Joseph A. Altsheler.

The Rulers of the Lakes A Story of George and Champlain online

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time to spare, and nature and training had produced in him illimitable
patience. He had waited by a pool a whole day and night for a deer to
come down to drink. He heard the tall clock standing on the floor in the
corner strike ten, eleven, and then twelve, and a half hour later, when
he was as wide awake as ever, there was a knock at the door. But he had
first heard the approaching footsteps of the one who came and knocked,
and he was already touching the shoulder of Robert, who sat up at once,
sleep wholly gone from him.

"It is Mynheer Jacobus," said Tayoga, "and he wants us."

Then he opened the door and the large red face of Mynheer Huysman
looked into the room, which was illuminated by the moonlight.

"Come, you lads," he said, in sharp, eager tones, "und bring your
pistols with you."

Robert and Tayoga snatched up their weapons, and followed him into the
sitting-room, where the tall lank youth, Peter, stood.

"You know Peter," he said, "und Peter knows you. Now, listen to what he
hass to tell, but first pledge me that you will say nothing of it until
I give you leave. Do you?"

"We do," they replied together.

"Then, Peter, tell them what you haf seen, but be brief, because it may
be that we must act quickly."

"Obeying the instructions of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, whom I serve,"
said Peter, smoothly, evidently enjoying his importance of the moment,
"I watched tonight the house of Mynheer Hendrik Martinus, who is not
trusted by my master. The building is large, and it stands on ground
with much shrubbery that is now heavy with leaf. So it was difficult to
watch all the approaches to it, but I went about it continuously, hour
after hour. A half hour ago, I caught a glimpse of a man, strong, and,
as well as I could tell in the night, of a dark complexion. He was on
the lawn, among the shrubbery, hiding a little while and then going on
again. He came to a side door of the house, but he did not knock,
because there was no need. The door opened of itself, and he went in.
Then the door closed of itself, and he did not come out again. I waited
ten minutes and then hurried to the one whom I serve with the news."

Mynheer Jacobus turned to Tayoga and Robert.

"I haf long suspected," he said, "that Hendrik Martinus iss a spy in the
service of France, a traitor for his own profit, because he loves
nothing but himself und his. He has had remarkable prosperity of late, a
prosperity for which no one can account, because he has had no increase
of business. Believing that a Frenchman wass here, a spy who wished to
communicate with him, I set Peter to watch his house, und the result you
know."

"Then it is for us to go there and seize this spy," said Robert.

"It iss what I wish," said Mynheer Huysman, "und we may trap a traitor
und a spy at the same time. It is well to haf money if you haf it
honestly, but Hendrik Martinus loves money too well."

He took from a drawer a great double-barreled horse pistol, put it under
his coat, and the four, quietly leaving the house, went toward that of
Hendrik Martinus. There was no light except that of the moon and, in the
distance, they saw a watchman carrying a lantern and thumping upon the
stones with a stout staff.

"It iss Andrius Tefft," said Mynheer Jacobus. "He hass a strong arm und
a head with but little in it. It would be best that he know nothing of
this, or he would surely muddle it."

They drew back behind some shrubbery, and Andrius Tefft, night watchman,
passed by without a suspicion that one of Albany's most respected
citizens was hiding from him. The light of his lantern faded in the
distance, and the four proceeded rapidly towards the house of Hendrik
Martinus, entering its grounds without hesitation and spreading in a
circle about it. Robert, who lurked behind a small clipped pine in the
rear saw a door open, and a figure slip quietly out. It was that of a
man of medium height, and as he could see by the moonlight, of dark
complexion. He had no doubt that it was a Frenchman, the fellow whom
Peter had seen enter the house.

Robert acted with great promptness, running forward and crying to the
fugitive to halt. The man, quick as a flash, drew a pistol and fired
directly at him. The lad felt the bullet graze his scalp, and, for a
moment, he thought he had been struck mortally. He staggered, but
recovered himself, and raising his own pistol, fired at the flying
figure which was now well beyond him. He saw the man halt a moment, and
quiver, but in an instant he ran on again faster than ever, and
disappeared in an alley. A little later a swift form followed in pursuit
and Robert saw that it was Tayoga.

