P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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and artery were untouched, nothing, evidently, but good care was
needed to prevent serious consequences. Having carefully washed
the wound, and taken ineans to avoid any unnecessary effusion of
blood, the Lynx left Henrich in the charge of their companions, and
proceeded to cull from his great medicine chest, the forest, some
simple styptics with which to dress it. An hour, indeed, had not
passed from the time of landing before the wounded man, nearly
free from pain, and with but slightly diminished strength, was mov-
ing about among his friends, chatting gaily on the subject of his

" There was really no occasion for fainting," he said ; " but one is
entitled, I suppose, to make something of an ado over his first
wound ; and then, to feel the blood running pretty freely without
knowing exactly where it comes from, is rather startling ; now, if
the Lynx had received that hurt, I dare say we should have known
nothing of it until we had stopped for the night, moored our boat,
and eaten our supper ; when he might possibly have asked for a
patch or a bandage, like a child that has cut its finger ; you must
really excuse me, ladies, and I will try to be shot with a better
grace next time."



" Over weedy fragments
Thalaba went his way,
Cautious he trod, and felt
The dangerous ground before him with his bow.

♦ * * *

The adder in her haunts disturbed.
Lanced at the intruding staff her arrowy tongue." — Southey.

The time which had been lost to the voyagers by the accident
last related was more than ordinarily precious. Every breath was
removing their unconscious friends farther from them, and diminish-
ing the chances of a junction of the parties ; for it could scarcely be
doubted that Carlton would travel without stopping during the
night which had commenced. The Huron, however, seemed never
without resource : he proposed, if his friends would spare him for
the night, to follow the count by land, seeming confident, not only
that he could o\'ertake the boats, but that, having done so, he could
communicate with the Algonquin from the shore, by a signal which
the latter could not fail to compi'ehend.

The proposition seemed plausible, and after a little discussion was
generally approved. The safety of the party, depending at all
times more upon vigilance and the means of flight, than upon any
power of resistance, was not materially diminished by the temporary
withdrawal of the Indian, and a greater risk might properly have
been encountered for the vast advantage which it promised. The
twilight had entirely departed, but the moon, now several days old,
with a thousand glimmering stars, afforded a light, which the Lynx


pronounced more suitable for his purpose than any other ; and
promising to return before sunrise he set out on his lonely journey.

" He's a fool, dat Lynch is," said Harry, making his appearance
from a covert of bushes, which served as his kitchen, soon after the
Indian's departure — " why he no wait for supper, fore he go tram-
poosing 'bout de country all night ? dare's de little bass a-most done,
and part o' de oder ; I clean 'em dreadful nice ; ony smell ;" and the
grateful odor that came from the bushes fully justified the negro's

" Are you sure, Harry," asked Henrich, " that your fire cannot be
seen from the outside ?"

" Oh, yes, massa Henrich, de bush is mighty tick all ai'ound —
more fear de Injuns smell 'em, golly !" he said, taking another
relishing sniff.

Wearied and hungry, the travellers, indeed, were not backward
in doing justice to their forest cheer, and Harry Bolt, although
pertinaciously dihgent in serving until Henrich and the ladies had
supped, acquitted himself afterwards at his meal as if he thought
the absence of the Lynx imposed upon him a double duty.

Count Carlton, in the meanwhile, was steadily pursuing his way,
congratulating himself on the heroic manner in which he had beaten
off a canoe-load of armed Iroquois, and anticipating the glowing
colors in which the achievement would shine, if he were fortunate
enough ever again to set foot in Castle Montaigne. Four hours after
his victory, he pressed unremittingly forward, not failing to remind
his men that if he left the enemy in possession of the battle-ground,
it was not of necessity, but quite as a matter of pohcy.

" It was doubtless a chief who fell, Mallory," he said, insinuatingly,
to the man who had fired, " judging by his dress and air, you
know ?"

" Yes, — certainly, — there cannot be a doubt," replied the man,
speaking, as his otficer had addressed him, in French — " and I think



he was just preparing to fire when I peppered him — he was standing
lip, you know."

" Cerfainly, and then they flew so quickly to cover, which they
would not have done if it had been only a common man that was
killed — ah, yes, it was a chief."

