THE SUN OF QUEBEC
A STORY OF A GREAT CRISIS
JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER
AUTHOR OF "LORDS OF THE WILD," "THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL," ETC.
APPLETON-CENTURY-CROFTS, INC. NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission of the publishers.
Copyright, 1947, by Sallie B. Altsheler
Printed in the United States of America
"The Sun of Quebec" is the sixth and closing volume of the French and Indian War Series of which the predecessors have been "The Hunters of the Hills," "The Shadow of the North," "The Rulers of the Lakes," "The Masters of the Peaks," and "The Lords of the Wild." The important characters in the earlier books reappear, and the mystery in the life of Robert Lennox, the central figure in all the romances, is solved.
CHARACTERS IN THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR SERIES
ROBERT LENNOX A lad of unknown origin
TAYOGA A young Onondaga warrior
DAVID WILLET A hunter
RAYMOND LOUIS DE ST. LUC A brilliant French officer
AGUSTE DE COURCELLES A French officer
FRANCOIS DE JUMONVILLE A French officer
LOUIS DE GALISONNIERE A young French officer
JEAN DE MEZY A corrupt Frenchman
ARMAND GLANDELET A young Frenchman
PIERRE BOUCHER A bully and bravo
PHILIBERT DROUILLARD A French priest
THE MARQUIS DUQUESNE Governor-General of Canada
MARQUIS DE VAUDREUIL Governor-General of Canada
FRANCOIS BIGOT Intendant of Canada
MARQUIS DE MONTCALM French commander-in-chief
DE LEVIS A French general
BOURLAMAQUE A French general
BOUGAINVILLE A French general
ARMAND DUBOIS A follower of St. Luc
M. DE CHATILLARD An old French Seigneur
CHARLES LANGLADE A French partisan
THE DOVE The Indian wife of Langlade
TANDAKORA An Ojibway chief
DAGANOWEDA A young Mohawk chief
HENDRICK An old Mohawk chief
BRADDOCK A British general
ABERCROMBIE A British general
WOLFE A British general
COL. WILLIAM JOHNSON Anglo-American leader
MOLLY BRANT Col. Wm. Johnson's Indian wife
JOSEPH BRANT Young brother of Molly Brant, afterward the great Mohawk chief, Thayendanegea
ROBERT DINWIDDIE Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia
WILLIAM SHIRLEY Governor of Massachusetts
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Famous American patriot
JAMES COLDEN A young Philadelphia captain
WILLIAM WILTON A young Philadelphia lieutenant
HUGH CARSON A young Philadelphia lieutenant
JACOBUS HUYSMAN An Albany burgher
CATERINA Jacobus Huysman's cook
ALEXANDER MCLEAN An Albany schoolmaster
BENJAMIN HARDY A New York merchant
JOHNATHAN PILLSBURY Clerk to Benjamin Hardy
ADRIAN VAN ZOON A New York merchant
THE SLAVER A nameless rover
ACHILLE GARAY A French spy
ALFRED GROSVENOR A young English officer
JAMES CABELL A young Virginian
WALTER STUART A young Virginian
BLACK RIFLE A famous "Indian fighter"
ELIHU STRONG A Massachusetts colonel
ALAN HERVEY A New York financier
STUART WHITE Captain of the British sloop, Hawk
JOHN LATHAM Lieutenant of the British sloop, Hawk
EDWARD CHARTERIS A young officer of the Royal Americans
ZEBEDEE CRANE A young scout and forest runner
ROBERT ROGERS Famous Captain of American Rangers
I OLD FRIENDS 1
II THE CHEST OF DRAWERS 22
III THE PURSUIT OF GARAY 46
IV OUT TO SEA 66
V MUSIC IN THE MOONLIGHT 85
VI THE ISLAND 104
VII THE PIRATE'S WARNING 123
VIII MAKING THE BEST OF IT 142
IX THE VOICE IN THE AIR 158
X THE SLOOP OF WAR 176
XI BACK TO THE WORLD 193
XII THE WILDERNESS AGAIN 217
XIII THE REUNION 238
XIV BEFORE QUEBEC 263
XV THE LONE CHATEAU 284
XVI THE RECKONING 303
THE SUN OF QUEBEC
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman walked to the window and looked out at the neat red brick houses, the grass, now turning yellow, and the leaves, more brown than green. He was troubled, in truth his heart lay very heavy within him. He was thinking over the terrible news that had come so swiftly, as evil report has a way of doing. But he had cause for satisfaction, too, and recalling it, he turned to gaze once more upon the two lads who, escaping so many perils, had arrived at the shelter of his home.
Robert and Tayoga were thin and worn, their clothing was soiled and torn, but youth was youth and they were forgetting dangers past in a splendid dinner that the fat Caterina was serving for them while Mynheer Jacobus, her master, stood by and saw the good deed well done.
The dining room, large and furnished solidly, was wonderful in its neatness and comfort. The heavy mahogany of table, sideboard and chairs was polished and gleaming. No trace of dirt was allowed to linger anywhere. When the door to the adjoining kitchen opened, as Caterina passed through, pleasant odors floated in, inciting the two to fresh efforts at the trencher. It was all as it had been when they were young boys living there, attending the school of Alexander McLean and traveling by painful steps along the road to knowledge. In its snugness, its security and the luxury it offered it was a wonderful contrast to the dark forest, where death lurked in every bush. Robert drew a long sigh of content and poured himself another cup of coffee.
"And you escaped from the French after the great battle?" said Mynheer Jacobus, asking the same question over and over again.
"Yes, sir," replied Robert, "and it was not a difficult thing to do at all. The victory of the French was so remarkable, and I think so unexpected, that they were paying little attention to me. I just walked out of their camp, and the only man I met was the Chevalier de St. Luc, who did not seem at all interested in stopping me—a curious fact, but a fact all the same."
"A great leader and a fine man iss the Chevalier de St. Luc," said Mr. Huysman.
"He's both, as I've had many chances to learn, and I intend to know more about him some day."
"It may be that you will know even more than you think."
Robert looked sharply at the burgher, and he was about to ask questions, but he reflected that Mynheer Jacobus, if he were able to answer, would be evasive like all the others and so he checked the words at his lips.
"I suppose that time will disclose everything," he contented himself with saying. "Meanwhile, I want to tell you, sir, that Tayoga and I appreciate to the full your hospitality. It is noble, it always was noble, as we've had ample occasion to discover."
The full red face of Mynheer Jacobus bloomed into a smile. The corners of his mouth turned up, and his eyes twinkled.
"I must have had a premonition that you two were coming," he said, "and so I stocked the larder. I remembered of old your appetites, a hunger that could be satisfied only with great effort, and then could come back again an hour later, as fresh and keen as ever. You are strong and healthy boys, for which you should be grateful."
"We are," said Robert, with great emphasis.
"And you do not know whether Montcalm iss advancing with his army?"
"We don't, sir, but is Albany alarmed?"
"It iss! It iss alarmed very greatly. It wass not dreamed by any of us that our army could be defeated, that magnificent army which I saw go away to what I thought was certain victory. Ah, how could it have happened? How could it have happened, Robert?"
"We simply threw away our chances, sir. I saw it all. We underrated the French. If we had brought up our big guns it would have been easy. There was no lack of courage on the part of our men. I don't believe that people of British blood ever showed greater bravery, and that means bravery equal to anybody's."
Mynheer Jacobus Huysman sighed heavily.
"What a waste! What a waste!" he said. "Now the army hass retreated and the whole border iss uncovered. The tomahawk and scalping knife are at work. Tales of slaughter come in efery day, and it iss said that Montcalm iss advancing on Albany itself."
"I don't believe, sir, that he will come," said Robert. "The French numbers are much fewer than is generally supposed, and I can't think he will dare to attack Albany."
"It does not seem reasonable, but there iss great alarm. Many people are leaving on the packets for New York. Who would have thought it? Who could have thought it! But I mean to stay, and if Montcalm comes I will help fight in the defense."
"I knew you wouldn't leave, sir. But despite our defeat we've a powerful army yet, and England and the Colonies will not sit down and just weep."
"What you say iss so, Robert, my boy. I am not of English blood, but when things look worst iss the time when England shows best, and the people here are of the same breed. I do not despair. What did you say had become of Willet?"
"Shortly before we reached Albany he turned aside to see Sir William Johnson. We had, too, with us, a young Englishman named Grosvenor, a fine fellow, but he went at once to the English camp here to report for duty. He was in the battle at Ticonderoga and he also will testify that our army, although beaten, could have brought up its artillery and have fought again in a day or two. It would have gained the victory, too."
"I suppose so! I suppose so! But it did not fight again, and what might have been did not happen. It means a longer war in this country and a longer war all over the world. It spreads! It iss a great war, extending to most of the civilized lands, the greatest war of modern times and many think it will be the last war, but I know not. The character of mankind does not change. What do you two boys mean to do?"
