Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Defending the Island - A story of Bar Harbor in 1758
Author: Otis, James, 1848-1912
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Defending the Island - A story of Bar Harbor in 1758" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



 Defending the Island.

 [Frontispiece: Friend or enemy? (see Chapter III.)]



 DEFENDING THE ISLAND
 A STORY OF BAR HARBOR IN 1758
 BY
 JAMES OTIS


 Boston
 DANA ESTES & COMPANY
 PUBLISHERS



 _Copyright, 1904_
 BY DANA ESTES & COMPANY
 _All rights reserved_


 CONTENTS
 I. THE ISLAND
 II. THE FIRST ASSAULT
 III. A DAY OF SUSPENSE
 IV. AN ATTACK
 V. FIRE
 VI. THE WRECK



 LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

 Friend or enemy? (See Chapter III.) _Frontispiece_
 "'Indians skulking on the harbor island!'"
 "The stout-hearted girl set about the task"
 "Susan stood guard at the gateway"
 "The children had improvised platforms"
 "Mark saw a canoe put off from the Harbor Island"
 "'You shall not have the smallest chicken inside this stockade!'"
 "'Look! Look! A vessel!'"
 "He returned with a heavy log"
 "'Do you refuse to surrender?'"
 "An instant later the entire party was in retreat"
 "Susan's arm was being rebandaged"
 "He reëntered the house with a bucket two-thirds full of muddy water"
 "Again the crash of thunder drowned all sounds"
 "The next knowledge was that the women were trying to nurse him
     back to life"
 "He gazed at the struggling wretches on the bottom of the wreck"



Defending the island.



CHAPTER I

THE ISLAND


In the year of grace 1758 there were two families living on that
island which we of to-day call Mount Desert; but Champlain named
Mons Deserts, because its thirteen high, rugged mountains could be
seen from the seaward a distance of twenty leagues, making it the
first landmark of the coast for seamen.

It is said, by those gentlemen who write down historical facts for
us young people to study, that the "savages were much attached to
the island; for in the mountains they hunted bears, wildcats,
raccoons, foxes, and fowls; in the marshes and natural meadows,
beaver, otter and musquash; and in the waters they took fin and
shellfish."

Now in the proper kind of a story there should be nothing which
savors of school-book study, and yet, before telling how the
children of these two families defended the island in 1758, it seems
much as if the reader would have a better idea of all that was done,
if he or she knew just a few facts concerning those who lived on
Mount Desert before Stephen Pemberton and Silas Harding took there
their wives and children to build for themselves homes.

It is said, by those who busy themselves with finding out about such
things, that in the year 1605 Champlain stopped at the island and
named it; but not until four years later did any white people visit
the place. Then two Jesuit missionaries, who had been living at Port
Royal, under the protection of Monsieur Biencourt, went to Mount
Desert with the hope of converting the Indians to Christianity.

How long these good men lived there, no one seems to know; but it is
certain that they went back to Port Royal quite soon, because, in
the year 1613, a Frenchman, by the name of La Suassaye, the agent of
Madame de Guercheville, a very rich and religious lady, visited Port
Royal, and persuaded the missionaries to return to Mount Desert, in
company with several French colonists.

An Englishman by the name of Argall, who had come across the ocean
to drive away the French people from North America, in order to take
possession of the country in the name of his king, found the
settlers while they were yet living in tents, not having had time to
build houses. He robbed them of all their goods, afterward sending
them adrift in an open boat, to make certain they wouldn't encroach
on the land to which he believed they had no claim.

The French people, after suffering severely, contrived to gain the
mainland, however, and before many months had passed returned to
Mount Desert, where they formed a settlement, which did not survive
the encroachments of the Indians, as is known from the fact that
when, in 1704, the great Indian fighter from Massachusetts, Major
Benjamin Church, rendezvoused at Mount Desert, before attacking the
Baron de Castine on Penobscot Bay, he found no person living there.

In 1746 Stephen Pemberton and Silas Harding, with their wives, who
were sisters, and their children, emigrated from England to Acadia,
in Nova Scotia, hoping there to make better homes for themselves and
their little ones than could be had in their native land. Then came
the quarrels between the French and English, until Acadia was not a
very pleasant land in which to live, and these two settlers
determined to find an abiding-place where they might not be
literally overrun by the soldiers of two armies.

Therefore it was that they built a small vessel, in which they could
carry all their household belongings, including two cows, three or
four pigs, and a flock of chickens, and started on a voyage that did
not come to an end until they were arrived at the island of Mount
Desert, near the mouth of what is now known as Duck Brook, within a
short distance of the present town of Bar Harbor.

There the men built two small houses of logs, enclosed by a
palisade, which is a high fence formed by driving stakes into the
ground, for protection against the Indians, whom they had every
reason to fear.

Here the two families lived in peace and comparative comfort until
the year 1758, and then there were children in plenty.

Stephen Pemberton had in his family Mark, who was fifteen years old;
Luke, two years younger; Mary, aged eleven and John, a stout lad of
eight years.

Silas Harding's children were Susan, who was fourteen years old;
Mary, four years younger, and James, who had lived seven years on
Mount Desert without having seen ten white people, save those
belonging to his own and Uncle Stephen Pemberton's family.

Now after so many words which have not been strung together in a
very entertaining fashion, it is time to begin the story of what was
done by these children, with, as a matter of course, some assistance
from their mothers.

Each summer, just before the work of harvesting should be begun, the
two men went out in the boat which had brought them from Acadia, to
catch fish enough for the winter's supply, and on this year they set
off early in September, with never a thought that any danger might
menace their dear ones after so many years of peace and comparative
prosperity.

The children had work in plenty to keep them from idleness during
the week of ten days their fathers might be absent, and no sooner
had the little vessel sailed out of the harbor than they set about
their several tasks in order that all the labor might be performed
by the time the fishermen returned.

Mark and Luke were engaged in setting up the flakes, or framework,
on which the fish were to be dried, and this labor was performed
near the shore of the harbor quite beyond sight of the homesteads
with the high palisade, which last hid from view all save the roofs
of the buildings.

The _Future Hopes_, which was the name of the small vessel belonging
to the settlers, had left her moorings when the first gray light of
the coming day could be seen stealing over the waters, and while she
was yet close in-shore the two lads set about building the flakes,
counting on completing the task within three days, and to that end
working so industriously as to give little or no heed to what might
be passing around them.

Therefore it was that they failed to see a canoe, in which were five
Indians, come swiftly up from the southward, past what is now known
as Pulpit Rock, and sail straight for the island at the mouth of the
harbor, which the people of to-day call Bar Island.

Here the frail craft was hidden from view of the boys, and when half
an hour or more had gone by, another canoe, this one carrying six
men, executed the same maneuver.

Five minutes later a third craft appeared, but just as she came in
view past the rock, Luke stood erect to drive in one of the stakes,
and, therefore, saw the strangers as they were evidently trying to
steal by without being seen.

More than once since Luke could remember had Mount Desert been
visited by red men of the Abenakis tribe; but the visitors had
always approached boldly, like friends, and this skulking from rock
to island seemed much like a show of enmity.

Certain it is that the lad was alarmed, but he understood, from what
his father had said many times, that it was not wise to let the
Indians know of his fear, and, continuing at the labor, he said, in
a low tone, to Mark:

"Don't raise your head, nor look around. A canoe filled with
Abenakis has sneaked in behind the harbor island; can it be mischief
is intended?"

"They may be after rock-cod, and count on coming ashore later," Mark
replied, continuing his work in such a fashion that he could look
seaward without seeming to do so.

At this moment the occupants of the last canoe were moving around
the point of the island, as if to gain a position where a full view
of the buildings might be had, for there could be no possibility the
visitors were engaged in fishing, of any other such peaceful pursuit.

"There's trouble of some kind, and it's for us to find out what,"
Mark said, in a whisper. "There must have been other canoes than the
one you saw, for I have already counted eleven men on the island,
and they could not all have come in a single boat."

The boys had had no experience, fortunately for them, in Indian
warfare, but they had heard enough from their parents to be fully
alive to the possibilities, and after a few moments, during which
time fear had held them speechless, Mark said, in a low tone,
although there was no chance the enemy could have heard him:

"We must get over to the house without seeming to be running away.
You start first, and when you go through the gate, call out that
mother wants to see me."

Luke obeyed leisurely, although his heart was beating so loudly and
heavily that it seemed as if it could be heard a long distance away,
and, arriving at the palisade, he summoned his brother, as had been
proposed.

Then it was that Mark was at liberty to leave his work, and he
answered the summons more quickly, perhaps, than ever before in his
life.

Mistress Pemberton was busily engaged inside the house, and the
other two children were in a small garden directly in the rear of
the building, therefore the boys were able to impart the
disagreeable tidings without alarming those who could be of little
or no assistance.

"Indians skulking on the harbor island!" the good woman exclaimed,
when Mark had hurriedly told his story and her face paled as the
lads had never seen it before.

"And they have chanced to come on the very day our father went
fishing!" Luke cried.

"It wasn't chance that brought them, my son. Unless coming for some
evil purpose, they would have landed boldly, as they have done so
many times. It must be that the painted wretches have been watching
to learn when your father and uncle left the island! Ask your aunt
and Susan to come over her; the other children need not be told
until it is no longer possible to hold them in ignorance of what may
be done."

Luke ran swiftly to the house, which stood hardly more than fifty
feet away, and in a twinkling Mistress Harding and her daughter
Susan were where they could hear what, to settlers in their
situation, was the worst possible news.

[Illustration: "Indians skulking on the harbor island!"]

Women who did their share in conquering the wilderness were not
cowardly, even though they might turn pale with apprehension when
the first note of danger was sounded, and there two, knowing it was
useless to expect aid from the outside, lost no time in planning a
defence.

The palisade was weak in many places; more than one of the timbers
had decayed and fallen, for while the Indians from the near-by
mainland were friendly disposed, there seemed to be no good reason
why time and labor should be expended upon a means of defence which
might never be needed, and at this moment both the women bethought
themselves of such fact.

"There may be time in which to strengthen the fence," Mistress
Harding suggested, and Mark, who considered himself as well-nigh
being a man grown, took the part of leader by saying, stoutly:

"In can be done, aunt. Luke and I will get the timbers, and the
other children shall drag them out of the woods, coming into the
enclosure near the spring where the Indians cannot see them."

"But surely we can do something to help the work along," his mother
said, quickly.

"So you shall. We must know what the Indians are about, and you two
can take one of the small boys down near the shore. Stay there as if
bent on pleasuring, and, without seeming to do so, keep a sharp
watch on the harbor island. I will look after the rest."

Boys who lived on the frontier in 1758 were accustomed to doing the
work of men, and very seldom was one found to be a coward.

Now that danger in its most frightful form menaced, Mark Pemberton
understood that he must stand in the place of his father and uncle.
And there was no disposition on his part to shirk the
responsibility. He knew full well that there was no hope the
fishermen would return for at least a full week, therefore he must
work unaided, save as the women and other children might be able to
help him.

The axes were near at hand; Mary Pemberton and Ellen Harding were
summoned from the garden, and the two younger boys sent with their
mothers to the shore.

As the five young people went into the thicket, which had been left
standing in the rear of the dwellings that it might serve to break
the force of the north winds in the winter, the younger girls
learned of the painted peril on the harbor island, and Mark
explained his plan of defence, so far as he had formed one.

The two boys set about their task feverishly, knowing that every
moment was precious, for no one could say when the attack might be
made; the only matter certain in the minds of all was that the
Indians had come bent on mischief, otherwise there would have been
no skulking on the island.

The palisade, as originally built, stood six feet above the surface
of the land, and the posts were driven a good four feet into the
ground, therefore large timbers were necessary, and perhaps Mark was
the only member of the party who realized that when the work of
driving the logs in place was begun, the enemy would have a very
good idea of what was being done.

The skulkers on the island must, as a matter of course, know that
they were discovered, and their purpose suspected, otherwise the
defences would not be in process of strengthening when the boys
should have been making ready for the curing of such fish as the
fishermen might bring in.

Then was the moment when, possibly, the attack would be made, and
all preparations for resistance concluded before the first blow was
struck on the palisade.

"There will be a moon to-night," Susan Harding said, quietly, and
Mark knew she was thinking of what might be expected after the sun
had set, therefore he replied, to encourage her:

"Ay, Sue, the painted villains can't come across without showing
themselves for some time before gaining the beach, and Luke and I
should be able to warm their hides a bit."

"I can shoot as well as you."

"So you can, Sue and the worst part of it is that you must do your
share of the work."

"Will you watch on the shore for them to-night?"

"I think so. Luke and I can be there, while the rest of you are
inside."

"I shall go with you," and the girl spoke as if demanding a part in
some scheme of pleasure.

"Perhaps you can; we'll see what the plan shall be when night comes.
The fence may not be in shape then, and I'm hoping the Indians will
hold off for a darker night. That's about the only chance we've got
to save ourselves from being killed, or carried prisoners to Canada."

"If they had landed on this island, they might have crept up without
our suspecting anything," Susan suggested, and Mark literally
trembled with fear, for thought came to his mind that possibly
another body of savages was on Mount Desert, counting on coming up
through the thicket when the attack was begun.

However, as he said to himself a moment later, after struggling
manfully against this new fear which assailed him, that was a matter
which could not be guarded against, other than as the general
defences were strengthened, and it stood him in hand to think of
work rather than all which might happen.

"Remember, I'm to take my place with you and Luke," Susan insisted,
and the lad, knowing she could be depended upon to use a musket
nearly as well as himself, replied:

"So you shall, Sue; I promise to call on you as I would on Luke.
Here is the first timber," he added, as he struck the finishing
blows to the sharpened end of the log. "Drag it inside to the
weakest place in the fence, and take good care that you don't go
where any one on the harbor island can see you."