But if Carlton triumphed, he was far fi'om being at ease, for he
feared he should have a full fleet of boats upon him before he could
extricate himself from so dreadfully hostile a region. Some rest,
however brief, was absolutely necessary to his men, who had toiled
for many hours, and at about midnight he encamped upon an islet,
not greatly larger than his canoes, situated about a third of a mile
from the eastern shore. In this defensible position, he allotted two
hours to repose, and the Algonquin, who had not shared in the
brilliant engagement of the evening, was his sentinel.

Scarcely an hour later, the Lynx, rapidly threading the mazes of
the forest, arrived at a point on the main land about opposite to the
camp, whence he discovered the island and saw its adaptation to the
very purpose for which it had been used. Knowing, however, the
count's timidity, he scarcely indulged the hope that the latter had
stopped, and it was almost without checking his own progress, that
he placed his hands beside his mouth, and sent across the water a
long shrill cry, peculiar to a bird of the northern forest. The
Algonquin, hke his friend, was awake to every sight and sound that
reached his senses, while journeying through a hostile land, but more
especially now, when he had reason to hope that his deserted
brother was following his lost companions, and seeking to rejoin
them. There was nothing preconcerted in the signal, but Anak did
not M\ to recognise the sound as one which, famihar in his own
forests, he had not heard elsewhere since leaving home ; he leaped,
therefore, to the conclusion that his friend was at hand, and imme-
diately returned the call by one precisely similar. Delighted at this
unexpected result, the Lynx, to avoid any mistake, repeated the cry,


with some change of intonation, and again the answer came back
hke an echo from the island.

The overjoyed sentinel hastened to communicate his discovery to
the count, who both astonished and gTatified, at once despatched a
boat to the shore to bring off his ally, and in a short time the Huron
was in the camp, receiving the heartiest congratulations of his
friends. His story was soon told, to the inexpressible amazement of
his hearers, for although his words were addressed to the count, his
delighted companions, listening and questioning, had thronged,
unreproved, around him.

Carlton's dominant feeling was joy at the arrival of Miss
Montaigne, and in this emotion was merged, for the time, every
sense of shame and mortification which his own pusillanimity, in
contrast with the heroism of her real defenders, seemed calculated to
inspire. To return successful to Castle Montaigne, was the great
object of his ambition ; this being done, he felt himself fully compe-
tent to guard his reputation, and appropriate to himself the principal
credit of the achievement. Success, he knew, would cancel all
errors, for no one would look critically into an atfair which had
terminated with eclat. His report to the baron, too, while it vindi-
cated his own valor, and with ingenious coloring made cowardice pass
for prudence, he resolved should flatter his few followers by encomiums
on themselves into the fullest acquiescence with his story. Half of
them indeed, cajoled by his arts, might already be said both to see
and hear rather with the senses of their leader than with theii- own ;
and if the Indians should prove more impracticable, they at least
were men of few words, who would be httle apt to thwart his views.
As to the ladies, when did a Frenchman ever distrust his power to
fascinate and control the mind of Beauty ; here, at least, his triumph
would be com})lete in every respect.

Such were the thouo-hts of Count Carlton, as, with rapid flight,
they embraced, even wiiile the Lynx was speaking, the leading tea-


tures of liis new position and prospects. One circumstance alone
had not entered into liis calculations, because he had not fully com-
prehended the Huron's stoiy, and that was the presence of a young
American gentleman among the escort of the ladies.

" You say there are a couple of negroes with you, sachem, eh ?"
he said, " one of whom we have been unfortunate enoufrh to shoot :
he is not mortally wounded, I hope ?"

The Lynx explained with some difficulty, yet failed to convey to
Carlton's mind any distinct idea of his companion, or of the nature
of his connexion with the party.

" They will, doubtless, want our escort as far as Fort Albany," he
continued, " when they shall be remunerated and dismissed ; fi'om
there they will easily find their way home."

