boughs and
briers holding cones of wrought fibre, each a citadel of these
uniformed soldiers of the air and the poisoned arrow.  They were
assembled in colonies of yellow, white, blue, and black wasps, and
white-faced hornets.  She had no fear of them, and, indeed, no one
of the household was ever stung to my knowledge.  I have seen her
stand in front of her door and feed them out of a saucer.  There
were special favorites that would light upon her palm, overrunning
its pink hollow and gorging at the honey-drop.

"They will never sting," she would say, "if one does not declare
the war.  To strike, to make any quick motion, it gives them anger.
Then, mon cher ami! it is terrible.  They cause you to burn, to
ache, to make a great noise, and even to lie down upon the ground.
If people come to see me, if I get a new servant, I say: 'Make to
them no attention, and they will not harm you.'"

In the house I have seen her catch one by the wings on a window
and, holding it carefully ask me to watch her captive--sometimes a
a great daredevil hornet, lion-maned--as he lay stabbing with his
poison-dagger.

"Now," said she, "he is angry; he will remember.  If I release him
he will sting me when I come near him again.  So I do not permit
him to live--I kill him."

Then she would impale him and invite me to look at him with the
microscope.

One day the baroness went away to town with the young ladies.  I
was quite alone with the servants.  Father Joulin of the chateau
came over and sat awhile with me, and told me how he had escaped
the Parisian mob, a night in the Reign of Terror.  Late in the
afternoon I walked awhile in the grove with him.  When he left I
went slowly down the trail over which I had ridden.  My strength
was coming fast.  I felt like an idle man, shirking the saddle,
when I should be serving my country.  I must to my horse and make
an end to dallying.  With thoughts like these for company, I went
farther than I intended.  Returning over the bushy trail I came
suddenly upon--Louison! She was neatly gowned in pink and white.

"Le diable!" said she.  "You surprise me.  I thought you went
another way."

"Or you would not have taken this one," I said.

"Of course not," said she.  "One does not wish to find men if she
is hunting for--for--" she hesitated a moment, blushing--"mon Dieu!
for bears," she added.

I thought then, as her beautiful eyes looked up at me smiling, that
she was incomparable, that I loved her above all others--I felt
sure of it.

"And why do you hunt bears?" I inquired.

"I do not know.  I think it is because they are so--so beautiful,
so amiable!" she answered.

"And such good companions."

"Yes; they never embarrass you," she went on.  "You never feel at
loss for a word."

"I fear you do not know bears."

"Dieu! better than men.  Voila!" she exclaimed, touching me with
the end of her parasol.  "You are not so terrible.  I do not think
you would bite."

"No; I have never bitten anything but--but bread and doughnuts, or
something of that sort."

"Come, I desire to intimidate you.  Won't you please be afraid of
me?  Indeed, I can be very terrible.  See! I have sharp teeth."


She turned with a playful growl, and parting her crimson lips,
showed them to me--white and shapely, and as even as if they had
been wrought of ivory.  She knew they were beautiful, the vixen.

"You terrify me.  I have a mind to run," I said, backing off,

"Please do not run," she answered quickly.  "I should be afraid
that--that--"

She hesitated a moment, stirring the moss with one dainty foot.

"That you might not return," she added, smiling as she looked up at
me.

"Then--then perhaps it will do as well if I climb a tree."

"No, no; I wish to talk with you."

"Ma'm'selle, you honor me," I said.

"And dishonor myself, I presume, with so much boldness," she went
on.  "It is only that I have something to say; and you know when a
woman has something to--to say--"

"It is a fool that does not listen if she be as fair as you," I put
in.

"You are--well, I shall not say what I think of you, for fear--for
fear of giving offence," said she, blushing as she spoke.  "Do you
like the life of a soldier?"

"Very much, and especially when I am wounded, with such excellent
care and company."

"But your side--it was so horribly torn.  I did feel very
sorry--indeed I did.  You will go again to the war?"

"Unless--unless--Ah, yes, ma'm'selle, I shall go again to the war,"
I stammered, going to the brink of confession, only to back away
from it, as the blood came hot to my cheeks.

She broke a tiny bough and began stripping its leaves.

"Tell me, do you love the baroness?" she inquired as she whipped a
swaying bush of brier.

The question amazed me.  I laughed nervously.

"I respect, I admire the good woman--she would make an excellent
mother," was my answer.

"Well spoken!" she said, clapping her hands.  "I thought you were a
fool.  I did not know whether you were to blame or--or the Creator."

"Or the baroness," I added, laughing.

"Well," said she, with a pretty shrug, "is there not a man for
every woman?  The baroness she thinks she is irresistible.  She has
money.  She would like to buy you for a plaything--to marry you.
But I say beware.  She is more terrible than the keeper of the
Bastile.  And you--you are too young!"

"My dear girl," said I, in a voice of pleading, "it is terrible.
Save me!  Save me, I pray you!"

"Pooh!  I do not care!"--with a gesture of indifference, "I am
trying to save myself, that is all."

"From what?"

"Another relative.  Parbleu!  I have enough." She stamped her foot
impatiently as she spoke.  "I should be very terrible to you.  I
should say the meanest things.  I should call you grandpapa and
give you a new cane every Christmas."

"And if you gave me also a smile, I should be content."

More than once I was near declaring myself that day, but I had a
mighty fear she was playing with me, and held my tongue.  There was
an odd light in her eyes.  I knew not, then, what it meant.

"You are easily satisfied," was her answer.

"I am to leave soon," I said.  "May I not see you here to-morrow?"

"Alas! I do not think you can," was her answer.

"And why not?"

"Because it would not be proper," said she, smiling as she looked
up at me.

"Not proper!  I should like to know why."

"It would make me break another engagement," she went on, laughing.
"I am to go with the baroness to meet the count if he comes--she
has commanded.  The day after, in the morning, at ten o'clock, by
the cascade--will that do?  Good!  I must leave you now.  I must
not return with you.  Remember!" she commanded, pointing at me with
her tapered forefinger.  "Remember--ten o'clock in the morning."

Then she took a bypath and went out of sight.  I returned to the
mansion as deep in love as a man could be.  I went to dinner with
the rest that evening.  Louison came in after we were all seated.

"You are late, my dear," said the baroness.

"Yes; I went away walking and lost something, and was not able to
find it again."




IX

Next morning the baroness went away in her glittering caleche with
Louison.  Each shining spoke and golden turret flashed the sunlight
back at me as I looked after them at the edge of the wood.  The
baroness had asked me to go with her, but I thought the journey too
long.  Louise came out and sat by me awhile as I lay in the
hammock.  She was all in white.  A trifle taller and a bit more
slender than her sister, I have sometimes thought her beauty was
statelier, also, and more statuesque.  The sight of her seemed to
kindle in me the spirit of old chivalry.  I would have fought and
died for her with my best lance and plume.  In all my life I had
not seen a woman of sweeter graces of speech and manner, and, in
truth, I have met some of the best born of her sex.

She had callers presently--the Sieur Michel and his daughter.  I
went away, then, for a walk, and, after a time, strolled into the
north trail.  Crossing a mossy glade, in a circle of fragrant
cedar, I sat down to rest.  The sound of falling water came to my
ear through thickets of hazel and shadberry.  Suddenly I heard a
sweet voice singing a love-song of Provence--the same voice, the
same song, I had heard the day I came half fainting on my horse.
Somebody was coming near.  In a moment I saw Louise before me.

"What, ma'm'selle!" I said; "alone in the woods!"

"Not so," said she.  "I knew you were here--somewhere,
and--and--well, I thought you might be lonely."

"You are a good angel," I said, "always trying to make others
happy."

"Eh bien," said she, sitting beside me, "I was lonely myself.  I
cannot read or study.  I have neglected my lessons; I have insulted
the tutor--threw my book at him, and walked away, for he sputtered
at me.  I do not know what is the matter.  I know I am very wicked.
Perhaps--ah me! perhaps it is the devil."

"Ma'm'selle, it is appalling!" I said.  "You may have injured the
poor man.  You must be very bad.  Let me see your palm."

I held her dainty fingers in mine, that were still hard and brown,
peering into the pink hollow of her hand.  She looked up curiously.

"A quick temper and a heart of gold," I said.  "If the devil has
it, he is lucky, and--well, I should like to be in his confidence."

"Ah, m'sieur," said she, seriously, a little tremor on her lips, "I
have much trouble--you do not know.  I have to fight with myself."

"You have, then, a formidable enemy," I answered.

"But I am not quarrelsome," said she, thoughtfully.  "I am only
weary of the life here.  I should like to go away and be of some
use in the world.  I suppose it is wicked, for my papa wishes me to
stay.  And bah! it is a prison--a Hopital de Salpetriere!"

"Ma'm'selle," I exclaimed, "if you talk like that I shall take you
on my horse and fly with you.  I shall come as your knight, as your
deliverer, some day."

"Alas!" said she, with a sigh, "you would find me very heavy.  One
has nothing to do here but grow lazy and--ciel!--fat."

If my meeting with her sister had not made it impossible and
absurd, I should have offered my heart to this fair young lady then
and there.  Now I could not make it seem the part of honor and
decency.  I could not help adoring her simplicity, her frankness,
her beautiful form and face.

"It is no prison for me," I said.  "I do not long for deliverance.
I cannot tell you how happy I have been to stay--how unhappy I
shall be to leave."

"Captain," she said quickly, "you are not strong; you are no
soldier yet."

"Yes; I must be off to the wars."

"And that suggests an idea," said she, thoughtfully, her chin upon
her hand.

"Which is?"

"That my wealth is ill-fortune," she went on, with a sigh.  "Men
and women are fighting and toiling and bleeding and dying to make
the world better, and I--I am just a lady, fussing, primping,
peering into a looking-glass!  I should like to do something, but
they think I am too good--too holy."

"But it is a hard business--the labors and quarrels of the great
world," I suggested.

"Well--it is God's business," she continued.  "And am I not one of
his children, and 'wist ye not that I must be about my Father's
business?'  It was not too good for the man who said that."

"But what would you do?"

"I do not know.  I suppose I can do nothing because--alas! because
my father has bought my obedience with a million francs.  Do you
not see that I am in bondage?"

"Be patient; the life of a rich demoiselle is not barren of
opportunity."

"To be gay--oh! one might as well be a peacock; to say pretty
things, one might better be a well-trained parrot; to grace the
court or the salon, I had as soon be a statue in the corner--it has
more comfort, more security; to be admired, to hear fine
compliments--well, you know that is the part of a pet poodle.  I
say, captain, to be happy one must be free to do."

I looked into her big eyes, that were full of their new discovery.

"I should like to be among the wounded soldiers," said she, her
face brightening.  "It did make me very happy to sit by your
bedside and do for you."

There was a very tender look in her eyes then.

She started to rise.  A brier, stirring in the breeze, had fallen
across her hair.  She let me loose the thorns, and, doing so, I
kissed her forehead--I could not help it.

"M'sieur!" she exclaimed in a whisper.  Then she turned quickly
away and stood tearing a leaf in her fingers.

"Forgive me!" I pleaded, for I saw she was crying.  "It was the
impulse of a moment.  Pray forgive me!"

She stood motionless and made no answer, I never felt such a stir
in me, for I had a fear, a terrible fear, that I had lost what I
might never have again.

"It was honorable admiration," I continued, rising to my full
height beside her.  "Tell me, ma'm'selle, have I hurt you?"

"No," said she, in a voice that trembled.  "I am thinking--I am
thinking of somebody else."

The words, spoken so slowly, so sweetly, seemed, nevertheless, to
fly at me.  "Of somebody else!"  Whom could she mean?  Had her
sister told her?  Did she know of my meeting with Louison?  I was
about to confess how deeply, how tenderly, I loved her.  I had
spoken the first word when this thought flashed upon me, and I
halted.  I could not go on.

"Ma'm'selle," I said, "I--I--if it is I of whom you are thinking,
give me only your pity, and I can be content.  Sometime, perhaps, I
may deserve more.  If I can be of any service to you, send for
me--command me.  You shall see I am not ungrateful.  Ah,
ma'm'selle," I continued, as I stood to my full height, and felt a
mighty uplift in my heart that seemed to toss the words out of me,
"I have a strong arm and a good sword, and the love of honor and
fair women."

She wiped her eyes, and turned and looked up at me.  I was no
longer a sick soldier.

"It is like a beautiful story," she said thoughtfully; "and
you--you are like a knight of old.  We must go home.  It is long
past luncheon hour.  We must hurry."

She gave me her arm up the hill, and we walked without speaking.

"I am very well to-day," I remarked as we came to the road.  "If
you will wait here until I get to the big birch, I shall go around
to see if I can beat you to the door."

"It is not necessary," said she, smiling, "and--and, m'sieur, I am
not ashamed of you or of what I have done."

The baroness and Louison had not yet returned.  M. Pidgeon was at
luncheon with us in the big dining room, and had much to say of the
mighty Napoleon and the coalition he was then fighting.

The great monsieur stayed through the afternoon, as the baroness
had planned a big houseparty for the night, in celebration of the
count's return.  My best clothes had come by messenger from the
Harbor, and I could put myself in good fettle.  The baroness and
the count and Louison came early, and we sat long together under
the trees.

The dinner was at seven.  There were more than a dozen guests,
among whom were a number I had seen at the chateau--Mr. David
Parish of Ogdensburg, who arrived late in a big, two-wheeled cart
drawn by four horses that came galloping to the door, and General
Wilkinson, our new commander in the North, a stout, smooth-faced
man, who came with Mr. Parish in citizen's dress.

At dinner the count had much to say of scenes of excitement in
Albany, where he had lately been.  The baroness and her wards were
resplendent in old lace and sparkling jewels.  Great haunches of
venison were served from a long sideboard; there was a free flow of
old Madeira and Burgundy and champagne and cognac.  Mr. Parish and
the count and the general and Moss Kent and M. Pidgeon sat long at
the table, with cigars and coffee, after the rest of us had gone to
the parlors, and the big room rang with their laughter.  The young
Marquis de Gonvello and Mr. Marc Isambert Brunel of the Compagnie,
who, afterward founded the great machine-shops of the Royal Navy
Yard at Portsmouth and became engineer of the Thames tunnel, and
Pierre Chassinis, Jr., and I waltzed with the ladies.  Presently I
sat down near the baroness, who was talking in French with Therese
Le Ray, the count's daughter.

"Pardon my using French," said the baroness, turning to me, "for I
believe you do not use it, and, my friend, it is a misfortune, for
you miss knowing what good company is the Ma'm'selle Le Ray."

"And I miss much pleasure and mayhap a duel with the marquis," I
said, laughing; "but I beg you to proceed with your talk.  I have
learned many words since I came here, and I love the sound of it."

"We saw British soldiers to-day," she continued to Ma'm'selle Le
Ray, in French.  "They crossed the road near us on their horses."

Louison came over and sat by them.

"They were not in uniform," the baroness continued, "but I knew
they were English; you cannot mistake them."

"And what do you think ?" said Louison, eagerly.  "One of them
threatened to kiss me."

"Indeed, that was terrible," said Ma'm'selle Le Ray.  "You must
have been afraid."

"Yes," said she, smiling, "afraid he wouldn't.  They were a
good-looking lot."

"I do not think he was speaking of you at all," said the baroness.
"He was looking at me when--"

"Ciel!" exclaimed Louison, laughing.  "That is why they turned
suddenly and fled into the fields."

I fled, too,--perhaps as suddenly as the Britishers,--to save
myself the disgrace of laughter.

The great clock in the hall above-stairs tolled the hour of two.
The ladies had all gone to bed save the baroness.  The butler had
started upstairs, a candelabrum in his hand.  Following him were
the count and Mr. Parish, supporting the general between them.  The
able soldier had overrated his capacity.  All had risen to go to
their rooms.  Of a sudden we were startled by a loud rap on the
front door.  A servant opened it, and immediately I heard the
familiar voice of D'ri.

"Is they anybody here by the name o' Mister Bell?" he asked.

I ran to the door, and there stood D'ri, his clothes wet, his boots
muddy, for it had been raining.  Before he could speak I had my
arms around him, and he sank to his knees in my embrace.  He was
breathing heavily.

"Tired out--thet's whut's the matter," he muttered, leaning over on
one hand.  "Come through the woods t' save yer life, I did, an'
they was tight up t' me all the way."

"Poor fellow!" said the baroness, who stood at the door.  "Help him
in at once and give him a sip of brandy."

"Tuk me prisoner over there 'n the woods thet day," said he,
sinking into a chair and leaning forward, his head on his hands.
"They tuk 'n' they toted me over t' Canady, an' I tuk 'n' got away,
'n' they efter me.  Killed one on 'em thet was chasin' uv me over
'n the Beaver medders on the bog trail.  Hoss got t' wallerin' so
he hed t' come down.  Riz up out o' the grass 'n' ketched holt uv
'im 'fore he c'u'd pull a weepon.  Tuk this out uv his pocket, an'
I tried to git the boss out o' the mire, but didn't hev time."

He sat erect and proudly handed me a sheet of paper.  I opened it,
and read as follows:--


"To CAPTAIN ELIAS WILKINS, _Royal Fusiliers_.

"_My dear Captain_: You will proceed at once across the river with
a detail of five men mounted and three days' rations, and, if
possible, capture the prisoner who escaped early this morning,
making a thorough search of the woods in Jefferson County.  He has
information of value to the enemy, and I regard his death or
capture of high and immediate importance.  I am informed that the
young desperado who murdered my Lord of Pickford in the forest
below Clayton June 29, escaping, although badly wounded, is lying
at the country-seat of the Baroness de Ferre, a Frenchwoman, at
Leraysville, Jefferson County, New York.  It would gratify me if
you could accomplish one or both captures.  With respect, I am,

  "Your Obedient Servant,
    "R. SHEAFFER, _General Commanding_."

"They 'll be here," said D'ri.  "They 'll be here jest es sure es
God--'fore daylight, mebbe.  But I can't fight er dew nothin' till
I 've tied some vittles."

"You shall have supper," said the baroness, who, without delay,
went to the kitchen herself with a servant to look after it.  The
butler brought a pair of slippers and a dry coat, while I drew off
the boots of my good friend.  Then I gave him my arm as he limped
to the kitchen beside me.  The baroness and I sat near him as he
ate.

"Go upstairs and call the gentlemen," said she to the butler, "Do
not make any disturbance, but say I should like to speak with them
in the dining room."

"Is thet air hired man o' yours a Britisher?"  D'ri inquired as
soon as the butler was gone.

"He is--from Liverpool," said she.

"Thet's the hole 'n the fence," said he.  "Thet's where the goose
got away."

"The goose!  The geese!" said the baroness, thoughtfully.  "I do
not understand you."

"Went 'n' blabbed, thet's whut he done," said D'ri.  "Mebbe wrote
'em a letter, gol-dum his pictur'."

"Oh, I perceive!  I understand," said she; "and I send him away
to-morrow."

"Neck's broke with hunger," said D'ri.  "Never threw no vittles 'n
my basket with sech a splendid taste tew 'em es these hev."

The baroness looked at him with some show of worry.

"I beg your pardon," said she, "did you say the neck of you was
broken?"

I explained the idiom.

"Ain't hed nothin' t' eat since day 'fore yistiddy," said D'ri.
"Judas Priest!  I 'm all et up with hunger."

With old Burgundy and biscuit and venison and hot coffee he was
rapidly reviving.

"I 'm wondering where I will hide you both," said the baroness,
thoughtfully.

"Hed n't orter hev no rumpus here, 'n' go t' shootin' 'n' mebbe
spile yer house 'n' furnicher," said D'ri.  "'T ain't decent er 't
ain't nice.  We 'd better mek tracks an' put a mild er tew 'twixt
us 'n' here 'fore we hev any trouble.  'T ain't a-goin' t' be no
Sunday School.  Ef they can, they 're a-goin't' tek us dead er
'live.  Ef they ever tuk us we would n't be wuth shucks, nuther on
us, efter court martial."

"I shall not permit you to go," said the baroness.  "They may be
here now, about the house in the dark.  They would shoot you, they
would stab you, they would cause you to die as you went.  No, I
shall permit you not to go, There are four of them?  Very well, we
shall fight here, we shall conquer.  We have a general, a count, a
millionnaire, a marquis, a lawyer, an astronomer, a scout, and,"
she added, patting me on the shoulder, "_le brave capitaine_!  I
have four guns and three pistols, and M'sieur Bell has arms also.
We shall conquer.  We shall make them to bite the dust."

"Guns; did ye say?  Jerushy Jane!  Le' 's hev 'em," said D'ri.

"What did he call me?  Mon Dieu!  Jerushy Jane!  It is not I," said
the baroness.

Again I explained the difficulty.

"Ain't very proper-spoke," said D'ri, apologetically.  "Jest wan't'
say et them 'air guns er likely t' come handy here 'most any
minute.  Give us guns, 'n' we 'll sock it to 'em."

"We shall sock it to them, we shall indeed," said she, hurrying out
of the room.  "We shall make them to run for their lives."

They were all in the dining room--the men of the party--save the
general, who could not he awakened.   Guns and pistols were loaded.
I made a novel plan of defence that was unanimously approved.  I
posted a watch at every window.  A little after dawn the baroness,
from behind a curtain, saw a squad of horsemen coming through the
grove.

"Ici! they have come!" said she, in a loud whisper.  "There are not
four; there are many."

I took my detail of six men above-stairs.  Each had a strip of
lumber we had found in the shop, and each carefully raised a
window, waiting the signal.  I knew my peril, but I was never so
cool in my life.  If I had been wiser, possibly I should have felt
it the more.  The horsemen promptly deployed, covering every side
of the mansion.  They stood close, mounted, pistol and sabre ready.
Suddenly I gave the signal.  Then each of us thrust out the strip
of lumber stealthily, prodding the big drab cones on every side.
Hornets and wasps, a great swarm of them, sprang thick as seeds
from the hand of a sower.  It was my part to unhouse a colony of
the long, white-faced hornets.  Goaded by the ruin of their nests,
they saw the nodding heads below them, and darted at man and horse
like a night of arrows.  They put their hot spurs into flank and
face and neck.  I saw them strike and fall; they do hit hard, those
big-winged _Vespae_.  It was terrible, the swift charge of that
winged battalion of the air.  I heard howls of pain below me, and
the thunder of rushing feet.  The horses were rearing and plunging,
the men striking with their hats.

I heard D'ri shouting and laughing at his window.

"Give 'em hell, ye little blue devils!" he yelled; and there was
all evidence that they understood him.

Then, again, every man of us opened his window and fired a volley
at the scurrying mass.

One horse, rearing and leaping on his hind legs, came down across
the back of another, and the two fell heavily in a rolling,
convulsive heap.  One, as if blinded, bumped a tree, going over on
his withers, all fours flashing in the air.  Some tore off in the
thickets, as unmanageable as the wild moose.  More than half threw
their riders.  Not a man of them pulled a trigger: they were busy
enough, God knows.  Not one of them could have hit the sky with any
certainty.  I never saw such a torrent of horsehair and red caps.

"Whut!  Been on the back o' one o' 'em hosses?" said D'ri, telling
of it a long time after.  "'D ruther o' been shet up 'n a barrel
with a lot o' cats 'n' rolled downhill.  Good deal better fer my
health, an' I 'd 'a' luked more like a human bein' when I come out.
Them fellers--they did n't luk fit t' 'sociate with nuthin' er
nobody when we led 'em up t' the house--nut one on 'em."

Only one Britisher was brought down by our bullets, and he had been
the mark of D'ri: with him a rifle was never a plaything.  Five
others lay writhing in the grass, bereft of horse, deserted by
their comrades.  The smudges were ready, and the nets.  D'ri and I
put on the latter and ran out, placing a smudge row on every side
of the Hermitage.   The winged fighters were quickly driven away.
Of the helpless enemy one had staggered off in the brush; the
others lay groaning, their faces lumpy and one-sided.  A big
sergeant had a nose of the look and diameter of a goose-egg; one
carried a cheek as large and protuberant as the jowl of a porker's
head; and one had ears that stuck out like a puffed bladder.  They
were helpless.  We disarmed them and brought them in, doing all we
could for their comfort with blue clay and bruised plantain.  It
was hard on them, I have often thought, but it saved an ugly fight
among ladies, and, no doubt, many lives.  I know, if they had taken
us, D'ri and I would never have got back.

I have saved myself many a time by strategy, but chose the sword
always if there were an even chance.  And, God knows, if one had
ever a look at our bare bodies, he would see no sign of shirking on
either D'ri or me.




X

The shooting and shouting and the tramp of horse and man had roused
everybody in the big house.  Even the general came down to know
what was the matter.  The young ladies came, pale and frightened,
but in faultless attire.  I put an armed guard by the prisoners at
the door, under command of D'ri.  Then I had them bare the feet of
the four Britishers, knowing they could not run bootless in the
brush.  We organized a convoy,--the general and I,--and prepared to
start for the garrison.  We kept the smudges going, for now and
then we could hear the small thunder of hornet-wings above us.
There is a mighty menace in it, I can tell you, if they are angry.

"Jerushy Jane Pepper!" said D'ri, as he sat, rifle on his knee,
looking at his prisoners.  "Never thought nobody c'u'd luk s'
joemightyful cur'us.  Does mek a man humly t' hev any trouble with
them air willy-come-bobs."  He meant wasps.

I had had no opportunity for more than a word with the young
ladies.  I hoped it might come when I went in for a hasty breakfast
with the baroness, the count, the general, and Mr. Parish.  As we
were eating, Louison came in hurriedly.  She showed some agitation.

"What is the trouble, my dear?" said the baroness, in French.

"Eh bien, only this," said she: "I have dropped my ring in the
brook.  It is my emerald.  I cannot reach it."

"Too bad!  She has dropped her ring in the brook," said the
baroness, in English, turning to me.

"If she will have the kindness to take me there," I said to the
hostess, rising as I spoke, "I shall try to get it for her."

"M'sieur le Capitaine, you are very obliging," said she.  Then,
turning to Louison, she added in French: "Go with him.  He will
recover it for you."

It pleased and flattered me, the strategy of this wonderful young
creature.  She led me, with dainty steps, through a dewy garden
walk into the trail.

"Parbleu!" she whispered, "is it not a shame to take you from your
meat?  But I could not help it.  I had to see you; there is
something I wish to say."

"A pretty girl is better than meat," I answered quickly.  "I am
indebted to you."

"My! but you have a ready tongue," said she.  "It is with me a
pleasure to listen.  You are going away?  You shall not
return--perhaps?"

She was trying to look very gay and indifferent, but in her voice I
could detect a note of trouble.  The flame of passion, quenched for
a little time by the return of peril and the smoke of gunpowder,
flashed up in me.

"It is this," she went on: "I may wish you to do me a favor.  May I
have your address?"

"And you may command me," I said as I gave it to her.

"Have a care!" she said, laughing.  "I may ask you to do desperate
things--you may need all your valor.  The count and the
baroness--they may send us back to France."

"Which will please you," I remarked.

"Perhaps," she said quickly.  "Mon Dieu!  I do not know what I
want; I am a fool.  Take this.  Wear it when you are gone.  Not
that I care--but--it will make you remember."

She held in her fingers a flashing emerald on a tiny circlet of
gold.  Before I could answer she had laid it in my hard palm and
shut my hand upon it.

"Dieu!" she exclaimed, whispering, "I must return--I must hurry.
Remember, we did not find the ring."

I felt a great impulse to embrace her and confess my love.  But I
was not quick enough.  Before I could speak she had turned away and
was running.  I called to her, but she did not turn or seem to hear
me.  She and my opportunity were gone.

We stowed the prisoners in the big coach at the baroness, behind a
lively team of four.  Then my horse and one for D'ri were brought
up.

"Do not forget," said the baroness, holding my hand, "you are
always welcome in my house.  I hope, ma foi! that you will never
find happiness until you return."

