P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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And from before the lustre of her foce,

White break the clouds away." — Thomson's Seasons.

Day had fully dawned, and some crimson-tinted clouds were even
announcing that the sun was not far below the horizon, when
Henrich, awaking from sleep, bounded suddenly to his feet, alarmed
at the very profoundness of his repose, and at the conjectured evils
which might have occurred during its continuance. His first glance
was at the boat, where the closely enveloped figures of the ladies
were quietly reposing, and his next at the sentinel who remained
motionless at his post, with no signs of w^eariness or impatience.

" Your w^atch has been undisturbed ?" he said, hastily a])})roacli-
ing the Huron, " and you have discovered no traces of the count
and his party ; is it so ?"

It was with a look almost of affection that the Indian's eyes
encountered those of his young friend and deliverer, and for a
moment he seemed dwelling in memory U]»on the events of the
preceding day :

" There has been no harm," he said ; " a wolf howled from the
hill," pointing to a projection of th.e bank near the sleepers — " and
a wild-cat leaped over the boat, but I clapped my hands, and they
ran away."

" Is it possible ?" exclaimed Henrich, glancing at the ladies, " that


they have been exposed to perils like these ? they must not know
it, or they will even yet die of terror. But the count, — learn you
aught of him ?"

" He has gone home," rephed the Huron, bitterly, pointing at the
same time to a tree at a little distance from where they stood ; " see,
the Algonquin has said it ; my white brother can read !''

Henrich was not usually disposed to doubt his scholarship in the
particular named, but he found himself not a httle puzzled on
approaching the tree, to construe the simple tokens it contained, nor
was it without the aid of the Lynx that he fully comprehended

" Here is an arrow fixed in the bark, pointing to the north," he
said, — " that is plain enough ; somebody has gone in that direction ;
stay, here are six notches on it, one considerably in advance of the
others ; that I suppose means that the whole party have gone, con-
sisting of five men and their leader ; but why does the arrow point
upward as well as northward ?" he said, addressing the Huron ;
" they certainly have not gone through the air."

" They have gone a great way," answered the Lynx.

" Ah, yes, I am dull — that signifies a distant destination very
plainly," Henrich replied, or rather muttered to himself; "and it is
partly broken here in the middle, I suppose, to show that the object
of the expedition is defeated or abandoned ?"

" Right," said the Huron ; " my brother can read the language
of the red men : does he see anything more ?"

" The tree is blazed a little here on the north side with a hatchet,"
replied Huntington, " and there are a few rude marks, but I can
make nothing of them : here is a new moon down in one corner ;
and there is something like a face, with a hand before it ; if it is
designed for a likeness of your friend, I don t envy him his beauty."

" My brother must go to school," said the Indian smiling, — " he
cannot read; see, the moon was setting when they started, and the
Algonquin was ashamed !"


The symbols wliich have been described were of the coarsest
kind, and such as may have been prepared ahiiost within the time
which has been consumed in reading the brief description of them ;
yet, they preserved a general accuracy of outline that spoke well for
the artistical talents of the savage. That they reflected still more
credit upon his heart, need scarcely be said, since, being compelled
thus to desert a friend in the land of their common enemy, he
sought by these means to enable the other still to overtake and
rejoin his companions ; and there was little doubt that every halting-
place on his homeward journey would bear evidence of the same
generous design.

" The moon was setting when they started, do you say ?" asked
Henrich ; " it must have been, then, but a few hours before our
arrival ; if we had known it we might have overtaken them, and
might possibl}^ do so, even yet."

The Huron had longed for this proposition, though he had but
little hopes that the ladies would accede to it; a love of truth, how-
ever, would not |)ermit him to hold out any false hopes of success ;
the canoes, he said, were swifter tlian the skiff, and had already six
hours the start ; but the count made many pauses, and lost much
time in fre([uently crossing the river at the least alarm.

" But the sun is moving, while we stand still," he continued,
pointing to the eastern horizon, where the orb of day was just
beginning to a})})ear, — "let the daughter of the great chief speak —
the Lynx must obey."

" You are right ; no time must be lost, if we are to proceed,"
answered Henrich ; " go waken them, and we will decide the question
with a full council board."