No time was now lost in embarking, and seeking out, under the
guidance of the Huron, the retreat of his late companions. The
sun, indeed, was not risen when Henrich, who was the sentinel of
his party, perceived the returning canoes with emotions which he
did not care to analyze, but in which joy did not certainly prepon-
derate. He immediately communicated the intelligence to the
ladies, in whose extreme delight he found additional cause for dis-
content ; and when next he proceeded to the beach, to receive the
approaching party, it was only with a strong effort that he overcame
his feelings sufficiently to admit of his usual frank and open deport-

Nothing could be more striking than the contrast in the appear-
ance of Carlton and Huntington, as the first, seated in the leading
canoe, approached the shore, and the latter, standing at the water's
edge, with one hand resting lightly on his gun, waited to meet him.
The count was a man of about twenty-eight years, less in stature
than Henrich, but in figure equally faultless. His countenance,
dark, but not unhandsome, was marred by a sinister expression,
which, to a ready reader of the human visage, was 3s legible as
print, but which, softened by an attractive smile, was easily oyer-



looked. His eyes were perfectly black and very small, possessing,
of themselves, no other expression tlian that of aciiteness and
cunning, while his forehead, large enough for beauty, yet not for
intellect, was shaded by clustering hair of the same raven hue.
There was an abiding air of conceit, not only in his foce, but in
every movement of his person ; and this it was, perhaps, more than
anything else, that constituted the repulsive part of his appearance,
and negati\'ed, in a great degTce, all his personal advantages.
Henrich's countenance approached to some of the nobler models of
Grecian manly beauty ; and if it had a fault, it was the almost
feminine whiteness and texture of his skin. His expression was
placid and gentle, but there was a latent fire in his large blue eyes,
which kindled his countenance, at times, with a strange animation,
and gave token of unrevealed energies of character.

The eyes of the young men w^ere riveted upon each other as the
boat drew near to land ; surprise being plainly depicted upon Carl-
ton's countenance, accompanied by a supercilious and authoritative
air, while on Henrich's a shght disturbance of his natural expression
scarcely hinted at the anxious feelings which had taken possession of
his breast. The count had not yet landed when he addressed
Huntington in a sharp, c[uick voice, with the inquiry whether he
spoke the French language, to which the latter, greatly to the
astonishment of the other, replied in the affirmative, giving at the
same time the best proof of his assertion, by the fluency and well-
modulated accent of his words. He next demanded, whether the
ladies who were in his charge were safe, and where they were to be
found ; and without further heed of Henrich, after receiving his
reply, stepped upon the shore and passed to their presence.

Miss Montaigne's education in her fathers language had, of
course, not been neglected, and she was able to converse in it, not
only with facility, but with elegance, while even Emily had taken
pains to acquire some knowledge of a dialect, which would be so
necessary in her future abode. The count, therefore, found no


difficulty in introducing himself, vvliicli he did with much ease and
grace ; and relating the commission bestowed upon him by Baron
Montaigne, inquired, with needless ceremony, whether the ladies
were willing to put themselves under his charge. To this Blanche,
of coui*se, rephed affirmatively, briefly explaining the causes which
had induced her to set out under a dilTerent escort, and not forgetting
to bespeak the count's favor for Mr. Huntington, a young gentleman
to whose good offices, as she pointedly remarked, she was indebted
for her rescue, ^and probably for the preservation of her life. Gall
and wormwood are usually considered somewhat bitter commodities,
but they would have been sweet to the Frenchman's taste, compared
with these first words from the beautiful lips of his expected bride.
He replied, however, with perfect complaisance ; and on being more
directly introduced to Henrich by Miss Montaigne, extended his
hand to that young man with a condescending air, which seemed to
imply a sense of having fully remunerated, by such an act of grace,
all the services of the other.

A morning meal was now prepared from the ample stores of the
count, in which even the luxuries of fi'uit and wine were not wanting ;
and after another hour devoted to the repose of the men, the whole
party prepared to re-embark. The larger of Carlton's canoes had
been fitted up with some attempt at elegance, for the accommodation
of its expected guests, and to this vessel he gave the more pretending
name of barge, a w^ord common to the English and French lan-
guages. It w^as, of course, to this boat that Blanche and Emily
were conducted by their new friend ; and whatever reluctance the
former might have experienced at any seeming slight being thus
offered to Huntington, there seemed no means compatible with
maidenly dehcacy of avoiding it. She could neither ask to continue
in Henrich's canoe, nor request his presence in the count's ; but it
was enough for her generous friend that her eye met his with an
apologetic glance as she stepped into the barge, and that, unless


indeed an eager fancy had misled him, a shght suffusion of color
tinged, at the same moment, her beautiful cheeks.

