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Title: With Rogers on the Frontier - A Story of 1756
Author: Oxley, J. Macdonald (James Macdonald)
Language: English
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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.

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_With Rogers on the Frontier_



  _A Story of 1756_


  J. Macdonald Oxley, B.A.

  Author of "L'Hasa at Last," "On the World's Roof,"
  "Bert Lloyd's Boyhood," Etc., Etc.

  _With Four Illustrations by F.J. DEVITT_





  CHAPTER                                           PAGE

      I. ENGLISH AGAINST FRENCH,                    7

     II. A PERILOUS RIDE,                          16

    III. BULLETS AND BAYONETS,                     25

     IV. THE DEFEAT OF DIESKAU,                    36

      V. OFF ON A SCOUT,                           45

     VI. ONE OF ROGERS' RANGERS,                   56


   VIII. OFF TO CROWN POINT,                       76

     IX. DOING DAMAGE TO THE ENEMY,                86

      X. TO BOSTON TOWN,                           95

     XI. SETH RECEIVES PROMOTION,                 106

    XII. FROM PERIL TO PERIL,                     117

   XIII. SCOUTING IN WHALEBOATS,                  127

    XIV. THE FIGHT IN THE FOREST,                 137

     XV. FORT WILLIAM HENRY IN DANGER,            147

    XVI. THE FOILING OF THE FRENCH,               158



    XIX. AN ADVENTURE IN NEW YORK,                189

     XX. SCOUTING IN A NEW FIELD,                 199

    XXI. AN EASY TRIUMPH,                         211

   XXII. AT CLOSE GRIPS WITH DEATH,               222


   XXIV. THE GLORIOUS VICTORY,                    242




The great conflict between England and France for supremacy upon the
North American continent was drawing near its final stage. It had been
waged for more than a century with varying fortunes, and over a vast
extent of territory. The sea-girt province of Acadia in the extreme
east, and the rich valley of the Ohio in the far west had alike been
the scene of bloody encounters, and now the combatants were coming
to close grips in that picturesque and beautiful portion of New York
State where the twin lakes Champlain and George lay embosomed amid
forest-clad hills.

The possession of these lakes was divided between the two rivals,
the French being masters of Lake Champlain, and the English of Lake
George, and their crystal waters were again and again reddened with the
life blood of the antagonists and their Indian allies as they fought
fiercely for the prize of sole possession that the way between Canada
and the colonies might be completely closed to whichever power was

In the spring of the year 1755 the New England colonies combined to
undertake the capture of Crown Point, the French stronghold on Lake
Champlain, which for the past quarter of a century had been a veritable
hornet's nest. To Governor Shirley of Massachusetts was due the credit
of inspiring the undertaking, and his province was foremost in voting
men and money toward its accomplishment, Connecticut, New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, and finally New York followed suit, and the result was a
little army of several thousand men, whose appearance would have filled
a European commander with scorn.

For they were none of them soldiers, but simply farmers and farmers'
sons who had gallantly volunteered for the campaign, leaving their
scattered dingy homes in the midst of rough fields of corn and pumpkins
to shoulder the guns they all knew so well how to use, and when the
fighting was over, if so be that they escaped the bullet and tomahawk,
to return to their ploughing and sowing as though they had merely been
out on a hunting trip.

Only one corps boasted a uniform, blue faced with red. The others were
content with their ordinary clothes, and the most of them brought
their own guns. They had no bayonets, but carried hatchets in their
belts instead, and at their sides were slung powder-horns on which they
had carved quaint devices with the points of their pocket knives.

Their whole appearance was neither martial nor picturesque, and gave
them no excuse for pride, but they were brave, brawny fellows, clear of
head, quick of eye, swift of foot, and sure of hand, and incomparably
better adapted for the irregular warfare of the time than the highly
disciplined soldiery of either England or France. They knew the forests
as the city-bred man knows the streets, and by day or night could
traverse their fastnesses without fear of losing their way or falling
into the hands of the enemy.

They were of all ages and sizes so to speak, from boys in their teens
to gray-haired grandfathers, and from dwarfs to giants, but they all
could give a good account of themselves in a fight either at long or
close range.

The commander of this curious army was no less remarkable than his men,
for he had never seen service, and knew nothing of war. An Irishman by
birth, William Johnson had held an extensive domain on the banks of
the Mohawk River for a score of years, and grown powerful and rich by
trading with the Indians of the Five Nations who found him far more
honest and reliable than his Dutch rivals in the business, and over
whom he came to acquire so profound an influence that the Government
made him Indian Superintendent, an appointment that was hailed with joy
throughout the Iroquois Confederacy.

He had taken to himself a Mohawk squaw for wife, and lived in almost
baronial style in a fortified house which was a stronghold against his
foes and a centre of lavish hospitality to friends and visitors whether
white or red.

Governor Shirley had chosen him for the responsible post of commander
because by so doing he prevented any jealousy among the New England
colonies, gratified the important province of New York, and secured the
co-operation of the Five Nations, a threefold advantage that could be
secured in no other way.

The gathering place was at Albany, and here in the month of July were
assembled several thousand provincials ready for the fray. Hither also
came a swarm of Johnson's Mohawks, warriors, squaws, and children.
They made things very lively. They adorned the General's face with
war-paint, and he joined them in the war dance, and then with his sword
cut the first slice from the ox that had been roasted whole for their

"I shall be glad," remarked a New England surgeon surveying the
somewhat riotous goings-on with a touch of complacent contempt, "if
they fight as eagerly as they ate their ox, and drank their wine."

Among the spectators of these rude festivities stood a youth whose
otherwise pleasing countenance was so clouded that one seeing it could
hardly fail to wonder what troubled him thus deeply.

Although still in his teens he had reached the stature of a man, and
his well-knit figure gave evidence of no common share of strength and
activity. He was dressed in a suit of tanned buckskin that became him
particularly well, and with his double-barrelled smoothbore, carved
powder-horn, keen-edged tomahawk, and long-bladed hunting knife was
fully equipped to meet the foe.

The son of a pioneer settler upon the northern border of Massachusetts,
Seth Allen had already drunk to its depths the cup of sorrow, for
at one fell swoop the dusky allies of the French had rendered him a
homeless orphan. With his own eyes he had beheld his parents tomahawked
and scalped, the farmhouse burned, and the stock slaughtered while he
had been carried off for torture in the Indian camp.

Escaping by a happy chance he made his way back to New England, and at
once volunteered for active service against the French. Henceforward
he had but one purpose in life--to serve his country in the field, and
in view of what he had suffered it is easy to understand with what
impatience he awaited the advance of the English against Crown Point,
and how he chafed at the delay which seemed to him inexcusable.

Now above all things this expedition needed to act promptly, and
yet preparations went on with exasperating slowness. The troops and
supplies were contributed by five different legislatures, and they each
wanted their own way about something. Indeed at one time there was a
regular deadlock because they could not agree as to their respective
quotas of artillery and stores.

"The expedition goes on very much as a snail runs," grumbled Surgeon
Williams. "It seems we may possibly see Crown Point this time twelve

Seth Allen, burning with eagerness to forget in the excitement of
action the horrors which haunted his memory, could not understand why
there should be all this useless dawdling, and one day ventured to
address a group of men whom he knew to be among the leaders.

"Can you tell me, good sirs," he said, doffing his cap respectfully,
"how much longer we are to be here doing nothing?"

In the little party were Colonel Titcomb and Seth Pomeroy of
Massachusetts, who had both fought so well at Louisbourg, the sturdy
Israel Putnam of Connecticut, and brave John Stark of New Hampshire,
and they all turned to look at the speaker while a suspicion of a smile
curved the corners of their lips.

"Your question is not easy to answer, young man." It was Colonel
Titcomb who spoke. "We would fain have some definite knowledge upon
that matter ourselves. But may I inquire your name, and how you came
here? You seem to have scarce sufficient years for such hard fighting
as must fall to our lot if our purpose be effected."

A ruddy glow showed through the tan of the youth's cheeks, and he
lowered both head and voice as he replied:

"My name is Seth Allen, and I come from Massachusetts. My father and
mother were killed by the Indians who are in league with the French,
and our home was burned. I am here because I have no other desire than
to fight against those who have broken my heart."

There was a strange simplicity in the words. They came from the heart
of the speaker, and they went straight to the hearts of his hearers.
The veteran warriors looked at each other, and then at the youth with
eyes full of intelligent sympathy, and Colonel Pomeroy, stepping
forward, laid his hand gently upon the youth's shoulder, saying:

"We have heard of your sad story. No one has better reason to be here
than you, and we can well understand how hard you find this waiting.
But patience is a soldierly virtue, and you must have your share of it.
There will be plenty of fighting in due time."

The blush deepened upon Seth's countenance at the implied reproof, and,
murmuring his excuses for having thus interrupted their conference, he
moved away.

"That boy bears a heavy heart," said Colonel Titcomb, "and I should not
like to be either the first Frenchman or Indian that he meets, for he
has a long account to settle with our hated foes."

Patience in no small degree certainly was required by the provincials
who had gathered together for active service, not to waste time in
aimless dallying, and their anxiety to be up and doing was increased
when the four Mohawk scouts which Johnson had sent to Canada returned
with the startling intelligence that the French were fully informed of
the English designs, and that eight thousand men were being sent to the
defence of Crown Point.

Upon this a council of war was held whereat it was decided to send to
the several provinces for reinforcements, and at the same time to begin
the movement northward lest the volunteers, wearied of inaction, should
lose heart in the enterprise.

Accordingly the main body, accompanied by a train of Dutch wagons,
marched slowly over the stumps and roots of a newly made road, and
presently reached the borders of the most beautiful lake which Johnson
loyally called Lake George in honor of the King of England.

Here camp was made on a piece of rough ground by the water's edge, the
men pitching their tents among the stumps of the lately felled trees.

With a clear water-way to their destination, and hundreds of bateaux
hauled overland from Fort Lyman (afterward called Fort Edward), ready
to transport them thither, the men's spirits rose, for they naturally
thought they would soon be led against the enemy, but in this they were
again disappointed.

Johnson sent out scouts in different directions, but otherwise did
nothing, and Seth Allen, at last unable to endure the continued
inaction any longer, begged so earnestly of his captain to be allowed
to go out scouting, that when an Indian brought word that he had found
the trail of a body of men moving toward Fort Lyman, and Johnson called
for a volunteer to carry a letter of warning to Colonel Blanchard, the
commander of the fort, the captain at once sent for Seth, and telling
him what was wanted said:

"Now, young man, there's the chance you have been fretting for."

"And I'm ready to take it," responded Seth promptly.



In order to a clear understanding of the situation it is necessary at
this point to leave the provincial army for a little while and take a
glance at what the French were doing.

They were by no means idle. While the British were preparing to attack
Crown Point they were preparing to defend it, having first got warning
of their purpose from the letters of the unfortunate Braddock found
on the battlefield, which information was confirmed by the report of
a reconnoitring party that had made its way as far as the Hudson, and
returned with the news that Johnson's forces were already on the field.

The Marquis de Vandreuil, Governor of Canada, who on his part had
been meditating an expedition for the capture of Oswego, and for this
purpose had got together several battalions of regular soldiers under
the command of Baron Dieskau, thereupon changed their destination from
Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain.

Passing up the Richelieu River these troops embarked in boats and
canoes for Crown Point. Their veteran leader knew that the foes with
whom he had to deal were not disciplined soldiers, but simply a mob of
countrymen, and he never doubted for a moment that he would put them to
flight at the first meeting, and keep them going until he had chased
them back to Albany. Such, too, was the pleasant conviction of the
Marquis de Vandreuil, who wrote to him in this strain:

"Make all haste, for when you return we shall send you to Oswego to
execute our first design."

And he had obeyed orders to such good purpose that while Johnson's
force lay idle at Lake George he had reached Crown Point at the head of
nearly four thousand men, regulars, Canadians, and Indians.

Dieskau had no thought of waiting to be attacked. His troops were
commanded to hold themselves ready to move at a moment's notice. The
officers were bidden to take nothing with them but one spare shirt,
one spare pair of shoes, a blanket, a bearskin, and twelve days'
provisions, while the Indians were strictly enjoined not to amuse
themselves by taking scalps until the enemy was entirely defeated,
since they could kill ten men in the time required to scalp one, a grim
injunction that reveals like a lightning flash the barbarity of that
border warfare when all the laws of humanity were ignored.

Early in the month of September a scouting party brought in an English
prisoner caught near Fort Lyman. He was questioned under threat of
being handed over to the Indians for torture if he did not tell the
truth, but, nothing daunted, he endeavored to lure the French into a
trap by telling them that the English army had fallen back to Albany,
leaving only a few hundred men at Fort Lyman, which he said was a place
to be easily taken.

Dieskau at once resolved on a rapid movement to seize the fort, and,
leaving a part of his force at Ticonderoga, he embarked the rest in
canoes, and hurried along through the narrow part of Lake Champlain,
stretching southward through the wilderness.

Reaching the lower end of the lake they left their canoes under guard,
and began their march through the dense forest toward Fort Lyman. They
numbered fifteen hundred in all, and it was concerning their approach
that the report had been brought in to the English camp, which Seth
Allen was ready to carry to the endangered fort.

"You seem a likely lad," said Johnson when Seth was brought to him,
"and will no doubt do as well as any one. You had better take a horse.
You will run a better chance of getting through."

Seth was quite willing to make the venture afoot, but he was still
better pleased to be mounted, and a little later he galloped away over
the rough road on his perilous task with the important letter hidden in
his bosom.

For the first time since coming to the camp he felt in good spirits,
and he would have whistled to keep himself company had he not known
better than to make any more noise than was absolutely necessary.

He fully realized the danger he was running. Capture by the French
meant probable torture, and certain death, while the chances were that
if perceived by the foe or their merciless allies he would be shot on
sight as so many others had been before him.

But this knowledge in no wise clouded his brave young spirit. He was
too glad at being allowed to undertake the perilous mission to be
concerned about his safety, and with every faculty keen for hint or
sign of danger he hastened along the stump-strewn road toward his

A high rate of speed was not possible owing to the roughness of the
road, but he made very good progress nevertheless, and one-half the
fourteen miles of the way had been covered ere the still solitude
through which he was passing gave token of other human life.

Then it was revealed in startling enough fashion, for as Seth rode
along carefully through the stumps and roots which were ready to bring
his steed to his knees, a shot rang out on his right, followed by a
blood-curdling whoop, and a bullet whistled uncomfortably close to his

"Now for it!" he exclaimed, bending low over his horse's neck and
driving in the spurs.

The willing creature responded with a bound that nearly unseated his
rider and then sprang away at the top of his speed, soon leaving the
Indian scout far behind.

If he were the only one to discover Seth it would be well enough, but
that was hardly to be hoped for. The very fact of his presence implied
the proximity of the French as Seth thoroughly understood, and at any
moment others might show themselves.

On he rode, glancing anxiously to right and left, yet keeping a close
watch on his horse. Again and again the animal stumbled over a root,
but, thanks to Seth's skill in the saddle, did not go down, and the
remaining distance to Fort Lyman was rapidly being decreased, when once
more peril appeared in the path.

This time it was a small party of Canadians out on scouting duty, and
they were right in the rider's road. He must either turn back, or go on
to apparently certain capture.

For an instant Seth was at a loss which course to pursue. Then
with that quickness of decision which was characteristic of him he
determined upon a desperate expedient.

Reining in his horse he approached the Canadians at a walk as if he
meant to surrender, whereby they were thrown off their guard. Counting
upon an easy capture they dropped their guns which they had been
holding in readiness to fire, and as Seth came up called out to him in
jeering tones that he was their prisoner.

By way of response Seth, now within a few yards of them, clapped spurs
to his horse, and drove him right into the centre of the little group.

This sudden and unexpected action took them completely by surprise.
With oaths and angry exclamations they threw themselves out of the way
of the horse, which ere they could recover and take aim with their
guns, was many yards away galloping furiously along the road.

A scattering volley followed the fugitive, but not one of the leaden
messengers touched him as he crouched over the horse's neck, and only
one hit the animal, inflicting a slight wound in the hind quarter that
simply served to quicken its speed.

For the rest of the way Seth did not spare his steed. Taking chances
every minute of a fall that might mean the rendering of one or both
of them helpless, he galloped on until at last the welcome sight of
Fort Lyman gladdened his eyes, and presently he pulled up the panting
creature which had borne him so well at the gate that was quickly
opened to receive him.

Colonel Blanchard thanked him warmly for the warning message, and bade
him stay at the fort until it would be safe for him to return to Lake

Immediately all possible preparations for defence were made at Fort
Lyman, and full of anxiety its garrison awaited the expected attack.

But the days went by without bringing any sign of the enemy, and Seth
again began to grow impatient. The confinement of the fort became
irksome to his liberty-loving nature. He felt sure that there was
plenty to be done at Lake George, and chafed at waiting in idleness
inside the fort, where there was nothing to occupy the long hours.

Had the garrison known the reason for the non-appearance of the enemy
they might not only have rested with easy minds, but might even have
taken the field on their own account, as all danger of attack had
passed for a time. The change of plan on the part of the French had
been brought about in this way.

They had made their way through the forest until they were within three
miles of Fort Lyman, and there as they halted for the night a dozen
wagons came along the road from Lake George. They were in charge of
mutinous drivers who had left the English camp without orders, little
dreaming the punishment that waited their misconduct. Several of them
were shot, two were captured, and the remainder escaped into the woods
with the Indians at their heels.

The two captives on being questioned, told a very different story
from the prisoner taken by the scouting party a few days previously.
According to them, instead of the English having fallen back upon
Albany, they were encamped in large force at Lake George.

When the Indians heard this they held a council and decided that they
would not attack the fort which they thought well supplied with cannon,
but they were quite willing to go against the camp at the lake.

All remonstrances went for nothing. They were not to be moved from
their resolution, and Baron Dieskau had perforce to alter his plan of
campaign. Now he was not only young but daring to rashness, and burning
with eagerness to emulate the recent victory over Braddock. According
to the reports the enemy greatly outnumbered him, but his Canadian
advisers had assured him that the English colonial militia were the
worst troops on the face of the earth.

"The more there are of them, the more we shall kill," he said with
complacent confidence to his Canadian and Indian allies, and in the
morning the order was given to leave Fort Lyman alone, and to march to
the lake.

In the mean time Seth Allen, made desperate by delay, in spite of the
efforts of his friends to restrain him, left the fort, and, by making a
wide detour, succeeded in reaching the camp in safety, although almost
every foot of the way thither had been fraught with perils.

Here he found the whole place astir, for an advance against the French
was about to take place. Congratulating himself upon having arrived in
time to take part in it Seth carefully examined his fighting gear, to
make sure that everything was in readiness for active service.



By the wagoners who had managed to escape the fate which befell their
companions Johnson had been warned of the proximity of the French war
party, but he somehow formed a very wrong conception of its strength.

Instead of preparing to meet them with his full force his first plan
was to send out two detachments of five hundred men each, one going
toward Fort Lyman, and the other toward South Bay, with the object of
catching the enemy in their retreat.

But Hendrick, the brave and sagacious chief of the Mohawks, expressed
his dissent after the dramatic fashion of his race. Picking up a single
stick he broke it easily with his hands. Then picking up several, he
put them together and showed that they could not be broken thus.

Johnson was shrewd enough to take the hint, and directed that the two
detachments be joined in one. Still the old savage shook his head.

"If they are to be killed," said he, "they are too many. If they are to
fight, they are too few."

But the commander would make no further change, and the Indian not only
ceased his objections, but mounted on a gun carriage and harangued his
warriors, exhorting them to fight bravely for their friends, and to
show no mercy to their enemies.

The morning was still young when the thousand men, under the command
of Ephraim Williams and Colonel Whiting, marched off from the camp in
quest of the French, their orders being to intercept their supposed
retreat, and if possible find and destroy their canoes.

Seth Allen was with the vanguard, his pulse beating rapidly, and every
nerve a-quiver, for he felt it in his bones that there would be plenty
of fighting before the day ended.

"I hope the French will wait for us," he said to Elisha Halley, by whom
he was walking. "Maybe if they get warning of our advance they will go
back to their canoes and we have nothing to follow them with on the

Elisha smiled contemptuously as he replied:

"It all depends upon how many they are and what they know about our
strength. If they think they outnumber us they will not fail to wait
for us, but if we outnumber them they will retreat fast enough.
Nevertheless I think we ought to go forward carefully. They might be
lying in ambush somewhere ahead."

The Colonials certainly showed a lack of common sense and utter
ignorance of strategy in their advance against the enemy, for no scouts
were thrown out in front or flank. They pushed on in full security
until the sharp eye of old Hendrick detected a sign of danger.

He at once gave warning, but it was too late. The dense thickets on the
left suddenly blazed out a deadly fire, and the English fell by scores.
The head of the column, as Dieskau afterward boasted, "was doubled
up like a pack of cards." The old Mohawk chief's horse, on which he
rode because he was so old and fat, was shot under him, and he himself
killed with a bayonet as he tried to gain his feet.

Seth had a wonderful escape. The bullets whistled past him on either
side, but left him untouched, and he returned the fire with his own gun
as best he could in the midst of the fearful confusion.

Although it was his first experience of battle he felt no qualm of
fear. On the contrary, all his nervousness vanished, and thinking
only how he might fight to the best advantage, he loaded and fired as
rapidly as possible.

Presently the voice of Ephraim Williams was heard calling upon his men
to follow him to a piece of rising ground on the right, and Seth obeyed
the command.

"We must rally, men, or we will all be destroyed." Williams cried as
he led them up the slope.

But he had not reached half-way when there came a volley from the
bushes that laid him dead. And it was followed close by a hot fire
poured in on the right flank.

Then there was a panic. Many fled outright. The whole column recoiled
and began to retreat. Its van became the rear, and all the force of the
enemy rushed upon it, shouting and screeching.

Seth found himself entangled in a mob of terrified men who had no
other thought than to get out of reach of the deadly fire of their
assailants; and, although his spirit rebelled against this ignominious
flight, he had no alternative than to take part in it.

Happily after a brief interval of confusion Colonel Whiting succeeded
in rallying a part of Williams' regiment; and they, adopting Indian
tactics, fighting behind trees, and firing and falling back by turns,
were able with the aid of the Mohawks to cover the retreat.

"A very handsome retreat they made," was the testimony of Colonel
Pomeroy, "and so continued until they came within about three-quarters
of a mile of our camp. This was the last fire our men gave our enemies
which killed great numbers of them; and they were seen to drop as

In the alternate fighting and falling back Seth took his full share,
using the tree trunks for cover as cleverly as any of the Indians, and
firing and reloading his musket with all possible speed, yet aiming
carefully so that his bullets might not be wasted.

The lust of battle had full possession of him. He utterly forgot
himself in the deadly business of the moment, and without a quiver of
nerve saw white men and red falling beside him and in front of him
mortally smitten.

Again and again the leaden messengers of death passed perilously close
to him, but he remained unscathed. As the fierce conflict began to
slacken somewhat he observed a Colonial, who had not been quick enough
in retreat, stumble and fall headlong, and the next instant a stalwart
Indian, hideous with war paint, sprang out from the enemy's line and
dashed toward the man tomahawk in hand.

Seth had just fired and there was no time to reload. If he would save
his helpless countryman it must be by exposing himself to a like fate.
Yet he did not hesitate.

Holding his heavy gun in readiness to use as a club, he sprang from
behind the tree-trunk which had sheltered him and rushed into the zone
of fire.

His action was redeemed from utter recklessness by the heroic impulse
which inspired it, and to the credit of the French be it said that
they forebore to fire upon him, leaving it to the Indian to deal with
him first, and then accomplish what he had set out to do.

The Iroquois, when he saw the youth coming at him, gave a grunt of
contempt and raised his tomahawk menacingly. But Seth kept right on
until he had got within striking distance, when whirling his gun around
his head he aimed a terrible blow at his opponent.

The latter sprang aside to evade it, and as he did so his foot caught
in a hidden root and he fell forward on his knees. Ere he could recover
himself the butt of Seth's musket took him in the back of the head, and
over he went like a log, the tomahawk flying from his nerveless grasp.

While this was happening, the fallen colonial had got to his feet again
and was looking about in a bewildered way, having lost his bearings and
not knowing in which direction to continue the flight interrupted by
his fall.

"Here, come with me," cried Seth, grasping his arm. "Bend as low as you
can and run for your life."

The fellow obeyed instantly and the two of them made all haste back to
their own lines, followed by a volley from the enemy which happily,
however, did neither of them any harm.

Seth's gallant feat won the admiration of all who beheld it, and the
profound gratitude of the man to whom he had rendered such timely
succor, and who proved to be from his own province.

When Dieskau saw that the English had really rallied, and were
returning the fire of his men with deadly effect, he ordered a halt
and had the trumpet sounded to collect his scattered men, with the
purpose of pressing forward in good order so as to make the most of the
advantage already gained.

Had he been able to do so he could hardly have failed to gain a
complete victory over Johnson, but fortunately for the latter, the
Iroquois, who had lost many of their braves, became sullen and
unmanageable, and the French Canadians, whose veteran leader, Legardeur
de St. Pierre, had been killed, showed signs of wavering, and it was
not until after considerable delay that the advance was made with the
regulars leading the way.