"We have not decided yet," replied Robert, speaking for both. "We'll go back to the war, of course, which means that we'll travel once more toward the north, but we'll have to rest a few days."
"And this house iss for you to rest in—a few days or many days, as you please, though I hope it will be many. Caterina shall cook for you four, five meals a day, if you wish, and much at every meal. I do not forget how when you were little you raided the fruit trees, and the berry bushes and the vines. Well, the fruit will soon be ripe again und I will turn my back the other way. I will make that fat Caterina do the same, and you and Tayoga can imagine that you are little boys once more."
"I know you mean that, Mynheer Jacobus, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," said Robert, as the moisture came into his eyes.
"Here comes Master Alexander McLean," said Mr. Huysman, who had turned back to the window. "He must have heard of your arrival and he wishes to see if your perils in the woods have made you forget your ancient history."
In a minute or two Master McLean, tall, thin, reddish of hair, and severe of gaze entered, his frosty blue eyes lighting up as he shook hands with the boys, though his manner remained austere.
"I heard that you had arrived after the great defeat at Ticonderoga," he said, "and you are fortunate to have escaped with your lives. I rejoice at it, but those who go into the woods in such times must expect great perils. It is of course well for all our young men to offer their lives now for their country, but I thought I saw in you at least, Robert Lennox, the germ of a great scholar, and it would be a pity for you to lose your life in some forest skirmish."
"I thank you for the compliment," said Robert, "but as I was telling Mynheer Jacobus I mean to go back into the woods."
"I doubt it not. The young of this generation are wise in their own conceit. It was hard enough to control Tayoga and you several years ago, and I cannot expect to do it now. Doubtless all the knowledge that I have been at such pains to instill into you will be lost in the excitement of trail and camp."
"I hope not, sir, though it's true that we've had some very stirring times. When one is in imminent danger of his life he cannot think much of his Latin, his Greek and his ancient history."
The severe features of Master Alexander McLean wrinkled into a frown.
"I do not know about that," he said. "Alexander the Great slept with his Homer under his pillow, and doubtless he also carried the book with him on his Asiatic campaigns, refreshing and strengthening his mind from time to time with dips into its inspiring pages. There is no crisis in which it is pardonable for you to forget your learning, though I fear me much that you have done so. What was the date, Robert, of the fall of Constantinople?"
"Mahomet the Second entered it, sir, in the year 1453 A. D."
"Very good. I begin to have more confidence in you. And why is Homer considered a much greater poet than Virgil?"
"More masculine, more powerful, sir, and far more original. In fact the Romans in their literature, as in nearly all other arts, were merely imitators of the Greeks."
The face of Master McLean relaxed into a smile.
"Excellent! Excellent!" he exclaimed. "You have done better than you claimed for yourself, but modesty is an attribute that becomes the young, and now I tell you again, Robert, that I am most glad you and Tayoga have come safely out of the forest. I wish to inform you also that Master Benjamin Hardy and his chief clerk, Jonathan Pillsbury, have arrived from New York on the fast packet, River Queen, and even now they are depositing their baggage at the George Inn, where they are expecting to stay."
Master Jacobus who had been silent while the schoolmaster talked, awoke suddenly to life.
"At the George Inn!" he exclaimed. "It iss a good inn, good enough for anybody, but when friends of mine come to Albany they stay with me or I take offense. Bide here, my friends, and I will go for them. Alexander, sit with the lads and partake of refreshment while I am gone."
He hastened from the room and Master McLean, upon being urged, joined Robert and Tayoga at the table, where he showed that he too was a good man at the board, thinness being no bar to appetite and capacity. As he ate he asked the boys many questions, and they, knowing well his kindly heart under his crusty manner, answered them all readily and freely. Elderly and bookish though he was, his heart throbbed at the tale of the great perils through which they had gone, and his face darkened when Robert told anew the story of Ticonderoga.
"It is our greatest defeat so far," he said, "and I hope our misfortunes came to a climax there. We must have repayment for it. We must aim at the heart of the French power, and that is Quebec. Instead of fighting on the defense, Britain and her colonies must strike down Canada."
"So it seems to me too, sir," said Robert. "We're permitting the Marquis de Montcalm to make the fighting, to choose the fields of battle, and as long as we do that we have to dance to his music. But, sir, that's only my opinion. I would not presume to give it in the presence of my superiors."
"You've had much experience despite your youth and you're entitled to your thoughts. But I hear heavy steps. 'Tis odds that it's Jacobus with his friends."
The door was opened and Mr. Huysman with many words of welcome ushered in his guests, who being simple and strong men brought their own baggage from the inn. Robert rose at once and faced Benjamin Hardy in whose eyes shone an undoubted gladness. The merchant did not look a day older than when Robert had last seen him in New York, and he was as robust and hearty as ever. Jonathan Pillsbury, tall, thin and dressed with meticulous care, also permitted himself a smile.
"Robert, my lad!" exclaimed Benjamin Hardy, dropping his baggage and holding out two sinewy hands. "'Tis a delight to find you and Tayoga here. I knew not what had become of you two, and I feared the worst, the times being so perilous. Upon my word, we've quite a reunion!"
Robert returned his powerful and friendly grasp. He was more than glad to see him for several reasons; for his own sake, because he liked him exceedingly, and because he was sure Master Benjamin held in his keeping those secrets of his own life which he was yet to learn.
"Sir," he said, "'tis not my house, though I've lived in it, and I know that Mr. Huysman has already given you a most thorough welcome, so I add that it's a delight to me to see you again. 'Twas a pleasant and most memorable visit that Tayoga and I had at your home in New York."
"And eventful enough, too. You came very near going to the Guineas on a slave trip. That was the kind of hospitality I offered you."
"No fault of yours, sir. I shall never forget the welcome you gave us in New York. It warms my heart now to think of it."
"I see you've not lost your gift of speech. Words continue to well from your lips, and they're good words, too. But I talk overmuch myself. Here is Jonathan waiting to speak to you. I told him I was coming to Albany. 'Upon what affair?' he asked. ''Tis secret,' I replied. 'Meaning you do not want to tell me of its nature,' he said. 'Yes,' I replied. Then he said, 'Whatever its gist, you'll need my presence and advice. I'm going with you.' And here he is. Doubtless he is right."
Jonathan Pillsbury clasped Robert's hand as warmly as he ever clasped anybody's and permitted himself a second smile, which was his limit, and only extraordinary occasions could elicit two.
"Our conversation has been repeated with accuracy," he said. "I do not yet know why I have come to Albany, but I feel sure it is well that I have come."
Mr. Huysman hustled about, his great red face glowing while fat Caterina brought in more to eat. He insisted that the new guests sit at the table and eat tremendously. It was a time when hospitality meant repeated offerings of food, which in America was the most abundant of all things, and Mr. Hardy and Mr. Pillsbury easily allowed themselves to be persuaded.
"And now, Robert, you must tell me something more about Dave," said the merchant as they rose from the table.
Young Lennox promptly narrated their adventures among the peaks and about the lakes while the older men listened with breathless attention. Nor did the story of the great hunter suffer in Robert's telling. He had an immense admiration for Willet and he spoke of his deeds with such vivid words and with so much imagery and embroidery that they seemed to be enacted again there in that quiet room before the men who listened.
"Ah, that is Dave! True as steel. As honest and brave as they ever make 'em," said Master Benjamin Hardy, when he had finished. "A man! a real man if ever one walked this earth!"
"And don't forget Tayoga here," said Robert. "The greatest trailer ever born. He saved us more than once by his ability to read the faintest sign the earth might yield."
"When Dagaeoga begins to talk he never knows how to stop," said Tayoga; "I but did the things all the warriors of my nation are taught to do. I would be unworthy to call myself a member of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, if I could not follow a trail. Peace, Dagaeoga!"
Robert joined in the laugh, and then the men began to talk about the prospects of an attack upon Albany by the French and Indians, though all of them inclined to Robert's view that Montcalm would not try it.
"As you were a prisoner among them you ought to know something about their force, Robert," said Mr. Hardy.
"I had opportunities to observe," replied the lad, "and from what I saw, and from what I have since heard concerning our numbers I judge that we were at least four to one, perhaps more. But we threw away all our advantage when we came with bare breasts against their wooden wall and sharpened boughs."
"It is a painful thing to talk about and to think about, but Britain never gives up. She marches over her mistakes and failures to triumph, and we are bone of her bone. And you saw St. Luc!"
"Often, sir. In the battle and in the preparations for it he was the right arm of the Marquis de Montcalm. He is a master of forest war."
"He is all that, Robert, my lad. A strange, a most brilliant man, he is one of our most formidable enemies."
"But a gallant one, sir. He did nothing to prevent my escape. I feel that at Ticonderoga as well as elsewhere I am greatly in his debt."
"Undoubtedly he favors you. It does not surprise me."