The young ladies came not to the step where we were, but stood by
the count waving adieux.  Louison had a merry smile and a pretty
word of French for me; Louise only a sober look that made me sad,
if it did not speak for the same feeling in her.  The count was to
remain at the Hermitage, having sent to the chateau for a squad of
his armed retainers.  They were to defend the house, if, by chance,
the British should renew their attack.  Mr. Parish and his footman
and the general went with us, the former driving.  D'ri and I rode
on behind as the coach went off at a gallop.

He was a great whip, that man David Parish, who had built a big
mansion at Ogdensburg and owned so much of the north country those
days.  He was a gentleman when the founders of the proud families
of to-day were dickering in small merchandise.  Indeed, one might
look in vain for such an establishment as his north of Virginia.
This side the Atlantic there was no stable of horses to be compared
with that he had--splendid English thoroughbreds, the blood of
which is now in every great family of American horses.  And, my
faith! he did love to put them over the road.  He went tearing up
hill and down at a swift gallop, and the roads were none too smooth
in that early day.  Before leaving home he had sent relays ahead to
await his coming every fifteen miles of the journey: he always did
that if he had far to go.  This time he had posted them clear to
the Harbor.  The teams were quickly shifted; then we were off again
with a crack of the whip and a toot of the long horn.  He held up
in the swamps, but where footing was fair, the high-mettled horses
had their heads and little need of urging.  We halted at an inn for
a sip of something and a bite to eat.

"Parish," said the general, rising on stiffened legs, "I like your
company and I like your wine, but your driving is a punishment."

D'ri was worn out with lack of sleep and rest, but he had hung
doggedly to his saddle.

"How do you feel?" I asked him as we drew up on each side of the
coach.

"Split t' the collar," said he, soberly, as he rested an elbow on
his pommel.

We got to headquarters at five, and turned over the prisoners.  We
had never a warmer welcome than that of the colonel.

"I congratulate you both," he said as he brought the rum-bottle
after we had made our report.  "You've got more fight in you than a
wolverene.  Down with your rum and off to your beds, and report
here at reveille.  I have a tough job for you to-morrow."




XI

It was, indeed, tougher business than we had yet known--a dash into
the enemy's country, where my poor head was in excellent demand.
D'ri and I were to cross the lake with a band of raiders, a troop
of forty, under my command.  We were to rescue some prisoners in a
lockup on the other side.  They were to be shot in the morning, and
our mission therefore admitted of no delay.  Our horses had been
put aboard a brig at midnight, and soon after the noon mess we
dropped down the lake, going into a deep, wooded cove south of the
Grenadier Island.  There we lay waiting for nightfall.  A big wind
was howling over the woods at sunset, and the dark came on its
wings an hour ahead of time.  The night was black and the lake
noisy when we got under way, bound for a flatboat ferry.  Our
skipper, it turned out, had little knowledge of those waters.  He
had shortened sail, and said he was not afraid of the weather.  The
wind, out of the southeast, came harder as it drove us on.  Before
we knew it, the whole kit and boodle of us were in a devil of a
shakeup there in the broad water.  D'ri and I were down among the
horses and near being trampled under in the roll.  We tried to put
about then, but the great gusts of wind made us lower sail and drop
anchor in a hurry.  Soon the horses were all in a tumble and one on
top of the other.  We had to jump from back to back to save
ourselves.  It was no pretty business, I can tell you, to get to
the stairway.  D'ri was stripped of a boot-leg, and I was cut in
the chin by a front hoof, going ten feet or so to the upper deck.
To the man who was never hit in the chin by a horse's hoof let me
say there is no such remedy for a proud spirit.  Bullets are much
easier to put up with and keep a civil tongue in one's head.  That
lower deck was a kind of horses' hell.  We had to let them alone.
They got astraddle of one another's necks, and were cut from ear to
fetlock--those that lived, for some of them, I could see, were
being trampled to death.  How many I never knew, for suddenly we
hit a reef there in the storm and the black night.  I knew we had
drifted to the north shore, and as the sea began to wash over us it
was every man for himself.  The brig went up and down like a
sledge-hammer, and at every blow her sides were cracking and
caving.  She keeled over suddenly, and was emptied of horse and
man.  A big wave flung me far among the floundering horses.  My
fingers caught in a wet mane; I clung desperately between crowding
flanks.  Then a big wave went over us.  I hung on, coming up
astride my capture.  He swam vigorously, his nose high, blowing
like a trumpet.  I thought we were in for a time of it, and had
very little hope for any landing, save in kingdom come.  Every
minute I was head under in the wash, and the roaring filled me with
that mighty terror of the windfall.  But, on my word, there is no
captain like a good horse in bad water.  Suddenly I felt him hit
the bottom and go forward on his knees.  Then he reared up, and
began to jump in the sand.  A big wave washed him down again.  He
fell on his side in a shallow, but rose and ran wearily over a soft
beach.  In the blackness around me I could see nothing.  A branch
whipped me in the face, and I ducked.  I was not quick enough; it
was like fencing in the dark.  A big bough hit me, raking the
withers of my horse, and I rolled off headlong in a lot of bushes.
The horse went on, out of hearing, but I was glad enough to lie
still, for I had begun to know of my bruises.  In a few minutes I
took off my boots and emptied them, and wrung my blouse, and lay
back, cursing my ill luck.

But that year of 1813 had the kick of ill fortune in it for every
mother's son of us there in the North country.  I have ever noticed
that war goes in waves of success or failure; If we had had Brown
or Scott to lead us that year, instead of Wilkinson, I believe it
had had a better history.  Here was I in the enemy's country.  God
knew where, or how, or when I should come out of it.  I thought of
D'ri and how it had gone with him in that hell of waters.  I knew
it would be hard to drown him.  We were so near shore, if he had
missed the rocks I felt sure he would come out safely.  I thought
of Louison and Louise, and wondered if ever I should see them
again.  Their faces shone upon me there in the windy darkness, and
one as brightly as the other.  Afterwhiles I drew my wet blouse
over me and went asleep, shivering.

A familiar sound woke me--that of the reveille.  The sun was
shining, the sky clear, the wind had gone down.  A crow sat calling
in a tree above my head.  I lay in a strip of timber, thin and
narrow, on the lake shore.  Through the bushes I could see the
masts of the brig slanting out of water some rods away.  Beyond the
timber was a field of corn, climbing a side-hill that sloped off to
a level, grassy plain.  Beyond the hill-top, reveille was still
sounding.  A military camp was near me, and although I made no
move, my mind was up and busy as the drumsticks over the hill.  I
sat as quiet as a cat at a mouse-hole, looking down at my uniform,
not, indeed, the most healthful sort of dress for that country.
All at once I caught sight of a scarecrow in the corn.  I laughed
at the odd grotesquery of the thing--an old frock-coat and trousers
of olive-green, faded and torn and fat with straw.  A stake driven
through its collar into the earth, and crowned with an ancient,
tall hat of beaver, gave it a backbone.  An idea came to me.  I
would rob the scarecrow and hide my uniform.  I ran out and hauled
it over, and pulled the stuffing out of it.  The coat and trousers
were made for a stouter man.  I drew on the latter, fattening my
figure with straw to fill them.  That done, I quickly donned the
coat.  Each sleeve-end fell to my fingertips, and its girth would
have circled a flour-barrel and buttoned with room to spare.  But
with my stuffing of straw it came around me as snug at the belt as
the coat of a bear.  I took alarm as I closed the buttons.  For
half a minute I had heard a drum-tap coming nearer.  It was the
measured _tap! tap! tap-tap-tap_! so familiar to me.  Now I could
hear the tread of feet coming with it back of the hill.  How soon
they would heave in sight I was unable to reckon, but I dared not
run for cover.  So I thrust my scabbard deep in the soft earth,
pulled down the big beaver hat over my face, muffled my neck with
straw, stuck the stake in front of me to steady myself, and stood
stiff as any scarecrow in Canada.  Before I was done a column,
scarlet-coated, came out in the level beyond the hillside.  Through
a hole in the beaver I could see them clearly.  They came on, rank
after rank.  They deployed, forming an open square, scarlet-sided,
on the green turf, the gap toward me.  Then came three, walking
stiffly in black coats, a squad leading them.  The thing I had
taken for a white visor was a blindfold.  Their heads were bare.  I
could see, now, they were in shackles, their arms behind them.
They were coming to their death--some of my unlucky comrades.  God
pity them!  A spy might as well make his peace with Heaven, if he
were caught those days, and be done with hope.  Suspicion was
enough to convict on either side of the water that year.  As my
feet sank deeper in the soft earth I felt as if I were going down
to my grave.  The soldiers led them into the gap, standing them
close together, backs to me, The squad drew off.  The prisoners
stood erect, their faces turning up a little, as if they were
looking into the clear, blue sky.  I could see them waver as they
stood waiting.  The sharpshooters advanced, halting as they raised
their rifles.  To my horror, I saw the prisoners were directly
between me and them.  Great God! was I also of that little company
about to die?  But I dared not move a step.  I stood still,
watching, trembling.  An officer in a shining helmet was speaking
to the riflemen.  His helmet seemed to jump and quiver as he moved
away.  Those doomed figures began to reel and sway as they waited.
The shiny barrels lifted a little, their muzzles pointing at them
and at me.  The corn seemed to duck and tremble as it waited the
volley.  A great black ball shot across the sky in a long curve,
and began to fall.  Then came the word, a flash of fire, a cloud of
smoke, a roar of rifles that made me jump in my tracks.  I heard
bullets cuffing the corn, I felt the dirt fly up and scatter over
me, but was unhurt, a rigid, motionless man of straw.  I saw my
countrymen reel, their legs go limp as rags, their bodies fall
silently forward.  The soldiers stood a moment, then a squad went
after the dead with litters.  Forming in fours, they marched away
as they had come, their steps measured by that regular _rap! rap!
rap-rap-rap_! of the drum.  The last rank went out of sight.  I
moved a little and pulled the stake, and quickly stuck it again,
for there were voices near.  I stood waiting as stiff as a poker.
Some men were running along the beach, two others were coming
through the corn.  They passed within a few feet of me on each
side.  I heard them talking with much animation.  They spoke of the
wreck.  When they were well by me I faced about, watching them.
They went away in the timber, down to a rocky point, where I knew
the wreck was visible.

They were no sooner out of sight than I pulled the stake and sabre,
and shoved the latter under my big coat.  Then I lifted the beaver
and looked about me.  There was not a soul in sight.  From that
level plain the field ran far to a thick wood mounting over the
hill.  I moved cautiously that way, for I was in the path of people
who would be coming to see the wreck.  I got near the edge of the
distant wood, and hearing a noise, halted, and stuck my stake, and
drew my hands back in the sleeves, and stood like a scarecrow,
peering through my hat.  Near me, in the woods, I could hear a
cracking of sticks and a low voice.  Shortly two Irishmen stuck
their heads out of a bush.  My heart gave a leap in me, for I saw
they were members of my troop.

"Hello, there!" I called in a loud voice, It startled them.  They
turned their heads to see where the voice came from, and stood
motionless.  I pulled my stake and made for them on the run.  I
should have known better, for the sight of me would have tried the
legs of the best trooper that ever sat in a saddle.  As they told
me afterward, it was enough to make a lion yelp.

"Holy Mother!" said one, as they broke through the bush, running
for their lives.  I knew not their names, but I called them as
loudly as I dared.  They went on, never slacking pace.  It was a
bad go, for I was burning for news of D'ri and the rest of them.
Now I could hear some heavy animal bounding in the brush as if
their running had startled him.  I went back to the corn for
another stand.  Suddenly a horse came up near me, cropping the
brush.  I saw he was one off the boat, for he had bridle and
saddle, a rein hanging in two strings, and was badly cut.  My
friend! the sight of a horse did warm me to the toes.  He got a
taste of the tender corn presently, and came toward me as he ate.
In a moment I jumped to the saddle, and he went away leaping like a
wild deer.  He could not have been more frightened if I had dropped
on him out of the sky.  I never saw such energy in flesh and blood
before.  He took a mighty fright as my hand went to his withers,
but the other had a grip on the pommel, and I made the stirrups.  I
leaned for the strings of the rein, but his neck was long, and I
could not reach them.  Before I knew it we were tearing over the
hill at a merry pace, I can tell you.  I was never so put to it for
the right thing to do, but I clung on.  The big hat shook down upon
my collar.  In all my life I never saw a hat so big.  Through the
break in it I could see a farm-house.  In a jiffy the horse had
cleared a fence, and was running, with the feet of terror, in a
dusty road.  I grew angry at myself as we tore along--I knew not
why.  It was a rage of discomfort, I fancy, for somehow, I never
felt so bound and cluttered, so up in the air and out of place in
my body.  The sabre was working loose and hammering my knee; the
big hat was rubbing my nose, the straw chafing my chin.  I had
something under my arm that would sway and whack the side of the
horse every leap he made.  I bore upon it hard, as if it were the
jewel of my soul.  I wondered why, and what it might be.   In a
moment the big hole of my hat came into conjunction with my right
eye.  On my word, it was the stake! How it came there I have never
known, but, for some reason, I held to it.  I looked neither to
right nor left, but sat erect, one hand on the hilt of my sabre,
the other in the mane of my horse, knowing full well I was the most
hideous-looking creature in the world.  If I had come to the gate
of heaven I believe St. Peter would have dropped his keys.  The
straw worked up, and a great wad of it hung under my chin like a
bushy beard.  I would have given anything for a sight of myself,
and laughed to think of it, although facing a deadly peril, as I
knew.  But I was young and had no fear in me those days.  Would
that a man could have his youth to his death-bed!  It was a leap in
the dark, but I was ready to take my chances.

Evidently I was nearing a village.  Groups of men were in the shady
thoroughfare; children thronged the dooryards.  There was every
sign of a holiday.  As we neared them I caught my sabre under my
knee, and drew my hands into the long sleeves and waved them
wildly, whooping like an Indian.  They ran back to the fences with
a start of fear.  As I passed them they cheered loudly, waving
their hats and roaring with laughter.  An old horse, standing
before an inn, broke his halter and crashed over a fence.  A scared
dog ran for his life in front of me, yelping as he leaped over a
stone wall.  Geese and turkeys flew in the air as I neared them.
The people had seemed to take me for some village youth on a
masquerade.  We flashed into the open country before the sound of
cheering had died away.  On we went over a long strip of hard soil,
between fields, and off in the shade of a thick forest.  My horse
began to tire.  I tried to calm him by gentle words, but I could
give him no confidence in me.  He kept on, laboring hard and
breathing heavily, as if I were a ton's weight.  We came to another
clearing and fields of corn.  A little out of the woods, and near
the road, was a log house white-washed from earth to eaves.  By the
gate my horse went down.  I tumbled heavily in the road, and
turning, caught him by the bits.  The big hat had shot off my head;
the straw had fallen away.  A woman came running out of the open
door.  She had bare feet, a plump and cheery face.

"Tonnerre!" said she.  "Qu'est ce que cela?"

"My countrywoman," said I, in French, feeling in my under-trousers
for a bit of silver, and tossing it to her, "I am hungry."

"And I have no food to sell," said she, tossing it back.  "You
should know I am of France and not of England.  Come, you shall
have enough, and for no price but the eating.  You have a tired
horse.  Take him to the stable, and I will make you a meal."

I led my horse to the stable, scraped him of lather and dirt, gave
him a swallow of water, and took the same myself, for I had a
mighty thirst in me.  When I came in, she had eggs and potatoes and
bacon over the fire, and was filling the tea-kettle.

"On my soul," said she, frankly, "you are the oddest-looking man I
ever saw.  Tell me, why do you carry the long club?"

I looked down.  There it was under my arm.  It surprised me more
than anything I ever found myself doing.

"Madame, it is because I am a fool," I said as I flung it out of
the door.

"It is strange," said she.  "Your clothes--they are not your own;
they are as if they were hung up to dry.  And you have a sabre and
spurs."

"Of that the less said the better," I answered, pulling out the
sabre.  "Unless--unless, madame, you would like me to die young."

"Mon Dieu!" she whispered.  "A Yankee soldier?"

"With good French blood in him," I added, "who was never so hungry
in all his life."

I went out of the door as I spoke, and shoved my sabre under the
house.

"I have a daughter on the other side of the lake," said she,
"married to a Yankee, and her husband is fighting the British with
the rest of you."

"God help him!" said I.

"Amen!" said she, bringing my food to the table.  "The great
Napoleon he will teach them a lesson."

She was a widow, as she told me, living there alone with two young
daughters who were off at a picnic in the near town.  We were
talking quietly when a familiar voice brought me standing.

"Judas Priest!" it said.  D'ri stood in the doorway, hatless and
one boot missing--a sorry figure of a man.

"Hidin' over 'n th' woods yender," he went on as I took his hand.
"See thet air brown hoss go by.  Knew 'im soon es I sot eyes on
'im--use' t' ride 'im myself.  Hed an idee 't wus you 'n the
saddle--sot s' kind o' easy.  But them air joemightyful do's!
Jerushy Jane!  would n't be fit t' skin a skunk in them do's, would
it?"

"Got 'em off a scarecrow," I said.

"'Nough t' mek a painter ketch 'is breath, they wus."

The good woman bade him have a chair at the table, and brought more
food.

"Neck 's broke with hunger, 't is sartin," said he, as he began to
eat.  "Hev t' light out o' here purty middlin' soon.  'T ain' no
safe place t' be.  'T won' never dew fer us t' be ketched."

We ate hurriedly, and when we had finished, the good woman gave us
each an outfit of apparel left by her dead husband.  It was rather
snug for D'ri, and gave him an odd look.  She went out of doors
while we were dressing.  Suddenly she came back to the door.

"Go into the cellar," she whispered.  "They are coming!"




XII

I found the door, and D'ri flung our "duds" into the darkness that
lay beyond it.  Then he made down the ladder, and I after him.  It
was pitch-dark in the cellar--a deep, dank place with a rank odor
of rotting potatoes.  We groped our way to a corner, and stood
listening.  We heard the tramp of horses in the dooryard and the
clinic of spurs on the stone step.

"Ah, my good woman," said a man with a marked English accent, "have
you seen any Yankees?  Woods are full of them around here.  No?
Well, by Jove! you're a good-looking woman.  Will you give me a
kiss?" He crossed the floor above us, and she was backing away.

"Come, come, don't be so shy, my pretty woman," said he, and then
we could hear her struggling up and down the floor.  I was climbing
the ladder, in the midst of it, my face burning with anger, and
D'ri was at my heels.  As the door opened, I saw she had fallen.
The trooper was bending to kiss her.  I had him by the collar and
had hauled him down before he discovered us.  In a twinkling D'ri
had stripped him of sword and pistol.  But it was one of the most
hopeless situations in all my life.  Many muzzles were pointing at
us through the door and window.  Another hostile move from either
would have ended our history then and there.  I let go and stood
back.  The man got to his feet--a handsome soldier in the full
uniform of a British captain.

"Ah, there's a fine pair!" he said coolly, whipping a leg of his
trousers with his glove.  "I 'll teach you better manners, my young
fellow.  Some o' those shipwrecked Yankees," he added, turning to
his men.  "If they move without an order, pin 'em up to the wall."

He picked up his hat leisurely, stepping in front of D'ri.

"Now, my obliging friend," said he, holding out his hand, "I'll
trouble you for my sword and pistol."

D'ri glanced over at me, an ugly look in his eye.  He would have
fought to his death then and there if I had given him the word.  He
was game to the core when once his blood was up, the same old D'ri.

[Illustration: "He would have fought to his death then and there if
I had given him the word."]

"Don't fight," I said.

He had cocked the pistol, and stood braced, the sword in his right
hand.  I noticed a little quiver in the great sinews of his wrist.
I expected to see that point of steel shoot, with a quick stab,
into the scarlet blouse before me.

"Shoot 'n' be damned!" said D'ri.  "'Fore I die ye'll hev a hole er
tew 'n thet air karkiss o' yourn.  Sha'n't give up no weepon till
ye've gin me yer word ye 'll let thet air woman alone."

I expected a volley then.  A very serious look came over the face
of the captain.  He wiped his brow with a handkerchief.  I could
see that he had been drinking.

"Ah, I see!  You have an interest in her.  Well, my man, I want no
share in your treasures.  I accept the condition."

Evil as was the flavor of this poor concession, D'ri made the best
of it.

"She's an honest woman for all I know," said he, handing over the
weapons.  "Ain't a-goin' t' see no ledy mishused--nut ef I can help
it."

We gave ourselves up hand and foot to the enemy; there was no way
out of it.  I have read in the story-books how men of great nerve
and skill have slaughtered five to one, escaping with no great loss
of blood.  Well, of a brave man I like to believe good things.  My
own eyes have seen what has made me slow to doubt a story of
prowess that has even the merit of possibility.  But when there are
only two of you, and one without arms, and you are in a corner, and
there are ten pistols pointing at you a few feet away, and as many
sabres ready to be drawn, I say no power less remarkable than that
of God or a novelist can bring you out of your difficulty.  You
have your choice of two evils--surrender or be cut to pieces.  We
had neither of us any longing to be slashed with steel and bored
with bullets, and to no end but a good epitaph.

They searched the cellar and found our clothes, and wrapped them in
a bundle.  Then they tied our hands behind us and took us along the
road on which I had lately ridden.  A crowd came jeering to the
highway as we passed the little village.  It was my great fear that
somebody would recognize either one or both of us.

Four of our men were sitting in a guardhouse at the British camp.
After noon mess a teamster drove up with a big wagon.  Guards came
and shackled us in pairs, D'ri being wrist to wrist with me.  They
put a chain and ball on D'ri's leg also.  I wondered why, for no
other was treated with like respect.   Then they bundled us all
into the wagon, now surrounded by impatient cavalry.  They put a
blindfold over the eyes of each prisoner, and went away at a lively
pace.  We rode a long time, as it seemed to me, and by and by I
knew we had come to a city, for I could hear the passing of many
wagons and the murmur of a crowd.  Some were shouting, "Shoot the
d--d Yankees!" and now and then a missile struck among us.  There
is nothing so heartless and unthinking as a crowd, the world over.
I could tell presently, by the creak of the evener and the stroke
of the hoofs, that we were climbing a long hill.  We stopped
shortly; then they began helping us out.  They led us forward a few
paces, the chain rattling on a stone pavement.  When we heard the
bang of an iron door behind us, they unlocked the heavy fetter.
This done, they led us along a gravel walk and over a sounding
stretch of boards,--a bridge, I have always thought,--through
another heavy door and down a winding flight of stone steps.  They
led us on through dark passages, over stone paving, and halted us,
after a long walk, letting our eyes free.  We were in black
darkness.  There were two guards before and two behind us bearing
candles.   They unshackled us, and opened a lattice door of heavy
iron, bidding us enter.  I knew then that we were going into a
dungeon, deep under the walls of a British fort somewhere on the
frontier.  A thought stung me as D'ri and I entered this black hole
and sat upon a heap of straw.  Was this to be the end of our
fighting and of us?

"You can have a candle a day," said a guard as he blew out the one
he carried, laying it, with a tinder-box, on a shelf in the wall of
rock beside me.  Then they filed out, and the narrow door shut with
a loud bang.  We peered through at the fading flicker of the
candles.  They threw wavering, ghostly shadows on every wall of the
dark passage, and suddenly went out of sight.  We both stood
listening a moment.

"Curse the luck!" I whispered presently.

"Jest as helpless es if we was hung up by the heels," said D'ri,
groping his way to the straw pile.  "Ain' no use gittin' wrathy."

"What 'll we do?" I whispered.

"Dunno," said he; "an' when ye dunno whut t' dew, don' dew nuthin'.
Jest stan' still; thet's whut I b'lieve in."

He lighted the candle, and went about, pouring its glow upon every
wall and into every crack and corner of our cell--a small chamber
set firm in masonry, with a ceiling so far above our heads we could
see it but dimly, the candle lifted arm's-length.

"Judas Priest!" said D'ri, as he stopped the light with thumb and
finger.  "I 'm goin' t' set here 'n th' straw luk an ol' hen 'n'
ile up m' thinker 'n' set 'er goin'.  One o' them kind hes t' keep
'is mouth shet er he can't never dew ho thinkin'.  Bymby, like es
not, I 'll hev suthin' t1 say et 'll 'mount t' suthin'."

We lay back on the straw in silence.  I did a lot of thinking that
brought me little hope.  Thoughts of Louison and Louise soon led me
out of prison.  After a little time I went philandering in the
groves of the baroness with the two incomparable young ladies.  I
would willingly have stood for another bullet if I could have had
another month of their company.  The next thought of my troubles
came with the opening of the iron door.  I had been sound asleep.
A guard came in with water and a pot of stewed beef and potatoes.

"Thet air's all right," said D'ri, dipping into it with a spoon.

We ate with a fine relish, the guard, a sullen, silent man with a
rough voice that came out of a bristling mustache, standing by the
door.

"Luk a-here," said D'ri to the guard as we finished eating, "I want
t' ast you a question.  Ef you hed a purty comf'table hum on
t'other side, 'n' few thousan' dollars 'n the bank, 'n' bosses 'n'
everything fixed fer a good time, 'n' all uv a sudden ye found
yerself 'n sech a gol-dum dungeon es this here, what 'u'd you dew?"

The guard was fixing the wick of his candle, and made no answer.

"Want ye t' think it all over," said D'ri.  "See ef ye can't think
o' suthin' soothin' t' say.  God knows we need it."

The guard went away without answering.

"Got him thinkin'," said D'ri, as he lighted the candle.  "He can
help us some, mebbe.  Would n't wonder ef he was good et cipherin'."

"If he offered to take the two thousand, I don't see how we'd give
it to him," said I.  "He would n't take our promise for it."

"Thet ain' a-goin' t' bother us any," said D'ri.  "Hed thet all
figgered out long ago."

He gave me the candle and lay down, holding his ear close to the
stone floor and listening.  Three times he shifted his ear from one
point to another.  Then he beckoned to me.

"Jest hol' yer ear there 'n' listen," he whispered.

I gave him the candle, and with my ear to the floor I could hear
the flow of water below us.  The sound went away in the distance
and then out of hearing.  "After a while it came again.

"What does it mean?" I asked.

"Cipherin' a leetle over thet air," said he, as he made a long
scratch on the floor with his flint.  Then he rubbed his chin,
looking down at it.  "Hain' jest eggzac'ly med up my mind yit," he
added.

We blew out the light and lay back, whispering.  Then presently we
heard the coming of footsteps.  Two men came to the door with a
candle, one being the guard we knew.

"Come, young fellow," said the latter, as he unlocked the door and
beckoned to me; "they want you upstairs."

We both got to our feet.

"Not you," he growled, waving D'ri back.  "Not ready fer you yet."

He laid hold of my elbow and snapped a shackle on my wrist.  Then
they led me out, closing the door with a bang that echoed in the
far reaches of the dark alley, and tied a thick cloth over my eyes.

"Good luck!" D'ri cried out as they took me away.

"For both," I answered as cheerfully as I could.

They led me through winding passages and iron doors, with that
horrible clank of the prison latch, and up flights of stone till I
felt as lost as one might who falls whirling in the air from a
great height.  We soon came out upon a walk of gravel, where I
could feel the sweet air blowing into my face.  A few minutes more
and we halted, where the guard, who had hold of my elbow, rang a
bell.  As the door swung open they led me in upon a soft carpet.
Through the cloth I could see a light.

"Bring him in, bring him in!" a voice commanded impatiently--a
deep, heavy voice the sound of which I have not yet forgotten.  The
guard was afraid of it.  His hand trembled as he led me on.

"Take off the blindfold," said that voice again.