Meantime in Johnson's camp there had been great anxiety and no little
confusion. About an hour after Williams had marched out with his
thousand men the sound of heavy firing was heard in the distance, and
as it grew nearer and louder those in the camp realized that their
comrades, instead of pursuing a flying foe, were themselves in retreat.

Johnson at once set about preparations for defence which should have
been made long before. A barricade constructed of wagons, inverted
bateaux, and tree trunks was hurriedly made along the front of the
camp, and three cannons were planted so as to sweep the road, while a
fourth was dragged up to the ridge of the hill.

In the midst of this confusion the defeated party began to come in.
First, scared fugitives, both white and red; then gangs of men bringing
the wounded, and finally the main body marching in good order down the
road. Among these was Seth, very much out of humor at having to turn
his back on the enemy, and hoping in his heart that they would have the
courage to attack the camp.

"If we hadn't been such fools as to walk right into the trap they laid
for us," he said to the man he had rescued as they marched together,
"we'd not be running from them now, but they'd be running from us, and
thinking only how far it was to Crown Point."

"You're just right," emphatically responded the other, whose name was
John Wilcox. "There ought to have been scouts ahead of us to give us
warning. I don't know what our colonel was thinking about when he let
us go on like that, as if there were no French within twenty miles of

But of course it is always easy to be wise after the event, and
now that the blunder had been committed, and had cost so dearly, it
only remained to make the best of what was certainly a very serious

Accordingly five hundred men were detailed to guard the flanks of the
camp, while the remainder took up their position behind the wagons, or
lay flat behind the logs and upturned bateaux, the Massachusetts men
being on the right and the Connecticut men on the left. Not counting
the Indians the actual fighting force numbered about seventeen hundred,
the majority of them being rustics, who had never been under fire until
that morning.

They were hardly settled at their posts when Seth's keen eyes caught
the flash of bayonets through the boughs, and a minute later the
white-coated regulars of France came into view, marching steadily
down the road in serried array. At the same time a terrific burst of
war-whoops rose on either side of them, and in the words of Pomeroy to
his wife, "the Canadians and Indians helter-skelter, the woods full of
them, came running with undaunted courage right clown the hill upon us,
expecting to make us flee."

But in this they were greatly mistaken, for although some of the
Colonials grew uneasy, their officers, sword in hand, threatened
instant death to any who should attempt to leave their posts, and not
one of them made a move.

Seth could not help admiring the steadiness shown by the regulars in
their advance. Dieskau certainly had them well in hand, but the rest of
his force, both red and white, scattered through the woods shouting,
whooping, and firing from behind trees.

Well was it indeed for the English that their opponents as a whole did
not display the same good discipline as the French, for had they done
so the result would have been disastrous; but when only the regulars
obeyed orders their attack lost much of its force and gave Captain
Eyre, who commanded the artillery, a chance to open upon them with
grape, which he did so effectually as to break up their orderly array
and compel them to take to cover.

The firing on both sides now became general, and soon waxed so furious
that to quote again Pomeroy's graphic words, "The hail stones from
heaven were never much thicker than the bullets," yet, as he proudly
added, "Blessed be God, that did not in the least daunt or disturb us."

Seth's position was on the right flank, and as Dieskau first directed
his attack against the left and centre, he was for a time simply a
spectator of the struggle.

But when the commander of the French found he was being so stoutly
withstood, he turned his attention to the right and tried to force it.

"Ah, ha!" exclaimed Seth in a tone of satisfaction, "it is our turn
now. We will give them all they want."



The men from Massachusetts showed no more sign of giving back before
the enemy than had their brethren from the sister provinces. Loading
and firing as quickly as their old-fashioned muskets allowed, they
poured so deadly a fire into the French ranks that the latter could
make no material advance, but were compelled to keep behind cover, and
return the fire as best they might.

The conflict had continued in this fashion for nearly an hour with
considerable loss of life on both sides, but without definite
advantage, when Seth, becoming convinced that an officer in rich
uniform, whom he could see at the centre of the French line, was their
commander, determined to try if he could not shoot him down, as he
reasoned that this would put them in a panic.

So, despite the protests of his companions, to whom alone he revealed
his design, he crept through the barricade and began to crawl nearer
the enemy. It was an extremely dangerous, not to say reckless
proceeding, and those of his own party who observed it considered him
as good as lost. Colonel Williams indeed shouted after him:

"Come back there, young man, you're going to your death!"

But, carried away by his great purpose, Seth paid no heed to the
command. There was a big tree whose wide-spreading roots offered
excellent cover about fifty yards ahead of him, and it was for this he
was making, as if he reached it unharmed, he could thence get good aim
at the officer he had in mind.

Lying flat on his stomach, he wriggled on slowly, yet steadily. It
was as difficult work as it was dangerous, and demanded all his young
strength. At any moment he might be perceived by an Iroquois or
Canadian, who would make a quick dash forward and despatch him as he
lay upon the ground. More than once a random bullet struck the turf
uncomfortably near him.

Yet with grim determination he kept on, and at last, when nearly spent
with the exertion, reached the roots of the big tree, and curled
himself up there into the smallest possible space until his nerves
should get steady.

Then with the utmost caution he peered out in quest of the officer.

"Good!" he exclaimed exultantly as he quickly withdrew his head. "He's
there still, and I'll have him as sure as my name is Seth Allen."

Resting the gun upon the root and taking aim with the utmost care he
pulled the trigger.

But just as he did so Baron Dieskau, for Seth had guessed rightly, made
a sudden movement, and the bullet went by him harmlessly.

"Botheration!" growled Seth. "Why couldn't he keep still?" and he
hastened to reload.

Warned by the whirr of the bullet, Dieskau stepped behind a tree and
remained there for some time, while Seth, chagrined at the result of
his first shot, impatiently awaited another chance.

It came a little later when the Baron, angered by the persistent
disobedience to command of the Indians and Canadians, forgot his own
safety and sprang out from cover to give an order to the regulars, who
were fast falling into confusion under the well-directed fire of the

"Now then, sir," said Seth, as though he were speaking to his intended
victim, "I'll have you this time," and he fired.

As the report rang out, Baron Dieskau staggered and fell to the ground,
and Seth was for the moment tempted to spring to his feet and wave his
cap triumphantly.

But he held himself in check, and again loaded his musket. The officer
had fallen indeed, but he might not be killed, and another shot might
be necessary to dispose of him. That this was the case presently became
clear, for another officer came galloping to the aid of the wounded
one, and Seth, moved by his unselfish devotion, forebore to fire.

But some of his companions were not so considerate, and while the
adjutant was attending to the wound from Seth's bullet, the unfortunate
commander was again hit in the knee and thigh.

The adjutant, who himself had been wounded, then called for the
Canadians to carry Baron Dieskau to the rear, but on seeing this Seth

"Oh, no! You're not going to escape. You must be taken prisoner," and
fired at one of the Canadians, bringing him to the ground, and causing
the other to seek safety in flight.

The commander thereupon ordered the adjutant to leave him where he lay
and to lead the regulars in a last effort against the English camp.

But it was now too late. Johnson's men, singly or in small squads, were
already leaping over their barricade and falling upon their antagonists
with their hatchets and the butts of their guns. The French and their
allies alike fled before the fierce onslaught, and their sorely wounded
yet dauntless commander was again shot before he fell into the hands of
those who, realizing who he was, carried him off to Johnson, who had
himself been wounded earlier in the day.

It was late in the afternoon when the final rout took place, and all
through that night the shattered French force continued its flight
through the forest, reaching their canoes the following day in a
deplorable condition, for they had left their knapsacks behind, and
were spent with fatigue and famine.

Great were the rejoicings in the English camp. The Colonials felt as
proud of themselves as if they had already accomplished all that which
they had set out to do, and their commander was so pleased that he was
in no hurry to make a further move. He was content to hold his own
position, which he proceeded to strengthen by making a solid breastwork
around the camp and building a fort on a rising ground by the lake.

But this was just where he erred. He should have followed up his
success with the utmost promptitude, and had he done so it is
altogether probable that Ticonderoga, if not, indeed, Crown Point,
could have been taken from the enemy.

The men from Massachusetts were eager to push on, and Seth, who had by
no means got his fill of fighting, would not have hesitated to tell
General Johnson in plain language what in his opinion ought to be done,
but as the great man was confined to his tent by his wound, and could
not even attend the councils of war that were held, leaving them to
Colonel Lyman, who was second in command, he had to content himself by
speaking out his mind in camp, which he did with decided frankness and

Then followed a miserable period of inaction that came near sickening
Seth of the whole business. Although reinforcements arrived until by
October there were some thirty-six hundred men in the camp, after
various prolonged councils it was decided to be unwise to proceed
against the French. Yet the little army lay more than a month longer at
the lake, while the discontent and disgust of the men increased daily
under the rains, frosts, and snows of a dreary November, until at last
some of them, throwing off all discipline, went away in squads without
any pretence of asking leave.

Seth's companion was one of these, and he strove hard to persuade the
young fellow to join him. But Seth resolutely refused.

"No, I'll stay right here," he replied, with a touch of temper in his
tone. "And you ought to do the same. We're not done with the French.
If we don't go against them, they'll be sure to come back, and then
there'll be need of us all."

"Oh! as for that," responded Wilcox, "they'll not be back before
spring, and we can get here first easily enough, and be ready to meet

But Seth was not to be tempted. He let Wilcox and others go away, and
when at last it was decided that the forts should be garrisoned by
a certain number of men from each province, and that the rest of the
army should be permitted to return to their homes, he promptly offered
himself for garrison duty.

It would probably be dull, dreary work, but he preferred it to going
back to what had once been his happy home, but now fraught with such
harrowing associations, and so he settled down to the monotonous
routine of helping to keep guard at the hastily built and by no means
impregnable fort.

As the days dragged by almost without incident, Seth again grew
restless, and set himself to consider how he might find some diversion.
By this time winter had fully set in, and the basin of the lake was
covered with ice. Seth was a strong and expert skater, and whiled away
many an afternoon speeding over the glassy surface or working out
figures upon it.

In this amusement several others of the little garrison joined him, and
one in particular, Reuben Thayer, from Connecticut, made the exercise
more interesting by rivalling Seth in feats of skill and speed.

These two quite outshone their companions, and this served as a bond of
friendship between them, neither being at all jealous of the other's

One bright, clear day, when the ice was in superb condition, a daring
design flashed into Seth's mind, which he made haste to share with his

"How would you like to take a good long skate, Reuben?" he asked in a
significant tone, which caused the other to guess that the question had
a purpose behind it.

Reuben gave him a searching glance as he replied:

"That depends. Which way were you thinking of going?"

Seth paused long enough before answering to give special emphasis
to his words, although he took care to utter them in a tone of
well-feigned carelessness.

"Oh, up north! There's nothing to see at this end of the lake."

A smile of intelligence broke over Reuben's homely countenance. The
answer was just what he expected, and he was quite ready to share its

"How far north might you be thinking of going, Seth?" he inquired.

"Until it seems best to turn back, if we don't want to stay there for
good," responded Seth, returning the smile of comprehension.

"Very good. I'm willing to go with you. Shall we ask any of the others
to join us?"

"No, Reuben, I think we'd better not. If anything happens, we'll
have only ourselves to think about, and none of the rest can skate
alongside of us anyway."

In saying this Seth was not making a mere empty boast, for in truth
both he and Reuben could easily distance anybody else in the garrison.

So the two friends made it up between them that they would vary the
monotony of their lives by undertaking the perilous enterprise of a
scout on skates in the direction of Crown Point.



When Seth communicated his design to the commander of the fort, the
latter at first made fun of him. Then, finding he was in thorough
earnest, sought to dissuade him from it; but at last, realizing the
seriousness of the young fellow's purpose, and coming to think that,
after all, he might carry it through successfully and gain some
valuable information, he consented to him and Reuben making the venture.

They set out in the early morning of a December day, each having a
blanket and a knapsack, containing four days' provisions, strapped on
his back, and the rest of the garrison gave them a cheer as they glided
away northward.

They were both in high spirits, for the restraint of garrison life had
become very wearisome, and the outing they had now started upon was
very much to their mind, despite its probability of peril.

"I wonder will any of the French be thinking of the same thing," said
Seth as with strong steady strokes they sped over the glistening ice.
"Their Canadians must be good skaters even if they're not themselves,
and you'd think they'd be curious to know what we've been doing since
we sent them back so much sadder and wiser than they came."

"We must keep a sharp lookout for them," answered Reuben, "for we
certainly don't want to get into any such trap as our fellows did at
first in the fight when they walked right into the ambush the French
had laid for us."

"No, indeed," responded Seth emphatically. "They mustn't catch us like
that, and, what's more, they're not going to."

All through the morning they skated on at their ease, because there was
not the slightest chance of any of the enemy being below the Narrows,
which they had fixed upon as the limit of that day's advance.

At noon they halted for dinner and a good rest. They could have only a
cold bite, for it would not have been wise to light a fire; but they
munched their meat and biscuits contentedly, and quenched their thirst
at a hole cut in the ice.

While they lay curled up in their blankets in a sheltered nook several
deer came out of the forest near by, and their hunter's instinct was at
once aroused.

"What a splendid shot!" murmured Reuben under his breath as his hand
went out toward his gun. "Just see that fine buck!"

"Not for your life!" exclaimed Seth in so emphatic a tone that it
reached the acute ears of the deer, and they bounded away out of
danger. "When we do fire, it must be at another kind of game," he
added, and Reuben meekly accepted the reproof.

When refreshed and rested, they set off again, and skated pretty
steadily through the afternoon, reaching the Narrows on the early dusk
of the winter's day.

Although not a very cold night, it was cheerless enough without a fire;
but they were both so tired that they soon fell asleep, and forgot all
the discomforts of their situation.

Between the Narrows and Ticonderoga spread the broadest part of the
lake, and it behooved them to be very wary in their further advance
lest they should be discovered by hostile scouts venturing southward.
Accordingly the following day they closely skirted the eastern border,
holding themselves ready to dodge ashore and seek concealment in the
forest, or to dart out toward the centre of the lake according as
danger might threaten from either direction.

Several times, as they eagerly scanned the country ahead, they thought
they caught a glimpse of figures moving through the trees; but it
always proved to be a false alarm, or nothing more to be feared than,
perhaps, a deer slipping silently out of sight.

Once they saw a big bear that they might easily have shot had they been
out for that purpose, and Reuben quite grudged having to let him go in
peace, for he had particularly fine fur.

The farther north they pushed the more cautious they must needs be, and
it was a positive relief to both when the shadows of night again fell
around them without any appearance of their foes.

"We must be pretty close to the fort now," said Seth as, having sought
out the snuggest spot within reach, they settled down to spend another
fireless night wrapped up in their blankets. "There don't seem to be
any of their scouts moving round. I wonder what they find to do with
themselves? I guess it's about as tiresome up there as it is down with

"You may be sure it is," replied Reuben. "This garrison duty is dull
work for everybody. I'll be very glad when the winter's over, and
things get moving again. What are you thinking of doing in the morning,

"Well, I just want to get a good look at Fort Ticonderoga, and if
possible find out how big a garrison they have there," Seth answered,
and then after a little pause he added: "If it be that the French have
left only a handful of men in charge, it might be worth while our
fellows coming up on their skates and attacking the place."

Reuben gave a whistle of mingled surprise and admiration at the
audacity of the idea.

"You'd want to know right well just how many there are in the fort,
wouldn't you?" he suggested.

"Yes, of course I would, and that's exactly what we must do our best to
find out to-morrow morning."

The programme for the next day having thus been made clear, they talked
together about other things until they fell asleep.

At dawn they were astir, and now they must no longer trust to their
skates, but make their way overland with utmost caution, lest at any
moment a Canadian scout or Iroquois brave should be upon them from
behind a tree.

Seth had only a general idea of the position of that fort and its
relation to the surrounding country; but he was a scout by instinct,
and Reuben followed him with admiration and implicit obedience as he
skilfully made his way through the thick forest, his object being
to reach an elevation from which he could command a clear view of

Advancing slowly and with many detours the two daring youths at last
accomplished their purpose without their presence being discovered or
suspected by the enemy, shortly before mid-day gaining a point of view
that was precisely what they sought.

They were on the high bluffs immediately opposite Ticonderoga, from
which they were separated only by a narrow stretch of water, and, while
keeping themselves perfectly concealed among the trees, they could see
everything that was going on in and around the fort.

"This is fine!" exclaimed Seth gleefully as he lay flat on the ground
and fixed his gaze upon the enemy's stronghold. "What would they think
if they knew that we were up here watching them? I reckon they'd send a
party after us pretty quick."

"That they would," said Reuben, with a pretence of a shiver, for he was
not really in any fear, "and they'd not deal any too gently with us
either, would they?"

"No, sir," responded Seth. "That's not their way, but they're not going
to have the chance if I can help it."

For several hours they remained in their eyrie, noting every movement
at the fort, and carefully studying its position, so as to be able
to give information to those at Fort William as to the chances of an

They could see the garrison going about their duties, and from the
number of them came to the conclusion that it would be folly to attempt
an attack without a great many more men than could be spared from their
own fort.

"But it wouldn't be a hard place to take if you went about it the
right way and had a strong enough force, would it, Reuben?" said Seth
after he had thoroughly sun-eyed the fort and its surroundings, and
then he proceeded to outline a plan of attack that certainly did credit
to his wits.

Reuben listened approvingly to it all, and, when he had finished,
mildly asked:

"How much longer shall we stay here, Seth? We've about seen all there
is to see. Had we not better be starting back?"

"To be sure we had," replied Seth, whose enthusiasm over the
possibility of successfully attacking the fort had caused him to be
oblivious of the flight of time. "Come along; we mustn't stay here any

Just as they were about to start they saw a party set out from the fort
on skates and speed away southward.

"Whew!" exclaimed Seth. "I wonder what that means. Are they going off
to do a little scouting on their own account? In that case we'll have
to keep a sharp lookout or we may fall into their hands."

There was certainly need for using the utmost precaution in their
movements, and it was with a keener sense of danger than they had felt
before that the two New Englanders began their return journey.

So long as they were concealed by the woods they were safe enough from
discovery, but once they took to the ice, which they must do as soon as
possible, for their provisions were running low, and would not by any
means last for a long journey overland, then they ran the risk of being
sighted and pursued.

But there was no help for it, and no time to be lost, so they urged
their way through the forest until they reached the edge of the lake.

Then with eager eyes and fast-beating pulses they scanned the
glistening surface before them. Not a living thing was in view, but at
any moment from around one of the wooded points the enemy might appear.

"I wish I knew which side they're on," said Seth, the anxious
expression of his countenance showing his state of mind. "The farther
away we can keep from them the better chance we'll have, for I'm sure
we can skate as fast or faster than any of them."

"They'll most likely be on the other side I should think," responded
Reuben; "so we had better keep to this one."

This seemed reasonable enough, so they put on all speed and dashed down
the lake.

The exhilarating motion restored their spirits, and confident of their
ability to hold their own on skates against any of the enemy, they flew
along over the smooth ice for mile after mile without encountering any
cause for alarm until as they rounded a point beyond which was a deep
cove, they saw something which sent their hearts into their mouths.

It was the very party whose departure from Fort Ticonderoga they had
witnessed, and it consisted of six Canadians on skates, who were just
starting off again after having rested for a while in the snug shelter
of the cove.

They sighted the New Englanders at once, and with fierce cries, which
sent a shiver through the two youths, began the chase.

Happily their guns were not ready, for since Seth and Reuben were at
first within range they would of course, have fired at them, but now
they had to depend upon their skill and strength as skaters to effect
the capture of the daring scouts.

Straight southward darted the Colonials, their pursuers a couple of
hundred yards in the rear, and following with grim determination.

Seth and Reuben, although they fully realized the seriousness of the
situation, felt no very great apprehension as to the outcome. They had
entire confidence in their ability to more than hold their own while on
the ice, and if they were compelled to take to the land, they did not
doubt but that they could find a place of concealment until the danger
was passed, or make their way through the forest with sufficient speed
to distance pursuit.

The two contingencies they had to fear were that in their rapid flight
one or other might trip and fall, injuring himself or his skates, or
that there might be another party of the enemy lower down the lake into
whose hands they would be driven by those coming after them.

Both these possibilities, so unpleasant to contemplate, had presented
themselves to Seth; but they did not daunt his brave spirit, nor did he
mention them to Reuben, who no doubt had his own thoughts.

The early dusk of mid-winter drew on as mile after mile of the flawless
ice was covered without the pursuers making any gain. By dint of
frequent spurting the New Englanders might have widened the gap, and
Reuben was anxious that they should do so; but Seth thought differently.

So long as they kept out of range of the French it seemed to him best
to reserve their strength and wind, for at any moment the appearance
of Canadians in front might render necessary a supreme effort to evade

If they should be thus caught between two parties, Seth's mind was
made up to fight to the last gasp, as he would rather die fighting his
foe than be taken alive only to suffer death subsequently by hideous

"Thank God, it's getting dark!" exclaimed Seth, breaking the silence
which had lasted for some time. "If we can keep on as we are now,
we'll be able to put ashore and hide ourselves among the trees."

"We can't do it any too soon to suit me," panted Reuben breathlessly,
for the tremendous strain was beginning to tell upon him. "I'm tiring
fast, and another couple of miles will finish me completely."

"Cheer up--cheer up, Reuben!" responded Seth, giving him an
affectionate pat on the shoulder. "They're farther behind than they
were, and we'll soon be able to make a dash for the woods."



The approach of darkness stirred the Canadians to even greater efforts
than they had hitherto put forth, and after a furious spurt, which
perceptibly decreased the distance between them and the fugitives, they
halted for a moment to send a volley after them.

Their intentions were of the best from their point of view, but happily
they might as well have saved their ammunition, for what with being
all out of breath themselves and consequently unable to take steady
aim, while their moving targets called for no ordinary markmanship,
the bullets went "zip, zip!" harmlessly past the New Englanders,
ricochetting over the ice as if they were going on indefinitely.

Seth laughed at the vain attempt to put a stop to their flight.

"It would take better shots than they have in the French army to hit
us at this distance," he said, "and those fellows aren't going to have
another chance either, for we'll get out of their sight right away.
Come along, Reuben, we'll take to the woods."

For some time they had been working toward shore, and now they were so
near that a few more swift strokes served to bring them to land at a
spot where the trees came close to the lake side.

"Here we are!" cried Seth in a tone of manifest relief. "Off with your
skates now, Reuben;" and he hastily unbuckled his own.

"Right glad I am to take them off," said Reuben emphatically, "for I'm
dead tired of them."

"They've been our best friends notwithstanding," responded Seth, "and
we'll need them again before we get back to the fort."

Then, skates off, they dived into the thick forest, where the shadows
were already deepening, and with relief beyond expression realized that
they were safe from further pursuit.

The Canadians gave them a parting volley as they disappeared, and Seth,
turning round, waved his cap at them derisively.

"Fooled this time!" he cried. "Try again!" And Reuben, whose spirits
were restored by the passing away of immediate danger, laughed heartily
at his impudence.

They had landed on the west side of the lake, and so long as there was
sufficient light left for them to pick their steps with any safety,
they kept on southward.

At last, however, the darkness grew too dense, and they too weary to
go any farther, so they lay down to rest for the night, rejoicing at
their escape, although every bone and muscle ached with fatigue.

They were not disturbed in their slumbers, and, quite refreshed by
them, set off at dawn, keeping to the woods for a time, but afterward
returning to the ice where they judged they were safe.

The rest of the return journey to the fort was free from excitement,
and they had a hearty reception from their comrades, who were in
considerable doubt as to whether they should ever see them again.

The commander was greatly pleased at their exploit and at the
information they brought back concerning what the French were doing at

"They are no doubt going to make a very strong place of it, and the
longer they are left undisturbed the harder it will be to take it,"
he said. "I must send word to General Johnson and urge him to make an
attack if possible before the winter is over."

Seth's countenance lighted up at these words. From what he had seen,
he had no doubt that with a moderately strong force the new stronghold
could be captured with all its garrison, and he keenly relished the
prospect of having a share in the enterprise.

But nothing was done after all, and the days dragged by as dully as
before, until there appeared upon the scene one morning a man with whom
Seth was henceforth to be very closely associated, and through whom he
was to find the fullest outlet for his adventurous spirit.

This was Robert Rogers, of New Hampshire, one of the most remarkable
and picturesque personalities of his time, who rendered splendid
service to the English in his own romantic way.

His career had been a strange one. His boyhood was spent amid the rough
surroundings of a frontier village. Growing to manhood, he engaged in
some occupation which led him to frequent journeyings in the wilderness
between the French and English settlements, and these gave him a good
knowledge of both. It also taught him to speak French. Just what the
mysterious business was is not precisely known, but in all probability
it was a smuggling trade with Canada, the dangers and profits of which
alike attracted his daring spirit.

For some time previous to his appearance at Fort William Henry he had
been actively employed on a series of excursions into the enemy's
territory, which he had conducted with such extraordinary skill and
uniform success as to earn for himself a great reputation, and Rogers'
Rangers, as his men, chiefly New Hampshire borderers, were called,
had come to be more feared by the French than any other part of the
provincial force.

Seth had heard so much about him that he had become a veritable hero in
his mind, and he had quite determined at the first opportunity to offer
himself as a recruit to his company.

His joy may be readily imagined, therefore, when the dull routine of
the day was broken in upon by the unexpected approach of a band of men
whose whole appearance was so striking that he at once realized that
they were no other than the famous Rogers' Rangers.