Intense curiosity leaped up in Robert's heart once more. What was he to St. Luc! What was St. Luc to him! All these elderly men seemed to hold a secret that was hidden from him, and yet it concerned him most. His lips twitched and he was about to ask a question, but he reflected that, as always before, it would not be answered, it would be evaded, and he restrained his eager spirit. He knew that all the men liked him, that they had his good at heart, and that when the time came to speak they would speak. The words that had risen to his lips were unspoken.
Robert felt that his elders wanted to talk, that something they would rather not tell to the lads was in their minds, and meanwhile the brilliant sunshine and free air outside were calling to him and the Onondaga.
"I think," he said, addressing them all collectively, "that Tayoga and I should go to see Lieutenant Grosvenor. He was our comrade in the forest, and he has been somewhat overcome by his great hardships."
"The idea would not be bad," said Master Benjamin Hardy. "Youth to youth, and, while you are gone, we old fellows will talk of days long ago as old fellows are wont to do."
And so they did want him and Tayoga to go! He had divined their wishes aright. He was quite sure, too, that when he and the Onondaga were away the past would be very little in their minds. These active men in the very prime of their powers were concerned most about the present and the future. Well, whatever it was he was sure they would discuss it with wisdom and foresight.
"Come, Tayoga," he said. "Outdoors is calling to us."
"And be sure that you return in time for supper," said Master Jacobus. "This house is to be your home as long as you are in Albany. I should be offended mortally if you went elsewhere."
"No danger of that," said Robert. "Tayoga and I know a good home when we find it. And we know friends, too, when we see them."
It was a bit of sentiment, but he felt it very deeply and he saw that all of the men looked pleased. As he and Tayoga went out he noticed that they drew their chairs about the dining-room table that Caterina had cleared, and before the door closed upon the two lads they were already talking in low and earnest tones.
"They have affairs of importance which are not for us," he said, when he and the Onondaga were outside.
"It is so," said Tayoga. "The white people have their chiefs and sachems like the nations of the Hodenosaunee, and their ranks are filled by age. The young warriors are for the trail, the hunt, and the war path, and not for the council. It is right that it should be thus. I do not wish to be a chief or a sachem before my time. I am glad, Dagaeoga, to enjoy youth, and let our elders do the hard thinking for us."
"So am I," said Robert joyfully as he filled his lungs with draught after draught of the fresh air. "No seat at the council for me! Not for twenty years yet! Give me freedom and action! Let others do the planning and take the responsibility!"
He felt a great elation. His sanguine temperament had made a complete rebound from the depression following Ticonderoga. Although he did not know it the result was partly physical—good food and abundant rest, but he did not seek to analyze the cause, the condition was sufficient. The color in his cheeks deepened and his eyes glowed.
"Dagaeoga is feeling very, very good," said Tayoga.
"I am," replied Robert with emphasis. "I never felt better. I'm forgetting Ticonderoga; instead, I'm beholding our army at Quebec, and I'm seeing our flag wave over all Canada."
"Dagaeoga sees what he wants to see."
"It's not a bad plan. Then the lions die in your path."
"It is so. Dagaeoga speaks a great truth. We will now see how Red Coat feels."
A portion of the army that had retreated from Ticonderoga was camped on the flats near the town, and Robert and Tayoga walked swiftly toward the tents. It was a much more silent force, British and American, than that which had gone forth not so very long ago to what seemed certain victory. Officers and men were angry. They felt that they had been beaten when there was no reason why they should have been defeated. Obeying orders, they had retreated in sullen silence, when they had felt sure they could have gone on, fought a new battle, and have crushed Montcalm. Now they waited impatiently for another call to advance on Canada, and win back their lost laurels. Both lads felt the tension.
"They are like the wounded bear," said Tayoga. "They feel very sore, and they wish for revenge."
They learned that Grosvenor was in his tent and soon found him there lying upon his blankets. Some of the ruddy color was gone from his cheeks, and he looked worn and thin. But he sat up, and welcomed Robert and Tayoga joyously.
"It's foolish of me to break down like this," he said, "but after we got back to civilization something seemed to cave in. I hope you chaps won't overlook the fact that I'm not as much used to the forest as you are, and bear in mind that I did my best."
"Red Coat's best was very good," said Tayoga in his grave, precise manner. "Few who have been in the forest as little as he could have done as much and have borne as much."
"Do you really think so, Tayoga? You're not merely flattering me?"
"Our wisest sachem would tell you so, Red Coat."
"Thanks, my friend. You make me feel better. I was lucky enough to go through the great battle with little hurt. It was a most ghastly slaughter, and I still dream of it. I stood up all right until we got back to Albany, and then I collapsed. But to-morrow I'll be on my feet again. Your friends, Colden, Wilton and Carson are all here. They showed great courage and they have some slight wounds, but not enough to trouble 'em."
Robert found the Philadelphians a little later, and they all went back to Grosvenor's tent, where they were joined in a half hour by the Virginians, Walter Stuart and James Cabell, who had been with them in Braddock's defeat and whom Robert had known at Williamsburg. It was a tight squeeze for them all in the tent, but there was another and joyous reunion. Youth responded to youth and hope was high.
"Stuart and I did not arrive in time for Ticonderoga," said Cabell, "but we mean to be in the next great battle."
"So we do!" exclaimed Cabell. "The Old Dominion had a taste of defeat at Fort Duquesne and you've had the like here. Now we'll all wait and see how victory agrees with us."
"Some of us have been in at both defeats," said Grosvenor rather sadly.
But the presence of so many friends and the cheerful talk made him feel so much better that he averred his ability to go anywhere and do anything at once.
"You've leave of absence if you wish it?" asked Cabell.
"For several days more," replied Grosvenor.
"Then let's all go into the town. I haven't had a good look at Albany yet. I want to see if it's as fine a place as Williamsburg."
"It's larger," said Robert.
"But size is not everything. That's where you northern people make your mistake."
"But you'll admit that Philadelphia's a fine city, won't you?" said Colden, "and you know it's the largest in the colonies."
"But it's comparatively near to Virginia," said Cabell briskly, "and our influence works wonders."
"We've our own conceit in Philadelphia," said Wilton, "but conceit and Virginia are just the same words, though they may have a different sound."
"Come on to the George Inn," said Grosvenor, "and you can argue it out there. Old England likes to see this healthy rivalry among her children. She doesn't mind your being bumptious."
"We're bumptious, because we're like our parent," said Cabell. "It's a matter of inheritance."
"Let the George Inn settle it. Come on, lads."
Grosvenor was feeling better and better. He was adaptable and this was a sprightly group, full of kindred spirits. The Virginians were as English as he was, and the others nearly as much so. He had acquitted himself well in the New World, in fields with which he was unfamiliar, and these lads were friends. Danger and hardships faded quite away into a forgotten past. He was strong and well once more.
"You shall all be my guests at the George Inn!" he exclaimed. "We shall have refreshment and talk, plenty of both."
"As we Virginians are the oldest people in the colonies, it's the right of Stuart and myself to be the hosts," said Cabell.
"Aye, so 'tis," said Stuart.
"As we're from Philadelphia, the greatest and finest city in the country, it's the right of Wilton, Carson and myself," said Colden.
But Grosvenor was firm. He had given the invitation first, he said, and nobody could take the privilege from him. So the others yielded gracefully, and in high good humor the eight, saying much and humming little songs, walked across the fields from the camp and into the town. Robert noticed the bustling life of Albany with approval. The forest made its appeal to him, and the city made another and different but quite as strong appeal. The old Fort Orange of the Dutch was crowded now, not only with troops but with all the forms of industry that follow in the train of an army. The thrifty Dutch, despite their apprehension over the coming of the French, were busy buying, selling, and between battles much money was made.
The George Inn, a low building but long and substantial was down by the river. The great doors stood wide open and much life flowed in and out, showing that it too profited by war. The eight found seats at a table on a sanded floor, and contented themselves with lemonade, which they drank slowly, while they talked and looked.
It was a motley and strange throng; American, English, Dutch, German, Indian, Swedish. A half dozen languages were heard in the great room, forerunner of the many elements that were to enter in the composition of the American nation. And the crowd was already cosmopolitan. Difference of race attracted no attention. Men took no notice of Tayoga because he was an Indian, unless to admire his tall, straight figure and proud carriage. Albany had known the Iroquois a century and a half.
Robert's spirits, like Grovenor's, mounted. Here he was with many friends of his own age and kindred mind. Everything took on the color of rose. All of them were talking, but his own gift of speech was the finest. He clothed narrative with metaphor and illustration until it became so vivid that the others were glad to fall silent and listen to him, though Robert himself was unconscious of the fact. They made him relate once more his story of the battle as he saw it from inside the French lines at Ticonderoga, and, just as he came to the end of the tale, he caught a glimpse of a tall man entering the tavern.
