Boys of Liberty Library A new series of splendid tales of the wonderful and stirring adventures of boys who fought in The Revolutionary War, The French and Indian Wars, and Naval Battles of 1812. The stories are written in an intensely interesting style, and no boy can read them without being aroused to the highest pitch of patriotic enthusiasm. We give herewith a list of titles now ready. Read the first and you will want to read all the others. Uniform with this volume in size, style, and price. Each, postpaid, 50 cts Paul Revere . The First Shot for Liberty Fooling the Enemy . Into the Jaws of Death The Hero of Ticonderoga On to Quebec . Fighting Hal . Marion and His Men The Young Ambassador The Young Guardsman The Cruise of the Lively Bee The Tory Plot . In Buff and Blue Washington's Young Spy Under Greene's Banner Captain of the Minute Men The Quaker Spy Fighting for Freedom By Order of the Colonel A Call to Duty In Glory's Van The King's Messenger Dashing Paul Jones From Midshipman to Commodore The Cruise of the Essex By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By John De Morgan. By T. C. Harbaugh. By T. C. Harbaugh. By T. C. Harbaugh. By T. C. Harbaugh. By Harrie Irving Hancock. By Lieut. Lounsberry. By Lieut. Lounsberry. By Lieut. Lounsberry. By Lieut. Lounsberry. By Lieut. Lounsberry. By Capt. Frank Ralph. By Frank Sheridan. By Frank Sheridan By Frank Sheridan.
"Knocking the gun upward so that the powder was displaced from th e pan." (See P ge i95)
THE KING'S MESSENGER OR THE FALL OF TICONDEROGA BY / CAPTAIN FRANK RALPH, U.S. A. PHILADELPHIA DAVID McKAY, PUBLISHER 610 SOUTH WASHINGTON SQUARE
Copyright, 1904 By STREET & SMITH 'fhe King's Messenger
THE KING'S MESSENGER. CHAPTER I. THANKS TO THE WOLVES. "Listen, Eben !" "What did ye think ye heard, Rober t ?" "It sounded like some one shouting for hel p. "Out on the water?" "Nay, nay, rather ove r yonder d o wn the wind, an d a long the shore. There it is once again." "Surel y it is true. Let us look to our guns and make haste in that direction. These be troublous times, and it may pay us to be cautious, Robert." "As if you were ever that. But come, if you are ready let us make a start, for whoever the fellow may be, he certainly wants all good people to know he is there." They were two sturdy-looking lads of about sixtee n
6 Thanks to the Wolves. Perhaps, in comparison with boys of the same age in this present day, they might have appeared much older than their years. It must be remembered that in the troublous times just preceding the breaking out of the Revoluntionary War care sat heavy upon the hearts of all those colonists who loved their country. Striplings carried guns at Lexington and Bunker Hill, and many a brave lad far from the threshold of manhood gave his young life upon the sacred altar of his country's freedom. It was in the spring of '76 The ice had but recently gone out of Lake Cham plain, and there was still a keen, frosty touch to the air, particularly when evening began to approach. These two youngsters had crossed the lake from the shore of the Green Mountain colony, presumably bent upon a hunt of some sort, since both of them carried the old, long-barreled, flint-lock muskets of our fore fathers' days. And Eben dangled over his shoulder a bundle done
Thatiks to the Wolves. 7 up in a deerskin, which seemed to indicate that their quest for game had been fairly successful. Of the two Eben appeared to be the stouter, his broad back being capable of bearing a heavy burden. Robert Masters was more supple in build, and his handsome face stood in contrast to the freckled one of his companion, with its pugnacious nose and surrounded by a shock of fiery-red hair. Though such opposites, so far as looks went, the two had long been sworn chums, and whether attending the village school, the tountry barn dance, or roaming the grand hills bordering the eastern shore of the lake, were always to be found in company. The day was even now near its end. Indeed, the sun had vanished behind the rugged foot hills that stood up like sentries guarding the gateway into that remarkable wilderness since known as the Adirondacks. Night comes slowly in these northern latitudes, however, so that as the boys followed the shore of the lake they found plenty of light to guide their foot steps by.
., 8 Thanks to the Wolves. The shouting grew louder. Plainly the man who gave tongue had reason to be worried over something. And, judging from the hoa;-seness of his voice, he must have been calling for help a long time. The nearer the bqys drew the more puzzled they became. Could a tree have fallen upon him? They knew of such instances among the backwoods pioneers ; but it hardly seemed likely that a man would be felling timber in this most lovely of localities, and within a few miles of the massive walls of Fort Ticon deroga, over which floated the banner of King George. "What do you think can be wtong, Eben?" asked Robert, unable to solve the mystery himself, and won dering whether his friend's wits were keener' than his own. "I guess I know, because I heard the snarl of a wolf just as ye spoke." Robert unconsciously pulled back the hammer of his faithful old gun, his father's property, and reckoned very valuable in those days when money was scarce.
Thanks to the Wolves. 9 "Everyone says they seem to be pretty fierce this spring. It was a hard winter on game, and the beasts are hungry. I've been expecting to have trouble over here all day. Yes, I think you must be right. The fellow, whoever he may be, has been run up a tree." "A redcoat from the fort yonder, perhaps, and he shouted in hopes of bringing help," remarked Eben, nodding his head wisely. "But the wind happens to be in the wrong quarter for that. Besides, the waves keep up such a noise along the shore that he could not be heard a quarter of that distance." "The poor critter seems to be pretty badly scart." Robert gave his companion a queer look, and laughed. "You ought to know how he feels, Eben Hopper. Didn't you sit up in the forks of a pine all one night, keeping a couple of wild cats at bay?" he remarked. Eben nodded his head and grinned. "True, there is little fun in it, I say, and so I pity yonder poor devil. If he were my worst enemy I could not wish him harder luck. But we are almost there, and
IO Thanks to the Wolves. soon he will be laughing over his pickle. You know I did after you came with some of the boys, and bagged the wild cats. But, after the cudgeling I gave the beasts, their skins never brought a shilling." They conversed no longer, since by this time they had arrived at a point where the snarling of the wolves could be plainly heard. And in the midst they also caught a whining, com plaining human voice. The imprisoned man seemed to be losing hope, and must be utterly exhausted from his lengthy vigil. He tried to shout again. Why, his voice was that hoarse and weak it could not have carried three furlongs under favorable condi tions. The two boys pushed forward. There was that in the situation to arouse the hunter instinct, which always runs strong in pioneer blood, so that little chaps toddling around look forward eagerly to the day when the y may be intrusted with "dad's gun," and set out upon a search for game.
Thanks to the Wolves. II In another minute they broke cover, and had the strange scene spread before them. A number of gaunt-looking animals were squatted on their haunches, looking eagerly up into the branches of a big pine or hemlock. From the way in which they thrust out their red tongues and licked their chops, it would seem that these hungry brutes anticipated the coming of that moment when their expected game, weakened by fatigue and lack of food, would tumble from his perch. And Robert, judging from the weakness and terror shown in the man's voice, fancied they had not arrived upon the scene any too soon. Even as they came in sight of the pack, one old fel low was going through a species of gymnastics, leap ing high in the air, and snapping viciously at the lower limb of the hemlock. The crafty beast hardly expected to gain a lodgment in the tree, so that these maneuvers must have been more in the line of adding to the fright of the wretched mortal above. Of course the wolves knew of the approach of other
12 Thanks to the Wolves. human beings, their displeasure being evidenced by an exhibition of white fangs, and a series of blood curdling growls. It took something more than this to frighten the stout-hearted lads of pre-Revoluntionary times. Witness one Israel Putnam, afterwards a hero in the war, who, single-handed, crawled into the forbidding den of a savage wolf and dragged the monster forth. No wonder such a fearless youth grew up into man hood, and in the pages of history has thrilled succeeding generations by such deeds as his mad gallop down the flight of natural stone steps, whither the pursuing British dragoons dared not follow. "They mean fight !" exclaimed Eben, dropping on one knee, the better to draw bead with his long-bar reled gun. Robert had already selected his game. He was always quick in his actions, and thus his gun spoke before his companion could press trigger. And that the young colonist had learned well how to use his weapon was immediately proven, for one
Thanks to the Wolves. 13 of the savage beasts immediately fell over in the throes of death. Strange to say, the scent of warm blood so excited the balance of the pack that they pounced upon the unlucky one and proceeded to rend him apart. Eben had a fine mark, but he knew too much to fire at random. Having picked out his game he let fly, and was gratified to discover that his lead had not been wasted. Already was Robert using his powder horn, and the patched bullet followed fast after it down the interior of the gun barrel, being urged on by several smart blows delivered with the invaluable ramrod. When once more "old Betsy" spoke, it was with no uncertain sound. A third beast having succumbed, the few remaining members of the pack seemed seized with a sudden fear. At any rate, they bounded off and vanished in the darkening woods, though all that night their disap pointed, long-drawn howls would come floating down along the sides of the wooded hills. Our boys hurried forward.
Thanks to the Wolves. Their eyes were, of course, fixed upon the thick hem lock, at the foot of which the wolves had been en camped. "Do ye see him?" demanded Eben eagerly. "I think I do-look! look! Why, he has tumbled over-poor fellow, I expect we just got here in time," cried Robert, as with somewhat of a crash a figure dropped to the earth. The lower branches broke his fall, so that he could not be much hurt, though he lay in a heap close beside the bodies of his savage tormentors, one of which s till snapped his jaws, having been shot through the hips, so that his body was paralyzed. Eben knew what to do in such a case. Clubbing his gun he brought the stock down with a crash upon the head of the wounded one. That wolf snapped his jaws no longer. Meanwhile, Robert bent over the man who had been so near to death. He was a stranger, but there were plain indications that he had some connection with the soldiers of the king, for there was that in his garb to proclaim 1t.
Thanks to the W olvcs. At this time the colonists felt little love for the minions of King George. Discontent and murmurings were heard all over the land, and the news of Lexington was being spread broadcast, as fast as horsemen could carry the great tidings. Nevertheless, Robert could not feel harshly toward one who had just passed through such a terrible experience. "He has fainted," he said, looking up as his com panion joined him, there being no more wolves to slay. Eben snorted his disgust. He had a boy's feeling of contempt for anyone weak enough to swoon. That sort of thing belonged to the other and weaker sex, according to his notions. "We must have some water," declared Robert, pres ently, as the man showed no signs of recovering. "Oh! I can get that, surely," remarked Eben, im mediately hurrying away toward the shore of the lake, which was fortunately not far distant.
16 Thanks to the Wolves. His coonskin cap would answer admirabl y as a re ceptacle--perhaps not for the first time either. Robert stood leaning on his gun and looking down upon the figure of the stranger. His curiosity was aroused. He believed he knew the half hundred soldiers at the :fort by sight at least, having in times past frequently baunted the vicinity of old Ti; but he could not re member ever having seen this man b e fore. Besides judging from various things that caught his quick eye, this party had come a long distance. Robert began to cudgel his brains for some theory that would account for his presence here so far away from the nearest town, Albany. As an idea struck him he bent lower, scrutinizing the half-military garb again. "A messenger, with news from below, perhaps of great importance. Who knows but what our friends have even dared engage the king's men in open bat tle, and that this man bears orders to the commander .at the fort that will put him on his guard?" The thought seemed to stir him considerably.
Thanks to the Wolves. 17 He looked around in a peculiar fashion, as though contemplating something that was unpleasant. Those boys were brought up strictly, and early taught the divine right to property. "But Ethan Allen said such things were proper and just in war times. It must be even so. Besides, I may be doing my country a great service, who can say? It seems as though Heaven sent the opportunity-and he so close to the fort, too !" Having thus decided he dropped on his knees, and in a shame-faced manner began to run his hands in and out of the senseless messenger's pockets. At first his search failed to result in anything, and Robert was even heaving a sigh of relief because he had arrived at the end of his disagreeable task, when all at once he uttered an exclamation. Then he drew out a packet. It had a forbidding-looking seal upon the back; but having embarked in the enterprise even this evidence of military secrecy did not daunt Robert. They were all "young rebels" anyway, according to
:r8 Thanks to the Wolves. the contemptuous opinion of Commandant Delaplace, the blustering bully of the fort. He might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. No doubt the fact of his having at various times stood and listened while that stalwart patriot, Ethan Allen, harangued the villagers, had much to do with Robert's actions upon this especial occasion. Some of the spirit shown by this grand hero and patriot must have found lodgment in the lad's breast. Already he found himself holdin g the soldiers of the king in contempt, because they wore the uniform of one he believed to be a t yrant and an oppressor. Eben had not ye t returned. So Robert deliberately broke the portentous red seal and opened the document. He could just manage to read by the declining light, and ere he had gone very far he grew strangely excited. Once he even snatched off his cap, and waved it above his head, as though about to burst out into a shout, and his whole demeanor spoke of pride and exultation.
Thanks to the Wolves. Eben, hurrying up, his coonskin cap filled with cold water from the lake, surveyed the scene with mingled curiosity and alarm. He guessed instinctively what it all meant, and lacking somewhat the boldness of his comrade, imagined dire consequences to follow. One who dared tamper with the sacred mess::i.ges of his majesty invited speedy trouble. "Oh! Robert, what now?" he exclaimed, standing there, still clutching his makeshift for a water pail. "Glorious news I tell you this will make Ethan glad." "But tell me what has happened." "Our brave Sons of Liberty have stood up before the king's soldiers at Lexington and Concord-many were killed on each side, but the British were routed, and would have been slain or captured to a man only for the arrival of reinforcements. Eben, it has come at last. This means a bloody war between the colonies and England. Eben, we are boys no longer--our country calls us to be men and fight in defense of our homes." He spoke almost solemnly.
!10 Thanks to the W elves. This was no time for frolic or levity-with the heavy burden cast upon their young shoulders, it was little wonder the boys of '76 were sober, serious-minded young fellows, capable of understanding what tremen dous issues the hour held. Even jolly Eben was sobered for the time, though it was hard to keep him down. "What next? Are we to use this water or not?" he asked. "Presently-let me finish here. This great and glori ous news is sent to the commander at Fort Ticon deroga. He is also commanded to use every means in his power to strike terror into the hearts of those rebels living along the lake, who might think to show their feelings in sympathy with the cause of the colo nies. I caught the name of Squire Griffin here, Walter's father." "Yes, he is a Tory, sure enough, and his boy like him," remarked Eben, bitterly. "So this war will set neighbor against neighbor. In our Green Mountains few may be found who side with the king, but Squire Griffin is very bitter. I think
Thanks to the Wolves. this message ends by saying that if more troops are needed they will be speedily sent up here." "I guess Ethan will have something to say about that." "To be sure he will. And now to hide this docu ment while we bring the messenger to his senses." "What if he discovers his loss, Robert?" "That is none of our affair. He will think it has fallen from his person while he ran from the wolves. Hold the water this way-now dash it over his face !"
CHAPTER II. TWO GREEN MOUNTAIN BOYS. The effect of this bath was immediate. So cold was the deluge of water descending upon the face of the unconscious man that he made a move and struggled to a sitting posture, snorting in a manner to greatly tickle Eben, who allowed himself to grin rather than laugh outright. Of course the fellow was sore amazed to find him self in such a strange muddle. It dawned upon his mind presently, however, when he chanced to set eyes upon the dead wolves. "You have saved my life!" he exclaiiped. "Well, we shot a few of the critters," admitted Eben, modestly. The man slowly arose, and it could be seen that he was very stiff and sore. He rubbed his head in a dazed way. "I must have fallen-truth to tell, I remember los-
Two Green Mountain Boys. 23 ing my grip. Ugh I what a narrow escape!" he said, shuddering. "'Which way are you journeying, stranger?" asked Robert, just as though he did not already know. "To the fort. I bear a royal message of great im portance. I fear I cannot reward you sufficiently, young sirs, but if you will accompany me to headquar ters I pledge you my word you shall be well repaid." Robert shook his head. "It is impossible. Our home lies across the lake, and we should be even now on the way there for the night has come, and as you may know, the lake is not the safest place in the world at the turn of the night." "But I am unarmed-my gun I lost as I ran, pursued by those terrible beasts. They may come again and this time devour me. It would be cruel to desert me, young gentlemen. I beseech you, reconsider." He was shaking from weakness and fear. Robert made up his mind. "Perhaps," said he, "we might see you close to the fort. They would not allow any of our stamp to enter now such are the strict orders of the commandant.
24 Two Green Mountain Boys. So, if you are able to walk with our assistance, come now to the trail, and we will set you well on your way." With this he had to be content. Half a loaf was better than no bread. Robert asked questions while they labored on, and presently heard just how the messenger had fallen into the serious predicament from which they had rescued him. Finally the boys drew up. "We can really go no further," said Robert, posi tively. The other tried to coax them, but to no purpose. "Why, there is no longer any danger, sir. You are even now almost under the shadow of Ticon deroga's walls. Look up and you can see the flag, which they have neglected to lower at sunset, flying there against the sky." "Yes, yes, you are right," he admitted, apparently catching new courage from seeing the banner he loved flapping in the fresh breeze. "And those wolves would not dare venture here,''
Two Green Mountain Boys. 5 declared Eben knowing it was this possibility that made the other afraid. Eben himself had a grudge against these four-footed pirates of the high timber, and never lost an opportunity to pay his respects to their species. Accordingly they part e d company with the king's messenger, and the last glimpse the y had of the fellow showed him plunging up the steep incline that led to the walls of the forbidding fortress. And up to the time of their parting he had not dis covered the loss of his precious document. Eben kept chuckling over it as they retraced their steps. "I expect there will be something awful to pay when that poor wretch goes to hand his parchment to the commandant and finds it gone," he remarked. "To be sure. And half the garrison will be scouring the timber around here, with blazing pine torches, trying to find it,' added Robert, with more or less exul tation in his voice for he was proud of having done something to help the cause along. "What a chance for Ethan and his bold Green Moun-
26 Two Green Mountain Boys. tain Boys! How easily the fort could be taken at such a time-if he only knew, and was ready!" From which remark on the part of Eben it may be seen that thus early had there been talk across the big water as to what course they must pursue in case the ugly feeling between England and her American colo nies came to the point of actual war. Men like Israel Putnam and Ethan Allen saw the shadow long before the impending trouble became a reality. And they prepared for it. Originally it had been the intention of the two lads to extend their hunt until the morrow, preferring to cross the wide stretch of water by daylight, since their boat was a small one, and the treachery of the lake well known to all who lived upon its border. This unexpected adventure, however, promised to make a change in their plans. "They may suspect that we could tell something about the lost message," remarked Eben, presently. "Just what came into my mind. And surely this same territory would be unhealthy for a couple of boys
Two Green Mountain Boys. 27 of our size if the soldiers took to hunting for us," said Robert. "Then that settles it," with an upward jerk of his head, as though he were consulting the sky for any signs of a threatening storm. "Yes, we must cross to-night, if it be possible." "Oh! I've done it before." "Not just at this rough season, Eben." "True, it was in the summer, under a full moon, and the lake was still as glass." "We must risk it. Two things urge us to go, the chance of being captured and made prisoners if we stay here, and my burning desire to place this glorious news in the hands of Ethan Allen." "I am willing, Robert. The wind is rising, and it is very dark, but both of us know how to handle a boat, and besides, think what it means to our friends! To know that the Minutemen dared face the grenadiers of the king, to give them volley for volley, and chase them along the highway-it is wonderful!" Robert heaved a sigh
28 Two Green Mountain Boys. "How I wish I had been there!" he said, earnestly, his young soul filled with fervor. Eben was practical. "Wait, we may soon be having the same thing up here. I think it will not be a great while before Col. Allen leads a few hundred men up the heights to the walls of old Ti. I want to be with him," he said. "I intend to,'' remarked Robert, firmly. He looked forward to that hour as though it meant the greatest pleasure on earth to him. That same spirit was to be found m thousands of boys-it was in the very atmosphere, so that, as Gov. Gage, of Boston, remarked, the very children drew in a love for liberty with the air they breathed. As they walked the two companions continued to talk. Several times Robert felt to see that the precious document which he carried was secure. He believed he would almost as soon lose his life as to let it get away from him now that he understood what tremendous news it contained. About half an hour after parting from the rescued
Two Green Mountain Boys. king's messenger they drew up alongside a copse of bushes that grew upon the border of the lake. Here their boat was hidden, and it could be brought forth with comparatively little effort. Eben deposited his bundle of venison in the bottom with considerable satisfaction. The craft was old and leaky; but, having been brought up upon the water, these stout-hearted lads knew little of fear in connection with the lake's whims. In this they resembled the Norsemen, who, centuries before Columbus discovered America, made voyages in their clumsy craft that few men of this day would care to imitate. This boat had a short mast, which was soon stepped, and the patched, dingy sail attached. The wind was already strong, and increasing, so that the waves were slapping against the shore out beyond the little cove that served them as a harbor. Though venturesome they were far from foolhardy, and made sure everything was in order ere entering the boat and pushing beyond the jaws of land. Pretty soon, with the full force of the wind causing
30 Two Green Mountain Boys. their little ::raft to heel well over, they were heading directly east, for the Vermont side of the great lake. Perhaps it was a risky proceeding, but young blood is apt to have its way, regardless of danger. Besides, familiarity breeds contempt, and they were so used to seeing old Champlain in angry as well as smiling moods, that her present disposition failed to discourage their ardor. That message burned Robert's pocket. In imagination he already saw the great satisfaction of his good friend, Ethan Allen, and heard him prom ise that the one who had brought him such wonderful news should most certainly be of the company of picked men who, some dark night, would speed across the lake and scramble up the heights of Ticonderoga, to lower that proud flag of Old England, which had become only a symbol of oppression in the eyes of the mountain colonists. "Look! look!" cried Eben, suddenly As he was facing the stern it was plain that whatever had attracted his attention must be upon the shore they had so recently left.