"Look, Reuben!" he cried to his friend as they stood together on the
rude ramparts, whence they had been somewhat disconsolately gazing
toward the lake, and wishing that some French or Indians would come
into sight by way of variety. "See what's coming; I am sure that's
Rogers and his Rangers. How glad I am! I've been waiting to see them
this long time!"

The party comprised not more than fifty. They wore a curious sort of
woodland uniform appropriate to their methods of operation, and their
well-tanned countenances showed plainly enough how much of their life
was spent away from the shelter of a roof.

"Fine-looking fellows, aren't they?" Seth exclaimed admiringly, as
the newcomers passed through the gate of the fort with quick, steady
step, and then came to a halt before the commander, while their leader
stepped forward to pay his respects and present his communication.

Major Rogers certainly was a man who could not fail to command
attention in any company. In figure he was tall and well knit, every
movement manifesting strength and agile ease. With the exception of his
nose, which, as is often the case in people of particularly vigorous
character, was disproportionately big, his features were good, and he
had a clear, bold eye, that expressed his daring spirit, while it took
in everything within the range of vision.

Ambitious and determined, by no means uneducated, and so skilled in
wood-craft as to be a match for the subtlest Indian, he possessed every
qualification for the especially perilous but important work he had
entered into so heartily, and there was not a part of the provincial
force which could have been less easily done without than his battalion
of Rangers.

Great was the satisfaction at Fort William when Major Rogers announced
that he had come by the orders of General Johnson to take up his
quarters there for the present and to devote, himself to the task of
keeping as close a watch as possible upon the operations of the enemy
at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

From Commander Glasier down every member of the garrison did his best
to show his hospitality, and they indulged in a general carouse that
night which would have given the French a fine opportunity to storm the
fort if they had only been aware of the condition of their foes.

Seth lost no time in making up to Major Rogers. It was not his way to
let the grass grow under his feet, and accordingly the first chance he
saw of a word with the great man alone he seized the opportunity.

Now it happened that the occasion was not an altogether propitious
one, because the major, having drunk rather deeply the previous night,
and told stories, and sung songs until the small hours, as a natural
consequence felt somewhat out of sorts--in fact, like a bear with a
sore head.

Consequently when Seth, approaching him, said in a modest enough tone:

"I am Seth Allen from Massachusetts, sir, and I would like to speak
with you for a few moments."

The Major, fixing upon him his penetrating glance, and seeing what a
mere youth he was despite his stalwart frame, replied gruffly:

"Well, young man, and what do you want of me?"

The manifest ill-humor of the tone brought the color to Seth's cheeks;
but he was not to be checked by it, and he came at once to the point by

"I want to join your Rangers, sir."

The famous scout looked him over from head to foot and then broke into
a laugh that was so clearly contemptuous as to make Seth thrill with
indignation, although he strove not to show it in his countenance.

"You want to join my Rangers, eh? And what good would such a youngster
as you be to me? I want only men who can stand anything and are not
afraid of anything."

Seth was too eager to gain his end to allow his temper to stand in his
way, and so keeping himself under control he asked quietly:

"May I tell you what I did last month?"

There was something so firm yet respectful in his tone and
prepossessing in his appearance that the Major began to relent a
little, and to feel that he was hardly giving the young fellow fair
treatment, so in a much milder way he answered:

"Very well, I'll listen. Come over here and we'll sit down," and he led
the way to a sheltered corner of the fort.

When they were seated, Seth told about his scouting expedition with
Reuben and what they had observed, and then, encouraged by the
attention with which his narration was received, went on to express his
own views as to what might be done if only the provincial authorities
would act quickly and not wait until the French had made their position
so strong that it would be out of the question to overcome them.

As he talked in his simple, frank way, Rogers was studying intently not
only his face but his form, and from the different expression which
gradually stole over his strong, stern features, it might be judged
that he was being moved to change his mind concerning the speaker.

He listened in silence save for an occasional sharp query that went to
the mark like a well-aimed arrow, and when Seth had finished seemed
to be lost in reflection for so long a space that Seth began to get
apprehensive as to the result of the interview.

At length, fixing his piercing eyes upon the New Englander, he asked
him in a voice so deep that it sounded hardly human:

"Is everything you have just told me the simple truth, or have you made
up some of it?"

The flush deepened upon Seth's cheek and mounted to the roots of his
hair. For one whose nature was so perfectly straightforward to be
suspected of falsehood could not fail to hurt, and it made him wince;
but he did his best to hide the fact, yet his tone was not altogether
free from a touch of feeling as he replied:

"The simple truth, sir. I have made up nothing."


"Then, young man, you'll do!" exclaimed Rogers, with a sudden energy
that made him start. "You're just what I want for my Rangers." And so
saying, he gave him a heavy clap on the back with his big hand by
way of emphasizing his decision.

"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Seth, springing to his feet, and fairly
dancing in his delight. "I'm sick to death of poking about this fort
doing nothing."

"Well, I reckon you won't have much chance to complain of that while
you work for me," said Rogers dryly, and thus the matter was settled.

Seth's outfit of weapons was so complete that it needed no additions,
and his dress required but little alteration to make it sufficiently
similar to that of the Rangers.

His reception by his new associates was not unanimously cordial. Some
of the older ones rather resented his being so young, and did not
hesitate to find fault with the Major's judgment; but other were more
kindly disposed, and made Seth welcome in their own hearty fashion.

The coming of the Rangers and the thrilling stories they had to tell
of their perilous experiences proved a great boon to the garrison,
and they were in no hurry to have them set off again. They were
consequently well pleased when it was decided that the Rangers should
make Fort William Henry their headquarters for the present.

No sooner had he been made a Ranger than Seth began to long for an
outing with them, but it was not until the middle of January that the
opportunity came.

Then to his joy Major Rogers selected him as one of a party of
seventeen to reconnoitre the French forts.

They set out on skates, and made such good speed that ere night fell
they had reached the part of the lake where it narrows greatly before
joining its waters with those of Lake Champlain.

Here they halted for some hours in order to rest and eat, and then, in
spite of the darkness, which troubled them little, for they seemed to
be able to find their way through it without difficulty, they made a
detour around Fort Ticonderoga, and went into ambush by the forest road
connecting it with Crown Point.

Here with guns ready for instant use they waited to see what might pass
along the road.



They did not have to wait long, for soon after sunrise two sledges,
heavily laden with fresh beef, came into view, their drivers singing
gayly in utter unconsciousness of the proximity of the enemy. They
could easily have been shot as they sat on their sledges, but Rogers
had other designs. He wanted them as prisoners for the sake of the
information that might be extracted from them. So, at his command the
Rangers suddenly showed themselves with levelled muskets, while their
leader called to the drivers to stop.

The consternation of the latter was amusing to witness. They nearly
fell off their seats, and made not the slightest attempt either at
defending themselves or effecting their escape.

Seth, who had a keen sense of humor, thought their conduct highly
diverting, and was one of the first to reach the sledges.

The poor fellows, when they realized into whose hands they had fallen,
gave themselves up for lost. They evidently expected nothing else than
to be killed at once, or to be reserved for dreadful torture, and as
Major Rogers himself was the only one of their captors who understood
their language, their passionate pleading for mercy evoked no response
from the others and intensified their terror.

Rogers regarded them grimly in silence for a time, and then gave orders
that their hands should be tied behind their backs and that the beef
they were in charge of be destroyed.

The Rangers would have been glad enough to keep the meat, which would
have afforded a welcome variety in their monotonous diet at the fort;
but it was out of the question for them to hamper themselves with it,
as having accomplished the object of their expedition in the capture
of two of the enemy, they must make all haste back to their own

On being questioned by Rogers, the captured drivers told readily enough
all they knew about the condition of things at Ticonderoga and Crown
Point and the plans of the French for the future, and the information
they gave was of such value that Major Rogers felt thoroughly satisfied
with the result of the outing.

The command was given to return to Fort William Henry, which they
reached in the evening of the third day without further incident.

Now, Reuben Thayer was no less anxious to be admitted into the ranks of
the Rangers than Seth had been, and, having failed to gain his point
by direct application, he begged Seth to speak for him.

Seth shrank from doing so, because the Major was not easily approached,
and had a gruff way with him; but at last, yielding to his friend's
importunities, he made the venture.

He chose what he trusted would be an auspicious time--to wit, when
the great man was enjoying his evening pipe after a hard day's tramp
through the woods in quest of game, and with a degree of hesitation
that was in itself a compliment, as indicating a fitting sense of the
importance of the man he addressed, he said:

"Major Rogers, I have a favor to ask you."

"Have you, indeed?" answered the Major none too cordially, and
evidently grudging the necessity of removing his pipe from his lips in
order to speak. "What is it? Out with it, and don't stand there looking
at me as if I were a wild cat or something!"

Poor Seth winced at this rough response, and found it harder than
before to get out what he wanted to say, but he managed to stammer out:

"Reuben Thayer, sir, my friend, you know."

"No; I don't know your friend Reuben," retorted the Major impatiently.
"But what about him? Explain yourself."

"If you please, sir, he wants to be one of your Rangers," Seth hastened
to reply, devoutly wishing that he had not undertaken the matter at

"Oh, he does, does he?" snorted the Major scornfully. "How good of him!
And what if I don't want him? Who is he anyway, and what does he know
about scouting?"

"Why, sir, he was with me that time I got so near Ticonderoga, and saw
what they were doing there," Seth replied, with a sudden access of
spirit, for Rogers' contemptuous way of speaking of his friend rather
nettled him.

"Oh, ho! was he, indeed?" exclaimed the Major in a somewhat changed
tone. "That makes a difference." Then, fixing his penetrating glance
upon Seth, while a slight curve softened the severe outline of his
lips, he demanded: "Do you think he's got as good stuff in him as you
have, and that he'd be any use to me?"

Seth, now master of himself, felt free to smile back at the
stern-visaged scout, who, he knew, was simply twitting him, and to
respond in the same vein:

"If you'll only try him, sir, you'll find that he's better than I am,
may be."

"Well, well, we'll see, we'll see," said the Major, resuming his pipe,
and Seth, taking this as a sign that the interview was closed, went
away to report to Reuben.

"And what do you think he'll do, Seth?" inquired Reuben anxiously.
"Will he let me join?"

"I'm not quite sure, Reuben," was Seth's reply. "But I hope so. You'll
just have to be patient."

The days slipped by without the Major taking any particular notice
of Reuben, and the poor fellow was about resigning himself to
disappointment when an incident occurred that brought about the
fulfilment of his desire in an unexpected manner.

The English by no means had a monopoly of the scouting. The French
on their part were hardly less active and venturesome, their Indian
allies being particularly enterprising, and frequently making their
way into the neighborhood of Fort William Henry, so that the members
of the garrison had to keep a constant lookout for the merciless
"hair-dressers," as they were facetiously called by their employers in
allusion to their partiality for scalps.

When not out on one of his prolonged expeditions, Major Rogers, who
could not keep still by any chance, was wont to spend the day roaming
through the adjacent woods, sometimes in quest of game, and sometimes
on the chance of lighting upon an Iroquois scout, and either taking him
prisoner or putting an end to his activities.

In these outings he usually went alone, having perfect confidence in
his ability to take care of himself, and being of a disposition that
did not need the constant companionship of his fellowmen.

One day late in January he had gone out to amuse himself in his
accustomed way, and as it happened Seth and Reuben, whose friendship
strengthened as the weeks went by, were also in the woods, hoping to
bag a few partridges to vary their monotonous diet of bacon and peas.

In this they had fair success, and, having ventured as far from the
fort as they thought wise, were on their way back when they caught
sight of Major Rogers at a little distance.

"See, there's the Major!" exclaimed Reuben, catching his companion's
arm and pointing out the tall form of the scout half hidden among the
trees. "I wonder if he's after partridges too, and if he has had any
better luck than we. Shall we call to him?"

"No, indeed," replied Seth emphatically. "He does not want our company.
He prefers his own."

"Then let us see if we can keep him in sight for a while without his
seeing us," suggested Reuben.

"All right," responded Seth, to whom the idea seemed a capital one, and
accordingly they proceeded to stalk the Major, who, all unconscious of
their proximity, was entirely absorbed in his own thoughts.

Taking the utmost care not to betray themselves, they followed him for
some distance, having no more definite purpose than simply to see if
they could do so without being discovered, and were quite enjoying the
joke of it when Reuben gave a sudden start, and, pulling Seth down to
the ground beside him, whispered in his ear:

"I see Indians! They're just over there, and Major Rogers is going
right toward them."

"Where? Where?" asked Seth excitedly. "Show them to me!"

Reuben pointed off to the right of where they lay, and Seth, fixing his
eyes upon the spot, was able to make out the dark forms of at least two
Indians crouching among the trees with the evident design of ambushing
the Major.

For the moment he knew not what to do--whether to warn the Major, or to
try a long shot at the Indians, and while he hesitated Reuben acted.

Springing to his feet in entire disregard of the danger he ran by thus
exposing himself, he shouted:

"Down, sir, down! The Indians!"

His voice rang out amid the stillness of the forest with the clearness
of a trumpet call, and the veteran scout, without pausing an instant
to ascertain whence it came, and where the danger warned against lay,
instantly threw himself flat upon the ground.

It was well for him he did. The sudden action certainly saved his life,
for close upon Reuben's timely shout came the report of a gun, and a
bullet whistled viciously past the very spot where the Major had been

Like an echo another report followed the first. It was from the gun of
Seth, who had been watching intently the movements of the Indians, and
the moment the latter exposed themselves in their anxiety to kill Major
Rogers he aimed and pulled trigger.

Although so quickly done as to be really nothing more than a snapshot,
a piercing yell told that the deadly missile had reached its mark, and
Seth chuckled as he hastened to reload, saying complacently:

"That settles one of them. Now for the other."

But the second Iroquois evidently had no idea of sharing the fate of
his companion. More like a shadow than a creature of flesh and blood he
stole through the underbrush, Reuben just managing to catch a glimpse
of him as he vanished over the top of a ridge, and he called to the
still prostrate Major:

"It's all right now, sir. One Indian is shot, and the other's run away."

With feelings somewhat divided between relief at his escape from an
ignominious death, and irritation at the undignified attitude he had
been compelled to assume in order to save himself, Major Rogers got
up, and stood gazing in grim silence at the young men who had hastened
toward him, eager to be assured that he had suffered no harm.

His stern look checked the words that were on their lips, and when they
had come within a few yards of him, they halted in some confusion, the
Major's reception of them was so entirely different from what under the
circumstances they were expecting.

For an appreciable, and so far as the two friends were concerned, quite
embarrassing interval they stood thus looking at each other, and then
Major Rogers spoke.

"Who was it saw the Indians first and gave me warning?" he asked in as
severe a tone as if he were questioning a criminal.

"It was I, sir," meekly responded Reuben.

"Ah! And you're the youth that wants to join my company?" continued the
Major, the hardness of his tone slightly relaxing. "Then----" and here
he paused, so that his words might have full effect--"you may consider
yourself a member. You have done me a service that I shall be in no
hurry to forget," and having thus delivered himself, he strode off in
the direction of Fort William.



It was with happy hearts that Seth and Reuben followed Major Rogers.
Reuben rejoiced in having his great desire gratified, while Seth not
only shared in his friend's joy, but was glad on his own account,
because they would not now be separated, but could serve side by side
against the enemy.

"I hope the Major will soon be starting out again," said Reuben, "and
will take us both with him. I'm just longing to be off on a scout,
ain't you, Seth?"

"Indeed I am," answered Seth. "It's so tiresome hanging around the
fort. If the French or the Indians would only have a try at us now and
then, I'd like it better."

This being their frame of mind, the delight with which they heard
that Colonel Glasier had given instruction to Major Rogers to make as
thorough as possible an examination of the strength of the enemy at
Crown Point and the fortifications they were constructing there may be
readily understood, and also how anxious they were to find out whether
or not they would form part of the scouting party.

Upon this point they were kept in uncertainty until a short time before
the Rangers were to set out, and they had almost resigned themselves to
being left behind when to their vast relief the Major sent for them,
and in his abrupt way commanded them to be ready to start in half an

They had no trouble in obeying the order, and at the appointed time the
scouting party, numbering fifty in all, marched away from the fort,
every man in the best of spirits and ready for any adventure or danger
that might be encountered.

At this time of year the bosom of the lake was so covered with snow
that it was not possible to skate, and they took snow-shoes instead,
carrying them strapped upon their backs until they should be needed.
Every one of Rogers' Rangers was almost as expert in the use of the
snow-shoes as were the Canadians, from whom they had learned their
value, and Seth and Reuben were very glad that they had made themselves
proficient in the art of the _raquette_ during the days of inaction at
the fort when they found they could keep their places in the swiftly
moving party without any difficulty.

The route chosen by Major Rogers lay well to the west of Lake George,
and for the first day the Rangers kept together, as there was slight
chance of meeting with any of the enemy.

But on the following days more precautions against being ambushed were
taken, the company breaking up into detachments, which followed one
another at a little distance, the whole party reuniting at mid-day and
at sundown.

By this shrewd arrangement the risk of them all falling into the hands
of the enemy was greatly reduced, as those in the lead could give
warning to those in the rear, and, though they might suffer themselves,
enable their comrades to beat a retreat if the odds were all against
them, or dash forward to the support of the vanguard if there was
anything like equal terms to be had.

Advancing thus, they made their way undiscovered and unopposed through
the trackless forest, startling the wild beasts from their lairs, and
flushing many a covey of plump partridges, which strongly tempted them
to use their guns; but their leader had sternly forbidden the firing
of a shot except at the enemy. He was not going to have his presence
betrayed for the sake of a bit of game.

Seth and Reuben managed to keep together and yet to extend their
acquaintance among the members of the band. For the most part they
found them congenial companions, although all were their seniors in age
as well as in service, and the gatherings around the campfire at night,
when pipes were out and stories swapped, were very pleasant after the
long day's tramping over rough ground.

At length, seven days after setting out from the fort, they arrived
within a mile of Crown Point, and, having concealed themselves in a
thickly wooded hollow, where they were open to attack from only one
direction, they awaited the further direction of their commander.

Every man fully realized the peril of the situation, and yet they were
all in the highest spirits.

"I wonder how long it will take the French to find out we are so near
them," said Seth to Reuben, with a smile of unconcern. "What wouldn't
they give to know just where we are! I suppose they'd see how soon they
could surround us and take us all prisoners."

"That would be their game most likely," responded Reuben, no less
lightly; "but they're not going to do it all the same. The Major knows
too much to be caught like a rat in a trap."

While the main body remained in the hollow, scouts were kept on all
sides to give warning if the enemy should appear, and in the mean while
Major Rogers, accompanied by a couple of his most trusted Rangers,
ventured to ascend a very steep mountain, from the summit of which they
could obtain a clear and full view of the fortification at Crown Point
and of the surrounding country.

The Major was highly pleased at gaining this point of view without
being discovered.

"Ah, ha!" he chuckled, as lying down upon his stomach, he peered over
the peak and saw the whole place spread out before him like a map,
with the French soldiers and the Canadians working away as busily as
beavers, while the Indians loafed lazily about, or sat curled up in
their blankets, as if they were quite above mere manual labor.

"Wouldn't it give our French friends a start if they knew we were
watching them? And what a fine fort they are building, to be sure! I
must make a plan of it to send to General Johnson. It's clear to me the
place can't be attacked too soon. The longer it's left the harder nut
it will be to crack. I must make the General understand that," and he
shook his head in the decisive way that was characteristic of him.

The position of the Rangers exposed them to the full power of the
wind and cold, but Major Rogers proceeded to make his plan of the
fortification as calmly as if he were in a comfortable room, and
did not stop until he had, in a rather rough yet quite intelligible
fashion, completed a sketch that would be of great value in the event
of an assault being made by the provincial forces in the future.

The rest of the Rangers "lay low" in their snug hiding-place, while
their leader was in the mountain-top, but so soon as he returned they
all moved out and made their way toward a little village situated about
half a mile from the fort.

Here, just before night fell, they went into ambush, one-half the party
taking their position on each side of the road connecting the village
with the fort, and settling down for the night as best they could on
the snow-covered ground.

Seth and Reuben curled up as close to each other as possible for mutual
warmth, and feeling it impossible to sleep on account of the cold,
talked through the long hours of darkness.

With the first break of day the Rangers were all awake and astir,
staying their hunger with such scanty fare as their nearly depleted
knapsacks provided, and seeing to it that their guns were ready for
instant use.

"Do not fire if you can help it, but make prisoners of whoever comes
along the road," was the Major's command, and with their nerves strung
up to the highest pitch of excitement they waited for victims.

Presently a Frenchman came into sight from the direction of the fort,
sauntering along in blissful ignorance of danger.

He was allowed to go unchallenged until well into the ambush, and then
Major Rogers, without permitting himself to be seen, called out in his
deep gruff voice:


The soldier jumped as if he had been shot at this startling
interruption of his morning walk and came to an instant stop, while
with bulging eyes he stared in the direction whence the sound had come.

In order to make sure that the man was alone Major Rogers kept himself
and his men hidden for a few minutes longer, and then, when he was
satisfied on that point, ordered Seth to go forward and seize the

On the latter perceiving only a youth coming toward him he regained his
courage somewhat, and showed signs of resisting, but the stern voice
of the Major bid him not be a fool, and the next instant the forms of
fifty armed men appeared on either side of the road.

This sight so terrified the poor fellow that he dropped upon his knees
and in his own tongue begged for mercy so piteously that Seth as he
laid hold of him was moved to say:

"Don't be so scared. We're not going to kill you. We're just taking you

The soldier could not understand his words, but he could the tone in
which they were uttered, and, looking into the face of his captor, he
said something which Seth on his part failed to comprehend, but which
really was a passionate promise to do whatever they wanted of him if
only they would spare his life.

"Bring him in here out of sight and don't stand there palavering,"
roared the Major, and Seth, whose attention had for the moment been
diverted by the Frenchman's flutterings, laid hold of him by the
shoulder and pushed him off the road into the trees, where he was
promptly bound and gagged so that he could not give them any trouble.

"That's one fish caught," said the Major grimly. "We'll see if we can't
land some more before the place gets too hot for us."

For the next hour no sign of life showed upon the road, and the Rangers
began to grow restless, as was natural enough, considering that they
were in so close proximity to the enemy, who might at any time come
out against them in such force that they could not hope to offer any
opposition, but must seek safety in flight.

At length, just when one of the Rangers had been sent across the road
by Major Rogers with a message for those on the other side, two more
Frenchmen appeared walking rapidly, as if upon an important mission.

"Look sharp now and nab those two fellows!" called the Major to his
men, but before they could obey the order the Frenchmen had caught
sight of the Ranger crossing the road.

Instantly they saw their danger, and, turning upon their heels, started
on the full run back to the fort.

"Catch them! Catch the scoundrels!" roared the Major, furious at the
possibility of their escaping him, and half a score of the Rangers set
off in pursuit, Seth and Reuben being among the number.

But good runners though they were, the fugitives were also fleet of
foot, and, moreover, they had the advantage of a considerable start,
and thus they managed to keep out of reach of their pursuers (who did
not dare use their guns, as the report would be heard at Crown Point),
until they got so near the fort that the Rangers were fain to abandon
the chase lest they themselves should be ambushed and cut off from
their companions.

Accordingly, much chagrined, they hastened back to where Major Rogers
awaited them with a face like a thundercloud.

"So you let them get away from you, eh?" he growled. "You're no better
than cows to run. You'd better practise up your running."

"We'll leave that to the Frenchies, Major," responded Lieutenant Stark
brightly. "We don't want to know how to run, but to stand and fight."

Instead of being incensed at this courageous sally, the Major allowed a
suspicion of a smile to lighten the gloom of his countenance, and with
a decided change of tone said:

"That's all right, Stark, as a general thing; but I reckon we'll show
more sense by doing a little running ourselves just now than by
staying here. Those two Frenchies will soon have the whole garrison out
after us."

There was no gainsaying the soundness of this, and so without more ado
the whole body of Rangers beat a retreat into the depths of the forest,
to remain there hidden until they could be sure that they were not
being hunted for by the garrison of Crown Point.



Although Major Rogers had entirely succeeded in the chief purpose of
his expedition, namely, to obtain a full understanding of what the
French were about at Crown Point, and had, moreover, captured one of
their soldiers, who was quite ready to tell all he knew, provided
his life was spared, he was not content to return to Fort William
Henry without leaving behind evidence of his visit that would make it
remembered by the enemy. Accordingly, after what he deemed a sufficient
period of lying low, he said to his men:

"If I'm not mistaken there's a good store of grain in that village,
which, as we can't take it away with us, we'll have to burn up so that
the Frenchies and their friends won't have it to depend upon, and we
might kill off a few of their cattle, too. They mustn't be allowed to
live too well here or they'll be too anxious to stay."

The Rangers laughed at their leader's way of putting things, and
replied that they were ready to do whatever he had in mind.

"Let us take a good look at the village, then, and see where it's best
to begin," said the Major.

Breaking up into parties of ten, they advanced upon the village from
different directions, and at sight of them the terrified inhabitants
fled to their houses, in which they shut themselves without any thought
of offering resistance.

"I hope we won't have to set the houses on fire," whispered Seth to
Reuben as they drew near a rude dwelling, which he judged sheltered
women and children. "I don't mind how many barns we burn, but I don't
want to have a hand in hurting the poor people."