As it fell away, I found myself in a large and beautiful room.  My
eyes were dazzled by the light of many candles, and for a little I
had to close them.  I stood before two men.  One sat facing me at a
black table of carved oak--a man of middle age, in the uniform of a
British general.  Stout and handsome, with brown eyes, dark hair
and mustache now half white, and nose aquiline by the least turn,
he impressed me as have few men that ever crossed my path.  A young
man sat lounging easily in a big chair beside him, his legs
crossed, his delicate fingers teasing a thin mustache.  I noticed
that his hands were slim and hairy.  He glanced up at me as soon as
I could bear the light.  Then he sat looking idly at the carpet,

The silence of the room was broken only by the scratch of a quill
in the hand of the general.  I glanced about me.  On the wall was a
large painting that held my eye: there was something familiar in
the face.  I saw presently it was that of the officer I had fought
in the woods, the one who fell before me.  I turned my head; the
young man was looking up at me.  A smile had parted his lips.  They
were the lips of a rake, it seemed to me.  A fine set of teeth
showed between them.

"Do you know him?" he asked coolly.

"I have not the honor," was my reply.

"What is your name?" the general demanded in the deep tone I had
heard before.

"Pardon me," said the young man, quietly, as if he were now weary
of the matter, "I do not think it necessary."

There was a bit of silence.  The general looked thoughtfully at the
young man.

"If your Lordship will let me--" he went on.

"My dear sir," the other interrupted, in the same weary and
lethargic manner, "I can get more reliable knowledge from other
sources.  Let the fellow go back."

"That will do," said the general to the guard, who then covered my
eyes and led me back to prison.

Lying there in the dark, I told D'ri all I knew of my mysterious
journey.  My account of the young man roused him to the soul.

"Wha' kind uv a nose hed he?" he inquired.

"Roman," I said.

"Bent in at the p'int a leetle?"

"Yes."

"And black hair shingled short?"

"Yes."

"An' tall, an' a kind uv a nasty, snookin', mis'able-lookin' cuss?"

"Just about the look of him," I said.

"Judas Priest!  He's one o' them sneks et tuk me when you was
fightin' t' other feller over there 'n the woods."

"Looks rather bad for us," I remarked.

"Does hev a ruther squeaky luk tew it," said he.  "All we got t'
dew is t' keep breathin' jest es nat'ral 'n' easy es can be till we
fergit how.  May fool 'em fust they know."

I had a high notion, those days, of the duty of a soldier.  My
father had always told me there was no greater glory for anybody
than that of a brave death.  Somehow the feeling got to be part of
me.  While I had little fear of death, I dreaded to be shot like a
felon.  But I should be dying for my country, and that feeling
seemed to light the shadows.  When I fell asleep, after much worry,
it was to dream of my three countrymen who had fallen to their
faces there by the corn.  I awoke to find the guard in our cell,
and D'ri and he whispering together.  He had come with our
breakfast.

"All I want," D'ri was saying, "is a piece of iron, with a sharp
end, half es long es yer arm."

He made no answer, that big, sullen, bull-dog man who brought our
food to us.  When he had gone, D'ri lay over and began laughing
under his breath.

"His thinker's goin' luk a sawmill," he whispered.  "Would n't
wonder ef it kep' 'im awake nights.  He was askin' 'bout thet air
tew thousan' dollars.  Ef they 'll let us alone fer three days, we
'll be out o' here.  Now, you mark my word."

"How?" I inquired.

"Jest a leetle job o' slidin' downhill," he said.  "There's a big
drain-pipe goes under this cell--t' the river, prob'ly.  He says
it's bigger 'n a barrel."

We saved our candle that day, and walked up and down, from wall to
wall, for exercise.  Our hopes were high when we heard footsteps,
but they fell suddenly, for, as we listened, we could hear the
tramp of a squad of men.  They came to our cell, and took us
upstairs, blind-folded as before, to a bath-room, where the
uniforms, discarded the day of our capture, were waiting for us,
newly pressed.  Our bath over, they directed us to put them on.
They gave us new hats, for our own had been lost the night of the
wreck, covered our eyes, and led us through many doors and alleys
into the open air.  It was dark, I knew, for as we entered a
carriage I could see dimly the glow of a lantern hanging over the
wheel.  The carriage went away swiftly on a level road.  We sat
knee to knee, with two men facing us, and not a word was spoken.
We could hear hoofs falling, the rattle of bit and rein, the creak
of saddle-leather on each side of us.  We must have gone a long
journey when the carriage halted.  They pulled us out roughly and
led us up three steps and across a deep veranda.  A bell rang, a
door swung open, a flood of light fell on us, filtering to our
eyes.  Entering, we could feel a carpet under us, and took a dozen
paces or more before they bade us halt.  We heard only the
low-spoken order and the soft tread of our feet.  There was a dead
silence when they removed our fetters and unbound our eyes.  We
were standing in a big and sumptuous drawing-room.  A company of
gentlemen sat near us in arm-chairs; there were at least a score of
them.  Round tables of old mahogany stood near, on which were
glasses and packs of cards and wine-bottles.  The young man who sat
with the general and answered to "your Lordship" was approaching
me, hand extended.

"Glad to see you; sit down," he said in the same quiet, languid,
forceful tone I had heard before.

It was all very odd.  The guards were gone; we were apparently as
free as any of them.

"I shall try to make you comfortable," he remarked.  A servant
began filling a row of glasses.  "We have here wine and wit and all
the accessories, including women.  I should introduce you, but I
have not the honor of your acquaintance.  Let it suffice to say
these are my friends" (he turned to those who sat about), "and,
gentlemen, these are my enemies," he added, turning to us.  "Let us
hope they may die happy."

"And with a fighting chance," I added, lifting the glass without
tasting it.

D'ri sat, his brows lifted, his hands in his pockets, his legs
crossed.  He looked curiously from one to another.

"Horton," said his Lordship, as he sat down, leaning lazily on the
arm of his chair, "will you have them bring down the prisoners?"

The servant left the room.  Some of the men were talking together
in low tones; they were mostly good-looking and well dressed.

"Gentlemen," said his Lordship, rising suddenly, "I'm going to turn
you out of here for a moment--they're a shy lot.  Won't you go into
the library?"

They all rose and went out of a door save one, a bald man of middle
age, half tipsy, who begged of his "Ludship" the privilege of
remaining.

"Sir Charles," said the young man, still lounging in his chair as
he spoke, in that cold, calm tone of his, "you annoy me.  Go at
once!" and he went.

They covered our faces with napkins of white linen.  Then we heard
heavy steps, the clank of scabbards on a stairway, the feet of
ladies, and the swish of their gowns.  With a quick movement our
faces were uncovered.  I rose to my feet, for there before me stood
Louison and the Baroness de Ferre, between two guards, and, behind
them, Louise, her eyes covered, her beautiful head bent low.  I
could see that she was crying.  The truth came to me in a flash of
thought.  They had been taken after we left; they were prisoners
brought here to identify us.  A like quickness of perception had
apparently come to all.  We four stood looking at one another with
no sign of recognition.  My face may have shown the surprise and
horror in me, but shortly I had recovered my stony calm.  The
ladies were dressed finely, with the taste and care I had so much
admired.  Louison turned away from me with a splendid dignity and
stood looking up at the wall, her hands behind her, a toe of one
shoe tapping the floor impatiently.  It was a picture to remember a
lifetime.  I could feel my pulse quicken as I looked upon her.  The
baroness stood, sober-faced, her eyes looking down, her fan moving
slowly.  His Lordship rose and came to Louise.

"Come, now, my pretty prisoner; it is disagreeable, but you must
forgive me," he said.

[Illustration: "Come, now, my pretty prisoner; it is disagreeable,
but you must forgive me."]

She turned away from him, drying her eyes.  Then presently their
beauty shone upon me.

"Grace au ciel!" she exclaimed, a great joy in her eyes and voice.
"It is M'sieur Bell.  Sister--baroness--it is M'sieur Bell!"

I advanced to meet her, and took her hand, kissing it reverently.
She covered her face, her hand upon my shoulder, and wept in
silence.  If it meant my death, I should die thanking God I knew,
or thought I knew, that she loved me.

"Ah, yes; it is M'sieur Bell--poor fellow!" said Louison, coming
quickly to me.  "And you, my dear, you are Ma'm'selle Louise."

She spoke quickly in French, as if quite out of patience with the
poor diplomacy of her sister.

"I knew it was you, for I saw the emerald on your finger," she
added, turning to me, "but I could not tell her."

"I am glad, I am delighted, that she spoke to me," I said.  I
desired to save the fair girl, whose heart was ever as a child's,
any sorrow for what she had done.  "I was about to speak myself.
It is so great a pleasure to see you all I could not longer endure
silence."

"They made us prisoners; they bring us here.  Oh, m'sieur, it is
terrible!" said the baroness.

"And he is such a horrible-looking monkey!" said Louison.

"Do they treat you well?" I asked.

"We have a big room and enough to eat.  It is not a bad prison, but
it is one terrible place," said the baroness.  "There is a big
wall; we cannot go beyond it."

"And that hairy thing!  He is in love with Louise.  He swears he
will never let us go," said Louison, in a whisper, as she came
close to me, "unless--unless she will marry him."

"Ah! a tea-party," said his Lordship, coming toward us.  "Pardon
the interruption.  I have promised to return these men at nine.  It
is now ten minutes of the hour.  Ladies, I wish you all a very good
night."

He bowed politely.  They pressed my hand, leaving me with such
anxiety in their faces that I felt it more than my own peril,
Louison gave me a tender look out of her fine eyes, and the thought
of it was a light to my soul in many an hour of darkness.   She had
seemed so cool, so nonchalant, I was surprised to feel the tremor
in her nerves.  I knew not words to say when Louise took my hand.

"Forgive me--good-by!" said she.

It was a faint whisper out of trembling lips.  I could see her soul
in her face then.  It was lighted with trouble and a nobler beauty
than I had ever seen.  It was full of tenderness and pity and
things I could not understand.

"Have courage!" I called as they went away.

I was never in such a fierce temper as when, after they had gone
above-stairs, I could hear one of them weeping.  D'ri stood quietly
beside me, his arms folded.

"Whut ye goin' t' dew with them air women?" he asked, turning to
the young man.

"I beg you will give me time to consider," said his Lordship,
calmly, as he lighted a cigarette.

There was a quick move in the big tower of bone and muscle beside
me.  I laid hold of D'ri's elbow and bade him stop, or I fear his
Lordship's drawing-room, his Lordship, and ourselves would
presently have had some need of repair.  Four guards who seemed to
be waiting in the hall entered hurriedly, the shackles in hand.

"No haste," said his Lordship, more pleasantly than ever.  "Stand
by and wait my orders."

"D' ye wan' t' know whut I think o' you?" said D'ri, looking down
at him, his eyes opening wide, his brow wrinkling into long furrows.

"I make a condition," said his Lordship: "do not flatter me."

"Yer jest a low-lived, mis'able, wuthless pup," said D'ri,

"Away with them!" said his Lordship, flicking the ashes off a
cigarette as he rose and walked hurriedly out of the room.




XIII

The waiting guards laid hold of us in a twinkling, and others came
crowding the doors.  They shackled our hands behind us, and covered
our eyes again.  Dark misgivings of what was to come filled me, but
I bore all in silence.  They shoved us roughly out of doors, and
there I could tell they were up to no child's play.  A loud jeer
burst from the mouths of many as we came staggering out.  I could
hear the voices of a crowd.  They hurried us into a carriage.

"We demand the prisoners!" a man shouted near me.

Then I could hear them scuffling with the guards, who, I doubt not,
were doing their best to hold them back.  In a moment I knew the
mob had possession of us and the soldiers were being hustled away.
D'ri sat shoulder to shoulder with me.  I could feel his muscles
tighten; I could hear the cracking of his joints and the grinding
of the shackle-chain.  "Judas Pr-r-i-e-st!" he grunted, straining
at the iron.  Two men leaped into the carriage.  There was a crack
of the whip, and the horses went off bounding.  We could hear
horsemen all about us and wagons following.  I had a stout heart in
me those days, but in all my life I had never taken a ride so
little to my liking.  We went over rough roads, up hill and down,
for an hour or more.

I could see in prospect no better destination than our graves, and,
indeed, I was not far wrong.  Well, by and by we came to a town
somewhere--God knows where.  I have never seen it, or known the
name of it, or even that of the prison where we were first immured.
I could tell it was a town by the rumble of the wheels and each
echoing hoof-beat.  The cavalcade was all about us, and now and
then we could hear the sound of voices far behind.  The procession
slowed up, horsemen jammed to the left of us, the carriage halted.
I could hear footsteps on a stone pavement.

"You're late," said a low voice at the carriage door.  "It's near
eleven."

"Lot o' fooling with the candidates," said one of the horsemen,
quietly.  "Everything ready?"

"Everything ready," was the answer.

The carriage door swung open.

"We get out here," said one of the men who sat with us.

I alighted.  On each side of me somebody put his hand to my
shoulder.  I could see the glow of a lantern-light close to my
face.  I knew there was a crowd of men around, but I could hear
nothing save now and then a whisper.

"Wall, Ray," said D'ri, who stood by my side, "hol' stiddy 'n'
don't be scairt."

"Do as they tell ye," a stranger whispered in my ear.  "No matter
what 't is, do as they tell ye."

They led us into a long passage and up a steep flight of wooden
stairs.  I have learned since then it was a building equipped by a
well-known secret society for its initiations.[1]  We went on
through a narrow hall and up a winding night that seemed to me
interminable.  Above it, as we stopped, the man who was leading me
rapped thrice upon a rattling wooden door.  It broke the silence
with a loud echoing noise.  I could hear then the sliding of a
panel and a faint whispering and the sound of many feet ascending
the stairs below.  The door swung open presently, and we were led
in where I could see no sign of any light.  They took me alone
across a wide bare floor, where they set me down upon some sort of
platform and left me, as I thought.  Then I could hear the
whispered challenge at the door and one after another entering and
crossing the bare floor on tiptoe.  Hundreds were coming in, it
seemed to me.  Suddenly a deep silence fell in that dark place of
evil.  The blindfold went whisking off my head as if a ghostly hand
had taken it.  But all around me was the darkness of the pit.  I
could see and I could hear nothing but a faint whisper, high above
me, like that of pine boughs moving softly in a light breeze.  I
could feel the air upon my face.  I thought I must have been moved
out of doors by some magic.  It seemed as if I were sitting under
trees alone.  Out of the black silence an icy hand fell suddenly
upon my brow.  I flinched, feeling it move slowly downward over my
shoulder.  I could hear no breathing, no rustle of garments near
me.  In that dead silence I got a feeling that the hand touching me
had no body behind it.  I was beyond the reach of fear--I was in a
way prepared for anything but the deep, heart-shaking horror that
sank under the cold, damp touch of those fingers.  They laid hold
of my elbow firmly, lifting as if to indicate that I was to rise.
I did so, moving forward passively as it drew me on.  To my
astonishment I was unable to hear my own footfall or that of my
conductor.  I thought we were walking upon soft earth.  Crossing
our path in front of me I could see, in the darkness, a gleaming
line.  We moved slowly, standing still as our toes covered it.
Then suddenly a light flashed from before and below us.  A cold
sweat came out upon me; I staggered back to strong hands that were
laid upon my shoulders, forcing me to the line again.  By that
flash of light I could see that I was standing on the very brink of
some black abyss--indeed, my toes had crossed the edge of it.  The
light came again, flickering and then settling into a steady glow.
The opening seemed to have a grassy bottom some ten feet below.  In
front of me the soil bristled, on that lower level, with some black
and pointed plant: there was at least a score of them.  As I
looked, I saw they were not plants, but a square of bayonets
thrust, points up, in the ground.  A curse came out of my hot
mouth, and then a dozen voices mocked it, going fainter, like a
dying echo.  I heard a whisper in my ear.  A tall figure in a
winding-sheet, its face covered, was leaning over me.

"To hesitate is to die," it whispered.  "Courage may save you."

Then a skeleton hand came out of the winding-sheet, pointing down
at the square of bristling bayonets.  The figure put its mouth to
my ear.

"Jump!" it whispered, and the bare bones of the dead fingers
stirred impatiently.

Some seconds of a brief silence followed.  I could hear them slowly
dripping out of eternity in the tick of a watch near me.  I felt
the stare of many eyes invisible to me.  A broad beam of bright
light shot through the gloom, resting full upon my face.  I started
back upon the strong hands behind me.  Then I felt my muscles
tighten as I began to measure the fall and to wonder if I could
clear the bayonets.  I had no doubt I was to die shortly, and it
mattered not to me how, bound as I was, so that it came soon.  For
a breath of silence my soul went up to the feet of God for help and
hope.  Then I bent my knees and leaped, I saw much as my body went
rushing through the air--an empty grave its heap of earth beside
it, an island of light, walled with candles, in a sea of gloom,
faces showing dimly in the edge of the darkness, "Thank God! I
shall clear the bayonets," I thought, and struck heavily upon a
soft mat, covered over with green turf, a little beyond that
bristling bed.  I staggered backward, falling upon it.  To my
surprise, it bent beneath me.  They were no bayonets, but only
shells of painted paper.  I got to my feet none the worse for
jumping, and as dumfounded as ever a man could be.  I stood on a
lot of broken turf with which a wide floor had been overlaid.
Boards and timbers were cut away, and the grave dug beneath them.
I saw one face among others in the gloom beyond the candle
rows--that of his Lordship.  He was coming up a little flight of
stairs to where I stood.  He moved the candles, making a small
passage, and came up to me.

"You're a brave man," said he, in that low, careless tone of his.

"And you a coward," was my answer, for the sight of him had made me
burn with anger.

"Don't commit yourself on a point like that," said he, quickly,
"for, you know, we are not well acquainted.  I like your pluck, and
I offer you what is given to few here--an explanation."

He paused, lighting a cigarette.  I stood looking at him.  The cold
politeness of manner with which he had taken my taunt, his perfect
self-mastery, filled me with wonder.  He was no callow youth, that
man, whoever he might be.  He was boring at the floor with the end
of a limber cane as he continued to address me.

"Now, look here," he went on, with a little gesture of his left
hand, between the fingers of which a cigarette was burning.  "You
are now in the temple of a patriotic society acting with no letters
patent, but in the good cause of his Most Excellent Majesty King
George III, to whom be health and happiness."

As he spoke the name he raised his hat, and a cheer came from all
sides of us.

"It is gathered this night," he continued, "to avenge the death of
Lord Ronley, a friend of his Majesty, and of many here present, and
an honored member of this order.  For his death you, and you alone,
are responsible, and, we suspect, under circumstances of no credit
to your sword.  Many of our people have been cut off from their
comrades and slain by cowardly stealth, have been led into ambush
and cruelly cut to pieces by an overwhelming number, have been shut
in prison and done to death by starvation or by stabs of a knife
there in your country.  Not content with the weapons of a soldier,
you have even resorted to the barbarity of the poison-wasp.  Pardon
me, but you Yankees do not seem to have any mercy or fairness for a
foe.  We shall give you better treatment.  You shall not be killed
like a rat in a trap.  You shall have a chance for your life.  Had
you halted, had you been a coward, you would not have been worthy
to fight in this arena.  You would not have come where you are
standing, and possibly even now your grave would have been filled.
If you survive the ordeal that is to come, I hope it will prove an
example to you of the honor that is due to bravery, of the fairness
due a foe."

Many voices spoke the word "Amen" as he stopped, turning to beckon
into the gloom about us.  I was now quite over my confusion.  I
began to look about me and get my bearings.  I could hear a stir in
the crowd beyond the lights, and a murmur of voices.   Reflecting
lanterns from many pillars near by shot their rays upon me.  I
stood on a platform, some thirty feet square, in the middle of a
large room.  Its floor was on a level with the faces of the many
who stood pressing to the row of lights, Here, I took it, I was to
fight for my life, I was looking at the yawning grave in the corner
of this arena, when four men ascended with swords and pistols.  One
of them removed the shackles, letting my hands free.  I thanked him
as he tossed them aside.  I was thinking of D'ri, and, shading my
eyes, looked off in the gloom to see if I could discover him.  I
called his name, but heard no answer.  His Lordship came over to
me, bringing a new sword.  He held the glittering blade before me,
its hilt in his right hand, its point resting on the fingers of his
left.  "It's good," said he, quietly; "try it."

It was a beautiful weapon, its guard and pommel and quillons
sparkling with wrought-silver, its grip of yellow leather laced
with blue silk.  The glow and the feel of it filled me with a joy I
had not known since my father gave me the sword of my childhood.
It drove the despair out of me, and I was a new man.  I tried the
blade, its point upon my toe.  It was good metal, and the grip
fitted me.

"Well, how do you find it?" said he, impatiently.

"I am satisfied," was my reply.

He helped me take off my blouse and waistcoat, and then I rolled my
sleeves to the elbow.  The hum of voices had grown louder.  I could
hear men offering to bet and others bantering for odds.

"We'll know soon," said a voice near me, "whether he could have
killed Ronley in a fair fight."

I turned to look at those few in the arena.  There were half a
dozen of them now, surrounding my adversary, a man taller than the
rest, with a heavy neck and brawny arms and shoulders.  He had come
out of the crowd unobserved by me.  He also was stripped to the
shirt, and had rolled up his sleeves, and was trying the steel.  He
had a red, bristling mustache and overhanging brows and a vulgar
face--not that of a man who settles his quarrel with the sword.  I
judged a club or a dagger would have been better suited to his
genius.  But, among fighters, it is easy to be fooled by a face.
In a moment the others had gone save his Lordship and that portly
bald-headed man I had heard him rebuke as "Sir Charles."  My
adversary met me at the centre of the arena, where we shook hands.
I could see, or thought I could, that he was entering upon a
business new to him, for there was in his manner an indication of
unsteady nerves.

"Gentlemen, are you ready?" said his Lordship.

But there are reasons why the story of what came after should be
none of my telling.  I leave it to other and better eyes that were
not looking between flashes of steel, as mine were.  And then one
has never a fair view of his own fights.


[1] The intrepid Fitzgibbon, the most daring leader on the Canadian
frontier those days, told me long afterward that he knew the
building--a tall frame structure on the high shore of a tributary
of the St. Lawrence.  It was built on a side of the bluff and used
originally as a depot for corn, oats, rye, and potatoes, that came
down the river in bateaux.  The slide was a slanting box through
which the sacks of grain were conveyed to sloops and schooners
below.  It did not pay and was soon abandoned, whereupon it was
rented by the secret order referred to above.  The slide bottom was
coated with lard and used for the hazing of candidates.  A prize
fight on the platform was generally a feature of the entertainment.
A man was severely injured in a leap on the bayonets, after which
that feature of the initiation was said to have been abandoned.




XIV

This is the story of Corporal Darius Olin, touching his adventure
in the Temple of the Avengers, at some unknown place in Upper
Canada, on the night of August 12, 1813, and particularly the
ordeals of the sword, the slide, and the bayonet to which Captain
Ramon Bell was subjected that night, as told to Adjutant Asarius
Church, at Sackett's Harbor, New York:--


"Soon es I see whut wus up, I gin a powerful lift on thet air
shackle-chain.  I felt 'er give 'n' bust.  A couple o' men clim'
int' the seat front uv us, 'n' the hosses started hell bent.  I sot
up with my hands 'hind uv me 'n the wagin.  I kep' 'em there tight
'n' stiff, es ef the iron wus holdin' uv 'em.  Could n't git no
chance t' say nuthin' t' Ray.  Hustled us upstairs, 'n' when we
come in t' thet air big room they tuk him one way an' me 'nother.

"Didn't hev no idee where I wus.  Felt 'em run a chain through my
arms, careful, efter they sot me down.  I sot still fer mebbe five
minutes.  Seemed so ev'rybody'd gone out o' the place.  Could n't
hear nuthin' nowhere.  I le' down the chain jest es ca-areful es I
could, 'n' tuk off the blindfold.  'Twas all dark; could n't see my
hand afore me.  Crep' 'long the floor.  See 't was covered with
sawdust.  Tuk off m' boots, 'n' got up on m' feet, 'n' walked
careful.  Did n' dast holler t' Ray.  Cal'lated when the squabble
come I 'd be ready t' dew business.  All t' once I felt a slant 'n
the floor.  'T was kind o' slip'ry, 'n' I begun t' slide.  Feet
went out from under me 'n' sot me down quick.  Tried t' ketch holt
o' suthin'.  Could n't hang on; kep' goin' faster.  Fust I knew I
'd slid int' some kind uv a box.  Let me down quicker 'n scat over
thet air grease a little ways.  I out with my tew hands 'n' bore
ag'in' the sides o' th' box powerful 'n' stopped myself.  Then I up
with these here feet o' mine.  See the top o' the box wa'n't much
more 'n a foot above me.  Tried t' crawl up ag'in.  Couldn't mek
it.  Dum thing slanted luk Tup's Hill.  Hung on awhile, cipherin'
es hard es I knew how.  Hearn suthin' go kerslap.  Seem so the hull
place trembled.  Raised up my head, 'n' peeked over my stumick down
the box.  A bar o' light stuck in away down.  Let myself go careful
till I c'u'd see my nose in it.  Then I got over on my shoulder 'n'
braced on the sides o' the box, back 'g'in' one side 'n' knees
'g'in' t'other.  See 't was a knot-hole where the light come in,
'bout es big es a man's wrist.  Peeked through, 'n' see a lot o'
lights 'n' folks, 'n' hearn 'em talkin'.  Ray he stud on a platform
facin' a big, powerful-lookin' cuss.  Hed their coats 'n' vests
off, 'n' sleeves rolled up, 'n' swords ready.  See there wus goin'
t' be a fight.  Hed t' snicker--wa'n' no way I c'u'd help it, fer,
Judas Priest!  I knew dum well they wa'n't a single one of them air
Britishers c'u'd stan' 'fore 'im.  Thet air mis'able spindlin'
devil I tol' ye 'bout--feller et hed the women--he stud back o'
Ray.  Hed his hand up luk thet.  'Fight!' he says, 'n' they got t'
work, 'n' the crowd begun t' jam up 'n' holler.  The big feller he
come et Ray es ef he wus goin' t' cut him in tew.  Ray he tuk it
easy 'n' rassled the sword of the big chap round 'n' round es ef it
wus tied t' hisn.  Fust I knew he med a quick lunge 'n' pricked 'im
'n the arm.  Big chap wus a leetle shy then.  Did n't come up t'
the scratch es smart 'n' sassy es he'd orter.  Ray he went efter
'im hammer 'n' tongs.  Thet air long slim waist o' hisn swayed 'n'
bent luk a stalk o' barley.  He did luk joemightyful han'some--wish
't ye c'u'd 'a' seen 'im thet air night.  Hair wus jest es shiny es
gold 'n the light o' them candles.  He 'd feint, an' t' other 'd
dodge.  Judas Priest! seemed so he put the p'int o' the sword all
over thet air big cuss.  C'u'd 'a' killed 'im a dozen times, but I
see he did n't want t' dew it.  Kep' prickin' 'im ev'ry lunge 'n'
druv 'im off the boards--tumbled 'im head over heels int' the
crowd.  Them air devils threw up their hats 'n' stomped 'n'
hollered powerful, es ef 't were mighty fun t' see a man cut t'
pieces.  Wall, they tuk up another man, quicker 'n the fust, but he
wa'n' nowhere near s' big 'n' cordy.  Wa'n't only one crack o' the
swords in thet air fight.  Could n't hardly say Jack Robinson 'fore
the cuss hed fell.  Ray hurt him bad, I guess, for they hed t' pick
'im up 'n' carry 'im off luk a baby.  Guess the boy see 't he hed a
good many to lick, 'n' hed n't better waste no power a-foolin'.
All t' once thet air low-lived, spindlin', mis'able devil he come
t' the edge o' the platform 'n' helt up his hand.  Soon 's they
stopped yellin' he says; 'Gentlemen,' he says, 'sorry t' tell ye
thet the man fer the next bout hes got away.  We left him securely
fastened up 'n the fust chamber.  Have hed the building searched,
but ain't able t' find him.  He must hev gone down the slide.  I am
sorry to say we hev no more Yankees.  If this man fights any more
it will hev t' be a Britisher thet goes ag'in' 'im.   Is there a
volunteer?'