Two Green Mountain Boys. 31 And in that quarter, therefore, did his comrade turn his eyes. "Up at the fort-see the lights moving about-they look like great, big fireflies," continued Eben. "They are outside the walls, and scattering down the side of the mountain-a dozen, yes, nearly twice that. I suppose we are responsible for it all." "It would seem so, since these soldiers with the torches must be hunting for the lost message." "They will never see it more. And mayhap Col. Ethan may even learn all about the fight at Lexington before the news reaches the commander up yonder." Whenever an opportunity occurred they glanced back over the rough, forbidding water, at the distant lights that were moving hither and thither along the side of the mountain. There was a strange fascination about it. And yet it was more or less dangerous to take their attention away from their own situation. The wind and waves made merry, and Eben was almost wholly occupied with using an old tin dipper, baling the water out as fast as it came in.
32 Two Green Mountain Boys. Fortunately, in one sense, the breeze favored their passage across, so that they were able to keep upon the one course. This simplified matters somewhat. When a couple of miles off shore so fiercely was the fresh wind bearing down upon them that it became necessary to haul up and reduce the size of their sail. It required considerable knowledge of seamanship to be able to do this without an accident. The effect was immediately noticeable. While their progress might not be so rapid, there was relief in the strain, for the boat no longer had her nose pushed down into the water. They flew along like a frightened bird. Long since the bold ramparts of the fort that had cost England so much were blotted out in the general gloom. Now even the mountain tops became mixed with the dark sky, where the stars glowed like diamonds. They were alone upon the great lake, headed for the Vermont shore, so far distant that even under favor-
Two Green Mountain Boys. 33 able conditions it must take them a long time to make the passage. Occasionally one of them spoke. On the part of Eben it was always something m connection with their recent adventure. Apparently he could not keep from picturing the rage of that pompous commander at the fort when the messenger s search for the king s dispatch proved fruitless. To Eben that was the crowning stroke. While Robert yearned to have looked upon the field of Lexington, where the first shots of the war were fired by Maj. Pitcairn's regulars, his friend bemoaned the fact that he could not have heard what happened within the walls of old Fort Ticonderoga. So the stormy voyage kept up, hour after hour. When Eben's good arm wearied of the eternal labor of throwing out water the boys changed places. One was about as good a sailor as the other, so that nothing was sacrificed by the transfer. It was high time they sighted the mountain tops against that starry field.
34 Two Green Mountain Boys. Robert looked again and again, positive that by now they must be nearing land. The wind fairly shrieked about them, and only through great management were they able to keep on their set course. An hour or so longer of this work promised to up set all their calculations, and the boat as well. Luckily they were not compelled to meet such an emergency. "I see the crown of Emerald Peak !" sang out Rob ert, suddenly, and Eben, looking dead ahead, echoed the statement. Up to now their compass had been the stars only. Now they had a point of land by means of which they could take their bearings. Higher rose the peak. Then others loomed up, equally familiar. Robert steered with the eye of a born pilot. This was all familiar territory to him, since he had cruised about the bay since a small lad. It was nothing extraorinary, therefore, that the fast scudding, little boat, with a stream of water shooting
Two Green Mountain Boys. 35 out from her side, should dart around a headland, moderate her pace, and finally bump her no s e on a sandy stretch where Eben could jump out, painter in hand. Their perilous voyage was accomplished.
CHAPTER III. HOW ETHAN ALLEN HEARD THE NEWS. The little mountain town was full of excitement. Knots of men gathered at the corners to discuss the latest rumors that had drifted up from New York and Boston. Housewives leaned over line fences to talk pretty much in the same strain as their husbands, for they were a patriotic set, these good mothers of '76. All manner of speculation was rife, for certain news had dribbled in, none knew just whence it came, by Indian runner or through signals flashed from hill to hill. There was talk of strong measures having been taken to bring the "stiff-necked rebels" in his majesty's colonies to their knees. And some said open defiance had already been given -direct refusal to do what the king commanded-so that a state of actual rebellion might be said to exist.
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 37 The presence of one man in the community had much to do with this spirit of excitement. That personage has gone down in history as the uncompromising foe of royalty, who, captured and sent across the ocean to England, to be gazed upon as a ferocious specimen of the rebels, scorned to save him self by foreswearing allegiance to his native land. Ethan Allen was big all over, in soul and stature. He was a natural-born orator, and in his rough, al most uncouth way, could sway multitudes. Wherever he went on this May day there his voice rang out in thunder tones. It thrilled all hearts, young and old, save those few that still throbbed in allegiance to the king. Squire Griffin was looked upon as the leader among these adherents of royalty. Everyw here men looked upon him with aversion, he who had once been the leading spirit in the town. Walter, his only child, was a chip of the old block, stubborn, conceited and puffed up with the knowledge that his father's wealth enabled him to wear better clothes than an y of his playmates.
38 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. Between him and Robert Masters there had always existed a spirit of keen rivalry. It began in their games, winter sports and swimming matches, was continued in their attentions to the prettiest girl in town, Hepsibah Annetta Roxbury, and now bade fair to be carried into actual war, since the sympathies of the two lads were on opposite sides. Walter stalked about this day, his lip curling with disdain over the clumsy evolutions of the fellows whom Col. Allen was drilling on the Common. To him they were a huge joke. No wonder he was secretly amused when he looked at their farmer attire and remembered the elegant ap pearance of the soldiers he had seen drilling down in Boston. Those men moved as if parts of a machine, while each of these louts seemed to want to obey orders in t he fashion he happened to understand them. Of course more or less confusion followed. But Col. Allen was doing his best, and hoped m t ime to make something out of them.
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 39 At least their courage went unquestioned, and that is the keystone to the making of a good soldier. Wearied with his work he had retired to the tavern to seek refreshment, while the patriots stacked their guns and broom handles outside, as if in camp. The fascination of soldiering had taken hold upon them. Little did they dream to what terrible ends it would bring many of them in the eight years' war. "Where is Col. Ethan Allen?" asked a boyish voice. "In the tavern taking dinner. He must not be dis turbed,'' replied one of the sentries, swelling with im portance. "I must see him-we bring news, great news !" con tinued the insistent voice. The man who was eating within pricked up his ears. Surely this was no boyish prank, carried out with the purpose of annoying him. "His orders were that he should not be bothered. Come back again, Robert,'' said the bumpkin sentry. "Let them come in, fool," roared the soldier. It was not the first time by long odds that Robert
40 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. and Eben had stood before this big-hearted man, whose lion-like voice was always raised in the en deavor to awaken the fires of patriotism within the hearts of his fellow countrymen. He greeted them in his usual hearty fashion by shak ing hands. Those who had this honor considered themselves ex tremely fortunate if the operation passed off without their receiving any permanent injury. "How now, what is this I hear, Master Robert? News for me, and of great importance, too? Per chance it may be you and your friend have concluded to join my newly organized league of Green Moun tain Boys. We expect to be heard from if war should come "War has already broken out, sir and a severe bat tle been fought in which the Minutemen of old Mas sachusetts sent the red-coated soldiers of the king back to their kennels like whipped dogs!" cried Robert. "What is that you say? No guesswork, lad, for this is too serious a subject,'' exclaimed Allen, showing signs of growing excitement.
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 41 "It is true--many were killed on both sides, and the British would have been utterly wiped out had not a fresh column of eight hundred men from Boston met them just in time." "Tell me, from whence had you this stirring news?" "It is in the hand of Gen. Howe, commanding at Boston, and was sent to Commandant Delaplace, at Fort Ti, responded the young fellow, promptly. "But how come you by it, sirrah ?" "Ah! many things go astray, colonel. The king's messenger was treed by hungry wolves, we rescued him just in time. While he lay senseless on the ground I thought it my duty to discover the nature of the docu ment he carried, and finding it so full of wonderful good things which you ought to read with your own eyes, I fetched it hither." How modestly it was told. Ethan Allen's fine eyes glistened with pride. "For that you and your companion shall be at my side when we scale the heights of Fort Ticonderoga. It was a masterful piece of work, young Master Rolr ert, of which you may well feel proud. By the eternal I
42 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. I am w.ell pleased. Come, give me this message that I may feast my eyes upon the glorious information it contains." As he eagerly read what the British general had to say concerning the events that had so recently re sulted in disaster to the loyalist cause, Allen broke out into numerous roars of delight that were like the rum ble of approaching thunder. He continued to slap one huge hand upon his thigh, and the boys felt well repaid for all they had endured in order to hasten the bearing of the news. "Wonderful beyond expression-may it be so always with our cause-God speed the right !-they know now of what metal we are made-perhaps after this they will not call us broomstick warriors. Heaven rest the souls of those valiant ones whose blood was spilled to baptize the new nation." Then he embraced the boys, one with each arm. Neither of them had ever been hugged by a bear, but after that experience they had a pretty clear idea as to what the sensation was like. "Bless you, young soldiers-you have done some-
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 43 thing for your country that should never be forgotten. Come this is too w ond e rful news for us to k e ep to our selves. There will be thankful hearts to-day, and many prayers ascend to the Great Jehovah s throne of grace. Come." So, one on either side, a nd still clutching the won derful parchment signed with Gen. Howe's name and bearing the signet of an order issued in the name o f the king, he went forth to the square in front of the tavern. His appearance was the signal for renewed excite ment. Men seemed to guess that something was in the air. Their cries passed along the line, across the square and into many an humble home. Eben, dispatched by a command from Ethan Allen, ran gayly to the neighboring church. Here he set to work dragging at the hanging rope, and sending out peal after peal from the bell that hung above. There was strange music in the sound. It electrified all who heard.
44 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. Ordinarily that bell sounded decorously on Sunday, solemnly inviting all who cared to come and worship. And when a member of the parson's flock passed away its brazen voice was muffied. In case of fire it pealed out the alarm with strident force, but never had it seemed to proclaim such ti dings of great joy as now. From every direction they crowded around the horse block in front of the tavern. There was news of the most startling character to be announced, and strong men trembled with excite ment as they waited to hear what Ethan Allen had to proclaim. In a clarion voice he read the message of Gen. Howe to the commandant at Fort Ticonderoga. Not a voice interrupted him until he reached the close, such was the respect the man inspired. Some of the men shook hands with each other, women silently wept in one another's arms, and here and there a lad gave vent to the delight that filled his breast by turning cart wheels or trying to stand on his head.
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 45 But what a salvo of cheers made the welkin ring when the last words of Howe's message had been thun dered by the leathern-lunged orator. It was a challenge to their patriotic enthusiasm. Guns were fired and the one cannon of which the town could boast, boomed several times in recognition of the glad tidings of great joy that had come to them. But ammunition was scanty, and wiser heads coun seled that they save it all for actual use against the British. Others declared this want need not trouble them long, since close by was stored a vast amount of arms, as well as powder and ball. When Fort Ticonderoga fell into their hands they would be in a position to forward supplies to those fellow workers who around New York, Philadelphia and Boston felt th'e need of such necessiti es. Robert and Eben were the heroes of the hour. Scores of men shook them by the hand, and with tears in their e y es thanked the lads ioc the part they had playeq in this general rejoicing.
46 How Ethan Allen Heard the News A few held back, or if they seemed to join in the hilarity made but a sorry pretense of it. Of course these were the sympathizers with the king, men who believed in blind loyalty to the crown, no matter what burdens were thrust upon their shouJ. d e rs. There were some such Tories in every community, men who believed it to be their duty to render secr e t or open aid to the British. Squire Griffin stalked about, a grim-looking man, whom people eyed curiously. He argued with some of his old friends, prophesying all manner of evil things to come. They bore with him because of the general rejoicing, but this would not always be so, and sooner or later such men must either change their belief or else g o over where they belonged, with the enemy. Now, because Robert found himself something of a hero, it did not necessarily follow that he quite lost his head. He would hardly have been a boy had he not felt
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 47 some pride over the new importance that had de scended upon him. Especially was this so in connection with the girls of the town, who of course were most anxious to let the two heroes of the day know how much they were appreciated. To Robert it was enough that Annetta's soft eyes glowed with pride, and when she shook hands with him, after all the others had lauded him to the skies, how it thrilled him to hear this little friend of his boy hood say so simply: "Robert, I am proud of you I" He knew that Walte r Griffin watched them from afar, and that the young ro y ali s t scowled darkl y Somehow Robert seemed to understand that the fair little maiden was troubl e d in her mind. He wondered why it should be so. In this hour of general rejoicing only a few old men thought fit to lift the veil of the future, and pre tend to see the gloom and troubles that lay in the years to come. Why, then, should Annetta be sad?
48 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. It could not be that she felt sorry for Walter, be cause the proud son of the stubborn old squire had not a friend. What, then? "While all others laugh and sing, you alone seem sad. Why should this be, Annetta?" he asked. The girl hung her head. "Tell me," he insisted; "something is worrying you. I cannot feel happy while you are miserable She looked up at him then, and whil e there were tears in her soft, gray eyes, he could also easily see that his words affected her. "They do not stop to think that perhaps some one may have to pay for these glad tidings, and that per son will be you, my friend," she said, earnestly. Robert tried to laugh away her fears. After all it was a relief to know that it was only concern on his account that affected her. "Oh, I do not mean to let that give me any uneasi ness. I am of very little importance to the comman dant at old Fort Ti. H e will hardl y know what a share I had in carrying Gen. Howe's message wrong."
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 49 "I fear you are mistaken, Robert." "Well, perhaps he may guess who it was when he hears the poor messenger describe us." "And should that not convince him, Commandant Delaplace will have another source of information," said the girl. Robert read the meaning in her voice, and if anything was needed to convince him, it was in the signifi cant look she shot across the square in the direction of the town pump. Walter was standing there, observing them with the usual haughty sneer upon his face. Robert laughed, although he did not feel quite easy. "I have no doubt that if he had the chance that old schoolfellow of mine would do me an evil turn. But in what way could he injure me, Annetta?" "I have seen them talking seriously together." "Meaning Walter and his father, together with the few others who think as they do. Very natural that they shoulq, too. Perhaps they consider whether it is better to join with us or go away from here. It is a serious time for such as they."
50 How Ethan Allen Heard the News. "Ah I but they pointed to you, and put their heads together. They owe you an evil turn for what you have done this day. I fear they will try to send across the lake to inform the commander at the fort who car ried away his message, and how our good people have received the news of Lexington. So dark days may come upon us, and you will be marked for destruction." Robert was not worried. He laughed at her fears, and soon had Annetta smil ing, for few could long resist his good humor. Nevertheless, what she had said remained with him, and the more he considered the matter the deeper grew his conviction that the scowling royalists were bent upon trouble. It was not of himself he thought. These men could if they desired, and were not watched, do greater harm than personal injury toward a boy. Suppose they sent word to the British commander that Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold were drilling raw recruits over at Bennington, with the intention of making an attack upon Fort Ticonderoga shortly?
How Ethan Allen Heard the News. 51 That would put the British on their guard. And when the great event came to pass, it would per haps cost the Americans many lives before they could accomplish their end. This was the amazing thing that troubled the lad, and when he had wrestled with it unsuccessfully for a time he took it to Ethan Allen for solution.
CHAPTER IV. AN UNWILLIN G TRAVELER. The big Vermont soldier heard what Robert had to say, and expre s sed satisfaction. "Bless me, I had almost forgotten that some of our neighbors choose to side against us in this matter. It is well you warned me, Robert. We shall take measures to see that they send no information across the lake for the present. A few da y s more, and if arrangements for boats can be made, we will try our for tunes against the proud flag of Old Eng land. Then they may find out how the mountain farmers will fight." Robert felt relieved. The burden was no longer on his shoulders. Everyone had the most wonderful confidence in this same Allen, who seemed a born leader of men; so that when he declared the Tories would be prevented from betraying the cause, Robert beli e v e d it.
An Unwilling Traveler. 53 Still, the old squire had ever been a masterful man, and up to now occupied a prominent place in the town. The night came on. It was one not soon to be forgotten. Bonfires were lighted by excited boys, and houses il luminated as they had never been on the king's birthday. Robert was not idle. Out upon the commons, by the light of these fires, a long line of earnest men were drilling, while groups of women and children looked in wonder to see those whom they had loved as peaceable members of the church now shouldering a musket, and learning the evolutions that mark the soldier. And perhaps no sight evoked more attention and en thusiasm than the squad of half-grown boys who recognized Robert Masters as their captain, and at his words of command drilled with wooden guns in a man ner most promising. It was a sign of the times. Long ere the savage war closed, every one of these intrepid youths would have found a chance to fight-
54 An Unwilling Traveler. and some of them to die--for their country upon bloody battlefields. Ethan Allen kept his own secret s No doubt he had already planned just when he in tended striking his blow at British power upon Lake Champlain, but he told it not. So that even if the secret enemies of the new na tion did manage to send informati o n to the fort upon the heights, they could not state that any particular time had been set for the attack. As the hour grew later, the excitement began to diminish. Men had second, sober thoughts. They were now weighing the possible consequences in the balance, and girding themselves for the long struggle that was bound to follow. For the infant coloni e s to win against the tremendous possibilities to be brought against them, in the shape of a disciplined army, and a navy that had long swept the seas, meant heroic work. It required amazing confidence to foresee success. Robert Masters was only an adopted son.
An Unwilling Traveler. 55 The man whom he called his father, even though no such tie united them, was the best known blacksmith in all the country around Bennington. In figure he was second only to the massive Ethan Allen, and, being an enthusiastic supporter of the new cause, he neglected his business to drill with the younger townsmen. When it came to fighting, the arm that had long wielded the heavy hammer would be found ready to bear a musket into the thick of the fight. Robert, quite worn out after his late exertions, had retired to his little den to sleep. Quiet was coming upon the town, so lately a scene of tremendous excitement. The bonfires had died down, though still glowing, and occasionally a tongue of flame shot up, as some new fuel fed the sleeping embers. Robert was dreaming. Perhaps he once more fancied himself rescuing the frightened king's messenger from the savage wolves. This time, instead of running away, the beasts turned and savagely attacked the two boys.
An Unwilling Traveler. Robert saw one make a spring at his throat-he looked into the glaring, bloodshot eyes, and tried to duck his head to avoid the assault. Something heavy fell on his chest. He would have cried out only a hand was placed over his mouth, almost stopping his breathing. This was followed by a cloth that completely en veloped his head. Robert ceased struggling, realizing how useless it was. He fancied he heard low voices, and knowing something about the sad pranks of certain bo y s in town, wondered whether they had come to take possessi o n of him in order to initiate him into the m y steries of some hobgoblin society. As a popular fellow he must be expected to have a connection with everything going. All the same he did not like their rough way of going about things. And surely they might have let him obtain the rest he needed so badly.
An Unwilling Traveler. 51 Now he was lifted up and carried out of the room by several pair of arms. This was easily done, for Robert's room was on the ground floor just back of the shop, and had a door leading to the outer air. Several times those who carried him stopped to rest. At such intervals they put him down and deliber ately sat upon him. Robert would have objected seriously, only that he had no breath to spare. He had tried calling out once, and almost strangled, so that it seemed the part of wisdom to wait and see what it all meant. Finally he was lifted up and deposited in a wagon, as he heard a horse whinny. His tormentors still continued to keep tight hold upon him, as if meaning that he should find no chance to escape. This continued for some time, the wagon rumbling along the rough road. Robert felt sore and weak from the bumping he re-
An Unwilling Traveler. ceived, but this did not prevent him from indulging in the strangest possible imaginings. He no longer believed in the idea that this could be in the line of a joke. There was something more serious about it. Could it be possible there was any connection be tween his recent exploit and this strange abduction? Did Walter Griffin have a hand in it? He had tried very hard to distinguish voices, but without success, it seemed. Finally the wagon stopped short. Evidently they had reached some place which had been aimed for all this while. Robert felt himself being unloaded just as though he might represent a stick of hickory timber. He made up his mind that sooner or later he would have a bone to pick with these rough-handed parties. Then they carried him into some sort of house, for his arm knocked against the door frame. At last, some one began to unwind the cloth that had been wrapped about his head.