Aided by Mary and Ellen, the stout-hearted girl set about the task
of carrying the heavy log, since that would be the quickest method
of getting it into place, and the boys plied their axes yet more
vigorously in order to have another timber in readiness when the
carriers returned.

[Illustration: The stout-hearted girl set about the task.]

"Take nothing smaller than six inches through the butt, and we'll
drive the tapering end into the ground," Mark cried, cheerily, as he
selected a second tree, and Luke had but just finished hewing his
log when the girls came for another load.

"I ran down to talk with mother and aunt," Susan said, speaking with
difficulty because of her heavy breathing. "They have seen only one
Indian, who lies behind the big rock keeping watch, and he is
Sewattis, who came here for potatoes last winter."

"And we gave him all he could carry away!" Mark exclaimed bitterly.
"Now he has come to try and murder us because we have ever been his
good friends."

"Is there any war on the mainland?" Susan asked.

"The captain of the last fishing-vessel father boarded told him that
an attack had been made by the French and Indians on the fort at St.
George last month, so I suppose England and France are still
fighting. If the two kings could be in our places just now, I reckon
there'd be an end of the war before nightfall."

"It isn't three months since Master Peabody and his wife were killed
on Arrowsick Island, and the six children carried into Canada,"
Luke suggested, grimly, and Mark cried, peremptorily:

"Don't be digging up every horrible thing you can remember, for it
won't improve our courage, and we're like to need all we've got
between now and sunset. Here's another timber, Sue. Before you come
back again, get some idea of how many we're needing to put the fence
in shape."

Luke would have talked of the murders which had been reported to the
settlers of the island by the fishermen, who were spoken from time
to time; but Mark bade him keep at his chopping, and in silence the
two worked until Susan, after an unusually long absence, returned.

"There are seventeen logs missing," she reported, "and two more
which are decayed so badly that they should be replaced. I walked
slowly around the fence, and tried every one, to make certain it
stood firm."

"We should be able to cut that number and get them in place before
the afternoon is very old," Mark replied, as he swung his axe yet
more vigorously. "Did you go down to the shore?"

"Yes, and everything there is as it was before. Your mother thinks
it is a wicked waste of time for both to stay on guard, when it
would be possible for them to do so much toward helping in getting
out the timbers."

"The moment will soon come when she can lend a hand, but just now
she is doing more good by staying where she is, for while those two
are idle the Indians will not suspect that we are strengthening our
defences. The other boys might help in dragging the logs down, Sue,
for we've got five or six ready."

"Mary and I, with Ellen to steady them through the bushes, can soon
catch up with you, and the boys would be more bother than good,"
Susan replied, as she raised one end of a heavy timber.

During the next hour the five young people worked as industriously
as their elders could have done, and then Susan announced that her
mother was intending to make ready the noonday meal, for it was in
the highest degree necessary that those who were laboring so
energetically, and who would be called upon, perhaps, to spend the
night in watching, should have an ample supply of food.

The boys ate dinner as they worked, Ellen bringing it out to them,
and, while Mistress Harding cooked for both families, Mistress
Pemberton remained on guard.

During all that time very little had been learned regarding the
savages. Now and then a painted face had been seen momentarily from
behind one of the rocks on the harbor island; but nothing more, and
the defenders of the stockade had no means of knowing when the
attack might be expected.

It was about two hours past noon when the boys had cut the necessary
number of timbers, and now was come the time when the enemy would
get an inkling that the settlers were making ready to defend
themselves.

"You can't help us very much, Sue, when we are driving the posts
into place," Mark said. "Leave Ellen here, while you overhaul our
muskets. See to it that each one is loaded, and where we can get at
it readily. After that has been done, you had best stand by the
gateway to give the work if any move is made by the villains."

Then the boys began the task of setting the timbers in place,
fearing each instant to hear the word that the savages were crossing
over from the small island.

When the third timber had been driven in place, Mark said, grimly,
as he raised another stick to fit it into the palisade:

"If they come now, we shall be in a bad scrape; but in case they are
foolish enough to wait until after dark, I reckon we can give a good
account of ourselves."

In order to drive the logs sufficiently deep into the earth, to
prevent the possibility of their being pulled out by the foe, it was
necessary  for one of the boys to stand on an up-ended cask, and
while in suck position a view of the tiny island at the mouth of the
harbor could readily be had.

It was Mark who swung the heavy wooden maul, or mallet, and he
strove to keep his eyes fixed upon that point of land behind which
he knew the Indians lurked.

To his great relief, no change was apparent in the position of the
enemy, although those in hiding must have known what was being done,
and the boys worked unmolested.

After she had make ready the muskets for immediate use, Susan
stationed herself at the gateway of the palisade, with a weapon
leaning against the logs on the inside, watching intently, and after
half an hour had passed Mark called to her:

"There's little chance now that they'll begin the mischief before
dark, if the noise of our pounding hasn't started them. Mother and
aunt may come back here and do some more cooking, for once the
Abenakis begin work we shall need to have all hands on duty. You can
keep an eye on the island from where you are."

[Illustration: Susan stood guard at the gateway.]

This change was welcomed by the women, who came up from the shore
quickly, stopping at the palisade to see how the lads were getting
along, when Mistress Pemberton said to Mark:

"I have been thinking that we had better gather in one of the
buildings which can be barricaded on the inside, instead of trying
to occupy both."

"It's a good idea, mother dear, and while you're making the changes,
see to it that we have plenty of water in the house."

"What about the cows?"

"We can't take the chances of going after them, for no one can say
that there are not more Indians hidden in the woods. If the beasts
come home, we'll have a mess of milk to help out on the supplies."

Now it was that every member of the two families was actively
engaged, while Susan stood guard at the gateway.

The Harding house was stripped of everything which could be readily
moved, and the rude furniture served admirably as a barricade for
the windows and one door of the Pemberton dwelling.

The sun had not set when Mark had put the palisade into the best
condition possible with the materials at his command, and then,
after cautioning Susan to keep her eyes open very wide, the two boys
began making loopholes in the house which was to shelter both
families. This last was being done, as Mark explained to his mother,
that they might have a final place of refuge in case the Indians
succeeded in scaling the palisade.



CHAPTER II

THE FIRST ASSAULT


Not until the shadows of night were beginning to lengthen was Susan
relieved from guard duty, and then the gate had been closed and
barred by Mark, who said to his cousin:

"There is little chance an attack will be made until after night has
come, when they count on finding us asleep, mayhap, although it
would be queer people who could close their eyes in rest while a
crowd of men was waiting for a good opportunity to kill them."

"Why am I to go off duty?" Susan asked. "Surely it can do us no harm
to stand guard, and even though the savages do not make any move, we
should act as if believing they might do so at any moment."

"You are right, Sue, and I warrant you won't have many idle minutes.
Your mother and mine want all the children together while they pray
for the good God to help us, and surely He is the only one to whom
we can appeal now."

The girl made no further parley, but marched directly toward the
Pemberton house, stopping very suddenly, however, as a low sound,
not unlike the call of a human being, was heard from the woods in
the rear of the dwellings.

"There are the cows, Mark, and surely they must be brought inside
the enclosure if for no other reason than that we may need the milk
before those murderers--"

Susan did not finish the sentence, for the thought had come that it
was not unlikely those who were skulking on the harbor island might
succeed in their purpose, as they had done so many times before when
setting forth to capture and to murder.

"I'll go after the beasts, and you shall stand here to keep watch
over the harbor, for I am not minded to take the chances of being
surprised, ever though we have good reason to believe no mischief
will be attempted until late in the night."

To this Susan would not agree. She insisted that, having been
charged with the care of the cows during so many years, they would
follow her more readily than any other, and it might be possible
something would happen to frighten them.

Mark, who feared there were Indians hidden in the thicket, would
have prevented her from venturing out of the stockade; but she put
an end to the controversy by slipping through the gate immediately
he had opened it, and the lad could do no less than remain on guard
while she was absent.

The animals followed the girl contentedly when she appeared before
them, even though they were not accustomed to being brought within
the enclosure during the warm season, and as they filed through the
gate Mark felt decidedly more comfortable in mind, for now, in case
they were able to hold the Indians in check, there was no
possibility of a lack of food if the siege should be prolonged.

With the cows in the shed that served as stable during the winter
months, where was a plentiful supply of hay which had been made
during the summer, the children went into the house, which seemed
strangely changed by the addition of Mistress Harding's belongings
and preparations already made for defence.

Nearly all the rude furniture was piled against the two windows and
one of the doors, and the beds had been spread on the floor where
they would best be screened from any stray bullets. A supply of fuel
was stacked up near the fireplace, to the end that it might be
possible to prepare food without necessity of going out of doors,
and, as Mark had suggested, every available vessel was filled with
water.

When the three children, who had been doing such valiant work in
strengthening the defences, entered the building, they found the
women and smaller children gathered close beside each other as if
such near companionship lessened the danger, and Mark said, gently:

"It is not well that we stay indoors many minutes, mother dear, for
much remains to be done before night has fully come."

Then it was, and without delay, that Mistress Pemberton knelt amid
the frightened brood, pouring forth her supplications for strength
and guidance in this their time of peril, and the children listened
to the petition as they had never done before. It was as if the
prayer had a different meaning than ever before, for unless it
should be answered then was the time of suffering or of death come
very near.

Even the youngest children understood that this was the only appeal
for help which could be made, and never a question was asked or a
word spoken when Mark, Luke, and Susan, rising to their feet
immediately the petition had been brought to a close went
out-of-doors muskets in hand.

When they were in the open air once more Mark proposed that they
make such platforms behind the palisade as was practical with the
limited amount of material at hand, in order that, in event of an
attack, it would be possible to use their weapons with good effect
to prevent the enemy from scaling the barricade.

Two up-ended casks formed as many stations, while at other points
the wash-benches, tubs, horses for wood-sawing, and household
utensils were piled up or pushed unto position at such height as
would afford a view of the harbor island and the intervening space.

When this work had been completed the children had eight improvised
platforms whereon they could stand while defending the stockade, and
the night was fully come.

[Illustration: The children had improvised platforms.]

As Susan had said, the moon was in the third quarter, therefore it
would be impossible for the Indians to paddle across the waters of
the harbor without exposing themselves to the view of the island
defenders.

It was a portion of Mark's plan that a guard should be stationed on
the shore, in full sight of those who might approach, and, in event
of an advance, the battle would be begun while the enemy was in the
canoes.

This much he explained to his companions, as they stood by the gate
ready to face the more immediate danger to the end that their loved
ones might the better be protected, and he added, in conclusion:

"After all we've seen it would be foolish to pretend we do not know
why the Abenakis have come, therefore when they put out from the
island, I shall hail them once, warning all hands to stay where they
are until the sun has risen, after which we will open fire, trying
to do the greatest possible amount of execution in order to show
what may be expected. I've got four of five charges of ammunition,
and if the rest of you have as much we shall be able to make quite a
showing."

At that moment the noise of someone moving across the enclosure
startled the children; but an instant later they saw that Mistress
Harding was going toward the shed to milk the cows.

"Now come on," Mark said, opening the gate after learning the cause
of his momentary alarm, and the children went boldly forth to do
battle--two boys and a girl who counted on defending the island
against fifteen or twenty savages.

It was not to e supposed that the Indians, seeing the sentinels,
would come directly across from the island; but might be expected to
dart swiftly toward one or the other headlands, and therefore it was
that Mark divided his small force, sending Luke to patrol the
northern point, while he paced to and fro on the southern side of
the harbor where it was more reasonable to suppose a landing would
be attempted. Susan was to walk back and forth on the shore between
the two lads.

Once this division of forces had been made, the children began their
vigil, on the alert for any suspicious noises either behind or in
front of them, for there was yet a possibility that a force of
Indians was already secreted near the stockade.

No sooner had he begun to pace his beat than Mark realized to what
danger the occupants of the dwelling were exposed in case the
savages had already landed on Mount Desert, for the gate of the
palisade was unlocked and unguarded, and then Susan was sent back to
warn her mother and aunt that the entrance must be secured.

When she returned to the shore it was with the report that the gate
was barred on the inside, and Mary Pemberton standing close beside
it in case the sentinels outside should be forced to beat a hasty
retreat.

Now indeed had the lad done all within his power to protect those
whom he considered were entrusted to his charge, and it only
remained to keep careful watch for the first show of mischief.

And this came in a manner wholly unexpected, although it seemed to
the young leader as if he had taken into consideration every method
which might be adopted by the savages.

During three hours or more the children had paced to and fro on the
shore, each making certain meanwhile that the other two were on the
alert, and then Mark saw a canoe put off from the harbor island,
heading toward Pulpit Rock, as if to gain the shelter of that
headland before coming to land.

Uttering a low cry to attract the attention of his companions, he
would have hurried on to the point in order to fire at least one
shot before the Indians could disembark; but at that moment an
exclamation from Luke caused him to gaze across the harbor, when he
saw a second canoe setting out toward the northward.

A moment later a third craft was paddled straight across the water,
in the direction of Susan's post of duty.

It seemed certain that the Abenakis understood how small and weak
was the force opposed to them, and therefore, counted on bringing
their bloody work to a speedy conclusion regardless of their
ordinary methods of warfare.

[Illustration: Mark saw a canoe put off from the harbor island.]

A landing would be made at three different places simultaneously,
and the young defenders must perforce give all their attention to
one party, leaving the others to do as they pleased, or, by
attempting to guard every point, place themselves in the greatest
possible danger.

"Make ready to run for the house when I give the word," Mark cried
to his companions. "Come this way, Sue, and Luke, do the best you
can at peppering the canoe in front of us!"

Susan speedily joined her cousin on the southerly side of the
harbor, while Luke stood his ground, but with the disagreeable
knowledge that in a few moments the savages would probably be
creeping up behind him.