"Ray he runs up 'n' says suthin' right 'n his ear.  Could n't hear
whut 'twus.   Did n' set well.  T' other feller he flew mad, 'n'
Ray he fetched 'im a cuff, luk thet, with the back uv his hand.  Ye
see, he did n' know he hed been a-fightin' Yankees, 'n' he did n'
like the idee.  'Gentlemen,' says he, 'I 'll fight anybody, but ef
this chap ain't a coward, he 'll fight me himself.' T'other feller
he off with his coat 'n' vest es quick es a flash 'n' picked up a
sword.  'Fight, then, ye cub!' says he; an' they flew at each other
hell bent fer 'lection.  He wa'n' no fool with a sword, nuther, I
can tell ye, thet air spindlin' cuss.  I see Ray hed his han's
full.  But he wus jest es cool es a green cowcumber, eggzac'ly.
Kep' a-cuffin' t' other sword, 'n' let 'im hit 'n' lunge 'n' feint
es much es he pleased.  See he wus jest a-gettin' his measure, 'n'
I knew suthin' wus goin' t' happen purty quick.  Fust I knew he
ketched Ray by the shirtsleeve with the p'int uv 'is sword 'n'
ripped it t' the collar.  Scairt me so I bit my tongue watchin' uv
'em.  They got locked, 'n' both swords came up t' the hilts
t'gether with a swish 'n' a bang luk thet.  The blades clung, 'n'
they backed off.  Then Ray he begun t' feint 'n' lunge 'n' hustle
'im.  Quicker 'n scat he gin 'im an awful prick 'n the shoulder.  I
c'u'd see the blood come, but they kep' a-goin' back 'n' forth 'n'
up 'n' down desperit.  The red streak on thet air feller's shirt
kep' a-growin'.  Purty quick one side uv 'im wus red an' t' other
white.    See he wus gettin' weaker 'n' weaker.  Ray c'u'd 'a'
split 'im t' the navel ef he'd only hed a min' tew.  All t' once he
med a jab at Ray, 'n' threw up 'is han's, 'n' went back a step er
tew, luk a boss with th' blin' staggers, 'n' tumbled head over
heels in thet air open grave.  There wus hell t' pay fer a minute.
Lot on 'em clim' over the row o' lights, yellin' luk wildcats, 'n'
hauled thet air mis'able cuss out o' the grave, 'n' stud 'im up,
'n' gin 'im a drink o' liquor.  In half a minute he up with his
han'kerchief 'n' waved it over 'is head t' mek 'em keep still.
Soon 's they wus quiet he up 'n' he says: 'Gentlemen,' says he,
'this 'ere chap hes stood the test o' the sword.  Are ye
satisfied?'  'We are,' says they--ev'ry British son uv a gun they
wus there up 'n' hollered, 'Then,' says he, 'giv' 'im th' slide.'

"Ray he put down 'is sword 'n' picked up 'is coat 'n' vest.  Then
they grabbed th' lights, 'n' thet 's th' last I see on' em there.
Purty quick 'twus all dark.  Hearn 'em comin' upstairs 'n goin'
'cross th' floor over my head.  'Gun t' think o' myself a leetle
bit then.  Knowed I was in thet air slide, an' hed t' le' go purty
quick.  Hed n't no idee where it went tew, but I cal'lated I wus
middlin' sure t' know 'fore long.  Knowed when I le' go I wus goin'
t' dew some tall slippin' over thet air greased bottom.  See a
light come down th' box 'n a minute.  Hearn somebody speakin' there
et the upper end.

"'This 'ere's th' las' test o' yer courage,' says a man, says he;
'few comes here alive 'n' sound es you be.  Ye wus a doomed man.
Ye 'd hev been shot at daylight, but we gin ye a chance fer yer
life.  So fur ye 've proved yerself wuthy.  Ef ye hold yer courage,
ye may yit live.  Ef ye flinch, ye 'll land in heaven.  Ef yer life
is spared, remember how we honor courage.'

"Then they gin 'im a shove, 'n' I hearn 'im a-comin'.  I flopped
over 'n' le' go.  Shot away luk a streak o' lightnin'.   Dum thing
grew steeper 'n' steeper.  Jes' hel' up my ban's 'n' let 'er go
lickitty split.  Jerushy Jane Pepper! jes' luk comin' down a
greased pole.  Come near tekin' my breath away--did sart'n.  Went
out o' thet air thing luk a bullet eggzac'ly.  Shot int' the air
feet foremust.  Purty fair slidin' up in the air 'most anywheres,
ye know.  Alwus come down by the nighest way.  'T was darker 'n
pitch; could n't see a thing, nut a thing.  Hearn Ray come out o'
the box 'bove me.  Then I come down k'slap in th' water 'n' sunk.
Thought I 'd never stop goin' down.  'Fore I come up I hearn Ray
rip int' th' water nigh me.  I come up 'n' shook my head, 'n'
waited.  Judas Priest! thought he wus drownded, sart'n.  Seemed so
I 'd bust out 'n' cry there 'n th' water waitin' fer thet air boy.
Soon es I hearn a flop I hed my han's on 'im.

"'Who be you?' says he.

"'D'ri,' says I.

"'Tired out,' says he; 'can't swim a stroke.  Guess I 'll hev t' go
t' th' bottom.'"




XV

D'ri's narrative was the talk of the garrison.  Those who heard the
telling, as I did not, were fond of quoting its odd phrases, and of
describing how D'ri would thrust and parry with his jack-knife in
the story of the bouts.

The mystery of that plunge into darkness and invisible water was a
trial to my nerves the like of which I had never suffered.  After
they had pulled his Lordship out of the grave, and I knew there
would be no more fighting, I began to feel the strain he had put
upon me.  He was not so strong as D'ri, but I had never stood
before a quicker man.  His blade was as full of life and cunning as
a cat's paw, and he tired me.  When I went under water I felt sure
it was all over, for I was sick and faint.  I had been thinking of
D'ri in that quick descent.  I wondered if he was the man who had
got away and gone down the slide.  I was not the less amazed,
however, to feel his strong hand upon me as I came up.  I knew
nothing for a time.  D'ri has told me often how he bore me up in
rapid water until he came into an eddy where he could touch bottom.
There, presently, I got back my senses and stood leaning on his
broad shoulder awhile.  A wind was blowing, and we could hear a
boat jumping in the ripples near by.  We could see nothing, it was
so dark, but D'ri left me, feeling his way slowly, and soon found
the boat.  He whistled to me, and I made my way to him.  There were
oars in the bottom of the boat.  D'ri helped me in, where I lay
back with a mighty sense of relief.  Then he hauled in a rope and
anchor, and shoved off.  The boat, overrunning the flow in a
moment, shot away rapidly.  I could feel it take headway as we
clove the murmuring waters.  D'ri set the oars and helped it on.  I
lay awhile thinking of all the blood and horror in that black
night--like a dream of evil that leads through dim regions of
silence into the shadow of death.  I thought of the hinted peril of
the slide that was to be the punishment of poor courage.

D'ri had a plausible theory of the slide.  He said that if we had
clung to the sides of it to break our speed we 'd have gone down
like a plummet and shattered our bones on a rocky shore.  Coming
fast, our bodies leaped far into the air and fell to deep water.
How long I lay there thinking, as I rested, I have no satisfactory
notion.  Louise and Louison came into my thoughts, and a plan of
rescue.  A rush of cavalry and reeking swords, a dash for the
boats, with a flying horse under each fair lady, were in that
moving vision.  But where should we find them? for I knew not the
name of that country out of which we had come by ways of darkness
and peril.  The old query came to me, If I had to choose between
them, which should I take?  There was as much of the old doubt in
me as ever.  For a verity, I loved them both, and would die for
either.  I opened my eyes at last, and, rising, my hands upon the
gunwales, could dimly see the great shoulders of D'ri swaying back
and forth as he rowed.  The coming dawn had shot an arrow into the
great, black sphere of night, cracking it from circumference to
core, and floods of light shortly came pouring in, sweeping down
bridges of darkness, gates of gloom, and massy walls of shadow.  We
were in the middle of a broad river--the St. Lawrence, we knew,
albeit the shores were unfamiliar to either of us.  The sunlight
stuck in the ripples, and the breeze fanned them into flowing fire.
The morning lighted the green hills of my native land with a mighty
splendor.  A new life and a great joy came to me as I filled my
lungs with the sweet air.  D'ri pulled into a cove, and neither
could speak for a little.  He turned, looking out upon the river,
and brushed a tear off his brown cheek.

"No use talking" said he, in a low tone, as the bow hit the shore,
"ain' no country luk this 'un, don' care where ye go."

As the oars lay still, we could hear in the far timber a call of
fife and drum.  Listening, we heard the faint familiar strains of
"Yankee Doodle."  We came ashore in silence, and I hugged the
nearest tree, and was not able to say the "Thank God!" that fell
from my lips only half spoken.




XVI

We got our bearings, a pair of boots for D'ri, and a hearty meal in
the cabin of a settler.  The good man was unfamiliar with the upper
shore, and we got no help in our mystery.  Starting west, in the
woods, on our way to the Harbor, we stopped here and there to
listen, but heard only wood-thrush and partridge--the fife and drum
of nature.  That other music had gone out of hearing.  We had no
compass, but D'ri knew the forest as a crow knows the air.  He knew
the language of the trees and the brooks.  The feel of the bark and
what he called "the lean of the timber" told him which way was
south.  River and stream had a way of telling him whence they had
come and where they were going, but he had no understanding of a
map.  I remember, after we had come to the Harbor at dusk and told
our story, the general asked him to indicate our landing-place and
our journey home on a big map at headquarters.  D'ri studied the
map a brief while.  There was a look of embarrassment on his sober
face.

"Seems so we come ashore 'bout here," said he, dropping the middle
finger of his right hand in the vicinity of Quebec.  "Then we
travelled aw-a-a-ay hellwards over 'n this 'ere direction." With
that illuminating remark he had slid his finger over some two
hundred leagues of country from Quebec to Michigan.

They met us with honest joy and no little surprise that evening as
we came into camp.  Ten of our comrades had returned, but as for
ourselves, they thought us in for a long stay.  We said little of
what we had gone through, outside the small office at headquarters,
but somehow it began to travel, passing quickly from mouth to
mouth, until it got to the newspapers and began to stir the tongue
of each raw recruit.  General Brown was there that evening, and had
for me, as always, the warm heart of a father.  He heard our report
with a kindly sympathy.

Next morning I rode away to see the Comte de Chaumont at
Leraysville.  I had my life, and a great reason to be thankful, but
there were lives dearer than my own to me, and they were yet in
peril.  Those dear faces haunted me and filled my sleep with
trouble.  I rode fast, reaching the chateau at luncheon time.  The
count was reading in a rustic chair at the big gate.  He came
running to me, his face red with excitement.

"M'sieur le Capitaine!" he cried, my hand in both of his, "I
thought you were dead."

"And so I have been--dead as a cat drowned in a well, that turns up
again as lively as ever.  Any news of the baroness and the young
ladies?"

"A letter," said he.  "Come, get off your horse.  I shall read to
you the letter."

"Tell me--how were they taken?"

I was leading my horse, and we were walking through the deep grove.

"Eh bien, I am not able to tell," said he, shaking his head
soberly.  "You remember that morning--well, I have twenty men there
for two days.  They are armed, they surround the Hermitage, they
keep a good watch.  The wasp he is very troublesome, but they see
no soldier.  They stay, they burn the smudge.  By and by I think
there is nothing to fear, and I bring them home, but I leave three
men.  The baroness and the two girls and their servants they stay
awhile to pack the trunk.  They are coming to the chateau.  It is
in the evening; the coach is at the door; the servants have
started.  Suddenly--the British!  I do not know how many.  They
come out of the woods like a lightning, and bang! bang! bang! they
have killed my men.  They take the baroness and the Misses de
Lambert, and they drive away with them.  The servants they hear the
shots, they return, they come, and they tell us.  We follow.  We
find the coach; it is in the road, by the north trail.  Dieu! they
are all gone!  We travel to the river, but--" here he lifted his
shoulders and shook his head dolefully--"we could do nothing."

"The general may let me go after them with a force of cavalry," I
said.  "I want you to come with me and talk to him."

"No, no, my capitaine!" said he; "it would not be wise.  We must
wait.  We do not know where they are.  I have friends in Canada;
they are doing their best, and when we hear from them--eh bien, we
shall know what is necessary."

I told him how I had met them that night in Canada, and what came
of it.

"They are a cruel people, the English," said he.  "I am afraid to
find them will be a matter of great difficulty."

"But the letter--"

"Ah, the letter," he interrupted, feeling in his pocket.  "The
letter is not much.  It is from Tiptoes--from Louison.  It was
mailed this side of the river at Morristown.  You shall see; they
do not know where they are."

He handed me the letter.  I read it with an eagerness I could not
conceal.   It went as follows:--


"MY DEAR COUNT: If this letter reaches you, it will, I hope,
relieve your anxiety.  We are alive and well, but where?  I am sure
I have no better idea than if I were a baby just born.  We came
here with our eyes covered after a long ride from the river, which
we crossed in the night.  I think it must have taken us three days
to come here.  We are shut up in a big house with high walls and
trees and gardens around it--a beautiful place.  We have fine beds
and everything to eat, only we miss the bouillabaisse, and the
jokes of M. Pidgeon, and the fine old claret.  A fat Englishwoman
who waddles around like a big goose and who calls me Mumm (as if I
were a wine-maker!) waits upon us.  We do not know the name of our
host.  He is a tall man who says little and has hair on his neck
and on the back of his hands.  Dieu! he is a lord who talks as if
he were too lazy to breathe.  It is 'Your Lordship this' and 'Your
Lordship that.'  But I must speak well of him, because he is going
to read this letter: it is on that condition I am permitted to
write.  Therefore I say he is a great and good man, a beautiful
man.  The baroness and Louise send love to all.  Madame says do not
worry; we shall come out all right: but I say _worry_! and, good
man, do not cease to worry until we are safe home.  Tell the cure
he has something to do now.  I have worn out my rosary, and am
losing faith.  Tell him to try his.

  "Your affectionate
    "LOUISON."

"She is an odd girl," said the count, as I gave back the letter,
"so full of fun, so happy, so bright, so quick--always on her
tiptoes.  Come, you are tired; you have ridden far in the dust.  I
shall make you glad to be here."

A groom took my horse, and the count led me down a wooded slope to
the lakeside.  Octagonal water-houses, painted white, lay floating
at anchor near us.  He rowed me to one of them for a bath.  Inside
was a rug and a table and soap and linen.  A broad panel on a side
of the floor came up as I pulled a cord, showing water clear and
luminous to the sandy lake-bottom.   The glow of the noonday filled
the lake to its shores, and in a moment I clove the sunlit
depths--a rare delight after my long, hot ride.

At luncheon we talked of the war, and he made much complaint of the
Northern army, as did everybody those days.

"My boy," said he, "you should join Perry on the second lake.  It
is your only chance to fight, to win glory."

He told me then of the impending battle and of Perry's great need
of men.  I had read of the sea-fighting and longed for a part in
it.  To climb on hostile decks and fight hand to hand was a thing
to my fancy.  Ah, well!  I was young then.  At the count's table
that day I determined to go, if I could get leave.

Therese and a young Parisienne, her friend, were at luncheon with
us.  They bade us adieu and went away for a gallop as we took
cigars.  We had no sooner left the dining room than I called for my
horse.  Due at the Harbor that evening, I could give myself no
longer to the fine hospitality of the count.  In a few moments I
was bounding over the road, now cool in deep forest shadows.   A
little way on I overtook Therese and the Parisienne.  The former
called to me as I passed.  I drew rein, coming back and stopping
beside her.  The other went on at a walk.

"M'sieur le Capitaine, have you any news of them--of Louise and
Louison?" she inquired.  "You and my father were so busy talking I
could not ask you before."

"I know this only: they are in captivity somewhere, I cannot tell
where."

"You look worried, M'sieur le Capitaine; you have not the happy
face, the merry look, any longer.  In June you were a boy, in
August--voila! it is a man!  Perhaps you are preparing for the
ministry."

She assumed a solemn look, glancing up at me as if in mockery of my
sober face.  She was a slim, fine brunette, who, as I knew, had
long been a confidante of Louison.

"Alas! ma'm'selle, I am worried.  I have no longer any peace."

"Do you miss them?" she inquired, a knowing look in her handsome
eyes.  "Do not think me impertinent."

"More than I miss my mother," I said.

"I have a letter," said she, smiling.  "I do not know--I thought I
should show it to you, but--but not to-day."

"Is it from them?"

"It is from Louison--from Tiptoes."

"And--and it speaks of me?"

"Ah, m'sieur," said she, arching her brows, "it has indeed much to
say of you."

"And--and may I not see it?" I asked eagerly.  "Ma'm'selle, I tell
you I--I must see it."

"Why?"  She stirred the mane of her horse with a red riding-whip.

"Why not?" I inquired, my heart beating fast.

"If I knew--if I were justified--you know I am her friend.  I know
all her secrets."

"Will you not be my friend also?" I interrupted.

"A friend of Louison, he is mine," said she.

"Ah, ma'm'selle, then I confess to you--it is because I love her."

"I knew it; I am no fool," was her answer.  "But I had to hear it
from you.  It is a remarkable thing to do, but they are in such
peril.  I think you ought to know."

She took the letter from her bosom, passing it to my hand.  A faint
odor of violets came with it.  It read:--


"MY DEAR THERESE: I wish I could see you, if only for an hour.  I
have so much to say.  I have written your father of our prison
home.  I am going to write you of my troubles.  You know what we
were talking about the last time I saw you--myself and that
handsome fellow.  Mon Dieu!  I shall not name him.  It is not
necessary.  Well, you were right, my dear.  I was a fool; I laughed
at your warning; I did not know the meaning of that delicious pain.
But oh, my dear friend, it has become a terrible thing since I know
I may never see him again.  My heart is breaking with it.  Mere de
Dieu!  I can no longer laugh or jest or pretend to be happy.  What
shall I say?  That I had rather die than live without him?  No;
that is not enough.  I had rather be an old maid and live only with
the thought of _him_ than marry another, if he were a king.  I
remember those words of yours, 'I know he loves you.'  Oh, my dear
Therese, what a comfort they are to me now!  I repeat them often.
If _I_ could only say, 'I know'!  Alas!  I can but say, 'I do not
know,' nay, even, 'I do not believe.'  If I had not been a fool I
should have made him tell me, for I had him over his ears in love
with me one day, or I am no judge of a man.  But, you know, they
are so fickle!  And then the Yankee girls are pretty and so clever.
Well, they shall not have him if I can help it.  When I return
there shall be war, if necessary, between France and America.
And, Therese, you know I have weapons, and you have done me the
honor to say I know how to use them.  I have told Louise, and--what
do you think?--the poor thing cried an hour--for pity of me!  As
ever, she makes my trouble her own.  I have been selfish always,
but I know the cure.  It is love--toujours l'amour.  Now I think
only of him, and he recalls you and your sweet words.  God make you
a true prophet!  With love to you and the marquis, I kiss each
line, praying for happiness for you and for him.  Believe me as
ever,

  "Your affectionate
    "LOUISON.

"P.S.  I feel better now I have told you.  I wonder what his
Lordship will say.  Poor thing! he will read this; he will think me
a fool.  Eh bien, I have no better thought of him.  He can put me
under lock and key, but he shall not imprison my secrets; and, if
they bore him, he should not read my letters.               L."


I read it thrice, and held it for a moment to my lips.  Every word
stung me with the sweet pain that afflicted its author.  I could
feel my cheeks burning.

"Ma'm'selle, pardon me; it is not I she refers to.  She does not
say whom."

"Surely," said Therese, flirting her whip and lifting her
shoulders.  "M'sieur Le Capitaine is never a stupid man.  You--you
should say something very nice now."

"If it is I--thank God!  Her misery is my delight, her liberation
my one purpose."

"And my congratulations," said she, giving me her hand.  "She has
wit and beauty, a true heart, a great fortune, and--good luck in
having your love."

I raised my hat, blushing to the roots of my hair.

"It is a pretty compliment," I said.  "And--and I have no gift of
speech to thank you.  I am not a match for you except in my love of
kindness and--and of Louison.  You have made me happier than I have
been before."

"If I have made you alert, ingenious, determined, I am content,"
was her answer.  "I know you have courage."

"And will to use it."

"Good luck and adieu!" said she, with a fine flourish of her whip;
those people had always a pretty politeness of manner.

"Adieu," I said, lifting my hat as I rode off, with a prick of the
spur, for the road was long and I had lost quite half an hour.

My elation gave way to sober thought presently.  I began to think
of Louise--that quiet, frank, noble, beautiful, great-hearted girl,
who might be suffering what trouble I knew not, and all silently,
there in her prison home.  A sadness grew in me, and then suddenly
I saw the shadow of great trouble.  I loved them both; I knew not
which I loved the better.  Yet this interview had almost committed
me to Louison.




XVII

Orders came shortly from the War Department providing a detail to
go and help man the guns of Perry at Put-in Bay.  I had the honor
of leading them on the journey and turning them over to the young
Captain.  I could not bear to be lying idle at the garrison.  A
thought of those in captivity was with me night and day, but I
could do nothing for them.  I had had a friendly talk with General
Brown.  He invited and received my confidence touching the tender
solicitude I was unable to cover.  I laid before him the plan of an
expedition.  He smiled, puffing a cigar thoughtfully.

"Reckless folly, Bell," said he, after a moment.  "You are young
and lucky.  If you were flung in the broad water there with a
millstone tied to your neck, I should not be surprised to see you
turn up again.  My young friend, to start off with no destination
but Canada is too much even for you.  We have no men to waste.
Wait; a rusting sabre is better than a hole in the heart.  There
will be good work for you in a few days, I hope."

And there was--the job of which I have spoken, that came to me
through his kind offices.  We set sail in a schooner one bright
morning,--D'ri and I and thirty others,--bound for Two-Mile Creek.
Horses were waiting for us there.  We mounted them, and made the
long journey overland--a ride through wood and swale on a road worn
by the wagons of the emigrant, who, even then, was pushing westward
to the fertile valleys of Ohio.  It was hard travelling, but that
was the heyday of my youth, and the bird music, and the many voices
of a waning summer in field and forest, were somehow in harmony
with the great song of my heart.  In the middle of the afternoon of
September 6, we came to the Bay, and pulled up at headquarters, a
two-story frame building on a high shore.  There were wooded
islands in the offing, and between them we could see the
fleet--nine vessels, big and little.

I turned over the men, who were taken to the ships immediately and
put under drill.  Surgeon Usher of the _Lawrence_ and a young
midshipman rowed me to Gibraltar Island, well out in the harbor,
where the surgeon presented me to Perry--a tall, shapely man, with
dark hair and eyes, and ears hidden by heavy tufts of beard.  He
stood on a rocky point high above the water, a glass to his eye,
looking seaward.  His youth surprised me: he was then twenty-eight.
I had read much of him and was looking for an older man.  He
received me kindly: he had a fine dignity and gentle manners.
Somewhere he had read of that scrape of mine--the last one there
among the Avengers.  He gave my hand a squeeze and my sword a
compliment I have not yet forgotten, assuring me of his pleasure
that I was to be with him awhile.  The greeting over, we rowed away
to the _Lawrence_.  She was chopping lazily at anchor in a light
breeze, her sails loose.  Her crew cheered their commander as we
came under the frowning guns.

"They 're tired of waiting," said he; "they 're looking for
business when I come aboard."

He showed me over the clean decks: it was all as clean as a Puritan
parlor.

"Captain," said he, "tie yourself to that big bow gun.  It's the
modern sling of David, only its pebble is big as a rock.  Learn how
to handle it, and you may take a fling at the British some day."

He put D'ri in my squad, as I requested, leaving me with the
gunners.  I went to work at once, and knew shortly how to handle
the big machine.  D'ri and I convinced the captain with no
difficulty that we were fit for a fight so soon as it might come.

It came sooner than we expected.  The cry of "Sail ho!" woke me
early one morning.  It was the 10th of September.  The enemy was
coming.  Sails were sticking out of the misty dawn a few miles
away.  In a moment our decks were black and noisy with the hundred
and two that manned the vessel.  It was every hand to rope and
windlass then.  Sails went up with a snap all around us, and the
creak of blocks sounded far and near.  In twelve minutes we were
under way, leading the van to battle.  The sun came up, lighting
the great towers of canvas.  Every vessel was now feeling for the
wind, some with oars and sweeps to aid them.  A light breeze came
out of the southwest.  Perry stood near me, his hat in his hand.
He was looking back at the Niagara.

"Run to the leeward of the islands," said he to the sailing-master.

"Then you 'll have to fight to the leeward," said the latter.

"Don't care, so long as we fight," said Perry.  "Windward or
leeward, we want to fight."

Then came the signal to change our course.  The wind shifting to
the southeast, we were all able to clear the islands and keep the
weather-gage.  A cloud came over the sun; far away the mist
thickened.  The enemy wallowed to the topsails, and went out of
sight.  We had lost the wind.  Our sails went limp; flag and
pennant hung lifeless.  A light rain drizzled down, breaking the
smooth plane of water into crowding rings and bubbles.  Perry stood
out in the drizzle as we lay waiting.  All eyes were turning to the
sky and to Perry.  He had a look of worry and disgust.  He was out
for a quarrel, though the surgeon said he was in more need of
physic, having the fever of malaria as well as that of war.  He
stood there, tall and handsome, in a loose jacket of blue nankeen,
with no sign of weakness in him, his eyes flashing as he looked up
at the sky.

D'ri and I stood in the squad at the bow gun.  D'ri was wearing an
old straw hat; his flannel shirt was open at the collar.

"Ship stan's luk an ol' cow chawin' 'er cud," said he, looking off
at the weather.  "They's a win' comin' over there.  It 'll give 'er
a slap 'n th' side purty soon, mebbe.  Then she 'll switch 'er tail
'n' go on 'bout 'er business."

In a moment we heard a roaring cheer back amidships.  Perry had
come up the companionway with his blue battle-flag.  He held it
before him at arm's-length.  I could see a part of its legend, in
white letters, "Don't give up the ship."

"My brave lads," he shouted, "shall we hoist it?"

Our "Ay, ay, sir!" could have been heard a mile away, and the flag
rose, above tossing hats and howling voices, to the mainroyal
masthead.

The wind came; we could hear the sails snap and stiffen as it
overhauled the fleet behind us.  In a jiffy it bunted our own hull
and canvas, and again we began to plough the water.  It grew into a
smart breeze, and scattered the fleet of clouds that hovered over
us.  The rain passed; sunlight sparkled on the rippling plane of
water.  We could now see the enemy; he had hove to, and was waiting
for us in a line.  A crowd was gathering on the high shores we had
left to see the battle.  We were well in advance, crowding our
canvas in a good breeze.  I could hear only the roaring furrows of
water on each side of the prow.  Every man of us held his tongue,
mentally trimming ship, as they say, for whatever might come.
Three men scuffed by, sanding the decks.  D'ri was leaning placidly
over the big gun.  He looked off at the white line, squinted
knowingly, and spat over the bulwarks.  Then he straightened up,
tilting his hat to his right ear.

"They 're p'intin' their guns," said a swabber.

"Fust they know they'll git spit on," said D'ri, calmly.