" We will spare you that trouble, gentlemen, or sachems," exclaimed
the laughing voice of Blanche, at their side ; " we have been up
these three minutes, and Emily has even found a rivulet in the rocks,
in wliich she is makino; her ablutions, and of which 1 am to have the


second pn\nlege ; I dare say we shall have breakfast ready in a
trice : what would you please to order ?"

"I do not know, really," said Henrich, "a grilled screech-owl
mio-ht not be amiss, or a few frogs from the creek : if these cannot
be procured, we must try to content ourselves with the commoner
dainties of ham, bread, and pastry, with which my good gTandmother
has so liberally supphed us."

"Many thanks, then, for her kindness," Blanche repHed ; "I really
supposed all our hopes of a meal depended upon finding Count
Carlton's larder : is anything yet learned in regard to his
movements ?"

" Everything," answered Huntington ; " the Lynx has received a
letter from an Algonquin Indian who belonged to his company."

" A letter from an Indian !— how witten ? — and by what post ?
Surely you are jesting."

" By this post," Henrich added, pointing to the tree at their side,
" and if I have rightly followed the direction of your eyes, they have
already discovered it."

" I see a broken arrow which seems to have been caught in the
cre\aces of the bark," the young lady answered with an earnest air :
" if there is any meaning in it, tell me, I pray, without delay : are
our friends at hand ?"

" I grieve to say they are gone, Miss Montaigne : they started last
evening for home, but two hours before our arrival— see, here is the


Henrich proceeded to explain the various symbols before them to
the great astonishment of Blanche, whose extreme interest in the
information left her httle thought for the ingenuity displayed jn
conveying it.

" And is it possible, Mr. Huntington," she said, " that this intelH-
gence, which seems to be indebted to an active imagination for half
its meaning, can be rehed on— can be the proper basis of any
action ?"


" It is as reliable as ever were general orders under the sign-
manual of the Baron Montaigne," answered the young man promj>tly ;
" I would venture my life on its accuracy ; the Lynx has not thought
it necessary even to look for any corroborative testimony, and only
waits your decision as to your wishes."

" What can I decide ? what ought I to do ?" she asked, looking
imploringly, and \vith an alarmed air upon Huntington — " Surely,
surely we cannot continue our journey, with only yourself and the Lynx
for our protectors ; nothing, indeed, but my father's injunctions
would have induced me to attempt it, even with the larger escort
which we anticipated. There can be but slight hope of overtaking
the count if we should follow him, and it only remains to return to
the city : what think you, Mr. Huntington, does not prudence
demand such a course, and have I not done all that duty requires
in trying to meet the wishes of my father ?"

" You certainly have discharged your full duty, Miss Montaigne,
if I can correctly estimate your position," Henrich answered, " and
prudence, as you say, forbids the thought of attempting to travel to
Castle Montaigne, with so slight a guard ; yet I own that I speak
with the bias of a strong wish for your return to New York. The
Huron thinks there would be a chance of our overtaking his late
com[»anions, but scarcely claims it, I believe, to be very probable."

" Doubtless, we must return," said Blanche, " yet we will leave
nothing in reason, undone ; it is early, and the day will be long ; if
you please, therefore, and the Lynx is willing "

" You command this company, Miss Montaigne," said Henrich,
smiling, " please to speak in the imperative mood ; no eastern despot
has a more willing slave than the Huron seems disposed to be to
you, — and I, you know, am his brother."

" You honor me overmuch. The Sultaness, then, if you will have
it so, will proceed in her barge up the river for the space of three or
four hours ; if within that time no trace of our recusant subjects can
be found, we will return and abandon the search. The count, you


know," she continued, dropping her assumed air, " may have
encamped on the shore, and may discover us from his hiding-place ;
he may not think it prudent to travel by daylight so near the
English capital."

The plan of action being once settled, no time was lost in carry-
ing it out ; the boat was re-transferred to the creek, and, within
a few minutes, the whole company embarked, not a little elated with
the novelty and interest of the occasion. The morning was fine
and the air exhilarating, and there were many conspiring causes to
throw joy and gladness into young and confident hearts, buoyant
with a thousand indefinite yet brilliant hopes. They dropped
quietly down the glassy stream, and into the broad blue river,
greeted by the early song of birds, and catching the fragrance of a
thousand flowers ; while the voice of the chirruping squirrel, and the
tapping of the busy woodpecker, and the far faint voice of the wary
crow, and now and then the crashing tread of some larger animal,
startled from his repose, told that the forests were ahve with their
countless varieties of existence ; aye, and all were happy, and were
proclaiming to the dull eye and ear of man, plainer than printed
tomes or sounding speech, the one great beneficent Author of



' Calm is the deep and purple sea,
Yea, smoother than the sand ;
The waves that woltering wont to be,
Are stable like the land.

