P. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) Myers.

The King of the Hurons online

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Alas ! how sad the contrast between his bliss and the anguish
with which the hapless Henrich had gone forth on his lonely way I
What a night of wretchedness was that, in which, re-traversing his
recent route, he glided, in his little bark, over the now resisting
current of the Sorelle, and re-entered the broad waters of the Cham-
plain ! What a weary day of hopeless, joyless, leaden-winged hours
again succeeded, in which, with vain regret, his eyes measured the


still widening distance which separated him from his lost friend, or
dwelt idly upon the far northern sky, which bent tranquilly above
her abode.

At the close of the day succeeding that on which he left Castle
Montaigne, he was aroused from a reverie into which he had fallen
by feeling a sudden grasp upon his arm, and as he looked up to
the Indian who had thus familiarly touched him, he became con-
scious that he had already been earnestly addressed several times,
by name, and doubted not that there was some unusual cause for
accosting him. His conjecture did not prove erroneous ; they had
been skirting the eastern shore of the lake, looking for a favorable
place to encamp for the night, and had just doubled a small cape or
promontory, when a sight had met the eyes of the Indians, which
seemed at once to have astounded and rendered them incapable
of action. Well might it do so, for on the shore, scarcely forty rods
distant from them, was a regular military encampment, while a fleet
of batteaux, about fifty in number, lay moored upon the beach.

Henrich's canoe had been discovered, and a dozen men were
rushing towards it on the shore, while others were leaping into boats
for the purpose of pursuit ; flight would have been so utterly useless
that the Indians did not once attempt it, and in another moment
Henrich became happily conscious that for him, at least, it was not
desirable, for the force which they had encountered, whatever its
design or destination, was evidently English. He instructed the
men to row immediately to the shore in the direction of the soldiers
who were approaching, himself standing up, meanwhile, in the boat,
and signifying to the strangers, by amicable signs, his design of

Ha\nng landed, he requested to be taken to the commanding-
officer, who, seated in his tent, received him with much apparent
curiosity and interest ; he was a middle-aged man, seemingly of a
quick mercurial temperament, and giving evidence by his equipment
of no small rank. He at once addressed Huntington in French,


demanding his name and residence, and seemed astonished when
the latter rephed poHtely to him in his own language, giving the
desired information. There was an air of incredulity, however, in
his manner, as he rejoined :

" What do you here, Mr. Huntington, in this wilderness, near an
enemy's border, and accompanied by hostile Indians ? You are not
their prisoner ; they seem rather to be your guard."

" They are such," replied Henrich, " and I have come, as you
perhaps surmise, from the enemy's territory ; under these circum-
stances, I know that you will consider it your duty to detain me,
and I therefore will not occupy your time by explanations that I
have no means of verifying ; more especially as my detention wnll
contribute to my security, and will afford me the means of safely
regaining my home."

Major Bain smiled as he replied to the young man, with whose
frank and ingenuous air he was not a little pleased :

" I shall at least be compelled to detain your men, Mr. Hunting-
ton, and you could not safely proceed without them ; you may also
consider yourself under arrest, until I have time to make further
inquiries ; but you will be compelled to retrace your steps, and per-
haps to see, if you should not be disposed to participate in, some
miUtary operations of moment."

" May I inquire," asked Henrich, with great interest, " which way
your expedition points ?"

" We are going where we are very little expected," replied the
officer, excitedly; "further I would not say at present, but every
soul in the camp knows our destination, and I shall endeavor to
make up by the celerity of our movements, for the want of their
secresy — we go, in short, to smoke out of his castle, a certain Robin
Hood knight here in the north, of whom you must have heard,
whose insolence, long extreme, has latterly grown insufferable, and
has justified the fitting out of an expedition against him, in his own


" Is it possible that j^ou mean "

" The Baron Montaigne !" replied the major, " no one else ; the
governors of New York and New England have each contiibuted a
small force to the enterprise, and we are altogether sure of our game.
I speak freely to you, Mr. Huntington, because I may perhaps be
able to offer you service which you would be glad to accept : one of
our officers has been deserted, sick, at an Indian settlement,
and "

" It is impossible," replied Huntington, " that I should avail my-
self of your generous offer ; there are reasons which I will give you
in private, why I can take no part in your expedition, further than
to accompany it as a spectator."