Well, for two hours it was all creeping and talking under the
breath, and here and there an oath as some nervous chap tightened
the ropes of his resolution.  Then suddenly, as we swung about, a
murmur went up and down the deck.  We could see with our naked eyes
the men who were to give us battle.  Perry shouted sternly to some
gunners who thought it high time to fire.  Then word came: there
would be no firing until we got close.  Little gusts of music came
chasing over the water faint-footed to our decks--a band playing
"Rule Britannia."  I was looking at a brig in the line of the enemy
when a bolt of fire leaped out of her and thick belches of smoke
rushed to her topsails.  Then something hit the sea near by a great
hissing slap, and we turned quickly to see chunks of the shattered
lake surface fly up in nets of spray and fall roaring on our deck.
We were all drenched there at the bow gun.  I remember some of
those water-drops had the sting of hard-flung pebbles, but we only
bent our heads, waiting eagerly for the word to fire.

"We was th' ones 'at got spit on," said a gunner, looking at D'ri.

"Wish they'd let us holler back," said the latter, placidly.  "Sick
o' holdin' in."

We kept fanning down upon the enemy, now little more than a mile
away, signalling the fleet to follow.

"My God! see there!" a gunner shouted.

The British line had turned into a reeling, whirling ridge of smoke
lifting over spurts of flame at the bottom.  We knew what was
coming.  Untried in the perils of shot and shell, some of my
gunners stooped to cover under the bulwarks.

"Pull 'em out o' there," I called, turning to D'ri, who stood
beside me.

The storm of iron hit us.  A heavy ball crashed into the after
bulwarks, tearing them away and slamming over gun and carriage,
that slid a space, grinding the gunners under it.  One end of a
bowline whipped over us; a jib dropped; a brace fell crawling over
my shoulders like a big snake; the foremast went into splinters a
few feet above the deck, its top falling over, its canvas sagging
in great folds.  It was all the work of a second.  That hasty
flight of iron, coming out of the air, thick as a flock of pigeons,
had gone through hull and rigging in a wink of the eye.  And a fine
mess it had made.

Men lay scattered along the deck, bleeding, yelling, struggling.
There were two lying near us with blood spurting out of their
necks.  One rose upon a knee, choking horribly, shaken with the
last throes of his flooded heart, and reeled over.  The _Scorpion_
of our fleet had got her guns in action; the little _Ariel_ was
also firing.  D'ri leaned over, shouting in my ear.

"Don't like th' way they 're whalin' uv us," he said, his cheeks
red with anger.

"Nor I," was my answer.

"Don't like t' stan' here an' dew nuthin' but git licked," he went
on.  "'T ain' no way nat'ral."

Perry came hurrying forward.

"Fire!" he commanded, with a quick gesture, and we began to warm up
our big twenty-pounder there in the bow.  But the deadly scuds of
iron kept flying over and upon our deck, bursting into awful
showers of bolt and chain and spike and hammerheads.  We saw
shortly that our brig was badly out of gear.  She began to drift to
leeward, and being unable to aim at the enemy, we could make no use
of the bow gun.  Every brace and bowline cut away, her canvas torn
to rags, her hull shot through, and half her men dead or wounded,
she was, indeed, a sorry sight.  The _Niagara_ went by on the safe
side of us, heedless of our plight.  Perry stood near, cursing as
he looked off at her.  Two of my gunners had been hurt by bursting
canister.  D'ri and I picked them up, and made for the cockpit.
D'ri's man kept howling and kicking.  As we hurried over the bloody
deck, there came a mighty crash beside us and a burst of old iron
that tumbled me to my knees.

A cloud of smoke covered us.  I felt the man I bore struggle and
then go limp in my arms; I felt my knees getting warm and wet.  The
smoke rose; the tall, herculean back of D'ri was just ahead of me.
His sleeve had been ripped away from shoulder to elbow, and a spray
of blood from his upper arm was flying back upon me.  His hat crown
had been torn off, and there was a big rent in his trousers, but he
kept going, I saw my man had been killed in my arms by a piece of
chain, buried to its last link in his breast.  I was so confused by
the shock of it all that I had not the sense to lay him down, but
followed D'ri to the cockpit.  He stumbled on the stairs, falling
heavily with his burden.  Then I dropped my poor gunner and helped
them carry D'ri to a table, where they bade me lie down beside him.

"It is no time for jesting," said I, with some dignity.

"My dear fellow," the surgeon answered, "your wound is no jest.
You are not fit for duty."

I looked down at the big hole in my trousers and the cut in my
thigh, of which I had known nothing until then.  I had no sooner
seen it and the blood than I saw that I also was in some need of
repair, and lay down with a quick sense of faintness.  My wound was
no pretty thing to see, but was of little consequence, a missile
having torn the surface only.  I was able to help Surgeon Usher as
he caught the severed veins and bathed the bloody strands of muscle
in D'ri's arm, while another dressed my thigh.  That room was full
of the wounded, some lying on the floor, some standing, some
stretched upon cots and tables.  Every moment they were crowding
down the companionway with others.  The cannonading was now so
close and heavy that it gave me an ache in the ears, but above its
quaking thunder I could hear the shrill cries of men sinking to
hasty death in the grip of pain.  The brig was in sore distress,
her timbers creaking, snapping, quivering, like one being beaten to
death, his bones cracking, his muscles pulping under heavy blows.
We were above water-line there in the cockpit; we could feel her
flinch and stagger.  On her side there came suddenly a crushing
blow, as if some great hammer, swung far in the sky, had come down
upon her.  I could hear the split and break of heavy timbers; I
could see splinters flying over me in a rush of smoke, and the legs
of a man go bumping on the beams above.  Then came another crash of
timbers on the port side.  I leaped off the table and ran, limping,
to the deck, I do not know why; I was driven by some quick and
irresistible impulse.  I was near out of my head, anyway, with the
rage of battle in me and no chance to fight.  Well, suddenly, I
found myself stumbling, with drawn sabre, over heaps of the hurt
and dead there on our reeking deck.  It was a horrible place:
everything tipped over, man and gun and mast and bulwark.  The air
was full of smoke, but near me I could see a topsail of the enemy.
Balls were now plunging in the water alongside, the spray drenching
our deck.  Some poor man lying low among the dead caught me by the
boot-leg with an appealing gesture.  I took hold of his collar,
dragging him to the cockpit.  The surgeon had just finished with
D'ri.  His arm was now in sling and bandages.  He was lying on his
back, the good arm over his face.  There was a lull in the
cannonading.  I went quickly to his side.

"How are you feeling?" I asked, giving his hand a good grip.

"Nuthin' t' brag uv," he answered.  "Never see nobody git hell rose
with 'em s' quick es we did--never."

Just then we heard the voice of Perry.  He stood on the stairs
calling into the cockpit.

"Can any wounded man below there pull a rope?" he shouted.

D'ri was on his feet in a jiffy, and we were both clambering to the
deck as another scud of junk went over us.  Perry was trying, with
block and tackle, to mount a carronade.  A handful of men were
helping him, D'ri rushed to the ropes, I following, and we both
pulled with a will.  A sailor who had been hit in the legs hobbled
up, asking for room on the rope.  I told him he could be of no use,
but he spat an oath, and pointing at my leg, which was now
bleeding, swore he was sounder than I, and put up his fists to
prove it.  I have seen no better show of pluck in all my fighting,
nor any that ever gave me a greater pride of my own people and my
country.  War is a great evil, I begin to think, but there is
nothing finer than the sight of a man who, forgetting himself,
rushes into the shadow of death for the sake of something that is
better.  At every heave on the rope our blood came out of us, until
a ball shattered a pulley, and the gun fell.  Perry had then a
fierce look, but his words were cool, his manner dauntless.  He
peered through lifting clouds of smoke at our line.  He stood near
me, and his head was bare.  He crossed the littered deck, his
battle-flag and broad pennant that an orderly had brought him
trailing from his shoulder.  He halted by a boat swung at the
davits on the port side--the only one that had not gone to
splinters.  There he called a crew about him, and all got quickly
aboard the boat--seven besides the younger brother of Captain Perry
--and lowered it.  Word flew that he was leaving to take command of
the sister brig, the _Niagara_, which lay off a quarter of a mile
or so from where we stood.  We all wished to go, but he would have
only sound men; there were not a dozen on the ship who had all
their blood in them.  As they pulled away, Perry standing in the
stern, D'ri lifted a bloody, tattered flag, and leaning from the
bulwarks, shook it over them, cheering loudly.

"Give 'em hell!" he shouted.  "We 'll tek care o' the ol' brig."

[Illustration: "D'ri, shaking a bloody, tattered flag, shouted, 'We
'll tek care o' the ol' brig.'"]

We were all crying, we poor devils that were left behind.  One, a
mere boy, stood near me swinging his hat above his head, cheering.
Hat and hand fell to the deck as I turned to him.  He was reeling,
when D'ri caught him quickly with his good arm and bore him to the
cockpit.

The little boat was barely a length off when heavy shot fell
splashing in her wake.  Soon they were dropping all around her.
One crossed her bow, ripping a long furrow in the sea.  A chip flew
off her stern; a lift of splinters from an oar scattered behind
her.  Plunging missiles marked her course with a plait of foam, but
she rode on bravely.  We saw her groping under the smoke clouds; we
saw her nearing the other brig, and were all on tiptoe.  The air
cleared a little, and we could see them ship oars and go up the
side.  Then we set our blood dripping with cheers again, we who
were wounded there on the deck of the _Lawrence_.  Lieutenant
Yarnell ordered her one flag down.  As it sank fluttering, we
groaned.  Our dismay went quickly from man to man.  Presently we
could hear the cries of the wounded there below.  A man came
staggering out of the cockpit, and fell to his hands and knees,
creeping toward us and protesting fiercely, the blood dripping from
his mouth between curses.

"Another shot would sink her," Yarnell shouted.

"Let 'er sink, d--n 'er," said D'ri.  "Wish t' God I c'u'd put my
foot through 'er bottom.  When the flag goes down I wan't' go tew."

The British turned their guns; we were no longer in the smoky paths
of thundering canister.  The _Niagara_ was now under fire.  We
could see the dogs of war rushing at her in leashes of flame and
smoke.  Our little gun-boats, urged by oar and sweep, were
hastening to the battle front.  We could see their men, waist-high
above bulwarks, firing as they came.  The _Detroit_ and the _Queen
Charlotte_, two heavy brigs of the British line, had run afoul of
each other.  The _Niagara_, signalling for close action, bore down
upon them.  Crossing the bow of one ship and the stern of the
other, she raked them with broadsides.  We saw braces fly and masts
fall in the volley.  The _Niagara_ sheered off, pouring shoals of
metal on a British schooner, stripping her bare.  Our little boats
had come up, and were boring into the brigs.  In a brief time--it
was then near three o'clock--a white flag, at the end of a
boarding-pike, fluttered over a British deck.  D'ri, who had been
sitting awhile, was now up and cheering as he waved his crownless
hat.  He had lent his flag, and, in the flurry, some one dropped it
overboard.  D'ri saw it fall, and before we could stop him he had
leaped into the sea.   I hastened to his help, tossing a rope's end
as he came up, swimming with one arm, the flag in his teeth.  I
towed him to the landing-stair and helped him over.  Leaning on my
shoulder, he shook out the tattered flag, its white laced with his
own blood.

"Ready t' jump in hell fer thet ol' rag any day," said he, as we
all cheered him.

Each grabbed a tatter of the good flag, pressing hard upon D'ri,
and put it to his lips and kissed it proudly.  Then we marched up
and down, D'ri waving it above us--a bloody squad as ever walked,
shouting loudly.  D'ri had begun to weaken with loss of blood, so I
coaxed him to go below with me.

The battle was over; a Yankee band was playing near by.

"Perry is coming!  Perry is coming!" we heard them shouting above.

A feeble cry that had in it pride and joy and inextinguishable
devotion passed many a fevered lip in the cockpit.

There were those near who had won a better peace, and they lay as a
man that listens to what were now the merest vanity.

Perry came, when the sun was low, with a number of British
officers, and received their surrender on his own bloody deck.  I
remember, as they stood by the ruined bulwarks and looked down upon
tokens of wreck and slaughter, a dog began howling dismally in the
cockpit.




XVIII

It was a lucky and a stubborn sea-fight.  More blood to the number
I never saw than fell on the _Lawrence_, eighty-three of our
hundred and two men having been killed or laid up for repair.  One
has to search a bit for record of a more wicked fire.  But we
deserve not all the glory some histories have bestowed, for we had
a larger fleet and better, if fewer, guns.  It was, however, a
thing to be proud of, that victory of the young captain.  Our men,
of whom many were raw recruits,--farmers and woodsmen,--stood to
their work with splendid valor, and, for us in the North, it came
near being decisive.  D'ri and I were so put out of business that
no part of the glory was ours, albeit we were praised in orders for
valor under fire.  But for both I say we had never less pride of
ourselves in any affair we had had to do with.  Well, as I have
said before, we were ever at our best with a sabre, and big guns
were out of our line.

We went into hospital awhile, D'ri having caught cold and gone out
of his head with fever.  We had need of a spell on our backs, for
what with all our steeplechasing over yawning graves--that is the
way I always think of it--we were somewhat out of breath.  No news
had reached me of the count or the young ladies, and I took some
worry to bed with me, but was up in a week and ready for more
trouble, I had to sit with D'ri awhile before he could mount a
horse.

September was nearing its last day when we got off a brig at the
Harbor.  We were no sooner at the dock than some one began to tell
us of a new plan for the invasion of Canada.  I knew Brown had had
no part in it, for he said in my hearing once that it was too big a
chunk to bite off.

There were letters from the count and Therese, his daughter.  They
had news for me, and would I not ride over as soon as I had
returned?  My mother--dearest and best of mothers--had written me,
and her tenderness cut me like a sword for the way I had neglected
her.  Well, it is ever so with a young man whose heart has found a
new queen.  I took the missive with wet eyes to our good
farmer-general of the North.  He read it, and spoke with feeling of
his own mother gone to her long rest.

"Bell," said he, "you are worn out.  After mess in the morning
mount your horses, you and the corporal, and go and visit them.
Report here for duty on October 16."

Then, as ever after a kindness, he renewed his quid of tobacco,
turning quickly to the littered desk at headquarters.

We mounted our own horses a fine, frosty morning.  The white earth
glimmered in the first touch of sunlight.  All the fairy lanterns
of the frost king, hanging in the stubble and the dead grass,
glowed a brief time, flickered faintly, and went out.  Then the
brown sward lay bare, save in the shadows of rock or hill or forest
that were still white.  A great glory had fallen over the
far-reaching woods.  Looking down a long valley, we could see
towers of evergreen, terraces of red and brown, golden
steeple-tops, gilded domes minareted with lavender and purple and
draped with scarlet banners.  It seemed as if the trees were
shriving after all the green riot of summer, and making ready for
sackcloth and ashes.  Some stood trembling, and as if drenched in
their own blood.  Now and then a head was bare and bent, and naked
arms were lifted high, as if to implore mercy.

"Fine air," said I, breathing deep as we rode on slowly.

"'T is sart'n," said D'ri.  "Mother used t' say 'at the frost wus
only the breath o' angels, an' when it melted it gin us a leetle o'
the air o' heaven."

Of earth or heaven, it quickened us all with a new life.  The
horses fretted for their heads, and went off at a gallop, needing
no cluck or spur.  We pulled up at the chateau well before the
luncheon hour.  D'ri took the horses, and I was shown to the
library, where the count came shortly, to give me hearty welcome.

"And what of the captives?" I inquired, our greeting over.

"Alas! it is terrible; they have not returned," said he, "and I am
in great trouble, for I have not written to France of their peril.
Dieu!  I hoped they would be soon released.  They are well and now
we have good news.  Eh bien, we hope to see them soon.  But of that
Therese shall tell you.  And you have had a terrible time on Lake
Erie?"

He had read of the battle, but wanted my view of it.  I told the
story of the _Lawrence_ and Perry; of what D'ri and I had hoped to
do, and of what had been done to us.  My account of D'ri--his droll
comment, his valor, his misfortune--touched and tickled the count.
He laughed, he clapped his hands, he shed tears of enthusiasm; then
he rang a bell,

"The M'sieur D'ri--bring him here," said he to a servant.

D'ri came soon with a worried look, his trousers caught on his
boot-tops, an old felt hat in his hand.  Somehow he and his hat
were as king and coronal in their mutual fitness; if he lost one,
he swapped for another of about the same shade and shape.  His
brows were lifted, his eyes wide with watchful timidity.   The
count had opened a leather case and taken out of it a shiny disk of
silver.  He stepped to D'ri, and fastened it upon his waistcoat.

"'Pour la valeur eprouvee--de l'Empereur,'" said he, reading the
inscription as he clapped him on the shoulder.  "It was given to a
soldier for bravery at Austerlitz by the great Napoleon," said he.
"And, God rest him! the soldier he died of his wounds.  And to me
he have left the medal in trust for some man, the most brave,
intrepid, honorable.  M'sieur D'ri, I have the pleasure to put it
where it belong."

D'ri shifted his weight, looking down at the medal and blushing
like a boy.

"Much obleeged," he said presently.  "Dunno but mebbe I better put
it 'n my wallet.  'Fraid I 'll lose it off o' there."

He threw at me a glance of inquiry.

"No," said I, "do not bury your honors in a wallet."

He bowed stiffly, and, as he looked down at the medal, went away,
spurs clattering.

Therese came in presently, her face full of vivacity and color.

"M'sieur le Capitaine," said she, "we are going for a little ride,
the marquis and I.  Will you come with us?  You shall have the best
horse in the stable."

"And you my best thanks for the honor," I said.

Our horses came up presently, and we all made off at a quick
gallop.  The forest avenues were now aglow and filled with hazy
sunlight as with a flood, through which yellow leaves were slowly
sinking.  Our horses went to their fetlocks in a golden drift.  The
marquis rode on at a rapid pace, but soon Therese pulled rein, I
keeping abreast of her.

In a moment our horses were walking quietly.

"You have news for me, ma'm'selle?" I remarked.

"Indeed, I have much news," said she, as always, in French.  "I was
afraid you were not coming in time, m'sieur."

She took a dainty letter from her bosom, passing it to me.

My old passion flashed up as I took the perfumed sheets.  I felt my
heart quicken, my face burn with it.  I was to have good news at
last of those I loved better than my life, those I had not
forgotten a moment in all the peril of war.

I saw the handwriting of Louison and then a vision of her--the
large eyes, the supple, splendid figure, the queenly bearing.  It
read;--


"MY DEAR THERESE: At last they promise to return us to you on the
12th of October.  You are to send two men for us--not more--to the
head of Eagle Island, off Ste. Roche, in the St. Lawrence, with
canoes, at ten o'clock in the evening of that day.  They will find
a lantern hanging on a tree at the place we are to meet them.  We
may be delayed a little, but they are to wait for us there.  And,
as you love me, see that one is my brave captain--I do not care
about the other who comes.  First of all I wish to see my emperor,
my love, the tall, handsome, and gallant youngster who has won me.
What a finish for this odd romance if he only comes!  And then I do
wish to see you, the count, and the others.  I read your note with
such a pleasure!  You are sure that he loves me?  And that he does
not know that I love him?  I do not wish him to know, to suspect,
until he has asked me to be his queen--until he has a right to
know.  Once he has my secret.  Love is robbed of his best treasure.
Mon Dieu!  I wish to tell him myself, sometime, if he ever has the
courage to take command of me.  I warn you, Therese, if I think he
knows--when I see him--I shall be cruel to him; I shall make him
hate me.  So you see I will not be cheated of my wooing, and I know
you would not endanger my life's happiness.  I have written a
little song--for him.  Well, some day I shall sing it to him, and
will he not be glad to know I could do it?  Here are the first
lines to give you the idea:--

  My emperor! my emperor!
    Thy face is fair to see;
  Thy house is old, thy heart is gold,
    Oh, take command of me!

  O emperor! my emperor!
    Thy sceptre is of God;
  Through all my days I'll sing thy praise,
    And tremble at thy nod.

But, dear Therese, you ought to hear the music; I have quite
surprised myself.  Indeed, love is a grand thing; it has made me
nobler and stronger.  They really say I am not selfish any more.
But I am weary of waiting here, and so eager to get home.  You are
in love, and you have been through this counting of the hours.  We
are very comfortable here, and they let us go and come as we like
inside the high walls.  I have told you there is a big, big grove
and garden.

"We saw nothing of 'his Lordship' for weeks until three days ago,
when they brought him here wounded.  That is the reason we could
not send you a letter before now.  You know he has to see them all
and arrange for their delivery.  Well, he sent for Louise that day
he came.  She went to him badly frightened, poor thing! as, indeed,
we all were.  He lay in bed helpless, and wept when he saw her.
She came back crying, and would not tell what he had said.  I do
think he loves her very dearly, and somehow we are all beginning to
think better of him.  Surely no one could be more courteous and
gallant.  Louise went to help nurse him yesterday, dear, sweet
little mother!  Then he told her the good news of our coming
release, where your men would meet us, and all as I have written.
He is up in his chair to-day, the maid tells me.  I joked Louise
about him this morning, and she began to cry at once, and said her
heart was not hers to give.  The sly thing!  I wonder whom she
loves; but she would say no more, and has had a long face all day.
She is so stubborn!  I have sworn I will never tell her another of
my secrets.  You are to answer quickly, sending your note by
courier to the Indian dockman at Elizabethport, addressed Robin
Adair, Box 40, St. Hiliere, Canada.  And the love of all to all.
Adieu.

  "Your loving
    "LOUISON.

"P.S.  Can you tell me, is the captain of noble birth?  I have
never had any doubt of it, he is so splendid."


It filled me with a great happiness and a bitter pang.  I was never
in such a conflict of emotion.

"Well," said Therese, "do you see my trouble?  Having shown you the
first letter, I had also to show you the second.  I fear I have
done wrong.  My soul--"

"Be blessed for the good tidings," I interrupted.

"Thanks.  I was going to say it accuses me.  Louison is a proud
girl; she must never know.  She can never know unless--"

"You tell her," said I, quickly.  "And of course you will."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"That every secret that must not be told is the same as published
if--if--"

"If _what_?"

"If--if it tells a pretty story with some love in it," I said, with
a quick sense of caution.  "Ah, ma'm'selle, do I not know what has
made your lips so red?"

"What may it be?"

"The attrition of many secrets--burning secrets," I said, laughing.

"Mordieu! what charming impudence!" said she, her large eyes
glowing thoughtfully, with some look of surprise.  "You do not know
me, m'sieur.  I have kept many secrets and know the trick."

"Ah, then I shall ask of you a great favor," said I--"that you keep
my secret also, that you do not tell her of my love."

She wheeled her horse with a merry peal of laughter, hiding her
face, now red as her glove.

"It is too late," said she, "I have written her."

We rode on, laughing.  In spite of the serious character of her
words, I fell a-quaking from crown to stirrup.  I was now engaged
to Louison, or as good as that, and, being a man of honor, I must
think no more of her sister.

"I wrote her of your confession," said she, "for I knew it would
make her so happy; but, you know, I did not tell of--of the
circumstances."

"Well, it will make it all the easier for me," I said.
"Ma'm'selle, I assure you--I am not sorry."

"And, my friend, you are lucky: she is so magnificent."

"Her face will be a study when I tell her."

"The splendor of it!" said she.

"And the surprise," I added, laughing.

"Ah, m'sieur, she will play her part well.  She is clever.  That
moment when the true love comes and claims her it is the sweetest
in a woman's life."

A thought came flying through my brain with the sting of an arrow.

"She must not be deceived.  I have not any noble blood in me.  I am
only the son of a soldier-farmer, and have my fortune to make,"
said I, quickly.

"That is only a little folly," she answered, laughing.  "Whether
you be rich or poor, prince or peasant, she cares not a snap of her
finger.  Ciel! is she not a republican, has she not money enough?"

"Nevertheless, I beg you to say, in your letter, that I have
nothing but my sword and my honor."

As we rode along I noted in my book the place and time we were to
meet the captives.  The marquis joined us at the Hermitage, where a
stable-boy watered our horses.  Three servants were still there,
the others being now in the count's service.

If any place give me a day's happiness it is dear to me, and the
where I find love is forever sacred.  I like to stand where I stood
thinking of it, and there I see that those dear moments are as much
a part of me as of history.  So while Therese and the marquis got
off their horses for a little parley with the gardener, I cantered
up the north trail to where I sat awhile that delightful summer day
with Louise.  The grotto had now a lattice roofing of bare
branches.  Leaves, as red as her blush, as golden as my memories,
came rattling through it, falling with a faint rustle.  The big
woods were as a gloomy and deserted mansion, with the lonely cry of
the wind above and a ghostly rustle within where had been love and
song and laughter and all delight.




XIX

D'ri and I left the chateau that afternoon, putting up in the red
tavern at Morristown about dusk.

My companion rode away proudly, the medal dangling at his waistcoat
lapel.

"Jerushy Jane!" said he, presently, as he pulled rein.  "Ain't
a-goin' t' hev thet floppin' there so--meks me feel luk a bird.
Don't seem nohow nat'ral.  Wha' d' ye s'pose he gin me thet air
thing fer?"

He was putting it away carefully in his wallet.

"As a token of respect for your bravery," said I.

His laughter roared in the still woods, making my horse lift and
snort a little.  It was never an easy job to break any horse to
D'ri's laughter.

"It's _reedic'lous_," said he, thoughtfully, in a moment.

"Why?"

"'Cause fer the reason why they don't no man deserve nuthin' fer
doin' what he 'd orter," he answered, with a serious and determined
look.

"You did well," said I, "and deserve anything you can get."

"Done my damdest!" said he.  "But I did n't do nuthin' but git
licked.  Got shot an' tore an' slammed all over thet air deck, an'
could n't do no harm t' nobody.  Jes luk a boss tied 'n the stall,
an' a lot o' men whalin' 'im, an' a lot more tryin' t' scare 'im t'
death."

"Wha' d' ye s'pose thet air thing's made uv?" he inquired after a
little silence.

"Silver," said I.

"Pure silver?"

"Undoubtedly," was my answer.

"Judas Priest!" said he, taking out his wallet again, to look at
the trophy.  "Thet air mus' be wuth suthin'."

"More than a year's salary," said I.

He looked up at me with a sharp whistle of surprise.

"Ain' no great hand fer sech flummydiddles," said he, as he put the
medal away.

"It's a badge of honor," said I.  "It shows you 're a brave man."

"Got 'nough on 'em," said D'ri.  "This 'ere rip 'n the forehead's
'bout all the badge I need."

"It's from the emperor--the great Napoleon," I said.  "It's a mark
of his pleasure."

"Wall, by Judas Priest!" said D'ri, "I would n't jump over a stump
over a stun wall t' please no emp'ror, an' I would n't cut off my
leetle finger fer a hull bushel basket o' them air.  I hain't
a-fightin' fer no honor."

"What then?" said I.

His face turned very sober.  He pursed his lips, and spat across
the ditch; then he gave his mouth a wipe, and glanced thoughtfully
at the sky.

"Fer liberty," said he, with decision.  "Same thing my father died
fer."

Not to this day have I forgotten it, the answer of old D'ri, or the
look of him as he spoke.  I was only a reckless youth fighting for
the love of peril and adventure, and with too little thought of the
high purposes of my country.  The causes of the war were familiar
to me; that proclamation of Mr. Madison had been discussed freely
in our home, and I had felt some share in the indignation of D'ri
and my father.  This feeling had not been allayed by the bloody
scenes in which I had had a part.  Now I began to feel the great
passion of the people, and was put to shame for a moment.

"Liberty--that is a grand thing to fight for," said I, after a
brief pause.

"Swap my blood any time fer thet air," said D'ri.  "I can fight
sassy, but not fer no king but God A'mighty.  Don't pay t' git all
tore up less it's fer suthin' purty middlin' vallyble.  My life
ain't wuth much, but, ye see, I hain't nuthin' else."

