P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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had been brothers, while the tears poured hke rain down the cheeks
of Miss Montaigne. " We are three strong men," he said, " and the
Lynx alone is a host in sagacity and skill ; add to this that there is
some hope even yet of overtaking the count, and our cause is by no
means desperate ; only one question more remains to be decided ;"
and Huntington turned to Miss Roselle as he spoke.

" It is decided !" said Emily, catching the contagious enthusiasm
of the moment — " I will go with my cousin, even to death."

If Miss Roselle was ever captious and trifling in the hour of secu-
rity, she yet possessed in her inner nature much of woman's self-
sacrificing spirit ; Blanche bestowed upon her a look of exceeding
tenderness ; and when, at the next moment, Henrich turned to
converse aside with the negro, the cousins, for the first time, perhaps,
since childhood, were locked in a sisterly embrace.

" Let us then lose no time," said Henrich ; " Ruppy can take back
Harry's boat, but we must guard against his prating ; here, boy,"
he continued, thrusting several pieces of silver coin into tlie lad's
hand, " mind now what I say to you : you must not speak a word
in two days, excepting to grandfether Waldron — do you hear ?"

" Yes, Massa, I won't tell "

" Tut — tut — that isn't enough — if your mouth opens, out it will
come in some shape, t know ; but you must not sjieak a word to a
li\ing soul in two days, excepting to grandfather — will you
promise ?"

" Yes, Massa, I promise ; I'll go to sleep," said the boy, grinning,


and then setting his Hps closely together, and eyeing joyfully the
sparkling coin.

The party now proceeded at once to re-embark ; and as they
approached the water, an ejaculation of pleasure from the Lynx was
heard, which proved to be occasioned by a sight of the boat in which
the negro had come up from the city : it was a long, light, and
narrow canoe, of moderate size, and admirably adapted for the pur-
pose of the fugitives.

" This is truly a windfall," exclaimed Henrich, — " whose is this,
Harry ? — but no matter — if it were the Queen's I would take it in
such a cause : whose is it, I say ?"

" It's mine, by jingo !" answered Harry, triumphantly ; " I buy
him of Winny last spring to go fishin' on de Sound, and cotch him
half full de fust time : and dat's my gun, too," he added ; " don't
Massa Henrich remember how I shoot de turkey's tail off with him
last Christmas, at de sliootin' match ; and ole Gummel wouldn't let
me hab him, 'kaze I didn't draw blood — blast his old pictur !"

" All our fortunate stars seem to be in conjunction to-day," said
Henrich ; " I knew, indeed, that Harry never stirs abroad without
his rifle — but the canoe is an unexpected treasure."

The necessary changes were hastily made, and within five minutes
the two boats were receding from each other.

"Remember, Ruppy, you are to give my best love, and our
thanks to old Mr. Waldron," Blanche called out as the boats began
to separate.

The boy nodded.

" Will you remember, Ruppy ?" she asked again, with much
earnestness, bending over the side of the boat, and looking back as
she spoke ; and again the boy rephed only with an affirmative
gesture of the head.

" Why don't you speak, you ill-mannered fellow^ ?" asked Henrich,
angrily : " do you hear what Miss Montaigne says to you ?"


Ruppy bowed his head to his knees, but still kept his Hps tightly
together ; and then, by way of explaining his conduct, stopped
rowing, took the silver coins from his pocket, and held them up to

" All right !" answered Henrich, laughing, and the travellers pro-
ceeded rapidly on their way.




" See he bears the line away,
Round him flies the snowy spray,
I h;ive given him length ;ind line,
One more struggle, he is mine." — Miss Landon.

It was with an air of confidence, w^liich at times, before, had
seemed partly to desert him, that the Lynx had taken his seat in
the slender and graceful canoe, which springing forward in its path,
with an equable and noiseless motion, promised a very different rate
of progress from that to which the voyagers had hitherto been con-
fined. Taking the centre of the stream, and keeping a vigilant watch
on either shore, they maintained their way with a uniform speed,
and without molestation, until dark, when they paused for a few
hours of repose. Soon after midnight they resumed their course,
and by the time the i"isen sun of the ensuing morning was brighten-
ing the waters with its horizontal beams there were twenty good
leagues of land and river betwixt the fugitives and the city they had left.