Henrich retired from this interview with emotions the most thril-
ling and exciting ; alarm for the safety of Blanche and his other
friends at the castle, had been his first generous feeling, but this had
been succeeded by dawning hopes, the brilliancy of which he scarcely
dared to contemplate. These, in their turn, gave way to other
thick-coming fears and fancies ; the army would arrive too late to
prevent the nuptials of the count ; the baron would make a
triumphant resistance, or a successful retreat ; or a capitulation would
admit him to retire with his family to Quebec, and give up his castle
to his invaders.

Either of these results was, in fact, more probable than that any
favorable change would ensue to his own fortunes from the events
in progress — yet there was pleasure in the thought that he might
once more behold the object of his affection, even if it were but to
speak a last farewell. His duty, at least, was clear ; he was com-
pelled to accompany the invaders ; but his position demanded a most
perfect neutrality of conduct ; neither by action nor advice might he
assist his country's enemies — nor, while so many of his personal
fi'iends w^ere in their midst, aid to discomfit them. Whatever, by
intercession or otherwise, he could effect for their benefit, if his
people proved victorious, that it would, of course, be his privilege


and delight to do, and with such a conchision, he sought for a while
to dismiss the agitating theme from his mind, and to find that com-
posure to which he had been so long a stranger.

He strolled about the camp and found amusement in observing
the heterogeneous materials of which the little army was composed ;
its numbers amounted to about five hundred, of whom full one half
were Indians of various tribes in alliance with the English, and the
remainder were regular troops. The expedition had been set on
foot by Governor Cornbury, who, conscious of his present inability
to make any formal invasion of Canada, had resolved at least to
strike a blow upon one of its strongholds, and inflict signal vengeance
for a series of aggressions which had emanated from that particular
source. The movement had long been in contemplation, and had
been hastened now by the recent capture of Lieutenant Seabury,
and by the governor's anxiety to effect his release. Cornbury, indeed,
had scarcely indulged the hope of seizing Montaig-ne, whose vigilance
was as proverbial as his valor — but he did not doubt that he should
be able to drive him fi-om his castle, and to destroy, not only that
fastness, but the neighboring Indian villages.

The enterprise was not without its peril, and there were not
wanting those who predicted its failure, and asserted the utter insuf-
ficiency of the invading force to accomplish its object. Major Bain,
however, felt confident that a prompt movement, which would not
allow Montaigne to summon aid from Montreal, or from the more
distant Indians, must be as successful, as a dilatory one would cer-
tainly be disastrous, even if made with thrice his strength. He was
a brave man, and had long fretted under the inaction of a command
in Albany, which had afforded him no active service, and he exulted
in his present mission, to which, indeed, his own energetic counsels
had not a httle contributed.

"You have a motley collection here," said Huntington, to a
sergeant off duty, who had addressed him civilly as he passed, and


from wliom he hoped to glean some farther information about the
contemplated attack.

" Yes, sir," replied the officer, " white, red, and black — it is a
queer-looking army, indeed, but they are all brave men, even the

" You do not mean that you have any negro soldiers, I presume ?"
enquired Henrich, " they would be rare allies indeed."

" Xot exactly soldiers," w^as the reply ; " but Major Bain has a
couple of servants who profess themselves quite ready for duty, and
then there is a long droll fellow, who insisted on joining us at
Albany — probably a runaway slave ; he makes great fun for the
soldiers, and is the very pet of the Indians ; he is as strong, too,
they say, as the giant Goliath."

" Ki ! Massa Keureek .^" exclaimed a familiar voice at this mo-
ment in Huntington's ear, while the rapid evolutions of a body turn-
ing a somerset at his side, attracted his attention. " Oh jingo ! if
dis don't beat all nater ! Oh Massa Hen reek, but dis is de 'mark-
ablest luck dat ebber was."

Amazed at the appearance of the seemingly ubiquitous African,
Huntington for some moments scarcely found voice to address him ;
but he extended his hand at length, cordially, to the negro, smiling
as he spoke.