Now Mark understood that he could not afford to spend many moments
on this portion of the defence. It was necessary the three should be
inside the stockade before those who were landing at either point of
the harbor could come up within range, and he said to Susan:

"We must get in our work quickly, for I reckon these villains in
front of us will take good care to move so slowly as to keep at a
safe distance until the others are ready for work."

For reply the girl raised her musket on the crutch-like rest which
was used in those days, took careful aim, and pulled the trigger.

It was possible to see the bullet as it struck the moonlit water,
hardly more than three paces in advance of the canoe, with its
freight of painted terrors, and instantly the Indians ceased
paddling, thus proving that they had no intention of coming within
range until their comrades from the other craft were in position to
prosecute their murderous work.

"There is little sense in our staying here," Mark said, bitterly.
"Those scoundrels don't intend to give us any show at them, and we
are foolish if we remain. Yonder canoe put off boldly only to keep
us occupied until the others could make a landing."

"Are we to go back?" Susan asked, striving to prevent a tremor of
fear from  being perceptible in her voice.

"Ay, it is high time. You start on ahead, and I'll call Luke."

"I shall walk by your side," the girl said, stoutly. "We will share
the danger equally, as you promised."

"You are a good girl, Sue; just the kind that will do a full half of
the work of defending the island," and Mark kissed her on the cheek
more tenderly than he had ever done before, as one would who was
whispering a final good-bye.

"Close in, Luke; we must get back to the house; there's no show of
our being able to do anything here," Mark cried to his brother, as
he set the example by leading Susan in the direction of the stockade.

The canoe came forward more swiftly as the little party of children
retreated; but it could be seen that its occupants did not count on
approaching within range, and Mark hastened his brother's movements
by shouting:

"Run for it, lad! We must be in position behind the fence when the
brutes first come within view!"

Then the three went toward the place of refuge at full speed, and
behind the gate, having been warned by the report of her cousin's
musket, Mary Pemberton stood ready to let down the heavy bar when
the little party was near at hand.

The retreat had been begun none too soon, as was seen when the
children came within the enclosure, for while Mark was replacing the
bar which locked the gate, his mother, standing on one of the
improvised platforms, discharged a musket.

"What have you seen?" the lad cried, as, the gate having been
fastened, he ran toward that portion of the stockade where was his
mother.

"An Indian came out just beyond the dead tree, over there."

"Did you hit him?"

"I'm afraid not, Mark; I never could send a bullet straight, and am
now blaming myself for not having practiced more often after your
father insisted that the time might come when I would need to handle
a musket deftly."

By this time Mark stood by his mother's side, peering cautiously out
over the top of the palisade, which was not a simple matter, since
he took the risk of presenting the enemy with a target.

He could see nothing suspicious, and was yet peering eagerly around,
when the report of a musket rang out on the other side of the
stockade.

It was Susan who fired the shot. At the same moment Mark clambered
up beside his mother, the girl had taken her station on one of the
casks at a point overlooking the thicket, and the result showed that
she had arrived there none too soon.

"Did you see an Indian?" Luke asked, as he mounted one of the
wash-benches near the gate.

"Ay, and hit him, too!" Susan replied, grimly, as she turned to
recharge her weapon; but Mistress Harding took the empty musket
from her hands, as she said:

"Your aunt and I cannot shoot as well as you children; but we may,
at least, be of service in loading the guns."

From this moment there was little delay in making the assault.
Contrary to their custom, the Abenakis pressed forward immediately
after the first shot was fired, doubtless hoping to gain an
advantage while the defenders were reloading the weapons, and each
of the three children fired two shots as rapidly as the muskets
could be handed to them.

Three times had a piercing scream followed the report of the weapon,
thus telling that an equal number of bullets had hit the targets,
and then the savages became more cautious.

Until this moment the Indians had not fired a shot; but now the
bullets began to whistle over the heads of those who were exposed to
view, as the Abenakis, themselves screened by the bushes, began the
real attack.

"Be careful of yourselves!" Mark cried, forgetting to set his
companions an example. "Keep down behind the posts as much as
possible; we can count on their staying under cover  while doing so
much shooting!" Then, turning to his mother, he added, "There is no
reason why all the children should be out-of-doors, where a stray
bullet may find them. Why not order them into the house?"

This Mistress Pemberton did, and when the younger members of the
company were in comparative safety, Mark looked anxiously around at
his army of two.

Luke was crouching behind the palisade, where a wide crevice between
two of the posts afforded him a view of the outside without his
being obliged to expose himself, and Susan was leaning against the
timbers, only partially sheltered, as she appeared to be tying
something around her arm.

"What are you doing, Sue?" Mark cried, in alarm.

"Standing guard here; but just now I can't see anything that looks
like an Indian."

"What is the matter with your arm?"

"It's only a scratch," the girl replied, in a matter-of-fact tone.
"It bleeds a little, and I've wrapped a piece of my gown around it."

"You're wounded!" Mark cried, and he made as if to jump down from
the platform, when Susan said, sharply:

"Stay where you are! Even though I was hurt badly, which I'm not,
you have no right to leave the fence unguarded."

Mark stepped back with a certain sense of shame that it had been
necessary for Susan to remind him of his duty, and then Mistress
Harding went to her daughter's side.

"It is a slight wound on the left arm," the good woman said, after
insisting on an examination of the injury. "I will take her to the
house while I tie it up properly, and Ellen may stand here in her
place."

"But Ellen can't use a musket as well as I, and we're needed here,"
Susan cried, more concerned lest she be forced to leave her station
at the palisade than on account of the wound.

Mistress Harding might have insisted on her daughter's going into
the building if at that moment the assault had not been renewed, and
during the next ten minutes the defenders were actively employed.

The Indians, profiting by the teachings and example of the
Frenchmen, whose allies they were, had divided the force, a portion
remaining hidden in the thicket to fire at the children, while the
remainder made a rush for the gate, as if believing it might be
forced open.

Now it was that the defenders were obliged to move quickly, and it
was impossible for them to remain under cover all the while.

"Pour all the fire into those fellows who are coming up with the
log!" Mark cried, as half a dozen Abenakis, carrying a heavy
tree-trunk, to be used as a battering-ram, made ready to advance at
full speed.

This command was obeyed with such good effect that three of the
savages fell, and their fellows, dropping the timber, ran to cover
with the greatest possible haste.

At the same moment the children fired, the Indians in hiding
discharged their weapons, detonations being echoed and reëchoed
from mountain to mountain, until it sounded as if a severe
engagement was in progress.

"Any one hurt?" Mark cried, and Susan and Luke replied cheerily in
the negative.

One of the three Indians wounded while advancing with the tree-trunk
succeeded in crawling off to the shelter of the underbrush; but the
other two remained where they had fallen.

When, two or three minutes later, an Abenakis darted out from his
place of concealment, Mark raised his weapon quickly; but Susan
cried, warningly:

"Don't fire! It can do us no harm if they take away the wounded, and
it's possible they'll go back to the harbor island, if the injured
can be carried off!"

"I'm beginning to think it is you who should be in command here,"
Mark said, half to himself, as he lowered his weapon. "You've got
more sound sense than Luke and I together." Then, raising his voice,
he cried, loudly, "Listen, ye Abenakis, whom our fathers have fed
when you were hungry, and sheltered when you were cold, but who
would murder us now! Take away your wounded, if you are minded to go
back to the harbor island, and no one shall harm you while so doing.
The white men of Mount Desert have never broken faith with you, nor
will we, their children."

Then was done that which proves how much stranger than fiction is
truth. The Abenakis, although they had come there to kill or make
prisoners the wives and children of those men who had ever been
their friends, did not question the faith of the lad when he
announced that they might bear off the wounded in safety, but boldly
advanced within short range to the aid of their fellows.

"Why do you seek to kill us, who have never done you harm?" Mark
cried, when four of the band stood in full view while lifting the
wounded from the ground. "Do Indians kill their friends? Do they
speak soft words only while the men of the family are at home, being
too cowardly to make an attack until the fathers have gone away?"

There was no reply to this speech until the Indians were hidden once
more by the bushes, and then a voice cried:

"Give us the cow and two boys. Then we will go away, telling the
Frenchmen that all have been killed."

"You shall not have the smallest chicken inside this stockade!" Mark
cried, angrily. "And I promise that there shall be few left to
report to the cowardly Frenchmen, if you remain here very long. You
shall be shot down like dogs, and from this out our squaws will not
interfere to let you carry off those who have been crippled!"

While speaking, Mark had unconsciously raised himself to his full
height, instead of being partially sheltered by remaining in a
crouching position, as during the short fight, and the reply to his
words came in the form of bullets, one of which grazed his cheek,
raising a red ridge, as if he had been scored by a whip-lash.

Susan and Luke both fired in the direction from which had been seen
the flash of the muskets, but no one could say if the missiles thus
sent at random took effect.

Five minutes later, while the watchers still gazed through the
crevices of the palisade, believing the enemy to be near at hand, a
canoe was seen putting off from the shore, directly in front of the
dwellings, and, after such delay as was necessary, in order to
enable them to reach the other craft, all three divisions of the
attacking force were headed for the harbor island.

[Illustration: "You shall not have the smallest chicken inside this
stockade!"]

The first assault had been made, and successfully resisted. It now
remained to be seen whether the Abenakis were willing to accept this
as defeat, of if new tactics were to be tried.

"They've gone!" Susan cried, joyfully. "We've beaten them!"

"Yes child," her mother said, despondently, "and if they had not
been sent by Frenchmen, we might believe the worst was over."

"Do you think they'll come back, Mark?" the girl cried, as she
leaped down from her post of duty.

"Ay, that I do, Susan, and for the very reason aunt has given. If we
could only know what the next move would be! I have heard father say
that once upon a time the English drove away from Mount Desert
French settlers, and now those who are stirring the Indians up to
this kind of business are trying to make things even. We can count
on having peace during the rest of the night, I believe, and the
sooner you go into the house, were that wound of yours can be looked
after, the better I shall be pleased."

Indeed, there was no good reason why all the defenders, save one to
stand guard behind the palisade, should not get such repose as might
be had under the circumstances.

A sentinel, on one of the hastily constructed platforms, could keep
the harbor island well in view, therefore the savages would not be
able to leave it secretly, and Mark proposed that he remain on duty
for a certain time, while the others slept.

"You shall have my place in a couple of hours, Luke." the lad said
to his brother.

"And when do I take my turn?" Susan asked, showing that she was
determined to do a full share in the defence, regardless of her
wound.

"You may stand guard when it is time for Luke to lie down," Mark
replied, intending that she should not be awakened if he could
prevent it.



CHAPTER III

A DAY OF SUSPENSE


While Mark stood on guard, able to see the entire broad expanse of
water, thanks to the light of the moon, he knew that so long as a
careful watch was kept the Abenakis could not leave the harbor
island secretly; but he also realized that if the clouds should
gather, or a fog settle down over the waters, then, of a verity,
would they be at the mercy of a foe from whom no mercy could be
expected.

The fact that they had been able to resist the first assault did not
give him encouragement for the future. The Indians had advanced
foolishly, understanding that the white people knew full well what
they were about, and after this first repulse it was reasonable to
suppose the murderous scoundrels would bring all their cunning into
play when the next attack was made.

There were six muskets in the stockade, and ammunition sufficient to
last during an ordinary siege, provided none was wasted, yet but
three persons--Susan, Luke, and himself--could be depended upon to
man the walls. The others would have served faithfully, of that
there was no question; but none of them were so expert with a musket
as to be counted on for any great execution.

Although the lad would not have admitted as much to either of his
companions, the fear in his heart that the enemy might succeed in
accomplishing his purpose was very great.

"We can count on it that at the next attack they will succeed in
getting inside the palisade," he said, unconsciously giving words to
his thoughts, and he started almost in alarm as a familiar voice
behind him asked, reproachfully:

"If you lose heart, how can the rest of us be expected to show
courage?"

"What are you doing out here, Sue?" he asked, in turn, not minded to
answer her question, if it could be avoided.

"I've come to take Luke's place. He is sleeping so soundly that it
is a pity to awaken him, and the pain in my arm keeps my eyes open
very wide."

"But I haven't been here two hours yet."

"Nearly half that time has passed since you came on duty, and there
is no reason why you should remain awake when it's impossible for me
to sleep. I can keep a sharp watch."

"So you can, Sue; but it is my place to take the biggest end, and I
don't fancy the idea of letting a woman do my work."

"If I could go to sleep it would be different; but since I can't, I
shall stay here, therefore you might as well take advantage of the
opportunity."

Mark made no move toward leaving the platform, from which he could
have a full view of the harbor, and, seeing that he was not disposed
to act upon her suggestion, Susan clambered up beside him.

"Now tell me what you meant by saying that the next time they come
the Indians will get inside the fence?"

"There's no sense in talking about that. I didn't count on speaking
aloud."

"You did, however, and now it will be treating me no more than
fairly if you tell me exactly what is in your mind."

Mark had no desire to discuss the situation just then, when it
looked very dark to him, and, in order to avoid answering the
question, he proposed to take advantage of Susan's proposition.

"Since you are determined to stay here, I may as well get what sleep
I can. Call Luke when you are tired," He said, and before she could
detain him he had slipped down from the improvised platform, walking
rapidly toward the dwelling.

The girl could do guard duty as well as either of her cousins, and
was eager to perform a full share of the labor devolving upon those
who were striving to hold the savages in check. Perhaps she
magnified the pain of her wound in order to be allowed to take
Mark's place, and, if such was the case, the defence would be in no
wise weakened through her.

Until the first faint light of a new day could be seen did Susan
Harding stand on the narrow platform, watching eagerly for any signs
of life from the harbor island, and unable to change her position,
save by taking two or three paces to the right or left. Even then
she would have remained on duty longer, but that Mark came hurriedly
out of the house crying, angrily:

"It was not fair for you to stay on watch all night, Sue! You the
same as promised to call Luke when you were tired."

"I didn't really agree, and I'm not tired yet. There's no need of
your coming up here, for now that it is daylight, Ellen can be
trusted to keep a lookout over the island."

