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extremity of the count's amazement alone prevented him from
betraying his own extraordinary mistake. That there was another
daughter of Montaigne, exclusively of European origin, was a feet,
which now for the first time became known to him ; and he shud-
dered to think how nearly he had committed himself to the forest
maiden, while the favored child and prospective heiress, a lady of
unsullied birth, of rank, education, and perhaps even beauty, had
been indirectly offered to his alliance.

No time was to be lost in rectifying so gross an error ; nor did



126 THE KING OF THE HURONS.

he feel the lightest scruple at deserting Myrtle, by reason of any
consequences which might ensue to her. If he had won her heart,
which the quick discernment of vanity plainly perceived, it had been
with no open profession of attachment ; and he knew too well the
humility of the mother, and the timid modesty of the daughter, as
well as their ignorance of the conventional usages of civilized life, to
fear that they would ever make his conduct the subject of com-
plaint or reproach. He became elated with his new anticipations ;
and as he contemplated in perspective tlie sunny path of prosperity
which seemed to stretch far away in the future, he forgot his past
reverses, and gained an augmented sense of his own importance.

But it was with little pleasure he reflected that before Miss Mon-
taigne could be converted into a bride she was to be rescued from
captivity ; and while he waited to learn the baron's plans for effect-
ing this object, the latter remained in daily expectation of an offer
from his guest to engage personally in the enterprise. Carlton
was a soldier only in name ; he had seen no service, yet he had not
failed to make his martial reputation indirectly the subject of boast
befoi'e the baron, in whose estimation he knew that military talents
transcended every other quality. Of Indian waifare he had an
exceeding dread, and while affecting a soldier's contempt for every
danger, he could not divest his mind of the terror inspired by the
contemplation of ambuscades, bush fights, and midnight onsets
accompanied by the usual accessaries of savage war. He was in
short a coward, with a coward's usual bravado, but he soon found
that there was no middle course of action to pursue if he would
retain for a moment the confidence of Montaigne.

The baron disclosed to him his plan for the rescue of his daughter,
and the very flashing of his eye told the alarmed count that he
expected him not only to take command of the expedition, but to
acce|)t the post as a most distinguished favor. Hesitation would
have been as disgraceful as refusal, and Cailton, pi-actised in dissimu-
lation, promptly begged the command with every apj^earance of



THE KING OF THE HUKONS. 127

earnestness, trusting to expedients for still escaping the danger, if
before the time for setting out he should not become satisfied that
it was really trivial.

Several weeks elapsed before the baron deemed it prudent for the
party to start, and during this interval, Carlton took every op[)ortu-
nity, by indirect means, to gain a knowledge of the extent of the
perils to be encountered, resolving if they proved too alarming, to
avoid them by summoning himself suddenly back to Quebec or even
to Paris, if necessary, on business of the last impoi'tance. As such a
course, however, would be open to suspicion, and would doubtless
terminate his prosj^ects of winning the hand of the heiress, it was
only to be resorted to in extremity, while, if the risk was but light,
he resolved to face it for the sake of the prize in view, which he
thought would be made doubly sure to him by his seeming ^'alor.
The Lynx, with whom his opportunity to converse was not infrequent,
and who was to occupy a command second to himself in the party,
spoke with unfeigned contempt of the danger, and the soldiers, who
were detailed for this daty, not lacking the spirit of gasconade inci-
dent, at that 4^y5 to their jDrofession, were equally boastful of the
safety with which their object was to be accomplished.

The ultimate choice of the count has been seen, but the de'uiils of
his ill-disguised pusillanimity, during the descent to New York, as
they are not directly connected with the narrative, n(^ed not be
described. It was sufficient to win for him the scorn of the Huron
chief, but the spirit of discipline, which had been sedulously incul-
cated by Montaigne among his Indian allies, had induced the former
not only to forbear comment u}»on the conduct of his su] ei'ior, l>ut to
yield to him such a ready obedience as the count imngiiird could
only proceed from the utmost confidence in his own judgment and
military skill. His movements liad, notwithstanding, been silently
influenced to a great extent by the Lynx, -iiid it was owing to tins
circumstance that he had succeeded in reaching the island of Man-



128 THE KING OF THE HURONS.

hattan in safety, although, of course, with woiulerfully augmented
views of his own prowess and wisdom.