" So silent is the cessile air
That every cry and call,
The hills, and dales, and forests fair

Again repeat them &\V—jSlexander Hume.

Four hours the voyagers proceeded northward, keeping a most
vigilant watch in every direction, not only for the party of which
they were in pursuit, but for the roving bands of Indians which
they had reason to fear they might encounter. The danger wdiich
threatened from this source, though shght as yet, increased at every
mile's remove from the capital, for althougli the tribes who inhabited
or rather who hunted in the adjacent forests, were in alliance with
the English, the Huron guide would doubtless give character to the
whole party in their eyes if the travellers should be unfortunate
enough to be intercepted. No signs of human life, however, were
visible, and in vain was every eye pained with the intense effort to
discover, in the bright })athway of waters that seemed to extend
interminably northward, some trace of the object of their search.

" I am afraid to penetrate further into these solitudes," exclaimed
Blanche at length, " the stillness of death hangs over them, and the
echoes of our voices come back to us from shores that are half a
mile distant ; what say you, Emily, shall we not return ?"


" As you please, cousin Blanche," said Miss Roselle, fally second-
ing the wishes of Miss Montaigne, yet wilHng to gain credit for the
larger share of courage, " I am only lady of the bed-chamber to
your royal highness, and as duty seems to be quite the watchword
here, I have made up my mind that it is mine either to be scalped,
or tomahawked at your bidding, without repining."

" Ah, do not trifle, Emily ; I am really alarmed — say, have we
not done all ?"

" Our duty — you would say again," interrupted Emily — " yes
cousin Blanche, all — all believe me, and works of supererogation
enough beside to constitute a capital for a canonized saint ; Father
Ledra might envy us, and shall draw upon me for my share, if he
chooses, when we are once safe in Castle Montaigne."

" Do not jest at the faith of our dear friend ; whatever may be
its errors, his prayers rise daily for us, Emily, and there seems some-
thing of their influence in the gentleness of the fate which has thus far
attended us. We will return," she added, sadly, and with starting
tears ; " it will be a disappointment to my father, and he will
perhaps even blame me, but it cannot be avoided."

Blanche buried her face in her hands, and scarcely suppressed the
feelings which every allusion to her parent seemed to awaken ; and
while the othei-s remained silent from respect to her emotion, the
skitf was quietly turned about, and with no change in its steady,
monotonous motion, pursued its returning course. The hour was
about nine in the morning, the same morning and the same hour in
which Ensign Midge, baffled in his gallant enterprise of capturing a
prisoner of state, had carried back to Major Grover the tidings of
his discomfiture.

It was long past mid-day when the travellers reached the creek
from which they had set out in the morning ; and Henrich and the
Lynx, who had taken alternate hours at the oai-s, were sufficiently
fatigued to look longingly at the cool landscape past which they
were gliding. The proximity of the city left little to fear from



hostile Indians, and a challenge from Blanche to stop for rest and a
lunch in the woods, was readily accepted. A favorable spot was
selected, and the vessel having been landed within the cover of
some bushes, its wearied occupants leaped gladly upon the shore,
the baskets were brought out, and while, at the command of Miss
Montaigne, the oarsmen extended themselves in the shade for
repose, the ladies proceeded to arrange the meal.

" It becomes us," said Blanche, " to see that the strength is not
uselessly expended which is required in our service ; please to let
those dreadful guns point in the other direction, or we shall never get
past you — there, you may sleep now, if you choose, for the next
fifteen minutes — now, Emily, it is our turn to work."