"Oh, surely Major Rogers won't do anything to them!" Reuben exclaimed
under his breath. "We're not Indians."

They had no need to be anxious upon this score, however, for the Major,
while merciless enough in his methods where it seemed necessary to be
so, had no thought of following the shocking example set by the French
in their harrying of the borders. He waged war against men, not against
women and children.

But as much damage as possible had to be done, so the torch was applied
to the barns, and the cattle were killed in the yards, and when the
Rangers departed they left that part of the village in flames.

"What can the garrison of the fort be about that they haven't come
after us?" queried Reuben naturally enough, when at last they turned
their faces homeward; but no one could answer him. Whatever was the
reason, whether they imagined the invaders to be in much greater force
than they were, or whether they had no stomach to try a brush with them
in the forest, certainly the French kept within their own defences
and allowed the daring Rangers to go away unchallenged and unscathed,
leaving the burning village as a hint of what they would do to Crown
Point itself at the first opportunity.

Just ten days after they had set out they were back at Fort William
Henry, whose commander warmly praised their leader for the success
of his undertaking and the exceedingly important information he had

A period of quiet followed, during which the garrison made shift to
while away the time with such sports as were possible in mid-winter.
They had snow fights, and snowshoe races, and they practised shooting
at a mark, and they had wrestling matches, and whatever other
amusements could be devised for either outdoor or indoors.

Into all this Seth entered with keen zest, and being so active and
agile of both brain and body, rather more than held his own with the
majority of his associates, which fact did not pass unnoticed by the
all-observant Major, and no doubt had much to do with the pleasant
surprise that he gave him when he sent for him one morning in March.

Seth found the Major in his room with a letter before him, from which
he lifted his eyes to look him over with a searching glance that gave
Seth a nervous feeling, and caused him to wonder in his mind what was
on the carpet.

"Have you ever been to Boston, young man?" he was asked in a tone that
afforded no hint of the purpose of the question.

"No, sir," replied Seth, "I have not."

"How would you like to go there?" was the next question.

Now to a frontier lad, who had never set foot in a city of any size,
Boston naturally loomed very large and wonderful, and the idea of
seeing it for himself could not be otherwise than highly attractive, so
that it was without hesitation Seth answered:

"Why, very much indeed, sir. Do you want to send me there?"

"I don't want to _send_ you, but I have some notion of _taking_ you,"
the Major responded in his brusk way, and then went on to say that the
letter in his hand was from General Shirley, Commander-in-Chief of the
King's forces in North America, who was at Boston making preparations
for the ensuing campaign, and had desired Major Rogers to wait upon
him at Boston to receive his instructions.

Seth listened with eager ears. To have the trip to Boston, and there
to see not only the famous city, but the great General, under whose
command the war would be carried on, this certainly was an opportunity
such as he had not dreamed of, and his heart beat quickly as he waited
for the Major's definite instructions. When they came, they were
characteristically brief and to the point.

"I'll take you with me," he said. "You can be of use to me. We'll start
this afternoon. Get your things packed and be ready right after dinner."

In great glee Seth hurried off to tell the good news to Reuben, who
warmly congratulated him upon his good luck, while he frankly expressed
his envy.

"I've been wanting to go to Boston for ever so long too. I wonder when
my chance will come," he said ruefully. "You seem always to get the
good things first."

"Oh! your turn will come all right!" responded Seth, patting him on the
back. "We'll go to Boston together some fine day, see if we don't."

The summons of Major Rogers to the presence of the Commander-in-Chief
aroused much curiosity at the fort, and many were the conjectures as
to what it meant, but if the veteran Ranger had any idea of his own he
shrewdly kept it to himself.

They set out early in the afternoon, directing their course for Albany,
on the Hudson River, and as the danger of being attacked by Indians in
league with the French had to be considered, Major Rogers deemed it
prudent to have ten of his Rangers accompany them that far, and then
return to Fort William Henry.

To Seth, whose experience of the world was so slight, even Albany,
then little more than a thriving town, was a revelation, and he would
have been glad to spend some days there seeing the sights and getting
acquainted with the people, but the Major was not the man to dally by
the way. To him Albany was of slight consequence. Boston filled his
mind, and if there had been any lightning express trains in that day as
there are now connecting the two cities, he certainly would have taken
the first one leaving the railway station.

But there was nothing better then than the lumbering stage coach, that
jolted its slow way over the New Connecticut Road, as it was called,
which wound its somewhat devious course from Albany to Boston.

"Confound the old rattle-trap!" growled the short-tempered Major as the
heavy coach swayed and pitched over the rough coach road. "I wish we
had taken horse. We'd save time and have more comfort."

Seth, however, although he was too discreet to say so, did not at all
agree with his chief. It was his first long ride in a stage coach, and
it gratified a desire cherished from his earliest boyhood, and even
if the vehicle was clumsy and the roads were rough, he was enjoying
himself in no small degree.

From Albany to Springfield, thence to Brookfield, and so by Worcester
and Marlborough the post road ran, but before reaching their
destination in Boston they had an adventure which aptly illustrated the
unwisdom of waking up the wrong passenger.

They travelled all night as well as all day, for the coach carried
the mails, and about half-way between Worcester and Boston, on a
particularly lonely spot, where the road lay along the bottom of a
ravine, shut in by tree-clad hills, rising steeply on either side, the
slow-going conveyance was suddenly brought to a full stop, in obedience
to the command of two masked men on horseback, who covered the driver
with their pistols as they sternly shouted:

"Stop! or we'll shoot you!"

Quite convinced that discretion was the better part of valor, the
driver promptly reined up his horses, whereupon the men, dismounting
from theirs, said roughly to the alarmed passengers, most of whom had
been awakened from a doze:

"Come now, hand over your purses, and be quick about it!"

None of them had been more soundly asleep than Major Rogers, and on
first awaking he did not at once grasp the situation, so that Seth
whispered in his ear:

"It's robbers, sir; they want our money."

At this the veteran scout understood, and instantly set his quick wits
to work to meet the emergency.

"Don't speak or move until I tell you," he whispered to Seth, "but get
your pistol ready."

The Major then lay back in his seat again, as though paralyzed with

Meanwhile the other passengers were fumbling in their pockets and
getting out their purses, one of the highwaymen holding a lantern up in
his left hand so as to make sure that all were obeying orders.

Warmly wrapped as everybody was, with their purses and watches in their
innermost pockets, the process of getting at them could not be a very
quick one, and the highwaymen swore fiercely at them because they were
not so expeditious as they thought they might be.

Not one of them made any show of resistance. They seemed thoroughly
cowed by the levelled pistols, and when their valuables had been
extracted from the depths of their pockets, handed them over to the
rascals as meekly as if it was quite the proper thing to do.

At last only Major Rogers and Seth were left, and the larger of the two
highwaymen, who was evidently the leader, emphasizing the order with a
full-flavored oath, shouted at them:

"Now then, you two, hand over your money, and be quick about it!"

Without stirring in his seat the Major whispered to Seth:

"I'll take the man with the lantern. You take the other."

And then suddenly rising, he pointed with his left hand beyond the
robbers and called out joyfully:

"There they are! They're just in time!"



Instinctively the highwaymen turned their heads to see what Major
Rogers meant, and as they did the latter, hissing through his clenched

"Now then, Seth. Shoot the scoundrels!" whipped out his pistol and
fired, Seth doing likewise so promptly that the two reports sounded
almost like one.

With a groan and a cry of agony the two wretches, mortally wounded,
fell to the ground, dropping the lantern, which, of course, was at once
extinguished, leaving everything in darkness.

Vastly relieved at this sudden and surprising change in the situation,
the driver was about to whip up his horses and make off when the stern
voice of the Major rang out:

"Hold there! Don't start until I bid you!"

The man dropped the whip and reined in the horses.

"Jump out, Seth, and find the lantern," was the Major's next order,
which Seth made haste to execute.

The lantern was found and relit, and then the Major proceeded to
examine the fallen men.

They were both dead already, the Rangers' aim, in spite of the
imperfect light and quickness of action, having been unerring, and
as the Major regarded them with an expression, curiously blended, of
triumph and pity, he said grimly:

"You poor fools! You've got your deserts, but you should have known
better than to try and rob _me_."

The emphasis he put upon the last word was not lost upon his
fellow-passengers, who looked at one another sheepishly, for they now
felt thoroughly ashamed of their cowardice, and they hastened to cover
their confusion by volubly expressing their gratitude to the Major for
his gallant conduct.

"Recover your purses and watches, gentlemen," was his only response,
however, and when that had been done, and the bodies of the two
ill-starred highwaymen had been decently disposed of at the side of the
road to await the action of the authorities, who would be informed in
due course, the coach resumed its journey.

After they had settled down again in their seats Seth got a chance to
ask the question which had been on his lips:

"Whom did you mean, sir, when you said: 'There they are! They're just
in time!' and pointed behind the robbers?"

Major Rogers chuckled complacently.

"Whom do you think I meant? Why nobody, of course. It was just a ruse
to fool the rascals and get them to turn their heads so that we could
fire first. And how easily they were taken in!" and he chuckled again
at the success of his scheme.

Seth's admiration for his commander was vastly increased by this
fresh proof of his courage and resourcefulness, and as for the other
passengers, they professed that he was a perfect hero, and that no
words of praise were too strong for what he had done.

At last the tiresome journey came to an end, and as the coach lumbered
through the tortuous streets of Boston Seth's heart beat high with
expectation. He was now in the big city, and the days before him could
not fail to be full of novelty and interest.

They put up at a comfortable tavern where the Major was well known, and
the best accommodation the house afforded was placed at his disposal.
It was a very ordinary establishment, and in no wise resembled a modern
hotel; but to Seth's untravelled eyes it seemed quite grand and the
substantial fare that burdened the tables sumptuous indeed.

The morning after their arrival Major Rogers said:

"I have certain business to attend to that will take me the best part
of the day and you will have to look after yourself. You'd better go
out and see the town, but mind where you go, and don't get lost. I'll
be back by supper-time."

"All right, sir," responded Seth cheerily, much pleased at the idea of
being left to his own devices. "I'll take good care of myself."

After the Major, attired in his best uniform, had set out, Seth
inquired the way to the waterside, for he was first of all anxious to
see the shipping.

He found the wharves crowded with shipping, and was immensely
interested in the bustle and noise as the sailors, with many a shout
and song, toiled away at loading or unloading the cargoes. It was
all new to him, and he did not hesitate to ask many questions of the
weather-beaten men, some of whom answered him civilly enough, while
others were decidedly gruff, and others still, rightly judging that he
was a country lad, tried to run rigs on him.

But Seth was too shrewd to be fooled very far. He understood pretty
well when he was being answered correctly, and he picked up a good deal
of information as he strolled about in an apparently aimless way.

One of the largest ships which hailed from England was discharging a
cargo of general goods bewildering in variety, and as Seth talked with
one of the sailors he was thinking to himself:

"How I'd like to go across the ocean to England and see everything
there! It must be a wonderful place. I wonder will I ever have the

The possibility of his realizing his desire seemed remote enough, but
that fact did not trouble him, and he made a mental resolution to get
over to the Mother Land some day, however distant it might be.

His pleasant meditations were at this point interrupted by cries of
pain and terror, coming from a boy who was evidently being cruelly
treated, and instinctively he hastened to see what was the matter.

On the other side of a great pile of casks he found a hulking fellow of
the wharf-rat genus ill-using a small boy who was vainly endeavoring to
escape from his clutches.

Instantly his ire was aroused, and without taking thought of the
consequences, but simply obeying the chivalrous impulse to rescue the
little victim from the ruffian, he sprang forward, and, seizing the
latter by the shoulders, flung him upon his back, at the same time
saying to the released boy:

"Run now! I'll not let the brute follow you!"

The little chap at first obeyed, but had not gone many yards ere he
stopped and looked back, being anxious to see how it fared with his
timely rescuer.

The wharf rat had been so taken by surprise and thrown so hard that for
a moment he lay prostrate and breathless, but the next moment he was
up, and with a foul oath hurled himself upon Seth, who had stood his
ground so as to protect the flight of the boy.

So far as size and weight went the ruffian had decidedly the best of
it, and if Seth had permitted him to get at close grips and fight in
his own rough and tumble fashion, it certainly might have gone hard
with him.

But he had more sense than to do that. He rightly judged his
assailant's purpose, and when the latter was almost upon him, sprang
quickly aside and thrust out his foot, at the same time landing with
his right fist upon the fellow's head.

Down he went again, this time forward instead of backward, and now,
utterly infuriated, he seized a large stone as he rose, and was about
to hurl it at Seth, who could hardly have evaded the missile at such
short range, when his arm was grasped by a newcomer upon the scene, who
said to him sternly:

"Drop that, you rascal! If you don't fight fair, I'll throw you into
the dock."

With a wolfish snarl he turned upon the speaker, as though he would
strike him with the stone, but his uplifted hand dropped quickly, and
there was something of a whine in his tone as he said:

"What did he hit me for? I wasn't doing nothing to him."

"Why did you hit him?" inquired the man of Seth. "What mischief was he
up to?"

"He was beating that boy, sir," answered Seth promptly, "and I
interfered. He had no business to be hurting a little fellow like that."

"Ah, ha, just as I supposed, you miserable cur!" and as he spoke the
wharfinger, who had kept hold of the bully, gave him a good shake.
"Now, look here, if you're so anxious to use your fists, why don't you
take some one of your own size? I dare say this stranger would not
object to having a round or two with you if you want it."

Seth smiled and nodded his head. Assured of fair play by the presence
of the wharfinger, he was indignant enough with the bully to feel quite
in the humor of giving him a good pummelling.

Not so, however, the other. He had already had sufficient taste of
Seth's quality to show him that he was an antagonist by no means to
be despised, and instead of accepting the challenge thus offered, he
hung down his head and slunk off out of sight, while the wharfinger,
chuckling at his discomfiture, turned to Seth and asked him courteously
if there was anything he could do for him, as he seemed to be a

"No, thank you, sir," Seth responded brightly. "I'm just amusing myself
looking around. I never saw big ships before. I've always lived in the

"And I suppose everything about here is very new and strange to you,"
the wharfinger broke in. "Come along with me and I'll explain things a
bit and then you'll understand better."

Nothing could have suited Seth better. He had been puzzled by many
things he saw, but shrank from asking questions of the busy men about
him, but now, thanks to his new acquaintance, all would be made clear.

The wharfinger asked him some questions about himself, and was
evidently much interested when he learned that he was a member of
Rogers' Rangers, the fame of whose exploits had reached even to Boston.

"And you say Major Rogers is in Boston now," he exclaimed. "Well, well!
I must try and see him. I should esteem it an honor to shake hands with
the man who has done such wonderful things if all accounts of him be

Seth assured him that the Major was quite as great a hero as he was
reported to be, and added that if the wharfinger would come up to the
tavern that evening he would introduce him to the great man.

This suggestion pleased the wharfinger very much, and so in great
mutual good humor they began their round of the ships and warehouses.

This was pure enjoyment for Seth. He asked as many questions as a
school-boy, and to every one of them received an enlightening answer.
They went on board several of the ships, descending into their holds
and visiting their cabins, and chatting with their officers, some
of whom showed them hearty hospitality, and altogether it was a
rich experience to Seth, whose keen eyes took in everything, while
his active mind stored away what he heard, and he said to himself

"Won't I have a lot to tell Reuben and the rest of them at the fort
when I go back."

One of the captains whose vessel they boarded, just at mid-day,
insisted upon their sitting down to dinner with him, and after some
demur they consented, because it seemed easier to do so than to refuse
him, and it was consequently well into the afternoon ere Seth was able
to get away from his new friends and return to the tavern, where he
found Major Rogers wondering what had become of him.

The Major was in high feather, and, although not ordinarily inclined to
be communicative, after cutting short Seth's account of the way he had
spent the morning, he proceeded to relate with great gusto how it had
fared with him.

It seemed that his reception by General Shirley was very cordial,
and the Commander-in-Chief had said many flattering things about
the value of his services as a pleasant preliminary to the highly
gratifying information that he had decided to give him the command of
an independent company of Rangers, and he was to wait upon him the
following morning in order to receive his commission and instructions
for future action.

"Why, isn't that fine!" Seth exclaimed, his countenance glowing with
pride and pleasure, for he heartily shared in his leader's feeling.
"You will be your own master now, won't you, and do just what you like?"

"To a certain extent, yes," responded the Major complacently, "but
not entirely. I shall have, of course, to work together with those
in command at the forts, but my Rangers will have no one to obey but

"And what is the great General like?" Seth asked, with boyish
curiosity. "Is he very big and splendid, and everything grand about

Major Rogers smiled indulgently at his young companion.

"I don't think I'll tell you. I'll leave you to judge for yourself. You
can come with me to-morrow morning when I go to get my commission."

"Oh! can I?" cried Seth, his face radiant at the prospect. "You are
very good. I'll be so glad to go."

That evening the wharfinger called as he had promised, and Seth, now
prouder of his chief than ever, lost no time in telling him of the new
honors conferred upon the Major ere he led him into his presence.

The two men were soon on easy terms, and Seth keenly enjoyed their
conversation as they exchanged experiences, the one being so familiar
with the life of the sea and the other with the life of the forest.
Altogether it was a memorable day for the backwoods youth, and yet
as he lay down to sleep it was with lively anticipation of yet more
notable events which the morrow held in store for him.



It was with scrupulous care that Seth dressed himself on the following
morning. To be sure, he had only his simple Ranger uniform to wear,
but he took pains to be as neat as possible, and it became his shapely
sinewy figure so well that more than one of those he met on the street
turned to have a second look at him, and to wonder to what regiment he

Major Rogers was in high spirits, and talked freely as they walked at a
good pace to Government House.

"You may consider yourself pretty lucky to have had this trip to
Boston, Seth," he said in a tone of paternal patronage, that showed he
wished his companion fully to appreciate his good fortune. "Not many of
my men have ever been here, and none of them I'm sure has ever seen the
Governor, and you will not only see him, but may have a chance to speak
to him."

"I do, indeed, think myself lucky, and I'm more obliged to you for
bringing me here than I can tell you, sir," responded Seth, with a
conviction that left no doubt as to his sincerity and quite satisfied
the Major, who smiled in a kindly way upon him, and, patting him on the
shoulder, said:

"That's all right, Seth. I brought you along just because I thought
you'd get more good out of the trip than almost any of the other
fellows, and I guess I haven't made a mistake."

This implied compliment warmed Seth's heart and helped to brace him up
for the ordeal of appearing before the famous Governor, of whom he had
heard so much.

They were promptly ushered into the great man's presence. Governor
Shirley, Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's forces in North America,
although now well past sixty years of age, had lost little of his
vigor and none of his enterprise, and, despite his being a lawyer by
profession, took a keener interest in martial matters than in anything
else. The one supreme ambition of his life was to overthrow the
French power and make the whole North American continent an English
possession, and to the fulfilment of this great purpose he devoted
himself with an energy and determination that were altogether admirable.

In Major Rogers he had a man after his own heart--one who shared to the
full his hatred of the French, and his passionate desire to see them
driven back across the Atlantic, and he did not hesitate to say that
had he only been a younger man he would have liked nothing better than
to become a Ranger himself, and pit his daring and skill in scouting
against French and Indian wiles.

His reception, therefore, was entirely gracious, and when the Major
presented Seth, who felt very much abashed, he said to him genially:

"And so this is one of your young men, Major. He seems to be made of
the right stuff."

Then, addressing Seth, he added: "How do you like being a Ranger? Do
you prefer it to being in the ranks?"

Seth lifted his head and with glowing countenance replied heartily:

"Yes, indeed, your Excellency; I never want to be anything else than a

"That speaks well for your method of command, Major," said the
Governor, with a smile. "If all your men held the same opinion, there
is no fear of them failing in their duty or loyalty, and now if our
young friend will withdraw I will have a word with you alone."

Seth, though greatly pleased at the Governor's kind words, was glad
enough to return to the ante-room, where, in conversation with one of
the aides-in-waiting, he passed the time until Major Rogers came out

On their way back to the tavern the Major gave him the further
particulars of his interview and the instructions he had received. His
company was to be composed of sixty privates, three sergeants, an
ensign, and a lieutenant, and they must all be picked men, thoroughly
used to forest life, and of unquestionable courage and fidelity.

"My brother Richard will, of course, be my lieutenant," he went on with
a keen look at Seth, who was listening intently, "but I have not yet
quite settled who will be ensign. Who do you think would be the best

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Seth quite innocently, for he had no
glimmering of the Major's drift. "I expect any of the men would be glad
to be ensign."

"How would you like it yourself, my lad?" asked the Major, laying his
hand upon his shoulder.

Seth started and flushed to the roots of his hair. That the choice
should fall upon him had not entered his head, yet there was evident
earnestness in his chief's tone.

"I?" he exclaimed, half incredulously. "I'm not fit. I don't know
enough. I'm too young."

The Major smiled approvingly, for he liked his spirit of modesty.

"What you don't know, you can learn, and you'll learn all the better
for being young. I think I'll give you a trial anyway."

Seth could hardly believe his ears. It seemed too good to be true, and
yet he knew the Major too well to suspect him of jesting.

"You are very good, sir," he faltered. "I will do my best to please
you, and if I fail, then you must try somebody else."

"All right then, that's a bargain," laughed the Major. "I'll appoint
you my ensign, and if you should not prove yourself fit for the
position, I'll be free to try somebody else."

And thus the matter, which meant so much to Seth, was settled, and he
went back to Fort William Henry in an even happier frame of mind than
he had left it the fortnight before, and fairly bursting with eagerness
to tell Reuben Thayer all about his trip, and how wonderfully well
Major Rogers had treated him.

Reuben was impatiently awaiting his friend's return, and having a
nature entirely free from petty jealousy, heartily shared in his joy
and pride, at the same time expressing the hope that Seth's altered
rank would make no difference in their friendship.

"No, indeed, Reuben," responded Seth emphatically. "We'll be just the
same friends as ever I'm sure, even if sometimes you have to take
orders from me, for, of course, we will both of us just be doing our

With his wonted promptitude and energy Major Rogers set about forming
his company. There was no lack of material. At Albany as well as at the
fort the men offered themselves in numbers. The difficulty was to pick
and choose.

In this the Major allowed no other consideration than the personal
qualifications of the man to influence him. He would have nothing but
the best, and when he had finished his task, he certainly had gathered
together a band of forest fighters whose superiors could hardly have
been found throughout the province.

A proper allowance for equipment having been made by the
Commander-in-Chief, the Rangers were fitted out with everything
necessary, and presented a really fine appearance when they were
paraded at Fort William Henry.

Major Rogers surveyed them with pride and pleasure, that he took no
pains to conceal, lighting up his usually stern features.

"They're a likely lot," he said to Colonel Glasier, "and after they
have had a season of it with me, they'll give the French all the
trouble they want and more too."

"No doubt--no doubt," assented the Colonel, none too cordially, for,
to tell the truth, he was a trifle jealous of Rogers' Company, and
inclined to think that too much was being made of them.

Major Rogers quite understood this, but was too shrewd to appear to do
so. It suited him best to keep on good terms with the other officers,
and particularly with those in command of the forts, and he took care
to avoid all ground of friction.

At this full dress parade, for so it might be considered, he read to
his men for the first time the instructions received from Commander
Shirley, and they certainly outlined an extensive programme that
afforded unlimited scope for daring enterprise.

They ran in part as follows:

"You are from time to time to use your best endeavors to distress the
French and their allies by sacking, burning, and destroying their
houses, barns, barracks, canoes, bateaux, etc., and by killing their
cattle of every kind, and at all times to endeavor to waylay, attack,
and destroy their convoys of provisions, by land and by water, in any
part of the country where you can find them."

"Plenty of work there, and lots of danger too," remarked Seth to
Reuben when the reading of the instructions, to which they had been
attentively listening, was over.

"Yes, indeed; but I don't mind that, and I don't care how soon we are
given something to do. We've been shut up in this old fort so long that
I'm sick of it," was Reuben's characteristic response.

As it happened, they had not much longer to bide their time, for
presently Major Rogers received orders to see what the enemy were about
at Crown Point, and he set off thither with a part of his company.

Although spring was at hand, the snow still lay deep in the densest
parts of the forests, and it was wet and mushy in other parts, so that
the Rangers could not make as rapid progress as they wanted, and the
first week of May had nearly ended ere they reached the eastern shores
of Lake Champlain, about four miles south of Crown Point.

"Now, Rangers," said their leader, "we'll hide our packs here so as not
to be weighted by them, and then push ahead until we get as near Crown
Point as we can without being seen."

Considering how completely they were in their enemies' country, and how
easy it would be for the latter, if they discovered them, to surround
them and cut off their retreat, the light-hearted way in which they
obeyed orders certainly betokened an indifference to danger that was
almost heroic. They literally held their lives in their hands, and yet
not a trace of anxiety or concern showed upon their countenances.

Advancing cautiously two miles farther, they came to a little village,
which appeared to be deserted, for not a sign of life could they make

But the Major was too sagacious a scout to take anything for granted.
The silent village might be only a cleverly designed trap, into which
he had not the slightest notion of falling.

"Seth," he said to his Ensign, "take five men with you and reconnoitre
that place. The rest of us will stay here until you have found out all
you can about it."

Well pleased at being chosen for this perilous service, Seth quickly
named his men, one of them, of course, being Reuben, and then, dividing
them up into three couples, directed how they should approach the
village from different directions.