Whatever Count Carhon was in conceit and vanity at Castle Mon-
taigne, that he was in a quadrupled degree in his little cavernous
camp on the bank of the Hudson, where he became impatient of no
inconvenience more than of the deprivation of a fitting auditory for
the story of his achievements. Yet the prolonged absence of the
Huron gradually awakened his alarm, and when the shades of the
second evening were setting in witliout the return of the messenger,
his apprehensions became extreme. If the Lynx was a prisoner, not
only was his whole design frustrated, but his own position could not
long be safe, for however incapable the Indian might be of betraying
his friends, the letter which he carried would reveal the fact that he
had coadjutors somewhere in the vicinity of the city.

But he would not entertain so unwelcome a belief, and having
sought counsel of no one, he little dreamed how great was the pro-
bability of such an event having occurred. He stood looking
gloomily from his sheltered retreat upon the adjacent river, and the
Algonquin, with quick watchful eye, loitered at his side, evidently
courting some encouragement to speak, when Carlton, forgetting his
self-sufficiency in his uneasiness, addressed him with seeming care-



" The Lynx is slow of foot," he said, " or he has lost his way ;
what think you, Anak ?"

" The Lynx is a prisoner," replied the Indian, calmly.

" A prisoner !" responded the count, now thoroughly alarmed ;
" how can you know this ? surely you do but guess — the Huron
would not easily be taken."

" The sun has twice gone down since our brother left the camp,"
the Algonquin answered, pointing to the west ; " he is swift as the
roe, the })ath of the bee is not straighter than his — yet he comes
not back."

" But he waits for the ladies, Anak ; they are not ready."



THE KING OF THE HURON S. 129

" Is there no night in the Enghsh city ? does not the wind come
and go ? why has his voice not been heard among us to say that all
is well ? The Lynx has been taken — yesterday — I have said."

Cai-lton turned pale at this confident assertion, which his opinion
of Indian sagacity would not permit him to disregard. With child-
ish eagerness he tui-ned to the soldiers, hoping to find something
in their suo-o-estions which would weaken the force of the other's
suspicions, but in this he was disappointed.

" If Anak, there, says the Lynx is caught," answered the most
voluble of the party, a tall, stout man, whose good-natured face
was seamed with long wound-like traces of the small-pox — " if Anak
says he is caught, then good bye to the Lynx, sir ; I've known that
Algonquin five years, have fought by his side in twenty battles with
the Iroquois, have hunted with him, eaten with him, slept with him,
and never knew him out of his reckoning, but once, sir ; he talks
but little, and gives fewer opinions, perhaps, than a lawyer, but when
he does speak, it is to the point."

" And do you yourself think it probable that the Huron is a
prisoner?" asked the count.

" I do, if it please your honor," rephed the soldier, — " the city is
close at hand, and the Lynx, if at liberty, would not have allowed a
night to pass without returning to camp, succtssful or otherwise —
besides, sir, there is a sort of freemasonry among these savages, and

the Algonquin there "

" I know his views sufficiently already," said Carlton, nervously,
and turning to his other followers, he proceeded to canvass their sen-
timents on the subject with an earnestness quite disproportionate to
the value of the counsel received, for being entirely unused to such
an honor, they were chiefly solicitous how to acquit themselves in
sp-



eaking, and did not dare to dissent from the opinions already



delivered.

Carlton's grief at the failure of his expedition would have been
extreme had it not been merged in alarm for his personal safety. If

6*



130 THE KING OF THE HURONS.

the riui'on was a ]>ris(jner, as he now no longer doubted, the baron's
letter, he thouglit, was doubtless m the hands of the Enghsh govern-
ment, and a detachment must be already on then- way from the city
in pursuit of himself and his party. So great was his trepidation
that he even fancied, momentarily, as the wind came sighing through
the forests, that he heard the rustling of an armed body, approach-
ing his quarters. Dissembling his fears as best he could, he
announced with much gravity to his men that their views of the
fate of the Huron were entirely accordant with his own, but that he
had seen lit to consult them, instead of acting exclusively upon his
own convictions in a matter of so much moment, and concluded by
giving orders to get ready the boats for immediate departure.