" Remarkable, indeed, Harry !" he said ; " what in the w^orld has
brought you here, and how is it that yo.u did not return to New
York, as you intended ?"

" I wuz waitin'. Mass Henreek, at Albany for de opptoonity, when
I hare of dis ere 'spedition — dey stop dare — dey say dey come to
take Castle Mountain ; it frighten me berry much, kaze I t'ought
of you and Missa Blanche, and Missa Emily, and I didn't know what
might happen, and I t'ought I better come along — I 'clare, Massa
Henreek, I berry glad to see you."

" And I am very glad to see yow, Harry ! This is the second


time we have met most unexpectedly; I hope we shall not part
again until we return together to New York."

" E 1 Massa Henrich, but I tickled to hare you say dat : ony let
me stay by you, and I can do any ting — but tell-a me, what you
trampoose about so much alone for ? I find you, afore, all alone in
de woods."

"Then," rephed Huntington, "I was the victim of guile and
treachery : where you found me, Carlton had deserted me, forcing
me to quit his boat, a crime which has since been followed by others,
still worse ; you shall know more of it, perhaps, hereafter."

Harry listened with marked attention to this brief exposition, but
made no other reply than might be contained in an expressive shake
of the head and a harsh grating of the teeth.



" O'er the rolling waves we go,
Where the stormy winds do blow,
To quell with fire and sword the foe." — Old Song,

As the evening advanced, and Hen rich was contemplating retire-
ment for the rest which he so much needed, he was surprised and
delighted to hear orders issued for re-embarking, and on seeking for
the cause of so unexpected a movement, he encountered the polite
Major Bain, who was personally superintending the preparations.

" We travel by night, you perceive, Mr. Hunting-ton," he said ;
" om' camp was pitched at dawn, and you must allow that our Indian
guides have selected an unequalled hiding-place here for an army,
where no intruder could discover us, without being first seen by our

" I have neither seen nor heard of any sentinels," rephed
Henrich, " and have been wondering at your remissness in that

" They saw you^ however, I assure you, full half an hour before
you so valorously invaded us," said the major, smihng ; " there are
a dozen glowing eyes on each of these hills, sleepless as the stars,
and commanding every point of the compass ; I can well believe
that you have not seen them, for if they were wrapt in that magic
mantle which is said to confer invisibility, they would not be less
easily found ; in fact, I don't know exactly where they are myself ;
my friend Kogegogey there, with the black feather, planted them,


and will bring them in, I presume, presently with some forest

Major Bain offered Huntington a seat in his own boat, and every-
thing being in readiness, the fleet started at about eight o'clock, and
pursued their way with great rapidity. The ardor of the command-
ing officer would scarcely permit him to confine his travel to the
night, which, indeed, in its earlier stages he had not done ; but as
he came farther north, his Indian counsellors had urged the point
as so certainly essential to the project of surprising the garrison at
Montaigne, that he had yielded to their advice. Let but one distant
eye, they said, catch a sight of the armament, and scores of runners,
fleet as the wind, would bear the news to the baron far in advance
of their approach.

If Henrich had exulted at the unexpected embarkation of the
army, his fears all returned when he comprehended the commander's
design ; for on the ensuing day at noon, terminated the stipulated
time, at the end of which Blanche had promised to become the
bride of Carlton, and he well knew that the marriage would not be
deferred materially beyond that time. Major Bain intended to invest
the castle silently by night, and as it was impossible, with any speed
which they could command, to reach it before the ensuing morning,
it could onl}^ be after another day's delay and concealment that
they would approach the walls. That day, alas, Henrich had reason
to apprehend, would be fatal to all his hopes, and the returning light
which had illumined his heart, again gave way to the inroads of

The commander had resolved, however, to make his next encamp-
ment as near the castle as prudence would permit, in order to learn
by espionage its situation and means of defence, relying upon the
sagacity of his Indian allies to ensure meanwhile his own conceal-
ment, and he succeeded greatly to his satisfaction, in attaining and
entering the mouth of the Sorelle, just as the waning stars pro-
claimed the approach of day. Two hours more of darkness would


have enabled him, unseen, to place his forces at once under the walls
of the enemy, but he did not greatly regret the delay, as his men
were jaded with toil, and required rest to fit them for service.