"When she has eaten her breakfast I will let her take my place,"
Mark replied, as he literally forced the girl to descend, and a few
moments later all the occupants of the stockade were astir.

The cows were milked, but kept within the enclosure, the young boys
feeding and watering them. The hens were allowed to stray here or
there at will, and, save for the sentinels on the palisade, one
might have thought that the scene presented there represented
perfect peace and happiness.

When the morning meal had been prepared, Ellen Harding took Mark's
station on the stockade, being enjoined by him to keep her eyes
fixed constantly on the harbor island, without heeding what might be
happening around her, as the little company gathered in the
Pemberton house, where thanks were given for their preservation
during the night.

While breakfast was in progress no reference was made to the danger
which menaced; it seemed as if the women feared to alarm the younger
children, and the three to whom the defence of the island had been
committed were not desirous of starting a conversation which might
lead up to the possibilities of the future.

Susan was forced to submit to a second treatment of her wound, as
soon as the meal had had come to an end, and Mistress Harding
peremptorily insisted on her going to bed, since she had not closed
her eyes in slumber during the night just passed.

Mistress Pemberton set about melting lead for bullets, the store of
missiles being smaller than that of powder, and Mark and Luke went
out to make a more thorough examination of the palisade.

"It isn't very likely that the Abenakis will make any move during
this day," the elder lad said, "and while Ellen is standing watch it
would be wicked to lose any chance of making our position yet more
secure."

Luke was ready to act upon his brother's suggestion, but appeared to
have no desire for conversation, and Mark did not urge him to talk,
for the same reason that had caused him to hold his peace during the
breakfast hour.

There was much that had been overlooked during the hurry and
excitement of the previous day, which could be done to strengthen
the palisade, as, for example, driving stakes at the foot of such
posts as were not standing firmly, and securing the tops of others
with braces on the inside.

In order to do a portion of this work, it was necessary the lads
should go into the thicket for material; but while Ellen remained on
watch to give the alarm, in case she saw any signs of life on the
harbor island, they did not hesitate to leave the stockade.

It was while they were chopping down small trees in the rear of the
dwellings, that the flock of fourteen sheep came in sight, and these
Mark decided to drive into the enclosure.

It would be a serious blow to the settlers if these wool-growers
should be killed by the enemy, for it might be a difficult task to
replace them, and without the fleeces each summer the children would
be destitute of materials for clothing.

By catching the leader of the flock, and dragging him along by the
horns, the lads had little trouble in getting the animals within the
stockade, and Mark announced his success by saying, in a tone of
mild triumph:

"The family is all behind one fence now, and unless the Abenakis get
inside, they can't do us a great deal of harm."

"But the sheep will pull heavily on our store of hay," Luke
suggested, and his brother replied, cheerily:

"They can pick up a good bit around the place, and it won't do any
very great harm to let them go hungry now and then. It's better than
taking good chances of losing the whole drove."

There was no further discussion as to the advisability of bringing
the sheep into the stockade, for at that moment a cry from Ellen
caused both the boys to run, with all speed, to her side.

"Look! Look! A vessel! It must be that fishermen are coming here,
and now the Indians will be driven away!"

[Illustration: "Look! Look! A vessel!"]

To their great surprise and delight, the boys saw a small schooner,
coming as if from the mainland on the northward, heading directly
for the harbor island.

"We're saved, God be thanked!" Mark cried, in a tone so loud as to
be heard by the inmates of the house, all of whom came swiftly
toward him to learn the cause of the fervent exclamation.

"What is it, my son?" Mistress Pemberton asked, sharply, and Luke
shouted, as he pointed seaward:

"A fishing-vessel, mother, and those on board must soon know that
the Indians are besieging us!"

"But she appears to be going directly to the harbor island! The crew
should be warned, lest the Abenakis make an attack upon them!"

This possibility had not entered Mark's mind; but while his mother
was yet speaking he darted out of the stockade, running with all
speed to the shore, waving his arms and shouting, to attract the
attention of the newcomers.

He was followed by the two families, including Susan, who had been
awakened by the joyful cries, and the little party ran swiftly along
the beach until they were come to the nearest point of the island,
which was the small bluff, or incline, on the westernmost end.

Here it was possible to have in view the schooner's deck, and that
their signals had been seen seemed positive, although no attention
was taken of them.

"Had you not better pull out in the small boat?" Mistress Pemberton
asked of Mark, when the strangers failed to pay any heed to the
gestures of warning. "It would be dreadful if the men went on shore
and were murdered!"

There seemed to be no reason why the lads should not visit the
vessel, and, in fact, such an idea had entered Mark's mind before
his mother spoke, but yet he hesitated to act upon her suggestion,
although it would have been impossible for him to explain why he
remained idle.

"The schooner carries a big crew for a fisherman," Susan said,
thoughtfully. "There must be as many as twenty-five or thirty on her
deck."

"She's no fisherman!" Mark cried, becoming perplexed as he observed
the truth of what Susan had said. "So many people never could work
on a craft of that size."

"But what else can she be?" Luke asked, curiously, "I don't know as
it makes much difference to us, though, so long as she carries a
crew of white people. Why don't we pull out to her, Mark? Look,
she's coming to anchor, and if her crew lands without knowing of the
Abenakis, they will all be killed!"

"There are the Indians!" Susan cried, as three canoes, filled with
savages, were seen putting out from the shore.

"They are going to make an attack on the vessel, and we can do
nothing to help the poor people!" Mistress Pemberton cried, in an
agony of grief, while an expression of terror overspread Mark's face
as he began to have an inkling of the true situation.

"Can't you boys do something to aid the men?" Mistress Harding
asked, and Mark replied:

"It isn't likely they're needing any help. Those on the vessel
outnumber the Abenakis three to one, and I'm afraid they won't have
any trouble in taking care of themselves."

No one save Susan gave any particular heed to Mark's words, but
watched with feverish interest as the canoes approached the vessel,
and then, when the Indians clambered aboard without any attempt
being made to prevent them, the expression of the face of the
spectators changed from that of sympathy to perplexity.

"The Abenakis seem to know the fishermen," Mistress Pemberton said
to herself, and Mark replied, bitterly:

"Ay, mother, that they do, and now, instead of being called upon to
defend ourselves against Indians only, we shall have that crowd of
Frenchmen against us!"

"God forbid that white people could attack women and children!"
Mistress Harding cried fervently, and Mark added:

"He hasn't forbidden it so far, aunt. Don't you remember what father
and uncle heard from those aboard of the last vessel they spoke
with? They were told that when Master Peabody and his wife were
murdered, there were ten French soldiers with the Indians."

"Can it be that they have come to aid the savages against us?" and
Mistress Harding's face grew pale.

"Ay, that is the way the French king fights us in this country, and
if we are murdered it will be because his agents have decided upon
it in revenge for that which was done here so many years ago to the
missionaries!"

And now while the little party of besieged stands on the shore
facing this new and unexpected peril, suppose we set down that
which Mr. Williamson wrote in his "History of Maine."

"A communication was received at Boston in August, 1758, from
Brigadier-General Monkton, stationed in Nova Scotia, which stated
that a body of Frenchmen, in conjunction with the Indians of the
rivers St. John, Penobscot, and probably Passamaquoddy, were
meditating an attempt upon the fort at St. Georges, and the
destruction of all the settlements on the coast."

"Immediately Governor Pownal collected such a military force as was
at command, and embarked with them on board the King George, and the
sloop Massachusetts. Arriving, he threw these auxiliaries with some
warlike stores into the fort at a most fortunate juncture; for
within thirty-six hours after the departure the fort was actually
assailed by a body of four hundred French and Indians."

"But so well prepared was the garrison to receive them, that they
were unable to make the least impression. Nor did any
representations of their numbers, nor any threats, communicated to
the fort by a captive woman, whom they purposely permitted to escape
hither, occasion the least alarm. Hence, the besiegers gave vent to
their resentiments and rage by killing the neighboring cattle, about
sixty of which they shot or butchered."

It was well for the little families who were so sorely beset that
they remained in ignorance of what the French assisted by the
Indians of several tribes, were trying to do, otherwise their
despair would have been even greater than it was as they watched
the reception of the Abenakis by those on board the schooner.

It will never be known whether this attack on Mount Desert was made
in revenge for what had been done by Argall to the French
missionaries; but certain it was that all the settlements on the
coast, large or small, had been marked for destruction under the
guise of legitimate warfare.

During five minutes or more, while the besieged watched the
movements on the deck of the schooner until there was no longer any
question but that the number of their enemies had been largely
increased, not a word was spoken, and then Mistress Harding broke
the painful stillness by exclaiming:

"There is nothing left us to do but submit! With French soldiers at
hand, it is not probable the savages will be allowed to murder their
prisoners, and to surrender the island is better than being killed!"

"The French have never done anything toward preventing the Indians
from working their will on the helpless captives. Do you remember
the story father tells of Falmouth, when these same Frenchmen
pledged their words of honor that no blood should be spilled, and
yet many of those who surrendered were murdered in cold blood?"

"But what other can we do save give ourselves up?" Mistress Harding
cried, helplessly, and Susan stepped proudly by the side of Mark, as
he replied, stoutly:

"We can fight to the last, and die with muskets in our hands,
instead of going willingly to meet the scalping-knife or the
tomahawk. It may be that those on the mainland will learn what is
being done here, and come to our relief."

"Do not put faith in such a possibility, my son. It is better to
face the worst than build on hopes which must be dashed," and
Mistress Pemberton laid her hand on Mark's shoulder as if in pride
because of the courage he displayed. "We will do battle against
these people, white and red, and when our best has been done, the
end will be no worse than if we submitted tamely."

"That's the way to put it!" Mark cried, kissing his mother's hand.
"We had planned to defend ourselves against the savages, and now let
us see what shall be done since they have had such a large
reinforcement. Certain it is that we must not stand here, for they
may have muskets aboard the schooner which will carry a ball farther
than ours."

Mistress Pemberton led the way back to the stockade, and there, in
the open air near the gateway where a close watch might be kept over
both the island and the vessel, she commended the little party to
the care of Him who watches over even the sparrow's fall.

It was to the distressed company as if the entire situation had been
suddenly changed; as if their means of defence were totally
inadequate, leaving them to the mercy of the French and Indians, who
were making the attack simply because the King of England and the
King of France had sundry differences of opinion, which might be
settled by spilling the blood of innocent people.

Susan, who had been the most courageous, seemed to have grown
timorous when she asked, while she and Mark were where the words
could not be overheard:

"What shall we do? Is there any hope we can hold back such a force
as is being arrayed against us?"

"It doesn't seem possible, Sue, and yet we must fight to the last,
rather than give over our mothers and you girls to what we know will
follow if we show the white feather."

"I am not afraid of your ever doing anything of that kind, Mark,"
and the girl laid her hand on his shoulder with a loving gesture.
"You will always be brave and true; but what I am asking is whether
we may do anything which, as yet, has not been tried."

"I exhausted all my ideas in arranging for a defence against the
Abenakis, and now we must stand up like images, fighting until we
are destroyed. Anything is better than tame surrender, when we know
by the terrible experiences of others what will follow."

"In that I am of your mind, Mark, dear; but I am asking if there
isn't something else, which, as yet, we have neglected, that can be
done. Our mothers depend on you, as do I, which is only natural,
since you are the eldest, and should of right take your father's
place."

"It is just that, Sue dear, which causes me to be afraid of my own
ideas. If I make a mistake, it may be fatal to you all, for you will
follow my advice."

"That is true, Mark, and yet you should not be timid because of it,
for you are best fitted to act the part of leader, and we know full
well you will only do that which seems safest."

"Are you agreed that we cannot surrender?" and Mark asked the
question in an angry tone, as if expecting she would refuse to view
the situation in the same light he did.

"Of course I am. Could I say otherwise after all the stories we have
heard from the mainland?"

"Then we must fight?"

"Of course, and to the last. I would rather see mother and the
children killed by musket-balls, than to have them fall unharmed
into the hands of those who await us there," and she motioned toward
the harbor island. "How long can we hold the stockade against such a
force?"

"Four and twenty hours, it may be, and a much shorter time if you,
or Luke, or I should be killed early in the fight."

"And we will hope that our fathers do not come back until all is
over."

"Ay, Sue dear, that is what we must hope, unless we would have them
come in time to meet their death. Two more men on the stockade would
not greatly prolong the struggle, and I fail to see how they,
without other aid, could help us very much."

"If it should be, Mark dear, that I am wounded again, will you see
to it that the Indians do not take me prisoner?"

"Ay, Sue, though the moment will be a terrible one when I turn my
musket against you; but it shall be done."

"And if you are left until the last you will see that the children
are not taken alive?"

"If I am left, Sue dear, it shall be as the last of our families on
the island, for I believe death is more pleasant than can be life in
the hands of such as those who are counting soon to hold us in their
power."

Then the two children kissed each other as if in a last farewell,
and Mark, trying to assume a careless air, said, with a feeble
attempt at a smile:

"Since you were the last to awaken, it is no more than fair you
should be among the first on duty. You, Luke, and I will stand guard
alone until the attack is made, as we can count it will be this
night, and then our mothers must charge the muskets. Remember, Sue
dear, that I haven't yet despaired of holding the whole wicked crew
in check. It doesn't seem possible that God would withhold His hand
while we are being beaten."

"And yet it has been that many people in this country, whose cause
was as just as ours, have been overcome by the same merciless foe
who await us."

"Ay, Sue, and since we can only take what comes as stoutly as decent
English people should, we'll seem to be brave, however timorous our
hearts may become when the last moment is at hand."

Then these two children, striving to fill the places of their
parents, began that vigil which both believed would be ended with
their death.

Mark made the announcement to his mother and aunt, after the gate
had been shut and closely barred, that they and the children should
remain in the dwelling until the moment came when they could be of
assistance in loading the weapons, and in the meanwhile the task of
guarding the stockade would devolve upon his brother, cousin, and
himself.