Taking advantage of every bit of cover, the Rangers crept toward the
little group of log houses which composed the village, not knowing at
what moment there might come spurts of smoke from their windows, and
the crack of muskets be followed by the whistle of bullets.

But the strange silence of the place continued, until at last Seth felt
convinced that it was really untenanted, and, rising to his feet, said:

"Come on, Reuben, there's nobody there."

It seemed a rash proceeding, but he had made no mistake. The village
was deserted, although it showed signs of recent occupation, and when,
in response to Seth's signal, the rest of the Rangers came up, they
ransacked it thoroughly without finding anything of value, not even a
morsel of food, which they would have been very glad to get.

"I don't quite understand this," said Major Rogers, tugging at his
beard. "The place is all right to live in--why, then, should they
abandon it?"

"Perhaps they're expecting us to attack them, and they've all gone into
the fort," Seth suggested.

"I reckon it must be something like that," the Major assented, "and if
it wouldn't give the alarm over there and bring the garrison out after
us, like hornets from their nest, I'd set these houses on fire. But
I'll have to leave them for the present."

So the silent village was spared, and the Rangers returned to the
lakeside, opposite to Crown Point where they lay in hiding the whole of
the day following in the hope that some of the enemy might cross the
lake and fall into their hands. But they waited in vain, for none of
the French came within their reach.

A little before sundown a regular fleet of batteaux and canoes
appeared. They had evidently come from St. Johns, on the north, and
carried not less than 500 men.

At the sight of them the Major's face grew troubled and he shook his
head, muttering:

"The first batch, no doubt, and many more to follow. They'll be having
more men at Crown Point by midsummer than we'll have at Albany."

Dangerous as their situation was, the Rangers remained there one more
night, and the next morning killed a number of cattle that were
roaming about, taking only their tongues, as they could not burden
themselves with the meat.

They had just finished a very much needed and refreshing repast on
these when Reuben, who had been to the shores, hurried back, crying:

"They're coming after us! A dozen canoes full of French and Indians are
crossing right towards us! We've not a minute to lose!"

Major Rogers took one quick look, to make sure that Reuben was right,
and then ordered his men to scatter through the forest and find their
way by different routes to where they had hidden their packs.



The Rangers would, of course, have much preferred keeping together, but
they quite understood the wisdom of their leader's plan, and dutifully
did as they were told.

Seth struck off to the east, with the idea of making a long detour and
then steering straight for the rendezvous. He could get through the
forest at a surprising rate of speed, and ere many minutes had passed
had put such a distance between himself and the enemy that he had
little to fear from their pursuit.

But they were not the only source of danger. He knew well that the
whole country round about was being constantly traversed by scouting
parties of Indians in the pay of the French, and if he should be
captured by any of them he was far more likely to be made the victim of
their fiendish ingenuity as torturers, and to be finally tomahawked and
scalped, than to be delivered over to the French as a prisoner of war.

Still he did not allow these thoughts, disquieting as they were, to
depress his spirit. The dangers that threatened were just what were to
be expected, and so long as he continued a member of Rogers' band they
would have to be faced.

"The Major was right enough, of course, in making us scatter like
this," he said to himself philosophically, "but all the same I'll be
everlastingly glad when we all get together again."

Guided by his compass he pursued his lonely way through the forest
until sundown, and then looked about for some snug spot in which to
pass the night.

It was cold enough to render a fire almost a necessity, but, although
he had a well-equipped tinder-box, he did not attempt to make a blaze,
lest it should betray him to some skulking Indians.

A small portion of ox tongue, cold and tasteless, served him for
supper, and he lay down on some moss at the roots of a big tree to pass
the long hours of the night as best he could.

The cold chilled him to the marrow, and hunger gnawed at his vitals.
The forest that was so silent during the day now gave forth sinister
sounds as the birds and beasts of prey hunted eagerly for victims.
First far off and then nearer, one answering to another, the
blood-curdling howl of wolves echoed through the darkness, and Seth,
shivering with cold, hugged his trusty gun tightly, and hoped that the
fierce brutes would not scent him.

He wondered where the others were, and what distance separated him
from them. If only Reuben were with him, his situation would not be
quite so miserable; but Reuben had taken a southerly direction, and was
no doubt miles away at the moment.

The horrid howling of the wolves drew nearer, and the unpleasant
conviction began to force itself upon him that they had found him out
and were of a mind to hold a nocturnal banquet on his body.

"They'll have to pay dearly for their supper," he soliloquized grimly,
"for I'll kill as many of them as I can first, but if the pack is a big
one, they're bound to get me in the end, unless"--and at the idea his
heart leaped and the blood coursed warmly through his veins--"I keep
them off with a big fire. I'll do it and risk the Indians being round."

With trembling fingers he went to work and, of course, the first
attempts to light the dry moss with a spark from his tinder-box failed,
but he tried again and again, and at last succeeded in starting a tiny
flame, which he sedulously fanned into a blaze.

There was no lack of fuel at hand, and, piling this on, he presently
had a glowing fire, that lit up the far-reaching forest aisles, and
revealed the proximity of the wolves by being reflected in their
gleaming eyeballs.

"Just in time!" he ejaculated fervently. "They'll keep their distance
so long as the fire lasts, but if it goes out, they'll be on me quick."

If he had had only the wolves to consider, he would have seized the
opportunity to do execution amongst them that they afforded by sitting
upon their haunches and gazing hungrily at him; but the report of his
gun might betray him to the enemy if any of them were within hearing
of it, and so he was fain to content himself with speculating how many
of them he might kill before the pack would have the sense to take to

The fire burned so brightly that, in spite of the purpose for which it
was lit, he found it cheering to his spirit, but it required a lot of
wood to keep it going, and after a while he had gathered all that was
near at hand, and must needs go farther from the protecting flames in
order to keep up the supply.

This, of course, brought him nearer to the waiting wolves, and they
were quick to snap at him menacingly, so that he had to make sudden
dashes out and in again to the circle of safety.

Presently he bethought himself of a better plan.

"I'll be a magician and carry a wand that will be my protection," he
said to himself, smiling at the childish notion, which, nevertheless,
he put into execution, for, seizing a blazing brand from the heart of
the fire, he swung it before him shouting.

"Avaunt, ye fiends! Begone into the darkness!" (quoting from a book of
legends he had read in his school-days) and charged dauntlessly at his
determined besiegers.

The seemingly desperate expedient succeeded beyond his expectations.
The frightened wolves fled howling before him, and he had time to
secure more than one big armful of wood ere they recovered from their
panic sufficiently to resume the siege.

Seth laughed at the brutes being so easily fooled, and congratulated
himself on having solved the problem which at first promised to be so

What between the heat of the fire and the warmth due to his exertions,
he had lost all thought of the cold, and if only Reuben or any other
of the Rangers had been there to keep him company he would not have
minded the situation at all, save that he never forgot the possibility
of Indians suddenly announcing their presence by a well-aimed bullet or
the whiz of a tomahawk.

But the hours went by, and the wolves were still kept at bay, and no
wolves in human guise appeared, and at last the darkness gave way to

The new day found Seth sorely tired, and suffering from hunger and
loss of sleep, but far from despondent. He knew pretty well in what
direction to steer in order to reach the rendezvous, and he at once set
off, for the wolves had slunk away with the night, and he had nothing
more to fear from them.

He pushed forward as rapidly as the nature of the ground permitted,
keeping a keen lookout in every direction for either friends or
enemies, and hoping as strongly to meet the first as to avoid the

The morning had well advanced, however, before anything that resembled
a fellow-being crossed his vision, and then he was somewhat startled by
catching a glimpse of a human form several hundred yards distant.

"Can that be an Indian or a Canadian?" he asked himself, "and I wonder
if he's alone."

He could not answer his own question, but he could take to cover, and
this he did instantly, muttering,

"That fellow may think I've not seen him, and come right on, and if he
does I'll finish him."

With his nerves strung to the highest tension, Seth crouched behind the
trunk of a big tree and strove to follow the movements of the other man
without exposing himself to the risk of a bullet from his gun.

Not the snapping of a dry branch nor the rustling of dead leaves
betrayed his approach, and Seth at last, unable to stand the strain any
longer, with infinite caution peered around the protecting tree.

This action nearly cost him his life, for the instant his head appeared
the report of a gun rang out and a bullet, striking with a wicked thud,
buried itself in the trunk not more than an inch from his head. It was
a close shave with a vengeance, but it did not daunt Seth.

"A miss is as good as a mile," he soliloquized philosophically, and
feeling safe now until his antagonist should have time to reload, he
sought his chance to return the compliment.

It came a minute later as the other raised his head full for a peep,
and Seth's finger was pressing the trigger when with an exclamation of
astonishment, he lowered his gun, crying,

"Good land! that's not a Canadian, but one of our own men!"

Sure enough, it was a Ranger who had thus been stalking Seth, supposing
him to be an enemy, and who had come within an ace of losing his own
life in the endeavor to take Seth's.

Relieved beyond expression, Seth sprang to his feet and shouted,

"Oh ho, Ranger! Whom are you firing at?"

At this the other came out from his cover, and with beaming face
hurried over to him. It was Andrew Wilcox, who had lost his way in the
forest, and was doing his best to find it again when he sighted Seth,
and, mistaking him for one of the enemy, determined to get the first
shot whatever might be the consequences.

Highly delighted at the fortunate meeting, the two set forth with
renewed energy, and by the middle of the afternoon reached the
rendezvous, where they found the rest of the company already assembled,
and Major Rogers in a humor to rate them for their being last, but on
hearing Seth's explanation he considered it sufficient, and said in a
kindly tone,

"Not your fault this time, Ensign, and now let us see how we're to get
across this lake."

Having neither bateaux nor canoes the only thing to be done was to
build a raft, and to this they now gave themselves, toiling away like
beavers, and making use so far as possible of the dry driftwood that
abounded until they had completed an ugly and clumsy but substantial

Then under cover of darkness they set out for the western shore,
propelling their slow craft by means of such rude paddles as they could
fashion with their hatchets.

It was a clear, still night, and after the toilsome tramping through
the forest the easy gliding across the placid bosom of the lake was
very delightful.

"I quite like this," said Seth, who, being by virtue of his rank
relieved from the labor of paddling, had stretched himself out on a
pile of spruce boughs in great comfort. "I don't mind if it takes us
all night to cross."

"But I do," spoke up Reuben, who was one of the paddlers. "It's no easy
job keeping the old thing moving, I can tell you. Just come and try it

"No, thank you," responded Seth smilingly. "I'm enjoying myself too
much here--but, hullo! what's that light over there? Do you see it?"

All eyes were at once turned in the direction indicated, where now
appeared plainly enough the blaze of camp fires burning brightly,
against which the dark forms of a number of men could be descried.

The sight was by no means a welcome one, and there was no mistaking the
tone of concern in Major Rogers' voice as he said:

"Confound them! They're encamped at the old Indian carrying place in
great force, and we can't get past them without being seen. I don't
know just what is best to be done. Stop paddling until I think it over."

The paddlers were glad enough to take it easy for a while, and while
the raft floated motionless on the water the Major wrestled with the
problem upon the solution of which the safety of the party depended.

The vital question was whether the enemy had reached the place of
their encampment by water or overland, for if they had come by water
they would be well provided with batteaux and canoes, but if they had
come overland they would have nothing of the kind, and those on the
raft were quite safe so long as they kept out of range of their muskets.

But how was this to be known? Calling some of the older men around him
the Major consulted with them, but they had no practical suggestion to
offer. They were in the main disposed to go ahead and take chances.

To this, however, their sagacious leader would not consent. Brave as
he was, and ready enough for fighting when the conditions were at all
equal, he had no thought of risking the lives of himself and his men by
attempting anything so hazardous as to get past the French on the slow
moving, clumsy raft. Some expedient offering more hope of a safe issue
must be devised.



It is often the unexpected that happens, and so it proved in this case,
for while the Major and his veterans were puzzled as to what to do, the
problem solved itself in an altogether different way from anything that
had been in their thoughts.

Out of the bosom of the night with scarce any warning now came a sudden
breeze of surprising strength which took hold of the raft, and despite
the utmost efforts of the sinewy paddlers blew it directly toward the
hostile camp!

Major Rogers stormed and swore, and even seized a paddle himself, and
plied it with frantic energy, but all to no purpose. The stubborn raft
moved steadily if slowly before the wind toward the fires, whose blaze
would ere long reveal its presence.

The excitement on board may be readily conceived. The men realized that
they were being borne into the jaws of death, and prepared to die like
heroes fighting to the last.

Nearer and nearer to the camp moved the raft. Seth and Reuben
standing together at one side grasped each other's hands in silent
understanding. It was no time for words, but for action, quick and

"Now, Rangers," said the Major in a low, grave tone that showed how
deep was his feeling: "We're in a bad box, and there's small chance
of our getting out of it. But if we can't save ourselves we can make
a good fight of it, and sell our lives dearly. Don't be in a hurry to
fire. Don't waste a bullet. Club your muskets after they're empty, and
keep at it so long as you can stand."

"Ay, ay, sir!" was the subdued yet resolute response of the men as they
grasped the guns tightly, and gazed at the nearing shore.

A moment later the wind dropped as suddenly as it had risen, and a
brief period of calm followed, after which the wind rose again, but now
it blew from a different quarter; and the raft, instead of continuing
on the same course, began to move northward.

Major Rogers instantly saw his opportunity. Calling upon his men to
paddle with all their might, he directed their efforts so that the raft
veered toward the land at a point some distance above the camp, where
the trees came close to the water's edge.

"If we can only get there without being seen we'll give them the slip
after all," he said to Seth, and there was an accent of hope in his

Yard by yard the clumsy craft glided in the desired direction, and the
men's spirits revived as the shore drew nearer without any sign that
the enemy suspected their proximity.

At last the raft grounded, and one by one its passengers, moving as
silently as shadows, made their way to land and disappeared in the
dense obscurity of the woods with lightened hearts; for although they
were not yet out of danger, they had certainly bettered their chances
of seeing Fort William Henry again.

Following their leader in Indian file they glided noiselessly through
the forest, not knowing at what moment they might be discovered by some
outlying sentinel or vigilant scout.

But again fortune favored them, and, without being challenged or
opposed, they left the encampment a safe distance behind ere the Major
would call a halt that they might rest for the remainder of the night.

Two days later they reached the fort wellnigh spent with hunger and
fatigue, and quite content to take it easy for a while ere setting
forth on another expedition.

In the following June Major Rogers' heart was made glad by General
Shirley sending him six light whale-boats from Albany, accompanied by
instructions to proceed immediately to Lake Champlain and do what he
might in the way of intercepting the parties coming down from Canada by
water with supplies for Crown Point.

Seth was delighted when he heard the news. The idea of speeding over
the lake in the swift, strong boats instead of the frail canoes or
clumsy bateaux, appealed to his spirit of romance.

"That will be fine, won't it. Reuben?" he exclaimed enthusiastically
after telling his friend. "A lot of us can get into one boat, and make
it go faster than any canoe, and then we can take with us plenty of
provisions so that we won't need to starve nearly to death as we have
done before."

Major Rogers called his officers together to talk over the best ways
and means of utilizing the new equipment, and as the result of a
lengthy conference an original and daring plan of campaign was settled
upon, for the conception of which the Major himself was entitled
to the chief credit, and which he proceeded to carry out with his
characteristic promptitude.

Putting fifty of his men into five of the boats, he rowed up Lake
George to an island, on which the night was spent. The next day he went
on about five miles farther, and landed on the east shore of the lake,
where it rose rather steeply from the water's edge.

"So far it's been easy enough," he said to his men when they had drawn
the boats well up on the land, "but we've got hard work ahead now, and
it will try both our strength and patience to the utmost, but I know I
can depend upon you to go through with it."

He might well speak thus, for what they had before them was nothing
less than the transporting of the heavy boats over the high land which
separated the main body of Lake George from a long narrow projection
lying parallel to Lake George, a few miles to the east.

But they were not the men to be dismayed by even so difficult and
laborious a task. With their wonted spirit and energy they addressed
themselves to it, and ere long all five boats were being dragged up the
hillside over a hastily prepared portage path by which no canoe had
ever gone.

It was really tremendous work, and under the warm June sun the Rangers
stormed and sweated over the many difficulties of the undertaking.
Officers and men toiled alike, no one exerting himself more unsparingly
than Major Rogers, and bit by bit the way to the summit of the ridge,
and thence down again on the other side was won, until at last after
two whole days of strenuous labor the whale-boats floated gracefully in
the waters of South Bay, and Seth spoke for his comrades no less than
for himself when he exclaimed exultantly:

"There, you are now in your proper place, and may it be many a day
before you come out of it again to go climbing mountains!"

In the general laugh that greeted these words the Major, who overhead
them, joined heartily, adding:

"I'm quite of your mind, Seth."

After a good night's rest the Rangers embarked, and rowed northward to
within six miles of Fort Ticonderoga, where they landed, and having
carefully concealed their boats, lay in hiding themselves until evening.

As soon as night fell they were afloat again, and steering toward the
fort, which they approached so close under the cover of darkness that
they could hear distinctly the sentries exchanging the watch-words.

"Wouldn't they be surprised if we were to give them a volley, just to
let them know we're here?" whispered Seth to the man next to him in the
boat, as his hand patted the barrel of his gun significantly.

"Yes, no doubt, and wouldn't we be surprised to have a few hundred
Indians come after us in their canoes," was the shrewd response. "Just
try and count those camp fires. Why there must be a couple of thousand
men there at least."

It was certainly a big encampment that spread about the unfinished
fort, and Major Rogers had no idea of stirring up such a hornet's nest
even though his whale-boats could probably outstrip the fleetest
canoes. Accordingly, after pausing long enough to gain some idea of the
strength of the enemy, he pushed on several miles farther, and then ere
the break of day, went once more into hiding in the woods, where he
remained until the return of night with its favoring darkness enabled
him to resume his venturesome progress.

Twelve miles of steady rowing brought the party within gunshot of Crown
Point, and here Major Rogers called a halt, for the sky was so clear
and the stars were so bright that he deemed it imprudent to attempt to
pass the French stronghold.

At this many of the Rangers demurred. They were quite sure the boats
with muffled oars could slip by unperceived, and they were very anxious
to try, but their shrewd, sagacious leader would not be persuaded. He
knew better than to risk the destruction or capture of his entire party
for the sake of a daring dash, and the order to land and again take to
hiding was given.

"Bless my heart, but this is getting tiresome!" murmured Reuben with a
deep sigh after the boats had been snugly stowed away under the trees.
"When are we going to do something else, Seth?"

"I'm sure _I_ can't tell you," Seth replied diplomatically, for he
quite realized what the dignity of his position as officer required.
"Suppose you ask Major Rogers."

But Reuben knew better than to approach the great man with any such
question, and was fain to be content with hoping that they would soon
have something more exciting to occupy them.

As they lay hidden the next day they saw nearly a hundred boats laden
with materials and supplies for Ticonderoga go by them, whereat the
Major remarked with significant emphasis:

"If General Shirley could only see this with his own eyes he wouldn't
lose any time in bringing an army up here that would make short work
of Ticonderoga and Crown Point too; but the longer it's delayed, the
harder the job will be."

About noon half a dozen boats, carrying soldiers, seemed to be making
directly for the point on which the Rangers were concealed, and there
was every evidence of Reuben's desire for excitement being gratified in
an unlooked-for way.

The Rangers grasped their muskets, and made ready to receive the
Frenchmen with a volley that would come like a bolt out of the blue,
and be sure to produce at least a temporary panic among them; but a
whispered order from their leader bade them hold their fire until the
last moment.

So close came the boat that the talk of those on board could be
distinctly heard as they disputed with regard to where they should
land, some wanting to go right in, and others to proceed farther.

With throbbing pulses and bated breaths the Rangers, lying motionless
in the thicket, awaited the result of the discussion; and, brave men
as they were, it was an unspeakable relief to all of them when the
officer, who wished to go farther on, carried his point, and the boats
were rowed a couple of hundred yards southward, where their occupants
landed and had their dinner in full view of their hidden enemy, whose
proximity was happily unknown to them. Having dined and rested they
proceeded on their way, and the Rangers breathed freely again.

That night the conditions were favorable for slipping past Crown Point,
and the boats succeeded in doing so unseen, continuing northward along
the lake until the fort had been left many miles behind.

They were now in the very heart of the enemy's territory, and Major
Rogers deemed it wise for them all to go no farther, but ordered Seth
to take one of the boats, and having manned it with the best oarsmen,
to reconnoitre ahead.

Well pleased at this commission, Seth chose his crew and set forth in
high hopes of an adventure. It was drawing near to daybreak and not
a breath of wind stirred the glassy surface of the lake. In perfect
silence the men plied their muffled oars, and the boat glided swiftly
forward, while Seth in the bow swept the scene before him with keen
glance, which nothing escaped.

Presently he started and gave an exclamation of joy.

"Look over there!" he said to the man sitting next him. "Isn't that a
vessel in the cove? To be sure it is. Now, then, there's our chance.
Pull away with all your might, Rangers!"



The vessel which Seth had sighted was a small schooner lying at
anchor in a cove, and at first showing no sign of life. But, as the
whale-boat shot toward her, a little dog on the deck set up a lively
barking, which aroused the crew, and they crawled out of the cabin in a
half-awake condition.

At first they did not realize their danger, mistaking the occupants of
the boat for friends. Ere the latter could get near enough to board,
however, their eyes were opened, and, snatching up whatever weapons
were at hand, they prepared to defend themselves.

"Surrender or we'll fire!" Seth shouted, and then paused long enough to
allow his words to be understood.

But the Frenchmen laughed scornfully at him, and shook their heads in

"Take good aim then, Rangers, and fire," was the command, and from the
whale-boat flashed a volley whose effect on the schooner was deadly.

One-half the crew of the schooner fell either killed or seriously
wounded, and, quick to take advantage of the confusion created, Seth
dashed alongside; and, followed by his men, sprang over the bulwarks of
the vessel.

He was not, however, to have everything his own way at once. Bewildered
and appalled as the Frenchmen were, they rallied surprisingly
when their assailants reached the deck, and fought desperately in

Fortunately for the Rangers it was a hand-to-hand conflict in which
fire-arms could not be used, and the sturdy provincials were more
at home in such rough-and-tumble fighting as the contracted space
permitted than were their opponents.

Seth instinctively sought out the captain that he might make him his
prisoner, and threw himself upon him with such impetuosity as to hurl
him backward to the deck.

But the man was agile and muscular, and had no idea of yielding without
a struggle. He wound his arms about Seth, and put forth so tremendous
an effort to reverse their position that Seth suddenly realized he had
a mighty antagonist to deal with.

Now had he reason to be glad of his skill in wrestling gained at the
cost of many a hard fall. Summoning all his strength, and resorting
to his most artful devices, he was able to offset the other's greater
muscular power as they struggled breathlessly for the mastery.

Being thus evenly matched, it looked like a question of endurance with
the chances in favor of the older man; but before it could be thus
fought out, the other members of the crew had either submitted, or
leaped overboard; and their captain becoming aware of this, thought it
best to surrender at discretion. And Seth to his great delight found
himself in possession of the schooner and of several prisoners.

Having secured the latter, the Rangers, not one of whom had suffered a
serious hurt, proceeded to examine their prize. She proved to be laden
with flour, wine, and brandy, intended of course for the comfort of the
force at Crown Point; and Seth decided that nothing should be done with
this valuable cargo until Major Rogers had given directions concerning
its disposition.

He accordingly returned with his good news, and had a warm reception
from his chief, who was highly gratified at the capture, and made haste
to see it for himself.

"If we could only take the whole thing down to Fort William Henry,"
he said regretfully, as he surveyed the tempting stuff, "we could
make good use of it there. But that's out of the question. We'll just
have to destroy it; and the easiest way to do that is by sinking the
schooner where she is."

And so it was done, much to the disappointment of the Rangers, who
would have greatly liked to help themselves freely to the liquid
portion of the cargo; but this the Major sternly forbade, for it was no
time to engage in a carouse with danger on every side.

Hardly had they finished with the schooner when they sighted two
lighters coming up the lake, and Major Rogers at once set off in hot

These cumbrous craft were easily overtaken; and ranging alongside the
Major called to their crews:

"If you surrender at once I'll give you quarter; but if you resist or
try to escape, I'll fire on you."

Under the circumstance the only wise action was to surrender; but
whether they lost their heads through panic, or really hoped to escape
capture, the men on board the lighters foolishly paid no heed to the
demand, and strove desperately to get to the shore.

Thereupon the Major ordered his men to fire, and the effect of their
volley was fearful, many of the Frenchmen being either killed or
wounded, while the rest, thoroughly terrified, made no further effort
to escape, but begged for mercy.

On examining the lighters they also proved to be laden with wine and
flour, which was perforce ruthlessly destroyed and then came the
question of disposing of the numerous prisoners taken. To bring them
all back with them was not practicable, and accordingly Major Rogers
selected six, and released the rest on parole.

Then, feeling well satisfied with the results of the expedition, he
made his way back to Fort William Henry, where the whole party arrived
without a mishap.

Throughout the remainder of the year the Rangers were in almost
constant activity, parties of varying strength going out from time
to time to spy upon the doings of the enemy at Ticonderoga and Crown
Point, where the fortifications were being steadily strengthened
and extended, and to take prisoners from whom information might be
extracted as to the plans of the French authorities.