We rode awhile in sober thought, hearing only a sough of the wind
above and the rustling hoof-beat of our horses in the rich harvest
of the autumn woods.  We were walking slowly over a stretch of bare
moss when, at a sharp turn, we came suddenly in sight of a huge
bear that sat facing us.  I drew my pistol as we pulled rein,
firing quickly.  The bear ran away into the brush as I fired
another shot.

"He 's hit," said D'ri, leaping off and bidding me hold the bit.
Then, with a long stride, he ran after the fleeing bear.  I had
been waiting near half an hour when D'ri came back slowly, with a
downhearted look.

"'Tain' no use," said he.  "Can't never git thet bear.  He's got a
flesh-wound high up in his hin' quarters, an' he's travellin' fast."

He took a fresh chew of tobacco and mounted his horse.

"Terrible pity!" he exclaimed, shaking his head with some trace of
lingering sorrow.  "Ray," said he, soberly, after a little silence,
"when ye see a bear lookin' your way, ef ye want 'im, alwus shute
at the end thet's _toward_ ye."

There was no better bear-hunter in the north woods than D'ri, and
to lose a bear was, for him, no light affliction.

"Can't never break a bear's neck by shutin' 'im in the hin'
quarters," he remarked.

I made no answer.

"Might jest es well spit 'n 'is face," he added presently; "jest
eggzac'ly."

This apt and forceful advice calmed a lingering sense of duty, and
he rode on awhile in silence.   The woods were glooming in the
early dusk when he spoke again.  Something revived his contempt of
my education.  He had been trailing after me, and suddenly I felt
his knee.

"Tell ye this, Ray," said he, in a kindly tone.  "Ef ye wan' t' git
a bear, got t' mux 'im up a leetle for'ard--right up 'n the
neighborhood uv 'is fo'c's'le.  Don't dew no good t' shute 'is
hams.  Might es well try t' choke 'im t' death by pinchin' 'is
tail."

We were out in the open.  Roofs and smoking chimneys were
silhouetted on the sky, and, halfway up a hill, we could see the
candle-lights of the red tavern.  There, in the bar, before blazing
logs in a great fireplace, for the evening had come chilly, a table
was laid for us, and we sat down with hearty happiness to tankards
of old ale and a smoking haunch.  I have never drunk or eaten with
a better relish.  There were half a dozen or so sitting about the
bar, and all ears were for news of the army and all hands for our
help.  If we asked for more potatoes or ale, half of them rose to
proclaim it.  Between pipes of Virginia tobacco, and old sledge,
and songs of love and daring, we had a memorable night.  When we
went to our room, near twelve o'clock, I told D'ri of our dear
friends, who, all day, had been much in my thought.

"Wus the letter writ by her?" he inquired.

"Not a doubt of it."

"Then it's all right," said he.  "A likely pair o' gals them
air--no mistake."

"But I think they made me miss the bear," I answered.

"Ray," said D'ri, soberly, "when yer shutin' a bear, ef ye want
'im, don't never think o' nuthin' but the bear."  Then, after a
moment's pause, he added: "Won't never hev no luck killin' a bear
ef ye don' quit dwellin' so on them air gals."

I thanked him, with a smile, and asked if he knew Eagle Island.

"Be'n all over it half a dozen times," said he.  "'T ain' no more
'n twenty rod from the Yankee shore, thet air island ain't.  We
c'u'd paddle there in a day from our cove."

And that was the way we planned to go,--by canoe from our
landing,--and wait for the hour at Paleyville, a Yankee village
opposite the island.  We would hire a team there, and convey the
party by wagon to Leraysville.

We were off at daybreak, and going over the hills at a lively
gallop.  Crossing to Caraway Pike, in the Cedar Meadows, an hour
later, we stampeded a lot of moose.  One of them, a great bull, ran
ahead of us, roaring with fright, his antlers rattling upon bush
and bough, his black bell hanging to the fern-tops.

"Don' never wan't' hev no argyment with one o' them air chaps 'less
ye know purty nigh how 't's comin' out," said D'ri.  "Alwus want a
gun es well es a purty middlin' ca-a-areful aim on your side.  Then
ye 're apt t' need a tree, tew, 'fore ye git through with it."
After a moment's pause he added: "Got t' be a joemightyful stout
tree, er he 'll shake ye out uv it luk a ripe apple."

"They always have the negative side of the question," I said.
"Don't believe they 'd ever chase a man if he 'd let 'em alone."

"Yis, siree, they would," was D'ri's answer.  "I 've hed 'em come
right efter me 'fore ever I c'u'd lift a gun.  Ye see, they're jest
es cur'us 'bout a man es a man is 'bout them.  Ef they can't smell
'im, they 're terrible cur'us.  Jes' wan' t' see what 's inside uv
'im an' what kind uv a smellin' critter he is.  Dunno es they wan'
t' dew 'im any pertic'lar harm.  Jes' wan' t' mux 'im over a
leetle; but they dew it _awful careless_, an' he ain't never fit t'
be seen no more."

He snickered faintly as he spoke.

"An' they don't nobody see much uv 'im efter thet, nuther," he
added, with a smile.

"I 'member once a big bull tried t' find out the kind o' works I
hed in me.  'T wa'n' no moose--jest a common ord'nary
three-year-ol' bull."

"Hurt you?" I queried.

"No; 't hurt 'im." said he, soberly.  "Sp'ilt 'im, es ye might say.
Could n't never bear the sight uv a man efter thet.  Seem so he did
n't think he wus fit t' be seen.  Nobody c'u'd ever git 'n a mild
o' th' poor cuss.  Hed t' be shot."

"What happened?"

"Hed a stout club 'n my hand," said he.  "Got holt uv 'is tail, an'
begun a-whalin' uv 'im.  Run 'im down a steep hill, an' passin' a
tree, I tuk one side an' he t' other.  We parted there fer the las'
time."

He looked off at the sky a moment.

Then came his inevitable addendum, which was: "I hed a dam sight
more tail 'an he did, thet 's sartin."

About ten o'clock we came in sight of our old home.  Then we
hurried our horses, and came up to the door with a rush.  A
stranger met us there.

"Are you Captain Bell?" said he, as I got off my horse.

I nodded.

"I am one of your father's tenants," he went on.  "Ride over the
ridge yonder about half a mile, and you will see his house."  I
looked at D'ri and he at me.  He had grown pale suddenly, and I
felt my own surprise turning into alarm.

"Are they well?" I queried.

"Very well, and looking for you," said he, smiling.

We were up in our saddles, dashing out of the yard in a jiffy.
Beyond the ridge a wide mile of smooth country sloped to the river
margin.  Just off the road a great house lay long and low in fair
acres.  Its gables were red-roofed, its walls of graystone half
hidden by lofty hedges of cedar.  We stopped our horses, looking
off to the distant woods on each side of us.

"Can't be," said D'ri, soberly, his eyes squinting in the sunlight.

"Wonder where they live," I remarked.

"All looks mighty cur'us," said he.  "'Tain' no way nat'ral."

"Let's go in there and ask," I suggested.

We turned in at the big gate and rode silently over a driveway of
smooth gravel to the door.  In a moment I heard my father's hearty
hello, and then my mother came out in a better gown than ever I had
seen her wear.  I was out of the saddle and she in my arms before a
word was spoken.  My father, hardy old Yankee, scolded the stamping
horse, while I knew well he was only upbraiding his own weakness.

"Come, Ray; come, Darius," said my mother, as she wiped her eyes;
"I will show you the new house."

A man took the horses, and we all followed her into the splendid
hall, while I was filled with wonder and a mighty longing for the
old home.




XX

It was a fine house--that in which I spent many happy years back in
my young manhood.  Not, indeed, so elegant and so large as this
where I am now writing, but comfortable.  To me, then, it had an
atmosphere of romance and some look of grandeur.  Well, in those
days I had neither a sated eye, nor gout, nor judgment of good
wine.  It was I who gave it the name of Fairacres that day when,
coming out of the war, we felt its peace and comfort for the first
time, and, dumfounded with surprise, heard my mother tell the story
of it.

"My grandfather," said she, "was the Chevalier Ramon Ducet de
Trouville, a brave and gallant man who, for no good reason,
disinherited my father.  The property went to my uncle, the only
other child of the chevalier, and he, as I have told you, wrote
many kind letters to me, and sent each year a small gift of money.
Well, he died before the war,--it was in March,--and, having no
children, left half his fortune to me.  You, Ramon, will remember
that long before you went away to the war a stranger came to see me
one day--a stout man, with white hair and dark eyes.  Do you not
remember?  Well, I did not tell you then, because I was unable to
believe, that he came to bring the good news.  But he came again
after you left us, and brought me money--a draft on account.  For
us it was a very large sum, indeed.  You know we have always been
so poor, and we knew that when the war was over there would be more
and a-plenty coming.  So, what were we to do?  'We will build a
home,' said I; 'we will enjoy life as much as possible.  We will
surprise Ramon.   When he returns from the war he shall see it, and
be very happy.'  The architect came with the builders, and, voila!
the house is ready, and you are here, and after so long it is
better than a fortune to see you.  I thought you would never come."

She covered her face a moment, while my father rose abruptly and
left the room.  I kissed the dear hands that long since had given
to heavy toil their beauty and shapeliness.

But enough of this, for, after all, it is neither here nor there.
Quick and unexpected fortune came to many a pioneer, as it came to
my mother, by inheritance, as one may see if he look only at the
records of one court of claims--that of the British.

"Before long you may wish to marry," said my mother, as she looked
up at me proudly, "and you will not be ashamed to bring your wife
here."

I vowed, then and there, I should make my own fortune,--I had
Yankee enough in me for that,--but, as will be seen, the wealth of
heart and purse my mother had, helped in the shaping of my destiny.
In spite of my feeling, I know it began quickly to hasten the
life-currents that bore me on.  And I say, in tender remembrance of
those very dear to me, I had never a more delightful time than when
I sat by the new fireside with all my clan,--its number as yet
undiminished,--or went roistering in wood or field with the younger
children.

The day came when D'ri and I were to meet the ladies.  We started
early that morning of the 12th.  Long before daylight we were
moving rapidly down-river in our canoes.

I remember seeing a light flash up and die away in the moonlit mist
of the river soon after starting.

"The boogy light!" D'ri whispered.  "There 't goes ag'in!"

I had heard the river folk tell often of this weird thing--one of
the odd phenomena of the St. Lawrence.

"Comes alwus where folks hev been drownded," said D'ri.  "Thet
air's what I've hearn tell."

It was, indeed, the accepted theory of the fishermen, albeit many
saw in the boogy light a warning to mark the place of forgotten
murder, and bore away.

The sun came up in a clear sky, and soon, far and wide, its light
was tossing in the rippletops.  We could see them glowing miles
away.  We were both armed with sabre and pistols, for that river
was the very highway of adventure in those days of the war.

"Don' jes' like this kind uv a hoss," said D'ri.  "Got t' keep
whalin' 'im all the while, an' he 's apt t' slobber 'n rough goin'."

He looked thoughtfully at the sun a breath, and then trimmed his
remark with these words; "Ain't eggzac'Iy sure-footed, nuther."

"Don't require much feed, though," I suggested.

"No; ye hev t' dew all the eatin', but ye can alwus eat 'nough fer
both."

It was a fine day, and a ride to remember.  We had a warm sun, a
clear sky, and now and then we could feel the soft feet of the
south wind romping over us in the river way.  Here and there a
swallow came coasting to the ripples, sprinkling the holy water of
delight upon us, or a crow's shadow ploughed silently across our
bows.  It thrilled me to go cantering beside the noisy Rapides du
Plats or the wild-footed Galloup, two troops of water hurrying to
the mighty battles of the sea.  We mounted reeling knolls, and
coasted over whirling dips, and rushed to boiling levels, and
jumped foamy ridges, and went galloping in the rush and tumble of
long slopes.

"Let 'er rip!" I could hear D'ri shouting, once in a while, as he
flashed up ahead of me.  "Let 'er rip!  Consarn 'er pictur'!"

He gave a great yell of triumph as we slowed in a long stretch of
still, broad water.  "Judas Priest!" said he, as I came alongside,
"thet air's rougher 'n the bog trail."

We came to Paleyville with time only for a bite of luncheon before
dark.  We could see no sign of life on the island or the "Canuck
shore" as we turned our bows to the south channel.  That evening
the innkeeper sat with us under a creeking sign, our chairs tilted
to the tavernside.

D'ri was making a moose-horn of birch-bark as he smoked
thoughtfully.  When he had finished, he raised it to his lips and
moved the flaring end in a wide circle as he blew a blast that rang
miles away in the far forest.

"Ef we heppen t' git separated in any way, shape, er manner 'cept
one," said he, as he slung it over his shoulder with a string,
"ye'll know purty nigh where I be when ye hear thet air thing."

"You said, 'in any way, shape, er manner 'cept one.'" I quoted.
"What do you mean by that?"

My friend expectorated, looking off into the night soberly a moment.

"Guess I didn't mean nuthin'," said he, presently.  "When I set out
t' say suthin', don't never know where I 'm goin' t' land.   Good
deal luk settin' sail without a compass.  Thet 's one reason I
don't never say much 'fore women."

Our good host hurried the lagging hours with many a tale of the
river and that island we were soon to visit, once the refuge of
Tadusac, the old river pirate, so he told us, with a cave now
haunted by some ghost.  We started for the shore near ten o'clock,
the innkeeper leading us with a lantern, its light flickering in a
west wind.  The sky was cloudy, the night dark.  Our host lent us
the lantern, kindly offering to build a bonfire on the beach at
eleven, to light us home.

"Careful, boys," said the innkeeper, as we got aboard.  "Aim
straight fer th' head o' th' island, Can't ye see it--right over
yer heads there?  'Member, they 's awful rough water below."

We pushed off, D'ri leading.  I could see nothing of the island,
but D'ri had better eyes, and kept calling me as he went ahead.
After a few strokes of the paddle I could see on the dark sky the
darker mass of tree-tops.

"Better light up," I suggested.  We were now close in.

"Hush!" he hissed.  Then, as I came up to him, he went on,
whispering: "'T ain't bes' t' mek no noise here.  Don' know none
tew much 'bout this here business.  Don' cal'late we 're goin' t'
hev any trouble, but if we dew--Hark!"

We had both heard a stir in the bushes, and stuck our paddles in
the sand, listening.  After a little silence I heard D'ri get up
and step stealthily into the water and buckle on his sword.  Then I
could hear him sinking the canoe and shoving her anchor deep into
the sand.  He did it with no noise that, fifty feet away, could
have been distinguished from that of the ever-murmuring waters.  In
a moment he came and held my canoe, while I also took up my trusty
blade, stepping out of the canoe into the shallow water.   Then he
shoved her off a little, and sank her beside the other.  I knew not
his purpose, and made no question of it, following him as he strode
the shore with measured paces, the lantern upon his arm.  Then
presently he stuck his paddle into the bushes, and mine beside it.
We were near the head of the island, walking on a reedy strip of
soft earth at the river margin.  After a few paces we halted to
listen, but heard only the voice of the water and the murmur of
pines.  Then we pushed through a thicket of small fir trees to
where we groped along in utter darkness among the big tree trunks
on a muffle-footing.  After a moment or so we got a spray of light.
We halted, peering at the glow that now sprinkled out through many
a pinhole aperture in a fairy lattice of pine needles.

My heart was beating loudly, for there was the promised lantern.
Was I not soon to see the brighter light of those dear faces?  It
was all the kind of thing I enjoyed then,--the atmosphere of peril
and romance,--wild youth that I was.  It is a pity, God knows, I
had so little consideration for old D'ri; but he loved me,
and--well, he himself had some pleasure in excitement.

We halted for only a moment, pushing boldly through a thicket of
young pines into the light.  A lantern hung on the bough of a tall
tree, and beneath it was a wide opening well carpeted with moss and
needles.  We peered off into the gloom, but saw nothing.

D'ri blew out a thoughtful breath, looking up into the air coolly,
as he filled his pipe.

"Consarned if ever I wanted t' have a smoke s' bad 'n all my born
days," he remarked.

Then he moved his holster, turned his scabbard, and sat down
quietly, puffing his pipe with some look of weariness and
reflection.   We were sitting there less than five minutes when we
heard a footfall near by; then suddenly two men strode up to us in
the dim light.  I recognized at once the easy step, the long, lithe
figure, of his Lordship in the dress of a citizen, saving sword and
pistols.

"Ah, good evening, gentlemen," said he, quietly.  "How are you?"

"Better than--than when we saw you last," I answered.

D'ri had not moved; he looked up at me with a sympathetic smile.

"I presume," said his Lordship, in that familiar, lazy tone, as he
lighted a cigar, "there was--ah--good room for improvement, was
there not?"

"Abundant," said I, thoughtfully.  "You were not in the best of
health yourself that evening."

"True," said he; "I--I was in bad fettle and worse luck."

"How are the ladies?"

"Quite well," said he, blowing a long puff.

"Ready to deliver them?" I inquired.

"Presently," said he.  "There are--some formalities."

"Which are--?" I added quickly.

"A trifle of expenses and a condition," said he, lazily.

"How much, and what?" I inquired, as D'ri turned his ear.

"One thousand pounds," said his Lordship, quickly.  "Not a penny
more than this matter has cost me and his Majesty."

"What else?" said I.

"This man," he answered calmly, with a little gesture aimed at D'ri.

My friend rose, struck his palm with the pipe-bowl, and put up his
knife.

"Ef ye're goin' t' tek me," said he, "better begin right off, er ye
won't hev time 'fore breakfust."

Then he clapped the moose-horn to his lips and blew a mighty blast.
It made the two men jump and set the near thicket reeling.  The
weird barytone went off moaning in the far wastes of timber.  Its
rush of echoes had begun.  I put my hand to my sabre, for there in
the edge of the gloom I saw a thing that stirred me to the marrow.
The low firs were moving toward us, root and branch, their twigs
falling.  Gods of war! it made my hair stand for a jiffy to see the
very brush take feet and legs.  On sea or land I never saw a thing
that gave me so odd a feeling.  We stood for a breath or two, then
started back, our sabres flashing; for, as the twigs fell, we saw
they had been decorating a squad of the British.  They came on.  I
struck at the lantern, but too late, for his Lordship had swung it
away.  He stumbled, going to his knees; the lantern hit the earth
and went out.  I had seen the squad break, running each way, to
surround us.  D'ri grabbed my hand as the dark fell, and we went
plunging through the little pines, hitting a man heavily, who fell
grunting.  We had begun to hear the rattle of boats, a shouting,
and quick steps on the shore.  We crouched a moment.  D'ri blew the
moose-horn, pulling me aside with him quickly after the blast.
Lights were now flashing near.  I could see little hope for us, and
D'ri, I thought, had gone crazy.  He ran at the oncomers, yelling,
"Hey, Rube!" at the top of his lungs.  I lay low in the brush a
moment.  They rushed by me, D'ri in the fore with fending sabre.  A
tawny hound was running in the lead, his nose down, baying loudly.
Then I saw the truth, and made after them with all the speed of my
legs.  They hustled over the ridge, their lights flashing under.
For a jiffy I could see only, here and there, a leaping glow in the
tree-tops.  I rushed on, passing one who had tumbled headlong.  The
lights below me scattered quickly and stopped.  I heard a great
yelling, a roar of muskets, and a clash of swords.  A hush fell on
them as I came near, Then I heard a voice that thrilled me.

"Your sword, sir!" it commanded.

"Stop," said I, sharply, coming near.

There stood my father in the lantern-light, his sword drawn, his
gray hair stirring in the breeze.  Before him was my old adversary,
his Lordship, sword in hand.  Near by, the squad of British, now
surrounded, were giving up their arms.  They had backed to the
river's edge; I could hear it lapping their heels.  His Lordship
sneered, looking at the veteran who stood in a gray frock of
homespun, for all the world, I fancy, like one of those old yeomen
who fought with Cromwell.

"Your sword, sir," my father repeated.

"Pardon me," said the young man, with a fascinating coolness of
manner, "but I shall have to trouble you--"

He hesitated, feeling his blade.

"How?" said my father.

"To fight for it," said his Lordship, quietly.

"Surrender--fool!" my father answered.  "You cannot escape."

"Tut, tut!" said his Lordship.  "I never heard so poor a
compliment.  Come in reach, and I shall make you think better of
me."

"Give up your sword."

"After my life, then my sword," said he, with a quick thrust.

Before I could take a step, their swords were clashing in deadly
combat.  I rushed up to break in upon them, but the air was full of
steel, and then my father needed no help.  He was driving his man
with fiery vigor.  I had never seen him fight; all I had seen of
his power had been mere play.

It was grand to see the old man fighting as if, for a moment, his
youth had come back to him.  I knew it could not go far.  His fire
would burn out quickly; then the blade of the young Britisher,
tireless and quick as I knew it to be, would let his blood before
my very eyes.  What to do I knew not.  Again I came up to them; but
my father warned me off hotly.  He was fighting with terrific
energy.  I swear to you that in half a minute he had broken the
sword of his Lordship, who took to the water, swimming for his
life.  I leaped in, catching him half over the eddy, where we
fought like roadmen, striking in the air and bumping on the bottom.
We were both near drowned when D'ri swam out and gave me his
belt-end, hauling us in.

I got to my feet soon.   My father came up to me, and wiped a cut
on my forehead.

"Damn you, my boy!" said he.  "Don't ever interfere with me in a
matter of that kind.  You might have been hurt."

We searched the island, high and low, for the ladies, but with no
success.  Then we marched our prisoners to the south channel, where
a bateau--the same that brought us help--had been waiting.  One of
our men had been shot in the shoulder, another gored in the hip
with a bayonet, and we left a young Briton dead on the shore.  We
took our prisoners to Paleyville, and locked them overnight in the
blockhouse.

The channel was lighted by a big bonfire on the south bank, as we
came over.  Its flames went high, and made a great, sloping volcano
of light in the darkness.

After the posting of the guard, some gathered about my father and
began to cheer him.  It nettled the veteran.  He would take no
honor for his defeat of the clever man, claiming the latter had no
chance to fight.

"He had no foot-room with the boy one side and D'ri t' other," said
he.  "I had only to drive him back."

My father and the innkeeper and D'ri and I sat awhile, smoking, in
the warm glow of the bonfire.

"You 're a long-headed man," said I, turning to my comrade.

"Kind o' thought they'd be trouble," said D'ri.  "So I tuk 'n ast
yer father t' come over hossback with hef a dozen good men.  They
got three more et the tavern here, an' lay off 'n thet air bateau,
waitin' fer the moosecall.  I cal'lated I did n't want no more
slidin' over there 'n Canady."

After a little snicker, he added:  "Hed all 't wus good fer me the
las' time.  'S a leetle tew swift."

"Gets rather scary when you see the bushes walk," I suggested.

"Seen whut wus up 'fore ever they med a move," said D'ri.  "Them
air bushes did n't look jest es nat'ral es they'd orter.  Bet ye
they're some o' them bushwhackers o' Fitzgibbon.  Got loops all
over their uniforms, so ye c'u'd stick 'em full o' boughs.
Jerushy! never see nuthin' s' joemightful cur'us 'n all my born
days--never."  He stopped a breath, and then added: "Could n't be
nuthin' cur'user 'n thet."




XXI

We hired team and wagon of the innkeeper, and a man to paddle
up-river and return with the horses.

I had a brief talk with our tall prisoner while they were making
ready.

"A word of business, your Lordship," I said as he came out,
yawning, with the guard.

"Ah, well," said he, with a shiver, "I hope it is not so cold as
the air."

"It is hopeful; it is cheering," was my answer.

"And the topic?"

"An exchange--for the ladies."

He thought a moment, slapping the dust off him with a glove.

"This kind of thing is hard on the trousers," he remarked
carelessly.  "I will consider; I think it could be arranged.
Meanwhile, I give you my word of honor, you need have no worry."

We were off at daybreak with our prisoners; there were six of them
in all.  We put a fold of linen over the eyes of each, and roped
them all together, so that they could sit or stand, as might please
them, in the wagonbox.

"It's barbarity," said his Lordship, as we put on the fold.  "You
Yankees never knew how to treat a prisoner."

"Till you learnt us," said D'ri, quickly.  "Could n't never fergit
thet lesson.  Ef I hed my way 'bout you, I 'd haul ye up t' th' top
o' thet air dead pine over yender, 'n' let ye slide down."

"Rather too steep, I should say," said his Lordship, wearily.

"Ye wouldn't need no grease," said D'ri, with a chuckle.

We were four days going to the Harbor.  My father and his men came
with us, and he told us many a tale, that journey, of his
adventures in the old war.  We kept our promise, turning over the
prisoners a little before sundown of the 16th.  Each was given a
great room and every possible comfort.  I arranged soon for the
release of all on the safe return of the ladies.

In the evening of the 17th his Lordship sent for me.  He was a bit
nervous, and desired a conference with the general and me.  De
Chaumont had been over to the headquarters that day in urgent
counsel.  He was weary of delay and planning an appeal to the
French government.  General Brown was prepared to give the matter
all furtherance in his power, and sent quickly for the Englishman.
They brought him over at nine o'clock.  We uncovered his eyes and
locked the door, and "gave him a crack at the old Madeira," as they
used to say, and made him as comfortable as might be at the cheery
fireside of the general.

"I've been thinking," said his Lordship.  after a drink and a word
of courtesy.  I never saw a man of better breeding or more courage,
I am free to say.  "You may not agree it is possible, but, anyhow,
I have been trying to think.  You have been decent to me.  I don't
believe you are such a bad lot, after all; and while I should be
sorry to have you think me tired of your hospitality, I desire to
hasten our plans a little.  I propose an exchange of--of--"

He hesitated, whipping the ashes off his cigar.

"Well--first of confidence," he went on.  "I will take your word if
you will take mine."

"In what matter?" the general inquired.

"That of the ladies and their relief," said he.  "A little
confidence will--will--"

"Grease the wheels of progress?" the general suggested, smiling.

"Quite so," he answered lazily.  "To begin with, they are not
thirty miles away, if I am correct in my judgment of this locality."

There was a moment of silence.

"My _dear_ sir," he went on presently, "this ground is quite
familiar to me.  I slept in this very chamber long ago.  But that
is not here nor there.  Day after to-morrow, a little before
midnight, the ladies will be riding on the shore pike.  You could
meet them and bring them out to a schooner, I suppose--if--"

He stopped again, puffing thoughtfully.

"If we could agree," he went on.  "Now this would be my view of it:
You let me send a messenger for the ladies.  You would have to take
them by force somehow; but, you know, I could make it easy--arrange
the time and place, no house near, no soldiers, no resistence but
that of the driver, who should not share our confidence--no danger.
You take them to the boats and bring them over; but, first--"

He paused again, looking at the smokerings above his head in a
dreamy manner.

"'First,'" my chief repeated.

"Well," said he, leaning toward him with a little gesture, "to me
the word of a gentleman is sacred.  I know you are both gentlemen.
I ask for your word of honor."

"To what effect?" the general queried.

"That you will put us safely on British soil within a day after the
ladies have arrived," said he.

"It is irregular and a matter of some difficulty," said the
general.  "Whom would you send with such a message?"

"Well, I should say some Frenchwoman could do it.  There must be
one here who is clever enough."

"I know the very one," said I, with enthusiasm.  "She is as smart
and cunning as they make them."

"Very well," said the general; "that is but one step.  Who is to
capture them and take the risk of their own heads?"

"D'ri and I could do it alone," was my confident answer.

"Ah, well," said his Lordship, as he rose languidly and stood with
his back to the fire, "I shall send them where the coast is
clear--my word for that.  Hang me if I fail to protect them."

"I do not wish to question your honor," said the general, "or
violate in any way this atmosphere of fine courtesy; but, sir, I do
not know you."

"Permit me to introduce myself," said the Englishman, as he ripped
his coat-lining and drew out a folded sheet of purple parchment.

"I am Lord Ronley, fifth Earl of Pickford, and, cousin of his Most
Excellent Majesty the King of England; there is the proof."