"We are not so much worse off than before, except that many more
will come against us," he said, as the women and children went
toward the Pemberton house. "We shall fight until the last, and, if
God is kind, it may be we can hold the villains in check four and
twenty hours, if no more. Get what rest you can, and remember that
tears are of no avail when bullets are needed."



CHAPTER IV.

AN ATTACK


When the women and smaller children were inside the dwelling, Mark
said to his companions:

"It is better to have something in the way of work on hand than
remain idle, and it has come into my mind that we might improve our
condition if we raised the top of the stockade so that we could
stand on the platforms without being seen by those outside."

"How would you set about it?" Luke asked, with mild curiosity.

"A heavy timber might be made fast to the top of the palisade, and,
by making loopholes between the upper ends of the logs, we would be
hidden from view, and at the same time be able to keep watch."

"Do you count that we should go after logs, taking the chances that
the enemy will make a landing right away?"

"I intend to go alone, while you and Susan stand guard. Shout if you
see a single boat putting off from the harbor island, and then I can
get inside the enclosure before the enemy will be able to paddle
over here."

Mark did not wait to learn if his companions had any criticism to
make on his proposition, but set off in search of the axe without
delay, and the others had no choice but to mount guard.

[Illustration: He returned with a heavy log.]

When the lad went through the gate he directed that it be barred
behind him, lest there might be Indians in the thicket, and a few
moments later it was possible to hear the sound of his sturdy blows
as he felled the trees.

In less than half an hour he returned with a heavy log that had been
squared on one side, and, after having been given admittance, he
laid this on the posts above the platform on which Susan was
stationed. By chopping either side of the uprights, close to the
top, he made V-shaped apertures of sufficient size to admit of a
musket-barrel being thrust through, thus forming five or six
loopholes for the sentinel.

Therefore it was one could remain on the platform without being
exposed to view of the enemy directly in front, and such shelter
would be of great value to the defenders while the attacking party
was a short distance away.

By means of wooden pins Mark secured the log in place, although not
very firmly, and the three children who were to defend the stockade
believed their position had been decidedly strengthened by such a
device.

Another hour was spent in felling trees, fitting the timbers, and
putting them in place. Then Mark occupied himself with making a
careful examination of every portion of the palisade, after which,
he said, with a long-drawn sigh:

"I can think of nothing else that is likely to improve the defences,
and it only remains to wait until the enemy is ready to begin
operations. What has been done aboard the schooner?"

"Many of the men have gone ashore on the harbor island," Luke
replied. "The sails are furled, and everything snugged down as if
for a long stay."

"Have you seen the Abenakis?"

"Two or three of them yet remain aboard the schooner; but the larger
number are on shore."

Then Mark clambered up on one of the platforms, straining his eyes
to learn what the strangers were doing with the hope of being able
to make some guess as to when another attack would be made; but in
this last he was unsuccessful. The men were lounging on the vessel,
or ashore, as if their only purpose was to pass the time pleasantly,
and utterly heedless as to whether they were seen by those inside
the stockade.

"Whoever is in command of the Frenchmen will direct the next
assault," Mark said, sufficiently loud to be heard by his companions
at their several posts of duty. "It is known that we count on
defending ourselves, and we may expect to see the entire force
before us within the coming ten or twelve hours."

"What about the powder?" Luke asked.

"We have none too much; but enough, I believe, if we are careful in
making every shot count, to last us during two assaults. After that,
if we're alive, there'll be a short allowance."

"A boat is putting off from the schooner, and heading this way,"
Susan announced, and the boys gave no further heed as to
speculations regarding the future, for it seemed as if the enemy was
about to begin operations.

In a very short time, however, it could be understood that there was
no danger of an immediate attack, for the craft coming shoreward
from the vessel was a canoe in which were but three men.

The sentinels were unable to understand the meaning of this
movement. It did not seem probable the enemy counted on boldly
reconnoitering the island, nor was it reasonable to suppose any
attack was to be made with so small a force, and Mark said, in
perplexity:

"I can't make out why they are coming; but we'll be ready for
whatever turn affairs may take."

"Shall we fire on them if they get too near?" Susan asked.

"Unless they claim to be friends, which isn't likely, we'll treat
them exactly as we would the Abenakis, if they were bold enough to
land in broad day," Mark replied, and, as assurance of his
intentions, he made certain his musket was ready for immediate use.

The strangers paddled directly toward the spot where were kept the
boats of the settlers, beached the canoe, and straightway approached
the stockade, as friends might have done.

The three children on guard watched the newcomers curiously, until
they were within fifty or sixty paces of the gate, and then Mark
hailed:

"It will be safer to halt where you are until we understand the
reason for this visit," he cried, showing himself above the
palisade, with musket in hand.

"Are you in command of the stockade?" one of the visitors asked, as
all three came to a full stop.

"Ay, for the time being."

"How many have you in garrison?" one of the newcomers asked, as he
advanced a single pace, to show that he was authorized to act as
spokesman for his party.

"That is for you to find out," Mark replied, with a smile. "You must
take us for simples, if it is in your mind that we will give all the
information demanded."

"I did not ask to gain information, for we know exactly the number
of women and children here. I desired that you yourself should state
it in order to the better understand how entirely you are at our
mercy," The man said, and his manner of speech told that he was
French.

"I do not need to repeat it, having seen your force, and knowing my
own full well."

"Then you can understand that when I offer good quarter if you
surrender without resistance, it should do away with any necessity
for a conflict."

"Are you ready to give the same quarter your people promised at
Falmouth, when the defenceless prisoners were murdered by you
Frenchmen?" Mark cried, angrily.

"I give you my word of honor as a soldier, than no one shall be
harmed if you surrender this place immediately," the officer
replied, sharply.

"If I have heard rightly, the Baron de Castine gave the same pledge
at Falmouth, and afterward excused himself by saying that he could
not restrain the Indian allies," Mark said, stoutly. "Since then it
is difficult to believe that French officers have any too much
honor; otherwise, perhaps, they would not fight side by side with
savages."

"Do you refuse to surrender?" the visitor asked, angrily.

[Illustration: "Do you refuse to surrender?"]

"Ay, that I do, and all here are of the same mind with me. It is
better to die fighting than be put to the torture by your allies,
whom, mayhap, you could not restrain."

"My force is so large that you will be crushed in a twinkling, and,
if you resist, no mercy may be expected. I have come in the effort
to save your lives."

"Why should it be necessary?" Mark asked. "What have we done that
you strive to take possession of our homes?"

"That is not a question to be discussed," the officer replied,
impatiently. "It is my intention to clear this island of settlers,
and I hope at such time to aid you."

"It is a brave piece of business to wait until our fathers have gone
away, and then come here to fight women and children!" Susan cried,
sharply. "Are all French officers so valiant?"

It was impossible for the visitor to see the speaker; but he knew
from the voice that the words were uttered by a girl, and his face
reddened, as he bit his lip to hold back a retort.

"I offer you good quarter, and to that pledge my word, if you submit
at once," he said, after a brief pause. "In case you are so foolish
as to dream of holding out against us, much loss of blood must
ensue."

"That is bound to come," Mark replied, gravely. "We are resolved to
hold this stockade as long as there is one left alive to fire a
musket, and when you succeed in the noble work of murdering women
and children, there will be none left alive for the savages, your
very good friends, to torture."

"And that is your last word?" the officer asked, half-turning on his
heel.

"The last," Mark replied.

The Frenchman stood irresolutely while one might have counted ten,
and then, wheeling about, he marched toward the shore, looking back
from time to time as if believing the young defenders might repent
of having given such an answer.

"We have shut off all chance of making a bargain with them," Luke
said, half to himself, and Susan replied, stoutly:

"It would have shamed me had Mark treated with them! Why should they
offer us quarter? We have done nothing to warrant their making an
attack upon us, and it is well they should hear the truth--that it
is nothing less than murder. People don't make war in such a fashion
as this!"

Mark gave no heed to what his companions were saying. His eyes were
fixed on the canoe, in which the three men had embarked, and it was
in his mind that when they regained the schooner there would be a
decided change in the position of affairs.

And in this he was not mistaken; within half an hour the boats
belonging to the schooner, and the canoes of the Indians, were
engaged in transporting the men to the shore of Mount Desert, half a
mile or more north of the stockade.

"There's one satisfaction to be had in arousing the Frenchman's
temper," Mark said, grimly, when the work of disembarkation was well
under way. "We won't need to expect a night attack, and hang around
in suspense waiting for it, because the assault is to be begun some
time before sunset. We had best get out our supply of ammunition,
and warn the others that they will soon be needed."

It was Susan who went to summon her mother and aunt, and when she
returned, carrying a heavy burden of powder and bullets, it was to
report:

"The children are to be kept in the house, under charge of Ellen.
The others will be here in a minute or two."

"They can't come any too soon," Luke said, nervously. "The Frenchmen
are already marching along the shore, with the Abenakis trailing on
behind."

Susan was at her post of duty in a twinkling, and, looking out
through the rough loopholes, she saw no less than twenty white men,
ten of whom were armed with muskets, and the others carrying pikes,
the head of which glittered in the sun, marching in soldierly array
down the beach. In their rear slouched nine Indians, and it was safe
to assume that the remainder of the red-skinned party had been
disabled during the first assault.

It was a positive relief to Mark when he saw that the enemy was
intending to march directly upon the stockade, most likely counting
on carrying the place by the first assault. If the force had been
divided, so that a portion might attack from the rear at the same
time the others were in front, the task of holding them in check
would have been well-nigh hopeless.

Even as it was, with everything in the children's favor, it did not
seem possible they could defend themselves against such a force; but
Mark said, as if believing the chances for success were very good:

"Remember that we can't afford to waste any bullets. If each of us
could hit the target three times in succession, I warrant you those
valiant Frenchmen would be eager to gain the shelter of their
vessel. Both of you can strike four squirrels out of five at fifty
paces, and surely you should be able to do as well when the mark is
so much larger and moving slowly. Don't shoot until you are certain
of hitting your man, and we'll soon see those fellow's backs."

Mistress Pemberton and Mistress Harding had come to do their share
in the one-sided battle. Both the women looked pale and distressed,
as was but natural under the desperate circumstances; but a single
glance at their faces would have told that they believed the only
course to be a stout resistance, even though it should cost the
lives of all.

At the shore, directly in front of the stockade, the Indians forced
a halt of the white men, by seemingly insisting that some other
method of procedure be adopted, and during two or three minutes it
appeared as if they would carry their point.

Mark drew a long breath of relief, however, when the officer who had
demanded the surrender pushed his way past the savages with a
threatening gesture, as he ordered the men forward again.

"They are coming straight on in a body," he said, in a low tone.
"When you are certain of hitting the mark, shoot, and have the
second musket where it can be got at quickly. If we could get in six
fair shots at the start, it would be a big advantage."

Each of the children on the platforms had two muskets loaded, and
the women stood ready to take every weapon as soon as it was empty.
The ammunition, divided into three portions, was near the
sharpshooters, and nothing remained to be done save take part in the
life or death struggle so near at hand.

Steadily the French marched toward the stockade, evidently intending
to begin the attack near the gate, and it was Susan who fired the
first shot.

As the report of her musket rang out, one of the foremost men
plunged forward to the ground, and five seconds later Mark brought
another of the enemy down.

Luke fired, but failed of doing execution. He seized the second
musket hurriedly, however, and crippled his foe, thus doing half as
much as Mark had required.

"Three down in four shots isn't so bad!" the leader cried,
encouragingly, and the words were hardly more than spoken before
both he and Susan fired the second time, each of the bullets finding
its billet.

Now it was that the Frenchmen halted without the word of command,
and opened fire.

During three or four minutes it was as if a perfect hail-storm of
lead raged around the stockade, but the stout logs afforded good
protection. Never a missile found its way inside, and the spirits of
the besieged rose rapidly.

Acting under Mark's orders, neither Susan nor Luke had attempted to
make reply to the furious shooting, lest a bullet accidentally come
through one of the loopholes, and when, because their weapons were
empty, the soldiers ceased the aimless firing, the children's
muskets had been recharged.

"If we can do as well as we did before, those fellows will soon show
their backs!" Mark cried, cheerily, himself setting the example by
wounding the officer.

Now the bullets came thick and fast during a full minute, and then
the foremost of the assailants began to fall back, carrying the
officer with them, and an instant later the entire party was in full
and disorderly retreat.

Three children had actually beaten back twenty white men and nine
Indians, without having received a scratch!

Not until the faint-hearted men were at the water's edge, beyond
range of those in the stockade, was a halt made, and then it
appeared as if they were holding a council of war.

[Illustration: An instant later the entire party was in retreat.]

The officer was laid in one of the boats, and the soldiers gathered
around him, the able-bodied gesticulating furiously, and the wounded
seated on the sand attending to their injuries. None had been killed
outright, but the majority of those who had been hit would not be
likely to take part in another attack, unless it was delayed for a
considerable time.

It seemed as if the white men gave but little attention to what the
Indians said during this council, for the savages were shouldered
aside with scant ceremony, and after a few moments all the Abenakis,
for none had been wounded, stalked gravely southward, where they
were soon lost to view amid the bushes.

"We're going to have trouble from those fellows, and it won't be
long coming," Mark said, as he leaped down from the platform, and
ran toward that portion of the stockade immediately in the rear of
the dwellings. "Keep a sharp watch over the Frenchmen, and let me
know what they are doing!"

Then he began putting up a platform at that point where he could
overlook the thicket, which last had been allowed to grow
dangerously near the buildings, and had hardly mounted for the
purpose of making a hasty survey, when a bullet imbedded itself in
one of the posts against which he leaned.

"What is the matter?" Susan cried.

"The Abenakis have sneaked around here, where they can shoot while
remaining under cover. Let mother come to load my muskets!"

