P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

. (page 17 of 29)
Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 17 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

distant observation, and laughing, meanwhile, with much glee, at
the success of his trick.

The commotion had not yet subsided, when the marksman once


more signified that lie was in readiness ; the boat was restored to
perfect stiHness, and every eye was fixed on the distant foe, to watch
the eflfect of the shot. But the enemy had grown wary, and, follow-
ing the example of the few who had before found safety in such a
resort, they now leaped, like water-rats, over the edge of the batteau,
leaving but a single man in the vessel. They had gone, however, in
a mass, and the quick eye of the hunter was upon them, then- gliding
forms and the commoved wave forming together a wide mark, into
the centre of which fell the hurtling lead. Two quivering arms up-
thrown, clutching vainly at the void air, and then descending slowly,
strugglingly, graspingly, to the surface, told the result. The sur-
vivors climbed quickly back to their posts, but consternation per-
vaded their ranks ; no weapon was raised ; no oar was moved ;
irresolution and indecision seemed to mark their conduct. Three of
their number were slain, and the magical weapon which no ingenuity
could elude, was again in course of preparation for its fearful work.
No subsequent success could atone to them for such slaughter ; for
an Indian's victory is scarcely considered worthy of the name, unless
achieved without loss, or with a damage vastly disproportionate to
that of his foe. Their inaction, however, was but momentary;
another futile discharge of their guns succeeded, and then their dart-
ing oars were suddenly put in motion ; but it was no longer in pursuit.
A retreat, inglorious and cowardly, was commenced, and severe,
indeed, was the prudential self-denial which restrained the victors*
shout of acclamation at the sight.

" Follow them ! follow the Iroquois dogs ! " exclaimed the Lynx,
forgetting, in his excitement, that he was not in command.

" Follow them ! " cried the Algonquin ; " don't let them oflf so ! '*
And tlie eager looks of the Beaver and the soldiers, as their eyes
turned to the count, proclaimed a similar wish.

" Oh — ah — yes — certainly, follow them by all means ! " exclaimed
Carlton, in a tone of irresolution quite at variance with his words ;
" yes — decidedly ; but don't go too near, boys ! "


" Ah, no, no ; let them go, if they will, in the name of mercy," said
Blanche, appealing to the count, and hoiTor-stricken at the sight she
had beheld ; " let them go, for their sake and ours ; the blood of
these fierce men is warmed by the strife, and they will surely bring
more danger upon us."

" Yes, certainly," said the count ; " that is to say, we will see, you
know, presently."

A few words from the Lynx, however, satisfied Miss Montaigne
that her forest friends were not acting unwisely; the enemy, he
said, would come back wdth the night, as silent as its shadows, unless
now more fully chastised ; the charmed gun would then be no de-
fence, and the foe might even succeed in finding aUies to aid them ;
nothing, indeed, was more certain than that their present flight was
only preparatory to some safer attack.

The chase, indeed, was begun with zeal, and was kept up until
the Beaver had thrice again discharged his weapon, although only
once with any evident effect, the desperate efforts of the enemy hav-
ing soon removed them beyond reach. The voyagers then resumed
their way, congratulating themselves greatly on their present escape,
yet not a little uneasy in anticipation of the future, for the retreating-
foe had not failed to fill the air with the most appalling cries, which
seemed to threaten vengeance in some shape uj)on their conquerors.



" Up the rude crags, whose giant masses throw
Eternal shadows o'er the glen below ;
And by the fall, whose many-tinctared spray
Half in a mist of radiance veils its way,
He holds hia venturous track."

Mrs. Hemans. — The Menccrrage.

Once more must we briefly retrograde, to take up a dangling end
of our narrative, and secure it to the main body of facts. It would
be idle to seek to depict the emotions of the deserted Henrich, as
from the bank of the Hudson, and on the edge of a limitless forest,
he watched the rapidly receding boat of the perjfidious count.
"When he recovered his equanimity, he remembered, as w^e sud-
denly recall by day some forgotten pa<?sage of a dream, the few
words which had been addressed to him in the boat by the Algon-
quin Indian : " Folloiu until ive stojy, and ansioer lokcn you hear the
corn-bird's calV They had made but slight impression on him at the
time, and even now seemed little worthy of heed ; he might possi-
bly, by extraordinary exertions, keep for a few hours within view of
the voyagers, hut there could be no hope of being permitted to rejoin
them ; for although both the Indians seemed disposed to favor him,
he well knew that neither of them would dare to openly oppose
their leader. Every mile's remove from Albany also increased the
difficulty and danger of retracing his route to that city ; yet he did
not for a moment hesitate to follow the advice of the savage.
" Were the chance a thousand times less," he said, " it shall not be
lost throuo'h doubt or inaction of mine."