An Unwilling Traveler 59 Robert sat up suddenly, boiling over with anger, but the words he started to utter died on his lips. What he saw filled him with apprehension. In the first place, a fire burned upon the hearth, and by this light he recognized the interior of an old cabin that lay on the lake road. It had lain there deserted, for many years. Some sa i d a mo s t horrible murder had been done under its roof, and that the spirits of the dead haunted the place. At any rate, two families had tried to live down these stories, but both had moved on after only a short stay And the old cabin became the sport of the elements. Now, boys as a general thing are the last to believe such ridiculous yarns. They seem to have too much common sense. Robert, with others of his mates, had played in this haunted cabin many a time, and none of them had ever heard or seen anything of the ghost Perhaps, though, this might be on account of its be ing during daylight at the time, and these hobgoblins are said to onl y come out after dark.
60 An Unwilling Traveler. Robert had sometime thought to coax Eben to keep him company overnight at the cabin-they would set a trap for the ghost, and find out what he meant by frightening good people out of their senses. Apparently the time had arrived, and without any figuring on his part. He looked around. There were just four persons present, three of them boys and the last a man. For the trio Robert had only one glance, as he recog nized Walter Griffin and the two cronies who delighted to follow in the lead of the rich man's son. The man interested Robert tremendously. He was a stranger in the town, who had been stopping at the Boar's Head Tavern for some days. More than once Robert had realized that this party, who went by the name of Percival Kent, seemed to take an unusual interest in him. He stopped him on the street, and engaged him in conversation-he made secret inquiries about the lad's strange history, which was common property in town. Such be in g the case it h a d e ven s truck Robert that
An Unwilling Traveler. 61 this myst e rious stranger might know something that would throw light upon his parentage. Old John Masters could tell nothing save that the child had come to him one autumn day; the woman who had carried the babe was out of her mind, and died without disclosing anything. From that day the tender-hearted blacksmith and his good wife had loved the child, and treated him as if he might be their own. Yet often Robert was given to dreaming of some wonderful connection and hoping the hour might come when the sealed truth would become known. The stranger s interest in him had once more served to awaken these wild yearnings; for it was but natural the lad should long to know who he really was and whence he came. Somehow he did not like the looks of this so-called Percival Kent. Nor could he force himself to believe the other bore him any good will. As the man loo ked up o n him now his s mile was cruel,
An Unwilling Traveler. as though he saw the realization of a long-cherished plan. His connection with the three boys was a puzzle, since they seemed to stand somewhat in awe of the stranger. It might be that Walter and his comrades had been bent upon some lark, through which they could take the hero of the day down a peg, when the man stepped in and made them do his bidding. Now that they had him here what did they mean to do with him? He gave them back look for look. They would not dare injure him, smce he was in especial favor with Ethan Allen, and few men lived who cared to arouse the passion of the mountain giant. Robert, feeling better since he could breath freely again, and desirous of finding out what he could, pro ceeded to nag the boys with the idea of making them talk. Some said he was surely cut out for a lawyer be cause he could so easily play upon the weaknesses of those with whom he came in contact.
An Unwilling Traveler. "This is indeed a fine business to engage the atten tion of Squire Griffin's son. His father will be proud of his exploit this night, surely, when he is told." "It matters little, since he already knows it was our intention to take one Robert Masters, so called, out of his shop, and cool his spirit by a plunge into the near est duck pond that came handy-yes, and even ap proved of cooling him in that way," answered the other, with some warmth. He never failed to rub in the fact that Robert had no claim to the name he bore. There was one point gained already. So the boys had intended playing some sort of mean trick upon him, and had been influenced by the stranger to change their plans. Perhaps a few gold pieces with the head of King George upon them had done the business. Robert had never up to this hour known the time when his affairs were of any consequence to others. It began to make him feel of some importance. Mr. Percival Kent, then, must know something about
An Unwilling Traveler. his past, if he could onl y be induced to speak upon the subject. "It seems, then, that you changed your mind, since there is no duck pond here. Perhaps it may be you have decided to let the ghost cool me off. I know of no better way to send the cold chills up and down the spine," Robert continued. "Ghost I-what means the fellow?" asked the man, turning in a puzzled way upon Walter. "They do say this cabin is haunted, simply because some people were killed here long ago. I know not how true it way be, but people will talk," replied Walter, as he looked around him a little uneasily. This was the first time he had ever honored the cabin with his presence after nightfall. The s e nsation was altogether different from seeing its interior with the sun streaming through the gaps in the walls, called windows. Percival Kent did not fancy the situation very much if one could judge from his looks. "Zounds! wh y not have told me this when you spoke of a nice, secure hiding place where no one would come
An Unwilling Traveler. to look for our prisoner? I like not the idea of supping under the same roof with spirits. Still, since we are here, perchance it is better we remain, at least for a time." He now turned to Robert. "My fine hero of the day, doubtless it gives you won der why I concern myself about your comings and go ings ?" he sneered. "Why not?" retorted Robert, undismayed; "since I have no recollection of ever having injured you. Perhaps, then, you may be a secret agent of the king, who thinks it his duty to hand me over to Commandant Delaplace because it happened his message fell into my possession." The man laughed. And Robert liked him less than before, because his handsome, bold face took on a sinister cast when he thus gave way to a spirit of levity. "You will have to guess again, young gentleman, for though of a truth I am English born, and have little sympathy with this boastful talk of liberty and equal ity that I hear around me in the king's colonies, yet
66 An Unwilling Traveler. I would not serve as a puppet for Commandant Dela place or any man like him. "Well, then," continued Robert, sturdily, determined to strike hard while the iron was hot, "you are ac quainted somewhat with the secret of my birth, and this strange thing has to do with the mystery of the past. Every time I look at you I seem to feel it is so." The man laughed no longer. "Say you so, Master Robert?" he remarked, soberly. "Truly, you seem a good prohpet, for what you have guessed is the truth."
CHAPTER V. AT THE HAUNTED CABIN. It was very natural that young Robert should feel strangely thrilled by the words of this man who had broken so suddenly into his life. He could not believe the other was any friend oi his, or that he bore him anything but ill will. It did not affect his natural boldness in any degree. While he would have met the boyish spite of Walter Griffin and his evil companions without flinching, the same spirit caused him to grapple with this new con dition of affairs, and see how it could be turned to his advantage. "Why have you done this? If I was happy before in my ignorance, what cause is there to drag me away from my friends? Have I injured you? Does my being alive harm you?" he asked, taking a step nearer the other. Again the dark look settled over Kent's face. "Yes, that is the truth, though perhaps I should
68 At the Haunted Cabin. hesitate to admit it in the presence of these others. I have that little love for you and yours that if I were more bloody-minded I should have hired some Indian brave to have done you to death. Perhaps this tender hearted foolishness may be the death of me yet. I often curse it. But of one thing rest assured. When he comes to seek you his search will be in vain." Again Robert felt emotion, only this time it was something approaching joy. Who could Percival Kent mean by referring to "him"? Could it be possible that earth held such a blessing for him as a father? He had always called the honest blacksmith by that sacred name, even while knowing that not a drop of kindred blood ran in their veins. Strange thoughts arose and chased one another m riotous confusion through his brain. Not for worlds would he have had the clock put back. Though his fate seemed uncertain, he could face it
At the Haunted Cabin. steadily happy in the thought that at last the curtain which had so long baffled him, gave promise of being raised. "Who seeks me?" he asked, trying to appear calm. "It matters not-a mere slip of the unguarded tongue," replied the other, endeavoring to recover him self. "Then, seeing that I am not to be butchered in cold blood, why bring me here?" persisted Robert. "That is not for you to know. Let it suffice that I considered it dangerous to my peace of mind to have you remain longer under the care of that rank rebel, who will surely come to an untimely end. Here you are, and here you shall remain until those for whom I have sent come to take you away far into the wild Western wilderness, from whence you return not again. Be content." Walter and his two companions heard this with round-eyed wonder. They had not realized when giving in to the demands of the stranger, how closely they trod upon the heels of a tragedy.
At the Haunted Cabin. It was not in the least unpleasant. The squire's hopeful realized that in some way he was about to get rid of one who had long been a thorn in the flesh. What became of Robert? Who the unknown might really be other than what he pretended? These things gave him little concern. He saw his path cleared. That very day he had ground his very teeth in rage at seeing Robert made a hero by young and old. He had been angry because Annetta had shunned his society and sought this nobody. Now the tables had turned. It was his time to laugh. Robert had sunk so low that he did not appear to have a friend in the world. With this spirit moving him Walter was in just the mood to do whatever the stranger might demand. As for his companions, they were of a breed ready to sell their souls for a guinea. The man turned now upon them.
At the Haunted Cabin. 71 His manner was quick and business-like, showing that under the velvet there were claws. "You tell me no one ever comes this way?" he asked. "Not often. It has a bad name. There is another road just as short, and everyone seems to take that," replied Walter, speaking only the truth. "After all then, this may do as well as the next place, only I pray there will be no ghost disturb us. How say you lads? May I depend upon you to guard the pris oner with me? A guinea a day to each, to be paid in advance. Does it strike you favorably, young sirs?" Now Walter cared nothing for the gold, since it was no stran ger to his purse. Revenge dwelt in his soul, and he felt that it would just about suit his case to lord it over Robert for a time. His companions, of course, were dazzled by the rich bait held out so temptingly and would have even per jured their immortal souls for gold. "We will agree if so be the time is not too long. What limit may you set?" asked young Griffin, stealing a l o ok of triumph at the object of this bargaining. "I cannot just say. Every morn and eve will I go
) 72 At the Haunted Cabin. to the appointed rendezvous. They may be awaiting me now, and then, again, perchance it may take them a day or two longer to arrive. But Indians never break their word, you know." "It is well. You may count on us. We shall hardly be missed from town, since the fools are that filled with pride, and puffed up over the doings of their fellows at Lexington, they count not noses. If you leave us arms we promise you this young cock-of-the-walk shall not easily slip through our fingers." Hardly had these boasting hopes been uttered than they seemed in a fair way to be shattered. Robert had been observing. He saw that the door of the cabin had only been partly closed; and well did he know that beyond lay liberty. True, he was weary and sore. Given his chance he would sooner have lain down on the hard puncheon floor to sleep, rather than engage in any foot race with these fresh fellows. And yet he could not refuse the opportunity. He had always been known as the best runner among
At the Haunted Cabin. 73 all the lads of the famous Green Mountains; perhaps, being spurred on by necessity, he could, in spite of such drawbacks, set a pace the best of these fellows might find it difficult to equal. So, even while Walter was boastfully declaring how easily himself and his companions could guard the pris oner, that worthy was measuring the distance and draw ing himself together for a desperate leap. Had he been able to tear the old stubborn door open speedily enough, he would have had a start, and it must have taken considerable energy on the part of the quartet to have overhauled him along the road. The hinges were so rusty that it required a great deal of pulling to drag the door back enough to allow him free passage. And these three seconds of time permitted one of the scalawags of the town to leap upon his back. Of course it was all over then. Robert made a gallant struggle, but a minute later had his three former companions sitting upon him as the easiest way to keep him down. The man pushed the door shut.
74 At the Haunted Cabin. "Let him up. He cannot escape now, he exclaimed, hardly knowing whether to be alarmed because of the sudden danger, or filled with admiration at the mag nificent courage of the young patriot. Robert arose breathing hard, but the flash of his eyes announced that he was still undaunted. "Another time I may be more successful," he de clared, looking the man strai ght in the eye. He saw that Percival Kent was confused, and plainly heard him mutter, as to himself: "Gad, it certainly runs in the blood!" Robert realized the folly of making any further at tempt to escape while his enemies were on guard. He walked over to the fire and calmly held out his hands to the blaze. It looked as though he meant to make the best of a bad bargain-to accept things as they came. Thus he would be serving a double purpose, putting the suspicions of his enemies to sleep and at the same time g ivin g himself time to think. S o much had occurred o f a startlin g nature and his dreams of y ears seemed on the point of being realized.
At the Haunted Cabin. 75 No wonder the boy felt that, desperate though his condition might seem, he would not have it otherwise if the price of security was ignorance. The man was talking now with Walter, and from time to time they looked over to the other as if he might be the object of their consultation. Robert was in e xperienced in the ways of the world, but he could, after a measure, read character. This man, whom he believed to be some relative of his, interested him greatly. And from what he saw, as well as Percival Kent's own admission, he judged him to be more inclined to ward weakness than wickedness. It was as if fortune had suddenly thrown in his way an opportunity whereby he might profit, and he had been tempted beyond his powers of resistance. Now, Robert knew something of the Indians living far to the west, as all boys of that time did. Occasionally roving bands of the red men had turned up in Bennington, and on several occasions he had even hunted in their company, thinking it fine sport. The prospect of being earned away to their distant
At the Haunted Cabin. village, there to be kept virtually a prisoner, was some thing, however, that did not give him any joy. He was quite determined not to go, if by any means he could baffle the plans of the man who seemed so de sirous of getting rid of him. Time passed on. An hour had gone since their arrival at the old cabin on the deserted post road. And there was no movement on the part of his captors looking to a separation. Robert regretted this. He had been surveying the situation in his usual clear-headed way, and came to the conclusion that if he should by chance be left in charge of one or two of the boys, he would accept the first opportunity to try con clusions. There were many ways in which this might be done with a prospect of success. Of course, so long as they all chose to remain, there was no use of his thinking of such a thing. A few more hours would bring daylight.
At the Haunted Cabin. 77 Then at least one of his guards would leave, since the man had spoken of keeping an appointment. Perhaps either Lige or Hiram might be sent to town to secretly buy food. If there was a chance of their being cooped up in this place several da ys, they could not go hungry. Robert's hopes did not die. He was simply waiting. And as nothing would be gained by remaining awake, while his exhausted frame called for relief, he lay down in a corner without bothering his head about the lack of a blanket. Tired though he was he could not sleep. His mind seemed to be on fire. A thousand things kept chasing back and forth, and he imagined that some kindly hand was unrolling the scroll of the mysterious past, showing him the wonder ful truth. Yes, he even thought he could see a face dimly ap pearing in the midst of hazy smoke that had gathered against the rafte rs of the room, just as though one of his ancestors look e d down upon him in pity.
At the Haunted Cabin. What was this? Surely the face moved, and he saw a grin appear upon it. Robert was wide awake now. There was no delusion about this thing. It was no imagination on his part. The face was there, and as he looked again he saw one of the e y es close in a very familiar way. Why only Eben did that, and yet, how could Eben be here? It was very strange. But then everything that had happened on this night was on that order. Youth does not spend much time puzzling over the reason for things. It accepts facts. Well, Eben was there-had followed them by some fortunate chance. What then? Would he hasten to return to town and bring help? That would seem to be the prop e r method of meeting the conditions. And yet Robert saw no si g n of departure. Eben was makin g some m y sterious pa s s e s with his hands as though bent up o n giving him due warning.
At the Haunted Cabin. 79 He knew of old that his comrade seldom did what was expected of him, and that if he had any plan of action it would turn out to be an extraordinary one. It was not hard to guess how Eben had reached his present position. Many a time had Robert climbed to the roof of this same old ramshackle cabin and, passing through a trap, let himself into the shallow loft. The hole through which he now saw Eben's face was also well known to our young friend, since he had him self fallen through the rotten flooring at a point where water from the opening had entered in summer and snow in winter. None of the others could by any chance see the boy in the loft, for they were sitting in various positions, with their backs propped up against the side of the building. The three boys seemed as though they might be asleep. After making this survey Robert looked again for some sign of his comrade s face above, but while able to see the gap fairly well, it was vacant.
So At the Haunted Cabin. Had it been only imagination then? The thought gave him a cruel stab. And yet the hope that had been aroused within him refused to subside. He never knew the minutes to drag as they did now. Several times he thought he heard a slight shuffling noise from the loft, although it might be only the night wind rubbing the overhanging branch of a tree against the roof. Was Eben gone? If he ran all the way, he might reach town in less than an hour, though the poor fellow must be tired, too. Then another hour must elapse before the rescuing party could come up. That must bring it almost to dawn. Robert hoped their coming might not be too late, and -find him on his way into the wilderness. He shuddered at such a prospect, hideous enough at any time, and doubly so now that his patriotic young .spirit longed to be counted a factor in the desperate :Struggle, already opened, between England on one side .and her oppressed colonies on the other.
At the Haunted Cabin. 81 It must not be. In some way this miserable plan of Percival Kent should be defeated. Again he began to wrestle with the puzzle, just as if Eben was not to be counted at all in the matter. It was the natural independence that marked his nature, a desire not to rel y upon another for assistance. While he was in the midst of his vague groping Robert suddenly became conscious of an exceedingly dismal sound that filled the apartment. It was in the nature of a groan, but such a groan as never mortal ears had heard before. His first inclination was to shiver, and this was suc ceeded by a sensation of satisfaction, for he remem bered that Eben was there.
CHAPTER VI. THE COMING OF THE GHOST. The others had also heard the fluttering sound. Already the boys were scrambling to their feet, and looking toward each other apprehensively. Percival Kent also arose in undignified haste. He had not forgotten what was said about the cabin being haunted, and, as he at the time as good as confessed, the thought of spirits from the other world gave him a bad turn. He was superstitious. It had not been such a very great time before that the belief in witchcraft had so strong a hold upon the people of the king's colonies that they burned women as evil witches at Salem. Eben had long practiced his part. As Robert now remembered, he had some time since arranged to play a practical joke upon certain of the boys, who were to be induced to spend a night in the old cabin.
The Coming of the Ghost. 83 This had been in the preceding autumn. Other things of a more serious nature had conspired to put this boyish prank out of mind, but Eben, son of the best known leech and doctor in town, had made all his arrangements, little dreaming how fate would en able him to profit by them. It was not Robert's place to lie there unconcerned while these uncanny things were going on. He must add his little mite to the excitement. Accordingly, he, too, scrambled to his feet, and en deavored to look thoroughly alarmed. When the groans ceased for a brief interval the fel lows breathed easier, but Robert noticed that Walter had edged nearer the door. He knew what that signified. Once a soldier begins to look over his shoulder, his heart is no longer in the battle. By the time they had taken a couple of decent breaths there was a strange clattering sound above, and the groans started afresh. This time they were positively fearful, and seemed to come from the side where the ladder stood, fastened
84 The Coming of the Ghost. to the wall, by means of which the cabin loft was gained. It was evident that the spirits did not rest easily and thought it necessary to make a demonstration. If rash mortals invaded their domains they must pay the penalty in some manner. Robert was waiting for what was to come next, and wondering whether Eben would have nerve to carry out the full program as previously arranged for the surprise of his boy friends. At the same time he pretended to be worse fright ened than any of the others, running about the room, pulling at the plank fastened over the window, and ut tering cries that, of course, added to the confusion. It was already quite interesting, and promised to be more so when the thing had developed to its limit. Robert kept watching that ladder. He reckoned that something was about due yonder, something that was caluculated to startle the vision even as those amazing groans had the hearing. Nor was he mistaken. Another rattling sound, more painful than before, as
The Coming of the Ghost. 8 5 of dried bones knocking together, and then there came into view a fearful apparition. This was nothing more nor less than a skeleton figure, which Eben had stolen from the closet where his father kept the old relic of mortality. The boy, bent upon giving his fellows the best scare of their lives, had with bits of wire mended the framework wherever broken, and so arranged the bones of the arms and legs that it was easy to set them in motion. Actually it seemed as though the hideous thing were clambering down the ladder with ridiculous haste. And, to add to the ghastly nature of the whole, the lad had rubbed some species of phosphorous all over the skeleton that caused each particular bone to stand out distinctly in a pale yellow light. Robert secretly confessed that he must certainly have been alarmed himself did he not know who it was who jerked the cord that vibrated the bony joints. This did not prevent him from adding his little mite to the confusion that existed. With five persons all shouting at once, it may well
86 The Coming of the Ghost. be understood that things must have been rather lively around that region just then. Walter being closest to the door, was the first to reach that mode of departure. Terror gave him unusual strength. While it had taken two of them to push the door shut, he seemed to have little trouble in tearing it open. Fear as well as insanity sometimes acts that way. Eben was meanwhile doing his best to imitate such sepulchral groans as an uneasy ghost might be sup posed to make, and at the same time causing his father s anatomical specimen to execute all manner of ghoulish dances in mid air. The reputation of the cabin had much to do with the demoralization that came upon its inmates. They did not think it worth while to stop and figure out how absurd it all was. Just then they wanted a chance to breathe the out side air, and apparently they wanted it badly, too, if Robert could judge from the way they pushed and scrambled through that doorway. Percival Kent with the rest, just as sadly demoral-
The Coming of the Ghost. 87 ized, despite the fact that he was a man of fairly ma ture age. He actually pushed the others ahead of him when they blocked the way in their flight. Robert shouted close behind them, determined that nothing should be left undone to add to their enjoy ment. He remembered that they had been more or less rough in their handling of him when transporting him to this place. The shoe was now on the other foot, and it looked as though his hour had come. Judging from the ability they displayed as they passed from sight through the open door, the lot of them were good for a foot race down the road that might not come to an end until they found themselves out of breath. Robert thought he could spare them easily. At the same time he felt strangely attracted toward the man who had it in his power to lift the curtain of his mysterious past, and put him in communication with those who were of his own kith and kin.