"Tell us what you saw from the other side," he said to Grosvenor, and they compelled the reluctant Englishman to talk. Then Robert turned his eyes toward the tall man who was now sitting at a small table in the corner and drinking from a long glass. Something familiar in his walk had caught his attention as he came in, and, under cover of Grosvenor's talk, he wished to observe him again without being noticed even by his own comrades.
The stranger was sitting with the side of his face to Robert, and his features were not well disclosed. His dress was that of a seafaring man, rough but rather good in texture, and a belt held a long dirk in a scabbard which was usual at that time. The hand that raised the long glass to his lips was large, red and powerful. Robert felt that his first belief was correct. He had seen him before somewhere, though he could not yet recall where, but when he turned his head presently he knew. They had met under such circumstances that neither was ever likely to forget time or place.
He was amazed that the stranger had come so boldly into Albany, but second thought told him that there was no proof against him, it was merely Robert's word against his. Among people absorbed in a great war his own story would seem wildly improbable and the stranger's would have all the savor of truth. But he knew that he could not be mistaken. He saw now the spare face, clean shaven, and the hard eyes, set close together, that he remembered so well.
Robert did not know what to do. He listened for a little while to Grosvenor's narrative but his attention wandered back to the seafaring man. Then he decided.
"Will you fellows talk on and excuse me for a few minutes?" he said.
"What is it, Lennox?" asked Colden.
"I see an acquaintance on the other side of the room. I wish to speak to him."
"That being the case, we'll let you go, but we'll miss you. Hurry back."
"I'll stay only a few minutes. It's an old friend and I must have a little talk with him."
He walked with light steps across the room which was crowded, humming with many voices, the air heavy with smoke. The man was still at the small table, and, opposite him, was an empty chair in which Robert sat deliberately, putting his elbows on the table, and staring into the hard blue eyes.
"I'm Peter Smith," he said. "You remember me?"
There was a flicker of surprise in the Captain's face, but nothing more.
"Oh, yes, Peter," he said. "I know you, but I was not looking for you just at this moment."
"But I'm here."
"Perhaps you're coming back to your duty, is that it? Well, I'm glad. I've another ship now, and though you're a runaway seaman I can afford to let bygones be bygones."
"I hope your vessel has changed her trade. I don't think I'd care to sail again on a slaver."
"Always a particular sort of chap you were, Peter. It's asking a lot for me to change the business of my ship to suit you."
"But not too much."
The conversation was carried on in an ordinary tone. Neither raised his voice a particle. Nobody took any notice. His own comrades, engrossed in lively talk, seemed to have forgotten Robert for the moment, and he felt that he was master of the situation. Certainly the slaver would be more uncomfortable than he.
"I was wondering," he said, "how long you mean to stay in Albany."
"It's a pleasant town," said the man, "as I have cause to know since I've been here before. I may remain quite a while. Still, I shall decide wholly according to my taste."
"But there is a certain element of danger."
"Oh, the war! I don't think the French even if they come to Albany will have a chance to take me."
"I didn't have the war in mind. There are other risks of which I think that I, Peter Smith, who sailed with you once before ought to warn you."
"It's good of you, Peter, to think so much of my safety, but I don't believe I've any cause for fear. I've always been able to take care of myself."
The last words were said with a little snap, and Robert knew they were meant as a defiance, but he appeared not to notice.
"Ah, well you've shown that you know how to look out for number one," he said. "I'm only Peter Smith, a humble seaman, but I've the same faculty. I bid you good-day."
"Good-day, Peter. I hope there's no ill feeling between us, and that each will have whatever he deserves!"
Cool! wonderfully cool, Robert thought, but he replied merely: "I trust so, too, and in that case it is easy to surmise what one of us would get."
He sauntered back to his comrades, and, lest he attract their attention, he did not look toward the slaver again for a minute or two. When he glanced in that direction he saw the man walking toward the door, not in any hurried manner, but as if he had all the time in the world, and need fear nobody. Cool! wonderfully cool, Robert thought a second time.
The slaver went out, and Robert thought he caught a glimpse of a man meeting him, a second man in whose figure also there was something familiar. They were gone in an instant, and he was tempted to spring up and follow them, because the figure of which he had seen but a little at the door reminded him nevertheless of Achille Garay, the spy.
THE CHEST OF DRAWERS
It was but a fleeting glimpse that Robert had of the second man, but he believed that it was Garay. He not only looked like the spy, but he was convinced that it was really he. After the first moment or two he did not doubt his identity, and making an excuse that he wanted a little fresh air and would return in an instant he walked quickly to the door. He caught another and fugitive glimpse of two men, one tall and the other short, walking away together, and he could not doubt that they were the slaver and the spy.
Had he been alone Robert would have followed them, though he was quite certain that Garay must have had some place of sure refuge, else he would not have ventured into Albany. Even with that recourse his act was uncommonly bold. If the slaver was daring, the spy was yet more so. There was nothing against the slaver that they could prove, but the spy put his neck in the noose.
Robert whistled softly to himself, and he was very thoughtful. Willet, Tayoga and he had been so completely victorious over Garay in the forest that perhaps he had underrated him. Maybe he was a man to be feared. His daring appearance in Albany must be fortified by supreme cunning, and his alliance with the slaver implied a plan. Robert believed that the plan, or a part of it at least, was directed against himself. Well, what if it was? He could meet it, and he was not afraid. He had overcome other perils, and he had friends, as true and steadfast as were ever held to any man by hooks of steel. His heart beat high, he was in a glow, his whole soul leaped forward to meet prospective danger.
He went back into the inn and took his seat with the others. Now it was Stuart who was talking, telling them of life in the great Southern colony and of its delights, of the big houses, of the fields of tobacco, of the horse races, of the long visits to neighbors, and how all who were anybody were related, making Virginia one huge family.
"Now Cabell and I," he said, "belong to the same clan. My mother and his father are third cousins, which makes us fourth cousins, or fifth is it? But whether fourth or fifth, we're cousins just the same. All the people of our blood are supposed to stand together, and do stand together. Oh, it has its delights! It makes us sufficient unto ourselves! The old Dominion is a world in itself, complete in all its parts."
"But you have to come to Philadelphia to see a great city and get a taste of metropolitan life," said Colden.
Then a discussion, friendly but warm arose as to the respective merits of the Virginia and Pennsylvania provinces, and when it was at its height and the attention of all the others was absorbed in it, Tayoga leaned over and whispered to Robert:
"What did you see at the door, Dagaeoga?"
Robert was startled. So, the Onondago was watching, after all. He might have known that nothing would escape his attention.
"I saw Garay, the spy," he replied in the same tone.
"And the man at the little table was the captain of the slave ship on which you were taken?"
"It bodes ill, Dagaeoga. You must watch."
"I will, Tayoga."
The crowd in the great room of the George Inn increased and the young group remained, eager to watch it. It was a reflex of the life in the colonies, at the seat of conflict, and throbbing with all the emotions of a great war that enveloped nearly the whole civilized world. A burly fellow, dressed as a teamster, finally made his voice heard above the others.
"I tell you men," he said, "that we must give up Albany! Our army has been cut to pieces! Montcalm is advancing with twenty thousand French regulars, and swarms of Indians! They control all of Lake George as well as Champlain! Hundreds of settlers have already fallen before the tomahawk, and houses are burning along the whole border! I have it from them that have seen the fires."
There was a sudden hush in the crowd, followed by an alarmed murmur. The man's emphasis and his startling statements made an impression.
"Go on, Dobbs! Tell us about it!" said one.
"What do you know?" asked another.
He stood up, a great tall man with a red face.
"My cousin has been in the north," he said, "and he's seen rangers, some that have just escaped from the Indians, barely saving their hair. He heard from them that the King of France has sent a big army to Canada, and that another just as big is on the way. It won't be a week before you see the French flag from the hills of Albany, and wise men are already packing ready to go to New York."
There was another alarmed hush.
"This fellow must be stopped," said Colden. "He'll start a panic."
"Dagaeoga has the gift of words," whispered a voice in Robert's ear, "and now is the time to use it."
Nothing more was needed. Robert was on fire in an instant, and, standing upon his chair, asked for attention.
"Your pardon a moment, Mr. Dobbs," he said, "if I interrupt you."
"Why it's only a boy!" a man exclaimed.
"A boy, it's true," said Robert, who now felt himself the center of all eyes, and who, as usual, responded with all his faculties to such an opportunity, "but I was present at the Battle of Ticonderoga, and perhaps I've a chance to correct a few errors into which our friend, Mr. Dobbs, has fallen."
"What are those errors?" asked the man in a surly tone, not relishing his loss of the stage.
"I'll come to them promptly," said Robert in his mellowest tones. "They're just trifles, Mr. Dobbs, but still trifles should be corrected. I stood with the French army in the battle, and I know something about its numbers, which are about one-sixth of what Mr. Dobbs claims them to be."