A dinner that might have excited the envy of a modern pic-nic
party was speedily set out from the varied and liberal sup[>lies of
Dame Waldron ; a little eminence or knoll, garnished with wild
flowers, serving for the table, for which even a cloth of spotless
white was not wanting. Water was procured from the creek, and
everything was soon arranged with a delicacy and neatness that
seemed to impart an additional flavor to the viands ; yet there were
appetites in waiting which scai'cely required tempting ; and the
companions, without distinction of caste, were soon actively employed
in ap[)easing them.

Many good things were disposed of, and some sparkling thoughts
were generated under their influence ; but while the mirth of the
party was at its height, a sudden sound of oars, and of voices close
at hand, came distinctly to every ear, and elicited a quick but slight
ejaculation of alarm from the ladies. Henrich sprang instanta-
neously to his feet, grasping his gun as he i-ose, while the Lynx,
also seizing his weapon, threw himself as suddenly upon the ground,
and each remained a moment motionless, gazing towards the shore.
The sound continued, and came nearer, seeming to proceed from
the immediate margin of the river ; but the bank, which was some-


what high, and was edged with bushes, concealed the speakers fi-om
view, and rendered their voices indistinct to the hsteners.

The Huron signified to his companions that they should remain
seated and silent while he crept to the shore and reconnoitred the
strangers ; when, with the stealthy motion of a cat, slow and noise-
less, rustling no leaves, crackling not so much as the smallest stick
in his path, the Indian gained the bank, and buried his head in a
bush that overhung its edge. No portion of his person was suffered
to protrude through his leafy covert ; but his eyes, brought nearly
to its outer side, rolled, spai-kling, in every direction, like those of
the watchful snake, gleaming from the still grass at the unconscious
invader of his haunts.

Henrich's situation was one which gave him a partial view of the
Huron's face, and he watched it with the hope of gleaning from its
expression the earliest intelligence of the nature of the interruption ;
but for some moments it gave no evidence of any discovery. Sud-
denly, however, it lighted with animation, and, at the next moment,
a marked and extraordinary change came upon it ; a look which, but
for the Lynx's known bravery, Henrich would have pronounced to
evince the most unequivocal fear. The Indian drew cautiously back,
and when his face came fully into the light, there was no longer room
for a doubt as to the character of the emotions it depicted ; terror,
absolute and unqualified, such as a warrior may not exhibit, such as
the tortures and the stake in the Wappeno village had not inspired,
were plainly marked upon his features. So apparent was this, even
to Blanche and Emily, that each turned pale as they gazed upon
him, and for some moments after he had crept silently back to the
knoll, liis companions waited in vain for him to speak and explain
the mystery.

"What has my brother seen?" whispered Henrich, at length,
disguising, as best he could, his own growing alarm ; " are the
Wappenos upon us ? if so, we have but httle cause to dread them —
but perhaps they are Mohawks from the north ?"


The Huron shook his head, and laying down his gun with a
carelessness as to its position that seemed to evince no expectation
of requiring its aid, pointed steadily to the ground, and muttered
some unintelHgible words in his own dialect.

" Merciful Father !" exclaimed Emily, grasping the arm of Hen-
ricli ; " what does he mean ? let us fly into the woods, quick — quick
— there is no time to lose."

" Keep silence, Miss Roselle, I implore you," whispered Henrich,
with great equanimity, passing, at the same time, a cup of water
from the grassy table to Blanche, who stared at him \vith deathly
paleness ; " we must not stir or speak ; an Indian's ears are like
the mole's, and the whole forest is but a whispering gallery to their
acute senses; once more I implore you," he continued, turning to
the Lynx, " to tell us the cause of the alarm : what was it that you
saw ?"

The Huron again pointed to the ground, and whispered, " What
you call him — with the pitchfork — down there — our good fathers at
the chapel have told us — he roasts the Iroquois — see !"

A look of horror closed this explanation, as a rustling was heard
near the bank, and the white hair and black visage of Harry Bolt
emerged from the parted bushes, followed by his long, ungainly body.
A burst of laughter succeeded from Henrich, at once re-assuring
the alarmed ladies, and partly allaying the fears of the puzzled
Indian who continued to gaze with a bewildered air, alternately at
the approaching negro, and at his own now merry companions.