Altliough accustomed to implicit obedience, the soldiers exchanged
looks of surprise for a moment, at this mandate. Tlieir position was
so secure, and the prospect of any immediate attack so improbable,
that they could not understand the motives which prompted flight,
and the desertion of an ally, who might possibly yet return. Francis,
venturing to speak, with many apologies, and much circumlocution,
disclaimed intending to advise a departure, and the Indian,
emboldened by his example, oftered to go in pui'suit of his com-
panion ; but Carlton, thoroughly panic-stricken, refused to listen to
any proposition. The boats were prepared, and the i)arty embarked
at about ten in the evening, little imagining that their collea^'ue,
completely successful in his quest, was at that moment less than tw^o
leagues distant from them and rapidly approaching.



THE KING OF THE HURONS. 131



*



CHAPTER XVI.

"Tis the middle watch of a summer's night—
The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright ;
Nought is seen in the vault on high,
But the moon, and the stars, and the cloudless sky,
And the flood which rolls its milky hue
A river oflight on the welkin blue:'— Drake's Culprit Fay.

With the low monotonous sound of dipping oars, and of the
trickhng uf water from their blades, did the boat of Henrich, under the
skilful guidance of the Huron, glide rapidly along the stream, keeping
close under the eastern shore, where the shadows of the forest with-
held even the faint starlight from its path. The village of the
Wappenos in which the Lynx had so nearly terminated his career,
was situated near the river, a few miles south of the count's covert
quarters, and it became necessary for the voyagers on approaching
it, to diverge at a wide angle from their course to avoid discovery.
Not that Henrich entertained any fear of hostihty from his allies
tow aids himself, or his present party, but he felt that he could not
answer for their pacilic conduct towards Carlton's command, if he
should be unlucky enough to draw them upon the camp. There
was danger, too, if the singular departure of Henrich and his com-
panions became known to the Wappenos, that some gossipping or
treacherous member of the tribe might divulge it in the city, and
bring pursuit upon thvun from that (piaiter, before they had attained
a distance, winch would render it harmless. It was an easy matter
to gain the centre of tho stream, and thus defy discovery from the
shore, and for a while, they had pursued their new coui'se with a



132 THE KING OF THE HURONS.

confidence whicli relaxed the rules of vigilance, when the Lynx
suddenly ceased rowing, and assumed a listening attitude..

" It is an echo," said Henrich, as the sound of dipping oars
reached them for a moment, and then suddenly ceased ; " we are
nearer to the western shore than I had supposed."

" It is a boat," answered the Huron, pointing to the southwest,
where, at the distance of about a hundred yards, the outline of a
canoe could be faintly seen on the water ; " it is a boat, rowed by
two Iroquois" — and the Indian, giving more of a shoreward direc-
tion to his skiff, resumed his progi'oss, with a slightly increased
velocity, yet avoiding the appearance of flight.

" Our friend must j^ossess even more than the lynx's power of
vision," said Blanche, addressing" Huntington in a low voice, and
dissembling her fears, " if he can discern the occupants of that boat ;
I have been called quick -sighted, and can scarcely see the shape of
the vessel itself"

" It is not improbable that the Indian sees no more," replied
Henrich ; " but these wild foresters are trained to the active use of
all their feculties ; some irregularity in the fall of the oars has told
him the canoe was not pro})elled by a single person, and it scarcely
requires even Indian sagacity to detect the difference between the
rowing of a white man and a savage."

" You are at least ingenious in compreliending him," answered
Blanche ; " but did he not even designate the tribe to which the
strangers belonged ?"

" Iroquois is a generic name for the whole confederacy of the
Five Nations," said Henrich ; " and there is little likelihood of
finding Indians in this region who do not belong to one or another
of its subdivisions ; the word, in the mouth of the Huron, may
almost be considered synonymous with enemv."

The party had not proceed m:1 far, b'fort^ it became evid(Mit that
they were followed by the strangers, though in a manner that rather
indicated a desire to watch their movements than to commit any



THE KING or THE HURONS. 133

immediate airgression ; the pursuers maintaining a nearly uniform
distance from the skitF, which the Lynx found it ditficult either to
increase or materially diminish. The very pauses of his boat were
promptly imitated by the other, as if it were but some distant
shadow of its predecessor, thrown back upon the wave.