Young Lennox knew that it was useless for him to follow, as he felt a
little dizzy and he was not yet sure of himself. He put his hand to his
hair, where the bullet had struck, and, taking it away, looked anxiously
at it. There was no blood upon either palm or finger, and then he
realized, with great thankfulness, that he was merely suffering a brief
weakness from the concussion caused by a heavy bullet passing so close
to his skull. He heard a hasty footstep, and Mynheer Huysman, breathing
heavily and anxious, stood before him. Other and lighter footsteps
indicated that Peter also was coming to his aid.

"Haf you been shot?" exclaimed Mynheer Jacobus

"No, only shot at," replied Robert, whimsically, "though I don't believe
the marksman could come so close to me again without finishing me. I
think it was Peter's spy because I saw him come out of the house, and
cried to him to halt, but he fired first. My own bullet, I'm sure,
touched him, and Tayoga is in pursuit, though the fugitive has a long
lead."

"We'll leave it to Tayoga, because we haf to," said Mynheer Jacobus. "If
anybody can catch him the Onondaga can, though I think he will get away.
But come now, we will talk to Hendrik Martinus und Andrius Tefft who
hass heard the shots und who iss coming back. You lads, let me do all of
the talking. Since the spy or messenger or whatever he iss hass got
away, it iss best that we do not tell all we know."

The watchman was returning at speed, his staff pounding quick and hard
on the stones, his lantern swinging wildly. The houses there were
detached and nobody else seemed to have heard the shots, save Hendrik
Martinus and his family. Martinus, fully dressed, was coming out of his
house, his manner showing great indignation, and the heads of women in
nightcaps appeared at the windows.

"What is this intrusion, Mynheer Huysman? Why are you in my grounds? And
who fired those two pistol shots I heard?"

"Patience, Hendrik! Patience!" replied Mynheer Jacobus, in a smooth
suave manner that surprised Robert. "My young friend, Master Lennox,
here, saw a man running across your grounds, after having slipped
surreptitiously out of your house. Suspecting that he had taken und
carried from you that which he ought not to haf, Master Lennox called to
him to stop. The reply wass a pistol bullet und Master Lennox, being
young und like the young prone to swift anger, fired back. But the man
hass escaped with hiss spoil, whatefer it iss, und you only, Hendrik,
know what it iss."

Hendrik Martinus looked at Jacobus Huysman and Jacobus Huysman looked
squarely back at him. The angry fire died out of the eyes of Martinus,
and instead came a swift look of comprehension which passed in an
instant. When he spoke again his tone was changed remarkably:

"Doubtless it was a robber," he said, "and I thank you, Mynheer Jacobus,
and Master Lennox, and your boy Peter, for your attempt to catch him.
But I fear that he has escaped."

"I will pursue him und capture him," exclaimed Mynheer Andrius Tefft,
who stood by, listening to their words and puffing and blowing.

"I fear it iss too late, Andrius," said Mynheer Jacobus Huysman, shaking
his head. "If anyone could do it, it would be you, but doubtless Mynheer
Hendrik hass not lost anything that he cannot replace, und it would be
better for you, Andrius, to watch well here und guard against future
attempts."

"That would be wise, no doubt," said Martinus, and Robert thought he
detected an uneasy note in his voice.

"Then I will go," said Andrius Tefft, and he walked on, swinging his
lantern high and wide, until its beams fell on every house and tree and
shrub.

"I will return to my house," said Mynheer Martinus. "My wife and
daughters were alarmed by the shots, and I will tell them what has
happened."

"It iss the wise thing to do," said Mynheer Huysman, gravely, "und I
would caution you, Hendrik, to be on your guard against robbers who slip
so silently into your house und then slip out again in the same silence.
The times are troubled und the wicked take advantage of them to their
own profit."

"It is true, Mynheer Jacobus," said Martinus somewhat hastily, and he
walked back to his own house without looking Huysman in the eyes again.

Mynheer Huysman, Robert and Peter returned slowly.

"I think Hendrik understands me," said Mynheer Huysman; "I am sorry that
we did not catch the go-between, but Hendrik hass had a warning, und he
will be afraid. Our night's work iss not all in vain. Peter, you haf
done well, but I knew you would. Now, we will haf some refreshment und
await the return of Tayoga."

"I believe," said Robert, "that in Albany, when one is in doubt what to
do one always eats. Is it not so?"

"It iss so," replied Mynheer Jacobus, smiling, "und what better could
one do? While you wait, build up the body, because when you build up the
body you build up the mind, too, und at the same time it iss a
pleasure."