"What were you doing with the French?"
"I happened to be a prisoner, Mr. Dobbs. I escaped a day or two later. But here are with me young officers of ours who were in the attack. Several of them felt the sting of French bullets on that day, so when they tell you what happened they know what they're talking about. Their reports don't come from their cousins, but are the product of their own eyes and ears. Peace, Mr. Dobbs! I've the floor, or rather the chair, and I must tell the facts. We were defeated at Ticonderoga, it's true, but we were not cut to pieces. Our generals failed to bring up our artillery. They underrated the French. They went with rifles, muskets and bayonets alone against breastworks, defended by a valiant foe, for the French are valiant, and they paid the price. But our army is in existence and it's as brave as ever. Albany is in no danger. Don't be alarmed."
"You're but a boy. You don't know," growled Dobbs.
"Peace, Mr. Dobbs! Give us peace. A boy who has seen may know better than a man who has not seen. I tell you once again, friends, that the Marquis de Montcalm will not appear before Albany. It's a long way from Ticonderoga to this city, too long a road for the French army to travel. Wise men are not packing for flight to New York. Wise men are staying right here."
"Hear! Hear!" exclaimed the Virginians and Philadelphians and Grosvenor, and "Hear! Hear!" was repeated from the crowd. Dobbs' red face grew redder, but now he was silent.
"My friends," continued Robert in his golden persuasive tones, "you're not afraid, you're all brave men, but you must guard against panic. Experience tells you that rumor is irresponsible, that, as it spreads, it grows. We're going to learn from our defeat. The French are as near to Albany as they'll ever come. The war is not going to move southward. Its progress instead will be toward Quebec. Remember that panic is always a bad counselor; but that courage is ever a good one. Things are never as bad as they look."
"Hear! Hear!" exclaimed his young comrades again, and the echoes from the crowd were more numerous than before. The teamster began to draw back and presently slipped out of the door. Then Robert sat down amid great applause, blushing somewhat because he had been carried away by his feelings and apologizing to the others for making himself conspicuous.
"Nothing to apologize for," exclaimed Cabell. "'Twas well done, a good speech at the right time. You've the gift of oratory, Lennox. You should come to Virginia to live, after we've defeated the French. Our province is devoted to oratory. You've the gift of golden speech, and the people will follow you."
"I'm afraid I've made an enemy of that man, Dobbs," said Robert, "and I had enemies enough already."
His mind went back to the slaver and Garay, and he was troubled.
"We've had our little triumph here, thanks to Lennox," said Colden, "and it seems to me now that we've about exhausted the possibilities of the George. Besides, the air is getting thick. Let's go outside."
Grosvenor paid the score and they departed, a cheer following them. Here were young officers who had fought well, and the men in the George were willing to show respect.
"I think I'd better return to camp now," said Grosvenor.
"We'll go with you," said Colden, speaking for the Pennsylvanians.
"Stuart and I are detached for the present," said Cabell. "We secured a transfer from our command in Virginia, and we're hoping for commissions in the Royal Americans, and more active service, since the whole tide of war seems to have shifted to the north rather than the west."
"The Royal Americans are fine men," said Robert. "Though raised in the colonies, they rank with the British regulars. I had a good friend in one of the regiments, Edward Charteris, of New York, but he was taken at Ticonderoga. I saw the French bring him in a prisoner. I suppose they're holding him in Quebec now."
"Then we'll rescue him when we take Quebec," said Stuart valiantly.
The friends separated with promises to meet again soon and to see much of one another while they were in Albany, Grosvenor and the Pennsylvanians continuing to the camp, Cabell and Stuart turning back to the George for quarters, and Robert and Tayoga going toward the house of Mynheer Jacobus Huysman. But before they reached it young Lennox suggested that they turn toward the river.
"It is well to do so," said the Onondaga. "I think that Dagaeoga wishes to look there for a ship."
"That's in my mind, Tayoga, and yet I wouldn't know the vessel I'm looking for if I saw her."
"She will be commanded by the man whom we saw in the inn, the one with whom Dagaeoga talked."
"I've no doubt of it, Tayoga. Nothing escapes your notice."
"What are eyes for if not to see! And it is a time for all to watch; especially, it is a time for Dagaeoga to watch with his eyes, his ears and all his senses."
"I've that feeling myself."
"Something is plotting against you. The slaver did not meet the spy for nothing."
"Why should men bother about one as insignificant as I am, when the world is plunged into a great war?"
"It is because Dagaeoga is in the way of somebody. He is very much in the way or so much trouble and risk would not be taken to remove him."
"I wonder what it is Tayoga. I know that Mr. Hardy and Mr. Huysman and doubtless others hold the key to this lock, but I feel quite sure they are not going to put it in my hand just at present."
"No, they will not, but it must be for very good reasons. No one ever had better friends than Dagaeoga has in them. If they do not choose to tell him anything it will be wise for him not to ask questions."
"That's just the way I feel about it, and so I'm going to ask no questions."
A hulking figure barred their way, a red face glowed at them, and a rough voice demanded satisfaction.
"You fellow with the slick tongue, you had 'em laughing at me in the tavern," said Dobbs, the teamster. "You just the same as told 'em I was a liar when I said the French were coming."
The man was full of unreasoning anger, and he handled the butt end of a heavy whip. Yet Robert felt quite cool. His pistol was in his belt, and Tayoga was at his elbow.
"You are mistaken, my good Mr. Dobbs," he said gaily. "I would never tell a man he was a liar, particularly one to whom I had not been introduced. I try to be choice in my language. I was trained to be so by Mr. Alexander McLean, a most competent schoolmaster of this city, and I merely tried to disseminate a thought in the minds of the numerous audience gathered in the George Inn. My thought was unlike your thought, and so I was compelled to use words that did not resemble the words used by you. I was not responsible for the results flowing from them."
"I don't know what you mean," growled Dobbs. "You string a lot of big words together, and I think you're laughing at me again."
"Impossible, Mr. Dobbs. I could not be so impolite. My risibilities may be agitated to a certain extent, but laugh in the face of a stranger, never! Now will you kindly let us pass? The street here is narrow and we do not wish to crowd."
Dobbs did not move and his manner became more threatening than ever, the loaded whip swaying in his hand. Robert's light and frolicsome humor did not depart. He felt himself wholly master of the situation.
"Now, good Mr. Dobbs, kind Mr. Dobbs, I ask you once more to move," he said in his most wheedling manner. "The day is too bright and pleasant to be disturbed by angry feelings. My own temper is always even. Nothing disturbs me. I was never known to give way to wrath, but my friend whom you see by my side is a great Onondaga chieftain. His disposition is haughty and fierce. He belongs to a race that can never bear the slightest suspicion of an insult. It is almost certain death to speak to him in an angry or threatening manner. Friends as we have been for years, I am always very careful how I address him."
The teamster's face fell and he stepped back. The heavy whip ceased to move in a menacing manner in his hand.
"Prudence is always a good thing," continued Robert. "When a great Indian chieftain is a friend to a man, any insult to that man is a double insult to the chieftain. It is usually avenged with the utmost promptitude, and place is no bar. An angry glance even may invite a fatal blow."
Dobbs stepped to one side, and Robert and Tayoga walked haughtily on. The Onondaga laughed low, but with intense amusement.
"Verily it is well to have the gift of words," he said, "when with their use one, leaving weapons undrawn, can turn an enemy aside."
"I could not enter into a street fight with such a man, Tayoga, and diplomacy was needed. You'll pardon my use of you as a menace?"
"I'm at Dagaeoga's service."
"That being the case we'll now continue the search for our slaver."
They hunted carefully along the shores of the Hudson. Albany was a busy river port at all times, but it was now busier than ever, the pressure of war driving new traffic upon it from every side. Many boats were bringing supplies from further south, and others were being loaded with the goods of timid people, ready to flee from Montcalm and the French. Albany caught new trade both coming and going. The thrifty burghers profited by it and rejoiced.
"We've nothing to go on," said Robert, "and perhaps we couldn't tell the slaver's ship if we were looking squarely at it. Still, it seems to me it ought to be a small craft, slim and low, built for speed and with a sneaky look."
"Then we will seek such a vessel," said Tayoga.
Nothing answered the description. The river people were quite willing to talk and, the two falling into conversation with them, as if by chance, were able to account for every craft of any size. There was no strange ship that could be on any mysterious errand.
"It is in my mind, Dagaeoga," said Tayoga, "that this lies deeper than we had thought. The slaver would not have shown himself and he would not have talked with you so freely if he had not known that he would leave a hidden trail."
"It looks that way to me, Tayoga," said Robert, "and I think Garay must be in some kind of disguise. He would not venture so boldly among us if he did not have a way of concealing himself."