This was an espionage not patiently to be endured, and, after a
few moments' consultation with Henrich, the Lynx again changed
his course, and rowed ra[)idly towards the shore, hoping, in the
obscurity of its deeper shadows, to elude further pursuit. But the
phantom canoe was still in their wake, with a celerity equal to their
own, and a silence that gave an air of singular mystery to its move-
ments. Henrich began to suspect that he was followed from the
city by some one authorized to require the return of Miss Montaigne
and her cousin, and that an Indian canoe, with its oarsmen, had
been employed to ascertain his route, and to pilot a more formi-
dable foe upon his track ; but whatever was the character of the
enemy, he did not exhibit a ready tact in detecting the designs of
the fugitives, who were permitted to enter the shadows at a distance
from the former, that at once buried them from sight.

The Lynx did not tail to take advantage of this error, by chang-
ing his course and increasing his speed, but still maintaining a
northerly direction, enjoining meanwhile the strictest silence upon
his companions, and handling his oars with a delicacy of motion that
seemed scarcely to create a sound. The skift' shot ahead beside the
high bank, and beneath the overhanging boughs, as nearly noise-
less and invisible as anything of material mould could be ; and the
closest attention could no longer detect any signs of pursuit. Half
an hour of silent progress brought it to the mouth of a small creek,
which, after a little examination, the Lynx pronounced to be the
one leading to the secret camp ; and as the little bark glid<^d into the
opening, embowered with interlacing trees from the opposing shores,
the whole party experienced a sense of relief.

" We have probably had a very useless alarm, after all," said



134



THE KING OF THE HURON S,



Henrich, glad to dismiss his former suspicions ; " our followers were
doubtless only some belated hunters of the Wapi)enos, returnino- to
their village, and attracted by curiosity out of their course."

"I shall be glad if it proves to be nothing worse," replied
Blanche, not altogether at ease, yet striving to maintain the a})p('ai'-
ance of equanimity; "but you attribute a propensity to the red
men, from which they are usually considered exempt."

"I know," answered Henrich, "that the absence of curiosity
forms part of the poetical character of the Indian, yet I have ever
found them a meddling, gossipping race : on state occasions, indeed,
it is different ; then, they put on their dignity, like a cloak, and like
some counting-house Christians on Sunday, assume all their cardinal
virtues for the occasion."

"Which, like Sunday clothes, seem all the fresher for being
seldom worn, I suppose," said Blanche, laughing ; " you are severe
upon your forest fi'iends."

" Not at all," replied Huntington ; " they have many noble
qualities, to which you will always find me ready to do justice ; but
the want of inquisitiveness is not one of them : is it not so, sachem ?"
he continued, addressing the Huron — " I speak of the Iroquois, of
course."

" The Iroquois are dogs," answered the Lynx, giving but a
moment's heed to the question, and immediately returning to a
close scrutiny of the shore past which they were gliding ; at
the next instant he uttered an ejaculation of pleasure, as his eye
rested upon some rememboi-ed landmark, and running the skiff into
a little nook, he leaped lightly u]3on the land, where he was at once
followed by his companions. A hill of no great height, but nearly
perpendicular, rose from the beach, and a slight indentation at its
base, the entrance of which was thickly studded with bushes, had
formed at once a refuge fur Carlton's httle band, and a j»]ace of
concealment for their boats. Into this recess the Lynx hiistily



THE KING OF THE HURONS. 135

darted, and after a few minutes' absence, re-appeared with tlie
startling- announcement that it was vacant.

" The count has heard the foxes bark," he said, unable wholly to
repress his contempt ; " or the drumming bird has come too near ;
he has gone, and brave men have gone with him — it is bad !"

The emotions with which this inteUigence was received were
various and conflicting. The prospect of being compelled to
abandon their voyage and return to New York, was at first not
unwelcome to the ladies, whose courage was already well nigh
expended ; but the reflection that the journey would thus be only
postponed, and not avoided, and the memory of her recent perils in
the city, combined to give preponderance to a feeling of regret in
the mind of Blanche. Some jealousy for the honor of her father's
messeno-er mino-led with these thouo-hts, and she at once suggested
that Carlton might only have changed his quarters to some more
convenient or safe location in the vicinity, or that he had been
surprised and overpowered by an enemy.