The report of Mark's weapon followed the words, and from the thicket
two or three muskets were discharged, thus showing that the entire
force of Indians was lurking amid the underbrush.

Susan came running toward her cousin, carrying a weapon in each
hand, and the latter asked, sharply:

"Why have you left your post? The Abenakis won't kick up much of a
row until after dark."

"There is nothing to be done at the other side," Susan replied, as
she set about dragging two or three lobster-pots toward the
palisade. "The Frenchmen are paddling back to the schooner, not
leaving one behind, and Luke is watching to see when they leave the
vessel again."

Another bullet from the Thicket whistled uncomfortably near Mark's
head, and he understood that the most dangerous portion of the
attack was now to be met, for it was impossible to see a single foe.
The swaying of the branches or the tiny curls of smoke, were the
only tokens of an enemy, save when a weapon was discharged.

"Keep down under cover!" Mark cried, when Susan would have mounted
the collection of lobster-pots. "They are shooting close, and if you
should be disabled we would be in even worse trouble than we are
now."

"But you are showing them a target."

"Some one must be here to hold them back."

"Then I have the same right as you," and the courageous girl
clambered up on the shaky platform until it was possible for her to
look over the palisade.

It was a most dangerous position, and, fearing lest she should be
killed, Mark left his station to chop away the ends of the posts to
make loopholes.

"Now you can have a view of the woods without showing yourself," he
said, and would have gone back to his previous position, exposed
though it was, but that she stopped him by asking:

"Will you do the same at your end of the fence as you have here?"

"There isn't so much need for me to keep under cover."

"There is ten times more reason why you should be careful than for
me to skulk behind the posts. Unless you hew the timbers at your
station as you have these, I shall change places with you."

Mistress Pemberton added her commands to Susan's entreaties, with
the result that Mark was forced to protect himself so far as
possible, but while he chopped at the  posts half a dozen bullets
struck close around the axe, showing that the Indians were on the
alert.

When half an hour had passed neither Mark nor Susan had seen one of
their enemies. Several times they fired at the places where the
branches were waving as if some person was walking beneath them; but
no cry of pain was heard to tell that the bullet had taken effect.

During this time Luke had reported more than once that the Frenchmen
yet remained on board their vessel, and when the sun was sinking
behind the hills Mark said to his cousin:

"We're wasting too much powder and lead, Sue. I don't believe one of
our bullets has gone home, and we have sent far too many at random.
The Frenchmen are not beaten yet, and we must have plenty of
ammunition when they come again."

"What, then, are we to do?"

"I will stay here, keeping guard lest the Abenakis attempt to scale
the fence. You and our mothers shall attend to the household duties,
holding yourselves in readiness to come whenever I shout."

"But there is nothing for me to do in the house."

"Then take advantage of the opportunity to get a  little rest, for
it is certain that we shall have our hands full during all this
night. Get supper, if nothing more, and then bring me something to
drink."

"I'll do that first, and then look after myself," Susan said, as she
went toward the house, and a moment later Mark heard from her a cry
of distress.

"What's the matter?" he shouted, wildly, fearing, for the instant,
that some of the savages had gained entrance to the dwelling despite
his careful watch.

"The water! The water!" Susan cried, mournfully, and then came a hum
of voices raised high in excitement and fear, amid which the
sentinel could distinguish no words.

"Come here, Susan!" Mark shouted, peremptorily, and as the girl
appeared he demanded, "Now tell me what has gone wrong?"

"The children have spilled all the water we took into the house, and
there's not a drop to be had!"

"But they couldn't have carried the spring away," Mark replied, with
a laugh, able to make merry even amid the terrible surroundings, so
great was his relief at learning that nothing more serious had
caused the cry which startled him.

"The sheep have gathered there, until the entire place is a mass of
filthy mud."

"Well, well, don't let that distress you so sorely. We'll soon be
able to clear it out, for I reckon these beggarly Abenakis won't
keep me busy more than twelve hours."

"But if the Frenchmen should come in the meantime?"

"We'll take our chances of that, and get along without water a
little while."



CHAPTER V.

FIRE


Mark was disposed to make light of that which distressed Susan, and
thus did he make his first mistake in the defence.

To his mind there was nothing very serious in the loss of the water
which had been carried into the dwelling, because the spring was
within the stockade, and however much mischief the sheep had done,
it would be the work of but few moments to put everything in proper
order once more.

The chief thought in his mind was regarding the possible trouble
which the Abenakis might make while hidden in the thicket back of
the palisade, and, after this, the fear that the ablest of his
assistants might become disabled because of her wound, which had not
received the attention such an injury required.

Therefore it was he said to Susan speaking almost sharply to the end
that she might feel forced to obey without argument:

"The first thing for you to look after is that wound. Have your
mother dress it once more while you can be spared from the
palisade." Then, seeing that she hesitated, he added, "It is
necessary for the safety of all that you look after yourself,
because if you were disabled, we would be in most serious plight,
you being the best marksman among us."

Susan hesitated no longer; but went toward the house, even though
she did not believe it necessary to give very much attention to her
arm, which was not so badly injured but that she could use it with
comparative ease.

When she had disappeared within the dwelling, Mark, watching through
the loophole for a target, cried to his brother:

"How is everything over your way, Luke?"

"There has been no change. The Frenchmen are sticking close to their
vessel."

"I reckon it would be safe for you to come here a few minutes. I'll
send Mary to take your place."

The lad obeyed promptly, and, after cautioning him not to expose
himself to the aim of the enemy, although it was essential he keep
close lookout over the thicket, Mark went toward the spring.

The damage done by the sheep was greater than he had supposed. The
earth in the immediate vicinity had been ploughed up by the feet of
the animals until the spring was nearly choked, and Mark realized
that a full hour's work would be required to repair the mischief.

"We can't spend much time at it while the Abenakis are in the
woods," he said to himself. "Later in the might, perhaps, I shall
have a chance to do the job."

Then he went to where Mary was taking Luke's place as sentinel near
the gate, instructing her to raise an alarm immediately she saw any
movement on the part of the Frenchmen.

"Keep your eyes open wide," he said, "and, while watching the
schooner, give some attention to what may be going on close at hand.
I don't believe the Indians will come out of the thicket to show
themselves where no shelter can be found. But, at the same time, it
is possible. Remember that all our lives might pay the forfeit of
your carelessness."

"You can trust me as you do Susan, although I can't shoot so well;
but my eyes are as good as hers."

"True for you, sister mine, and between now and morning I'm counting
on your doing a full share of standing guard."

Then Mark ascended the platform for one look at the vessel, which
remained at her moorings with but few men showing on deck, after
which he went into the dwelling, where his mother was preparing
supper.

Susan's arm was being rebandaged, after having been bound up with
simples which had been gathered in the woods against just such an
emergency, and the smaller children were huddled in one corner like
frightened sheep.

"I have left Luke in my place," the lad said, in reply to his
mother's question. "The Abenakis are taking good care to keep out of
sight, and it is only a waste of ammunition to fire at a waving bush
or curl of smoke. I'll get something to eat, now that I'm here, and
then go on duty again."

Susan declared she would stand watch near the gate, in order that
Mary might take care of the children, and to that end ate supper
with Mark, after which the two went out to their weary, dangerous
vigil once more, with the disheartening knowledge that there was no
probability of receiving aid from any quarter.

[Illustration: Susan's arm was being rebandaged.]

"We won't talk about it, Sue," Mark said, when his cousin bewailed
the fact that even though a fishing-vessel should pass near at hand,
her crew would not come ashore when it was seen that the _Future
Hopes_ had left her anchorage. "We can't afford to look on the dark
side of affairs, lest we grow faint-hearted, for you know that, once
our courage is gone, we are the same as beaten."

Susan did not reply, as she might have done with truth, that they
were then very nearly in that deplorable condition; but shut her
teeth tightly as if to prevent the escape of a single word, while
she walked rapidly toward the gate to take her station as sentinel.

Mary begged to stand guard an hour or two longer; but Susan insisted
that she was needed in the house, and reluctantly the girl descended
from the platform.

Then Mark relieved Luke from duty, instructing him to first get his
supper, and then, if the Indians remained inactive, to set about
cleaning out the spring.

By this time the night had fully come, and Mark noted with
apprehension that clouds were gathering in the sky. While the moon
shone brightly it was as easy to guard against surprise as at
noonday; but once that light was obscured, the enemy might creep up
at a dozen places on the palisade without being detected.

"Two hours of blackness, and we are done for," Mark said to himself,
with a sigh, and then, remembering what he had told Susan, he added,
"We've got to take whatever comes, and the only manly way is to make
the best of it. In case it is very dark to-night, Mary and Ellen
must both stand watch with the rest of us."

The report of a musket interrupted his train of gloomy thoughts, and
involuntarily he ducked his head when a bullet came singing over the
fence so near that he felt the "wind" of it.

"You can't tempt me to shoot till I see something to fire at," he
said, grimly, watching through the loophole at the underbrush which
was merged by the shadows into one single mass of gloom, amid which
not even a movement among the branches could be distinguished.

Two more shots, which caused him to wonder why the Abenakis were
growing so active, and then he caught a glimpse of a faint spark in
the thicket, which at first sight appeared to him like the glow from
an Indian's pipe.

He had raised his musket, intending to fire at the bright spot, when
it suddenly increased in size, and, while he stood speculating as to
what it could be, a long tongue of flame leaped upward from branch
to branch.

No need for speculation now, nor was it well that he stand very much
longer on guard, for the terrible truth was all to plain.

The Abenakis had fired the woods, counting on burning the palisade,
and thus giving them free entrance for the bloody business upon
which they had come.

His first thought was to run for water, and then, even before he
could make a movement toward the spring, came the realization that
it was impossible to effect anything by such a course.

He would not be able to throw water upon the fire in the thicket,
even though he exposed himself to full view over the top of the
palisade, and this was probably exactly what the Indians hoped he
might do.

"It begins to look as if we had about come to an end of the defence,
and that nothing remains but to sell our lives as dearly as
possible," he said, gloomily, to himself. "Everything around here is
as dry as it well can be, and once the fire gains headway, even the
houses must go."

Mark descended doggedly from the platform, and as he did so Susan
cried, from her post of duty near the gate:

"What is on fire?"

"The Abenakis have started a blaze in the woods."

"Will the fence burn, think you?"

"Ay, when the fire is well under way."

"Can't we do anything toward putting out the blaze?"

"Nothing, unless we want the Indians to shoot us down before we can
fire a shot."

"Then what is to be done?" and in her distress Susan leaped down
from the platform to approach her cousin.

"Better stay where you are!" the lad cried, warningly. "I don't
suppose it will make any great difference to us, and yet we should
know if the Frenchmen come ashore after seeing the fire."

The girl returned immediately to her station, and even though he was
at a considerable distance from her, Mark could hear the choking sob
which escaped her lips.

"Keep up a stout heart, Sue; we can make a last stand inside the
house."

"Ay, Mark; but it will be the last!"

The lad made no reply; he stood at some distance from the palisade
as if trying to decide upon a course of action, and while he thus
remained irresolute his mother came from the house.

There was no need that she ask for information; the blaze was so
bright by this time that it must have been seen by those on the
vessel, and Mistress Pemberton inquired in a low tone, but with no
tremor in her voice:

"Are the logs dry?"

"Ay, mother; but it will be some time before the flames can eat in
very deeply. We've got fifteen or twenty minutes yet."

"What is to be done?"

"We'll take refuge in the house, and shoot down as many as possible
before the fire drives us out."

"If there is nothing more before us, why not come inside now? The
Indians can climb up on the posts on either side and shoot you down
while you stand here in the light."

"The Frenchmen are coming ashore!" Susan cried. "One boat-load has
pushed off already!"

"We are going into the house," Mark said, hesitatingly, as if, even
now, when prudence demanded that they should seek shelter as soon as
possible, he was questioning whether he might effect something by
remaining in the open.

"But if we don't stand guard the Indians will soon be over the
fence," the girl cried, nervously.

"Ay, and if you stand there in the glow of the fire they can creep
up under cover of the shadows to one side or the other, and shoot
you down. We've done all we can here, Sue, and the remainder of our
fight must be made from the house."

The report of a musket from the southern side of the stockade, and
the humming of a bullet close beside Susan's head, gave emphasis to
the lad's words, causing the sentinel to obey without further parley.

Once inside the dwelling, with the door strongly barred, the older
members of the little party strove to appear unconcerned, each
hoping to cheer the other, and at no time since the island was
besieged did they display more courage than now, when there seemed
no ray of hope remaining.

Through the crevices of the logs and the window-shutters could be
seen the glow of the flames, which were increasing each instant,
fanned as they were by short, furious gusts of wind which came from
the gathering clouds.

"We must get under the roof, where I made the loopholes," Mark said
to Susan and Luke. "There's no question but that the Indians will
make a try at coming over the stockade before the fire has destroyed
it, else they have changed their natures completely, and we won't
give them full swing, even though we are cooped up here like rats in
a trap."

"The boys want water," Ellen, who had been attending to the younger
children, said, at this moment, and the elders of the party looked
at each other in dismay.

The new danger which confronted them had driven, for the time being,
everything else from their minds; but now all realized that, even
though they might not be permitted to remain long in that frail
refuge, they would suffer severely from thirst before the end came.

"Get into the loft, one on each side, and shoot with good aim if you
see a painted face over the fence!" Mark cried, as he took up one of
the buckets and went swiftly toward the door.

"You must not go out!" his mother said, as she barred the way. "It
is certain by this time that the Abenakis are where they can have a
view of the enclosure, and you will be shot down. Better that the
children should suffer from thirst."

"We will all soon be needing something to drink, for it's bound to
be hot inside here when the palisade catches fire. One bucketful of
water will save us a good deal of suffering, and I'm bound to take
the chances."