"It is in my mind, too, that we have underestimated the spy. He has perhaps more courage and resolution than we thought, or these qualities may have come to him recently. The trade of a spy is very useful to Montcalm just now. After his victory at Ticonderoga he will be anxious to know what we are doing here at Albany, and it will be the duty of Garay to learn. Besides, we put a great humiliation upon him that time we took his letter from him in the forest, and he is burning for vengeance upon us. It is not in the nature of Dagaeoga to wish revenge, but he must not blind himself on that account to the fact that others cherish it."
"It was the fortune of war. We have our disasters and our enemies have theirs."
"Yet we must beware of Garay. I know it, Dagaeoga."
"At any rate we can't find out anything about him and the slaver along the river, and that being the case I suggest that we go on to the house of Mynheer Jacobus, where we're pretty sure of a welcome."
Their greetings at the burgher's home were as warm as anybody could wish. Master McLean had left, and the rest were talking casually in the large front room, but the keen eyes of the Onondaga read the signs infallibly. This was a trail that could not be hidden from him.
"Other men have been here," he said a little later to Robert, when they were alone in the room. "There has been a council."
"How do you know, Tayoga?"
"How do I know, Dagaeoga? Because I have eyes and I use them. It is printed all over the room in letters of the largest type and in words of one syllable. The floor is of polished wood, Dagaeoga, and there is a great table in the center of the chamber. The chairs have been moved back, but eight men sat around it. I can count the faint traces made by the chairs in the polish of the floor. They were heavy men—most of the men of Albany are heavy, and now and then they moved restlessly, as they talked. That was why they ground the chair legs against the polish, leaving there little traces which will be gone in another hour, but which are enough while they last to tell their tale.
"They moved so, now and then because their talk was of great importance. They smoked also that they might think better over what they were saying. A child could tell that, because smoke yet lingers in the room, although Caterina has opened the windows to let it out. Some of it is left low down in the corners, and under the chairs now against the wall. A little of the ash from their pipes has fallen on the table, showing that although Caterina has opened the windows she has not yet had time to clean the room. You and I know, Dagaeoga, that she would never miss any ash on the table. Master McLean smoked much, perhaps more than any of the others. He uses the strongest Virginia tobacco that he can obtain, and I know its odor of old. I smell it everywhere in the room. I also know the odor of the tobacco that Mynheer Jacobus uses, and it is strongest here by the mantel, showing that in the course of the council he frequently got up and stood here. Ah, there is ash on the mantel itself! He tapped it now and then with his pipe to enforce what he was saying. Mynheer Jacobus was much stirred, or he would not have risen to his feet to make speeches to the others."
"Can you locate Master Hardy also?"
"I think I can, Dagaeoga."
He ran around the room like a hound on the scent, and, at last, he stopped before a large massive locked chest of drawers that stood in the corner, a heavy mahogany piece that looked as if it had been imported from France or Italy.
"Master Jacobus came here," said the Onondaga. "I smell his tobacco. Ah, and Master Hardy came, too! I now smell his tobacco also. I remember that when we were in New York he smoked a peculiar, bitter West India compound which doubtless is brought to him regularly in his ships—men nearly always have a favorite tobacco and will take every trouble to get it. I recognize the odor perfectly. There are traces of the ash of both tobaccos on the chest of drawers, and Master Huysman and Master Hardy came here, because there are papers in this piece of furniture which Master Huysman wished to show to Master Hardy. They are in the third drawer from the top, because there is a little dust on the others, but none on the third. It fell off when it was opened, and was then shut again strongly after they were through."
Robert gazed with intense curiosity at the third drawer. The papers in it might concern himself—he believed Tayoga implicitly—but it was not for him to pry into the affairs of two such good friends. If they wished to keep their secret a while longer, then they had good reasons for doing so.
"Did the others come to the chest of drawers also, and look at the papers?" he asked.
The Onondaga knelt down and examined the polished floor.
"I do not think so," he replied at length. "It is wholly likely that Master Jacobus and Master Hardy came to the chest of drawers after the others had gone, and that the papers had no bearing on the matters they talked over in the council. Yes, it is so! It is bound to be so! The odor of their two tobaccos is stronger than any of the other odors in the room, showing that they were in here much longer than the others. It may be that the papers in the third drawer relate to Dagaeoga."
"I had that thought myself, Tayoga."
"Does Dagaeoga wish me to go further with it?"
"No, Tayoga. What those men desire to hide from us must remain hidden."
"I am glad Dagaeoga has answered that way, because if he had not I should have refused to go on, and yet I knew that was the way in which he would answer."
They went to another room in which they found Mr. Huysman, Mr. Hardy and the clerk, and Robert told of his meeting with the slaver. The face of Benjamin Hardy darkened.
"Tayoga is right," he said. "That man's presence here bodes ill for you, Robert."
"I'm not afraid. Besides I've too many friends," said Robert quietly.
"Both your statements are true, but you must be careful just the same," interjected Master Jacobus. "Nevertheless, we'll not be apprehensive. Master McLean iss coming back for supper, and we're going to make it a great affair, a real reunion for all of us. Caterina, helped by two stout colored women, has been cooking all the afternoon, and I hope that you two boys have had enough exercise and excitement to whet your appetites. How iss it?"
"We have, sir!" they replied together, and with emphasis.
"And now to your old room. You'll find there in a closet clothes for both of you, Tayoga's of his own kind, that Caterina has preserved carefully, and at six o'clock come in to supper, which to-day iss to be our chief meal. I would not have Benjamin Hardy to come all the way from New York and say that I failed to set for him as good a meal as he would set for me if I were his guest in his city. Not only my hospitality but the hospitality of Albany iss at stake."
"I know, sir, that your reputation will not suffer," said Robert with great confidence.
He and Tayoga in their room found their clothes preserved in camphor and quickly made the change. Then they stood by the window, looking out on the pleasant domain, in which they had spent so many happy hours. Both felt a glow.
"Master Jacobus Huysman is a good man," said Robert.
"A wise, fat chief," said the Onondaga. "A kind heart and a strong head. He is worthy to rule. If he belonged to the league of the Hodenosaunee we would put him in a high place."
"Though he holds no office, I think he sits in a high place here. It is likely that the men who were around the table to-day came to him for counsel."
"It seems a good guess to me, Dagaeoga. Perhaps they take measures to meet the threat of Montcalm."
"They're our elders, and we'll let them do the thinking on that point just now. Somehow, I feel light of heart, Tayoga, and I want to enjoy myself."
"Even though the slaver and the spy are here, and we all believe that they threaten you?"
"Even so. My heart is light, nevertheless. My mind tells me that I ought to be apprehensive and sad, but my heart has taken control and I am hopeful and gay?"
"It is the nature of Dagaeoga, and he should give thanks to Manitou that he has been made that way. It is worth much more to him than the white man's gold."
"I am thankful, Tayoga. I'm thankful for a lot of things. How does this coat look on me?"
"It is small. You have grown much in the last year or two. Your frame is filling out and you are bigger every way. Still, it is a fine coat, and the knee breeches, stockings and buckled shoes are very splendid. If Dagaeoga does not look like a chief it is only because he is not old enough, and he at least looks like the son of a chief."
Robert contemplated himself in a small mirror with much satisfaction.
"I'm frightfully tanned," he said. "Perhaps they wouldn't take me for a model of fashion in Paris or London, but here nearly everybody else is tanned also, and, after all, it's healthy."
The Onondaga regarded him with an amused smile.
"If Dagaeoga had the time and money he would spend much of both on dress," he said. "He loves to make a fine appearance."
"You say nothing but the truth," said Robert frankly. "I hope some day to have the very best clothes that are made. A man who respects his clothes respects himself. I know no sin in trying to please the eyes of others and incidentally myself. I note, Tayoga, that on occasion you array yourself with great splendor, and that, at all times, you're very particular about your attire."
"It is so, Dagaeoga. I spoke in terms of approval, not of criticism. Are you satisfied with yourself?"
"As much as possible under the circumstances. If I could achieve the change merely by making a wish I'd have the coat and breeches of a somewhat richer hue, and the buckles on the shoes considerably larger, but they'll do. Shall we sit here and rest until Caterina calls us for supper?"
"I think so, Dagaeoga."
But it was not long until the summons came, and they went into the great dining-room, where the elder company was already gathered. Besides Mr. Huysman, Benjamin Hardy, Jonathan Pillsbury, and Alexander McLean, there were Nicholas Ten Broeck and Oliver Suydam, two of Albany's most solid burghers, and Alan Hervey, another visitor from New York, a thin man of middle years and shrewd looks, whom Robert took to be a figure in finance and trade. All the elders seemed to know one another well, and to be on the best of terms.
Robert and Tayoga were presented duly, and made their modest acknowledgments, sitting together near the end of the table.
"These lads, young as they are," said Master Jacobus Huysman, "have had much experience of the present war. One of them was a prisoner of the French at Ticonderoga and saw the whole battle, while the other fought in it. Before that they were in innumerable encounters and other perils, usually with the great hunter, David Willet, of whom you all know, and who, I regret, is not here."