He started courageously upon his journey, keeping near the shore,
and for a short time was able to keep the count's boat within view.
It was, however, only by the most exhausting efforts that he was
enabled to do so, for his route led through a dense and pathless
wood, where the uneven ground, the thick, tangled underbrush, and
the low sweeping boughs, with their profuse foliage, were so many
impediments to speed. His fatigue, indeed, became such, before he
had proceeded a mile, as to render his undertaking nearly hopeless ;
for he felt certain that the count would not soon land, and if he kept
even three hours afloat, his gain over the pedestrian would be far
more than the latter could probably overcome during the halting of
the party. In addition to these discouragements, another more
formidable still, presented itself to his mind ; he had been left upon
the western shore, and Carlton now kept a little east of the centre of
the river, apparently with the design to land upon that side of the
stream, and thus prevent all possibility of being overtaken by his
injured rival.

Disheartened by the seeming inutility of his efforts, which he still
resolved not to intermit, Henrich had paused for a moment's repose
when he heard with much alarm, the distinct sound of approaching
oars. As he retreated hastily into the forest to avoid this new
danger, his chafed spirit grew desperate under the thronging dis-
asters which beset him ; for he seemed to be ascending the very
stairway of grief, where each successive trouble proved but the
stepi)ing stone to another, higher and more insurmountiible. But
words cannot portray his utter astonishment and delight, when, on
attaining a safe post of observation, he discovered, approaching from
the south, Harry's canoe, with its sable owner, apparently well nigh
exhausted, yet tugging lustily at the oars, and diligently scanning
the western shore, as if in search of some lost object. Bounding to
the beach, Henrich shouted and beckoned to the negro, who, seem-
ingly no less surprised and pleased than himself, came hastily to the


" Why, Harry," exclaimed Huntington, still scarcely crediting his
eyes, " what, in the name of the seven wonders, has brought you
here ?"

" Grolly, Massa!" said Harry, panting with fatigue, "I been look-
ing for dat are Albany all de way, and can't find um ; I tink I must
be e'enamost dare now, any how !"

" Almost there ! why, Harry, you are twenty good miles past it —
but you have made a most fortunate mistake for me, if you are
wilhng to continue your journey a few hours longer."

" Sartain, I will !" replied the negro, looking back with a puzzled
air over the route he had traversed ; " but it's mighty strange ! I
'member taking leetle nap while I was rowin', and dat must been
de time when dat Albany slip past me. I 'member now — but it's
mighty strange, dat is, gosh !"

Henrich jumped into the canoe, and taking the oars, bade the
wearied negro compose himself to rest as best he could, an injunc-
tion which the latter complied with by curling himself up in the aft
part of the boat, with his head resting upon the gunwale, where he
was soon giving audible evidence of the soundness of his slumbers.
Huntington labored with the assiduity of hope and courage, keeping
close to the western shore, and soon caught a glimpse of the count's
boat some miles in advance, and near the centre of the river. Main-
taining a distance from it which barely kept it within the limits of
exerted vision, but which would not be hkely to betray himself, un-
sought, to view, he followed until the count landed, which, as has
been seen, he did upon the eastern shore, at about ten o'clock in the
morning. He then quickly crossed the river, and kept along the
opposite shore until he arrived within less than a mile of the en-
campment, where he also stopped, and having concealed his canoe,
ascended the bank with Harry. There he selected a hiding-place
near the river, and waited, although with but httle hope, for some
signal from his friends.