He tossed the parchment to the table carelessly, resuming his chair.

"Forgive me," said he, as the general took it.  "I have little
taste for such theatricals.  Necessity is my only excuse."

"It is enough," said the other.  "I am glad to know you.  I hope
sometime we shall stop fighting each other--we of the same race and
blood.  It is unnatural."

"Give me your hand," said the Englishman, with heartier feeling
than I had seen him show, as he advanced.  "Amen!  I say to you."

"Will you write your message?  Here are ink and paper," said the
general.

His Lordship sat down at the table and hurriedly wrote these
letters:--


"PRESCOTT, ONTARIO, November 17, 1813.

"To SIR CHARLES GRAVLEIGH, The Weirs, above Landsmere, Wrentham,
Frontenac County, Canada.

"MY DEAR GRAVLEIGH:  Will you see that the baroness and her two
wards, the Misses de Lambert, are conveyed by my coach, on the
evening of the 18th inst, to that certain point on the shore pike
between Amsbury and Lakeside known as Burnt Ridge, there to wait
back in the timber for my messenger?  Tell them they are to be
returned to their home, and give them my very best wishes.  Lamson
will drive, and let the bearer ride with the others.

  "Very truly yours,
    "RONLEY."

  _To whom it may concern_.

"Mme. St. Jovite, the bearer, is on her way to my house at
Wrentham, Frontenac County, second concession, with a despatch of
urgent character.  I shall be greatly favored by all who give her
furtherance in this journey.

  "Respectfully, etc.,
    "Ronley,
      "Colonel of King's Guard."


For fear of a cipher, the general gave tantamount terms for each
letter, and his Lordship rewrote them.

"I thought the name St. Jovite would be as good as any," he
remarked.

The rendezvous was carefully mapped.  The guard came, and his
Lordship rose languidly.

"One thing more," said he.  "Let the men go over without
arms--if--if you will be so good."

"I shall consider that," said the general.

"And when shall the messenger start?"

"Within the hour, if possible," my chief answered.

As they went away, the general sat down with me for a moment, to
discuss the matter.




XXII

Herein is the story of the adventures of his Lordship's courier,
known as Mme. St. Jovite, on and after the night of November 17,
1813, in Upper Canada.  This account may be accepted as quite
trustworthy, its writer having been known to me these many years,
in the which neither I nor any of my friends have had occasion to
doubt her veracity.  The writer gave more details than are
desirable, but the document is nothing more than a letter to an
intimate friend.  I remember well she had an eye for color and a
taste for description not easy to repress.


When I decided to go it was near midnight, The mission was not all
to my taste, but the reward was handsome and the letter of Lord
Ronley reassuring.  I knew I could do it, and dressed as soon as
possible and walked to the Lone Oak, a sergeant escorting.  There,
as I expected, the big soldier known as D'ri was waiting, his canoe
in a wagon that stood near.  We all mounted the seat, driving
pell-mell on a rough road to Tibbals Point, on the southwest corner
of Wolf Island.  A hard journey it was, and near two o'clock, I
should say, before we put our canoe in the water.  Then the man
D'ri helped me to an easy seat in the bow and shoved off.  A full
moon, yellow as gold, hung low in the northwest.  The water was
calm, and we cut across "the moon way," that funnelled off to the
shores of Canada.

"It is one ver' gran' night," I said in my dialect of the rude
Canuck; for I did not wish him, or any one, to know me.  War is
war, but, surely, such adventures are not the thing for a woman.

"Yis, mahm," he answered, pushing hard with the paddle.  "Yer a
friend o' the cap'n, ain't ye--Ray Bell?"

"Ze captain?  Ah, oui, m'sieu'," I said.  "One ver' brave man,
ain't it?"

"Yis, mahm," said he, soberly and with emphasis.  "He 's more 'n a
dozen brave men, thet's whut he is.  He's a joemightyful cuss.
Ain't nuthin' he can't dew--spryer 'n a painter, stouter 'n a
moose, an' treemenjous with a sword."

The moon sank low, peering through distant tree-columns, and went
out of sight.  Long stubs of dead pine loomed in the dim, golden
afterglow, their stark limbs arching high in the heavens--like
mullions in a great Gothic window.

"When we git nigh shore over yender," said my companion, "don't
believe we better hev a grea' deal t' say.  I ain't a-goin' t' be
tuk--by a jugful--not ef I can help it.  Got me 'n a tight place
one night here 'n Canady."

"Ah, m'sieu', in Canada!  How did you get out of it?" I queried.

"Slipped out," said he, shaking the canoe with suppressed laughter.
"Jes' luk a streak o' greased lig-htnin'," he added presently.

"The captain he seems ver' anxious for me to mak' great hurry," I
remarked.

"No wonder; it's his lady-love he 's efter--faster 'n a weasel t'
see 'er," said he, snickering.

"Good-looking?" I queried.

"Han'some es a pictur'," said he, soberly.

In a moment he dragged his paddle, listening.

"Thet air's th' shore over yender," he whispered.  "Don't say a
word now.  I 'll put ye right on the p'int o' rocks.  Creep 'long
careful till ye git t' th' road, then turn t' th' left, the cap'n
tol' me."

When I stepped ashore my dress caught the gunwale and upset our
canoe.  The good man rolled noisily into the water, and rose
dripping.  I tried to help him.

"Don't bother me--none," he whispered testily, as if out of
patience, while he righted the canoe.

When at last he was seated again, as I leaned to shove him off, he
whispered in a compensating, kindly manner: "When ye 're goin'
ashore, an' they 's somebody 'n the canoe, don't never try t' tek
it with ye 'less ye tell 'im yer goin' tew."

There was a deep silence over wood and water, but he went away so
stealthily I could not hear the stir of his paddle.  I stood
watching as he dimmed off in the darkness, going quickly out of
sight.  Then I crept over the rocks and through a thicket,
shivering, for the night had grown chilly.  I snagged my dress on a
brier every step, and had to move by inches.  After mincing along
half an hour or so, I came where I could feel a bit of clear earth,
and stood there, dancing on my tiptoes, in the dark, to quicken my
blood a little.  Presently the damp light of dawn came leaking
through the tree-tops.  I heard a rattling stir in the bare limbs
above me.  Was it some monster of the woods?  Although I have more
courage than most women, it startled me, and I stood still.  The
light came clearer; there was a rush toward me that shook the
boughs.  I peered upward.  It was only a squirrel, now scratching
his ear, as he looked down at me.  He braced himself, and seemed to
curse me loudly for a spy, trembling with rage and rushing up and
down the branch above me.  Then all the curious, inhospitable folk
of the timber-land came out upon their towers to denounce.

I made my way over the rustling, brittle leaves, and soon found a
trail that led up over high land.  I followed it for a matter of
some minutes, and came to the road, taking my left-hand way, as
they told me.  There was no traveller in sight.  I walked as fast
as I could, passing a village at sunrise, where I asked my way in
French at a smithy.  Beyond there was a narrow clearing, stumpy and
rank with briers, on the up-side of the way.  Presently, looking
over a level stretch, I could see trees arching the road again,
from under which, as I was looking, a squad of cavalry came out in
the open.  It startled me.  I began to think I was trapped, I
thought of dodging into the brush.  But, no; they had seen me, and
I would be a fool now to turn fugitive.  I looked about me.  Cows
were feeding near.  I picked up a stick and went deliberately into
the bushes, driving one of them to the pike and heading her toward
them.  They went by at a gallop, never pulling up while in sight of
me.  Then I passed the cow and went on, stopping an hour later at a
lonely log house, where I found French people, and a welcome that
included moose meat, a cup of coffee, and fried potatoes.  Leaving,
I rode some miles with a travelling tinker, a voluble, well-meaning
youth who took a liking for me, and went far out of his way to help
me on.  He blushed proudly when, stopping to mend a pot for the
cook at a camp of militia, they inquired if I was his wife.

"No; but she may be yet," said he; "who knows?"

I knew it was no good place for me, and felt some relief when the
young man did me this honor.  From that moment they set me down for
a sweetheart.

"She 's too big for you, my boy," said the general, laughing.

"The more the better," said he; "can't have too much of a good
wife."

I said little to him as we rode along.  He asked for my address,
when I left him, and gave me the comforting assurance that he would
see me again.  I made no answer, leaving him at a turn where, north
of us, I could see the white houses of Wrentham.  Kingston was hard
by, its fort crowning a hill-top by the river.

It was past three by a tower clock at the gate of the Weirs when I
got there.  A driveway through tall oaks led to the mansion of dark
stone.  Many acres of park and field and garden were shut in with
high walls.  I rang a bell at the small gate, and some fellow in
livery took my message.

"Wait 'ere, my lass," said he, with an English accent.  "I 'll go
at once to the secretary."

I sat in a rustic chair by the gate-side, waiting for that
functionary.

"Ah, come in, come in," said he, coolly, as he opened the gate a
little.

He said nothing more, and I followed him--an oldish man with gray
eyes and hair and side-whiskers, and neatly dressed, his head
covered to the ears with a high hat, tilted backward.  We took a
stone path, and soon entered a rear door.

"She may sit in the servants' hall," said he to one of the maids,

They took my shawl, as he went away, and showed me to a room where,
evidently, the servants did their eating.  They were inquisitive,
those kitchen maids, and now and then I was rather put to it for a
wise reply.  I said as little as might be, using the dialect, long
familiar to me, of the French Canadian.  My bonnet amused them.  It
was none too new or fashionable, and I did not remove it.

"Afraid we 'll steal it," I heard one of them whisper in the next
room.  Then there was a loud laugh.

They gave me a French paper.  I read every line of it, and sat
looking out of a window at the tall trees, at servants who passed
to and fro, at his Lordship's horses, led up and down for exercise
in the stable-yard, at the twilight glooming the last pictures of a
long day until they were all smudged with darkness.  Then
candle-light, a trying supper hour with maids and cooks and grooms
and footmen at the big table, English, every one of them, and set
up with haughty curiosity.  I would not go to the table, and had a
cup of tea and a biscuit there in my corner.  A big butler walked
in hurriedly awhile after seven.   He looked down at me as if I
were the dirt of the gutter.

"They 're waitin'," said he, curtly.  "An' Sir Chawles would like
to know if ye would care for a humberreller?"

"Ah, m'sieu'! he rains?" I inquired.

"No, mum."

"Ah! he is going to rain, maybe?"

He made no answer, but turned quickly and went to a near closet,
from which he brought a faded umbrella.

"There," said he, as he led me to the front door, "see that you
send it back."

On the porch were the secretary and the ladies--three of them.

"Ciel! what is it?" one of them whispered as I came out.

The post-lights were shining in their faces, and lovelier I never
saw than those of the demoiselles.  They stepped lightly to the
coach, and the secretary asked if I would go in with them.

"No, m'sieu'," was my answer; "I sit by ze drivaire."

"Come in here, you silly goose," said one of the ladies in French,
recognizing my nationality.

"Grand merci!" I said, taking my seat by the driver; and then we
were off, with as lively a team as ever carried me, our lights
flashing on the tree trunks.  We had been riding more than two
hours when we stopped for water at a spring-tub under a hill.  They
gave me a cup, and, for the ladies, I brought each a bumper of the
cool, trickling flood.

"Ici, my tall woman," said one of them, presently, "my boot is
untied."

Her dainty foot came out of the coach door under ruffles of silk.
I hesitated, for I was not accustomed to that sort of service.

"Lambine!" she exclaimed.  "Make haste, will you?" her foot moving
impatiently.

My fingers had got numb in the cold air, and I must have been very
awkward, for presently she boxed my ears and drew her foot away.

"Dieu!" said she.  "Tell him to drive on."

I got to my seat quickly, confident that nature had not intended me
for a lady's-maid.  Awhile later we heard the call of a picket far
afield, but saw no camp.  A horseman--I thought him a cavalry
officer--passed us, flashing in our faces the light of a dark
lantern, but said nothing.  It must have been near midnight when,
as we were going slowly through deep sand, I heard the clang of a
cow-bell in the near darkness.  Another sounded quickly a bit
farther on.  The driver gave no heed to it, although I recognized
the signal, and knew something would happen shortly.  We had come
into the double dark of the timber when, suddenly, our horses
reared, snorting, and stopped.  The driver felt for his big pistol,
but not in the right place; for two hours or more it had been
stowed away in the deep pocket of my gown.  Not a word was spoken.
By the dim light of the lanterns we could see men all about us with
pikes looming in the dark.  For a breath or two there was perfect
silence; then the driver rose quickly and shouted: "Who are you?"

"Frien's o' these 'ere women," said one I recognized as the
Corporal D'ri.

He spoke in a low tone as he opened the door.

"Grace au ciel!" I heard one of the young ladies saying.  "It is
D'ri--dear old fellow!"

Then they all hurried out of the coach and kissed him.

"The captain--is he not here?" said one of them in French.  But
D'ri did not understand them, and made no answer.

"Out wi' the lights, an' be still," said D'ri, quickly, and the
lights were out as soon as the words.  "Jones, you tie up a front
leg o' one o' them hosses.  Git back in the brush, ladies.  Five on
'em, boys.  Now up with the pike wall!"

From far back in the road had come again the clang of the cow-bell.
I remember hearing five strokes and then a loud rattle.  In a
twinkling I was off the seat and beside the ladies.

"Take hold of my dress," I whispered quickly, "and follow me."

I led them off in the brush, and stopped.  We could hear the move
and rattle of cavalry in the near road.  Then presently the swish
of steel, the leap and tumble of horses, the shouting of men.  My
companions were of the right stuff; they stood shivering, but held
their peace.  Out by the road lights were flashing, and now we
heard pistols and the sound of a mighty scuffle.  I could stay
there in the dark no longer.

"Wait here, and be silent," I said, and ran "like a madwoman," as
they told me long after, for the flickering lights.

There a squad of cavalry was shut in by the pikes.  Two troopers
had broken through the near line.  One had fallen, badly hurt; the
other was sabre to sabre with the man D'ri.  They were close up and
striving fiercely, as if with broadswords.  I caught up the weapon
of the injured man, for I saw the Yankee would get the worst of it.
The Britisher had great power and a sabre quick as a cat's paw.  I
could see the corporal was stronger, but not so quick and skilful.
As I stood by, quivering with excitement, I saw him get a slash in
the shoulder.  He stumbled, falling heavily.  Then quickly,
forgetting my sex, but not wholly, I hope, the conduct that becomes
a woman, I caught the point of the sabre, now poised to run him
through, with the one I carried.  He backed away, hesitating, for
he had seen my hat and gown.  But I made after him with all the
fury I felt, and soon had him in action.  He was tired, I have no
doubt; anyway, I whirled his sabre and broke his hold, whipping it
to the ground.  That was the last we saw of him, for he made off in
the dark faster than I could follow.  The trouble was all over,
save the wound of the corporal, which was not as bad as I thought.
He was up, and one of them, a surgeon, was putting stitches in his
upper arm.  Others were tying four men together with rope.  Their
weapons were lying in a little heap near by.  One of the British
was saying that Sir Charles Gravleigh had sent for them to ride
after the coach.

"Jerushy Jane Pepper!" said the man D'ri.  "Never see no sech
wil'cat uv a woman es thet air."

I looked down at my gown; I felt of my hat, now hanging over one
ear.  Sure enough, I was a woman.

"Who be ye, I 'd like t' know?" said the man D'ri.

"Ramon Bell--a Yankee soldier of the rank of captain," I said,
stripping off my gown.  "But, I beg of you, don't tell the ladies I
was ever a woman."

"Judas Priest!" said D'ri, as he flung his well arm around me.




XXIII

I felt foolish for a moment.  I had careful plans for Mme. St.
Jovite.  She would have vanished utterly on our return; so, I
fancy, none would have been the wiser.  But in that brief sally I
had killed the madame; she could serve me no more.  I have been
careful in my account of this matter to tell all just as it
happened, to put upon it neither more nor less of romantic color
than we saw.  Had I the skill and license of a novelist, I could
have made much of my little mystery; but there are many now living
who remember all these things, and then, I am a soldier, and too
old for a new business.  So I make as much of them as there was and
no more.

In private theatricals, an evening at the Harbor, I had won
applause with the rig, wig, and dialect of my trip to Wrentham
Square.  So, when I proposed a plan to my friend the general,
urging the peril of a raw hand with a trust of so much importance,
he had no doubt of my ability.

I borrowed a long coat, having put off my dress, and, when all was
ready, went with a lantern to get the ladies.  Louise recognized me
first.

"Grace au ciel! le capitaine!" said she, running to meet me.

I dropped my lantern as we came face to face, and have ever been
glad of that little accident, for there in the dark my arms went
around her, and our lips met for a silent kiss full of history and
of holy confidence.  Then she put her hand upon my face with a
gentle caressing touch, and turned her own away.

"I am very, very glad to see you," I said.

"Dieu!" said her sister, coming near, "we should be glad to see
you, if it were possible."

I lighted the lantern hurriedly.

"Ciel! the light becomes him," said Louison, her grand eyes aglow.

But before there was time to answer I had kissed her also.

"He is a bold thing," she added, turning soberly to the baroness.

"Both a bold and happy thing," I answered.  "Forgive me.  I should
not be so bold if I were not--well--insanely happy."

"He is only a boy," said the baroness, laughing as she kissed me.

"Poor little ingenu!" said Louison, patting my arm.

Louise, tall and lovely and sedate as ever, stood near me, primping
her bonnet.

"Little ingenu!" she repeated, with a faint laugh of irony as she
placed the dainty thing on her head.

"Well, what do _you_ think of him?" said Louison, turning to help
her.

"Dieu! that he is very big and dreadful," said the other, soberly.
"I should think we had better be going."

These things move slowly on paper, but the greeting was to me
painfully short, there being of it not more than a minuteful, I
should say.  On our way to the lights they plied me with whispered
queries, and were in fear of more fighting.  The prisoners were now
in the coach, and our men--there were twelve--stood on every side
of it, their pikes in hand.  The boats were near, and we hurried to
the river by a toteway.  Our schooner lay some twenty rods off a
point.  A bateau and six canoes were waiting on the beach, and when
we had come to the schooner I unbound the prisoners.

"You can get ashore with this bateau," I said.  "You will find the
horses tied to a tree."

"Wha' does thet mean?" said D'ri.

"That we have no right to hold them," was my answer.  "Ronley was,
in no way responsible for their coming."

Leaning over the side with a lantern, while one of our men held the
bateau, I motioned to the coachman.

"Give that 'humberreller' to the butler, with my compliments," I
whispered.

Our anchors up, our sails took the wind in a jiffy.

"Member how we used ye," D'ri called to the receding Britishers,
"an' ef ye ever meet a Yankee try t' be p'lite tew 'im."

Dawn had come before we got off at the Harbor dock.  I took the
ladies to an inn for breakfast, wrote a report, and went for my
horse and uniform.  General Brown was buttoning his suspenders when
they admitted me to his room.

"What luck, my boy?" said he.

"All have returned safely, including the ladies," I replied
quickly, "and I have the honor to submit a report."

He took a chair, and read the report carefully, and looked up at
me, laughing.

"What a lucky and remarkable young man!" said he.  "I declare, you
should have lived in the Middle Ages."

"Ah, then I should not have enjoyed your compliments or your
friendship," was my answer.

He laughed again heartily.

"Nor the demoiselles'," said he.  "I congratulate you.  They are
the loveliest of their sex; but I'm sorry they're not Americans."

"Time enough.  I have decided that one of them shall become an
American," said I, with all the confidence of youth.

"It is quite an undertaking," said he.  "You may find new
difficulties.  Their father is at the chateau."

"M'sieur de Lambert?" I exclaimed.

"M'sieur de Lambert.  Came yesterday, via Montreal, with a fine
young nobleman--the Count Esmon de Brovel," said he.  "You must
look out for him; he has the beauty of Apollo and the sword of a
cavalier."

"And I no fear of him," I answered soberly, with a quick sense of
alarm.

"They rode over in the afternoon with Chaumont," he went on.  "It
seems the young ladies' father, getting no news of them, had become
worried.  Well, you may go and have three days for your fun; I
shall need you presently."

Breakfast over, I got a team for the ladies, and, mounting my own
horse, rode before them.  I began to consider a very odd thing in
this love experience.  While they were in captivity I had begun to
think less of Louison and more of Louise.  In truth, one face had
faded a little in my memory; the other, somehow, had grown clearer
and sweeter, as if by a light borrowed from the soul behind it.
Now that I saw Louison, her splendid face and figure appealed to me
with all the power of old.  She was quick, vivacious, subtle,
aggressive, cunning, aware and proud of her charms, and ever making
the most of them.  She, ah, yes, she could play with a man for the
mere pleasure of victory, and be very heartless if--if she were not
in love with him.  This type of woman had no need of argument to
make me feel her charms.  With her the old doubt had returned to
me; for how long? I wondered.  Her sister was quite her
antithesis--thoughtful, slow, serious, even-tempered, frank, quiet,
unconscious of her beauty, and with that wonderful thing, a voice
tender and low and sympathetic and full of an eloquence I could
never understand, although I felt it to my finger-tips.  I could
not help loving her, and, indeed, what man with any life in him
feels not the power of such a woman?  That morning, on the
woods-pike, I reduced the problem to its simplest terms: the one
was a physical type, the other a spiritual.

"M'sieur le Capitaine," said Louison, as I rode by the carriage,
"what became of the tall woman last night?"

"Left us there in the woods," I answered.  "She was afraid of you."

"Afraid of me!  Why?"

"Well, I understand that you boxed her ears shamefully."

A merry peal of laughter greeted my words.

"It was too bad; you were very harsh," said Louise, soberly.

"I could not help it; she was an ugly, awkward thing," said
Louison.  "I could have pulled her nose'"

"And it seems you called her a geante also," I said.  "She was
quite offended."

"It was a compliment," said the girl.  "She was an Amazon--like the
count's statue of Jeanne d'Arc."

"Poor thing! she could not help it," said Louise.

"Well," said Louison, with a sigh of regret, "if I ever see her
again I shall give her a five-franc piece."

There was a moment of silence, and she broke it.

"I hope, this afternoon, you will let me ride that horse," said she.

"On one condition," was my reply.

"And it is--?"

"That you will let me ride yours at the same time."

"Agreed," was her answer.  "Shall we go at three?"

"With the consent of the baroness and--and your father," I said.

"Father!" exclaimed the two girls.             /

"Your father," I repeated.  "He is now at the chateau."

"Heavens!" said Louison.

"What will he say?" said the baroness.

"I am so glad--my dear papa!" said Louise, clapping her hands.

We were out of the woods now, and could see the chateau in the
uplands.




XXIV

There was a dignity in the manners of M. de Lambert to me
formidable and oppressive.  It showed in his tall, erect figure,
his deep tone, his silvered hair and mustache.  There was a merry
word between the kisses of one daughter; between those of the other
only tears and a broken murmur.

"Oh, papa," said Louison, as she greeted him, "I do love you--but I
dread that--tickly old mustache.  Mon Dieu! what a lover--you must
have been!"

Then she presented me, and put her hand upon my arm, looking
proudly at her father.

"My captain!" said she.  "Did you ever see a handsomer Frenchman?"

"There are many, and here is one," said he, turning to the young
count, who stood behind him--a fine youth, tall, strong-built,
well-spoken, with blond hair and dark, keen eyes.  I admit frankly
I had not seen a better figure of a man.  I assure you, he had the
form of Hercules, the eye of Mars.  It was an eye to
command--women; for I had small reason to admire his courage when I
knew him better.  He took a hand of each young lady, and kissed it
with admirable gallantry.

"Dieu! it is not so easy always to agree with one's father," said
Louison.

We went riding that afternoon--Therese and her marquis and Louison
and I.  The first two went on ahead of us; we rode slowly, and for
a time no word was spoken.  Winds had stripped the timber, and
swept its harvest to the walls and hollows, where it lay bleaching
in the sun.  Birch and oak and maple were holding bared arms to the
wind, as if to toughen them for storm and stress.  I felt a mighty
sadness, wondering if my own arms were quite seasoned for all that
was to come.  The merry-hearted girl beside me was ever like a day
of June--the color of the rose in her cheek, its odor always in her
hair and lace.  There was never an hour of autumn in her life.

"Alas, you are a very silent man!" said she, presently, with a
little sigh.

"Only thinking," I said.

"Of what?"

"Dieu! of the dead summer," I continued.

"Believe me, it does not pay to think," she interrupted.  "I tried
it once, and made a sad discovery."

"Of what?"

"A fool!" said she, laughing.

"I should think it--it might have been a coquette," said I, lightly.

"Why, upon my word," said she, "I believe you misjudge me.  Do you
think me heartless?"

For the first time I saw a shadow in her face.

"No; but you are young and--and beautiful, and--"

"What?" she broke in impatiently, as I hesitated.  "I long to know."

"Men will love you in spite of all you can do," I added.

"Captain!" said she, turning her face away.

"Many will love you, and--and you can choose only one--a very hard
thing to do--possibly."

"Not hard," said she, "if I see the right one--and--and--he loves
me also."

I had kept myself well in hand, for I was full of doubts that day;
but the clever girl came near taking me, horse, foot, and guns,
that moment.  She spoke so charmingly, she looked so winning, and
then, was it not easy to ask if I were the lucky one?  She knew I
loved her, I knew that she had loved me, and I might as well
confess.  But no; I was not ready.

"You must be stern with the others; you must not let them tell
you," I went on.

"Ciel!" said she, laughing, "one might as well go to a nunnery.
May not a girl enjoy her beauty?  It is sweet to her."

"But do not make it bitter for the poor men.  Dieu! I am one of
them, and know their sorrows."

"And you--you have been in love?"

"Desperately," I answered, clinging by the finger-tips.  Somehow we
kept drifting into fateful moments when a word even might have
changed all that has been--our life way, the skies above us, the
friends we have known, our loves, our very souls.

She turned, smiling, her beauty flashing up at me with a power
quite irresistible.  I shut my eyes a moment, summoning all my
forces.  There was only a step between me and--God knows what!

"Captain, you are a foolish fellow," said she, with a little
shudder.  "And I--well, I am cold.  Parbleu! feel my hand."

She had drawn her glove quickly, and held out her hand, white and
beautiful, a dainty finger in a gorget of gems.  That little cold,
trembling hand seemed to lay hold of my heart and pull me to her.
As my lips touched the palm I felt its mighty magic.  Dear girl!  I
wonder if she planned that trial for me.

"We must--ride--faster.  You--you--are cold," I stammered.

She held her hand so that the sunlight flashed in the jewels, and
looked down upon it proudly.

"Do you think it beautiful?" she asked.

"Yes, and wonderful," I said.  "But, mark me, it is all a sacred
trust--the beauty you have."

"Sacred?"

"More sacred than the power of kings," I said.

"Preacher!" said she, with a smile.  "You should give yourself to
the church."

"I can do better with the sword of steel," I said.

"But do not be sad.  Cheer up, dear fellow!" she went on, patting
my elbow with a pretty mockery.  "We women are not--not so bad.
When I find the man I love--"

Her voice faltered as she began fussing with her stirrup.

I turned with a look of inquiry, changing quickly to one of
admiration.

"I shall make him love me, if I can," she went on soberly.

"And if he does?" I queried, my blood quickening as our eyes met.

"Dieu! I would do anything for him," said she.

I turned away, looking off at the brown fields.  Ah, then, for a
breath, my heart begged my will for utterance.  The first word
passed my lips when there came a sound of galloping hoofs and
Theresa and the marquis.

"Come, dreamers," said the former, as they pulled up beside us.  "A
cold dinner is the worst enemy of happiness."

"And he is the worst robber that shortens the hour of love," said
the marquis, smiling.

We turned, following them at a swift gallop.  They had helped me
out of that mire of ecstasy, and now I was glad, for, on my soul, I
believed the fair girl had found one more to her liking, and was
only playing for my scalp.  And at last I had begun to know my own
heart, or thought I had.