"It is no more than thousands of others have done," said Robert, blushing under his tan.
Hervey regarded him and Tayoga with interest. The Onondaga was in full Indian dress, but Albany was used to the Iroquois, and that fact was not at all exceptional.
"War is a terrible thing," he said, "and whether a nation is or is not to endure depends very much upon its youth."
"We always think that present youth is inferior to what our own youth was," said Mr. Hardy. "That, I believe, is a common human failing. But Master McLean ought to know. Forty years of youth, year after year have passed through his hands. What say you, Alexander?"
"Youth is youth," replied the schoolmaster, weighing his sentences, "and by those words I mean exactly what I say. I think it changes but little through all the ages, and it is probably the same to-day that it was in old Babylon. I find in my schoolroom that the youth of this year is just like the youth of ten years ago, just as the youth of ten years ago was exactly like the youth of twenty, thirty and forty years ago."
"And what are the cardinal points of this formative age, Alexander?" asked Master Jacobus.
"Speaking mildly, I would call it concentration upon self. The horizon of youth is bounded by its own eye. It looks no farther. As it sees and feels it, the world exists for youth. We elders, parents, uncles, guardians and such, live for its benefit. We are merely accessories to the great and main fact, which is youth."
"Do you believe that to be true, Robert?" asked Master Benjamin Hardy, a twinkle in his eye.
"I hope it's not, sir," replied Robert, reddening again under his tan.
"But it's true and it will remain true," continued the schoolmaster judicially. "It was equally true of all of us who passed our youth long ago. I do not quarrel with it. I merely state a fact of life. Perhaps if I could I would not strip youth of this unconscious absorption in self, because in doing so we might deprive it of the simplicity and directness, the artless beliefs that make youth so attractive."
"I hold," said Mr. Hervey, "that age is really a state of mind. We believe certain things at twenty, others at thirty, others at forty, and so on. The beliefs of twenty are true at twenty, we must not try them by the tests of thirty, nor must we try those of thirty by the tests of forty or fifty. So how are we to say which age is the wiser, when every age accepts as true what it believes, and, so makes it true? I agree, too, with Mr. McLean, that I would not change the character of youth if I could. Looking back upon my own youth I find much in it to laugh at, but I did not laugh at it at the time. It was very real to me then, and so must its feelings be to the youth of to-day."
"We wade into deep waters," said Mynheer Jacobus, "and we may go over our heads. Ah, here are the oysters! I hope that all of you will find them to your liking."
A dozen were served for every guest—it was the day of plenty, the fields and woods and waters of America furnishing more food than its people could consume—and they approached them with the keen appetites of strong and healthy men.
"Perhaps we do not have the sea food here that you have in New York, Alan," said Master Jacobus with mock humility, "but we give you of our best."
"We've the finest oysters in the world, unless those of Baltimore be excepted," said Hervey, "but yours are, in truth, most excellent. Perhaps you can't expect to equal us in a specialty of ours. You'll recall old Tom Cotton's inn, out by the East River, and how unapproachably he serves oyster, crab, lobster and every kind of fish."
"I recall it full well, Alan. I rode out the Bowery road when I was last in New York, but I did not get a chance to go to old Tom's. You and I and Benjamin have seen some lively times there, when we were a bit younger, eh, Alan?"
"Aye, Jacobus, you speak truly. We were just as much concentrated upon self as the youth of to-day. And in our elderly hearts we're proud of the little frivolities and dissipations that were committed then. Else we would never talk of 'em and chuckle over 'em to one another."
"And what is more, we're not too old yet for a little taste of pleasure, now and then, eh, Alexander?"
The schoolmaster, appealed to so directly, pursed his thin lips, lowered his lids to hide the faint twinkle in his eyes, and replied in measured tones:
"I cannot speak for you, Jacobus. I've known you a long time and your example is corrupting, but I trust that I shall prove firm against temptation."
The oysters were finished. No man left a single one untouched on his plate, and then a thick chicken soup was served by two very black women in gay cotton prints with red bandanna handkerchiefs tied like turbans around their heads. Robert could see no diminution in the appetite of the guests, nor did he feel any decrease in his own. Mr. Hervey turned to him.
"I hear you saw the Marquis de Montcalm himself," he said.
"Yes, sir," replied Robert. "I saw him several times, at Ticonderoga, and before that in the Oswego campaign. I've been twice a prisoner of the French."
"How does he look?"
"Of middle age, sir, short, dark and very polite in speech."
"And evidently a good soldier. He has proved that and to our misfortune. Yet, I cannot but think that we will produce his master. Now, I wonder who it is going to be. Under the English system the best general does not always come forward first, and perhaps we've not yet so much as heard the name of the man who is going to beat Montcalm. That he will be beaten I've no doubt. We'll conquer Canada and settle North American affairs for all time. Perhaps it will be the last great war."
Robert was listening with the closest attention, and it seemed to him that the New Yorker was right. With Canada conquered and the French power expelled it would be the last great war so far as North America was concerned? How fallible men are! How prone they are to think when they have settled things for themselves they have settled them also for all future generations!
"And then," continued Mr. Hervey, "New York will become a yet greater port than it now is. It may even hope to rival Philadelphia in size and wealth. It will be London's greatest feeder."
The soup, not neglected in the least, gave way to fish, and then to many kinds of meat, in which game, bear, deer and wild fowl were conspicuous. Robert took a little of everything, but he was absorbed in the talk. He felt that these men were in touch with great affairs, and, however much they diverged from such subjects they had them most at heart. It was a thrilling thought that the future of North America, in some degree at least, might be determined around that very table at which he was sitting as a guest. He had knowledge and imagination enough to understand that it was not the armies that determined the fate of nations, but the men directing them who stood behind them farther back, in the dark perhaps, obscure, maybe never to become fully known, but clairvoyant and powerful just the same. He was resolved not to lose a word. So he leaned forward just a little in his seat, and his blue eyes sparkled.
"Dagaeoga is glad to be here," said Tayoga in an undertone.
"So I am, Tayoga. They talk of things of which I wish to hear."
"As I told you, these be sachems with whom we sit. They be not chiefs who lead in battle, but, like the sachems, they plan, and, like the medicine men, they make charms and incantations that influence the souls of the warriors and also the souls of those who lead them to battle."
"The same thought was in my own mind."
Wine smuggled from France or Spain was served to the men, though young Lennox and the Onondaga touched none. In truth, it was not offered to them, Master Jacobus saying, with a glance at Robert:
"I have never allowed you and Tayoga to have anything stronger than coffee in my house, and although you are no longer under my charge I intend to keep to the rule."
"We wish nothing more, sir," said Robert.
"As for me," said the Onondaga, "I shall never touch any kind of liquor. I know that it goes ill with my race."
"Yours, I understand, is the Onondaga nation," said Mr. Hervey, looking at him attentively.
"The Onondaga, and I belong to the clan of the Bear," replied Tayoga proudly. "The Hodenosaunee have held the balance in this war."
"That I know full well. I gladly give the great League ample credit. It has been a wise policy of the English to deal honestly and fairly with your people. In general the French surpass us in winning and holding the affections of the native races, but some good angel has directed us in our dealings with the Six Nations. Without their Indians the French could have done little against us. I hear of one of their leaders who has endeared himself to them in the most remarkable manner. There has been much talk in New York of the Chevalier de St. Luc, and being nearer the seat of action you've perhaps heard some of it here in Albany, Jacobus!"
Robert leaned a little farther forward and concentrated every faculty on the talk, but he said nothing.
"Yes, we've heard much of him, Alan," replied Master Jacobus. "I think he's the most dangerous foe that we have among Montcalm's lieutenants. He passes like a flame along the border, and yet report speaks well of him, too. All our men who have come in contact with him say he is a gallant and chivalrous foe."
Robert glanced at Master Benjamin Hardy, but the great merchant's face was blank.
"Robert saw him, too, when he was a prisoner among the French," said Mr. Huysman.
Mr. Hervey looked at Robert, who said:
"I saw him several times at Ticonderoga, where he was the chief adviser of Montcalm during the battle, and I've seen him often elsewhere. All that they say about him is true. He's a master of forest warfare, and his following is devoted."
He glanced again at Benjamin Hardy, but the New Yorker was helping himself to an especially tender bit of venison and his face expressed nothing but appreciation of his food. Robert sighed under his breath. They would never do more than generalize about St. Luc. Tayoga and he asked presently to be excused. The men would sit much longer over their nuts and wine, and doubtless when the lads were gone they would enter more deeply into those plans and ventures that lay so near their hearts.
"I think I shall wander among the trees behind the house," said Tayoga, when they were out of the dining-room. "I want fresh air, and I wish to hear the wind blowing among the leaves. Then I can fancy that I am back in the great forest, and my soul will be in peace."