Then, before his mother could prevent him, Mark opened the door,
running at full speed to the spring, which was not more than twenty
feet distant.

That the Abenakis were on the alert could be told when half a dozen
shots were fired in rapid succession; but, fortunately for the
defenders of the island, not a bullet took effect, owing to Mark's
rapid movements.

To those who were watching him in agonizing suspense from the house,
it seemed as if the lad no more than wheeled about when he gained
the spring, and then came toward the building in a zigzag course,
well calculated to confuse the most skilful marksman.

[Illustration: He reëntered the house with a bucket two-thirds full
of muddy water.]

He reëntered the house with a bucket two-thirds full of muddy water,
and, while barring the door, once more said, in a tone of triumph:

"I reckoned it might be done if a fellow used his legs well. That
stuff doesn't look fit to drink; but after the mud has settled a bit
it will be better than nothing. I am to blame for not cleaning the
spring out when I first knew that the children had wasted the
supply."

"You have nothing with which to reproach yourself, Mark," his aunt
said as she laid her hand affectionately on his shoulder. "You have
taken the place of both your father and uncle, and there is not a
man grown who could have done more, or better, work."

The lad's face flushed with pleasure at this praise, but he affected
to give no heed to the words as he clambered into the loft, musket
in hand, calling out when he was on the timbers above:

"Give us the ammunition up here, and we'll load our own guns until
the enemy comes too fast."

Mistress Pemberton handed him only a portion of the powder and
bullets, after which she stood on the top of a table ready to take
the empty weapons when the sharpshooters required her services.

Mark was the first to discharge his musket, and a cry of pain
followed the report, telling that the ammunition had not been wasted.

"What did you see?" his mother asked, anxiously.

"An Indian's head over the top of the fence near the gate. There's
one villain the less to trouble us!"

At this moment Susan and Luke both fired, the reports coming so near
together as to sound like one, and the girl cried, triumphantly:

"I've hit another! What did you do, Luke?"

"I don't know; he went backward at the flash, like a loon; but it
seems as if I must have struck him, for I had a fair aim."

Mistress Pemberton now had work to perform, for those in the loft
soon learned that it would be impossible to recharge the weapons and
at the same time keep close watch on what might be happening outside.

Seven shots had been fired from the dwelling, three of which were
known to have found their targets, when a heavy pounding at the gate
told of additional danger.

"What is it?" Mistress Harding cried, and Mark replied, quietly, as
if it was of no especial consequence:

"The Frenchmen have come, and are battering down the gate."

"How long will it take them to do it?" Susan asked, her voice
quivering despite all efforts to render it steady.

"It will be a good half-hour's job, with what timber they can pick
up near at hand. If they should cut down a stout tree, the work
might be done in half that time. Keep your eyes on the top of the
fence, for if one fellow gets inside he might succeed in pulling out
the bars before we could stop him."

Twice more the children fired, and then it was as if the Abenakis
had tired of a game at which they were rapidly being worsted without
an opportunity to inflict any injury.

"They've made up their minds to wait till the gate is down," Mark
said, grimly. "We must have all the muskets ready when the rush
comes, and shoot with good aim, for it will be our last fair chance."

All this while the flames had been increasing in volume, and the
heat inside the dwelling, filled with the smoke of burning powder as
it was, seemed stifling.

The younger children had drank of the muddy water eagerly, giving no
heed to its disagreeable appearance, and the older members of the
little company were already suffering with thirst; but never one of
them ventured to claim a portion of the scanty supply.

"The fence is on fire," Mark said as he left his station at the
front of the loft to survey the scene in the rear. "The wind is
getting up in great shape, and coming from the east, otherwise these
housed would be on fire by this time."

"There goes the upper part of the gate!" Luke cried. "Two or three
more fair blows, and the whole will be down!"

Mark came back to where he could overlook the scene of what he
believed would be the final struggle, and the three children
crouched, muskets in hand, ready to empty the six weapons before the
enemy could approach the house sufficiently near to find shelter
under its walls.

The two women were standing on a table, where they could reach the
weapons when they were empty. In one corner of the room, seated on a
bed which was laid on the floor behind the barricade of the door,
were the other children, some crying for water, and others weeping
with fear.

The powder smoke hung heavily in the small apartment, which was
illumined by the glow of the flames, now not more than thirty feet
distant, and the heat was almost overpowering.

The bucket in which Mark had brought the muddy water from the
spring, was empty, and the throats of the three children in the loft
were literally parched with a thirst that could not be allayed.

They were beset by danger on every hand, and the supreme moment
seemed very near, for once the gate was demolished, however
desperately they might fight, the end was come.

"We are not to leave here alive," Susan whispered softly in Mark's
ear, and he replied, pressing her hand:

"That part of it sha'n't be forgotten, Sue dear."

A cry from Luke; the crashing and splintering of wood; a shock which
could be felt by the refugees as the heavy timbers fell inward, and
the passage was open to the foe.

"Take good aim!" Mark shouted. "Shoot at the foremost, and work
quickly!"

While one might have counted ten the enemy hung back as if fearing
that a party of women and children might have planned an ambush, and
then with a yell of triumph, the opening in the palisade was filled
with armed men.

The defenders in the loft fired at almost the same instant; then,
delaying only sufficiently long to fling back the empty weapons and
take up those that were loaded, three more reports rang out.

The Frenchmen halted irresolutely for an instant, as four of their
number fell to the ground, and had the children been able to fire
one more volley immediately, it is quite certain the entire party
would have beaten a retreat even at the moment of victory.

As the men, recovering courage, dashed forward, a heavy peal of
thunder seemed to shake the very earth, and on the moment rain fell
in torrents, coming as suddenly and in such volume as if having been
poured from some immense reservoir.

The enemy recoiled as if confronted by an overwhelming force, and as
they wavered the children in the loft discharged three muskets, each
bullet seemingly taking effect.

Then, suddenly, it was as if a black mantel had been dropped over
the terrible scene. A certain portion of the enormous downpour of
water was converted into clouds of steam by the flames, which were
literally beaten down, and those who had struggled so bravely to
defend the island could distinguish nothing.

[Illustration: Again the crash of thunder drowned all sounds.]

"What is the matter?" Ellen cried in alarm at thus being suddenly
plunged into profound darkness, and the younger children screamed
with terror.

A deafening peal of thunder seemingly came in answer to the question
followed a second later by a vivid, blinding flash of lightning
which illumined the interior of the loft through the few crevices
between the logs, until the defenders could see each other's faces
gleaming ghastly pale.

The water trickling through the roof restored them to their senses
somewhat, and Mark said, speaking as if with an effort:

"The storm has been gathering since afternoon. Now, while we are
cooped up here in the darkness, the enemy can work his will!"

Again the crashing of thunder drowned all other sounds; once more
the jagged rifts of unearthly fire, breaking though the clouds,
illumined the scene, and Susan cried, as if unable to believe her
own statement:

"The men are running away! They are running away!"

Mark and Luke sprang to her side, waiting for another flash of
lightning, and when it came, preceded by crashing thunder which
caused the house of logs to tremble, the enclosure was deserted.

"It's true that some of them have gone; perhaps all," Mark
announced; "but the whole crew will come back when the storm is
over, and there will be nothing save our muskets to prevent them
from marching in at their pleasure."

"Let us give thanks for the mercies which have already been bestowed
upon us," Mistress Pemberton said, devoutly. "The fire is
extinguished, and we need no longer fear being burned to death."

"That might not be the worst that will befall us," Mark thought,
recalling to mind the fate of those settlers of Maine who had been
put to death by torture.

Because of the fury of the tempest, it seemed as if its force must
be quickly spent, and the besieged waited in painful suspense,
fearing that the downpour of water would speedily cease; but the
moments went by amid the flashing of lightning and crashing of
thunder, without any abatement of the tempest, save as the wind
lulled for a few seconds to come in yet more spiteful gusts.

When half an hour had passed, Mistress Pemberton insisted that the
three children should come down from the loft in order that they
might all be together during this respite from the cruel foe, and
when they were in the room below, freed from the fear of immediate
death, thanks were given to Him who "ruleth the tempest" for this
new lease of life, brief though it might prove to be.



CHAPTER VI.

THE WRECK


Hope once more sprang up in the hearts of those who had been so
sorely tried, when the storm continued with greal fury. The
electrical portion of the tempest appeared to have passed away,
leaving the raging wind and pelting rain to guard the settlers who
of a verity had descended into the very valley of the shadow of
death.

When it was understood that that which was at first supposed to be a
summer gale had developed into a furious northeast storm, giving no
token of subsiding, Mark said as he rose to his feet:

"When the rain first came it seemed as if my throat was parched dry
with thirst, and now that water is to be had in abundance, all hands
of us appear to have forgotten that we wanted a drink."

"We might catch some of the water that is finding its way through
the roof," Mistress Pemberton said as if such a possibility had
never occurred to her before.

"We can do better than that, mother dear. I'll go to the spring for
a full bucket, and when it has been strained we shall have what will
be an improvement on rainwater."

"But possibly some of the enemy may be lurking outside," Mistress
Harding said, becoming timorous once more, now that the imminent
danger had passed.

"Whoever has been out in the storm all this while will be harmless,
aunt, for his musket would be filled with something other than
powder," Mark replied with a laugh, and then he unbarred the door,
surprised to find that it was only with difficulty he could make
headway against the furious blasts.

So powerful was the wind that it became necessary for Susan and Luke
to unite their strength in order to close the door while Mark was
absent, and when he returned with a brimming bucket of discolored
water, the three had no little difficulty in putting the bars into
place again.

"It is the fiercest storm I ever saw!" Mark exclaimed as he dashed
the rain-drops from his face. "We'll pray that the _Future Hopes_ is
in a snug harbor, otherwise she will have to scud, for I don't
believe they could heave her to."

"Do you think there is any probability your father and uncle may be
out in this tempest?" Mistress Pemberton asked, more anxious now for
the safety of the absent ones then she previously had been
concerning herself.

"They are too good sailors, mother dear, to take many chances, and
we had fair warning of this storm. If we hadn't been in such sore
straits, there's no question but that we would have been prepared
for it. I noticed the clouds gathering, but at the time thought only
that it would be our misfortune, since we could not keep watch of
the Indians. Close-reefed, and with plenty of sea-room, the _Future
Hopes_ will ride out this gale without doing more harm to herself
than the straining of a seam, perhaps."

"The Frenchmen could not have had time to get their vessel under
way," Mistress Pemberton said as if thinking aloud, and Mark sprang
to his feet in excitement.

"Of course they couldn't, and it is well for them if they didn't
succeed in getting on board, for the craft never had been built that
can ride at anchor to the eastward of the brook while the wind is so
heavy. It would have been impossible to get under way, for she'd be
on the rocks before her nose could be brought around into the wind!"

"Do you suppose they are yet on the island?"

"I think, unless all hands are good sailors, that they'd try to get
on board, and that could have been done because the sea wouldn't
grow heavy in an instant."

Further speculation as to the fate of their foes was checked very
suddenly by what sounded like the groaning of a human being in
deepest distress, coming from one corner of the room in which they
were seated.

Instinctively the inmates of the dwelling clutched each other, for
it was impossible to see anything in that profound darkness, and
during many seconds no one spoke.

Then the dismal sound could be heard once more, and Mark, forcing
himself to beat down the fear which assailed him, said, with an
effort:

"Can you find one of the candles, mother? Some one here must be
dying. Where are the children?"

"Johnny and Jimmie are with me," Ellen said, and Mary added:

"I'm here with Luke."

"No one could have got inside without our knowing it," Mistress
Pemberton said, as she groped around for the scanty store of
candles, which were reserved for use on especial occasions.

Mark did not reply until his mother succeeded, after many fruitless
efforts, in striking a spark from the steel and flint on the tinder,
and as the feeble flame of the candle flickered and flared in the
wind which made its way through the crevices, the lad began to tear
away the barricade of household goods which had been thrown up to
screen the window.

"It is useless to search there," Mistress Pemberton said, quickly,
as if a sudden thought had come to her. "One of those whom you
wounded is lying outside, and we hear his moans because he is close
beside the building."

Mark was at the door in an instant, forgetting that he was hastening
to the succor of one who, a short hour previous, was bent on killing
him, and Susan seized the lad by the arm, as she said in a tone of
caution:

"It may be some trick to get you outside. Be careful what you do; we
have heard that the Indians often make use of such means to get a
victim in their clutches."

"I'll warrant there is no Indian living who could stay out in this
storm an hour or more, and then be able to do very much mischief,"
Mark replied as he unfastened the bar, waiting only long enough for
Luke and Susan to get hold of the door, lest it should be torn from
its hinges by the wind, before he darted out into the blackness.

A moment later it was possible to hear his voice, as if he spoke to
someone, and then all was still, save for the raging of the tempest,
until he cried from the outside:

"Open the door, youngsters. I've got a Frenchman here, who must be
very near death!"

Then, as Luke and Susan gave him admittance, he came staggering into
the room with an apparently lifeless body in his arms, while
Mistress Pemberton shielded the candle as best she might, lest the
wind extinguish the feeble flame.

Mark laid his burden on the bed, heeding not the fact that the water
was running from every angle of the stranger's garments.

Like Mark, the two women forgot that a bitter enemy was before them;
but with gentle care set about ministering to his wants, if, indeed
he would have any more in this world.

Now all the occupants of the dwelling were too much engrossed with
the work of saving the life which had so nearly been taken by one of
their number to be able to tell whether the storm was yet raging, or
if the morning had come.

In a very short time it was learned that the man lived, although how
he survived after being exposed to the fury of the tempest so long,
could not be understood. He had an ugly-looking wound in the thigh,
and another in the left breast; but Mistress Pemberton gave it as
her opinion that he was not mortally hurt.

"With good nursing, I doubt not but that he will live," she said, as
she dressed the wounds to the best of her ability. "But if he does,
what shall we do with him?"