Robert and Peter ate nothing, but Mynheer Jacobus partook amply of cold
beef and game, drank a great glass of home-made beer, and then smoked a
long pipe with intense satisfaction. One o'clock in the morning came,
then two, then three, and Mynheer Jacobus, taking the stem of his pipe
from his mouth, said:

"I think it will not be long now before Tayoga iss here. Long ago he
hass either caught hiss man or hiss man hass got away, und he iss
returning. I see hiss shadow now in the shrubbery. Let him in, Peter."

Tayoga entered the room, breathing a little more quickly than usual, his
dark eyes showing some disappointment.

"It wass not your fault that he got away, Tayoga," said Mynheer Jacobus
soothingly. "He had too long a start, und doubtless he was fleet of
foot. I think he iss the very kind of man who would be fleet of foot."

"I had to pick up his trail after he went through the alley," said
Tayoga, "and I lost time in doing so. When I found it he was out of the
main part of the town and in the outskirts, running towards the river.
Even then I might have caught him, but he sprang into the stream and
swam with great skill and speed. When I came upon the bank, he was too
far away for a shot from my pistol, and he escaped into the thickets on
the other shore."

"I wish we could have caught him," said Mynheer Jacobus. "Then we might
have uncovered much that I would like to know. What iss it, Tayoga? You
haf something more to tell!"

"Before he reached the river," said the Onondaga, "he tore in pieces a
letter, a letter that must have been enclosed in an envelope. I saw the
little white pieces drift away before the wind. I suppose he was afraid
I might catch him, and so he destroyed the letter which must have had a
tale to tell. When I came back I looked for the pieces, but I found only
one large enough to bear anything that had meaning." He took from his
tunic a fragment of white paper and held it up. It bore upon it two
words in large letters:

"ACHILLE GARAY"

"That," said Robert, "is obviously the name of a Frenchman, and it seems
to me it must have been the name of this fugitive spy or messenger to
whom the letter was addressed. Achille Garay is the man whom we want.
Don't you think so, Mynheer Huysman?"

"It iss truly the one we would like to capture," said Mynheer Jacobus,
"but I fear that all present chance to do so hass passed. Still, we will
remember. The opportunity may come again. Achille Garay! Achille Garay!
We will bear that name in mind! Und now, lads, all of you go to bed. You
haf done well, too, Tayoga. Nobody could haf done better."

Robert, when alone the next day, met Hendrik Martinus in the street.
Martinus was about to pas? without speaking, but Robert bowed politely
and said:

"I'm most sorry, Mr. Martinus, that we did not succeed in capturing your
burglar last night, but my Onondaga friend followed him to the river,
which he swam, then escaping. 'Tis true that he escaped, but
nevertheless Tayoga salvaged a piece of a letter that he destroyed as he
ran, and upon the fragment was written a name which we're quite sure was
that of the bold robber."

Robert paused, and he saw the face of Martinus whiten.

"You do not ask me the name, Mynheer Martinus," he said. "Do you feel no
curiosity at all about it?"

"What was it?" asked Martinus, thickly.

"Achille Garay."

Martinus trembled violently, but by a supreme effort controlled himself.

"I never heard it before," he said. "It sounds like a French name."

"It is a French name. I'm quite confident of it. I merely wanted you to
understand that we haven't lost all trace of your robber, that we know
his name, and that we may yet take him."

"It does look as if you had a clew," said Martinus. He was as white as
death, though naturally rubicund, and without another word he walked on.
Robert looked after him and saw the square shoulders drooping a little.
He had not the slightest doubt of the man's guilt, and he was filled
with indignant wonder that anyone's love of money should be strong
enough to create in him the willingness to sell his country. He was sure
Mynheer Jacobus was right. Martinus was sending their military secrets
into Canada for French gold, and yet they had not a particle of proof.
The man must be allowed to go his way until something much more
conclusive offered. Both he and Tayoga talked it over with Willet, and
the hunter agreed that they could do nothing for the present.

"But," he said, "the time may come when we can do much."

Then Martinus disappeared for a while from Robert's mind, because the
next day he met the famous old Indian known in the colonies as King
Hendrik of the Mohawks. Hendrik, an ardent and devoted friend of the
Americans and English, had come to Albany to see Colonel William
Johnson, and to march with him against the French and Indians. There was
no hesitation, no doubt about him, and despite his age he would lead the
Mohawk warriors in person into battle. Willet, who had known him long,
introduced Robert, who paid him the respect and deference due to an aged
and great chief.