"And commune, perhaps, with Tododaho on his star," said Robert, not lightly but in all seriousness.
"Even so, Dagaeoga. He may have something to tell me, but if he does not it is well to be alone for a while."
"I won't let you be alone just yet, because I'm going out with you, but I don't mean to stay long, and then you can commune with your own soul."
It was a beautiful night, cooled by a breeze which came crisp and strong from the hills, rustling through the foliage, already beginning to take on the tints of early autumn. After the warm room and many courses of food it was very grateful to the two lads who stood under the trees listening to the pleasant song of the breeze. But in five minutes Robert said:
"I'm going back into the house now, Tayoga. I can see your star in the clear heavens, and perhaps Tododaho will speak to you."
"I shall see. Farewell for an hour, Dagaeoga."
Robert went in.
THE PURSUIT OF GARAY
Robert paused a few moments in the hall. Sounds of voices came from the dining room, showing that the supper was still in progress. He thought of going back there to listen to the talk, but he reflected that the time for youth at the table had passed. They were in their secrets now, and he strolled toward the large room that contained the chest of drawers.
A dim light from an unshuttered window shone into the apartment and it was in his mind to wait there for Tayoga, but he stopped suddenly at the door and stared in astonishment. A shadow was moving in the room, thin, impalpable and noiseless, but it had all the seeming of a man. Moreover, it had a height and shape that were familiar, and it reminded him of the spy, Garay.
He was too much surprised to move, and so he merely stared. Garay knelt before the chest of drawers and began to work at it with a small sharp tool that he drew from his coat. Robert saw, too, that his attention was centered on the third drawer from the top. Then he came out of his catalepsy and started forward, but in doing so his foot made a slight noise on the floor.
Garay leaped to his feet, gave Robert one glance and then disappeared through the open window, with incredible dexterity and speed. Robert stared again. The man was there and then he was not. It could not be Garay, but his ghost, some illusion, a trick of the eye or mind. Then he knew it was no fancy. With extraordinary assurance the man had come there to rifle the drawer—for what purpose Robert knew not.
He ran to the window, but saw nothing save the peaceful night, the waving trees and the quiet lawn lying beyond. Then he walked to the chest and examined the third drawer, noticing new scratches around the lock. There was not the slightest doubt that Garay had been trying to open it.
He went to the door, resolved to tell Mr. Huysman at once of the attempt upon the chest, but he stopped irresolute. The low sounds of talk still came from the dining-room. He was only a boy and his was a most improbable tale. They might think he had been dreaming, though he knew full well that he had seen straight and true. And then Garay was gone, leaving no trace. No, he would not interrupt Mr. Huysman now, but he would talk it over with Tayoga.
He found the Onondaga standing among the trees, gazing with rapt vision at his star.
"Did Tododaho speak to you?" asked Robert.
"He did," replied Tayoga earnestly.
"What did he say?"
"That the great war will go on, and that you and I and the Great Bear, who is away, will encounter many more perils. The rest is veiled."
"And while we take our ease, Tayoga, our enemies are at work."
"What does Dagaeoga mean?"
"I went into the room containing the chest of drawers, the story of which you read, and found there Garay, the spy, trying to open it."
"Dagaeoga does not dream?"
"Oh, I thought for a moment or two that I did, but it was reality. Garay escaped through the open window, and, on the lock of the third drawer, were scratches that he left where he had been working with a sharp tool. Come, Tayoga, and look at them."
The two went into the house. Robert lighted a lamp for better light, and Tayoga knelt before the drawer, giving it a long and close examination.
"Garay is a very clever man," he said at last, "much cleverer, perhaps, than we gave him the credit of being."
"I think so too," said Robert.
"As events show, he came into this house to obtain the papers in this drawer, and you and I feel quite certain that those papers concern you. And as you saw him and the slaver together, it indicates that they have some plot against you, what I know not. But the papers here have much to do with it."
"Do you think I should speak of it to Master Jacobus and Mr. Hardy now?"
"I think not, Dagaeoga. Whatever is the mystery about you it is evident that they do not wish to tell you of it yet. So, being what you are, you will not ask them, but wait until such time as they see fit. I think these scratches on the lock were made by the sharp point of a hunting knife. Garay did not succeed in opening it, though it is likely that he would have done so if you had not interrupted him."
"When he saw me he was gone like a flash. I did not know a man could skip through a window with so much celerity."
"One has to be skillful at such things to carry on the trade of a spy. That is why he could have opened this lock, large and strong as it is, with the point of his hunting knife had he been allowed time, and that is why he flew through the window like a bird when you came upon him."
He examined the window, and then laughed a little.
"But he did not go without leaving further proof of himself," he said. "Here on the sill is the faintest trace of blood where he bruised his hand or wrist in his rapid flight."
"Suppose you try to trail him, Tayoga. I believe you could find out which way he went, even here in Albany. The men will talk in there a long time, and won't miss us. There's a fair moon."
"I will try," said Tayoga in his precise fashion. "First we will look at the ground under the window."
They went outside and the Onondaga examined the grass beneath it, the drop being five or six feet.
"As he had to come down hard, he ought to have left traces," said Robert.
"So he did, Dagaeoga. I find several imprints, and there also are two or three drops of blood, showing that he scratched his hand considerably when he went through the window. Here go the traces, leading north. Garay, of course, knows this immediate locality well, as he observed it closely when he made his attempt upon you before. It is lucky that it rained yesterday, leaving the ground soft. We may be able to follow him quite a distance."
"If anybody can follow him, you can."
"It is friendship that makes Dagaeoga speak so. The trail continues in its original course, though I think that sooner or later it will turn toward the river."
"Meaning that Garay will meet the slaver somewhere, and that the natural place of the latter is on the water."
"Dagaeoga reasons well. That, I think, is just what Garay will do. It is likely, too, that he will curve about the town. If he went upon a hard street we would lose him, since he would leave no trail there, but he will keep away because he does not wish to be seen. Ah, he now turns from the houses and into the fields! We shall be able to follow him. The moon is our friend. It is pouring down rays enough to disclose his trail, if trail he leaves."
They were soon beyond the houses and climbed three fences dividing the fields. At the third, Tayoga said:
"Garay paused here and rested. There is a drop of blood on the top rail. He probably sat there and looked back to see if he was followed. Ah, here is a splinter on a lower rail freshly broken!"
"What do you make of it, Tayoga?"
"The spy was angry, angry that his effort, made at such great risk, should have failed through the mere chance of your coming into the room at that particular time. He was angry, too, that he had bruised his hand so badly that it bled, and continued to bleed. So, his disappointment made him grind his heel against the rail and break the splinter."
"I'm glad he felt that way. A man in his trade ought to suffer many disappointments."
"When he had satisfied himself that no pursuit was in sight, he jumped to the ground. Here are deep imprints made by his descending weight, and now he becomes less careful. Albany is behind us, and he thinks all danger of pursuit has passed. I see a little brook ahead, and it is safe to say that he will kneel at it and drink."
"And also to bathe his wounded hand."
"Even so, Dagaeoga. Lo, it is as we said! Here are the imprints of his knees, showing that he refreshed himself with water after his hurried flight. The ground on the other side of the brook is soft and we shall be able to find his imprints there, even if it were pitch dark. Now I think they will turn very soon toward the river."
"Yes, they're curving. Here they go, Tayoga."
The trail led across a field, over a hill, and then through a little wood, where Tayoga was compelled to go slowly, hunting about like a hound, trying to trace a scent. But wherever he lost it he finally picked it up again, and, when they emerged from the trees, they saw the river not far ahead.
"Our trail will end at the stream," said Tayoga confidently.
As he had predicted, the imprints led directly to the river, and there ended their pursuit also. The Hudson flowed on in silence. There was nothing on its bosom.
"The slaver in a boat was waiting for him here," said Tayoga. "I think we can soon find proof of it."
A brief examination of the bank showed traces where the prow had rested.
"It was probably a boat with oars for two," he said. "The slaver sat in it most of the time, but he grew impatient at last and leaving the boat walked up the bank a little distance. Here go his steps, showing very plainly in the soft earth in the moonlight, and here come those of Garay to meet him. They stood at the top of the bank under this oak, and the spy told how he had failed. Doubtless, the slaver was much disappointed, but he did not venture to upbraid Garay, because the spy is as necessary to him as he is to the spy. After they talked it over they walked down the bank together—see their trails going side by side—entered the boat and rowed away. I wish the water would leave a trail, too, that we might follow them, but it does not."
"Do you think they'll dare go back to Albany?"
"The slaver will. What proof of any kind about anything have we? Down! Dagaeoga, down!"
Fitting the action to the word, the Onondaga seized Robert by the shoulders suddenly and dragged him to the earth, falling with him. As he did so a bullet whistled where Robert's head had been and a little puff of smoke rose from a clump of bushes on the opposite shore.