88 The Coming of the Ghost. Never mind, perhaps they would meet again. And if not, at least he had learned certain facts that were calculated to be of value to him. So he turned once more into the cabin. The dreadful skeleton was apparently climbing upward again in all haste, as though the time limit of its liberty in the sight of mortals had b e come exhausted. 'A hand reached down impatiently and lifted the clattering nightmare of a specimen through the opening. Then a pair of sturdy legs were thrust into view, immediately followed by the figure of a half-grown lad; and Eben Hopper dropped to the floor. His face was as red as his hair, and there were vari ous daubs of glowing phosphoresence about his person due to working in the darkness of the loft. The first thing he did was to double up and begin to laugh as only a boy with a pretty strongly developed taste for the ridiculous could do. Nor could Robert keep from joining him, the whole affair had been so comical. If those who ran down the road in such mad h:iste gave any heed to the sounds that burst out from the old
The Coming of the Ghost. 89 cabin, they must have believed there was a whole com pany of ghosts making merry over the situation. Robert was the first to recover. "It was indeed well done,'' he said, taking the other's shining hand and squeezing it warmly. "This pays for all my trouble. Who would think that old castaway of father's would play such a part. Was the ghost's dance to your liking, Robert?" asked the doctor's hopeful, recovering with an effort. "Finer than any minuet I ever saw, in faith. Never can I forget it. But I wot it is foolish of us to remain here longer, now that the way of escape is open. They may get over their fright and return." "Little danger of that in a hurry. I can hear their shoes on the road still. But I plainly see you do not take kindly to the idea of visiting our Indian friends away out yonder in the Mohawk Valley. To me it would be a rare treat," sighed Eben, who longed to travel, but was intended to succeed his plodding father and become a doctor. "I am wondering how you chanced to come here?"
90 The Coming of the Ghost. said Robert, looking around once more ere quitting the place. "In truth, I rode as well as yourself." "Not in the wagon, surely?" "Underneath the same." "But how did you know I was there?" "I was not certain until I saw you in this place by the light of the fire yonder. By accident I saw the boys carrying a burden through the streets. It excited my curiosity and I followed. "Then came the man who bargained with them and threatened until one went and secured the horse and wagon. I think it belongs to Hiram's father, who, you know, has the bakery and draws wood for his ovens. Then it was easy to hang on behind." "I can understand the rest. Now we must indeed begone, lest they should return." "It is a long way to town," remarked Eben. "And I am sore as well as weary." "That settles it for me." "We ride, forsooth." "Why not, when the opportunity beckons. I am de-
The Coming of the Ghost. 91 termined from this time on never to miss a chance to accept the favors of fortune." "What you say warms my heart. The walking is good. Let those who prefer it wear out good shoe leather. It will be all the merrier for Mr. Heeltap, the cobbler." "Unless we make good time," laughed Eben, as he followed his friend through the door, "I fear we shall reach town too late to welcome our brave Walter and his Tory band. They run amazingly well." Knowing just where to look they speedily found the horse and heavy wagon that had been used to transport Robert and his captors to the cabin. While Eben turned the outfit around, so that the an imal headed toward home, Robert procured several stout wythes that might be made useful in the effort to goad the thick-skinned animal to his topmost speed. It was not their intention to be stopped on the road, if hurry could take them through. And having mounted the wagon, they set the pace, urgin g the astoni s h e d beast on at a gallop. Robert did the driving, he being somewhat fear-
92 The Coming of the Ghost. ful of his companion's reckless ways, and not in the least desirous of a smash-up on the rough road. It was not a great while before they heard loud exclamations of astonishment from the bushes alongside the road, followed by shouts and demands that they pull up. They only laughed at the audacity of the thing, and Eben plied his switches in a more lively manner than before. Reaching town they made for the cake shop of Hiram's father, in front of which they tied the old white horse, almost exhausted after his merry chase. The adventure was over. Robert felt that a wonderful thing had happened to him since the sun went down. He now knew beyond all doubt that somewhere he had a father, who was, it seemed, actually looking for him. What joy this gave the heart-hungry lad. How he longed to find this one to whom he was re lated, only those who have never known the love of parents may understand.
The Coming of the Ghost. 93 One thing he was determined on, and this to keep a sharp lookout against the coming again of Percival Kent, the man whose tender heart could not descend to removing by violence one who stood in his way, and yet would not have hesitated to condemn him to a life of exile, away from the friends of his boyhood. When another day came, such a person as Percival Kent was not to be found within the borders of the town. He had taken warning from the failure of his plans, and gone away, either back to Albany or else to the great English fort across the lake, where, perhaps, he might have friends. Robert thought best to say nothing about what had happened, save to the kind old blacksmith. Here he was sure to meet with sympathy, for all along had J oho Masters been positive that this child, coming to him in such strange fashion, had good blood in his veins, if the truth were only known. The drilling went on apace. Every man seemed full of enthusiasm, that is, with the few exceptions such as Squire Griffin and his allies.
94 The Coming of the Ghost. One of these had been brought back from the lake early in the morning, and while he carried not a scrap of writing in evidence, it was surmised by Allen and Arnold that the fellow intended taking warning to the British. So several days wore on. It was a good sign that the enthusiasm did not seem to abate an iota. These men jumped not to conclusions. Long had they been making up their minds as to the course they meant to pursue, and the glorious news that came from the south was only the match that fired the train. Robert kept as near the leaders as possible. He hung upon their every word and drank of the well of patriotism that bubbled up in their bold hearts. He had time enough besides to see much of Annetta. Between these two young people there was a friend ship that in later years promised to develop into a more serious bond. It had always been so, more or less.
The Coming of the Ghost. 95 And yet Annetta looking back, could see how on her part it had suddenly taken on new vigor. This had been a few years back. Robert, even at that tender age, had been wont to shoulder the long gun of the blacksmith and scour the woods in search of game Not often did he come back without a generous re ward, but on this day somehow luck seemed to have been against him, and he was, as natural, passing up a back street to avoid the jeering remarks of other boys, when he heard a most tremendous racket. Women shrieked men and boys ran, and Robert stood there lost in sore amazement. He heard Annetta calling to him to run or find shelter in some doorway. There was Hiram climbing a friendly tree with frantic zeal, and shouting to Robert to follow suit. Just then some one uttered the thrilling words : "Mad dog!" And Robert saw the brute coming up the street.
96 The Coming of the Ghost. He recognized old Towser, a fierce beast at any time, and looking particularly dreadful now, sagging from side to side as he came on, snapping his great, foamy jaws, and evidently in search of a victim. Now Robert had plenty of time to run. He confessed that he was sorely tempted, the beast looked so ferocious, and he was hardly more than twelve himself at the time. But he could not move. It was not fear that paralyzed his limbs, for his hands were quite steady. Conscience spoke within. Something seemed to shout in his ears that it was !is duty to slay that monster. At any moment the mad beast was apt to come upon some innocent, prattling child without a shadow of fear toward any dog, and the result-it made Robert grit bis teeth hard to even think of it. So he dropped down on his knee, just as years later others of his kind did at Bunker Hill, and awaited the coming of the foe.
The Coming of the Ghost. 97 Many called out to him, and entreated the lad to run ere it was too late. He never flinched. Deliberately he looked along that shiny barrel. For this perhaps had Heaven saved his ammunition this very day. And he did not mean to miss. The ugly beast was now only ten paces away, and coming straight at him with savage growls. Every voice was hushed. Even the children seemed to know it was a time to hold their very breath, lest a cry disturb the aim of that wonderful little hero kneeling so calmly in the dunt of the road. And then the gun roared. They saw the dog lurch forward and roll almost at the very feet of his slayer. Then from shops and houses men and women came flocking, cheering or crying in their excitement. Little Robert was quickly seized and examined lest he might have received a scratch. They bore him on their shoulders, did those admiring
98 The C oming of the Ghost. men, to the door of his adopted father's smithy, where the story of his valor was told again and again. And all this under Annetta's own eyes Do you wonde r that her friendship for the hero of that red-letter day grew stronger Robert recalled how she had warned him against those who seemed disposed to hate him because of the bold manner in which he had secured the royal message intended only for the British commandant's eyes. He saw that it would be only right to take Annetta into his confidence Besides, now that it began to look as though the re proach that had hung over his unknown birth was likely to be removed, he wanted to share the glad tidings with this dear girl who had always been so deeply and truly concerned a bout his welfare. Nor did he mistake. Annetta hung upon his words eagerly, and when he was through questioned him as though her future rather than his was at stake. And, strange to say, she hardly smiled at the ridic-
The Coming of the Ghost. 99 ulous episode of the haunted cabin, though Robert painted the scene of Eben's triumph most ardently. Annetta was thinking of more serious things. She had a kind father, and it was the wish of her loyal heart that Robert might also find a similar pro tector.
CHAPTER VII. I'HROUGH AN EMBRASURE OF OLD FORT TICONDEROGA. "Col. Allen wishes to see thee, Robert." It was a little fellow who gave the message, son of a good Quaker widow who followed the business of dressmaking for a livelihood. Robert, who had been busily emplo y ed in the smithy the better part of the day, and was now seeking relax ation with several boy friends on the common, pricked up his ears at the intelligence. Perhaps he had in a measure been expecting something of the sort. "Where may I find him William?" he asked. "At the town hall I left him." This was as might be expected. The two leading spirits of the Continentals were busy from early morning till dewy eve. A thousand difficulties had to be smoothed out, men were enlisting, tactics had to be explained again and again to men who drilled the awkward squads.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. IOI Those were busy times for Ethan Allen, and right nobly did he rise to the occasion. Robert, entering, was immediately drawn aside into a remote corner by the tall mountaineer. "Tell me, my lad, art as anxious to serve the country as ever?" was his first question. "I would lay down my life if necessary, sir. You know it is only necessary to give me orders," was the immediate response. Allen surveyed him thoughtfully. "I trust that occasion may be far distant. It seems a pity that one so young should have to be intrusted with so dangerous a mission," he muttered. "I beg that you will not consider any lack of years if the valor can be counted on, sir,'' said Robert. "None have ever doubted that, lad. Well have you proven your right to be called brave. And yet it hardly looks right that you should be asked to thrust your head in the lion's mouth." At this the boy started, and his eyes kindled. "Oh, sir, you must mean that it is necessary to your plans that some one enter old Fort Ti again. It has
102 Old Fort Ticonderoga. been shut against all our people these many moons ; yet many times in the past have I climbed the walls in sport, unbeknown to the sleepy sentries. Who so well fitted to do your will as Robert Masters?" "Be it so. Since you are determined I fear I must give way. And yet it is only fair that I warn you for the last time." "It would make no difference, sir." "If you were found out it might be they would call you a spy, and hang you from the outer walls of the fort, my lad." Robert smiled cheerfully. "I am not afraid." "Give me your hand. It surely does my heart good to hear such words. And now to tell you why it seems necessary that we find out the situation over yonder be fore we make our attack." It was soon told. Changes had been made with regard to numerous things connected with the defense of the fort. It was of importance that the Colonials know all of these things so as to regulate their actions.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. 103 A blunder would mean the loss of many lives, per haps the ruination of their plans. "Take a companion with you in crossing the lake, but do y ou enter the works alone. Seek not to learn more than I have desired, lest in being ambitious you over reach yourself, and lose all. Return as soon as this has been accomplished, and the gratitude of your fel low countrymen shall be yours." Robert felt his breast stirred with noble aspirations. As usual, he had a contempt for the danger, if through that means he could serve the cause. He went to find Eben. There could be no question about that individual's willingness to undertake another trip across the broad lake. Ethan Allen had suggested that they make the start by daylight, landing miles below the fort where they could wait for the coming of darkness before approaching closer. This suit e d both the boys, though, just as might have been exp e ct e d impulsive Eben expressed himself as ready to make the voyage immediately.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. Accordingly, the next morning, guns in hand, they started out as if to hunt for game, though the season for bagging such was drawing near an end with the coming on of warm weather. Reaching the lake they secured the same boat that had tempted Fortune on the previous occasion. To-day the breeze was unusually light, and it might be they would find it necessary to take to the paddles before reaching the other far-off shore. There were hours ahead of them. They managed to cross after hours had gone. Drawing near the other shore they set to work fish-ing from the boat, as though this might have been the main reason of their visit to this section. This was done in order to deceive any hostile eyes that might be observing their movements. When night fell, of course, they landed. Supper was cooked close by, in a deep ravine, where the glow of the little fire might not betray them. It was a frugal meal, but appetites sharpened by ex ercise and backed by good digestion took no heed of that.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. Everything tasted good. Now, Robert began to make himself ready for the dangerous undertaking. He soiled his face and hands, rumpled his hair, and did all in his power to make himself resemble one Jerry Colins, a simple-minded boy, whom everyone pitied be cause of the affi.iction Providence had seen fit to put upon him. This in case of being discovered, in the hope that he would be deemed incapable of doing mischief. The sound of a long-drawn melancholy howl from some lonely gulch up along the face of the mountain caused the two lads to exchange remarks. Eben laughed softly to himself as he once more pictured the scene with the king's messenger up in the hemlock kicking furiously at the jumping wolves, and so hoarse from shouting that he could hardly speak. "Be certain to keep a sharp lookout around you for the king's messenger, if so be he still tarries at the fort. I feel certain he would recognize you through any cover," he said, at length. Robert agreed with him.
106 Old Fort Ticonderoga. Young though he was he knew full well that the eyes of hate are keen, and that unlucky fellow had cause to rue the hour they came to his relief. Perhaps it might be he was ere this clapped into one of the dismal dungeons connected with the fort, there to repent his folly in losing his precious document. Now, Benedict Arnold, with his wise head, had fore seen some such accident as the lad being discovered. A lawyer by nature, even as later on, after deeds of valor, he proved himself a traitor to his country, he had arranged a clever little scheme whereby Robert might hope to escape the penalty if caught. The message, skillfully sealed again, promised to bear its part in the game. Just how this was to occur may be seen later. Pushing on, the two boys arrived under the massive walls of the great fort. Above them they could see the frowning ramparts. Grim cannon protruded from embrasures, and were in position to play havoc with any boats crossing th<; lake within a certain distance. Cannon had a very limited range in those days, and
OJd Fort Ticonderoga. 107 men would have thought one crazy to talk of sending a projectile ten miles or more. Well, they might have also locked a man up who hinted at such amazing things as railroads, steamboats, telegraph messages fl.ashed around the earth, the tele phone carrying the human voice, the phonograph, and many such things so common in our generation. "You remember the crack in the wall?" whispered Eben, as they were about to separate. "Surely, and how the cannon can be reached by one who dares throw his arms aloft. Never fear, I shall succeed." At least if confidence in his ability counted for success Robert was bound to get there. The night favored him. It was cloudy and gloomy. A raw air made the sentries draw within their great coats and sent them along their monotonous beats with little desire to stand and listen. Then the splashing of the waves down upon the shore was apt to disguise any slight sound the boy might make in climbing upward.
108 Old Fort Ticonderoga. His agility stood him well in hand. A mountain goat could hardly have ascended where he forged ahead. Not once did he falter, even when he knew a single slip would hurl him down to instant death. What he had done before for pleasure, and in a spirit of mere bravado, he certainly could now carry out when there was so much at stake. Ethan Allen's trust should never be betrayed. After a while he came to the crack in the wall of which Eben had spoken. Here the danger was doubly great, but he had cal culated to a fraction, and nothing had been changed since he made the effort so successfully before. Straightening up, he balanced himself, and raising his arms reached for the cannon. Once he clasped this it was an easy thing to draw himself up, entwine his active legs around the projecting part of the bell-mouthed piece of ordnance, and then crawl through the embrasure. If fifty men in Allen's company could do the same thing, how easily might the fort be taken.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. Perhaps one alone might suffice, provided he could unbar and swing wide the massive gates, giving his fellow patriots free entree. Robert flitted about this way and that. There were several things he had been especially instructed to see about, and having a deep sense of the importance attaching to his business he set about doing these in succession. The fort was vast and grim. No lights were to be seen save in the officers' quar ters, where the commandant and his staff were per haps engaged in consultation, or killing time with cards and wine. Here and there the muffied figures of the sentries were to be seen treading their beats on the ramparts. They were outlined against the gray sky, and every little while their "all's well" could be heard. It was hard to believe a state of war existed, and that he now crouched inside a hostile fort. For years Robert had known this massive barrier, built to oppose any force moving up or down the west shore of the lake.
110 Old Fort Ticonderoga. To him it had always seemed a friendly protection, and yet it now sheltered the foes of his land. The proud banner that floated all day so defiantly represented tyranny and oppression. The men of Vermont had sworn by the graves of their fathers that it must be pulled down. And he had been chosen as having an especial part to play in this exciting war drama. After a time Robert had covered all the points as signed to him by Col. Allen. He carried the information in his head, as the safest place. When the proper time came he could disclose a con dition of affairs that must of a certainty please the one through whom his present mission had come. It was time he were going. The prospect did not cheer him any, for if there had been danger in climbing up it was worse going down. It chanced that in heading for the marked embrasure where he had come in, he had to pass close by the head quarters of the commandant.
Old Fort Ticonderoga. I JI Some boyish curiosity drew him to step out of his way and peep in at the window. He only had one very fleeting glimpse of several red coated officers seated around a table on which a num ber of papers lay amid wine glasses. Then the door opened without warning, and a man came out hastily, actually bumping into Robert before he could make the first move to get out of his way. The party, who seemed to be excited and angry, began to berate the boy wh? had nearly tripped him up. Then his mood changed as he caught sight of Rob ert, and uttering a shout of astonishment he threw himself upon the boy. It was the king's messenger, as luck would have it I
CHAPTER VIII. :BEFORE THE GOVERNOR OF THE FORT. Although taken completely by surprise Robert did not lose his head in this emergency. He had much more at stake than his mere existence. Unless he were able to return within a reasonable time and render his report to Col. Ethan Allen, the valiant leader of the Green Mountain Boys would be handicapped in his plan to capture Ticonderoga. Changes had been made with regard to posting sen tries and the position of various cannon. A knowledge of these facts must be of great value to an attacking force. Besides, Robert's superior knowledge of the place made him almost a necessity. They would depend upon him to climb the ramparts, enter the fort by means of the embrasure, and unbar the great gates. So that he must do everything in his power to escape confinement. This being the case, he made no resistance when he
Before the Governor of the Fort. I 13 found himself in the power of the king's messenger, whose sharp eyes had undoubtedly recognized him. He proceeded to drag Robert through the open door. A scene of confusion was presented in that room. Commandant Delaplace and his officers had gained their feet, astonished beyond measure. One or two of the more headstrong had drawn their swords as though expecting an attack. They seemed considerably relieved when it was dis covered that the row was caused by the courier who had just been before them, being examined for the fourth time ; and that he had hold of a young lad who appeared alarmed at his situation, but did not struggle. The messenger had been reprimanded so seriously that he was in an ugly humor. And seeing what he thought might be a chance to pay it back upon the boy, he shook him several times, much as a dog does a rat. Robert liked it not that the part he had set out to play prevented him from fighting back. He hoped at some future date to be in a position to return this rough treatment with interest.