Ilany was hatless and coatless, his brawny arms were bare to the
shoulders, and it was scarcely strange that the Lynx, who had never
seen an African, and had been taught by his spiritual guides at the
castle, not only the existence of the author of evil, but his frequent
personal appearance on the earth, had suspected his presence in so
strange an apparition ; especially in the land of the Iroquois, where,
according to the Huron belief, he would have frequent employ-


Harry was followed at a little distance by a boy of his own color,
and seemed to be in a state of excitement not materially less tlian
that which had recently agitated the Indian.

" Oh, massa Henrich 1 massa Henrich !" he exclaimed, as he drew
near, with widely distended eyes, and upraised arms, " oh massa
Henrich — massa Henrich /"

" What's the matter, Harry ?" said Henrich, laughing ; " speak out,
and have done with it, if you have anything to say ; you have
frightened the Lynx enough already ; I don't want to flatter you,
but he really mistook you for the devil !"

" Oh, no, no, Massa Lynch," said Harry, " I ain't de debbil, but
he's comin', sartain ; GaflTer AVallon send me to tell you, Massa
Heniich ; oh golly, oh gosh !"

" What can the chattering baboon mean ?" exclaimed Huntington,
" he hasn't come here for nothing, that's evident ; here, you, Ruppy,"
he continued, addressing the boy, " do you know anything about
this ? what did my grandfather send Harry here for ?"

" I don't know," said the boy, more composedly, though with a
bashful air — " but the house has been full of sojers, this morning,
ramsacking it all ober, sir — and they cotched Miss Doxy and wuz
goin' to carry her off, kaze dey said it was Miss Mountain."

" Yes, sir," chimed in the senior negro, " and Gaffer 'fraid you
come back, or go too slow, and dey send a sloop arter you, or
sumpin — oh golly, we look ebery where for you, and wuz jes goin'
back, when Ruppy, dare, seed your boat in de bushes."

" It is some new de\dce of that dreadful man," exclaimed Blanche,
with ashen hps, " do you know, Harry, whether Major Grover was
with the soldiers ?"

" No, mum," answered the boy, hastily, " he wa'nt dare — it was
General Midge, and he s'roimded de house, and drawed his sword,
and looked mighty grand."

" Ensign Midge," said Henrich, " is one of Grover's creatures, and
I fear it is as you suspect ; they have evidently learned your name,


Miss Montaigne, for the boy seems to have heard it mentioned, and
this is some pretence of making you a prisoner of state ; what did
you say they called Doxy, boy V

" Dey called her Miss Mountain, sar ; and she said she was ony
Doxy, and was goin' to tell ware you wuz, and Gaffer Wallon made
her shut up."

" A thousand blessings on his venerable head !" exclaimed
Huntington — " we must not neglect his warning ; Miss Montaigne,
the moment has come for an important decision ; on either hand is
peril, and you must choose between them ; a return to New York,
or a long, weary, dangerous journey, with, I grieve to say, a sadly
deficient guard."

" I need no time for choice," exclaimed Blanche, with an earnest-
ness that startled her hearers ; " I would trust myself this moment
in the camp of the Mohawks, rather than in the hands of that
fearful man ; but you, Emily, I have no right to require to share
such perils ; nor you, my friend ; I will go with the Lynx alone, and
God, who protects the friendless, will be our shield."

It was with an air of lofty resolution that these words were
uttered, imparting to the beautiful features of the speaker, a new
and singular expression ; whoever had beheld the marked counte-
nance of the Baron Montaigne, and the eagle-hke flashing of his
eye, could not fail to pei'ceive the passing resemblance — revealed,
as it were, by the lightning flash of feehng — betwixt father and

" Do not believe. Miss Montaigne," replied Henrich, " that I can
be induced to desert you ; were I willing to do so, the world of
chi\alry would cry shame on such an act : I approve, aye, ai)})laud,
your choice, and am ready to share its perils ; one more, therefore,
is added to your guard — what say you, Harry Bolt, at making a
third ?"

" Making what, massa Henrich ?" asked the negTo.

" Will you go with us to protect this lady, three hundred miles


up tliese rivers and lakes, to her father's house ; there will be hard-
ship and danger — perhaps death."

"Massa Henrich," said the negro, "I will go to de moon with
Missa Blanche : I will go to de land of de Hottenpots with her ! I
cry half de way up here, fear de sojers cotch her — she make Jule
free, oh golly !"

Henrich grasped the hand of the negro, and shook it as if they

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 12 of 29)