As before, a favoring locality was found, for a secret camp, in a
very dense part of the forest, about eight miles south of the castle,
and here every precaution was taken to avoid discovery, sentinels
being posted in hiding-places on every side, so that any wanderer
who should be unfortunate enough to stray near the foe, would be
tenfold more likely to be caught and conveyed into then- midst than
to escape and carry the tidings.

For several hours Major Bain was content to keep close in his
spider-like retreat, well satisfied that there seemed no prospect of his
being disturbed, but as the day advanced he resolved to send forth
an emissary to the neighborhood of the castle to observe its con-
dition. There was no difficulty in finding a messenger for such an
errand among the valorous and crafty savages, who delighted in any
achievement involving cunning and adroitness, and the commis-
sion fell upon a young Mohawk Brave, who was celebrated for
sagacity. Being allowed to select a companion for his enterprise,
his choice, to the gTeat chagrin of his brethren, fell upon Harry, who
could see, he said, as well as an Indian, and was three times as

It was nearly noon when they left the camp, and proceeded in a
canoe down the river about four miles, where they left their boat
concealed, and taking opposite sides of the stream, continued their
way on foot, carrying of course their usual weapons. They had been
instructed to learn whether there were any Indian villages on the
route to the castle, and it was for this purpose that they had sepa-
rated, pursuing thenceforward independent courses, and expecting
only to re-unite at nightfall at their canoe, after having completed
their separate explorations.

Harry went about a mile further on his lonely way, and was pro-
ceeding cautiously through the forest, about a dozen rods from the



river side, when a sudden noise arrested his attention, and caused
him to drop, skulking, among the thick bushes. Looking warily out
from his covert, he saw a single horseman approaching at a slow
amble through the woods, in the direction of a beaten path which
led from the interior diagonally to the river. The road, if such it
could be called, passed about twenty yards from the negro's place of
concealment, and Harry, remaining silent, entertained no fears of
discovery, more especially as the equestrian, so far from seeming ob-
servant or watchful, had an air of perfect ease and unconcern. As
he drew nearer, the eyes of the vigilant African, which had been
fixed unwaveringly upon him, dilated to a prodigious extent, and his
surprise found vent in the whispered words, —

" Golly ! if it aint de count ! "

The count it certainly was, who, as has been related, was return-
ing at this hour from his interview with the Algonquin Indian, and
was riding towards the castle, deeply wrapt in the contemplation of
his approaching wedding.

" I aint afraid of him, any way," said Harry ; " but den he mustn't
see me, else he gib de alarm — unless — unless — oh, jingo ! " and the
negro clutched his large hands together, as if unable to restrain a
wish that had suddenly formed in his mind.

" He got pistols," continued the soliloquist ; " but dat aint nottin,
— nottin at all ; be quick, Harry ! make up your mind ! " he said,
apostrophizing himself; "see, he almost here! he put Massa Hen-
reek ashore, you know; golly, /'^Z doitf'' and the negro leaped
hke some wild animal, headlong from his lair, and, at three bounds,
stood in front of the count, with one huge hand grasping the bridle
of the rearing and plunging steed. The frightened rider, scarce able
to tell whether his assailant was man or beast, was vainly trying to
draw a pistol from his belt, when the disengaged hand of Harry was
on his arm, and he felt himself dragged forcibly from his seat.

" Come a you down off dere," said the negro, " and go along-


wiv me ; dere's a gerapleman ober here want to see you ; " and
Carlton landed, shakings at Lis side.

" Dis-a-way, ef you please," continued the negro, quickly regaining
his gun, which he had dropped on the ground, and starting at once
towards the Enghsh camp with his prisoner, while the freed horse
scampered rapidly off ; " dis ere is de way — come along ! "

Harry's motions had been so rapid and impetuous, that it was not
until Carlton was whirled along in his powerful grasp that he found
voice to speak ; and although he now began to pour forth a most
voluble tide of ejaculations and prayers, they were in a language un-
intelligible to Harry; and if it had been otherwise, they would
scarcely have interrupted the flow of his own congratulatory soli°