Ii+ Before the Governor of the Fort. "How now, fellow? What does this mean? You surely have taken leave of your senses. The guardhouse may teach you manners on a diet of bread and water?" It was the commanding officer who spoke. Delaplace was a very consequential soldier, fond of display, and being in sole charge of so vast a fortress gave him an undue sense of his importance. Still he had less than three score of men in his gar-rison. The messenger by this time came to his senses. He made the regulation salute. "May it please the commandant, I can now prove the truth of my report which it has pleased you, sir, to doubt," he exclaimed, red with excitement. "In what way, corporal?" "Because, commandant, this is one of the sly young dogs who rescued me from the savage brutes." Delaplace looked closely at Robert. "Mayhap I have seen him before. There is some thing familiar about his looks. But if so be he did you so great a favor, corporal, what need of shaking
Before the Governor of the Fort. 11 5 him as you do? Have y ou no sense of gratitude, man?" "But, sir, it was doubtless owing to him I lost the precious document I was bearing hither." "Then you think he took it?" "It was on my person while I was in the tree. To that I can subscribe my oath." "And gone when you came before me." "True, sir. Since we searched every inch of ground between the fort and that tree, it seems certain that one of the young rebels took the paper from my person while I lay out of my mind after my fall." Delaplace turned to Robert. He endeavored to appear very fierce, for it must be easy to browbeat a simple-looking farmer s lad, such as Robert appeared to be. "How now, fellow?" he stormed; "what have you to say against this charge?" "Sir," spoke up Robert, soberl y "the soldier speaks the truth when he sa y s the articl e could not have been up o n the ground since it was searched over so carefully. But, sir, he has foregotten something."
116 Before the Governor of the Fort. "What might that be?" demanded Delaplace, eag erly, seeing that the rustic was not so sirriple as he had at first been led to believe from his looks. "The hemlock tree in which he sought refuge from the wolves was thick. I think that when the mes senger did examine the pocket to make sure that it was safe, instead of returning it upon his person -he thrust it in a crotch of the tree." The others uttered exclamations. "Can it be possible, and yet how reasonable? Speak up, boy; dids't find it there?" cried the commandant. "The white against the green did catch my eye. At first I considered it to be a patch of snow lingering long beyond its season; then I bethought me it might be a portion of our messenger's garments which had caught upon a prong and torn loose. To satisfy my mind, I climbed the tree and found-this." With the word he whipped out the document. "The message!" gasped the astonished and delighted bearer of tidings from afar. "And with the governor's seal unbroken!" cried Delaplace, immediately tearing it loose.
Before the Governor of the Fort. 117 Robert felt relieved. Close examination on the part of a suspicious man might have revealed the fact that the seal of Gov. Howe had been tampered with, despite the skill shown by Benedict Arnold at remodeling the same. Now it was too late. Eagerly did the officer read the whole message. His face turned black as he learned the truth concerning the encounter between the colonists and the royal arms at Lexington and Concord. Then a grim smile spread over it as he learned what powers were given to him to draw on more southern stations for additional troops with which to ravage the farm lands around Champlain. "Aha! this is fine reading, sirs. The war has broken out even as our messenger told us. Now to whip these miserable colonists as they deserve. Just as soon as this man can bear word to Albany we shall have an army sent hither, which I shall use to harry the coun try. They will live to bitterly repent their impudence." Then he turned suddenly on Robert, who braced
11 8 Before the Governor of the Fort. himself to carry out his part, knowing full well what was coming. "This message is soiled most wretchedly. Surely this could not have been done while carri e d in the box of the governor s bearer. How do you e x plain that, sirrah ?" he said, fixing his keen eyes on Robert's face. "It was damp from the dew when I found it, sir." "And you thrust it into your dirty pocket?" "I knew no other way to carry it, sir. "That explains the marks on the outside ; but I am surprised that Gov. Howe's secretary should scorn the use of soap and water. Now, tell me, when was it you came into possession of this paper so strangely?" Robert had been carefully coached by Arnold. He knew his part well, and depended upon telling a straight story from the start. "An hour before noon, please you, sir." "And kept it all this while? How, now, that you did not fetch the same to me at once? It must have been known to you that this writing was addressed to me?" "So I conceived, sir ; but I was afraid." "Of what?"
Before the Governor of the Fort. 1 I 9 "One of the guards, when last I came hither, did tell me that if ever again he caught me, he would, beyond a peradventure, skin me alive." "Some boyish prank you had been up to, I ween ; and my soldiers are not to be baited with impunity. So, you feared to come in the daylight-why, then, at night?" "I knew I could get inside the fort and give the packet to your worship." "Without the countersign? It is strange! I gave the most stringent orders. Tell me, boy, how came you inside Fort Ticonderoga this night?" demanded Delaplace, beginning to look worried. "I climbed up the walls, please you." His words created a sensation. Delaplace frowned while the others looked at each other askance. If this boy could scale the grim heights and appear unheralded in their midst, what was to prevent othersmen of the mountains, vigorous and with hardened muscles, from following his example. They had pinned great faith in the invulnerable na-
J Before the Governor of the Fort. ture of great Ticonderoga, where it was said fifty men might keep a thousand at hay. This little incident already began to undermine their confidence. "Come, gentlemen," said the commandant, bringing them to their senses; "it is evident that we have a weak spot in our armor. This must be looked into." He turned again upon Robert. "What you say sounds incredible, boy. Sooner would I believe you must have slipped past the guard at some time when the gates were ajar. Perhaps, for sooth! you have a friend among my soldiers who al lowed you to enter, and you hope to screen him by relating this cock-and-bull fairy tale about climbing our walls, sheer down some fifty feet and more. Con fess, now !" "Indeed, what I say is true, sir. I did but clamber up as boys are able. It was an old trick with me." Delaplace looked at him gloomily. Of a truth, the boy could not have flown over the high walls, and while his story seemed improbable
Before the Governor of the Fort. UI and staggered the proud commandant, still it might be so. "Be it as you say, perhaps, then, you would not object to showing us just where you came up the wall." "If that be your wish, sir." "Lieut. Haskins, do you take him in charge, and see whether he tells the truth or lies. And in the morning we shall all watch him do this wonderful thing for our pleasure and satisfaction. If he has deceived us, per haps a hot iron will cause him to tell lies no more. Remember, I hold you responsible for his safe keeping, lieutenant. Robert looked quickly at the officer, who saluted. He was a fine young fellow, with a manly face, a fair specimen of England's brave sons. "Come," he said, slipping his left arm m that of Robert, while unsheathing his sword in a significant way. So they quitted the lighted room. The messenger started to follow, being suspiciously inclined, perhaps, but was recalled by the stern voice of the commandant, who wished to ask more questions.
121 Before the Governor of the Fort. That was a lucky thing for our Robert. One he might manage, but two would have prob ably been his undoing. Of course, it was far from his design to show the officer where he had clambered up the wall. Indeed, in order to throw him off the track the more, he went in exactly an opposite direction. His secret must be jealously guarded if he hoped to benefit from his knowledge further. The lieutenant kept a tight hold upon him, knowing what a severe reprimand he was likely to receive if by any chance he lost his prisoner. Here Robert's knowledge concerning the interior of the massive fort came into good play again. He knew where he was going. And having led the other to one of the most inacces sible portions of the ramparts where there was a sheer drop of scores of feet, he began to count the blocks of stone forming the escarpment. At seventeen from the corner he paused. It was all done so methodically that even a more
Before the Governor of the Fort. 123 suspicious man than the frank young officer might have been deceived. "This is the place," said the lad, indifferently. "Art sure?" gasped the other, incredulously, for well he knew the dizzy height :it which they stood, with the ground far, far below, and up which nothing did not possess wings could come. Robert calmly crawled to the edge and looked over, the lieutenant grasping one of his ankles as though fearful lest the other might soar away and leave him there in the lurch .Having endeavored to pierce the gloom that lay be low, Robert came back again, apparently satisfied. "Yes ; it is the place. You can see for yourself how easily it may be done, sir, by one accustomed to climb ing." Filled with curiosity, and hardly able to believe his ears, the lieutenant, seized with an impulse to see for himself, crawled forward. He even forgot to maintain his hold upon the lad who had been given into his char ge, and for whose safe keeping the governor of the fort held him responsible.
114 Before the Governor of the Fort. Robert knew his chance had come, and that he must make the most of it. It would have been easy enough for him to have given the young officer a push that must have sent him headlong down through space. Not for worlds would he have done this. It would have been too horrible. This gallant young chap doubtless had relatives across the sea, whose hearts were sore with the parting, and who would be terribly shocked if any ill befel him. Besides, all Robert wanted was a chance to slip away in the dark, and this now opened to him. He immediately turned, bent low and glided off, his heart seemingly in his mouth with suspense until he had managed to place a dozen paces between himself and the danger point. Then he headed directly for that portion of the works where his secret route lay. Well did he know that presently there would be tre mendous excitement all through old Ticonderoga, and
Before the Governor of the Fort. 115 that he could not get away any too soon for his com fort. Meanwhile, the lieutenant had thrust his head be yond the edge of the parapet, gripping the cold stones nervously. He strained his eyes, looking down and endeavoring to see the object which Robert had assured him made climbing that rugged wall such an easy task. Of course it was in vain. The most agile of monkeys could not have made the slightest progress up that terrible wall. "Incredible! Surely, you are mistaken or perhaps, you young rascal, you wish to make sport of his majesty's officers. It will be a sad day--" Then he stopped short. In fact, while speaking he had wriggled back far enough to gain his feet, and looking eagerly and aghast to the right and to the left discovered the trick that had been so cleverly played upon him. At first he started to look for the native, reluctant to sound the alarm, and hoping to avoid trouble.
126 Before the Governor of the Fort. This, of course, was like s e arching a haystack for a lost needle, and brought no result. So, finally, it became necessary that he give the alarm. The fort, so silent hitherto, now became the scene of considerable confusion. Lights sprang up, soldiers moved this way and that, and every nook that might conceal a fugitive was searched in vain. The commandant himself took charge of affairs, determined that if the tricky lad caught he should be punished severely. Here the matter ended. For about the time the excitement began to assume serious proportions, a lithe figure hung suspended from one of the cannon that protruded through an aperture in the wall, and having found footing in the crack be low, began to swiftly descend the wall with astonishing agility. And thus did Robert beard the lion in his den. Old Fort Ti was not as impregnable as the British believed.
I CHAPTER IX. HOW ROBERT FOUND HIS OWN. Eben, hiding at the rendezvous, had heard these signs of alarm up at the fort with forebodings of trouble. He supposed his friend must have been discovered, and feared lest even then he might be in the hands of the redcoats. What Ethan Allen had said about their being justifie d in hanging anyone who was considered a spyRob ert had repeated the words-made Eben doubly anx10us. These were strange times, when even boys had to assume those dreadful burdens such as strong men are usually supposed to shoulder. Of course, his anxiety was relieved when he heard the signal agreed upon between them, and knew that Robert had come safely out of the jaws of the trap. They immediately began to move away.
128 How Robert Found His Own. It was not considered safe for fellows of their stripe to remain so near the nest of their enemies. Robert soon related all that had happened. And if ever one had an interested and delighted listener it was there in Eben. He could picture the whole thing in his mind easily, since the interior of the fort was familiar to him, and as Robert described how he led the lieutenant to that portion where the walls were less capable of being scaled than at any other place, the doctor's boy chuckled without restraint. "And now," concluded Robert, "what shall we do next?" "I feel too tired to cross the lake," said Eben. "And the wind is contrary, too." "Is it necessary?" "Col. Allen told me not to hurry back-that is, to take no chances." "They will not be ready to attack for some days, I venture,'' said Eben. "It may hasten matters some when they learn that
How Robert Found His Own. 119 the messenger goes south to-morrow with a demand for half a regiment or more of soldiers." "If he ever gets through. The whole country is waking up so they say, as the glorious news flies apace. It is strange how he ever escaped before without some Minutemen stopping him on the highway.'" Eben had quick ears. He loved to hover around and listen to his elders talking, so that he was well posted on the events of the day. Having decided that it would be wise for them to delay their return over the broad waters of the lake until morning at least, the boys kept on down the road for several miles. Both were very tired. In truth, it became a decided effort to drag their legs behind them, and when Robert declared they had gone quite far enough to make a safe camp, Eben agreed. They were hardy lads, and accustomed to roughing it.
130 How Robert Found His Own. In the boat were a couple of home-made blankets, and they asked nothing better than these. No fire was needed-it might have been dangerous under the circumstances that surrounded them. So they wrapped themselves in their blankets like warriors or soldiers on the warpath, and calmly lay down upon the yielding turf, without a fear. No wonder the men who fought with Washington endured every hardship uncomplainingly when they sprang of such dauntless material as this. Time passed on. The owl winnowed the frosty night air with its wings as it prowled about in search of food. Out on the rough lake an early loon gave vent to its strange crackling laugh at intervals. And up on the heights the wolves took delight in howling, singly and in chorus, but somehow came not near the spot where the twain lay bundled in their blankets like a couple of mummies. So the dawn found them. Robert was up betimes, and over upon the neighbor ing shore to see what the chances were like.
How Robert Found His Own. 131 Upon returning he found his companion busily en gaged in starting a P.re with flint and steel. "What cheer?" asked Eben. "The wind veers more to our liking. I think that in an hour or two it may be well." "Good. And since the inner man is clamoring for attention, let us partake of the food good Mistress Hop ple, my respected mother, packed off with us." Robert was willing. The air was keen so early in the day, making the heat of their little retired blaze very acceptable. Besides it added to the boyish appetites they pos sessed and which could always be depended on in any emergency. Just as Robert predicted, the breeze did turn in their favor. They pushed out as soon as this fact became evident, and were soon moving gayly over the waves. There the massive walls of the fort arose and the banner of St. George streamed out upon the morning breeze with the rising of the sun.
132 How Robert Found His Own. Robert wondered how many more days it would mock them. He longed to see the hour when some flag represent ing the independent colonies would float from that same staff. The very thought gave him a warm glow. Nothing of moment occurred on their long journey across the treacherous Champlain. They had even wondered whether those at the fort would be vindictive enough to send a shot or two in the direction of the leaky little boat. It seemed that the commandant was not that small. He had been outwitted by a boy, but it would be better that he keep his own counsel, and employ his time in endeavoring to strengthen the defenses of his post, which, after the mysterious coming and going of the young countryman, did not seem quite so impreg nable as before. It had one weak spot apparently, if he could only find it. Finally landing, our bold voyagers started for the
How Robert Found His Own. 133 camp of the American forces, whom Arnold and Allen were drilling day and night. Ere now the news had gone abroad and there was hardly a lone cabin by the way where it was not known that the colonies had taken up arms against Old England. Everywhere the utmost enthusiasm reigned. Up in this remote region, where the mighty power of the grand old nation could but be dimly realized, that fort guarding the western shore of the lake typi fied it all. They talked of nothing else but its reduction. It must be taken sooner or later. And if they held back until reinforcements arrived from below, or by way of that Gibraltar of the North, Quebec, so much the worse for them. Finally, footsore and yet exultant, the youthful ad venturers came into town. Robert sent his friend to his home to relieve the sus pense under which the good doctor and his wife must be laboring. As for himself, he had a report to make.
134 How Robert Found His Own. By good luck, he found Arnold in consultation with the leader of the hardy mountaineers. At sight of the boy both men showed pleasure, and in turn shook him warmly by the hand. It was a proud moment for Robert. Question succeeded question after he had told the story of his success in entering the fort. He even drew a rough sketch of certain things which were of vital importance to their plans. Ethan Allen was wild to get to work. The spirit boiled within his massive frame, and every sunrise that saw the once beloved, but now detested, emblem of British authority fly over the walls of Ticonderoga was, in his mind, another opportunity wasted. In Robert he saw the star of success. What the boy had done, surely strong and brave men should be able to accomplish. And once inside, the garrison must yield to superior numbers, even though these consisted of awkward farmers and backwoodsmen, armed with every variety
How Robert Found His Own. 135 of weapon, but one and all inspired by the love of liberty. At last they dismissed the lad. Their earnest words of thanks and the hearty hand shake accompanying the same, amply repaid him for all he had suffered. Why, it made him feel more manly. Yesterday, as it were, they looked upon him in the light of a boy-to-day these same men were proud to admit him to their council-ay even ask his opinion respecting certain things, as though it had weight. No wonder, then, Robert held his head high. But it was an honest pride after all, a feeling that he was in a position to make himself useful in the in terests of his native land, and against the oppressor. Of course, after seeing his adopted father, he wan dered in the direction of Annetta's home. That was always a place he remembered with pleas ure, for many a time had he spent an evening in the little social circle that gathered around the lamp, and even joined in the family devotions with which it was
136 How Robert Found His Own. the usual custom among these primitive and God-fear ing pioneers to close each day ere retiring. Then, too, it was in front of her house that he had once upon a time used the blacksmith s old gun to signal advantage. Robert never passed the spot without a funn y little creeping sensation around the region of his heart for well did he know he had been close to death that day. Annetta saw him coming up the graveled walk w ith its quaint old boxwood borders. She hurried to meet him. Robert was surprised to see upon her face a look he had never discovered there before. In fact, Annetta was weeping and laughing all at once, and in consequence she looked very strange. "You are glad to see me come back in safet y A n netta?" "Need you ask that, Robert? Indeed, I have hardly !' slept since you went away, so afraid was I lest that old despot at the fort do you an evil turn." She did not immediately ask him to tell her what
How Robert Found His Own. 137 he had done, and this was so unlike feminine curiosity that Robert eyed her again. "You seem strangely moved, Annetta. May I ask what it is makes thee laugh and weep together? That is, if it concerns me at all, which may not be true.'' "Yes, oh, yes ; it is all about you, dear Robert. In truth, I have just been listening to the strangest thing that ever was told," she said, nodding mysteriously, and patting him on the arm affectionately. "About me?" he exclaimed, in dismay. "None other." "Then whoever told you, I hope he said nothing but what was true. I like not the idea of strutting about in peacock feathers. What I did was simple enough, even though success came of it, and perhaps I should thank Eben, had he remained at home instead of coming here to tell you in advance." "Oh, Robert, it is not Eben who is in the house even now with my parents," she exclaimed. "Who then, may I ask, Miss Impudence?" Then she leaned forward so that he could look straight down into her face, and said, solemnly :
138 How Robert Found His Own. "Your own father !" Even then Robert could not grasp the truth. "That is strange, since I have even now come direct from the shop here, and did surely leave the good man finishing a bayonet for one of the guns our soldiers hope to use when the fort is stormed What can you mean? Then, as a great light broke over him, his face beamed with sudden joy as he exclaimed: "Oh, it cannot surely be that he, the one Percival Kent de clared was coming presentl y has arrived?" "He came but an hour since, with a whole retinue of men to guard him through the wilderness-straight from Boston, where he landed from England. It seems that years ago he knew my father across the sea, and to him he has come even before seeking John Mas ters." R o bert was almost overcome. He had, it is true, looked forward to some such su preme moment as this. And yet, now that it had suddenl y broken upon him, he knew not what to say or do. A dvise me, Annetta-I am like a ship without a
How Robert Found His Own. 139 rudder. I cannot even think as I should," he said, weakly. Strange how it affected him. Not once had his heart failed him when facing dan ger, always had he shown a bold, undaunted spirit. This was something entirely different, something that spoke of intense joy rather than peril. The girl felt for him, understanding just how it must be with Robert. "Be brave. Surely you would not have him see you turning white, Robert. Already has he heard what things you have wrought, and his heart is filled with pride," she said, and her words had the desired effect. Robert contained himself. His trembling had been but momentary. "Tell me, what is he like?" he asked, eagerly. "A fine-looking man, still in the prime of life. You could not help loving him at sight. And that other oo you remember Percival Kent-it is not his full name, which is the same as yours, Houghton-he is your cousin, and your coming back to life, as it were, robs him of a possibility of inheriting a large estate."
1'4-0 How Robert Found His Own. "Then he is wealth y?" "Yes, yes; and he will take you awa y w ith him, so that none of us may see you more Even your love of country may be transferred to England so that in time you must speak of us as rebels here. The sadness of her voice thrilled the boy. Impulsively he took her hand and held it tight. "That could never be, Annetta. My heart, my life belongs to America. I shall never go to England-at least, while the mother country persists in being at war with her unhappy colonies Nothing, nothing can change this, believe me." "I would I had not spoken-it may be for your good, Robert. And yet, surely, the land we love needs ev e ry son in this time of trouble. But let us say no more. What comes, that will be for the right." "And already have I shown which way my sym pathies lie. They can never alter." "But, see, they come to the door, and my father beckons. Let us go in. I rejoice with you Robert, in that this day you have found a home. There can be no mistake."