"There is no need to answer that question now, mother dear," Mark
said, gently. "We'll try to pull him through, even if we have
already done our best to kill him, and then he'll know what it is to
have coals of fire heaped on his head; that is," he added, after a
brief pause, "if his comrades allow us to live long enough to do the
job."

A fire was built, tea of herbs made and administered to the
sufferer, and before morning came it was possible for him to speak.

He was sufficiently acquainted with the English language to make
them understand him, and his first words were expressive of surprise.

"Save when you attack us without cause, we have no desire for your
death," Mistress Pemberton replied. "Now you are no longer a
soldier, striving to do us grievous injury, but a suffering fellow
creature, and so long as it is in our power we will do whatsoever we
may toward giving you aid."

The wounded man turned his face away, as if ashamed to look the good
woman in the face, and after a time Mark questioned him as to how
the chanced to be so near the house.

From his story, told little by little because of the difficulty
experienced in talking, the facts were soon known.

He had been among the first to burst through the gate, and was not
wounded until when the last shot was fired. Then instinct prompted
him to gain a shelter under the wall of the building, where it would
not be possible for those on the inside to see him, immediately
after which he lost consciousness. During a long while he remained
as if dead, and it is probable that the deluge of rain served to
revive him after a time; but he was ignorant of having made any
outcry. He remembered of realizing that he was alone, exposed to
the storm, and the next knowledge was that the women were striving
to nurse him back to life.

[Illustration: The next knowledge was that the women were trying to
nurse him back to life.]

It was morning before the inmates of the dwelling gave much heed to
anything save the wounded soldier, and then Mark, after cautioning
the remainder of the family to stay inside the dwelling unless they
heard his cry for help, ventured out into the tempest, which
continued with but little decrease of violence.

The sun had not yet risen, and it the gray light of early dawn it
was not possible to distinguish objects at any great distance. He
had, in the immediate vicinity of the stockade, however, good proof
of the violence with which the storm raged.

A portion of the palisade itself had been overthrown, leaving an
opening through which the entire force of the enemy might have
marched shoulder to shoulder. Trees were uprooted; the small boat,
which had been drawn beyond reach of the tide, was now within ten
feet of the battered gate, having been carried there by the wind.

That the buildings within the stockade remained un-injured was due,
doubtless, to the thicket in the rear which served to shield them
from the full fury of the elements.

Turn where he might, the same scene of devastation met his gaze, and
he understood that if any of the Frenchmen remained on the island
they would be powerless to depart, for their vessel could not have
outlived the night.

The wind was yet so violent that only with difficulty could he make
his way from one point to another, and the rain beat upon his face
until it became necessary to shield his eyes in order to see
anything twenty paces distant; but he struggled against the
elements, making his way along the shore toward the place where the
Frenchmen's schooner had been moored.

The vessel no longer remained at her anchorage, nor did he expect to
see her there; but he was not quite prepared for that which met his
gaze when he was where a view of the most northerly point of the
harbor island could be had.

Between where he stood and the opposite shore was the hull of the
schooner, keel uppermost, tossing on the short waves, now completely
submerged, and again rising high in the air until the greater
portion of the planking could be seen. Clinging to this restless
wreck were six or eight human beings, and on the beach at his feet
lay the bodies of two men who had been beaten down to death during
the conflict of the elements.

After watching for several moments the plunging, rolling remnant of
what had been a seagoing vessel, fitted to withstand almost any
buffeting of wave or wind, Mark became convinced that the wreck was
moored in some fashion, and then it was possible to guess very
nearly how the disaster had occurred.

It seemed probable that when the first of the Frenchmen gained the
schooner's deck, after the fury of the tempest had forced them to
retreat from the stockade, the wild tossing of the craft as the
waves were beginning to rise induced them to let go every anchor on
board, under the belief that she could be held at moorings until the
storm had subsided sufficiently to admit of her clawing away from
the shore.

[Illustration: He gazed at the struggling wretches on the bottom of
the wreck.]

When the tempest was at its height, and after the attacking party
had succeeded in getting on board, the little craft must have been
literally blown down, until the water, rushing into the open
hatches, had caused her to completely upset.

The wounded, and all others who were in the cabin, must have been
drowned offhand, and that some of those who tried to save themselves
by clinging to the hulk had suffered a like fate could be told by
the lifeless bodies at Mark's feet.

Aid had come to the defenders of the island on the wings of the
tempest; and at the very time when it seemed as if all hope of
succor was vain, the enemy had been overcome by "Him who holdeth the
waters in the hollow of His hand."

As he gazed at the struggling wretches on the bottom of the wreck,
some of whom waved their hands feebly, as if nearly exhausted and
imploring him to help them, Mark forgot that but a few hours
previous these same men had been thirsting for his blood, and
thought only that they were in sore need of his assistance.

He ran with all speed to the stockade, shouting as he approached,
and when the women and children hastened outside, believing him to
be in distress, he hurriedly told of what he had seen.

"Of all those who made the attack, I am satisfied that only the men
on the hulk remain alive. It is for us to help them if we can. There
should be enough of us here to drag our boat to the water, and Luke
and I will see what can be done in the way of life-saving."

Sorely beset though they had been, no one thought at that moment of
the suffering which had been endured because of these men who were
now so near death; but all, even the youngest children, laid hold of
the boat to launch her.

It was no slight task to drag the craft, small though she was, over
the sand to the water's edge; but the task was finally accomplished,
and then many moments were spent trying to find the oars, which had
been blown out of the boat during such time as the tempest forced
her upon the shore.

A full half-hour must have elapsed from the moment Mark discovered
the wreck until he and his brother were ready to set off on their
mission of mercy, and then it was an open question as to whether
they would succeed in the battle against the boisterous waves.

The members of both families stood near the water's edge, regardless
of the furious storm which was raging, as they watched with anxious
eyes the efforts of the lads. They had set out to save lives; but
very many times did it seem as if their own must of a certainty be
sacrificed.

Fortunately they were partially sheltered from the wind by the
harbor island, otherwise the task could never have been
accomplished, and not until both the lads were well-nigh exhausted
did they arrive at the plunging hulk.

Now it was that the most dangerous portion of the work must be
performed. Only at imminent risk of swamping the small boat could
she be taken sufficiently near the wreck to permit of a rescue, and
then it was necessary to handle her with the utmost skill, otherwise
she would have been stove to kindling against the side of the hulk.

When the boat came close at hand, all the Frenchmen gathered at one
point, as if counting on leaping aboard at the same moment, and
Mark shouted, peremptorily:

"You'll swamp us if more than one comes at a time. Lay back there
you fellows who are the strongest, and help the weakest first!"

Then they quarreled among themselves, each insisting that he was in
the greatest need of help, and Mark, finally becoming impatient,
cried, sternly:

"If you can't come aboard like decent people, we'll leave the whole
boiling of you to get along as may be possible."

"There is not one of us who can cling to this wreck half an hour
longer," a man cried, piteously. "Already five have been washed away
and drowned."

"Two of you take hold and send aboard that fellow who is lying
across the keel. He seems to be in the worst shape. Stand back!"
the lad added, as four men made ready to seize the small boat at
the first opportunity. "If you come in other order than I give the
word, I'll leave all hands."

By dint of scolding, pulling the boat forward or back as the waves
threatened, and otherwise handling his small craft in a sailorly
fashion, Mark succeeded in getting four of the men aboard, leaving
three to be rescued later.

The boat would carry no more of a load than she then had, while the
storm was so furious, and the lads pulled shoreward, aided greatly,
when going in this direction, by the wind.

The members of both families gathered on the beach near about where
a landing would be made, and when the shipwrecked men had been set
ashore they were helped toward the stockade by the women and
children, for the Frenchmen were so nearly exhausted that it was
impossible to walk unaided.

Then Mark and Luke started on the second journey, battling quite as
desperately as before, and the day was fully half-spent when they
brought the last of the survivors ashore.

It was not until the seven Frenchmen were being cared for in the
apartment of the Pemberton house where the wounded soldier lay, that
the lad began to realize the possible danger. These eight men, after
having recovered, might easily take possession of the stockade, and
Mark was inclined to believe that people who were willing to make
war on women and children, could not be trusted to play a manly part
even toward those who had saved them from death.

"What shall we do with them all?" Susan asked, as she came out of
the house, which had much the appearance of a hospital, to where
Mark stood studying the matter seriously.

"It has just come into my mind that we might herd them in your
father's house. The greater portion of the things have been taken
from there, and we can arrange it to bar the doors and shutters on
the outside."

"Are you counting on holding them as prisoners?" Susan asked, in
surprise.

"That is the only way we may be certain of a crew like that. After
all that has happened, I wouldn't believe in any promises that might
be made, and they shall be guarded like so many wildcats."

"Every one of whom appears to be grateful."

"Ay, I suppose they are now, before having recovered; but it may be
a different matter, once they're in good shape."

"Do you believe there can be any on the harbor island?"

"I'm satisfied there are no others alive out of all the crew of
French and Indians. Luke and I counted on burying the bodies which
have been washed ashore, and while we are at that work you had
better gather up all the muskets and ammunition, hiding the lot in
the stable until we have the men secured."

Then, calling his brother, Mark set off toward the beach to perform
the last rites over those who had lost their lives while trying to
commit murder most foul, and, that having been done, the two lads
began transforming the Harding house into a prison, which last was
done by fastening all the shutters and one of the doors on the
outside. The other door was to be barred in such a manner that it
could be readily opened by those who were charged with the care of
the Frenchmen.

These tasks were not completed until nightfall, and then Mark told
the rescued party exactly what it was his purpose to do, explaining
that he was not ready to believe in any protestations they might
make.

"You must be held prisoners until our fathers return, and it is to
be remembered that if we find one of you attempting to leave the
building, which will be given over to your use, we shall shoot him
down without the slightest feeling of pity or remorse."

The men swore most solemnly that they would obey every command which
might be given by those who had saved them from death, and Mark,
armed with a loaded musket, lost no time in escorting them to the
Harding house.

It was his intention to have them closely guarded during every hour
of the day and night, and to such end Luke was stationed at the
front of the building, where, through a crevice which had been made
between the logs by Mark, he could keep his charges in view.

Mistress Pemberton would not consent to having the wounded man
removed with the others. He was given a bed in one corner of the
room, after the furniture piled up as a barricade had been put in
place, and Mary and Ellen were instructed to watch him, not with the
idea that he might try to escape, but because his condition was
such, owing to the wounds and subsequent exposure, that the most
careful nursing and attention was needed.

The storm subsided at sunset; the clouds disappeared, and the first
night after the besieged were turned jailers was as calm and
peaceful as if the harmony of nature had never been disturbed by the
clash of arms.

Luke remained on duty until about ten o'clock in the evening, when
Susan took his place, and shortly after midnight Mark took his turn
at guarding the prisoners.

The Frenchmen had shown no signs of a disposition to do other than
as they were commanded; but Mark would not put faith in them, and
kept his watch as if knowing they had already formed a plan for
capturing those who succored them.

The lad paced to and fro in front of the dwelling, looking in upon
the men every five minutes, until a new day had come, and then as he
gazed across the waters watching for the sun to rise, he saw the
dingy canvas of the _Future Hopes_, glistening like silver in the
early light.

The fresh breeze was bearing the little vessel swiftly on, and
before any inmate of the Pemberton house was astir, she swung to her
anchor close inside the harbor, while the two men listened to the
story which Mark had to tell.

The fishermen had not been able to gain a shelter when the storm
burst upon them, therefore the _Future Hopes_ scudded before the
wind during the four and twenty hours, which explained why she had
arrived so much sooner than had been expected.

It would be a labor of love to follow the fortunes of these two
families who, in 1758, defended the Island of Mount Desert so
bravely against the combined attacks of French and Indians; but
historians make no further mention of them, after setting forth in
the fewest possible words their deeds, therefore this tale must
perforce come to an end.

We do know, however, from the records of Pemaquid, that Masters
Pemberton and Harding carried to the fort eight Frenchmen as
prisoners, and that the authorities of Massachusetts took them in
charge several weeks later.

It is also known that in 1769 one Mark Pemberton, with his wife
Susan, settled on Penobscot Bay near where the town of Camden now
stands, and it is reasonable to infer that this man was the same
who, aided by Susan Harding, so bravely defended the island.



THE END.


[Transcriber's Notes:]

Here are all the misspelled words, odd usages and other things of
note that I have found.

The word "defence", as it is spelled throughout, is time period
spelling.

1. This paragraph is accurate to the book. It could read like this:
"...otherwise the defences would not be being strengthened when the
boys should have been making ready...".

2. The words "any one" appear to be time period usage. It is used
twice.

3. The original does use the word "then" though it should probably
be "when": "...relieved from guard duty, and when the gate had been
closed..."

4. The original does use the word "and": "...the gate was barred on
the inside, and Mary Pemberton standing close beside it..."

5. The original does use the word "prosecute". I
suspect it is just time period usage. "...in position to prosecute
their murderous work."

6. This paragraph is accurate to the book: "...there's no show of
our being able to do anything here..."

7. The second "e" in the word "reëchoed" is a small letter "e" with
diaeresis.

8. The word "of" appears to be time period usage: "...uncle heard
from those aboard of the last vessel...".

9. The word "resentiments" appears to be a misprint of
"resentments". "...gave vent to their resentiments and rage..."

10. The words "some one" appear to be time period usage.

11. The second "e" in the word "reëntered" is a small letter "e"
with diaeresis. It is also used in the title of the 13th
illustration.

12. This paragraph is accurate to the book: "...shake the very
earth, and on the moment rain fell in torrents..."

13. The word "greal" appears to be a misprint for "great": "...the
storm continued with greal fury."

14. The words "some one" appear to be time period usage.

15. The word "of" appears to be time period usage: "...to permit of
a rescue..."

[End of Transcriber's Notes.]





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Defending the Island - A story of Bar Harbor in 1758" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home