An hour, magnified into two, by anxiety and suspense, passed with-


out the expected token, and the shadows of despair were fast settling
around his heart, when the faint yet distinct caw of the crow reached
his ears, descending, as it seemed, through the air from some far
height, and sounding much too natural to admit of the behef that it
was an imitated note. Henrich gazed in every direction to discover
the tantalizing bird which was mocking his misery, and saw, perched
on a leafless tree, on the opposite shore, what for a moment seemed
the object of his search, but while he looked, the fowl spread its
wide wings, and dropping lazily upon the buoyant air, sailed ma-
jestically off, revealing the proportions and movements of the gTey
forest eagle.

At the same moment, nearer, clearer, and more distinctly than
before, came the welcome sound, and no longer doubting that his
friends were at hand, he responded imperfectly to the signal, and
approaching the quarter whence it seemed to proceed, had the un-
speakable pleasure, in a few minutes, of grasping the hand of his
faithful friend the Lynx. The words of the Indian were few and
hasty, and his air was more authoritative than that which had
formerly marked him; he wasted no time in condolence or denuncia-
tion, but briefly signifying that the Algonquin had informed him of
everything which had taken place in the morning, inquired if Henrich
still desired to go to Castle Montaigne.

" I do," replied Huntington, " but how is it possible ? and if not
so, why has Anak imposed upon me this toilsome and perilous
journey ?"

" The Algonquin is wise," answered the Lynx ; " my brother shall
see it ; let us go, for everything is ready, and the time is short."

" What is it that you will do ?" asked Henrich, following as he
spoke ; " I know the count will never willingly retract — will you
compel him to do so ?"

" My brother !" replied the Huron, " I am a chief, and the Algon-
quin is a chief's brother, and a great Brave — but we should both


hang from the corner of the castle walls if we should disobey our

" How is it then," asked Hcnrich, with indignation, " that you, who
are of right an independent prince, thus consent to be the slave of a
foreign nobleman V

" My brother is wrong," said the Huron, " we are our own mas-
ters — the Iling of the Hurons has never made women of us : we do
not wear petticoats."

" You came, then, voluntarily upon this journey out of your love
for the baron : you might have remained at home, and will be again
free when you return, but having placed yourself for the time under
the count's ordei*s, are fully bound by them — is it so V

" It is right — the baron is a great Brave 1"

The Huron seemed disposed to be no further communicative, but
led the way in silence into the depths of the forest, and, at the dis-
tance of about sixty rods from the shore, entered a thicket, which
nearly impenetrable at its edges, grew thinner as they advanced.
Henrich followed unquestioning, until his guide stopped in a small
open space, sheltered on all sides from observation, and here to his
increasing surprise, he found the Algonquin, evidently awaiting their
approach. Beside the latter, on the ground lay a small bundle,
compactly tied, the envelope of which, as well as the strings which
held it together, was of deer-skin: this he now quickly unrolled,
revealing a flash of gaudy colors to the eye, which, at a second glance,
took shape as a broidered and beaded kirtle, leggins, moccasins, and
belt, with other articles of Inchan apparel ; shells containing several
varieties of paint, were also among the contents of the pack, and as
these were severally opened to view, Huntington no longer doubted
the design of his companions.

" We will make an Indian of our brother," said the Lynx, smiling —
"what does he say ? Will he be a Huron Bi'ave ?"

"Most certainly," replied Henrich, with exultation, for he felt
confident of the abiUty of his friends to effect an impenetrable


disguise, and sav/ at once how inappreciable might be its value to
him — " but whose are these garments ? and how is it that you
procure them in this wilderness?"

The Lynx hastily explained that it was the apparel in which he
himself had started from home, and that his present Mohawk dress,
although prepared before setting out, had only been assumed on
approaching the Iroquois territory. It was not the proper raiment
of the Lynx, as a chief, but a sort of uniform common to the war-
riors of his tribe, and possessed no distinctive feature which could
lead to its identification ; yet to avoid all suspicion, and make
assurance doubly sure, the savages, with ready tact, made a few
striking alterations in the principal garments, by changing in some
places the beads and painted feathers, and in otliers, removing them

The clothes were soon adjusted on their new wearer, whom they
nearly fitted, and then the equally necessary, but more repulsive
operation of painting the exposed parts of the body was commenced.
This was, of course, something beyond the ordinary decoration of
colors which the Indian uses, for here a groundwork was necessary to
assimilate the general hue of the skin to that of the red man, after
which the fancy tints were applied. The hair was shortened and
being matted closely to the head, received its share of dark paint, and
vi'hen all was done, the savages, satisfied with their work, pronounced
the transformation complete, and assured Henrich that the most
skilful eye even among their own people could not detect the decep-
tion. Overlooking nothing, they next repainted the stock of his gun,
and bestowed upon it a liberal supply of dents and bruises to prevent
any danger of detection from that source, while his discarded gar-
ments the Lynx carefully enveloped in the deer skin covering, and
took charge of for their owner's future use.