How Robert Found His Own. 141 So they walked on. Once inside, Robert's eager eyes sought the face of the tall, fine-looking English gentleman, who was hungrily watching his every move. They exchanged burning looks, and over Mr. Hough ton's countenance passed an expression of satisfied pride. He knew his own. Some mysterious, if invisible, tie to draw them together. Indeed the resemblance was most striking, as those who looked on were forced to admit. The gentleman impulsively opened his arms. "Oh! my boy!" he cried, tears of joy running down his cheeks. Another moment and Robert was in his embrace, nor did he consider it unmanly because his emotion over mastered him, so that he sobbed like a child. Surely that was no sign of weakness. We who have seen him laugh at the wind-tossed waters of the great lake, and venture so boldly into the
142 How Robert Found His Own. well-guarded fortress of the enemy, can understand this. Long they sat there and compared notes. The honest blacksmith was sent for to add his testi mony to the rest. When all was said the last shadow of doubt was cleared away, and Ronald Houghton knew beyond a peradvanture that in almost as strange a manner as he had lost his only child years before, he had found the lad again, now grown to be a manly fellow, upon whom his eyes rested in pride. The particulars of the story need not concern us, since our interest lies wholly in the fortunes of Robert as a young patriot. It was a vindictive nurse who had kidnaped him and fled to America. They were traced to Boston, and there the trail seemed to end. All these years had the rich man continued to search, even though his fair wife was buried. It was only recently that news came to him by the greatest luck in the world.
How Robert Found His Own. 143 His nephew P e rcival learning that there was a chance of the missing son and heir turning up, and having come to look upon himself as likely to succeed to the vast family estates, conceived the wicked idea of forestalling his uncle, and getting Robert out of the way. It was all right now. Proof that could not be disputed was shown, and in every way Mr. Houghton fortified himself, knowing that some day the law might be invoked to decide whether Robert were the true heir or not. One thing grieved him. His heart was with England in this struggle that had begun, and it hurt him to think of his only child serving in the ranks of the rebels. Still, he admitted that it was to be expected. Robert who was to retain his name because it had become a part of his life, bad grown up amid certain surroundings and could not be expected to throw them aside. The most he would promise was that when the cruel war was over he would go to England with his father.
144 How Robert Found His Own. As Mr. Houghton would not he a r of b e in g separated longer from his bo y it was settl e d that he should return again after settling various matters, and take up his residence at Bennington. Perhaps in time his ideas would change, and he might even see fit to appreciate how just was the cause for which the colonists fought. Robert was a thankful boy when that sun went down. At its rising he had been penniless and without a name, now he was the acknowledged heir of a rich man, and besides, above all other joys was that of having found a father.
CHAPTER X. THE SMOKE SIGN AL. It was now getting well into the month of May. There were vague rumors circulated-none knew their source-to the effect that a strong force of regu lars had set out from the stronghold of Quebec to de scend into New York, and serve as a garrison to Ticonderoga. If there was truth back of this, these redcoats might turn up any day now. Once they formed a combination with the men of Commandant Delaplace, no force which the colonists could bring against them would prevail to accomplish the downfall of the stronghold. That was the way impetuous Allen argued. Benedict Arnold was somewhat more cautious, and urged that as yet they could not find boats with which to land more than three or four score of their men on the other side. He counseled delay.
146 The Smoke Signal. As Ethan Allen count e d on strate gy rather than force to open the gates of the mountain fortress he scorned the idea of continually putting off the day of action. And this brought them to the tenth of May .All things seemed favorable .Allen and Arnold had had a warm argument, but the impetuous Ethan declared he would not, on his life, delay for a single day. If Arnold did not approve of the idea he could re fuse to accompany them. That was as near an open rupture as these two equally bold leaders ever came. A truce was patched up. Arnold was forced to give into the more imperious spirit of his companion. When the word went quietly forth that the eventful time was close at hand, the most tremendous excite ment abounded. Every man who could carry a gun wanted to go, so that Allen was obliged to pick out his little band with a view of their ability in the line of climbing, for per-
The Smoke Signal. haps they might have to follow Robert up the face of the wall and through the embrasure. There was plenty of gloom following this, so bitter was the disappointment of those who drew blanks. Still, they were all merrily invited to come over later and make themselves at home in the fort. Which they promised faithfully should be done. Preparations were under way. Some were dispatched to secure every boat that could be used, and bring the same to the appointed rendez vous, where already quite a few craft had been gathered with this excursion in view. Others kept close watch and ward upon the few Tories whose sympathies it was believed went out to those in the fort. Anyone of them would have been glad to warn the commandant if given half a chance. Perhaps some signal, prearranged, would do itcertain smoke columns, rising after the Indian fashion, and capable of being seen many miles away in this clear mountain air. That was why so strict a guard was maintained, for
The Smoke Signal. they put little faith in the fair promises of these men who had no love for their adopted land. Robert knew he was to go. Many of the boys belonging to his company would have given years of their lives for the privilege, but it was not to be. Their time had not yet come. And Eben had also been rewarded for his good work by a special permit. It made him very joyful; indeed, if he stood upon his head once that afternoon on the commons he did a score of times. And always to crack his heels together while one of his mates crowed like a rooster in the barnyard. At the same time Eben was thinking. He believed there was something unusually quiet in the conduct of Walter Griffin. Generally, he kept with the other boys and boasted of what wonderful things the trained soldiers of his king would do when they ran up against the raw re cruits of this much-vaunted George Washington. A little service in the French and Indian wars did
The Smoke Signal. 149 not make him the equal of veterans who had spent their lives upon the battlefields of Europe. In this strain, then, he would talk until words went to blows, and Walter had to accept a whipping or prove himself the better in battle. To-day he held aloof. Eben believed he knew why. B y accident he had seen Walter in consultation with his father, the squire, and another individual who had been placed under the ban. Although unable to hear what manner of speech had passed between them, Eben was of the opinion it had something to do with the expected assault on the fort. And he somehow believed that Walter had been se lected as the one to get warning to the commandant some way or other. Being only a boy he was not so apt to be under sus picion as the others. His goings and comings would not be so carefully watched and he might be able to slip away while the Tories kept in plain sight all the while, as though nothing were farther from their thoughts than treachery.
The Smoke Eben also transferred his suspicions to some of the others, and among them Robert. It was determined to watch. Sure enough about the middle of the afternoon Walter sauntered out of town as if bent onl y upon a stroll. They had laid their plans, and had scouts in hiding who would keep him in sight constantly, sending back word to the main body. In this way they followed him through the timber, and so well did those who watched play their part that he never once suspected what was being done. So they drew near the shore. Robert and half a dozen were advancing when they saw one of their companions coming back and holding up his hand as if to indicate the necessity of silence. As soon as they came together, Robert demanded how the pursuit had gone, for by this time they knew Walter's promenade had a serious meaning to it. "He is very busy," replied the one who knew, and at the same time smiling broadly. "That is something new for Walter, remarked Robert, who, during the y ears the y had been rivals in
The Smoke Signal. everything, from school duties to seeking the favor of the prettiest girl in town, had never known the other to exert himself in the way of labor. The son of rich Squire Griffin had no occasion to put himself on a level with ordinary persons. "I have many times seen Walter sit around while we gathered the fagots for a camp fire," said one. "He liked to consider himself above such things. More than once has it brought about hard words," de clared another. "Well, he is surely working hard enough now," re marked the scout. "Gathering fuel?" "Ay I in three separate heaps-quite a distance apart." "Near the shore, of course?" "Where the smoke will rise above the trees, and, since there is no wind, rise up in straight columns. I could see that he had been well posted, for he threw damp wood on top, such as might smolder and make a dense body of smoke." "Some of Luther Parker's directions, for there is
The Smoke Signal. little he does not know about woodcraft, since his earlier life, before he became the squire's right-hand man, was spent among the Mohawk Indians." "Of course, he will not fire these piles of brush until all are ready. Since he is even now working on the third we shall have plenty of time to lay our plans." The boys drew around Robert in a group. To him they seemed to look in this emergency for ad vice. So great was their faith in him that not one among them would have hesitated to carry out any scheme Robert might suggest. They had tested him many times in the past, and whether in their summer or winter sports, Robert had never failed to come to the front. He possessed all the qualifications of a born leader. One thing they settled without any parley. This was to the effect that Walter should not, by any possibility, be allowed to set fire to those three brush piles. To let him thus signal the British in the fort would be to possibly ruin the fine plans of Ethan Allen.
The Smoke Signal. 153 It would be even worse. Precious lives might be lost, the lives of fathers or brothers, whom they loved. So that there was grim determination manifest upon the face of every boy, a resolve to do his duty, no matter how young Griffin suffered. Perhaps some of them rejoiced secretly over the chance to repay old scores. Walter had ever been proud and domineering, making more enemies than friends among the lads who at tended the same primitive school. He was given to boasting, and his free use of money seemed to put him in a class by himself. A few who were ready to cringe and curry favor with him, because of his capacity for bestowing re wards, hung around him and pretended to look upon him in the light of a hero, but the majority detested him thoroughly. The council of war did not last long. As Walter was working on his last pile he might at any minute take a notion to get out his tinder box, strike flint to steel, and set the brush to burning.
154 The Smoke Signal. The atmosphere was wonderfully clear, and in these mountainous districts it was possible to see for an as tonishing distance. If the smoke proved to be sufficiently dark, and rose high in the air, it seemed probable that the lookout perched upon the heights of Ticonderoga would dis cover the same. No doubt day and night a careful watch was being kept toward the east. The commandant knew full well that if trouble came upon him before his reinforcements arrived, it must spring from that quarter. When Robert peeped out from behind a fringe of bushes as directed, he saw Walter stooping beside a great pile of brushwood. The squire's son looked flushed and tired. He had worked as never before in his life. It seemed as though the exciting events of the times had actually caused this idler to bestir himself. Perhaps he lacked the nerve to attempt the passage of the wide and treacherous lake alone, for Walter had never taken to the water.
The Smoke Signal. Then, again, it might be that his father had warned him against such a thing, knowing how the eager pa triots had gathered all boats along the shore for miles, and that hot chase would probably be given should they discover any single craft heading across. It was the click of flint and steel that sounded, and presently a tiny blaze shot up as a spark fell in the pinch of powder, which in turn was connected with a handful of very dry twigs and some dead leaves. Quickly the flames ascended. When the damp stuff was reached the smoke began to roll upward in a great column. Walter stepped back and surveyed his work, meaning to presently dash off to the second brush pile, which he expected to sacrifice in the same manner. His red and soiled face was aglow with satisfaction, for he believed he was striking a blow at the boasted sacred cause of the despised patriots. Then, as he turned to run hastily along the shore in the direction of his second pyramid of sticks and branches, he cried out in dismay. Robert had shown himself.
The Smoke Signal. Nor were the other boys backward about letting Walter know his pretty little game had been discovered. The squire's son abandoned all immediate thought of carrying out his plans. It was now a case of self-preservation with him. When he ran there was a chorus of shouts, and the boys started in hot pursuit. If Walter had been known as a swift runner, fear lent wings to his feet now, for what he had seen upon the faces of his former companions alarmed him. He might have led them a long chase, even though failing to escape in the end, had not one of the scouts in hiding tripped him up dexterously, and tumbled upon him even while he sprawled there on the ground. Out of breath, he made little resistance, and was speedily held by a couple of the stoutest lads. Walter somehow seemed to lose his ordinary haughty manner. Times had changed. There was a seriousness in the atmosphere now that had never been known before. The time for play had gone, and he could no longer
The Smoke Signal. 157 look down upon these sons of the more humble among the Green Mountain colonists. "How dare you lay hands on me?" he burst out, with a faint hope flashing up that perhaps a bold front might, as of yore, have some influence. They laughed at him, and mocked him. "It is forbidden that fires be kindled along this shore of our lake," said one. "By whose orders, pray?" demanded Walter. "Col. Ethan Allen's." "What care I for his orders. He is not my master, and I hold myself free to do as I please," flashed the haughty son of the squire. "Well those days are past and gone. From now on you will do what our commander orders. This one fire will do no harm, but the others we do not mean to allow. And, moreover, since your being at liberty threatens the success of our plans, it has been decided to keep you fast a prisoner until to-morrow," declared Robert, quietly. "You would not dare!" "Fetch him along, men."
The Smoke Signal. "Everyone of you shall pay dearly for this outrage when my father hears of it." "Stop! Listen to me now, Walter, and understand once for all what it all means. You have heard, doubtless, that a state of war exists between England and these thirteen colonies in rebellion?" "Yes; and my father says everyone of you who takes up arms against the king will surely be hung," snarled the angry and alarmed Walter. His words did not seem to frighten anybody. In fact, some of the lads were even rude enough to laugh in his face. "We are willing to risk all that. And, truly, it seems to us that one Walter Griffin is closer to feeling the drawing of the cord about his neck than any other among us." At this the squire's son turned white. His knees showed signs of knocking together, for with all his boastfulness he was an arrant coward at heart. "What mean you, fellow? Surely you would not dare threaten me with so vile a thing?"
The Smoke Signal. 159 "You is not in us to threaten, but with a state of war existing, you have been caught in the act of signaling to our foes, the British. Traitors and spies are dealt with according to the rules of war. So we shall keep you safely overnight, and to-morrow perhaps Col. Allen may try you on charges." Walter was now thoroughly weakened. He began to disclaim any idea of a desire to com municate with those in old Fort Ti, perched upon the heights across Lake Champlain. The fire he had started just because he had a fancy that way, and things had come to a pretty pass when one could not have a little blaze to suit himself. His words had no other result than of causing his captors to laugh in his face. They were quite heartless, it seemed. So Walter became sullen and ceased threatening as well as pleading, since one seemed as equally barren of results as the other. He wondered where they were leading him, but not for long, since his surroundings became more and more familiar.
160 The Smoke Signal. It was m the direction of the haunted cabin they were making their way. This caused Walter renewed distress. He could not forget his previous fright at this dis mal place, and the very idea of being kept a prisoner all night in that haunted abode was terrible. Apparently he was discovering very early in the day that the storm hovering over the land had much distress in it for those whose sympathies remained with the king. This was only a beginning, too. Once war spread over the country its horrors would be stamped upon every peaceful community. The whoop of the savage Indian in the fair valleys of the Mohawk and Wyoming would terrify the set tlers, and bring about much slaughter. Walter had thought it sport to have a part in warning those at Ticonderoga that the patriots were com ing, but already was he realizing how those who dance must pay the piper. When the cabin was reached some of the boys set tled down to guard the prisoner all night.
The Smoke Signal. 161 A fire was started, messengers sent to town for food, and a stock of fuel laid in. The prisoner, sitting with his ankles bound, could from time to time turn his eyes in the direction of the ladder, and wonder if in the dead of night that awful specter would again show itself. Bound and unable to flee with the rest, his position would be a fearful one. No wonder he trembled and groaned every little while. It was an experience never to be forgotten. But the ghost of the tumble-down cabin on the shore was on its good behavior this night, and de clined to appear.
CHAPTER XI. JUST BEFORE THE GRAY DAWN. Robert did not linger in the vicinity of the cabin any longer than was absolutely necessary. He wished to get to the rendezvous upon the lake shore, where the boa.ts had been gathered according to the orders of Allen and Arnold. The rest of the boys could be depended upon to keep their prisoner secure. They had a couple of old guns among them, of which those in whose charge these were given, felt very proud. It was their duty to patrol the shore, and keep a close watch for any fires. Possibly the conspiring Tories, finding that their plan with regard to the smoke having miscarried, might make some effort to carry out the plot, even while the patriot forces were crossing the lake. This would ruin all. Precautions had, of course be e n taken as far as
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 163 possible, and the men were being watched, but some how one of their number might manage to slip away, when the damage would be done. Robert and his faithful friend arrived at the cove, where the boats were assembled, just before darkness set in. Here a disappointment awaited them. Some miscalculation had been made. There were only enough boats to take some four score of men over to the other side, at the most. And Ethan Allen had expected entering Ticonde roga at the head of two hundred at the least. Robert knew the intrepid spirit of the man too well to imagine that even such a setback as this to his working plans could dismay him. He would have made the bold attempt even if his backing mounted to less in numbers than the red coats in the fort. There were other things that counted besides num bers. Before now small bands of desperate men had ac complished wonders.
I 64 Just Before the Gray Dawn. And lion-hearted Ethan Allen was just the man to astound his foes. Already the men had begun to arrive. They came by twos and threes, dribbling along, serious minded enough, but eager to strike the first blow that would cripple the power of the royalists along the lake. Every man carried some sort of a gun, besides the customary powder horn and bullet pouch. These weapons might be of strange pattern, but those in whose hands they were carried knew full well how to use them with deadly results. The keen eyes that sighted along those barrels were accustomed to catching deer on the jump, or it might be the fierce panther of the wilds in his leap from a tree. Surely they could make sure of a target that wore a flaming red coat, and offered such chances. A fire burned where it was screened from the lake, and around this the men gathered some brewing a pannikin of home-dried tea, to which they had turned
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 16 5 rather than pay tax upon the foreign article, others cooking venison on the ends of long sticks. Robert looked upon the scene with eagerness. True, there were no uniforms as yet to take the place of homespun garments ; but the talk was all of a warlike nature. It pleased the boy's martial spirit. He felt inspired to do much more than had already fallen to his share for the sake of home and country. And if the plans that had been arranged were car ried out, he would be granted plenty of opportunity to let this feeling have full sway ere the rising of another sun. Still the men kept arriving. Already there were more on hand than the boats could accommodate, and it was evident that not a few would be disappointed when the selection was made. There might be those who would grumble because able-bodied men were refused passage while a couple of lads had places in the boats. Of course, these worthies knew little of the impor tant part Robert had already played.
166 Just Before the Gray Dawn. Nor were they taken into the confidence of the lead ers, to be told what it was anticipated the young fellow might yet do to further the cause. At last came Col. Allen, with a large squad of eager recruits. Benedict Arnold was also there, ready to join with his compatriots in this daring venture. In the early days of the war this strange man gave signs of proving a tower of strength to the colonies. What wretched conditions arose to afterwards cause him to plan the betrayal of his comrades, no one has ever fully discovered. Just now he was one of the leading spirits. No danger daunted him, and his bravery was proven time and again on bloody battlefield and while engaged in some bold dash such as the present. Of course, Allen immediately grappled with the difficulty that awaited him. As the supply of boats could not be increased, it be came necessary to limit the number of those chosen to make the venture. He knew his men pretty well.
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 167 Thus he was able to make a good choice, every se lection having regard for nimbleness of foot as well as boldness of heart. No one could see what desperate straits awaited them on the other side. All anticipated a severe fight, in which men would be slain on both sides, for they knew the valor of English soldiers, and how they were taught to obey orders even though it meant sure death. Ethan Allen understood this, too. Later on, his tactics proved it, since he ignored the plain defenders of the fort, and turned his full atten tion upon the one in supreme command. It marked his sagacity as a leader. The embarkation finally began. It was orderly from the start, under the personal supervision of the leaders, who seemed to know just what was needed in order to bring about the best re sults. Quite a little flotilla they had when all the boats had been filled to the danger point. They would have reason to feel thankful if the
168 Just Before the Gray Dawn. night breeze that blew over the lake now did not in crease, for some of the craft were really overloaded, and there would be danger of their being swamped. Such a catastrophe would threaten their plans. The unfortunates could not be taken into any of the other boats, each of which already contained its full quota. Consequently, they would have to hang on along the sides during the balance of the long voyage. It was to be hoped no accident of this kind would happen to mar the good work. When everything was ready Ethan Allen gave the signal to start. The boats were to keep as close together as possible. This for many reasons, chief among which was the desire to be of assistance to one another in case of trouble. Should it be found impossible to carry out this part of the program, each boat was to make for a certain well-known little bay within a mile of the fort. At this rendezvous they would meet.
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 169 If at a certain hour all had not come up the enter prise must be conducted without them. Every man hoped and prayed that his craft might not be the one to fall behind. Had they been going to loot a rich city they could hardly have shown more eagerness. Robert and Eben had their own boat, as on the pre vious occasions when they crossed over. They anticipated no particular trouble, unless the weather changed suddenly, and the waves arose. The time passed slowly to these impatient souls. Eagerly they strained their eyes for some dim glimpse of those well-known walls that reared them selves skyward upon the heights. The night favored them. In vain would the sentries, walking the ramparts, gaze oft and long upon the sea of darkness that stretched out toward the distant eastern shore of Champlain. Those boats continued to glide along in silence, urged by sail and oars as best suited the fancy of those stern men occupying them.