Early in the day, they again stopped for rest and shelter from the
heat ; and when, after a few hours, some friendly clouds had
obscured the burning sky, they again ventured forth. No time was
unnecessarily lost, and nothing that the strength, vigilance, and
valor, of three men, conscious of a most momentous charge, could
effect, was left undone to secure the safety and comfort of the ladies,
who in their turn manifested the utmost fortitude and resolution,
and a cheerful acquiescence in the many inconveniences and priva-
tions to which they were necessarily subjected.


On the second morning their provisions, which had been designed
as aiixihjiry to those of the count, rather than as an independent
^"PPb'> ^^^ become reduced to a small store, and under the vigorous
attacks of three strong and hard-working men, could not evidently
last for another day. It became therefore necessary to forage tor
food, and as it was unsafe to fire a gun, lest it should attract hostile
notice, the uncertainty of procuring it caused no little anxiety.
Harry, however, was observed, as they stopped at mid-day, on a small
island, to eye various parts of the shore with much minuteness, and
fina^y announced, partly in reply to the discussions on this })oint,
and partly doubtless, in reference to what was passing in his own
mind, that he saw some ground which must contain plenty.

" Plenty of what, Harry ?" asked Huntington, " we shall scarcely
find corn or potatoes in this wilderness, I fear; there may be
artichokes and some other wild roots that are edible, but they will
not give much strength for work like ours."

" No, no, massa Henrich, I don't mean nuffin like dat," said
Harry, helping to secure the canoe, " I mean worms /"

" Worms, Harry !" exclaimed Henrich, " you don't think we can
eat worms ? I have heard, indeed, of your Hottenpots, as you call
them, or some other African tribe, doing such things, but "

" Look a-here, massa Henrich," answered the negro, springing
into the boat, and ])ulling out a small locker or drawer from one
end of the vessel — " do you see dem ?"

Henrich's eyes followed the other, and fell upon a confused lot of
fishing tackle, hues, leads, hooks and buoys, which seemed to have
been thrown, promiscuously, into the drawer ; the great value of
which in their present emergency, became strikingly apparent.

" Harry Bolt, you are a jewel," he exclaimed, " a crown-jewel !
how chanced you to bring these with you ?"

" Why, you see, I spected to fish and shoot bofe goin' back
home, de oder arternoon — look dare, dat is my troUin' hne, dat ketch
'em bass, when de boat goin' eber so fast."


" I see — I see, and there's the Lynx, ah-eady, with an ashen stick,
that he is going to make into a bow, I'll be bound, in order to kill
game, without making a noise ; alas ! ladies, these men will carry
off all the honors, and leave me nothing that I can do for you !"

" ' Qui facit per alium, facit per 6'e,' " replied Blanche, laughing,
" if I may quote a favorite maxim of my father's ; we are indebted
to you for both the negro and the Lynx ; aye, for the very life of
the latter ; he told us the whole thrilling story this morning."

" And with a countenance more expressive of gratitude than any
I ever beheld," added Emily — " why, Mr. Huntington, had you left
us so long in ignorance of it V

" Solely, I beheve, because the exciting events of the last few
days have fully engrossed my attention," said Henrich ; " you would
have heard it from me, doubtless, very soon ; indeed, you will
find me an adept at blowing my own trumpet, but it must be a
very gingerly twang that I give it in this instance when it is con-
sidered that all which my utmost efforts failed to effect, was procured
by a few frothy words from a vagrant Indian."

" You certainly have a tact at decrying yourself," Blanche replied ;
" if you blow your own trumpet, you reverse it first, and give us
most diminutive notes."

When the tra\ ellers were again in readiness to start, the Huron
made his appearance equipped with an ashen bow, tightly strung,
and a small bundle of arrows, while Harry came to the boat chuck-
ling over a pocket-full of squirming bait, which, with difficulty, he was
induced to transfer to some fitter receptacle. No sooner was the canoe
under way than his skill in trolling was put to trial, and tor a long
hour an agglomerated mass of worms was towed through the water, to
the great chagrin of the negro, without effect. Now the vessel went
too fast, and now too slow ; at one time the oars made too much
noise ; then there was too much talking, and Harry's patience and
excuses were well nigh exhausted, when a sudden succession of