" I got him — dat a fact," he said ; and then, looking back for an
instant, " I wish I brought de horse along ; but nebber mind — I got
de count. What dat you say ? more blue ? yhah ! yhah ! it will be
more blue dan dis for you, old boy ! "

Carlton recognised his captor, at length, and his terror increased,
if possible, when he did so ; for although he had no suspicion of the
causes which had led to his misfortune, he did not doubt that his
dreaded rival was at hand, and that the vengeance which conscious
guilt told him was deserved, was destined now to overtake him.
The discovery made him frantic with fear ; and finding his reiterated
appeals to the negro unheeded, he grew courageous enough to sud-
denly draw a pistol with his disengaged hand; for Harry, in his
utter contempt of the httle weapons, had forgotten to take possession
of them. He observed the motion, however, in time to strike down
the arm of the prisoner before any harm was effected, and snatching
the pistols, he flung them with sudden wi-ath over the tree-tops.

" Gosh," he said, " you grow 'fract'ry, hay ? here, den, I'll show
you ; " and the negro, taking from his shoulder one of a pair of
thick leathern suspenders, proceeded to bind the wrists of the count
tightly together ; after which, clutching him again by the arm, he


hurried along. A weary walk of five miles was before the pinioned
man, for Harry did not consider himself at hberty to take the boat
without the Indian's permission, and he reflected, moreover, that he
would be far less liable to observation or interruption, in the woods,
than on the river ; he was a good pedestrian, however, and compelhng
his companion to nearly equal his own prodigious strides, the distance
was soon overcome.

It was with no httle surprise that Major Bain and his fellow offi-
cers beheld the negro returning to the camp with a prisoner of so
distinguished appearance, and Henrich's astonishment and exultation
cannot easily be imagined. He had not felt himself called upon to
interfere with the movements of Harry, who had regularly joined the
army at Albany, of his own volition, after being discharged fi'om
Huntington's service, and upon whom, indeed, he had not now the
right to enjoin neutrality or inaction, if he had desired.

Carlton's amazement at finding himself in the camp of an invading
enemy was without bounds ; yet his alarm was rather diminished
than increased, for he was now a prisoner of war, and not, as he had
anticipated, the victim of personal retribution. He at once announced
his name and rank, and claimed the privilege of his parole, which
Major Bain, ^vath a politeness that transcended his discretion, prompt-
ly accorded. That gallant officer was incapable of suspecting a
depth of infamy in his prisoner which would render his word of
honor an insufficient barrier to his escape, while, perhaps, the incon-
venience of confining him, and the difficulty of flight, if attemj^ted,
contributed to a leniency, which, in the peculiar situation of the in-
vading force, was at least impolitic.

Harry, who looked upon Cai-lton as peculiarly his prize, was by
no means satisfied with the result, which he was quite unable to
comprehend, and he continued to follow his released captive at a
little distance about the camp, seldom removing his eyes from him,
and indulging not infrequently in his accustomed mode of thinking


" He look as if he wiiz loose," lie said, peering curiously at the
arms and feet of the Frenchman. " Dey say he got a parole on him
somewhere, but I can't see it — golly, dey better lef de 'spender on,
by half!"

When a soldier, with whom he conversed on the subject, had in
some degree succeeded in explaining the nature of the invisible
fetters which were supposed to bind the count, the African shook
his head with marked significance.

" May be it will hold him," he said, angrily ; " but why dey no
leave de 'spender on, and put anudder on his ancles, and den let him
go on his parole, ef he want to ? — ^Blazes !"

The Mohawk returned at dusk, and reported that he had been
within pistol shot of Castle Montaigne, and had lain concealed an
hour watching the movements of its inmates. There was no ap-
pearance of alarm, he said, or of any unusual vigilance ; the principal
gate was open, and there was much passing in and out, especially of
the Hurons, who seemed to be dressed and painted for a powow ;
soldiers were lounging idly around the walls, and he had even seen
the King of the Hurons talking with a chief in the gateway. He
had discovered no Indian villages on the western side of the river,
but had judged there was a Huron settlement on the eastern shore,
and north of the castle, having seen numbers of that tribe approach

Online LibraryP. Hamilton (Peter Hamilton) MyersThe King of the Hurons → online text (page 23 of 29)