Having completed these arrangements, the sagacious Huron again
bade his friend follow him, and led the way still farther into the
forest, while the Algonquin, fearing the count's displeasure for too


prolonged an absence, hastened back to the camp. The others
proceeded eastward about forty rods to a hill, where the Indian,
pointino- over an intervening plain to another eminence about six
miles distant in the northeast, said :

" When my brother stands on that ridge, he will see the lake of
the Holy Sacrament : it is far on the other side — but a strong man
can walk to it before the sun will set — does my brother fear to go ?"

" I fear nothing," repHed Henrich.

The Indian turned, and pointing to the north^vest, with a waving,
sinuous motion of his hand, said : " The river winds and twists like
a serpent — it is a long way before we turn towards the lake, and we
shall not see it until to-morrow's sun is in the west ; when we come,
w^e shall pass near the eastern shore : my brother must be somewhere
on the hills : we shall see him — I have said."

The point which the travellers had attained in their long journey
was about twenty miles north of the forty-third parallel of latitude,
being near the centre of a remarkable bend in the river, w^hich,
crooked to a charm, for the next thirty miles towards its source,
presents upon the map somewhat the appearance of a curhng whip-
cord, thrown casually upon the ground. The route of the voyagers
led up the river about twenty miles to a creek which, linking several
Liliputian lakes in its course, extends eastward a dozen miles or more
to the Horicon, while Henrich's pedestrian route, striking the lake at
a considerable distance from its source, was less than a third of the
space to be traversed by the boats. Having received his instructions
and promised a careful compliance with them, Henrich parted from
his companion and slowly retraced his steps towards the spot where
he had left the negro and the canoe, deeply engrossed in the
reflections to which his singular situation was calculated to give rise.

Harry, meanwhile, had waited impatiently on the lake shore for
his return, and looking anxiously from time to time into the forest,
was startled at length, by the strange and formidable figure which
he saw approaching :


" Jingo !" lie exclaimed, " wlio be dat ? — dat aint de Lyncli, nor
de Golly quin ; blazes ! who be he ? he must be some Irrysquaw as
dey call 'em and want-a my scallap, but he cant hab 'em," and Harry
deliberately brought his gun to bear upon the supposed enemy, still
continuing his sohloquy as he tried to perfect his aim, which the
intervening trees somewhat hindered, and waiting for a little nearer
approach of the stranger : " he most a too fine looking fellow to shoot
down like a bear — but he 7nnst come — he no see me, and de first
ting he knows, he wont know notting — golly, old gun ! you nebber
did sich a job as dis ere afore — dis aint no turkey — now den, look
sharp and you shall hab good cleanin' up to-morrow."

The negro, indged, had grown nervous, with the prospect, for the
fii'st time in his life, of shedding human blood, and being certain that
he was unseen, waited longer than was really necessary for the
accomplishment of his object. He had killed a bird at thrice the
distance, and a bounding deer still more remote, but Henrich, by one
of those minute events,' the consequences of which, so vastly
disproportionate to their seeming cause, indicate the unseen agency
of Pro\Tidence, became aware at this instant of his danger. A mis-
step caused him to stumble, and on recovering himself and looking
up, his eye fell upon Harry and his presented weapon, just in time
to allow of his springing, Indian-like, behind a tree for safety. He
at once understood the negro's very natural mistake, and shouted to
him fi-om his shelter, without daring to look forth : " Harry !
Harry ! don't tire — it's I — Harry — I say, Harry !"

" No — no — you don't Harry me, old fellow !" said the negro,
stepping cautiously out on one side, with his gun still levelled, and
trying to get a view of Huntington, who was compelled to retreat
warily around the tree — " what a fool I was not to shoot when I hab
sich a good chance — only let me git anudder once, and I show him !"