D'ri came over that evening with a letter from General Brown.  He
desired me to report for duty next day at two.

"War--it is forever war," said Therese, when I told her at dinner.
"There is to be a coaching-party to-morrow, and we shall miss you,
captain."

"Can you not soon return?" said the baroness.

"I fear not," was my answer.  "It is to be a long campaign."

"Oh, the war!  When will it ever end?" said Louise, sighing.

"When we are all dead," said Louison.

"Of loneliness?" said the old count, with a smile.

"No; of old age," said Louison, quickly.

"When the army goes into Canada it will go into trouble," said the
Comte de Chaumont, speaking in French.  "We shall have to get you
out of captivity, captain."

"Louise would rescue him," said her sister.  "She has influence
there."

"Would you pay my ransom?" I inquired, turning to her.

"With my life," said she, solemnly.

"Greater love hath no man than this," said the good Pere Joulin,
smiling as the others laughed.

"And none has greater obligation," said Louise, blushing with
embarrassment.  "Has he not brought us three out of captivity?"

"Well, if I am taken," I said, "nothing can bring me back unless it
be--"

"A miracle?" the baroness prompted as I paused.

"Yes; even a resurrection," was my answer.  "I know what it means
for a man to be captured there these days."

Louise sat beside me, and I saw what others failed to notice--her
napkin stop quickly on its way to her lips, her hand tighten as it
held the white linen.  It made me regretful of my thoughtless
answer, but oddly happy for a moment.  Then they all besought me
for some adventure of those old days in the army.  I told them the
story of the wasps, and, when I had finished, our baroness told of
the trouble it led to--their capture and imprisonment.

"It was very strange," said she, in conclusion.  "That Englishman
grew kinder every day we were there, until we began to feel at
home."

They were all mystified, but I thought I could understand it.  We
had a long evening of music, and I bade them all good-by before
going to bed, for they were to be off early.

Well, the morning came clear, and before I was out of bed I heard
the coach-horn, the merry laughter of ladies under my window, the
prancing hoofs, and the crack of the whip as they all went away.
It surprised me greatly to find Louise at the breakfast table when
I came below-stairs; I shall not try to say how much it pleased me.
She was gowned in pink, a red rose at her bosom.  I remember, as if
it were yesterday, the brightness of her big eyes, the glow in her
cheeks, the sweet dignity of her tall, fine figure when she rose
and gave me her hand.

"I did feel sorry, ma'm'selle, that I could not go; but now--now I
am happy," was my remark.

"Oh, captain, you are very gallant," said she, as we took seats.
"I was not in the mood for merrymaking, and then, I am reading a
book."

"A book!  May its covers be the gates of happiness," I answered.

"Eh bien! it is a tale of love," said she.

"Of a man for a woman?" I inquired.

"Of a lady that loved two knights, and knew not which the better."

"Is it possible and--and reasonable?" I inquired.  "In a tale
things should go as--well, as God plans them."

"Quite possible," said she, "for in such a thing as love who knows
what--what may happen?"

"Except he have a wide experience," I answered.

"And have God's eyes," said she.  "Let me tell you.  They were both
handsome, brave, splendid, of course, but there was a difference:
the one had a more perfect beauty of form and face, the other a
nobler soul."

"And which will she favor?"

"Alas!  I have not read, and do not know her enough to judge," was
her answer; "but I shall hate her if she does not take him with the
better soul."

"And why?"  I could hear my heart beating.

"Love is not love unless it be--"  She paused, thinking.  "Dieu!
from soul to soul," she added feelingly.

She was looking down, a white, tapered finger stirring the red
petals of the rose.  Then she spoke in a low, sweet tone that
trembled with holy feeling and cut me like a sword of the spirit
going to its very hilt in my soul.

"Love looks to what is noble," said she, "or it is vain--it is
wicked; it fails; it dies in a day, like the rose.  True love, that
is forever."

"What if it be hopeless?" I whispered.

"Ah! then it is very bitter," said she, her voice diminishing.  "It
may kill the body, but--but love does not die.  When it comes--"
There was a breath of silence that had in it a strange harmony not
of this world.

"'When it comes'?" I whispered.

"You see the coming of a great king," said she, looking down
thoughtfully, her chin, upon her hand.

"And all people bow their heads," I said.

"Yes," she added, with a sigh, "and give their bodies to be burned,
if he ask it.  The king is cruel--sometimes."

"Dieu!" said I.  "He has many captives."

She broke a sprig of fern, twirling it in her fingers; her big eyes
looked up at me, and saw, I know, to the bottom of my soul.

"But long live the king!" said she, her lips trembling, her cheeks
as red as the rose upon her bosom.

"Long live the king!" I murmured.

We dared go no farther.  Sweet philosopher, inspired of Heaven, I
could not bear the look of her, and rose quickly with dim eyes and
went out of the open door.  A revelation had come to me.  Mere de
Dieu! how I loved that woman so fashioned in thy image!  She
followed me, and laid her hand upon my arm tenderly, while I shook
with emotion.

"Captain," said she, in that sweet voice, "captain, what have I
done?"

It was the first day of the Indian summer, a memorable season that
year, when, according to an old legend, the Great Father sits idly
on the mountain-tops and blows the smoke of his long pipe into the
valleys.  In a moment I was quite calm, and stood looking off to
the hazy hollows of the far field.  I gave her my arm without
speaking, and we walked slowly down a garden path.  For a time
neither broke the silence.

"I did not know--I did not know," she whispered presently.

"And I--must--tell you," I said brokenly, "that I--that I--"

"Hush-sh-sh!" she whispered, her hand over my lips.  "Say no more!
say no more!  If it is true, go--go quickly, I beg of you!"

There was such a note of pleading in her voice, I hear it, after
all this long time, in the hushed moments of my life, night or day.
"Go--go quickly, I beg of you!"  We were both near breaking down.

[Illustration: "We were both near breaking down."]

"Vive le roi!" I whispered, taking her hand.

"Vive le roi!" she whispered, turning away.




XXV

How empty and weak are my words that try to tell of that day!  I
doubt if there is in them anywhere what may suggest, even feebly,
the height and depth of that experience or one ray of the light in
her face.  There are the words nearly as we said them; there are
the sighs, the glances, the tears: but everywhere there is much
missing--that fair young face and a thousand things irresistible
that drift in with every tide of high feeling.  Of my history there
is not much more to write, albeit some say the best is untold.

I had never such a heart of lead as went with me to my work that
afternoon.  What became of me I cared not a straw then, for I knew
my love was hopeless.  D'ri met me as I got off my horse at the
Harbor.  His keen eye saw my trouble quickly--saw near to the
bottom of it.

"Be'n hit?" said he, his great hand on my shoulder.

"With trouble," I answered.  "Torn me up a little inside."

"Thought so," he remarked soberly.  "Judas Priest!  ye luk es ef a
shell 'ad bu'st 'n yer cockpit.  Ain' nuthin' 'll spile a man
quicker.  Sheer off a leetle an' git out o' range.  An' 'member,
Ray, don't never give up the ship.  Thet air 's whut Perry tol' us."

I said nothing and walked away, but have always remembered his
counsel, there was so much of his big heart in it.  The army was to
move immediately, in that foolish campaign of Wilkinson that ended
with disaster at Chrysler's Farm.  They were making the boats,
small craft with oars, of which three hundred or more would be
needed to carry us.  We were to go eastward on the river and join
Hampden, whose corps was to march overland to Plattsburg, at some
point on the north shore.  Word came, while I was away, that down
among the islands our enemy had been mounting cannon.   It looked
as if our plan had leaked, as if, indeed, there were good chance of
our being blown out of water the first day of our journey.  So,
before the army started, I was to take D'ri and eleven others, with
four boats, and go down to reconnoitre.

We got away before sundown that day, and, as dark came, were
passing the southwest corner of Wolf Island.  I was leading the
little fleet, and got ashore, intending to creep along the edge and
rejoin them at the foot of the island.  I had a cow-bell, muted
with cork, and was to clang it for a signal in case of need.  Well,
I was a bit more reckless that night than ever I had been.  Before
I had gone twenty rods I warned them to flee and leave me.  I heard
a move in the brush, and was backing off, when a light flashed on
me, and I felt the touch of a bayonet.  Then quickly I saw there
was no help for me, and gave the signal, for I was walled in.
Well, I am not going to tell the story of my capture.  My sabre
could serve me well, but, heavens! it was no magic wand such as one
may read of in the story-books.  I knew then it would serve me best
in the scabbard.  There were few words and no fighting in the
ceremony.  I gave up, and let them bind my arms.  In two hours they
had me in jail, I knew not where.  In the morning they let me send
a note to Lord Ronley, who was now barely two days out of his own
trouble.  A week passed; I was to be tried for a spy, and saw
clearly the end of it all.  Suddenly, a morning when my hopes were
gone, I heard the voice of his Lordship in the little corridor.  A
keeper came with him to the door of my cell, and opened it.

"The doctor," said he.

"Well, well, old fellow," said Ronley, clapping me on the shoulder,
"you are ill, I hear."

"Really, I do not wish to alarm you," I said, smiling, "but--but it
does look serious."

He asked me to show my tongue, and I did so.

"Cheer up," said he, presently; "I have brought you this pill.  It
is an excellent remedy."

He had taken from his pocket a brown pill of the size of a large
pea, and sat rolling it in his palm.  Had he brought me poison?

"I suppose it is better than--"

He shot a glance at me as if to command silence, then he put the
pill in my palm.  I saw it was of brown tissue rolled tightly.

"Don't take it now," said he; "too soon after breakfast.  Wait half
an hour.  A cup of water," he added, turning to the guard, who left
us for a moment.

He leaned to my ear and whispered:--

"Remember," said he, "2 is _a_, and 3 is _b_, and so on.  Be
careful until the guard changes."

He handed me a small watch as he was leaving.

"It may be good company," he remarked.

I unrolled the tissue as soon as I was alone.  It was covered with
these figures:--

  21-24-6-13-23-6

  21-16-15-10-8-9-21 4-6-13-13 5-16-16-19
  22-15-13-16-4-12-6-5 13-10-7-21 20-14-2-13-13
  24-10-15-5-16-24 10-15 4-16-19-19-10-5-16-19 3-2-4-12
  21-16 24-2-13-13 8-16 19-10-8-9-21 21-16 19-16-2-5
  13-6-7-21 200 17-2-4-6-20 21-16 17-2-21-9 13-6-7-21
  21-16 19-10-23-6-19 19-10-8-9-21 21-24-6-15-21-26
  21-16 21-9-10-4-12-6-21.

I made out the reading, shortly, as follows:--

  "Twelve to-night cell door unlocked.  Lift
  small window in corridor.  Back to wall go
  right to road.  Left two hundred paces to path.
  Left to river.  Right twenty to thicket."

Having read the figures, I rolled the tissue firmly, and hid it in
my ear.  It was a day of some excitement, I remember, for that very
afternoon I was condemned to death.  A priest, having heard of my
plight, came in that evening, and offered me the good ministry of
the church.  The words, the face, of that simple man, filled me
with a deep tenderness for all who seek in the shadows of this
world with the lantern of God's mercy.  Never, so long as I live,
shall an ill word of them go unrebuked in my hearing.  He left me
at 10.30, and as he went away, my jailer banged the iron door
without locking it.  Then I lay down there in the dark, and began
to tell off the time by my heartbeats, allowing forty-five hundred
to the hour, and was not far wrong.  I thought much of his Lordship
as I waited.  To him I had been of some service, but, surely, not
enough to explain this tender regard, involving, as it must have
done, bribery and no small degree of peril to himself.  My counting
over, I tried the door, which swung easily as I put my hand upon
it, The little corridor was dark and I could hear no sound save the
snoring of a drunken soldier, committed that day for fighting, as
the turnkey had told me.  I found the small window, and slid the
sash, and let my boots fall to the ground, then climbing through
and dropping on them.  It was a dark night, but I was not long in
reaching the road and pacing my way to the path and river.  His
Lordship and a boatman lay in the thicket waiting for me.

"This way," the former whispered, taking my arm and leading me to
the mouth of a little brook, where a boat was tied, the bottom
muffled with blankets.  I took the stern seat, his Lordship the
bow, and we pushed off.  The boatman, a big, husky fellow, had been
rowing a long hour when we put into a cove under the high shore of
an island.  I could see a moving glow back in the bushes.  It swung
slowly, like a pendulum of light, with a mighty flit and tumble of
shadows.  We tied our boat, climbed the shore, and made slowly for
the light.  Nearing it, his Lordship whistled twice, and got
answer.  The lantern was now still; it lighted the side of a
soldier in high boots; and suddenly I saw it was D'ri.  I caught
his hand, raising it to my lips.  We could not speak, either of us.
He stepped aside, lifting the lantern.  God! there stood Louise.
She was all in black, her head bent forward.

"Dear love!" I cried, grasping her hands, "why--why have you come
here?"

She turned her face away, and spoke slowly, her voice trembling
with emotion.

"To give my body to be burned," said she.

I turned, lifting my arm to smite the man who had brought me there;
but lo! some stronger hand had struck him, some wonder-working
power of a kind that removes mountains.  Lord Ronley was wiping his
eyes.

"I cannot do this thing," said he, in a broken voice.  "I cannot do
this thing.  Take her and go."

D'ri had turned away to hide his feelings.

"Take them to your boat," said his Lordship.

"Wait a minute," said D'ri, fixing his lantern.  "Judas Priest!  I
ain't got no stren'th.  I 'm all tore t' shoe-strings."

I took her arm, and we followed D'ri to the landing.  Lord Ronley
coming with us.

"Good-by," said he, leaning to push us off.  "I am a better man for
knowing you.  Dear girl, you have put all the evil out of me."

He held a moment to the boat, taking my hand as I came by him.

"Bell," said he, "henceforward may there be peace between you and
me."

"And between your country and mine," I answered.

And, thank God! the war was soon over, and ever since there has
been peace between the two great peoples.  I rejoice that even we
old men have washed our hearts of bitterness, and that the young
have now more sense of brotherhood.

Above all price are the words of a wise man, but silence, that is
the great counsellor.  In silence wisdom enters the heart and
understanding puts forth her voice.  In the hush of that night ride
I grew to manhood; I put away childish things.  I saw, or thought I
saw, the two great powers of good and evil.  One was love, with the
power of God in it to lift up, to ennoble; the other, love's
counterfeit, a cunning device of the devil, with all his power to
wreck and destroy, deceiving him that has taken it until he finds
at last he has neither gold nor silver, but only base metal hanging
as a millstone to his neck.

At dawn we got ashore on Battle Point.  We waited there, Louise and
I, while D'ri went away to bring horses.  The sun rose clear and
warm; it was like a summer morning, but stiller, for the woods had
lost their songful tenantry.  We took the forest road, walking
slowly.  Some bugler near us had begun to play the song of
Yankee-land.  Its phrases travelled like waves in the sea, some
high-crested, moving with a mighty rush, filling the valleys,
mounting the hills, tossing their spray aloft, flooding all the
shores of silence.  Far and near, the trees were singing in praise
of my native land.

"Ramon," said Louise, looking up at me, a sweet and queenly dignity
in her face, "I have come to love this country."

"And you could not have done so much for me unless you had loved--"

She looked up at me quickly, and put her finger to her lips.  My
tongue faltered, obeying the command.  How sweet and beautiful she
was then, her splendid form erect, the light of her eyes softened
by long lashes!  She looked down thoughtfully as she gave the
bottom of her gown a shake.

"Once upon a time," said she, slowly, as our eyes met again, "there
was a little country that had a cruel king.  And he commanded that
none of all his people should speak until--until--"

She hesitated, stirring the dead leaves with her dainty foot.

"Until a great mountain had been removed and buried in the sea,"
she added in a low tone.

"Ah, that was hard."

"Especially for the ladies," she went on, sighing.  "Dieu! they
could only sit and hold their tongues and weep and feel very
foolish.  And the longer they were silent the more they had to say."

"And those who broke the law?" I inquired.

"Were condemned to silence for their lives," she answered.  "Come,
we are both in danger; let us go."

A bit farther on we came to a log house where a veteran of the old
war sat playing his bugle, and a motherly woman bade us sit awhile
at the door-step.




XXVI

D'ri came soon with horses, one the black thoroughbred of Louise
which had brought her on this errand.  We gave them free rein,
heading for the chateau.  Not far up the woods-pike we met M. de
Lambert and the old count.  The former was angry, albeit he held
himself in hand as became a gentleman, save that he was a bit too
cool with me.

"My girl, you have upset us terribly," said the learned doctor.  "I
should like to be honored with your confidence."

"And I with your kindness, dear father," said she, as her tears
began falling.  "I am much in need of it."

"She has saved my life, m'sieur," I said.

"Then go to your work," said he, coolly, "and make the most of it."

"Ah, sir, I had rather--"

"Good-by," said Louise, giving me her hand.

"Au revoir," I said quickly, and wheeled my horse and rode away.

The boats were ready.  The army was waiting for the order, now
expected any moment, to move.  General Brown had not been at his
quarters for a day.

"Judas Priest!" said D'ri, when we were alone together, "thet air
gal 'd go through fire an' water fer you."

"You 're mistaken," I said.

"No, I hain't nuther," said he.  "Ef I be, I 'm a reg'lar
out-an'-out fool, hand over fist."

He whittled a moment thoughtfully.

"Ain' no use talkin'," he added, "I can tell a hoss from a
jack-rabbit any day."

"Her father does not like me," I suggested.

"Don't hev to," said D'ri, calmly.

He cut a deep slash in the stick he held, then added: "Don't make
no odds ner no diff'rence one way er t' other.  I did n't like th'
measles, but I hed t' hev 'em."

"He'll never permit a marriage with me," I said.

"'T ain't nec'sary," he declared soberly.  "In this 'ere country
don' tek only tew t' mek a bargain.  One o' the blessin's o'
liberty."

He squinted up at the sky, delivering his confidence in slowly
measured phrases, to wit; "Wouldn't give ten cents fer no man 'at
'll give up a gal 'less he 'd orter--not fer nuthin' ner nobody."

I was called out of bed at cockcrow in the morning.  The baroness
and a footman were at the door.

"Ah, my captain, there is trouble," she whispered.  "M. de Lambert
has taken his daughters.  They are going back to Paris, bag and
baggage.  Left in the evening."

"By what road?"

"The turnpike militaire."

"Thanks, and good morning," I said.  "I shall overhaul them."

I called D'ri, and bade him feed the horses quickly.  I went to see
General Brown, but he and Wilkinson were on the latter's gig, half
a mile out in the harbor.  I scribbled a note to the
farmer-general, and, leaving it, ran to the stables.  Our horses
were soon ready, and D'ri and I were off a bit after daylight,
urging up hill and down at a swift gallop, and making the forest
ring with hoof-beats.  Far beyond the chateau we slackened pace and
went along leisurely.  Soon we passed the town where they had put
up overnight, and could see the tracks of horse and coach-wheel.
D'ri got off and examined them presently.

"Purty fresh," he remarked.  "Can't be more 'n five mild er so
further on."

We rode awhile in silence.

"How ye goin' t' tackle 'em?" he inquired presently.

"Going to stop them somehow," said I, "and get a little
information."

"An' mebbe a gal?" he suggested.

"Maybe a gal."

"Don' care s' long as ye dew th' talkin'.  I can rassle er fight,
but my talk in a rumpus ain' fit fer no woman t' hear, thet 's
sart'in."

We overtook the coach at a village, near ten o'clock.

D'ri rushed on ahead of them, wheeling with drawn sabre.  The
driver pulled rein, stopping quickly.  M. de Lambert was on the
seat beside him.  I came alongside.

"Robbers!" said M. de Lambert, "What do you mean?"

The young ladies and Brovel were looking out of the door, Louise
pale and troubled.

"No harm to any, m'sieur," I answered.  "Put up your pistol."

I opened the coach door.  M. de Lambert, hissing with anger, leaped
to the road.  I knew he would shoot me, and was making ready to
close with him, when I heard a rustle of silk, and saw Louise
between us, her tall form erect, her eyes forceful and commanding.
She stepped quickly to her father.

"Let me have it!" said she, taking the pistol from his hand.  She
flung it above the heads of some village folk who had gathered near
us.

"Why do you stop us?" she whispered, turning to me.

"So you may choose between him and me," I answered.

"Then I leave all for you," said she, coming quickly to my side.

[Illustration: "Then I leave all for you."]

The villagers began to cheer, and old D'ri flung his hat in the
air, shouting, "Hurrah fer love an' freedom!"

"An' the United States of Ameriky," some one added.

"She is my daughter," said M. de Lambert, with anger, as he came up
to me.  "I may command her, and I shall seek the aid of the law as
soon as I find a magistrate."

"But see that you find him before we find a minister," I said.

"The dominie!  Here he is," said some one near us.

"Marry them," said another.  "It is Captain Bell of the army, a
brave and honorable man."

Does not true love, wherever seen, spread its own quality and
prosper by the sympathy it commands?  Louise turned to the good
man, taking his hand.

"Come," said she, "there is no time to lose."

The minister came to our help.  He could not resist her appeal, so
sweetly spoken.  There, under an elm by the wayside, with some
score of witnesses, including Louison and the young Comte de
Brovel, who came out of the coach and stood near, he made us man
and wife.  We were never so happy as when we stood there hand in
hand, that sunny morning, and heard the prayer for God's blessing,
and felt a mighty uplift in our hearts.  As to my sweetheart, there
was never such a glow in her cheeks, such a light in her large
eyes, such a grace in her figure.

"Dear sister," said Louison, kissing her, "I wish I were as happy."

"And you shall be as soon as you get to Paris," said the young
count.

"Oh, dear, I can hardly wait!" said the merry-hearted girl, looking
proudly at her new lover.

"I admire your pluck, my young man," said M. de Lambert, as we
shook hands.  "You Americans are a great people.  I surrender; I am
not going to be foolish.  Turn your horses," said he, motioning to
the driver.  "We shall go back at once."

I helped Louise into the coach with her sister and the Comte de
Brovel.  D'ri and I rode on behind them, the village folk cheering
and waving their hats,

"Ye done it skilful," said D'ri, smiling.  "Whut'd I tell ye?"

I made no answer, being too full of happiness at the moment.

"Tell ye one thing, Ray," he went on soberly: "ef a boy an' a gal
loves one 'nother, an' he has any grit in 'im, can't nuthin' keep
'em apart long."

He straightened the mane of his horse, and then added:--

"Ner they can't nuthin' conquer 'em."

Soon after two o'clock we turned in at the chateau.

We were a merry company at luncheon, the doctor drinking our health
and happiness with sublime resignation.  But I had to hurry
back--that was the worst of it all.  Louise walked with me to the
big gate, where were D'ri and the horses.  We stopped a moment on
the way.

"Again?" she whispered, her sweet face on my shoulder.  "Yes, and
as often as you like.  No more now--there is D'ri.  Remember,
sweetheart, I shall look and pray for you day and night."




XXVII

Sooner or later all things come to an end, including wars and
histories,--a God's mercy!--and even the lives of such lucky men as
I.  All things, did I say?  Well, what wonder, for am I not writing
of youth and far delights with a hand trembling of infirmity?  All
things save one, I meant to say, and that is love, the immortal
vine, with its root in the green earth, that weathers every storm,
and "groweth not old," and climbs to paradise; and who eats of its
fruit has in him ever a thought of heaven--a hope immortal as
itself.

This book of my life ends on a bright morning in the summer of '17,
at the new home of James Donatianus Le Ray, Comte de Chaumont, the
chateau having burned the year before.

President Monroe is coming on the woods-pike, and veterans are
drawn up in line to meet him.  Here are men who fought at Chippewa
and Lundy's Lane and Lake Erie and Chrysler's Farm, and here are
some old chaps who fought long before at Plattsburg and
Ticonderoga.  Joseph Bonaparte, the ex-king of Spain, so like his
mighty brother at St. Helena, is passing the line.  He steps
proudly, in ruffles and green velvet.  Gondolas with liveried
gondoliers, and filled with fair women, are floating on the still
lake, now rich with shadow-pictures of wood and sky and rocky shore.

A burst of melody rings in the great harp of the woodland.  In that
trumpet peal, it seems, a million voices sing:--

  Hail, Columbia, happy land!

Slowly the line begins to limp along.  There are wooden legs and
crutches and empty sleeves in that column.  D'ri goes limping in
front, his right leg gone at the knee since our last charge.
Draped around him is that old battle-flag of the _Lawrence_.  I
march beside him, with only this long seam across my check to show
that I had been with him that bloody day at Chrysler's.  We move
slowly over a green field to the edge of the forest.  There, in the
cool shadow, are ladies in white, and long tables set for a feast.
My dear wife, loved of all and more beautiful than ever, comes to
meet us.

"Sweetheart," she whispers, "I was never so proud to be your wife."

"And an American," I suggest, kissing her.

"And an American," she answers.

A bugle sounds; the cavalcade is coming.

"The President!" they cry, and we all begin cheering.

He leads the escort on a black horse, a fine figure in military
coat and white trousers, his cocked hat in hand, a smile lighting
his face.  The count receives him and speaks our welcome.
President Monroe looks down the war-scarred line a moment.  His
eyes fill with tears, and then he speaks to us.

"Sons of the woodsmen," says he, concluding his remarks, "you shall
live in the history of a greater land than that we now behold or
dream of, and in the gratitude of generations yet unborn, long,
long after we are turned to dust."

And then we all sing loudly with full hearts:

  O land I love!--thy acres sown
  With sweat and blood and shattered bone--
  God's grain, that ever doth increase
  The goodly harvest of his peace.


THE END




[Transcriber's note - the following material is the Lilypond
(www.lilypond.org) source for the song found earlier in this
e-book.  Search for the word "roundelay".  Thanks to Dave
Maddock for its preparation.]

\version "2.0.1"

melody = \notes \relative c' {
  \key e \major
  \time 4/4

  \autoBeamOff

  \partial 4 gis'8.\fermata[ fis16] \bar "|:" \mark
  \markup { \musicglyph #"scripts-segno" }
  e8. e16 dis8. cis16 cis cis8. b8.[ gis16] |
  b4 b8. gis16 b4 e8. fis16 |
  gis4 gis gis8.[ fis16] e4 |
  gis16 gis8. fis8. fis16 fis4 gis8.[ fis16] |
  e4 e8. cis16 cis8. cis16 b8. gis16 |
  b16 b8. b8. gis16 b4 e8. fis16 |
  gis4 b4 gis16[ fis8.] e8.[ fis16] |
  gis4 e4 e\fermata e\fermata |
  gis4 b8. b16 b8 cis b a |
  gis4 b b4. b8 |
  a4 cis8. cis16 cis8 dis cis b |
  a4 cis cis4. b8 |
  e4 e8. e16 b8 cis b a |
  gis4 gis fis e8.[ fis16] |
  gis4 gis gis16[ fis8.] e16[ fis8.] |
  gis4^\markup{ \italic "ritard." } fis fis gis8.\fermata^\markup{
  \italic "D.S.   " \musicglyph #"scripts-segno"}[ fis16] \bar ":|"
}


text = \lyrics {
  Oh, hap -- py is th' mil -- ler who
  lives by him -- self! As th' wheel goes round, he
  gath -- ers in 'is wealth, One hand on the
  hop -- per and the oth -- er on the bag; As the
  wheel goes round, he cries out, "Grab!" Oh,
  ain't you a lit -- tle bit a -- shamed o' this, Oh,
  ain't you a lit -- tle bit a -- sham'd o' this, Oh,
  ain't you a lit -- tle bit a -- sham'd o' this -- To
  stay all night for one sweet kiss "Oh, etc."
}



\score {
<<
    \new Staff
        \addlyrics
            \melody
        \new Lyrics \text
>>
}






End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of D'Ri and I, by Irving Bacheller

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