170 Just Before the Gray Dawn. No man gave forth a sound. Orders were passed along in whispers. And at last, when an eternit y had been spent as it seemed, buffeting those waters, and the night was well nigh worn to a thread, the keenest-eyed among the watchers began to discover that of which they were in search. Yes, against the heavens the high embattlements of the proud fort stood out. Again, as if by some fatality, had the flag of Eng land been neglected with the setting of the sun. It flapped there from its pole, as if bidding these hardy souls defiance to their teeth. At least that was the way they took it, and shutting their teeth harder together kept on for the shore. When Robert ran his little boat into the bay he found others there ahead of them, those whose craft had swifter wings than his own leaky affair. Allen was on hand. He could hardly restrain his impatience. The object of his eager desire was now at hand, and within the hour must be struck the blow that was to
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 171 apparently settle the question of supremacy in the region of Champlain. On shore the men gathered in groups. They conversed in whispers when at all; but most of them were content to grip their guns and look upward to where the walls of the fort showed clear. Such men could tell the time by the stars, or through many other natural agencies. And hence Ethan Allen knew that, although one boat had not shown up as yet, it were folly to longer delay the assault. The premature coming of gray dawn would ruin their plans, or at least set them back another twenty four hours. And in case of this latter event there was more or less danger of the British discovering something that might put them on their guard. So he finally gave the order. Eben pressed Robert's hand with warmth. "Courage!" he whispered in his ear, knowing that the time had come for his friend to once more assert his claim to being a devoted adherent of the new cause.
I 71 Just Before the Gray Dawn. Robert hardly needed this encouragement, although appreciating the kindly sentiment which influenced Eben. He had done this same feat on that other night, and had perfect confidence in his ability to carry it to a successful end again. Why, it was really nothing very great. Many a time he had taken risks just as great in a spirit of boyish sport. Leaving the bay where the boats had come ashore, they now started toward the fort. Those who best knew the way led the column. It was just as well that ordinary care was taken not to make more noise than was absolutely necessary. And every man was enjoined to keep his gun in hand, for an accidental shot would ruin all. Robert could, in imagination, see the result-hear the sentries call out to each other, catch the flash of their guns as they gave the alarm, bear the hurried throb of the drum, and, oh what a sinking of his heart this must produce. He prayed again and again it might not be.
Just Before the Gray Dawn. 173 There was little need of any further conversation between Col. Allen and the lad who had been selected on account of his fitness to enter the fort and throw open the gates. Before now they had gone carefully over the ground. Every little move had been planned. If good fortune attended them things should go along just like clockwork. Again and again Robert found himself looking off toward the eastern horizon. As they mounted higher up the face of the rise the view, of course, would grow more extensive when the morning dawned. That was just it-he dreaded to see the first symp tom of dawn begin to creep up the heavens. So much there was to be done. He plainly heard the banner of England flapping in the breeze. Would it still be there when the sun arose? Col. Allen had promised him that, should success follow their venture, it would be his pleasure to let Robert lower that arrogant flag.
174 Just Before the Gray Dawn. He gloried in the thought. Higher still they climbed. And now before them rose the gates, with the mas sive walls rearing their heads above. While the voices of the redcoat sentinels were heard calling: "All is well!" I I \ ..;_
CHAPTER XII. A BLOW FOR LIBERTY. "Go, lad! and Heaven watch over you!" So Ethan Allen whispered in Robert's ear, even as he squeezed the young patriot's hand in his big one. And Robert went forth. He shut his teeth hard together as he realized what a tremendous responsibility rested on his young shoul ders. It remained with his success or failure whether the pet idea of his good friend, Ethan Allen, became a reality or must be looked upon as a dream. Still Robert had no doubt. He knew he would not fail. Never did a boy have stronger reasons for doing great things than influenced him now. He seemed to see the earnest face of Annetta, and the look of confidence in her calm eyes gave him a new. courage. Success must be his.
176 A Blow for Liberty. Nothing should stand in the wa y In this determined frame of mind he climbed upward even as did the youth whose motto was "Excelsior." Presently he would reach that portion of the for tress wall where the telltale crack lay below the em brasure from which protruded the friendly gun. Somehow strange fears assailed him. Could they have discovered the route he had taken on his previous visit? No doubt a strict search had been ordered, and it seemed possible that the truth might have come out. At any rat(' the possibility gave Robert some un easiness. Perhaps he might not have felt this had the burden upon his shoulders been less weighty. Twice he stopped to observe the sentries above. Why, it seemed to him these worthies were unusu ally active, and that they took positive delight in looking down directly at the very spot where he crouched, every time they reached the end of their beat.
A Blow for Liberty. 177 Imagination may have had something to do with this Finally Robert flattened himself out against the slightly sloping wall. Here, by a peculiar process of progression, in which feet and hands bore an equal part, he was able to climb toward his goal. The coveted crack lay just beyond. A slip at this point promised dire results, since the unlucky one might be plunged a long distance down to where cruel rocks lay in ambush. lfobert had no intention of making such a mistake, if extreme caution could avoid it. Now he had a grip upon the crack which was to afford him a foothold at the time he reached up to clasp his arms around the cannon. Somehow it gave him new confidence. He paused for just a minute in order to catch his breath before making the final effort. One of the stalking sentries called out aloud after the custom of the times.
A Blow for Liberty. It gave Robert a start, for the man seemed almost close enough to reach down a hand and clutch him. As he looked up he could see the soldier. He was standing directly above Robert, and seemed to be intently looking down. Could it be possible his suspicions had been aroused? Had some unlucky move on his part dislodged a small portion of stone, which, clattering down the steep face of the wall, had caught this man's attention. Robert felt strangely cold. He could see the other so plainly, because of the sky above, that it did not seem possible his own face and figure must be concealed. And yet he knew that if he turned and looked downward everything would be a dead blank to him. It was only for a dozen seconds. To Robert it seemed an age. Then the wearer of the tall soldier's hat turned on his heel and walked away. Robert breathed easy again. Well he knew he must be up and doing. It was not a time to loiter, and before the man came
A Blow for Liberty. 179 back to this end of his beat again, he must have ac complished his business. At the same time, too, much haste might spoil everything. Once again he planted his foot firmly in the friendly crack and raised himself. The cannon had not been moved. His hands clasped it, there was an upheaval, and his agile limbs were thrown over the brass piece. All this without a sound. Robert could not have carried out his part with more precision had he been simply practicing the maneuver for his own pleasure. After this it was easy enough for him to draw him self through the opening occupied by the frowning cannon, which, perhaps, had in its day seen gallant service on bloody European battlefields, to be exiled to this mountain fort in its old age. Robert was not yet certain of his success. True, he had, to all appearances, outwitted the sentry, so that nothing further need be feared from that source, but there was another peril to be feared.
180 A Blow for Liberty. Suppose they had guessed the truth and knew that this was his avenue of entering and leaving massive old Ticonderoga at will-would it not be possible for them to Jay a trap for him ? He knew Commandant Delaplace-knew him for a tricky customer. Yes, under such conditions he would very likely leave things undisturbed so as to invite an entrance. Then, snap! would go the jaws of the trap. Robert had seen wild animals caught, foxes, mink and even beaver, so that he knew, in a measure, what it must be to despair of breaking loose. And yet he could not dally. The sentry had undoubtedly ere now reached the end of his beat and would be returning. More than this, the minutes had been slipping past, and his last anxious glance in the direction of the east had shown him certain distinct gray patches along the horizon, which, from long experience, he knew must proceed from the near approach of dawn. So he began crawling away.
A Blow for Liberty. 181 His heart seemed to cease beating for the time, so great was his suspense. Greatl y to his relief, however, grim figures did not rise up in his path, to hurl themselves upon him. Then came new hope. All was well. He could reach the gates in time and throw them open to those who waited outside. In order to gain this spot it would be necessary for Robert to follow the line of fortification to another level, and while this could, of course, be done more quickly by crossing the parade ground, he put the temptation aside. Perhaps he chanced to remember what had hap pened on the occasion of his former visit. A little curiosity may sometimes be a good thing, but it often brings trouble. Had he kept away from headquarters he would have been saved from that interview with Commander Delaplace, and the consequent anxious moments that followed. Robert having been burned, dreaded the fire.
A Blow for Liberty. He had no desire to be hauled up again before that stern official, who might this time take a notion to order him hung. And then, who would open the gate for Ethan Allen and his gallant supporters waiting so impatiently just outside? Better take the longer way, because it was the safer. That was where Robert showed his good sense again. Indeed, he was proving to have quite a wise head upon his young shoulders. He had at least a quarter of an hour before the light could be counted on as strong enough to betray the fellows camping just outside the gates. How many wonderful things could be done in that space of time. Why, nations have been turned upside down, and worlds conquered in less. While feeling this confidence, Robert, at the same time, wished most heartily it were all over. He wanted to unfasten that rope and let the proud flag of England be humiliated.
A Blow for Liberty. He wanted to see the haughty Commandant Dela place yield up his sword to the dashing Allen, and hear the hearty cheers of victory ring forth. As he drew near the gates he continued to stick to the denser shadows under the walls. This was especially fortunate, it proved. He was a little uneasy in looking across the open in the direction of headquarters to find that objects were actually beginning to be seen, so rapidly was dawn coming on apace. Well, his goal was at hand. The gates, he knew, should be just ahead. Perhaps Robert had at some time in the past, with a boy's curiosity, experimented with the heavy fasten ings by means of which these same were secured. He seemed to have every confidence in his power to throw the weighty bar. Those outside would do the rest-their muscles, he knew, were just itching for the chance. But, hold! it was an old saying, known even to these Revolutionary days, that at all times it may be counted
A Blow for Liberty. wretched policy to count one's chickens until they are hatched. How often the best laid plans go wrong. Why, what miserable luck placed this sentry on guard directly in front of the gate? Robert could see him plainly. He only wished it might be some mistake, but the fellow was in full view. He carried a gun, and from his nervous manner it seemed very likely he knew how to use it-at least, that was Robert's impression to begin with. Later on he had some occasion to change his mind, but the fact worried him now. How could he get rid of the nuisance? Oh if the fell ow would walk away and be gone for only a minute. He believed much could be done in that time to help along the good cause. But evidently he had no intention of accommodating the youthful patriot in such a way. Possibly he had been tramping up and down his
A Blow for Liberty. beat for such a length of time that he was utterly worn out. He sat upon the disused block of a cannon, and seemed to be on the keen lookout, judging from the nervous way in which he kept turning his head. Ah he desired to be warned of the approach of the officer of the guard, so that he might not be caught napping, as it were. And that daylight was stealing on apace. Robert could distinctly make out the great gates now, and knew exactly where he should lay his hands if only given the chance he wanted. It was very annoying. What could he do to get rid of the sentry? The fellow seemed to be a tall specimen of English manhood, and undoubtedly capable of easily hurling the lad to the earth if they came into collision. Apparently, then, it would not do to risk that. Dared he attempt to use the old-fashioned flint-lock pistol which one of the men had thrust upon him ere he started upon his dangerous mission ? The very thought made him shudder.
18& A Blow for Liberty. In time perhaps he might grow hardened with re spect to taking human life, especially if the war went on, and he bore his part in it. As yet it was very repulsive. He nervously fingered the cumbersome weapon, which might have come down from the days of Capt. Kidd and his pirate crew. A little powder dropped in the pan, a glance along the barrel, the pressure of a finger-then what? But even granted that he had the heart to thus bowl over an unsuspecting man, could he depend upon opening the gates in time? A little delay after the alarm had thus been given, and the British garrison would rush to arms. That meant a collision, volleys fired, men cut down, and perhaps Allen's great plan a failure. It would not do. Well, something must take its place. If force could not be applied, what was the matter with strategy? Robert was about as keen-witted a boy as the next one, and while he had had no occasion to prepare for
A Blow for Liberty. such a crisis as this, he proved that he could meet it when the necessity arose. Evidently what he wanted was to induce the man to take a little saunter in the opposite direction. He could not argue this matter with him, but would have to throw out some sort of enticing bait. In plain words, he wanted to arouse the natural curiosity which the feHow must possess, and direct it to a safe quarter. There was a way. Robert stooped down. How kind good fortune was in that the very thing he most needed lay there ready to his hand-not only one stone, the size of a walnut, but several. Very carefully Robert tossed the first-he must make certain that no movement on his part attracted attention, lest the very curiosity he courted be his un doing. The stone, well directed, fell some little distance be yond the gate, making considerable clatter. Up sat the sentry immediately, and directed his at tention in that quarter.
188 A Blow for Liberty. Of course, he saw nothing. Perhaps there was a conflict within his mind be tween duty and indulgence. And laziness won. He gave a grunt and set about resuming his former position, content to doubt the evidence of his ears. Bump! Another rattle I This time he could not deceive himself so easily. There certainly was something going on over y on-der which it must be his duty to examine into. Accordingly the tall Englishman unjointed himself, and, gun in hand, moved toward the spot from whence those strange sounds had sprung. Robert's opportunity had come. It probably only meant a very brief space of time, and there was much to do. He saw the sentry gain his feet watched him begin to move cautiously in the direction whence came those queer sounds. Perhaps the fellow had had more or less experi-
A Blow for Liberty. ence with humorous companions, and suspected that even now one of them might be playing some manner of joke upon him. His manner indicated as much, at any rate. Little Robert cared. So long as his object was attained he was quite sat isfied to have the sentry believe anything. Immediately he set himself in motion also, and while he launched himself toward the gate it was with just as little noise as possible. He reached his desired haven. The great bar that held the gates impassable was within reach of his arms. So long as that remained in position it would re quire more than a battering ram on the other side to force an entrance. Now he had hold of the ponderous thing, which was so fairly balanced that, as a usual thing, it required only the strength of a single man to turn it. Robert began to exert himself.
A Blow for Liberty. To his horror the bar stubbornl y refused to sub mit to his will, even when he redoubled his efforts. And to add to the gravity of the situation a cry from the tall sentry told that the fell ow had turned in time to see some one trying to open Ticonderoga's great gates.
CHAPTER XIII. HOW TICONDEROGA FELL. Tremendous events hinged upon that moment of time. Robert realized it all. He strained every muscle again, until his head swam, filled as he was, with a determination to ac complish the task that had been given into his keeping. The tall grenadier of the guard had been too aston ished to move when he first caught sight of this figure working so madly at the gate. It was to this brief delay that Robert owed so much. With his head filled by thoughts connected with the idea of a joke, the sentry supposed this dimly-seen figure to be one of his comrades. For some reason the man was desirous of abandon ing the fort ere the morning broke, and this was his method of accomplishing that object. Which idea would account for the sentry making no
192 How Ticonderoga Fell. use of his gun, when he might have shot Robert down in cold blood. Rather than alarm the garrison he meant to bear down upon the would-be fugitive and make him a prisoner. Those who crouched so eagerly on the other side must have ere now guessed the state of affairs. In their anxiety to find entrance they may have been pressing heavily against the heavy gates, which would account for the unusual difficulty Robert was experi encing. He was a sturdy chap. And certainly he had reason to do everything in his power in order to succeed. That redcoated sentry was bearing down rapidly upon him, and if the next supreme effort failed there would be nothing left but to use the pistol, much as it went against his grain. Taking in a long breath Robert once again buckled down to the final effort. It may have been that desperation gave him a little more strength than ordinary.
How Ticonderoga Fell. 193 Either that, or else those outside chanced to relax their pressure against the gates just at this critical moment. Robert never knew. It mattered nothing, since results were what con cerned him most of all. He was thrilled to feel the great bar move under his frenzied grip, and increasing rather than diminishing the strain, he had it going at last. Nothing short of a miracle could stop it now. The advancing sentry heard some sound that told him how affairs stood. He had half clubbed his musket as though it might be his intention to thus pounce upon the other and force him to desist in his efforts. Of course, having thus come closer to the worker, it must have dawned upon him that his first guess had been far from the truth. The lack of a uniform declared it to be no soldier, this party who would open the sallyport. Had the sentry been equal to the occasion he might
194 How Ticonderoga Fell. have saved the day even then by reversing his gun and firing. He was confused, and mechanically kept on in the same line of tactics. A machine once started is difficult to stop. Soldiers are drilled with the idea of making them as near like machines as possible. The last few seconds of grace did it. Down fell the bar. Robert gave utterance to a shout, previously agreed upon, to let those beyond understand that the difficul ties had been knocked aside. At the same time, knowing what was coming, he jumped backward with as much agility as his exhausted condition allowed. Immediately the gates began to swing, moved by a score of eager hands that had been waiting for this mo ment with impatience. The sentry saw and came to a sudden halt. He was actually unable to move or shout, such was his utter astonishment. That was only a beginning.
How Ticonderoga Fell. 195 Through the aperture revealed by the moving gates there began to pour a flood of figures, men in home spun, some with a cockade, in their three-cornered hats, and everyone carrying a gun of some sort. The very first to enter was a gigantic figure. Tall though the sentry was he could not compare with the massive Green Mountain farmer who loomed up before him like an apparition. Mechanically he started to raise his musket, realizing that the fort was being invaded. Had he fired the result might have been injurious to brave Ethan Allen, and at least the discharge would have brought about an alarm. Robert had been quick to see this. He was close enough to be able to reach the sentry before the hammer fell, knocking the gun ui:;ward so that the powder was displaced from the pan, and only a sharp click told of the hammer falling. Then out came the pistol which Allen had placed in the lad's keeping. "Surrender. Silence, or you are a dead man!" he exclaimed, clapping the same against the soldier's side.
196 How Ticonderoga Fell. After that the man knew that resistance was useless, for the dusky figures continued to pour through the gates, and in the gray of dawn he saw them rushing past him toward the interior of the fort. So he threw his gun on the ground. That meant surrender. It also gave Robert liberty to run panting after the groups of patriots who were making for the parade ground in the center of the fortress. He was anxious to be in at the finish. On more than one occasion he had been humiliated by this same British commander. With others of the settlers he had had occasion to feel the scorn and insult Delaplace loved to scatter around him-to show his contempt for these same rebellious colonies of King George. It had rankled in his bosom, and ever since learning of Allen's ambition to capture Ticonderoga, Robert had been picturing in his mind this glorious moment. To think it had come at last. He could hardly believe it. And yet while he ran, endeavoring to catch his breath
How Ticonderoga Fell. 197 as best he could, Robert seemed to be saying over and over to himself that this night's work promised grand things for the future of the land. As the shades of darkness fell away, to give place to the light of glorious day, so were the trials and tribula tions besetting the colonies, to be succeeded by a perfect peace. Ethan Allen assembled his gallant band upon the parade ground. There was no confusion on their part. Every man knew his dut y and moved as though practicing the evolutions under the drill sergeant, with the good people of Bennington looking on. Meanwhile there was enough confusion about them. Sentri es s houted out. Sev e ral thou ght to fire their guns, not at the invad ers fortunatel y but in the air. And a drummer, aroused from sound slumber by all thi s racket und e rstood only one thing, his duty. The throb of the alarm drum began to beat upon the air just as our Robert had pictured so often in his mind.
198 How Ticonderoga Fell. Strange to say, it did not give him the feeling he had anticipated. Instead of fear he found his bosom filled with a wild delight, for were they not inside the works of the enemy, and did not the game practically belong now to Ethan Allen? It was the British who must feel chagrined. They had boasted that this fortress was impregnable, and could never be taken by any army of farmers, by siege or assault. Representing an expenditure of millions of pounds, and heavily fortified by some of the best cannon in the country, it was expected to hold the balance of power in the Champlain country during the continuance of the war. From its security expeditions could go out to raid the surrounding country. And it would be an important link in the long line of communication between the Briti s h stronghold at Quebec, and the scene of operations near New York and Philadelphia. That dream was rudely sha t t e red.
How Ticonderoga Fell. 199 Ethan Allen had planned well, and his blow fell be fore the defenders of Ticonderoga fully realized how the mountaineers were up in arms. When he had arranged his men in such fashion that they must make a most impressive appearance in the eyes of anyone looking out from headquarters, Allen strode forward to the door. Several crowded at the heels of the giant, Robert among them, eager to see the closing .of the drama, and ready to back up any demonstration their beloved leader might see fit to make. It was this rabble, then, that burst upon the aston ished eyes of Commandant Delaplace. Half dressed he had snatched his sword from its hook upon the wall, and started for the open air. Thus he entered the outer room just as the door was pushed open to give admittance to a gigantic figure. The British officer stood aghast. Such were the colossal proportions of Ethan Allen that, seen for the first time, one must rub his eyes, be lieving he had been taken back to the days of giants. Once Delaplace half raised his sword.
200 How Ticonderoga Fell. He had been a great stickler for form, and had one of his men thus broken in upon him unannounced, the guardhouse or worse would have been his portion. As others followed this giant he began to dimly un derstand for the first time that it looked serious. And he could not but note the fact that every one of these grotesque intruders, these low-born farmers, as he believed in terming them, was armed with some sort of weapon. The giant carried a sword, and in the hands of such a man it had a peculiarly wicked look. Delaplace turned white and then red. He realized that a cruel fate had played him a scurvy trick. His men were doing considerable shouting but he had trained them to a purpose, and knew full well they would not show resistance unless he gave the order. With such a tremendous adversary blocking the way, how was he to do this? To retreat and endeavor to reach the open air by means of some other door, or even a window I This flashed upon him as his best move.