There was food foi- hope, in these gentle tokens so unwittingly-
bestowed, and Henrieh took fresh courage under circumstances
which seemed far from favorable. " She is at least grateful and
noble-hearted," he thought, as he turned to his deserted boat, " she
cannot but know my aspirations, and she does not utterly discourage
them 1 What can she more ? it is enough — if she loves me, she
may yet be mine, despite this haughty count."

Two of the soldiers propelled the barge, making its occupants,
five in number ; a third was with the Indians in the Lynx's boat,
and the fourth, at the Huron's request, too openly made to admit of
its being refused, was permitted to assist in conducting Henrich's
canoe. Thus they proceeded on their way, with some vicissitudes
and alarms, but with no serious molestation, until about noon, when
the Indians having given notice that they were within a few leagues
of Fort Albany, they encamped in a dense wood to wait for the

Admitted once more to the society of his friends, after his seem-
ingly long exile, Henrieh recovered his natural buoyant spirits which
imparted themselves by contagion to Blanche and Emily, who
passed from the ceremonious politeness which had marked their
deportment to the count, to the opposite extreme of unreserve and
hilarity. The dislike with which Carlton already regarded Hunting-
ton grew rapidly under such fostering influences into positive hatred ;
and although the very excess of his hauteur prevented him from
manifesting his displeasure, he could not keep from his countenance
the shadows of those malign clouds which were passing across his
heart. This new offence was not, indeed, needed to produce a result
already predetermined by the count, but it gave zest to his contem-
plated act, and caused it, perhaps, to be invested with some added


It was with surprise, tlaougli watliout suspicion, when the time for
re-embarking arrived, that Henrich beheld some singular changes in
the order of departure. The barge was despatched first, and was al-
ready well under way before either of the other boats was permitted to
start ; the Lynx's canoe was shoved from her moorings, and lay with
extended oars awaiting the signal to move, while, strangest of all,
the Lynx had taken the count's station in the barge,- and the
latter stood alone upon the beach. He did not stand long, but
having watched the foremost vessel for some minutes, turned and
walked rapidly towards Henrich, whom he addressed with elaborate

" We shall pass Fort Albany, Mr. Huntington, before we again
halt ; whore you will be enabled to join your countrymen in safety ; you
have my thanks and those of the ladies for your services and good
conduct, which shall be represented to General Montaigne. What-
ever wages your man will accept, I shall be happy in behalf of the
baron to pay, having done which, I shall have the honor to bid you

Henrich hstened to these words with the utmost astonishment,
but he remembered some ominous looks of his companion, which he
had encountered during the afternoon, and suspected, without seem-
ing to do so, the deeper meaning involved.

" Count Carlton will excuse me," he said ; " I have no design of
withdrawing from Miss Montaigne's escort, or of ceasing to be one of
her defenders until she reaches Castle :Montaigne ; it was with this
intention that I left home."

" If such is your desire," replied the Frenchman, " I regret
extremely that I shall not be able to gratify it ; I have no authority
to introduce strangers into Castle Montaigne, or its precincts,
. especially from an enemy's borders."

" You shall not have that responsibility, Sir Count," answered
Henrich promptly ; " I shall venture upon the French domains at


my own risk, and shall not trespass, I assure you, uninvited, on
Baron ISIontaigne's hospitality."

"Mr. Huntington has certainly the right to invade his most
Christian Majesty's dominions, single-handed, if he desires," replied
Carlton, somewhat tartly, " but he must not expect me to be acces-
sary to such an enterprise. To be brief, sir, for time presses, you
will cease to be connected with my party, on reaching Fort

" I shall not cease to accomimny it, sir," said Henrich, haughtily,
" while Miss Montaigne forms one of its members, unless at her
bidding ; I do not resign my charge so hghtly."