strange ejaculations gave notice of some change in tlie state of

" Hip — ho — dare — golly ! hold up a little, Massa Lynch, — come
along here ! wo — wu — wah ; stiddy, dis way, if it's all de same to
ymi ;" the last words being uttered in answer to a lateral movement
of the fish — " now den, he's comin', — you eat my worms, will you ?
hip — hoo — hah ! dare — dare he is, by Jingo !" and a heavy fall in
the boat, followed by a brisk, flapping noise, announced the arrival
of the fish, which proved to be a bass of about three pounds weight.
No words can paint the exultation of the negro at this successful
result of his labors, and detecting with a sportsman's eye, Henrich's
eager interest in the scene, he at once oflfered him the hne, which
the other as readily accepted.

" But this is not a good bass-hook, Hariy," he said, " have you
none better than this ? a little larger barb, and the point more in
this direction, on one side ?"

" I got 'em, massa," said Harry, speaking fi'om between his knees,
as he bent over his locker, " but dey isn't so good, for sartain ;
nothin' Hke a straight hook for bass."

" A straight hook !" exclaimed Henrich, laughing, " that is some-
thing new, Harry ; that must be a spear, I think ; but never mind,
— yes, ah, that's the thing exactly," he added, selecting one fi'om a
paper which the negro held out, " now we shall see whose hook is
the best."

So saying, Henrich proceeded to arrange the line with its new
pendant, and baiting it also after some peculiar notions of his own,
he tossed it upon the water, and for many minutes sat anxiously
watching the result. The interest in the sport had become general,
the Lynx alone who was at the oars, bending unremittingly to his
task, seeming not to participate in it. Nearly half an hour had
elapsed, when a nervous start of Henrich's whole fi:ame, and a slow
steady overhand pull upon the line attracted every eye to the wake
of the boat, in which, floundering upon the very surface of the


water, and approaching, open-mouthed, towards the vessel, a fish of
apparently eight or ten pounds' weight was seen. At the next
instant, it darted suddenly down, and Henrich, distrusting the
strength of his hne, suffered it to escape through his hands, for
several seconds, and not until the frightened fish had [>artly
exhausted its strength, did the angler again draw it to the surface.
A breathless silence prevailed in the boat ; the Lynx had dropped
his oars, the negro, with bulging eyes, was leaning over the side of
the canoe, while Henrich, with every faculty alive to his sport,
seemed unconscious of anything besides.

" He 'm a bass, massa — a bass !" said Harry, as the struggling
captive came once more in view ; " I see him fins — a ten pounder
— but dare, dare, he's off"! — he's off"! oh, de debbil take de crooked
hooks ; I tell a-you so, massa Henrich !"

" Stop your yelping, Harry !" exclaimed Henrich, angrily, and
rising to his feet, with his eyes still intently fixed on the line, which
he had again paid out, as the fish descended, " he's not off", but I
see no way of getting him into the boat ; he weighs fifteen pounds
if he weighs an ounce."

As Henrich stopped speaking, the bass came again almost to the
top of the water, and remained nearly stationary, his captor keeping
a tight line upon it, and both parties seeming undecideu as to future

" Try um, massa !" said Harry, imploringly — " ony jis try um —
he bery strong line."

" Nonsense, Harry — it would break like twine, I tell you — and if
not, the hook certainly would."

As he spoke, a slight tipping of the boat attracted attention, and
the Lynx, scarcely plashing the water, was seen quietly swimming
from the bow of the canoe, in a direction to approach the fish from
behind, which half exhausted, still lay nearly motionless, and with
distended jaws, a few yards from the canoe. No sound gave warn-
ing of this new danger to the victim, and in another minute, the