Hendrik, who was a Mohegan by birth but by adoption a Mohawk, adoption
having all the value of birth, was then a full seventy years of age. He
spoke English fluently, he had received education in an American school,
and a substantial house, in which he had lived for many years, stood
near the Canajoharie or upper castle of the Mohawks. He had been twice
to England and on each occasion had been received by the king, the head
of one nation offering hospitality to the allied head of another. A
portrait of him in full uniform had been painted by a celebrated London
painter.

He had again put on his fine uniform upon the occasion of his meeting
with Colonel Johnson on the Albany flats, and when Robert saw him he was
still clothed in it. His coat was of superfine green cloth, heavily
ornamented with gold epaulets and gold lace. His trousers were of the
same green cloth with gold braid all along the seams, and his feet were
in shoes of glossy leather with gold buckles. A splendid cocked hat with
a feather in it was upon his head. Beneath the shadow of the hat was a
face of reddish bronze, aged but intelligent, and, above all, honest.

Hendrik in an attire so singular for a Mohawk might have looked
ridiculous to many a man, but Robert, who knew so much of Indian nature,
found him dignified and impressive.

"I have heard of you, my son," said Hendrik, in the precise, scholarly
English which Tayoga used. "You are a friend of the brave young chief,
Daganoweda, and to you, because of your gift of speech, has been given
the name, Dagaeoga. The Onondaga, Tayoga, of the clan of the Bear, is
your closest comrade, and you are also the one who made the great speech
in the Vale of Onondaga before the fifty sachems against the missionary,
Father Drouillard, and the French leader, St. Luc. They say that words
flowed like honey from your lips."

"It was the occasion, not any words of mine," said Robert modestly.

"I was ill then, and could not be present," continued the old chief
gravely, "and another took my place. I should have been glad could I
have heard that test of words in the Vale of Onondaga, because golden
speech is pleasant in my ears, but Manitou willed it otherwise, and I
cannot complain, as I have had much in my long life. Now the time for
words has passed. They have failed and the day of battle is at hand. I
go on my last war trail."

"No! No, Hendrik!" exclaimed Willet. "You will emerge again the victor,
covered with glory."

"Yes, Great Bear, it is written here," insisted the old Mohawk, tapping
his forehead. "It is my last war trail, but it will be a great one. I
know it. How I know it I do not know, but I know it. The voice of
Manitou has spoken in my ear and I cannot doubt. I shall fall in battle
by the shores of Andiatarocte (the Iroquois name of Lake George) and
there is no cause to mourn. I have lived the three score years and ten
which the Americans and English say is the allotted age of man, and what
could be better for a Mohawk chief, when the right end for his days has
come, than to fall gloriously at the head of his warriors? I have known
you long, Great Bear. You have always been the friend of the
Hodenosaunee. You have understood us, you have never lied to us, and
tricked us, as the fat traders do. I think that when I draw my last
breath you will not be far away and it will be well. I could not wish
for any better friend than Great Bear to be near when I leave this earth
on my journey to the star on which the mighty Hayowentha, the Mohawk
chief of long ago, lives."

Willet was much affected, and he put his hand on the shoulder of his old
friend.

"I hope you are wrong, Hendrik," he said, "and that many years of good
life await you, but if you do fall it is fitting, as you say, to fall at
the head of your warriors."

The old chief smiled. It was evident that he had made his peace with his
Manitou, and that he awaited the future without anxiety.

"Remember the shores of Andiatarocte," he said. "They are bold and
lofty, covered with green forest, and they enclose the most beautiful of
all the lakes. It is a wonderful lake. I have known it more than sixty
years. The mountains, heavy with the great forest, rise all around it.
Its waters are blue or green or silver as the skies over it change. It
is full of islands, each like a gem in a cluster. I have gone there
often, merely to sit on a great cliff a half mile above its waters, and
look down on the lake, Andiatarocte, the Andiatarocte of the
Hodenosaunee that Manitou gave to us because we strive to serve him. It
is a great and glorious gift to me that I should be allowed to die in
battle there and take my flight from its shores to Hayowentha's star,
the star on which Hayowentha sits, and from which he talks across
infinite space, which is nothing to them, to the great Onondaga
chieftain Tododaho, also on his star to which he went more than four
centuries ago."