The Frenchman's voice trembled with suppressed passion, when
he again spoke, but the remenlbrance that he was in the midst of
a hostile country, and that he was acting in direct contravention of
Miss Montaigne's wishes, tempered his language.

" I am sorry to say," he responded, " that you will even cease to
accompany it. The present number of my men and boats was fixed
after mature deliberation, as the one best calculated for the success
of my mission ; to increase the number of the vessels one half, and
of men, by the addition of two, would be a wide departure from my
instructions, and I repeat it, cannot be permitted; you, yourself,
must perceive the additional risk it would cause of drawing an
enemy upon us."

" Count Carlton," answered Henrich, " if these objections have
really any weight, they can be obviated : I will dismiss my man
and boat opposite the fort, and will proceed in the Lynx's canoe ;
otherwise — the river is a broad one, and I know of no one who has
the right to forbid my navigating it. For myself, I am confident
that the presence of myself and my man, even in a third boat, will
add to the safety of the ladies ; and my continuing of your party
will, therefore, become a question of speed."

" It may become a question of strength, young man," answered
Carlton in a low threatening voice.


" It may, indeed," said Ilenrich, dauntlessly, and with irrepressible
wrath ; " we are but two to seven, and you may possibly succeed in
adding our murder to your already brilliant achievements ; but we
are two to seven, and, believe me, we will not fall alone."

Goaded to madness by treatment at once so unjust and despicable,
Henrich's whole soul breathed a spirit of the most perfect defiance ;
he stood in the faint moonlight, proudly erect, with eyes that
flashed like meteors, unable for the moment to restrain the ebul-
litions of his rage. Yet the folly of his threatened defence
became apparent to him, even as he ceased speaking ; f(jr the safety
of Blanche was the paramount object of his consideration, and he
could, of course, engage in no actual contest with her defenders.
The threat, however, was not without its effect ; the count, unused
to such an exhibition of feehng, stood for a moment awed by the
furious spirit which he had evoked; he looked hastily over his
shoulder to make sure that his men were within call, and then
turned to reply ; the subdued tone of his voice and the mildness of
his language giving no token of the malevolence which now boiled
within his breast.

" You are hasty, Mr. Huntington," he said, — " unnecessarily so,
I think : if you desire a seat in the Lynx's boat, you are entirely
welcome to it ; but let us waste no more time, the barge is already
well advanced, and we must hasten to overtake her."

" You grant all that I require," returned Henrich, now also speak-
ino- mildly, and fearing that he had exhibited an unwarranted
passion ; while he hesitated, ingenuously considering whether any
retraction or explanation was proper in return for the concession of
the count, the latter again reminded him of the necessity of haste.
He accordingly explained the new state of affairs to Harry, whom
he furnished with money and instructed to proceed at once to
Albany, and remain there until some descending sloop should afford
him the means of returning in safety to New York. He also
enjoined upon the negro the strictest secresy in regard to everything


connected with the escape of Miss Montaigne ; and giving him some
kindly messages to the venerable Jacobns, bade him a cordial fare-
well. Huntington's gun and portmanteau were then quickly
transferred to the other canoe, which immediately started, followed
at some distance by the boat of the solitary African,



*' O monstrous treacheiy ! can this be so i
That in alliance; amity, and oaths
There should be found such false dissembling gUile 1"

— First part of King llcnry F'f.

Candor is ever the victim of guile. Suspicions of no artific€l,
Senrich had placed himself unreservedly in the power of an enemy^
to whose frigid heart relentings were as unwont as thaws amidst
polar ice. Making no attempt to overtake the barge, which main-
tained its advanced position of about half a mile, the count proceeded
slowly and cautiously on his way, following the Lynx's route, and
hugging the eastern shore as he approached the English settlements
Me spoke but seldom, and not at all to Huntington, who attributed
his reserve less to uncooled wrath than to the desire of maintaining
the silence necessary to their situation*

They passed Albany a little after midnight, slightly accelerating
their progress, as it was a vicinity of unusual danger ; and this
might have been a sufficient reason for the count's proceeding yet

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 14 of 29)