In all these proceedings Seth had his share, although he was not a
member of every party, and he thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous life,
particularly when the whale-boats were used, as he preferred them even
to the canoes.

In spite of the innumerable risks run, and of the countless hardships
endured, he was still unscathed and always ready for any service that
might present itself to his active mind, or be required of him by his

Toward the middle of January of the following year (1757) Major Rogers
received orders to assemble his whole force which had been divided
between Fort Edward and Fort William Henry at the latter place, in
order to undertake a scouting expedition on a more extensive scale than
had hitherto been attempted.

Counting both officers and men the muster showed seventy-five, and the
first business was to prepare a proper supply of provisions, and also
to secure snow-shoes for each member of the party, as the snow lay deep
throughout the district.

This took several days, so that it was the seventeenth of the month
before they got under way. They took their course along the lake until
they were within a few miles of Ticonderoga, when they made a wide
detour inland on the western side to avoid the fort, turning eastward
again when it was judged safe, and once more reaching the lake at a
point about midway between Ticonderoga and Crown Point at the end of
the third day. Here they encamped to await developments.

These came promptly enough in the form of a number of sleds going from
Ticonderoga to Crown Point, to which the Rangers at once gave chase.

So soon as they appeared the drivers of the sleds whipped up their
horses, and made frantic efforts to escape; but so fleet-footed were
their pursuers that only one-half of them succeeded, the result of the
chase being the capture of seven men with three sleds and six horses.

On the prisoners being questioned very important information was
elicited from them, for they stated that large numbers of Canadians and
Indians were being sent to Ticonderoga from Crown Point, that there
were six hundred regular troops at the latter fort, and three hundred
and fifty at the former, that as soon as spring came a great many
troops were to arrive for the purpose of besieging the English forts,
and that the French forts were abundantly stocked with supplies and
munitions of war.

Taking it for granted that those which had escaped him would give
warning at Ticonderoga, and that a strong force would be sent out
from there in pursuit of him, Major Rogers now hastened back to the
place where he had encamped the previous night, and, having made every
preparation for a fight, set out on the homeward march.

The January thaw had come, and the rain was pouring down upon the snow,
making it so soft and sticky that rapid progress was not possible.

Much concerned by what he had learned from the prisoners, the Major led
his company, which followed in single file.

"We shall be very lucky if we get off without being attacked this
time," he said to Seth, who walked beside him. "The sleds have got to
the fort before this, and the Frenchmen with their Indians are out
after us already, I reckon. Well, if they find us we'll fight them so
long as we can stand, won't we?"

"That we will," responded Seth emphatically. "And beat them too, unless
they're four to our one."

Their course had been over broken ground, and they were now crossing a
valley about fifteen rods in breadth, the van having reached the summit
of the slope on the west side, when suddenly spurts of flame sprang out
from the woods to right and left, and a hail of bullets fell upon the
Rangers that made many a gap in their thin line.

Lieutenant Kennedy and Mr. Gardner, a volunteer, fell dead, and others
were wounded, including Major Rogers himself, who was struck in the
head, the injury happily being but slight.

Seth, with his usual luck, was left untouched, and made haste to return
the fire, as did his comrades.

Major Rogers at once ordered his men to concentrate at the top of the
hill, and although closely pressed by the enemy, and losing several
more of their number, including Captain Spikeman, they succeeded in
effecting the manoeuvre, and in securing an advantageous position for
defending themselves, from which they maintained a brisk fire upon
their assailants that prevented them from closing in upon them.

After the firing had been kept up on both sides for some time, the
French attempted a flank movement on the right; but the watchful Major
perceived it in time, and directed Lieutenant Stark to meet it with a
counter-move, which was cleverly carried out, and the enemy checked
with considerable loss.

Meanwhile Seth with a score of his men was bravely defending the
centre, and, thanks to the shelter afforded by the big trees, he was
able to stand off the attacks of the enemy although they outnumbered
him three to one.

Again and again the bullets grazed him, one piercing his cap, and
another penetrating his coat sleeve, but he seemed to bear a charmed
life, for none of the leaden messengers of death drew blood.

Desperate as the situation of the Rangers seemed, not a man of them
lost heart. Their dauntless leader issued his orders to them as calmly
as if they were merely on parade, and they obeyed them promptly and

Seth was in perfect command of himself. Loading and firing his gun with
deliberate care he wasted few of his shots, and the accuracy of his aim
contributed in no small degree to checking the onset of his opponents.

Yet gallant and stubborn as their defence was, it seemed as if there
could be only one end to the struggle, for the Rangers were clearly
outnumbered from the start, and had lost so many in killed, wounded,
and taken prisoner that scarce two-thirds of them were left to continue
the fight.

Evidently realizing this, their antagonists sought to induce them to
submit by ingenious wiles, now cajoling them by saying that it was
a pity so many brave men should have to be killed, promising that
upon surrender they should be treated with the greatest kindness, and
again threatening them with the most dreadful tortures at the hands
of the Indians, and asserting that they expected every moment such
reinforcements as would enable them to overwhelm the Rangers at one

They even called upon Major Rogers by name to show his wisdom by giving
up, assuring him of their high respect for him, and of their intention
to deal kindly with him.

But the sagacious veteran was not to be misled by such shallow
artifices, and he stoutly replied that he had no thought of surrender,
nor would his Rangers yield so long as there were two of them left to
stand together.



It was about two o'clock when the first volley fell upon the startled
Rangers, and through the long afternoon they had fought doggedly,
repelling the successive assaults of their antagonists on flank and
centre, and taking toll of them for every gap in their own ranks at the
rate of two to one.

The Indian allies of the French had at the first been very active,
gliding hither and thither as silently as snakes, or whooping fiercely
as they darted from tree to tree in their endeavors to close in on
the stubborn provincials. But when the deadly aim of the latter had
cost them a score of their number they lost heart, and in spite of the
urging of the French sulked at a safe distance.

After Major Rogers was wounded Seth had kept at his side, for he felt
a kind of presentiment of further harm to his leader, which a little
before sunset was fulfilled by a stray bullet wounding the Major in his
hand and wrist so badly that he could no longer use his gun.

"You had better lie down, sir, where they cannot see you," Seth begged
of him, "and I will fire your gun as well as my own."

It was hard for the Major to follow this sound advice, but his wounds
compelled him, and for the rest of the day Seth did double duty not
only as far as firing went, but in carrying his commander's orders to
the other officers who were farther away.

As darkness drew near, the French redoubled their endeavors to rush
the position held by the Rangers; and more than once it seemed as if
they might succeed, but by the most heroic bravery and the wonderfully
effective use of their guns the Rangers kept them off until at last the
shadows of night enveloped the battlefield and compelled a cessation of
the struggle.

Gathering his officers about him the wounded leader announced his

"We're in a pretty bad fix, I reckon," he said in a tone whose gravity
showed how critical he considered the situation. "The rascals have
trapped us like rats, but we're not the men to die like rats, even if
we've lost a good part of our number and our ammunition is nearly used
up. Ticonderoga is so close that there'll be sure to be reinforcements
brought against us in the morning and we must get out of this to-night
by hook or by crook. After an hour's rest we'll make a start, and if
we've to fight every foot of the way we'll do it, for we're not going
to surrender, are we, Rangers?"

"No, no, we'll die first," was the unanimous response heartily given
and then the officers returned to their men to give them directions.

About seven o'clock the Rangers began their difficult, dangerous
retreat. The rain had ceased to fall, but the snow was water-soaked and
the trees dripped from every branch. Even if the men had been in good
condition they could not have moved rapidly; but wearied as they were,
and some of them having to be carried on extemporized litters, rudely
made of boughs, their progress necessarily could be little better than
a crawl, and yet at any moment out of the surrounding darkness a horde
of merciless savages might burst upon them ravening for their blood.

Despite his wounds Major Rogers took the lead; and as he strode forward
with head erect and firm, set figure Seth followed in a spirit of
unstinted admiration, ready to lay down his own life in defence of his
heroic leader.

Halting frequently for the rest that was imperative they tramped on
through the dreary winter night, their hope of escape strengthening as
they got farther and farther away without being attacked.

At one of their halts Seth asked the Major:

"If they leave us alone to-night, sir, do you think they're likely to
follow us to-morrow? We'll be a good way from Ticonderoga by daybreak
and maybe they'll not care to go very far in case we should get

"If we can keep clear of the villains to-night we'll have no more
trouble with them this time," responded the Major with a grim smile.
"They'll not care to follow us any farther than they can help, I'm sure
of that."

And as it turned out he was right in his surmise. Left unmolested all
night, the Rangers neither saw nor heard anything of the enemy on the
following day, and kept steadily on their way back to Fort William
Henry, which they ultimately reached at cost of great exertion, but
happily without having to leave behind any of their wounded.

Out of the seventy-five which had gone forth one week before, less than
fifty returned uninjured, and six more wounded, the remainder having
been either killed or taken prisoners.

It was the first severe loss the Rangers had sustained since their
organization, and they felt it deeply, but it did not chill the
enthusiasm of the survivors. On the contrary, it only inspired them
to greater zeal, and so soon as their leader had recovered from his
wounds, they would be ready for fresh service against the enemy, to
whom they now owed a greater grudge than ever.

It chanced, however, that Major Rogers' wounds resulted in a serious
illness, upon the head of which followed an attack of smallpox, and
this led to a change in Seth's circumstances, as with a number of the
Rangers he was assigned to strengthen the garrison at Fort William
Henry. He did not like this, for the monotony of garrison life was
irksome to one of his restless nature; but he had no option in the
matter, and accepted the situation as cheerfully as possible.

If he had known what was in the mind of Vandreuil, the Governor
of Canada, he would have been more content at the change, as the
French commander-in-chief, having been apprised of the preparations
the English were making all too deliberately for the assault and
destruction of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, resolved to anticipate
their action by striking an unexpected blow, and accordingly set about
getting ready at Montreal a strong force for the attack of Fort William

The work was well done, no pains or expense being spared in the
equipment of the expedition, which comprised regular soldiers,
Canadians, and Indians. They were provided with overcoats for the day
and blankets and bearskins for the night, with ample supplies of spare
moccasins and mittens, with kettles, axes, flints and steels, and many
miscellaneous articles, together with twelve days' provision, the whole
being packed on light Indian sledges, which were easily dragged along.
No less than a million francs, equal in value to as many dollars of the
present time, were spent upon their force, which reached Lake Champlain
before the end of February.

At Ticonderoga they rested for a week, and made ready more than three
hundred short scaling ladders, so constructed that two or more could be
joined into one long one. Then marching for three days on the ice of
Lake George they neared Fort William Henry on the evening of the 18th
of March, and prepared for a general assault at break of day. They were
sixteen hundred in all, and being pretty well informed of the strength
of the English garrison, and knowing that they had no suspicion of
their proximity, they felt perfectly confident of carrying all before

Now at this time the garrison of Fort William Henry, including the
Rangers, consisted of only three hundred and fifty-six effective men.
Moreover, the fort was not very strongly built; and even if nearly
a score of cannons of different calibre, besides several swivels
and mortars, were mounted upon the log ramparts, it was at best ill
prepared to withstand a well-organized attack, so that the French had
good ground for being quite sanguine of the result of their enterprise.

On the night of the 18th Seth had charge of the sentries, and although
he might have taken it easy on one of the bastions, he preferred to
pace up and down the ramparts, exchanging an occasional word with the
men on guard.

An hour after midnight, as he was standing beside one of the bastions
which faced the lake, and speculating as to how long he might have to
stay at the fort, and whether Major Rogers would soon recover from his
sickness, the sound of distant chopping came to his ears, and presently
he perceived the faint glare of far-off fires.

"Hullo!" he exclaimed. "That can mean only one thing. The French have
come down the lake to attack our fort, and have made those fires
to keep themselves warm. They must think we all go to bed here at
night, and leave the fort to take care of itself, but they're greatly
mistaken. I must rouse the whole garrison at once."

This he proceeded to do as quietly as possible; and on the commander
being informed, he forthwith gave orders for all the cannon that
commanded the lake to be double-shotted, and the gunners to stand in
readiness to fire them at short notice.

Then Seth asked permission to try a little scouting on his own account.

"I'd like to find out how many there are of them if I can manage it.
May I see if I can get near enough to make a good guess? If they catch
me you'll only be one man short."

The commander smiled admiringly at his ardor and indifference to danger.

"It certainly would be a good thing to know their strength," he said;
"and if you're willing to run the risk, I wish you God-speed."

"All right, sir, then I'll go," responded Seth; and putting off
everything that would encumber him, he vanished into the darkness on
his perilous mission.

It was an intensely still, starless night; and if Seth had not known
every foot of the ground by heart he might have come many a cropper
as he hurried in the direction of the fires, pausing at intervals to
listen for any sound betokening the enemy's approach, and then going
resolutely on again until he had got within a few hundred yards of the

Here he came to a full stop in order carefully to consider the

"If I go any farther in this direction I may be caught by some of their
outposts; yet I'm not near enough to find out what I've come for," he
soliloquized. "I think perhaps I'd better try around to the right."

Accordingly he made a detour which brought him to the side of the
French position, and there the cover of the trees made it possible for
him to draw so close to the camp fires that he could plainly see the
figures of the men about there and even overheard their talk.

"Bless my heart, but they're as thick as flies," he exclaimed under his
breath, with a feeling of consternation at his heart. "They outnumber
us completely. I'm afraid they'll take the fort."

As he watched them moving to and fro in the light of the fires he
became aware that they were getting ready for a concerted movement, and
presently they formed up in regular array upon the ice which happened
at the time to be clear of snow.

"They're going to march on the fort right away," said Seth to himself.
"I must get back and give warning."

The French had taken the precaution to send out many scouts in advance,
and these were now spread over the space intervening between their camp
and Fort William Henry, and Seth therefore had to run the gauntlet of
them ere he could regain the fort. Consequently every step was full
of danger; and he moved with the utmost caution yet as swiftly as
possible, for the moments were precious in the extreme.

Once and again he passed so close to one of the scouts that he could
almost have touched him; but his intimate knowledge of the ground stood
him in good stead, especially since the others were warily feeling
their way, and he escaped discovery as it were by the skin of his

He had left the encampment far behind, and was about congratulating
himself upon having successfully passed all danger when he was
challenged by a scout, who suddenly rose right in his path.

His only weapon was the hunting-knife which hung in his belt; and he
did not attempt to use that, but replied to the challenge by hurling
himself at the scout head down, butting the astonished Canadian full in
the stomach, and tumbling him upon his back while his gun flew out of
his hands, and fell beyond his reach.

So completely was the wind knocked out of him that he could not even
swear at his assailant, who had disposed of him in such unlooked-for
fashion; and Seth, not waiting to do him any more harm, dashed on to
the fort, where the commander was anxiously awaiting his return.

"They're more than a thousand strong," he panted, "and they're coming
up on the ice right away. They'll be here soon."

"Well, we're ready for them," replied the commander resolutely; "and
though they are four times as strong as we are, they'll find they have
no easy task to get the best of us."

Half an hour after Seth's return the sound of many men marching rapidly
over the smooth ice reached the ears of those at the fort, and the
commander gave orders for the gunners to be ready to fire the cannon
the instant he gave the word.

He rightly judged that the best way of showing the enemy that their
hope of surprising the fort was not to be realized was by receiving
them with the heaviest broadside he could manage to bestow upon them,
and so he waited for them to approach near enough to render his method
of greeting most effective.

The tense expectancy of the little garrison may be imagined, as
listening in breathless silence they heard the steady approach of their
assailants; and their commander seemed to wait so long before giving
the order to the gunners that they grew impatient and restless.

But at last clear and firm the command:

  "Make ready. Fire!"

rang out upon the stillness of the night, and was instantly followed
by a sudden burst of flame and a tremendous explosion that sent the
startled echoes flying far over the bosom of the frozen lake, to
reverberate from the snow-clad hills on the opposite shore.



Without waiting to ascertain the effect of the first broadside of grape
and round-shot, Major Eyre, the commander of the fort, gave orders to
reload the cannon for a second discharge.

But this was not required. From the cries and shouts that were heard in
the direction of the enemy it was evident that there had been deadly
work done in their ranks, and that they were thrown into confusion and

"I should not wonder if we've stopped them for the present," said Major
Eyre cheerily, "and that we'll have no more trouble from them to-night."

In which surmise he proved to be correct, for the French were so
smitten with consternation by the utterly unexpected storm of shot
and shell that they incontinently turned about and retreated to their
encampment pell-mell, to the vast rage and disgust of Rigaud, their
commander, who stormed and swore at them in a vain effort to stay their

Highly gratified as they in the fort felt at the foiling of this
attempted surprise, they knew very well that another attack would
certainly be made; and Major Eyre, as soon as it was daylight,
despatched two of the fleetest-footed rangers on snow shoes to Fort
Edward to obtain reinforcements if possible, he being resolved to hold
out until the very last moment.

Not long after daybreak the French reappeared in full force, filing off
to surround the fort upon which they kept up a brisk fire of musketry,
although they had better have spared their ammunition, as the garrison
took good care not to expose themselves, and the bullets buried
themselves harmlessly in the stout ramparts.

"If it amuses them it does not hurt us," remarked Major Eyre with a
satirical smile; "and we need not complain so long as they keep so
respectful a distance."

On their part the garrison were by no means idle, Seth and his Rangers
in particular seizing every chance for a shot; and the excellence of
their guns, combined with the accuracy of their aim, enabled them to
make many of their shots tell.

Once when the commander was standing by him he said to Seth:

"Do you see that officer over there on the right, who seems to be
urging his men to advance closer?"

"Yes, sir," replied Seth. "I know the one you mean."

"Well, do you think you can pick him off for me? He evidently thinks he
is out of range, but perhaps you can show him he's mistaken."

Seth measured the distance carefully with his eye. It was a very long
shot, and the officer being in almost constant motion rendered it still
more difficult, but he considered it worth trying, and said so to Major

"Let me see then what you can do," was the response.

Seth loaded his gun with nicest care, and took aim with much
deliberation, waiting until the officer should be still for a moment
before he fired.

At last he pulled trigger; and as the report rang out the Frenchman
staggered, threw up his arms, and then pitched forward upon the snow.

"Capital! capital!" exclaimed the commander enthusiastically. "I never
saw a better shot in my life. Where did you learn to shoot like that,

Seth blushed with pleasure at this praise of his marksmanship, and
answered modestly:

"At home on the farm, sir. I've been used to handling a gun ever since
I was a little chap."

"Aha, that accounts for it," said Major Eyre. "Such skill is not to
be acquired in the army. If all our men could take lessons from you,
they'd be much the better for it. Well, you've given that poor chap his
quietus. We'll see no more of him."

The loss of their leader so startled the soldiers that they scuttled
off out of range in a way which highly amused those who were watching
them from the fort.

"They know how to take care of themselves," was Seth's smiling comment
as he reloaded his gun. "But we'll have more trouble from them yet."

They made no further demonstrations during that day, however, but
in the course of the night they again attempted to approach on the
ice, and were again repelled by a broadside from the cannon which the
watchful garrison let fly at them so soon as they were heard advancing.

Being thus once more balked of their intention they sought to vent
their rage by burning two sloops that were ice-bound on the lake before
the fort, and a large number of bateaux drawn up on the shore.

So soon as he realized their purpose Major Eyre himself sallied out at
the head of a party to endeavor to protect the craft, but they were too
late. The flames quickly took possession, and could not be controlled,
and ere morning both sloops and bateaux were completely consumed.

The next day was the Sabbath, and it seemed at first as if the French
were going to respect the day by remaining quietly in camp; but at noon
they filed out of the woods, and marched across the ice, ostentatiously
parading their scaling-ladders, and making as imposing a demonstration
of their strength as possible.

"They're surely in earnest this time," said Seth as he watched their
martial movements, which were so carefully studied to inspire the
little garrison with apprehension. "We're not to spend our Sunday in
peace after all."

"There's no telling," responded Major Eyre. "They may be only making a
feint in the hope of scaring us into surrender."

Coming to a halt while still at a safe distance, the French sent
forward a small party whose officer bore a red flag; and rightly
judging that this was the signal for a parley, Major Eyre bid Seth take
a handful of his Rangers and go out to meet them.

He gladly obeyed the order, and presently returned with the chief of
the Canadian artillery, Le Mercier, who on being led blindfold into the
fort, announced himself as the bearer of a message from his commander.

He was conducted to the room of Major Eyre, where the other English
officers were assembled, and courteously invited to deliver his message.

"I am sent by my commander, General Rigaud," he said in a suave yet
dignified tone, "to present his most respectful compliments, and to
say on his behalf that he invites you to surrender the fort without
further fighting, and in event of your doing so, assuring you of his
protection; but if you refuse, he will without delay make a general
assault, and when the fort is taken, put the whole garrison to death or
deliver them to the Indians to be tortured."

Having thus spoken with impressive emphasis, Le Mercier swept the group
of officers with a penetrating glance from his dark eyes, and then
assumed an attitude of respectful attention as he awaited the English
commander's reply.

Major Eyre hesitated only long enough to look into the faces of his
subordinates for an instant, and, being satisfied with what he read
there, proceeded with his response.

"Convey to your commander my compliments and inform him how deeply I
appreciate his kind consideration in thus giving me the opportunity
of surrendering without the loss of my garrison; but at the same time
assure him of my regret that I cannot accede to his proposition, as I
and these with me are fully determined to defend the fort to the very

There was no mistaking the decision with which he spoke, and Le
Mercier, suppressing a pitying smile at the folly of the English in
imagining they could withstand so superior a force as he represented,
bowed gracefully and withdrew, being blindfolded again until he had
been conducted outside the fort.

On his return to them the whole French force advanced as if to storm
the ramparts, and the little garrison prepared for a desperate
defence; but to their mingled amazement and relief the enemy contented
themselves with another fusillade that did no more harm than the first
and then wheeled about and returned to camp.

"Well, upon my honor, that's the queerest proceeding I've ever seen,"
exclaimed Major Eyre laughingly. "What can have frightened them this
time that they retreat before we've fired a shot at them?"

There was something the matter, although he did not know it; and that
was the material out of which the French force was chiefly composed,
namely, Canadians and Indians, who were not at all suited for the work
at hand. Useful as they undoubtedly were for scouting, and for fighting
in the forest with plenty of cover, they had no stomach for such
service as was now required; and in reality out of his sixteen hundred
men the only ones upon which Rigaud could rely were the comparatively
few regular soldiers he had with him, who, however brave and willing
they might be, were not by themselves equal to the taking of the fort.

This was the explanation of what seemed like ludicrous vacillation on
his part, and for which he was not so much to blame as his opponents

Well pleased at the retirement of the French, but still puzzled to
guess what they would do next, the English spent the rest of the day in
strengthening the defences of the fort, and making every preparation
against a night attack.

When night did come the French were heard advancing again, and those in
the fort nerved themselves for what they took for granted would be a
supreme effort on the part of their foes.

Yet once more were they misled, as the real object of the assault
proved not to be the fort itself, but the buildings outside of it,
which consisted of several storehouses, a hospital, a sawmill, and the
huts of the Rangers, besides a sloop on the stocks, and a number of
scows and whale-boats.

Under cover of the night the French crept up carrying fagots of pine,
and placing them against the farther side of the buildings, set them on
fire, taking care to escape before the flames broke out sufficiently to
make them visible to the watching English who, straining their eyes to
penetrate the darkness, fired wherever they thought there was a chance
of hitting them.

If they were not particularly successful as besiegers, however, they
certainly were as incendiaries, for in the course of the night they had
every building ablaze, and the burning cinders fell inside the fort in
such showers that it required hard work on the part of the garrison to
save the barracks and other buildings from being set on fire.

Happily the elements came to their aid in the very crisis of their
danger, for a thick fall of snow began filling the air with large moist
flakes which soon covered the roofs, and effectually protected them
against the danger of ignition.

This snow-fall continued all that day and all the next night, not
stopping until the ground was covered to a depth of quite three feet;
and while it lasted the French lay quiet in their camp, so that their
opponents were enabled to gain some respite from the strain they had
been enduring.

A little before dawn on Tuesday twenty of the regulars, inspired
no doubt by the desire to do all the damage to the enemy that they
possibly could, made a bold attempt to burn the sloop on the stocks,
and the several hundred scows and whale-boats which had thus far

Their design was not discovered until the sloop was in flames, and then
Major Eyre hurriedly despatched Seth with his Rangers to save the other
craft if possible.

They dashed off in high spirits, and got near enough to the soldiers
to give them a volley which accounted for five of them, whereat the
remainder, without even waiting to return the compliment, retreated
hastily to camp, where the Rangers did not venture to follow them.

The burning sloop, amid the expanse of spotless snow, made a splendid
spectacle, which gave no pleasure to the defenders of Fort William
Henry; but it was the last blow struck by their foes, and when on the
following morning the sun rose bright and strong, flooding the wintry
scene with radiance, the snow-covered surface of the lake was seen to
be dotted with the dark forms of Rigaud's retreating force toiling back
to Canada on snow-shoes, a foiled and humiliated band of men.



The failure of Rigaud's expedition against Fort William Henry was
followed by a period of peace, during which Seth was occupied for the
most part in leading scouting parties northward to spy upon the doings
of the French at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.