How Ticonderoga Fell. '.WI Alas! these yeomen were not as green as the moun tains amid which they had been born and bred, and it appeared that some of them thought of just the same thing that had come into his mind. At least, as he turned his head, it was just in time to see a boyish figure block the doorway. And there was an air of business about the lad, too, that pleased not the astounded commandant. Nor did he view the enormous horse pistol held so menacingly in Robert's grasp with feelings other than apprehension. So must the sly fox appear when his enemies run him to earth, and turn which way he will he can dis cover no hope. Again did the commandant turn toward the bulky figure in the nondescript uniform, who waved his sword so threateningly above his head. Through the open door came sounds other than those cries of the astonished British sentries. The pounding of guns upon the stones, and the rattling of weapons. it being the purpose of the Americans to make it ap-
202 How Ticonderoga Fell. pear that they were in far greater numbers than was actually the case. This was not to save the British officer any humilia tion, but to convince him of the folly of resistance. "Surrender!" shouted Ethan Allen, his powerful voice sounding like the clap of thunder that echoes among the Green Mountains during a summer storm. "By whose authority?" demanded the Briton, con fused with the sudden awakening, and hardly knowing whether he dreamed this thing or experienced the same. "In the name of the Great Jehovah, and the Conti nental Congress,'' cried Allen, who knew that on this very day such a meeting of legislators for the colonies was about to take place for the second time. Commandant Delaplace was not a rash man. Brave he may have been, though history ignores him after this one event in his life. He began to realize that he had been caught napping by these despised farmers from the country over be yond the big lake.
How Ticonderoga Fell. 203 And this giant looked dangerous, there being a gleam in his eyes expressive of business. Really, he would not be apt to hesitate long ere spitting one upon that rusty old sword of his, and while ready to die gallantly in open battle at the head of a charging column, Delaplace had no desire to meet his fate in this decidedly unpleasant way. Besides, it would do no good, since his men were scattered, and could not be rallied in time. After he had been impaled on this giant's quivering sword he would not be in very good condition to lead his soldiers. What the giant had shouted he did not understand. It was all Greek to him. But those sounds, entering through the doorway, meant that a body of soldiers was forming without. He knew them well, since all his life he had been ac customed to the thump of guns, the rattle of accoutre ments, and the clicking of gun-locks. A wild thought must have leaped into his brain, to the effect that the red-coated garrison must be assem bling, as it had done many times at his order.
How Ticonderoga Fell. Ethan Allen understood this when he saw the officer push by him and step to the door; and content to have him discover the truth for himself, he did not interfere, though keeping close beside the other. When he looked out in the gray of that May morn ing, Commandant Delaplace beheld a sight that com pletely demoralized him. There was the double line of armed men, just as he had pictured, stretching out in either direction until lost to his vision behind some intervening object, their number augmented by the artful disposition made by their officers. But instead of the well-known red coats and comical hats of his garrison he saw homespun blue coats and all manner of tri-cornered hats, while the guns were no two of them alike. It was a sad awakening for the proud soldier. He knew the hour of his disgrace had come, and per haps he felt somewhat like ending it all after the manner of the Romans, b y falling upon his sword. Only the Chinese have practiced that way of avoid ing the sting of defeat since the da y s of Marc Antony,
How Ticonderoga Fell. 205 and Commandant Delaplace was not made of that heroic material. He turned around upon Ethan Allen. "Sir," he said, "while I may not recognize the au thority you name I do understand that through the for tune of war my post has fallen into the hands of ene mies. I would that it had been my fate to have died in defending my trust, before this shame came upon me. I trust, sir, that at least you are an honorable man, and will treat us as prisoners of war until we are ex changed or rescued. England will make you pay dearly for the success of this hour. I surrender my sword, and with it Fort Ticonderoga into your hands."
CHAPTER XIV. THROUGH WAR'S ALARMS TO PEACE. There was nothing very impressive about the cere mony. Ethan Allen may have looked a little uncouth in his new uniform, and the British commander being but partly dressed, was hardly a fit subject for a painter s brush. And yet there was something so glorious ab o ut t h is first actual victory of the colonies over the g i g antic power of the Mother Country that it alwa y s stan ds out in history as one of the finest examples of d a rin g Few lads in school who have not r e ad about i t w ith thrilling pulses and a wish that they might have wit nessed the taking of this supposed impr eg n a bl e strong hold. As Ethan Allen accepted the other s sword those in the room burst out into a hearty che e r. The patriots without, understandin g the significance of this demonstration, took up the cry and over the
Through War's Alarms t o Peace. 207 dimpling waters of old Champlain there rang the first genuine Yankee cheer on record. Everyone was brimming over with enthusiasm. Robert shared this feeling with the rest. Indeed, if anyone among them had cause to feel his heart throb with satisfaction and delight surely the young patriot did. His had been the arm to open the way to success, for otherwise would these valiant Green Mountain Boys have beaten against the massive gates in vain. Eben, of course, gave way to his feelings after his usual boisterous manner. You might have thought that the success of the entire expedition had been dependent upon his labors. Fancy the feelings of the astonished redcoats as they came from their quarters to find their commander in the hands of a mob, and hear him announce in a voice filled with emotion and bitterness that he had sur rendered the post and its garrison to the rebels. Thus there was nothing for it but that they lay down their arms. They did this with an ill grace.
208 Through War's Alarms to Peace. Among these red coated guardians of Ticonderoga were some who had spent all their lives in fighting England's battles, and never could they remember a time when a surrender was made without striking a blow. They felt the disgrace keenly. It was all the more unpalatable because their vic torious foes were not French or Russian regulars but apparently a horde of greenhorns, unacquainted with the principles of war, though it appeared they knew how to surprise a post. Ethan Allen had some idea of the spectacular. He assembled the whole garrison, with some of his men serving as guards, while the main body lined up, guns held as near the "present arms as their lim ited knowledge of army tactics allowed. Then he called to Robert : "It is your privilege, my brave lad, to be the first on record to lower the proud flag of England in these free and independent States of America colonies no longer. Do your duty, sir," he said, waving his sword. Robert was willing.
Through War's Alarms to Peace. 209 His heart throbbed with gratitude and pride. The wish in his mind was that by this one simple act he could forever banish the now-hated, blood-red banner of Great Britain from the land. Ah One regret only he felt. If Annetta could have been there to have seen what a part he had played in the reduction of the enemy's fortress How proud she would be of him When the flag came running down the patriots burst out into the wildest cheers. It was a great hour for Liberty's cause, and must give these same men inspiration as long as they lived. The prisoners looked down at the ground, galled at the very thought of the indignity to which their flag was being subjected by the fortunes of war, for those men loved the banner of their country, and stood ready to die for it. At least no one was vindictive enough to add to their mental torture by trampling on the dt>posed banner after it had been lowered. Ethan Allen s hour of triumph was not yet complete.
210 Through War's Alarms to Peace. From his breast he drew something in bright colors that had apparently been wrapped about his body. "Raise the flag of the Thirteen Independent States, my fine fellow," he said, proudly, as he handed this over into Robert's care. A minute later and there went fluttering aloft a banner that had been seen as yet by few mortal eyes. Its body was composed of thirteen red and white stripes, while the upper corner was blue, with a red cross, supplemented by diagonal narrow lines of white. Those who saw Ethan Allen's creation were quick to recognize the meaning of the stripes. They seemed to represent the thirteen colonies that had broken loose from the dominion of the Cross of St. Goorge, as stamped upon the field of azure. Loud shouted the Americans. Even the garrison looked and wondered and ad mired, while several joined their voices in the tumult. They could appreciate the longings of a people de sirous of being free, and admired the very boldn e ss shown by these farmer soldiers in the capture of Ticon deroga
Thro ugh War's Alarms t o Peace. 21 I Besides, were they not of the same blood? One enthusiastic patriot sprang to the nearest cannon and fired his pistol across the touchhole where he had cast a handful of powder. And with the bellowing of cannon ; for others copied his hot-headed example, the new flag of the free was drawn up to the top of the staff, where it floated proudly in the first rays of the rising sun That was the happiest day in the lives of those gal lant men who accompanied Ethan Allen in his expedi tion to capture Ticonderoga. The result was bound to be far-reaching. Much stores and ammunition had been captured that would prove invaluable to the rebels. Then the moral influence of the brilliant exploit must have a wide-reaching effect. The colonists would feel encouraged, men who had been trembling in the balance be induced to cast their fortunes with the American side, and the king's coun sellors across the sea understand that the tremendous step had been taken in truth.
2 12 Through War's Alarms to Peace. Even this did not satisfy the ambition of the eager Green Mountain Boys. On the following day the minor fortress of Crown Point fell into their hands, almost as easily as had that of Ticonderoga. Thus the whole shore of Champlain was clear of the redcoats for the time being. While serious events were transpiring further south near Boston, and later in New Jersey, all was quiet around the lake country. Indeed, many of the patriots desirous of joining their fortunes with the army of George Washington made their way thither and had the pleasure of battling un der the commander-in-chief at Monmouth, Brandywine and Trenton. Robert remained with Ethan Allen, in whom be placed the greatest trust. Thus, in the fall of the year, he went with the patriot leader to Canada to join Montgomery in his ill-fated expedition against the British strongholds. St. Johns and Montreal had already fallen into the hands of the Americans.
Through War's Alarms to Peace. 2 13 They now aspired to capture the city of Quebec, which had always been a thorn in the flesh. These mountaineers following Allen and Arnold were a half fed lot full of valor, but wanting in all else that goes to make up an army. Taken in all, Montgomery's force did not amount to more than a thousand men, and with this he hoped to accomplish such wonderful things. Snow began to fall even while they were starting to attack, rendering their condition the more desperate. This was three weeks after siege had been begun. Montgomery led his men through the howling bliz zard stumbling over blocks of ice and cheering the half-frozen fellows to what he hoped might be victory. Through the falling snow they saw a block house which it was necessary to capture before they could proceed further. It was defended by British soldiers, who poured a galling fire upon the assailants at short range. Montgomery fell at the head of his men, and as the fire grew hotter his men discouraged, fled.
214 Through War's Alarms to Peace. Meanwhile the mountain men under Arnold ap proached from the other side of the city. Here, too, lay a snare spread for their feet. It was not long before guns began to crackle, and they found themselves rushing upon a redoubt that fairly bristled with redcoats. What Robert had missed at the taking of Ticon deroga was more than made up at Quebec and he realized what was meant by the horror of war. Arnold fell seriously wounded, and had to be taken to the rear. Ethan Allen had been captured by a sortie of the British, though the giant did some gallant work with his astonishing muscles ere they brought about his surrender. Morgan, who succeeded Arnold, was compelled to fight against tremendous odds, and, finally, unable to either advance or retreat, capitulated. This left the patriots in a sorry position. Sadly reduced as to numbers and with their spirits humiliated through the loss of so many good men and
Through War's Alarms to Peace. 215 true, they could not again assault the city on the heights that seemed to defy their efforts. Doggedly the remainder of the American Army hung around Quebec until spring, blockading the city after a fashion. They might have starved only that occasional raids were made upon certain sections unprotected by the blockhouses of the enemy, and food secured in this fashion. It was a ridiculous sort of siege, and when British reinforcements arrived in the spring the Americans were glad of an excuse to clear out. Once back in his familiar haunts, Robert recovered his health, which had been somewhat shattered during the exposures and privations of a Canadian winter. Then came a period of inactivity, during which he saw much of his father, who had come to live near his long lost son, and Annetta. The boys were widely scattered. Walter was said to be in the interior of New York, with Butler, and his inhuman followers, con c isting of Tories and Indians.
2. 1 6 Through War's Alarms to Peace. Hiram and several of his kind were also in the ranks of the enemy, and when Burgoyne recaptured the forts along Champlain, in the summer of '77, they took great delight in accompanying foraging parties into their old home quarters, and helping to pillage those who had once been their neighbors. The shoe was on the other foot later. Gen. Gates collected an army of provincials and regulars, and fortified his camp at Bemis Heights. It was Robert's good fortune to be sent with a mes sage to Col. Stark in command of the militia at Ben nington, where the Americans had stores which Bur goyne envied. Succeeding in reaching the town, he was in time to give warning that a British force of regulars was close at hand with the intention of gobbling up the stores so valuable to the rebel cause. It was when the raw militia faced the seasoned troops of Col. Baum that Stark uttered the words which his tory has preserved ever since. Pointing his sword toward the enemy he shouted :
Through War's Alarms to Peace. 2 I 7 "There are the redcoats, my brave boys; to-day we must beat them or Betty Stark is a widow this night." And beat them they did. With the brave Stark at their head, the Americans rushed desperately to the assault, and such was the impetuosity of their attack that nothing could with stand them. So six hundred prisoners resulted. And Betty Stark was not a widow that night but the proudest wife in all the Green Mountains. Then came Burgoyne's battles at Saratoga where both armies suffered, after which a want of supplies and the constant activity of the Americans brought about his final surrender. Robert and Eben considered themselves full-fledged soldiers long ere this. They had learned to endure privations, too, as did all those who stood up for the principles of the new republic. Robert's father had changed his mind about many things, and, chief of all, the sacred cause of liberty. He was now almost as enthusiastic as his son over
'2. I 8 Through War's Alarms to Peace. the necessit y th a t com p elle d them to fight rather than submit to all indignities. Having parted with his great possessions m England, he gave liberally to the good work. Many a poor, hung ry and shivering continental, at Valley Forge or similar dismal camps, had reason to bless those whose money, sent through Robert Morris, of Philadelphia, kept the fires of patriotism alive. There is no need of following the fortunes of our young friend all through the war. He served his country always with honor, and, of course, when peace came at last, settled down to the pleasures of a home, with the one whose friendship as a girl had always been a spur to his progress. Their descendants are among the most honored m all the Green Mountain State to-day. Eben likewise lived through the war, though crippled at the capture of Stony Point, on the Hudson. He made his estimable father happy by studying medicine, and carried on the old gentleman s practice for many years.
Through War's Alarms to Peace. 119 Walter was never seen again in his old haunts. It was reported that he had been murdered by an Indian during the Wyoming massacre, but Robert fancied that he saw him among those captured at York town when Cornwallis surrendered. If it were so, he had assumed another name. Ethan Allen was carried to England as a curiosity on account of his size and his oddities. He created quite a sensation in London, where there was some talk of executing him as a rebel. Later on he was released. Robert was proud of the friendship of this remark able patriot to the day of his death. He was never able to forget that startling scene at old Ticonderoga, when the strapping patriot called upon the astonished British commander to surrender in the name of the Continental Congress. And another picture, forever engraven on Robert's mind, was when he so proudly lowered the flag of England, and ran the new banner up in its stead. Those are precious legacies e ndeared to the hearts
210 Through War's Alarms to Peace. of his descendants. The flag itself, which Ethan Allen flung to the breeze that May morning is said to be in the possession of one who calls Robert his great grandfather, and from whom many of these incidents have come to find their way into print. THE END,
THE CREAM OF JUVENILE FICTION THE BOYSt OWN LIBRARY.$ A Selection of the Best Books for Boys by the Most Popular Authors titles in this splendid juvenile series have been selected with care, and as a result all the stories can be relied upon for their excellence. They are bright and sparkling; not over-burdened with lengthy but brimful of adventure from the first page to the last-in fact they are just the kind of yarns that appeal strongly to the healthy boy who is fond of thrilling exploits and deeds of heroism. Among the authors whose names are included in the Boys' Own Library are Horatio Alger, Jr., Edward S. Ellis, James Otis, Capt. Ralph Bonehill, Burt L. Standish, Gilbert Patten and Frank H. Con verse. SPECIAL FEA TURFS OF THE BOYS' OWN LIBRARY .JI. .JI. All the books in this series are copyrighted, printed on good paper, larg-e type, illustrated, printed wrappers, handsome cloth covers stamped in inks and gold-fifteen special cover designs, J50 Titles-Price, Volume, 75 cents For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, on receipt of price by the publisher, DAVID McKAY, 6JO SO. WASHINGTON SQUARE, PHILADELPHIA, PA. (i)
HORATIO ALGER, Jr. One of the best known and most popular writen. Good, elean, healthy stories for the American Boy. Adventures of a Telegraph Boy Dean Dunham Erie Train .Boy, The Five Hundred Dollar Check -From Canal Boy to President From Farm Boy to Senator Backwoods Boy, The c. B. ASHLEY. Mark Stanton Ned Newton New York Boy Tom Brace Tom Tracy Walter Grif!l.th Young Aero bat; One of the best stories ever written on hunting, trapping and ad. venture in the West, after the Custer Maass.ere. Gilbert, the Boy Trapper ANNIE ASHMORE. A splendid story, recording the adventures of a boy with smugglers. Bmuirgler's Cave, The CAPT. RALPH BONEHILL. Capt. Bonehill is in the very front rank as an author of boys' stories. These are two of his best works. Neka, the Boy Conjurer Tour of the Zero Club WALTER F. BRUNS. An excellent story of adventure in the celebrated Sunk Lands of Missouri and Kansas. In the Bunk Lands FRANK H. CONVERSE. This writer has established a splendid reputation as a boys' author, and although his books usually command iI.25 per volume, we offer the following at a more popular price. Gold of Flat Top Mountain Happy-Go-Lucky Jack Heir to a Million In Search of An Unknown Race In Southern Beas Mystery of a Diamond That Treasure Voyage to the Gold Coaal DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (ii)
HARR.V COLLINGWOOD. One of England's most successful writers of stories for boys. Ria best story is Pirate Island GEORGE H. COOMER. Two books we highly recommend. One is a splendid story of venture at sea, when American ships were in every port in the world, and the other tells of adventures while the first railway in the .Andea Mountains was being built. Boys in the Forecastle Old Man of the Mountain WILLIAM DALTON. Three stories by one of the very greatest writers for boys. The stories deal with boys' adventures in India, China and .Abyssinia. These books are strongly recommended for boys' reading, as they con tain a large amount of historical information. Tiger Prince Whit.e Elephant War Tiger EDWARD S. ELLIS. These books are considered the best works this well-known writer ever produced. No better reading for bright young .Americans. Arthur Helmuth Check No. 2134 From Tent to White House Perils of the .Jungle On the Trail of Geronimo White Mustang GEORGE MANVILLE FENN. For the past fifty years Mr. Fenn has been writing books for boys and popular fiction. His books are justly popular throughout the English-speaking world. We publish the following select list of his boys' books, which we consider the beet he ever wrote Commodore .Junk Dingo Boys Weathercock Golden Magnet Grand Chaco ENSIGN CLARKE FITCH, u.s.N. A graduate of the U S. Naval .Academy at .Annapolis, and tho roughly familiar with all naval matters. Mr. Fitch has devoted him self to literature, and has written a series of books for boys that every DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (iii)
roung .American should read. Hia stories are full of very interesting information about the navy, training ships, etc. Bound for Anna.polia Clif, the Na.val Cadet Cruise of the Tra.ininc ShiD From Port to Port Stra.nce Cruise, A WILLIAM MURR.AV GR.A VDON .An author of world-wide popularity. Mr. Graydon is essentially a friend of young peopl e and we offer herewith t e n of his best works, wherein he relates a great diversity of interesting adventures in various parts of the world, combined with accurate historical data. Butcher of Ca.wnpore, The Camp in the Snow, The Ca.mpaicning with Braddock Cryptocra.m, The From Laite to WilderneH In Barra.eke and Wicwa.m In Fort and Prison Junclel!l and Traitors Rr,ja.h'a FortreH, The White King of Africa, The LIEUT. FREDERICK GAR.RISON, U.S. A. Every American boy takes a keen interest in the affairs of West Point. No more capable writer on this popular subject could be found than Lieut. Garrison, who vividly describes the life, adventures and unique incidents that have occurred in that great institution-in these famous West Point stories. 011' for West Point On Guard Cadet' Honor, A West Point Treaaure, The West Point Riv&lll, The BEA.DON HILL. The hunt for gold has always been a popular subject for considera tion, and Mr. Hill has added a splendid story on the subject in this romance of the Klondyke. Spectre Gold HENR.V HAR.RISON LEWIS. Mr. Lewis is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and has written a great many books for boys. Among his best works are the following titles-the subjects include a vast series of adventures in all parts of the world. The historical data is correct, and they should be read by all boys, for the excellent information they contain. Centreboard Jim King of the Island Midshipman Merrill Ensign Kerrill Sword and Pen Valley of Mystery, The Yankee Boye in Japan DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (iv)