" Harry Bolt ! Harry Bolt !" shouted Huntington, now fully
alarmed, and presenting his own weapon towards his assailant —


" don't fire, for Heaven's sake — It's I, I tell you, Henrich Huntington :
stand still, or I shall be obliged to shoot you — it's I, Harry !"

"Oh ! it's you, is it?" said Harry, comprehending, in his excite-
ment, only the last words of the other, and retreating in his turn
behind a tree, to avoid the expected shot — " 'spose it is you — so is
dis ere me — what den ? now you jes show your red pate round dat
tree — dat's all — else you stay dare till ]\Iass Henrich come back and
den we hab you on bofe sides."

" Harry, you fool ! you idiot ! you dolt ! Harry, I say !"

" Golly, but he must know me 1" said Harry — "and den he talk
good Enghsh too, for an Indian."

" Don't you know your friend Henrich Huntington ?" asked the
seeming savage, but without daring to expose the smallest part of his

" 'Course I do," answered the other, keeping equally close behind
his cover, and still unsuspicious of the true state of the case — " he's
coming pretty soon, so you better s'render !"

" He's here, I tell you again — I am Henrich myself !"

" You're a lying Injun !" repHed the other, indignantly — " I know
your tricks : Mass Henrich is a white gerapleman, and you are a red
and black sabbage !"

"But the Lynx has dressed me up, and painted me, Harry!"
said Huntington, soothingly — "these are his clothes — see — put
down your gun and I will put mine down, and then come and
examine me."

Harry peered cautiously from his tree, and seemed slightly
staggered : " I believe you liar and tief," he said — " but put-a-down
your gun and I put-a-mine down : I aint afraid of you on a rough-
and tumble fight, any how !"

Henrich placed his weapon on the ground and the negro did the
same, and both advanced a step.

" Habn't you got a knife, you scaramouch you ?" asked Harry,


" No, Harry," said Huntington, " but I have a pistol — shall I lay-
it down ?"

"Sartain, put em down — oh you dyboUical debbil — you bin
kill-a Mass Henrich, and stole his pistol : I'll tear you into a tousen

" Now, Harry, listen I" said Henrich, laughing — " which do you
think is the best to catch a bass with, a straight hook or a crooked

This fortunate reference to the sport of a preceding day at once
fully dispelled the negro's illusion : he darted quickly to his friend's
side, exclaiming:

" Oh Massa Henrich, I know you now, and dat your voice, too,
for sartain — oh Mass Henrich ! oh jingo I blazes ! golly ! oh gosh !
Mass Henrich, 'spose I hah shoot you !" and the nearly frantic negro
danced around his friend, now seizing one arm, and now the other,
and manifesting the utmost terror at the appalling thought. It was
several minutes before the faithful fellow could recover his equa-
nimity, and when his trepidation had subsided, his mind passed to
the opposite mood of merriment at Henrich's strange appearance.

" Ah dat Lynch — dat Lynch ! what a genus he be !" he said, feehng
of kirtle, belt, and moccasins in turn, and chuckling with hysterical
laughter — " and he smash-a your splennid gun, too, what send a
ball most to Skamkatky — but nebber mind ; it wont hurt it — oh dat
Lynch — oh dat Lynch I"

But Huntington had no time to lose, and it was with much regret
that he now prepared again to part with his faithful servitor, who
begged earnestly to be allowed to accompany him, or at least to
follow tlie route of the boats in his canoe. There were obvious
reasons, however, why this request could not be complied with, and
exacting a promise from Harry to make no such attempt, but to
return at once to Albany, he again bade him farewell, and set out
on his lonely journey through the forest. His route had been too
distinctly pointed out by the sagacious Huron to admit of his


mistaking it, and he succeeded, with Httle difficulty, in attaining the
shore of Lake George on the same evening, where he found a safe
shelter, and, what his ftitigue had fully earned, a night's refreshing

On the morrow, he sought the highest land, in the immediate
vicinity of the shore, and while maintaining an unremitting watch
for enemies, he also kept a vigilant look-out towards the south for the
expected voyagers. His success not only in rejoining them, but in
detecting and assisting to defeat an ambuscade which had been laid
for their destruction, has been already fully recorded.



•' Ye've trailed me through the forest ;
Ye've tracked me o'er the stream ;
And, struggling through the everglade,

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 17 of 29)