He had many an adventure in this service, and more than once escaped
capture by what was almost a miracle, yet his ardor was not in the
least damped by any of these thrilling experiences, and he had no
sooner got safely back from one outing than he began to plan for

Major Rogers meanwhile had been despatched to Nova Scotia on a special
mission, and consequently was far away when the French resolved to wipe
out the disgrace of the defeats of Dieskau and Rigaud by sending such
a force against the obstinate defenders of the English fort as would
render complete victory an absolute certainty.

To this undertaking Montcalm himself gave his personal attention, and
got together at Montreal an army of regulars, Canadians, and Indians
that, so far as numbers went, certainly seemed to assure success.

By the end of July he had all transported to Ticonderoga, where
Bourlamaque, with the battalion of Bearn and Royal Rousillon had been
since May, finishing the fort and sending out scouting parties to
discover the strength and designs of the English at Fort William Henry.

Ticonderoga, which by being made the base of the projected attack upon
the English stronghold had become a point of great importance, is a
high rocky promontory between Lake Champlain on the north and the mouth
of the outlet of Lake George on the south. Near its extremity and close
to the fort were encamped the battalions of Bourlamaque.

Two miles farther south a wide space had been cleared which was covered
by the tents of the regiments of La Reine, Languedoc, and Guienne, all
commanded by Levis.

From this camp a road a mile and a half long had been cut through the
forest to the navigable waters, and at the end of this road was another
fortified camp formed of colony regulars, Canadians, and Indians, under
command of Rigaud.

Beyond this at the edge of Lake George, and at Rogers' Rock, were
stationed advance parties whose business it was to watch the movements
of the English.

There were thus gathered within a range of four miles fully eight
thousand fighting men, representing the brightest civilization and
the darkest barbarism of the day, from the scholarly Montcalm and the
accomplished Levis with their suite of courtly young officers, to the
foulest man-eating savages of the uttermost northwest.

The Indian allies numbered nearly two thousand. They were exceedingly
difficult to manage and cost their employers infinite trouble, besides
being a tremendous expense. There was no keeping them fed. Rations
would be served to them for a week, and they would consume them in a
couple of days and demand more. Once when refused they took the matter
into their own hands, and butchered and devoured a drove of cattle
intended for the troops.

Their supreme delight was to get drunk; and sometimes when crazed with
brandy they fought like wolves, grappling and tearing each other with
their teeth.

Some of them were cannibals, and actually dared to indulge in their
abominable appetite while in camp, the unfortunate victim being an
English prisoner taken by one of their war parties.

Such were the fiends in human form whose aid the French had enlisted,
and who subsequently were to cast so dark a stain upon the record of
this enterprise.

It was the 1st of August when, having got everything arranged to
his satisfaction, Montcalm set his whole force in motion toward the
object of his undertaking. The spectacle presented was a brilliant and
imposing one, and well calculated to strike terror into the hearts of
those against whom it was prepared.

Seth and a little band of his Rangers, who had ventured out from Fort
William Henry on a scouting expedition, beheld it from the summit of a
lofty hill, and their spirits sank at the sight.

"Heaven help us! There's no counting them!" exclaimed Seth in a tone of
consternation. "We can't possibly hold the fort against them. They've
five times as many men as we have, at least."

"Let us hurry back to the fort then and tell Colonel Monro," Reuben
Thayer made haste to suggest. "Perhaps he'll think it best not to
attempt to defend our fort, but to retreat to Fort Edward."

"We can't tell him too soon what we've seen," returned Seth. "But I'm
sure he won't give up the fort without a fight. He's too brave to do

In this opinion of Lieutenant-Colonel Monro, who then was in command
at Fort William, Seth showed how well he knew the man, for the sturdy
Scotch veteran certainly was not of the kind to beat a retreat or to
surrender at discretion. On the contrary, he could be relied upon to
fight to the very last; and, if need be, to die rather than give up his

What the Rangers saw was the French flotilla moving up the lake in the
full blaze of the afternoon sun.

First a great swarm of birch canoes crowded with naked savages in war
paint and feathers, and gliding swiftly over the smooth water in no
particular order. Next came two hundred and fifty bateaux, moved by
sail and oar, some bearing the Canadian militia and some the battalion
of old France in handsome uniform. Then followed the cannon and
mortars, each one placed on a platform, sustained by two bateaux lashed
side by side, and rowed by the militia of Saint Ours. The battalions
of Bearn and Rousillon, the Canadians of Gaspe with the provision
boats and the field hospital continued the procession, and lastly a
rear-guard of regulars closed the long line.

No wonder that while the watching scouts could not help being filled
with admiration at the spectacle, they also were depressed by the
conviction that to repel the attack of such a force was hopeless, and
that the fate of their beloved fort was sealed.

With utmost speed they made their way back through the woods, and told
Commander Monro what they had seen.

As Seth rightly judged, the brave old man, while fully realizing the
seriousness of the situation, did not for a moment contemplate the
evacuation of the fort, or the anticipating of the attack by sending a
message of surrender to Montcalm.

What he did do was at once to despatch a note to General Webb, who
was at Fort Edward, fourteen miles distant, with nearly two thousand
men, informing him of the advance of the French and asking for
reinforcements, a request which he repeated again and again during the
siege, without evoking any response from Webb, who seemed to have been
too timid to do as he should have done, namely, hasten forward with his
troops to the support of his imperilled brethren in arms.

All told, including sailors and mechanics, Monro had a bare two
thousand men wherewith to oppose the eight thousand of the French
commander. Yet when Montcalm, having arrived within striking distance
of the fort, and completed his preparations for the siege, sent an
aide-de-camp to him with the following letter:

"I owe it to humanity to summon you to surrender. At present I can
restrain the savages, as I might not have power to do under other
circumstances, and an obstinate defence on your part can only retard
the capture of the place a few days, and endanger an unfortunate
garrison which cannot be relieved. I demand a decisive answer in an
hour;" the doughty Scotchman gave his answer at once, and it was that
he and his soldiers would defend themselves to the last, emphasizing
his refusal by a broadside from his cannon so soon as the truce was

While the white flags were flying the Indians swarmed over the fields
before the fort; and when they learned the result of the parley, an
Abenakis chief shouted exultantly in broken French:

"You won't surrender, eh! Fire away then, and fight your best, for if
I catch you, you shall get no quarter"--a threat that was only too
awfully fulfilled in the sequel.

At this time Fort William Henry was an irregular bastioned square,
formed by embankments of gravel, surmounted by a rampart of heavy logs
laid in tiers crossed one upon another, the interstices being filled
with earth. The lake protected it on the north, the marsh on the east,
and ditches with chevaux-de-frise on the south and west. Seventeen
cannons, great and small, besides mortars and swivels were mounted upon
the ramparts.

Montcalm's first proceeding was to open trenches for the protection of
his soldiers--a task of extreme difficulty, as the ground was covered
with half burned stumps, roots, and fallen trunks. All night of the 4th
of August eight hundred men toiled with pick and spade and axe, while
the cannon from the fort flashed through the darkness, and grape and
round shot whistled and screamed over their heads.

Before daybreak the first parallel was completed, and a battery nearly
finished on the left, while another was well started on the right. The
men now worked under cover, safe in their burrows, one gang relieving
another, as the operations went steadily on all day.

So soon as these forts were in readiness, Montcalm mounted his cannon
upon them, eight at the left and eleven at the right, and proceeded to
bombard Fort William Henry vigorously. The fort replied with spirit,
and for several days ensuing the heavy guns thundered from dawn until
dark, while from a hundred peaks and crags the astonished wilderness
roared back the sound.

The Indians enjoyed this artillery performance greatly. They had
been of no use whatever thus far, as instead of devoting themselves
to scouting, they loitered about the camp and trenches, or amused
themselves by firing at the fort from behind stumps and logs.

Some, in imitation of the French, dug little trenches for themselves
in which they wormed their way toward the ramparts, and now and then
picked off an artilleryman, although not without loss on their own side.

Seth, whose heart was hot against the redskins, not only because they
were of the enemy, but because of what he had himself suffered at
their merciless hands, made a point of watching for them; and not a day
passed without his having the satisfaction of putting an end to the
career of one or more of them.

By the end of the week the French had pushed their trenches so far
forward that a battery was begun not two hundred and fifty yards
from the fort, and the Indians lay so thick among the beans, maize,
and cabbages that none of the garrison dared show themselves for an
instant, as that meant certain death.

The position of the besieged had now become deplorable. More than three
hundred of them had been either killed or wounded; the dread disease of
smallpox was raging in their midst and the casemates were crowded with
the sick. All the large cannon were burst or dismounted, the ramparts
were already breached in several places, and a general assault might be
looked for at any time, while there was evidently no hope of assistance
from Fort Edward where General Webb still stayed inert.

After consultation with his officers Monro determined upon attempting
a sortie in force, and among those selected to share in it were the
Rangers, the majority of whom had so far escaped both shot and sickness.

"We have about reached the end of our tether," the sturdy old Scotchman
said sadly to the council. "A sortie seems to be the only thing left
for us to try. I confess I am not at all sanguine myself of it doing
us any good, but there's no telling. It may gain us some respite even
though it does not effect our deliverance."

There was no dissenting voice, but on the contrary a hearty support of
the veteran's project; and when volunteers for the forlorn hope were
invited by him, not one of the officers held back.

Seth felt highly gratified when to the Rangers was assigned the
perilous honor of taking the lead.

"There is only one chance in ten of our getting back alive, Reuben," he
said to his friend, as, with countenance whose gravity showed how fully
they realized what was before them, they talked together after the
council of officers had dispersed, "but we can only do our best. If we
have to surrender, I pray God we may not fall into the hands of those
red devils the French have with them. I'd rather be shot at once than
be taken prisoner by them and tortured to death."

"And so would I," answered Reuben. "They're perfect fiends, not human
beings, and the French ought to be ashamed of themselves for having
such allies."

It was at the dead of night when the majority of the effective men in
the garrison silently moved out of the fort and across the fields in
the direction of Montcalm's encampment.

They were favored in their enterprise by the intense darkness of the
night, and by the fact that the bombardment had been so heavy all
day that the French were persuaded they had practically cannonaded
their antagonists into helplessness, and consequently took no special
precautions against a night attack.

Led by the Rangers, who seemed to possess the faculty of seeing in
the dark, the gallant band made its way resolutely toward the enemy's
position, and had got so near that they could hear the sentries
exchanging the watchword on their rounds, when the challenge "_Qui
va la?_" rang sharply out on the still night air, and they came to a
sudden halt.



Seth was so close to the sentry who had discovered their approach, that
with a single bound forward he was able to cut him down and silence him

But his warning challenge had been heard by others of the guard, and
they hurried out to investigate. Realizing that further concealment
of their design was not possible, Colonel Frye, who was in command,
called upon his men to fire, and they poured a volley into the French
encampment that wakened every sleeper, and for the moment created
lively confusion.

The well-disciplined soldiers soon regained order, however, and rushed
to repel the attack in such numbers that Colonel Frye at once saw the
hopelessness of withstanding them, and gave the command to retreat.

Reluctantly enough his men obeyed, for, although they could see for
themselves how they were outnumbered, they did want to inflict some
loss upon the enemy before retreating to the fort.

They accordingly gave back as slowly as possible, firing and reloading
their muskets with such celerity that the French conceived their
numbers to be much greater than they really were, and were more
cautious in their pursuit than they would have been if they had known
the truth.

Seth was one of the last to retreat, and his slowness nearly cost him
his life, as an Iroquois scout, creeping serpent-like through the long
grass, got near enough to hurl his tomahawk at him with deadly aim. But
by a happy chance Seth at that moment threw up his gun, and the hatchet
struck it instead of his head, glancing harmlessly off to one side.

In his rage at having missed, the Iroquois sprang upon Seth, and
throwing his arms about him, strove to fasten his teeth in the Ranger's
throat as though he were a wolf.

Now did Seth's skill in wrestling serve him in good stead. The
redskin's onset was so sudden and unexpected that he had almost
succeeded in his brutal purpose ere his intended victim could defend
himself; but the next instant by a dexterous movement he evaded the
cruel teeth, and then, dropping his gun, gripped his assailant around
the neck, and flung him backward with such force that the savage's
senses were knocked out of him, and he lay limp and harmless.

"It would serve you right if I put my knife into you," growled Seth,
as he groped about for his gun. But he forebore to do it, and having
picked up the gun, hurried after the others, who of course had not
waited for him, and with them regained the protection of the fort.

The sortie having accomplished nothing, the situation seemed hopeless;
and after again consulting with his subordinates, Colonel Monro with a
heavy heart came to the conclusion that there was no alternative but to
capitulate on the best terms obtainable.

Accordingly on the 9th of August a white flag was raised, a drum was
beat, and Lieutenant-Colonel Young, mounted upon horseback, accompanied
by a few soldiers, went to the tent of Montcalm.

As the result of his negotiations with the French commander it was
agreed that the English troops should march out with the honors of
war, and be escorted to Fort Edward by a detachment of French troops;
all French prisoners captured in America since the war began should be
given up within three months; and that all the stores, munitions, and
artillery were to be the prize of the victors, with the exception of
one field-piece which the garrison were to be permitted to retain in
recognition of their brave defence.

These terms were fair and honorable to both parties; and if only
Montcalm had taken such measures as would have insured their being
carried out, the horrible proceedings of the following days, whereby
what might otherwise have been considered a creditable achievement was
turned into an appalling scandal, might have been prevented.

It is true that before signing the capitulation Montcalm held a council
with the Indian chiefs and asked them to consent to the conditions
and to promise to restrain their warriors from disorder, and that the
chiefs approved of everything and promised everything.

But he should not have been content with this. Knowing the nature
of his allies as he did, he ought to have used his regular troops
upon whom he could depend as a guard for the English, who were in no
position to defend themselves.

When the garrison evacuated Fort William Henry they marched over to
join their comrades in the entrenched camp which was included in the
surrender; and no sooner had they gone than a horde of yelling savages
climbed through the enclosures in search of rum and plunder.

They found very little of either, and at once proceeded to vent their
disappointment upon the unfortunate men, who, having been too sick to
leave their beds, were awaiting removal later on.

These they butchered without remorse, and even cut off their heads,
which they paraded proudly from the casements. It was a terrible
scene, yet no attempt to check the fiends was made by the French, who
seemed afraid to interfere with their savage allies.

Having looted the fort of what little there was in it, the Indians then
turned their attention to the entrenched camp, where all the English
were now collected. The French guard stationed there either could not
or would not keep out the bloodthirsty rabble, and they roamed among
the tents intrusive and insolent, their painted visages marked with
sinister grins as they twitched the long hair of the terrified women in
anticipation of the scalping knife.

Seth saw it all, and the witnessing of such indignities so filled him
with fury that again and again he could scarce restrain himself from
striking down one of the dusky demons. But of course any such act would
have been utter folly, as it would certainly have precipitated the
general massacre for which the Indians hankered.

At length through the earnest efforts of Montcalm and his officers
something like order was obtained and the most of the Indians were
persuaded to return to their own encampment for the night.

But there was little rest in the English camp, and as soon as day broke
they made haste to set out for Fort Edward. They had their muskets, but
they were without ammunition; and no sooner had they begun to move
than the Indians, in spite of the presence of the French escort, began
to plunder them of their little baggage, demanding rum, of which there
was only a little in the soldiers' canteen.

When after much difficulty the column at last got started along the
road, the redskins crowded in upon them, impeding their progress,
snatching caps, coats, and weapons from the men, tomahawking those that
resisted, and seizing upon women and children, dragged them shrieking
away, or murdered them on the spot.

Suddenly arose the awful sound of the war-whoop, and at this signal for
butchery the whole mob of savages rushed upon the rear of the columns
where the New Hampshire men were, and proceeded to slaughter them

A frightful tumult ensued. Montcalm, Levis, Bourlamaque, and other
French officers who had hastened to the scene, threw themselves among
the Indians, and by promises and threats sought to stop their murderous

"Kill me, but spare the English who are under my protection!" exclaimed
Montcalm in the dramatic fashion characteristic of his race, and he
himself tore a young officer from the grasp of a Huron who was about to
tomahawk him.

Yet the dreadful work went on until many hundreds of the unfortunate
English had been either killed or carried off by the ruthless savages,
before at last the survivors were got back to the entrenched camp, and
there protected from further massacre by an adequate guard of French

Seth had a marvellous escape, or rather series of escapes. His
chivalrous instinct had impelled him to keep near the women and
children in the hope of in some manner being helpful to them; but,
although he had possessed the strength of Samson, he could not have
accomplished anything, for the Indians crowded in upon them from all
sides, and it was impossible to ward off their assaults.

Yet he kept his place until at the raising of the war-whoop the general
attack was made; and then in the wild confusion that followed he was
jostled and hustled this way and that until he found himself separated
from the main body and with the way clear to the forest.

"I can do nothing for the others," he muttered. "I may as well try and
save myself." And after a quick glance to right and left to make sure
there were no Indians near, he started to run for the shelter of the

He had not gone many yards when the cry of a child fell on his ears.
He checked himself for an instant, and looking in the direction from
which the cry came, saw a little boy half hidden in the grass, who was
calling to him:

"Take me with you, oh, take me with you too!"

At first Seth hesitated. Where delay probably meant death, to attempt
to save the boy might merely imperil himself without benefiting the boy.

But the hesitation was only for an instant, and then, carried away by
a generous impulse, Seth changed his course so as to take hold of the
little fellow's hand, and together they fled toward the forest.

Half way thither they were met by an Indian who barred the way with
a bloody tomahawk, and yelled at them in a frenzied fashion. He was
a giant in size, and at sight of him the boy shrieked and cowered
close to Seth, who came to a full stop as though he had no thought of

Misled by this apparent submission, the Indian, his eyes gleaming with
the lust of blood, made a grab at the boy's hair with the intention of
scalping him. Seth then saw his opportunity, and with a quick spring
threw himself upon the wretch, who, not expecting this sudden onset,
went down headlong, while the boy dodged out of his reach unhurt.

Holding him fast despite his violent struggles to get free, Seth tore
the tomahawk from his grasp, and despatched him with the weapon already
stained with the blood of his victims.

Then exclaiming: "One more devil done for!" he caught the boy by the
hand, and resumed the race for the forest, which they reached, all
spent but scathless.

Knowing his way thoroughly, he pushed on as rapidly as the strength
of his little companion permitted, keeping a sharp lookout lest there
should be any scouts hunting for fugitives.

By the end of an hour the poor boy was so exhausted that Seth had
either to let him have a rest, or desert him. He of course chose the
first alternative, and they hid in a hollow where no one could have
found them save by coming right upon them.

The boy was full of gratitude to his preserver, and as the little chap
curled up beside him, seeming to feel quite secure, Seth took some
comfort from having been the means of saving his young life.

All that night and the following day they were in the woods with
nothing to stay their hunger save the few berries they could find, but
ere the return of night they reached Fort Edward, being the first of
the fugitives to do so.

Seth's account of the atrocities perpetrated by the enemy filled those
at Fort Edward with horror and indignation; and if the men had been
left to themselves, they would have rushed to the scene to avenge their

But the saner councils of their officers prevailed. They were not
in sufficient force to cope with the French and their allies, and,
however daring and impetuous their attack might be, it could only
result in their own discomfiture. There was nothing to be done but to
keep within the fort until the invaders had finished their work of

During the days that followed cannon were fired at intervals from
the fort to guide those who had fled to the woods, whence they came
dropping in half dead with hunger; but it was not until more than a
week after the surrender that the main body of the garrison appeared
under the escort of a strong French guard.

Meanwhile the victors were busy demolishing the English stronghold.
First the barracks were torn down, and then the huge pine logs of the
ramparts were got together in a heap, upon which were thrown the bodies
of the butchered men and women, and the whole was set on fire. "The
mighty funereal pyre blazed all night. On the following day the army
re-embarked for Canada. The din of ten thousand combatants, the rage,
the terror, the agony were gone; and no living thing was left but the
wolves that gathered from the mountains to feast upon the dead."



The fall of Fort William Henry, and the horrors that followed it,
especially as his friend Reuben Thayer was among the victims, threw
Seth into a state of deep depression. His life seemed to have lost its
spring, and the impulse was strong upon him to obtain his release from
the Rangers, and make his way down to Boston in the hope of securing a
berth on an ocean-going ship, where he might forget his grief in the
novel experience of a sailor's life.

He did yield to it so far as to go to Albany, where Major Rogers was at
the time, and to open his heart to him in the matter, although he much
feared that he would get only a good rating from him.

But the veteran warrior showed a side of his nature he had never before
revealed. Instead of meeting Seth with harshness or ridicule he showed
him surprising sympathy.

"I know just how you feel, my boy," he said kindly. "It is hard to
be patient and to keep up one's heart when everything seems going
wrong, although some of us may be trying to do our best. If the English
generals would only take the advice that is given them, these disasters
need never have happened, and not only would Fort William Henry still
be ours, but we would have had Ticonderoga and maybe Crown Point too.
But it's no use crying over spilt milk, Seth. We must only cheer up and
try again. The generals will be wiser next time, and we'll drive the
French back to Canada before you're much older."

Touched and brightened by the Major's words which went right to his
heart, Seth actually smiled as he responded:

"Of course, that's the right way to look at it, sir. It's no good
getting into the dumps and staying there. We'll beat the French yet,
and teach those devilish Indians a lesson that they will not soon

"Spoken like a man, Seth!" exclaimed the Major, giving him a hearty
clap on the back. "You're got the right stuff in you, and you'll live
to see the English masters of the whole continent, take my word for it.
And now I've got a bit of good news for you. How would you like to take
a trip to New York by way of a little change?"

What was left of the gloom that darkened Seth's countenance vanished in
an instant and he answered eagerly:

"How would I like it? Why, I'd be delighted to go. Are you going, sir?"

"No, I'm not going, Seth, but I have an important despatch to send, and
I dare say I could arrange for you to carry it if you will promise me
to come back, and not go off on one of the ships, of which there are a
good many more there than at Boston."

"Oh, I'll promise to come back if you'll only let me go," said Seth
earnestly. "But I hope I can stay a little while so as to see the great

"That will be all right, my boy," and the Major smiled indulgently. "I
will tell you more about it in the morning, and now you may as well
have a look around Albany and perhaps you will come across some of your

So in a very lightened frame of mind Seth left his chief, and spent
the rest of the day seeing the sights of the growing town, whose most
important citizens at that time were the Dutch traders who knew so well
how to get the better of the Iroquois and other friendly Indians that
brought them furs in barter for goods.

The peaceful bustle of business was a wonderfully pleasant change after
the bloody strife through which he had so lately passed, and it served
to restore the tone of his spirits so that he lay down that night quite
a different man from what he had begun the day.

He saw Major Rogers the next morning, and learned that he was to
start for New York that afternoon. He found so much to interest him in
Albany that he would have been glad to prolong his stay a little, but
of course kept this to himself, and was at the place appointed ahead of
time, all in readiness for the journey.

To his great satisfaction he found that his trip down the river was
to be made in a large canoe with four Indian paddlers, and as his
travelling companion an English officer, Captain Lindsay, who also
carried despatches.

Captain Lindsay was a fine, frank, hearty fellow, only a few years
older than Seth, whose genial manner won Seth's heart at once, and
he on his part was attracted by the handsome, stalwart youth who had
already distinguished himself in active service.

The prospects for a pleasant journey were therefore altogether bright,
and Seth bade good-bye to Major Rogers in the best of spirits.

The passage down the noble Hudson in the beautiful autumn weather in
such congenial company was a delightful experience to Seth. Captain
Lindsay was a capital talker, and held Seth's attention for hours while
he told of what he had seen and learned in other parts of the world,
for he had been an extensive traveller; and then he drew Seth out as to
what he had been through, and evinced keen interest in his descriptions
of forest life and adventure.

"I should like to join your Rangers for a while," he said. "I wonder
would Major Rogers have me?"

"Oh, I'm sure he would," responded Seth emphatically. "But," he added
in a quieter tone, "it's a very hard life as well as a dangerous
one. When we're out on a scouting party we sometimes come very near
starving, and we always have to sleep on the ground, for we never take
tents with us."

"Oh, I imagine I could stand that as well as the others," returned the
Captain, smiling. "If I get the opportunity I must have a talk with
your commander about it."

"If you do I will say all I can in your favor," said Seth, rather
bashfully, whereat Captain Lindsay thanked him, and they both felt that
they were better friends than ever.

Their Indians paddled steadily and well and the lovely landscape
slipped smoothly by as they glided seaward until at last the clustered
roofs of the city came into view, and Seth's heart beat high with

"Is New York much bigger than Boston?" he asked of his companion.

"Why no," was the answer. "If anything, Boston is bigger than New York
just now, although, if I'm not much mistaken, New York will in time
become the larger city. But they are so different, as you will soon see
for yourself, and I hardly know which you will like better, although
for my own part I prefer New York, probably because I have many more
friends there. By the way, have you any friend in the city?"

"Not one. I don't know a single person there," replied Seth, rather

"Then I shall have the pleasure of introducing you to my friends," said
the Captain, beaming upon him. "I'll see to it that you are not lonely."

And he was as good as his word. Knowing the city well, he went at once
to where comfortable quarters could be had, and after they had secured
their rooms he guided Seth to the proper place to deliver his documents
before attending to his own business.

Seth was very well pleased to find that he would not have to return to
Albany for a week, and under the kind direction of his accomplished
friend he gave himself up to the enjoyment of his new surroundings.