long dark fingers of the Indian glided into the open gills of the
bass, which the Huron, with extended arms, raised entirely from the
river, maintaining himself meanwhile from sinking by the rapid
motion of the feet known to swimmers as " treading water." Harry
sprang to the oars, and by a few^ dexterous mo^•ements threw the
canoe alongside of the Lynx, and at the next moment, the object of
their prolonged solicitude was floundering in the bottom of the boat.
The Indian followed, dripping like a drenched dog, yet excited to
actual laughter by his achievement, which received the hearty
plaudits of the whole company. The size of the fish, as nearly as
could be ascertained, rather exceeded than fell short of Huntington's
estimate ; and Harry, gazing disconcertedly from it to his own dimi-
nutive prize, reluctantly conceded the merits of the " crooked hook."
But the amusement of the party was interrupted at its height by
the starthng announcement from the Huron that a canoe was visible
several miles to the north, and by his earnest injunctions to the
negro, who had possession of the oars, to pull rapidly for the shore,
springing meanwhile himself to the tiller, and giving the desired
direction to the boat. Every eye was strained to discover the object
of alarm, but without effect, and Henrich, watching the earnest
countenance of the Lynx, as the latter continued to gaze fixedly at
the distant vessel, awaited his further communications without
question. AVhen their boat had approached within about thirty
yards of the eastern shore, so as to be invisible from any great
distance by reason of its dark background, the Lynx again changed
its course to the north, and enjoined the negro not to abate his
speed. He then rapidly explained his movements to Huntington ;
asking his counsel, and disclaiming any design to control the
movements of his companions. To gain a position where, them-
selves being unseen, they could reconnoitre the stranger, was
however too clearly a matter of prudence to require debate ; the
canoe might be one of Carlton's, and if so was to be pursued, it
might be an enemy's, and in that case was of coui-se to be shunned.


It was travelling in the same direction with themselves, not far from
the middle of the river, and an hour's progi'ess of the pursuers
brought it into the view of the whole party, and enabled the Lynx
to assert that it had three occupants. This announcement increased
the general hope that it might prove to be part of the count's
company, which, including himself, consisted of six, and was in two
boats ; and as the voyagers were now approaching the more dangerous
part of their journey, the value of such a conjunction of forces could
not well be over estimated. While this probabihty was discussed
by Henrich and the ladies, the Indian gave confirmation to it by
pointing out another boat, with the same number of inmates, a little
in advance of its consort, but somewhat nearer the western shore,
from the shadows of which it was just emerging.

" Then they are, indeed, our friends !" exclaimed Blanche, with
animation, while a general joy pervaded the party ; " there can no
longer be a doubt : why should we not strike out at once into the
middle of the stream, where we may ourselves be discovered ?"

" We must be more certain," replied Henrich, " before making so
hazardous a movement ; a mistake here may be fatal ; but we shall
have farther tidings soon from the Lynx : see how his eyes are fixed :
you may be sure his oracular voice will be heard again ere long."

A short time elapsed in silence, during which the sunlight from
between some parting clouds fell upon the distant boats, and in the
next minute the rudder under the Huron's guidance turned suddenly
outward, throwing the bow of his vessel around towards the west,
while a smile of satisfaction played across his countenance.

" Are you quite certain it is they ?" asked Henrich, anxiously, as
this decided movement was made.

" The Lynx can see," was the brief reply.

" Whom do you see, and what ?"

" I see the Algonquin — the count — and the soldiers : they are
six — they are no more — is it not enough ?"

But the Indian's sagacity wa^ slightly at fault ; for when he had


brought his boat within the view of his distant friends, he had the
mortification of seeing them, instead of waiting for, or turning to
meet him, evidently proceeding on their course with increased speed.
He had not made allowance for the circumstance, that the sunhght
which revealed them so distinctly to him did not extend as far south
as his own position ; and that, although the Algonquin's vision was
scarcely inferior to his own, he could probably distinguish nothing
beyond the fact that there was a boat with five occuj^ants following
them. As there was nothing in this number which could identify
the latter as their friends, the others would, of course, suppose them
to be Iroquois, and would use their best efforts to widen the distance
between them. The Huron now perceived that he ought to have
remained in the marginal shadows of the river until he had attained
a proximity to his friends, which, on emerging into the light, would
distinctly reveal the character of his party.

There was no time, however, for vain regrets ; the sun was within
a few hours of its setting, and the night might separate the parties
beyond the hope of uniting. An open chase would be probably
useless, and the Lynx, explaining his intentions in a few words to
Henrich, took a diagonal direction across the river, entirely to the
western shore, hoping thus to allay suspicion, and give to his party
the appearance of not being in pursuit. Having done this, he
resumed his way within a few minutes, keeping close to the land,
and being nearly certain that he was no longer observed by the
count's party. On the preceding day he had considerately prepared
a pair of rude paddles for the canoe, to be used in addition to the
oars when safety required extraordinary speed, and these were now
brought into service, although for a very different purpose from that
for which they had been designed. They were handled by Henrich
and the negro, the Huron himself taking the oars, while Blanche,
with a little occasional instruction, guided the helm. The increased
velocity thus obtained was very considerable ; and, as the speed of
the other boats had perceptibly diminished, the distance between the


parties was reduced, when the sun touched the horizon, to about
half a mile.