"These are possibihties, certainly," answered Henrich ; "and
only daylight, which is yet three hours distant, can reveal whether
they are probable : it is useless to search by this light, and danger-
ous to make signals ; but if you are able to pass the remainder of
the night here "

" It is at least as easy as to return," Blanche rephed ; " we should
be ill fitted for our journey if we shrunk from so slight an inconve-
nience ; a warm night in the open air is no great hardship, and yet
I could wish, for the very romance of the thing, that we had the
tents and hammocks, which the Lynx assures me were brought for

our use."

" We will try what can be done by way of a substitute," said
Henrich, gaily ; " you have your cloaks, and you shall see that a
forest couch can easily be rigged by hands that are used to expe-
dients : as for the Lynx and myself, we shall have the honor of
being your sentinels."



136 THE KING OF THE HURON S.

So saying, he signified his wishes to the Huron, and the two,
raising the skiff from the water, transferred it within the cavernous
recess which has been described, where a quantity of hght boughs
of pine and hemlock, carefully adjusted within it, constituted a bed
at once soft and elastic. The cloak of the young man was thrown
over the whole, and Blanche and Emily proceeded to examine their
novel resting-place ; the latter protesting, in a doleful tone, that it
was altogether delightful, but that she was sure she " could not sleep
a wink with that horrid screech-owl yelling from a neighboring
tree-top."

" It sounds exactly hke what I fancy an Indian war-cry to be,"
she said, " although I dare say it is very different, and I'm sure I
don't wonder if your count what's-his-name was afraid to stay here ;
there — there, only listen," she continued, putting her hands to her
ears, and looking upwards, as the shrill unearthly sounds rang
through the air — " don't you think he could be induced to go
away ?"

" I fear not," answered Henrich, unable to repress a smile at the
words and manner of the speaker, " we dare neither shoot nor shout
at him, and he is far above the reach of any missile sent from the
hand ; try to consider him only a serenader ; he is, I assure you, a
very small and harmless bird, — less than a robin, and answers
better to the term vox et prctiterca nihil^ than anything else
in nature."

" I hope he will answer to nothing here," said Blanche ; " I am
sure I shall ask him no questions — I shall grow dreadfully nervous
myself, since Emily has reminded me of it ; is it probable that he
will remain there long ?"

" Until morning, undoubtedly," Henrich replied, "when he will go
to sleep — there — there, that's an extra note, indeed ; what say you,
Sachem, is there any way of getting rid of this bird-fiend ?"

The Indian uttered a low laugh, and raising his hands to his mouth,
emitted a succession of quick shrill sounds in imitation of a night-



THE KING OF THE HURONS. 137

hawk, "\^Licll now in one quarter, and now in another, seemed to be
hovering over the trees. A qniek redonbkd scream of the owl,
striking the ear AAith painful acuteness, and then growing fainter
until it died away in the distance, attested the faithfulness of the
mimicry, and showed that the enemy was effectually dislodged.

" That was well done, my brother !" said Heniieh, much ])leased,
though less surprised than the ladies at the expedient, — " you must
teach me that note, some time ; good bye to Mr. Vox ; he has pressing
business in some other quarter — and now, ladies, you perceive the
Lynx has taken his station for the night, beneath that elm tree ;
mine is at the foot of this oak, where his Huron highness gives me
permission to sleep ; you must take our bearings, as a sailor would
say, from your cot, and you'll know where to find us, if you should
be frightened in the night."

" We will endeavor not to disturb the slumbers of so vigilant
a sentinel as you are like to prove," replied Blanche — " but here,
Emily, give Sachem the second his blanket ; he will certainly
need it on the ground, moie than we in the boat, where w^e have
our own cloaks and shawls."

The reasonableness of this assertion was too apparent to admit of
contest, and Henrich, receiving his cloak, quietly disposed himself
to sleep, while the ladies, laughing not a little at their various
ineffectual attempts to gain a comfortable reclining position, finally
triumphed over all difficulties, and followed his example. One pair
of restless eyes alone remained open through the remaining hours of
the night, revolving in every direction from which an enemy could
possibly approach, with a vigilance that betokened the consciousness
of an important trust, and which was, perhaps, increased by the
unforgotten horrors of the gantlet and the stake.



138 THE KING OF THE HURONS,



CHAPTER XVII.



The meek-eyed morn appears, mother of dews,

At first faint glimmering in the duppled east ;

Till far o'er ether spreads the wid'ning glow,



Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 11 of 29)