The face of the old chief was rapt and mystic. The black eyes in the
bronzed face looked into futurity and infinity. Robert was more than
impressed, he had a feeling of awe. A great Indian chief was a great
Indian chief to him, as great as any man, and he did not doubt that the
words of Hendrik would come true. And like Hendrik himself he did not
see any cause for grief. He, too, had looked upon the beautiful shores
of Andiatarocte, and it was a fitting place for a long life to end,
preparatory to another and eternal life among the stars.

He gravely saluted King Hendrik with the full respect and deference due
him, to which the chief replied, obviously pleased with the good manners
of the youth, and then he and the hunter walked to another portion of
the camp.

"A great man, a really great man!" said Willet.

"He made a great speech here in Albany more than a year ago to a
congress of white men, and he has made many great speeches. He is also a
great warrior, and for nearly a half century he has valiantly defended
the border against the French and their Indians."

"I wonder if what he says about falling in battle on the shores of
Andiatarocte will come true."

"We'll wait and see, Robert, we'll wait and see, but I've an idea that
it will. Some of these Indians, especially the old, seem to have the
gift of second sight, and we who live so much in the woods know that
many strange things happen."

A few days of intense activity followed. The differences between
Governor Shirley and the commander, Colonel William Johnson, were
composed, and the motley army would soon march forward to the head of
Andiatarocte to meet Dieskau and the French. It was evident that the
beautiful lake which both English and French claimed, but which really
belonged to the Hodenosaunee, had become one of two keys to the North
American lock, the other being its larger and scarcely less beautiful
sister, Champlain. They and their chains of rivers had been for
centuries the great carry between what had become the French and English
colonies, and whoever became the ruler of these two lakes would become
the ruler of the continent.

It was granted to Robert with his extraordinary imaginative gifts to
look far into the future. He had seen the magnificence of the north
country, its world of forest and fertile land, its network of rivers and
lakes, a region which he believed to be without an equal anywhere on
earth, and he knew that an immense and vigorous population was bound to
spring up there. He had his visions and dreams, and perhaps his youth
made him dream all the more, and more magnificently than older men whose
lives had been narrowed by the hard facts of the present. It was in
these brilliant, glowing dreams of his that New York might some day be
as large as London, with a commerce as large, and that Boston and
Philadelphia and other places for which the sites were not yet cleared,
would be a match for the great cities of the Old World.

And yet but few men in the colonies were dreaming such dreams, which
became facts in a period amazingly short, as the history of the world
runs. Perhaps the dream was in the wise and prophetic brain of Franklin
or in the great imagination of Jefferson, but there is little to prove
that more than a few were dreaming that way. To everybody, almost, the
people on the east coast of North America were merely the rival outposts
of France and England.

But the army that was starting for the green shores of Andiatarocte bore
with it the fate of mighty nations, and its march, hidden and obscure,
compared with that of many a great army in Europe, was destined to have
a vast influence upon the world.

It was a strange composite force. There were the militiamen from New
England, tall, thin, hardy and shrewd, accustomed to lives of absolute
independence, full of confidence and eager to go against the enemy. Many
of the New Yorkers were of the same type, but the troops of that
province also included the Germans and the Dutch, most of the Germans
still unable to speak the English language. There was the little
Philadelphia troop under Colden, trained now, the wild rangers from the
border, and the fierce Mohawks led by King Hendrik and Daganoweda.
Colonel Johnson, an Irishman by birth, but more of an American than many
of those born on the soil, was the very man to fuse and lead an army of
such varying elements.

Robert now saw Waraiyageh at his best. He soothed the vanity of Governor
Shirley. He endeared himself to the New England officers and their men.
He talked their own languages to the men of German and Dutch blood, and
he continued to wield over the Mohawks an influence that no other white
man ever had. The Mohawk lad, Joseph Brant, the great Thayendanegea of
the future, was nearly always with him, and Tayoga himself was not more
eager for the march.

Now came significant arrivals in the camp, Robert Rogers, the ranger, at
the head of his men, and with him Black Rifle, dark, saturnine and
silent, although Robert noticed that now and then his black eyes flashed


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Online LibraryJoseph A. AltshelerThe Rulers of the Lakes A Story of George and Champlain → online text (page 8 of 21)