It was unsafe to wait longer lest darkness should baffle their
design, and suddenly quitting their obscurity the pursuers again
darted out into the middle of the stream, when the Lynx, rising to
his feet, extended his arms in gestures of friendly salutation. But
it was without avail. The Algonquin was unfortunately in the forward
boat, which had turned a bend in the river and disappeared from
view, while the count and two of his men, who occupied the rear
canoe, saw nothing but hostile demonstrations in the movements of
their pursuei*s, and, following their companions, vanished also from

Although disheartened by these frequent disappointments, the
anxious voyagers did not intermit their efforts, and on reaching the
bend in the river had the satisfaction to perceive that the rear boat
of the fugitives, for such it is proper to call Carlton's company, was
less than a quarter of a mile distant from them. The sun, however,
was down, and in their haste to pass the intervening point, they had
done so at a proximity to the shore which did not give them the
full advantage even of the diminished light that remained. AVhat
was their consternation, while now exultingly sure of success, to
behold one of the soldiers rise in the stern of his boat, and carefully
aim his carabine towards them ! A moment of horrible suspense
ensued, during which the Lynx and Harry dropped to the bottom
of the boat; and Henrich, conscious that there was no time to induce
the ladies to follow their example, flung himself devotedly before
Blanche, int<^rposing his body as a shield for her protection. It was
the work of an instant — a flash and report succeeded, and the heroic
youth, staggering a few stei)s backwards, sank wounded to a seat.

The report of the weapon had not ceased vibrating on the ear,
when the Lynx again had possession of the oars, and by a few hght-
ning-like strokes impelled the canoe to a place of safety near the


shore ; having done which he sprang to the side of Henrich, about
whom the other inmates of the vessel were ah-eady assembled.

" Speak to us, Mr. Huntington, for the love of Heaven," exclaimed
Blanche, kneeling before him with a face like marble ; " are you —
are you badly hurt ?"

"See to yourselves," he whispered earnestly, — "they will fire
again ! do not heed me — I am only scratched."

As he spoke, however, he fell into the arms of the Huron, who,
continuing to uphold him, directed Harry to bring the boat to

" He is dead !" said Blanche, wildly, " he is dead, Emily, and I
am the cause ; oh, that we had never ventured upon this dreadful
journey !"

" He is not dead," replied Emily, seeking to give the encourage-
ment she did not feel—" he has only fainted ;" and stooping to the
brink of the river she dipped water with her hands, and threw it
upon his face, but without effect ; " is it not so ?" she continued,
addressing the Indian with tones of horror — " surely, surely he is
not dead ?"

" We shall see," rephed the Lynx, rising as the boat touched the
beach and gently lifting his friend, when Harry came to his aid and
they bore their comrade to the shore, and laid him upon the grass.
The motion revived him ; he opened his eyes, smiled re-assuringly,
and asked for water, which was quickly brought.

" Do not be alarmed for me," he said, as he observed the agonized
expression of his friends ; " I believe my wound is slight, but I am
losing some blood — it is in the left shoulder ; leave me with the
Lynx and Harry ; the sight may distress you, and the Indian is a
safe leech."

Less in comphance with this request, than for the purpose of
overcoming a tendency to faintness which she now became aware of,
Blanche stepped to the water's edge, followed by Emily, while the
Lynx proceeded gently to divest Henrich of his coat and waistcoat.


HaAang done this, he dexterously cut the sleeve from the patient's
shirt, and laid bare the wound, which proved to be in the upper
part of the arm, near the shoulder ; and, although bleeding pro-
fusely, the Indian at once pronounced it to be in no wise dangerous
either to life or limb.

This opinion, in which Huntington placed as much confidence as
if it had proceeded from a whole board of the medical faculty, he
caused Harry at once to communicate to the ladies, greatly to their
relief. The ball had, fortunately, passed out as well as in, and as bone

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 13 of 29)