The prosperous city, already beginning to outgrow its Dutch quaintness,
was full of interest for him, and when Captain Lindsay was otherwise
engaged he found it easy to pass the time roaming around, and making
acquaintance with the citizens, for he never hesitated about asking
questions, and there was something so frank and boyish in his manner
that he rarely failed to elicit courteous replies.

Once he went with the Captain to a military dinner at the headquarters,
and was greatly impressed by the elegance and splendor of the
entertainment, which he could not help comparing in his mind with the
bravest show they had ever been able to make at the forts.

As was the custom of the time, the guests stayed long at table and
drank deeply of the many varieties of wine so plentifully provided; but
Seth, to whom wine-drinking was an unacquired habit, did not follow
their example, confining his potations to cold water, and as it turned
out, this was very fortunate, for he needed all his wits before the
night ended.

Captain Lindsay was enjoying himself too much to take measure of the
wine he drank. As a natural consequence he rather overdid it, and when
at last the convivial gathering broke up he was not just in the state
to see himself home.

This duty of course Seth undertook, but with some misgiving, for his
friend was in a very boisterous humor, and not at all disposed to take
the most direct route to their lodgings. In fact he wanted to finish
the night by kicking up all the rumpus he could.

Nevertheless by dexterous management Seth had got him more than half
the distance, when on turning a corner they almost ran into a knot
of men who were engaged in a war of words that evidently precluded a
resort to fists.

Captain Lindsay unintentionally lurched against one of the men, who
turned upon him and demanded with a foul oath what he meant by striking

Seth, realizing the danger of the situation, hastened to apologize for
his companion and to explain that no offence was intended.

Had the Captain only been sober he too would have perceived the need
of diplomacy, since the men were manifestly roughs of the worst type;
but the wine had stolen his wits, and, incensed at the man's insulting
language, he retorted, as he laid his hand upon his sword:

"How dare you speak to me like that? Do you want me to run you through?"

At the sound of his voice the other men forgot their quarrel, and
turned to see what was the matter. Instantly they scented the prospect
of a row, and drew themselves together in front of Captain Lindsay and
Seth in a manner that boded no good to either.

With a quick movement Seth pulled his friend back against the wall of
the house so that they could not be attacked in the rear, and then
whispering to him urgently, "Let me have it, please," he drew his sword
from the scabbard and put himself in an attitude of defence.

It was deftly done, and just in time, for the ruffian whom Captain
Lindsay had jolted was just about to aim a blow at him with his
clenched fist, which would certainly have felled him to the ground.

Foiled for the moment he quickly pulled himself together for another
attempt, but Seth met this with the point of the sword, giving him a
slash across the knuckles that made him retreat instantly, and set up a
furious howl of pain as he frantically waved his bleeding hand.

The sight of the flashing steel, and its effective use upon one of
their members, disconcerted the roughs, and they gave back before Seth
as he swung his sword menacingly in their faces.

This advantage, however, could be only temporary. Although happily
their assailants had no fire-arms, some carried bludgeons, and the rest
could quickly pick up brick-bats from the street with which they could
bombard and batter the two officers out of their senses, if not to

All this time Seth's keen glances had been darting to this side and
that in quest of some haven where they might take refuge; and just as
the rowdies hesitated before his circling blade, he caught sight of a
doorway a few yards distant which seemed to offer what he sought.

"Now then, captain," he cried in his ear, grasping his arm firmly with
his left hand, "This way for our lives."

Captain Lindsay was already sufficiently sobered by their perilous
situation to take in Seth's meaning, and to obey him. Together they
darted to the doorway, their action being so sudden that they had
safely gained it ere the others realized what they were about.



With a chorus of horrid oaths the ruffians rushed after them; but Seth,
thrusting Captain Lindsay into the doorway ahead of him, swung around
and pinked the foremost fellow on the shoulder, causing him to fall
back with a roar of pain, and ere the next one could come on, he had
the heavy door closed in his face and his foot braced against it.

The men on the outside were striving furiously to force the door in
when a window above them was flung up and a night-capped head appeared
with the muzzle of a big blunderbuss in close proximity.

The worthy Dutch burgher, whose dwelling had been thus rudely invaded,
aroused from his slumbers demanded the meaning of the uproar; and
getting no answer, either in his anger or in nervousness pulled the
trigger of his clumsy firearm, whose charge of small shot showered upon
the backs of the men below, inflicted many a painful, if not dangerous

The effect of this utterly unexpected broadside certainly left nothing
to be desired, for the startled and smitten roughs, fearing, no doubt,
lest something worse should follow, incontinently took to their heels,
and a moment later the street was vacant and silent save for the echoes
of their heavy footfalls as they fled.

Having thus disposed of the disturbers of his peace who were outside
the door, the master of the house now turned his attention to those who
were inside; and presently appearing at the top of the stairs with a
light in one hand and the blunderbuss in the other, he roared out:

"What do you do there? Speak or I shoot!" whereupon Seth stepped
forward, and bowing low, said in a most respectful tone:

"We are two of the King's officers, sir, who were set upon by
the ruffians outside, and took refuge in your doorway, which was
fortunately open to us."

The good man was mollified at once. Indeed, the idea of affording
protection to two officers evidently pleased him, and he responded with
a gratified chuckle:

"You are most welcome to my house, gentlemen. As for those scoundrels
who set upon you, they've got a lesson from my old friend here," and he
patted his big firing-piece, "that they will not soon forget, and have
gone to think it over."

"Did you shoot them, sir?" asked Seth eagerly.

"That I did. They got the whole charge among them," laughed the burgher
as he began to descend the stairs. "It won't kill any of them, but
they'll feel sore over it for a while."

By this time Captain Lindsay had quite recovered his self-control, and
when the burgher reached the bottom of the stairs he advanced and with
a sweeping bow said:

"We thank you, worthy sir, from our hearts, for the timely shelter your
house afforded us, and regret having thus disturbed your rest. If the
rascals have gone we need not trespass upon your kindness any longer,
but will at once take our departure."

The good man made light of the matter, and would fain have persuaded
them to remain under his roof until morning; but to this they would
not consent, and so after the exchange of further courtesies they took
their leave, and had no further difficulty in reaching their lodgings.

On the following day Seth reluctantly bade good-bye to New York and to
his friend who was to remain there, and started on the return trip to
Albany, which was made in good time and without special incident.

At Albany he found that Major Rogers had gone to Fort Edward, leaving
instructions for him to join him there, as that point would be their
centre of operations for the present.

His pleasant holiday had done him a world of good, and he went back
to duty with renewed vigor and determination to fulfil his part to the
best of his ability in the work of not only recovering what had been
lost, but of making such gains in the struggle with the French as would
result in their ultimate abandonment of the whole field.

During the autumn and the early part of the winter he was not long at a
time idle, for General Loudon had in contemplation a winter attack upon
Ticonderoga, whereby the loss of Fort William Henry was to be avenged,
and there was a demand for all possible information concerning the
condition of the French fortress and the strength of its garrison.

Poor Captain Habecourt, who was in command at Ticonderoga, found the
Rangers very troublesome. They seemed to have no fear of him whatever,
and sometimes were audacious enough to come up to the very ramparts.

One mid-winter day they captured two soldiers within sight of the fort,
and killed a number of cattle, leaving tied to the horns of one of them
a note addressed to the commandant in these saucy terms:

"I am obliged to you, sir, for the rest you have allowed me to take
and the fresh meat you have sent me. I shall take good care of my
prisoners. My compliments to the Marquis of Montcalm.


Seth took a particular interest in the winter's work because of the
understanding that it was by way of preparation for the attack which
would be made ere spring; and consequently he felt greatly disappointed
when the design was abandoned, and the information gathered at the cost
of so much danger and hardship not put to any account.

In the course of a talk with Major Rogers he opened his mind freely,
and expressed in pretty strong terms his opinion of the authorities who
were so liable to change their plans, and so slow to carry out anything
they did decide upon.

"Perhaps you should like to try another field," remarked the Major,
giving him a shrewd look, while the suspicion of a smile curved the
corners of his strong mouth.

There was a significance in his tone that Seth did not miss, and he
bent his eyes earnestly upon the veteran as he exclaimed:

"In another field? How do you mean? What chance have I to be anywhere

"Well, that depends," responded the Major, the enigmatical smile
becoming more pronounced. "Have you ever heard of Fort Duquesne?"

"Of course I have," answered Seth. "It's over there in the West, and
it's doing an immense amount of harm."

"Right you are, my son; and what would you think of joining an
expedition to attack it?"

"Nothing would suit me better," cried Seth, springing to his feet, and
standing before the Major with his face all in a glow. "Are you going,
sir? And can I go with you?"

"No, Seth, I am not going myself," was the reply, uttered in a grave
tone as of regret. "I am needed too much here; but there's nothing to
prevent you going if you want to do so, although I confess I shall be
sorry to lose you."

He then went on to explain that at last it had been determined to
attack Fort Duquesne, the French stronghold in the West, which was a
veritable hornet's nest; that a strong force was shortly to be sent
against it, starting from Philadelphia, and that a request had been
made for a detachment of Rangers to act as scouts in advance of the
main body.

"It is likely that a score of my men will go in answer to this
request," he continued; "and if you would like to go in command of
them, Seth, you have only to say the word."

"Then I say it," responded Seth promptly. "It doesn't look as if there
was going to be much done here for some time; and I'd rather be on
active service than idling about."

"You may consider the matter settled, then," said the Major. "I will
tell you more definitely about the arrangements in a day or two."

Seth went back to his room that night highly elated at the prospect
before him, and full of gratitude to his good friend, Major Rogers, who
had thus given him the first chance of accepting the commission.

"He seems to have no lack of faith in me," he mused. "I shall do my
best not to disappoint him."

A few days later he set out for Philadelphia with his company of twenty
men, carefully chosen by Major Rogers, who considered that they had the
reputation of the Rangers in their keeping, and gave them many a sage
injunction as he parted from them.

Naturally enough Seth felt very proud of his responsibility, for,
although he would of course be under the command of others, still the
very nature of the service he had to render was such as to leave him
much freedom of judgment and action, and the rest of the Rangers would
take all their orders from him as their supreme officer.

On reaching Philadelphia, and reporting to Brigadier Forbes, who was
charged with the command of the expedition, he was ordered to go on
to Raystown in the Alleghany mountains, whither the advance guard had
already proceeded.

Here he found several thousand men hard at work digging entrenchments,
and setting up palisades as though they meant to remain permanently.
There were Virginians in hunting-shirts, Highlanders in kilt and plaid,
and Royal Americans in the regulation scarlet, and they were all of one
mind in grumbling at their General for keeping them toiling with pick
and spade instead of hurrying them on to attack the fort.

The truth was, a difficulty had arisen about the route to be taken,
some being of opinion that they should proceed in a direct course to
Fort Duquesne, hewing a new road through the forest; and others, that
the best way was to march to Fort Cumberland, and thence follow the
road made by the ill-fated Braddock.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bouguet was in command at Raystown, and under
instructions from him Seth went on to Fort Cumberland with a message
for its commandant, who was no other than George Washington, already
risen to the rank of colonel, although but twenty-six years of age.

Little did Seth imagine when he presented himself to the tall, sinewy
officer with the strong, serene countenance, that he was talking with
the man destined in the course of years to be called "The Father of
his Country," and to win an unquestioned place among the heroes of the

He found him very gracious in his manner; and, after the message
had been duly delivered and acknowledged, much interested in the
operations at Lake George and Lake Champlain, concerning which he
asked him many questions.

"The fame of Rogers' Rangers has reached us in Virginia," he said, "and
I am very glad we are to have the help of a few of you in our present
campaign. There will be plenty for you to do, I am sure, before our
work is finished."

He then went on to speak about the route which should be followed.

"I am quite clear in my own mind that the right thing in every respect
will be to take the same way as Braddock did. It will save a great deal
of time and labor, and having been taught wisdom by the awful fate of
Braddock's expedition, we are not likely to fall into the same trap."

Seth was a good listener, and the respectful attention paid by him to
Colonel Washington made a most favorable impression upon the latter,
who said to him on parting as he warmly shook his hand:

"I hope to meet you again, Ensign Allen; it is plain to me that you can
render us very valuable service, and I trust that you will have the
good fortune to get through this campaign unharmed."

Seth thanked him heartily for his courtesy and good wishes, and left
him with the feeling that this was the sort of leader under whom he
would like to serve. He accordingly felt very much disappointed when,
in spite of Washington's earnest protests and plea for the other
route, it was decided to cut a new road through the forest, because
it would be shorter, and when once made would form a readier line of
communication, although to make it would consume a vast amount of time
and labor.

Brigadier Forbes being in total ignorance of the strength of the enemy,
and what they were doing, Seth received instructions to go forward with
a scouting party and gain all the information possible. In addition to
his own men he was given a number of Indians, principally Cherokees and
Catawbas, whom he would have been just as well pleased to do without,
but his opinion was not asked in the matter.

The country through which he had to make his way was one vast
wilderness of trees and brushwood without a trace of human habitation,
as trackless as the ocean itself, so that Seth, who instinctively
distrusted the Indians, and relied upon them as little as possible,
found he needed all his knowledge of wood-craft and experience in
pathfinding to prevent his going astray.

It was also necessary to take the utmost precaution against being
ambushed by the French or their Indian allies, the Hurons, Miamis and
Pottawatomis, who might get knowledge of their movements and manage to
waylay them.

Nevertheless the scouting party made good progress through the
stern and silent maze, and without being discovered reached the
neighborhood of Fort Duquesne.

Here the Indians declared that they would go no farther until they had
duly performed certain mystic ceremonies which would protect the whole
party against mishap.

Seth was inclined at first to make light of their request, but on
second thoughts considered it best to humor them, and so the Rangers
gravely joined in the proceedings.

Having painted themselves in startling style and practised certain
incantations, the meaning of which was lost upon their white brethren,
the Indians then gathered close about their chief, who held an
otter-skin bag from which he took various charms, and tied them about
the necks of the others.

The bag itself, much to Seth's surprise, he hung upon his neck, saying
with utmost solemnity:

"Now the pale-faced chieftain cannot be killed. The bullets of the
enemy will be turned away by the medicine at his neck. He will be safe
no matter how many shoot at him."


It was said with such entire sincerity that in spite of himself Seth
could not help feeling impressed, and he thanked the chief warmly,
saying as he shook his hand:

"You are very kind to give me this medicine. I will take good care of
it, and I hope it will take good care of me."

Thus armed against fate the party then resumed its cautious advance
toward the fort.



Had the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne been overrun with scouts as
was that of Ticonderoga, the presence of Seth's party could hardly
have remained unknown, but there was not at all the same vigilance
exercised, and consequently the venturesome intruders upon hostile
ground were able to make their way unchallenged to an eminence
afterward called Grant's Hill, where, well hidden by trees and bushes,
they could look right down upon the fort.

Now the Indians had been reporting to the English commander that the
French were very strong, in fact that their numbers quite equalled if
they did not surpass his, but after Seth had scrutinized the place he

"Those rascally Indians have been lying, as usual. The French are
nothing like as strong as we are. If our men were only here now we
could take the fort easily. What a pity they're not! And at the rate
they're getting ahead they won't be here for months. If only Colonel
Washington had his way things would be different. But it's the old
story. I'm sick of the slow way they have of doing things."

He had good reason to feel impatient. The work of road-making through
the dense forest was exceedingly heavy and tedious. Over the main range
of the Alleganies, hewing, digging, blasting, laying fascines and
gabions to support the track along the sides of steep declivities, or
worming their way like moles through the jungle of swamp and forest,
the soldiers toiled at their tremendous task while the weeks went by,
whereas if the Braddock route had been followed their progress would
have been comparatively rapid.

Not satisfied with having got a very good idea of the French fortress
and of the strength of its garrison, Seth had it in mind to take back
with him a prisoner or two, as Major Rogers was wont to do whenever
possible, and so, instead of setting out at once on the return journey,
he moved from the hill and lay in ambush by the road leading northward
from the fort.

"We mustn't be in a hurry to let our presence be known," he told his
men. "If the French get the alarm we may be cut off and captured. So
we'll keep as quiet as possible until we see a good chance of taking a

They had not long to wait, for that same afternoon appeared a small
party of soldiers sent out by the Commandant de Leignerie to see
if there were any signs of the approach of the reinforcements and
provisions which he expected from Canada, and which were now overdue.

They were in a gay mood, joking and laughing with each other, being
evidently well pleased at getting away from the confinement of the fort
for a little outing.

"Let them go on a bit," whispered Seth to his men waiting for the
signal to rush upon the unsuspecting soldiers. "The farther they are
from the fort the better. We'll follow them close."

Not until they had gone another mile was the command given, and then
the Rangers dashed out of the woods upon the startled Frenchmen with
such suddenness that they had not time to lift their guns to their
shoulders, and were easily made prisoners, with one exception.

This was the officer in charge of them, a stalwart youth with a
sinister countenance, who whipped out his sword at the first alarm,
and made a slash at Seth that would have cleft his skull, had he not
cleverly parried it with the barrel of his musket.

Before the Frenchman could recover himself for another stroke Seth
drove the muzzle of his musket into his ribs, knocking the wind out of
him so that he went down in a heap on the road, groaning with pain.

If Seth's object had been to kill, the whole party might have been
despatched without difficulty, but it was not in his heart to take
their lives when they were at his mercy. Even the officer who had come
pretty near putting an end to him he had no thought of doing away with.

Yet now that he had the prisoners he was in a considerable quandary as
to their disposition, for they were too many to take them all back with
him, while if he set some of them free they would of course make all
haste back to the fort and rouse the garrison to pursuit.

After puzzling over the problem for some minutes he saw no other way
out of the difficulty than to adopt the expedient of releasing all but
two of the soldiers, on their taking oath not to return to the fort
for twenty-four hours, which would allow the Rangers ample time to get
beyond all possibility of pursuit.

The two prisoners he retained were the officer and one of the soldiers,
with whom he now hastened back, feeling, as he well might, well
satisfied with the success of his enterprise.

The officer proved sulkily silent, and no information could be
extracted from him, but the soldier made amends by being very
communicative, and freely answering Seth's questions, whereby it was
made clear that Fort Duquesne would prove an easy conquest if the
attack upon it could only be made promptly.

When Colonel Washington heard this, he was all the more put out that
his advice in regard to the route had not been adopted.

"It is really too bad," he said, his troubled countenance showing how
deep was his concern, "that Brigadier Forbes should have been persuaded
to take the longest way to the fort. But it is too late now to change
the plan. We must only carry it out as best we can. I am sure that when
he hears your report he will feel bound to admit that my counsel should
have been followed."

Seth had by this time come to have such an admiration for Washington
that he was ready to accept unquestioningly any opinion he might hold,
and it made him quite wrathy to think that the views of so able a
leader should not prevail.

He showed this spirit so plainly in presenting his report as to bring
upon himself a sharp rebuke from the commander-in-chief, who, being a
somewhat testy Scotchman with a good opinion of himself, did not take
kindly to having his wisdom questioned by a mere youth.

"You presume too much, young sir," he said, in a tone of manifest
irritation. "Your business is simply to give an accurate report of what
you had ascertained. You have nothing to do with what we may see fit to
determine upon."

Seth flushed deeply, and was tempted to retort that when what he had
learned went to show so plainly that no time should be lost he felt
bound to say so, but his better sense prevailed, and he accepted the
reproof in silence.

Thenceforward the tedious work of piercing the wilderness went steadily
on, but it was well into November ere the English force had got near
enough to Fort Duquesne to prepare for striking the first blow.

Washington had opened the way by cutting a road to within a day's
march of the fort, and in order that the advance might be as rapid as
possible, no artillery save a few light pieces was taken.

On the evening of the twenty-fourth of November the English force,
which consisted of twenty-five hundred picked men without tents or
baggage, and carrying only knapsacks and blankets, encamped by Turkey
Creek in readiness to attempt the attack on the following day.

Brigadier Forbes, although suffering so from sickness that he had to
be carried on a litter, was in command, and with him were Colonels
Washington, Bouquet, and Montgomery, while the detachment was made up
of Royal Americans, Highlanders, and Provincial troops.

Their progress had hitherto been unopposed, but this was no guarantee
that they might not find the French blocking their way.

About midnight the camp was aroused by the sound of a heavy explosion
that came booming over the western woods.

What could it mean? Had a magazine exploded by accident at the fort, or
was it possible that the French were blowing up their works in despair
of being able to defend them?

Seth determined that he would lose no time in finding out, and by break
of day he was off with his Rangers at a pace they only could maintain
through the leafless forest until they came out upon the open plain in
which stood Fort Duquesne.

"Deserted and destroyed, as I live!" Seth cried as with one swift
glance he took in the state of affairs. "Not a Frenchman left and the
whole place in ruins. Well, I declare, and what will our folks think of
it? I shouldn't wonder if they'll be not a little disappointed."

There was not a sign of life about the place, and after a hasty
examination of the premises Seth, leaving most of his men on guard in
case some of the Indians should attempt to loot the place, made all
haste back to the main body.

Half way thither he met Colonel Washington at the head of his regiment
of Provincials, and told him what had taken place.

"I am not at all surprised," he said in his calm way. "In fact I should
have been more surprised had the French made any defence, but I am
sorry that they have destroyed the fort, as it would have been useful
to us in the future. However, there's no helping it now. You again have
the pleasure to be the bearer of good news, Ensign Allen. I trust it
may always be your fortune."

Seth thanked him for his kind words, and continued on his way until he
came to the litter of the suffering General, to whom he reported what
he had seen.

"Ah, ha!" he exclaimed, "and so they have run off like curs after first
blowing up the fort. Drat them, I wish they had stayed long enough to
let us have a crack at them. They owe us a long score which now we'll
have no chance to make them pay. Tut, tut, it's very provoking," and so
he went on, fully confirming Seth's shrewd anticipation.

The work of destruction was so complete, the barracks and storehouses
being burned to the ground, and the fortifications blown up, that the
victors could make no use of what was left, and to provide defence and
shelter for those of their number on whom the dangerous task was to
fall of keeping what had been won, were compelled to plant a stockade
around a cluster of traders' cabins and soldiers' huts which had been
left intact.

This temporary apology for a fort Forbes called Pittsburg, in honor of
the Prime Minister, William Pitt, and it was the germ of the great
city of the present day.

A small garrison of Provincial troops having been left to hold
Pittsburg for the winter, the remainder of the force returned to
Philadelphia, having achieved a solid, if not brilliant, success,
for the conquest of Fort Duquesne opened the Great West to English
enterprise, took from France one-half of her savage allies, and
relieved the western borders of the provinces from the awful scourge
of Indian war, so that from Southern New York to North Carolina the
frontier people had good reason to bless the names of the steadfast
and much enduring soldier, Brigadier Forbes, and his loyal assistants,
Colonels Washington and Bouquet.

Seeing no prospect of further service there in the near future, Seth
with his Rangers went back to Fort Edward, where they found Major
Rogers and the rest of the men at their old work, but impatiently
looking forward to an active and eventful campaign when the winter had
passed away.

Seth's greeting from his chief could not have been more cordial.

"I am right glad to see you back, my boy," he exclaimed as he gave a
warm grasp of the hand, "and I'm curious to hear all about your doings
down South. I hope you kept up the credit of the Rangers."

"I'll leave you to judge of that after you've heard what I have to
tell," Seth responded archly, and then he proceeded to give an account
of his experiences.

The Major listened with lively interest, asking many a question, and
making frequent comments. He evidently enjoyed the recital until Seth
came to speak about Colonel Washington, and then his ardent admiration
for the Virginia officer seemed to displease him, and he broke in with:

"What makes you think so much of that man? What great things has he
done, any way?"

Seth, not perceiving that the question was prompted by a spirit of
jealousy which he had roused, for Major Rogers was one who could not
brook a divided allegiance, made haste to take Washington's part, and
before he realized it found himself involved in a controversy that
threatened to grow uncomfortably warm, so for fear of giving offence
to his friend he ceased arguing the matter, and started off on another

But his eyes were opened, and he took care not to mention the name of
Washington to the Major again.

A few days after his return he received the gratifying news of his
promotion to the rank of lieutenant, which made him very happy, and
all the more eager for the renewal of active hostilities in order that
he might have the opportunity of achieving further advance, for it was
the ambition of his heart to become a captain, and have command of a
troop of Rangers.

While he was away on the Fort Duquesne expedition General Abercrombie
had made a futile attempt to take Ticonderoga, and had then withdrawn
his forces and gone into winter quarters. The French at the other end
of the lake had done the same, and only an occasional scouting party
kept alive the embers of war.

Montcalm, who commanded the French, from time to time sent out war
parties to harass his opponents, and one of them under La Carne
succeeded in surprising and destroying a large wagon train.

When General Abercrombie heard of it he ordered Major Rogers to take a
strong party of Rangers and Provincials, and to go in pursuit of the
enemy. As a matter of course Seth went with him.



Major Rogers' force on this occasion was the largest he had thus far
commanded, comprising as it did a big body of Connecticut men, and a
small detachment of regulars, chiefly light infantry, bringing the
total up to seven hundred in all.

They marched through the forest to where Whitehall now stands, and
thence made their way up Wood Creek to old Fort Anne, long abandoned
and falling into decay. Here in the already overgrown clearing that
surrounded the ruin they encamped.

Up to this time Rogers had observed his usual caution, commanding
silence on the march, and forbidding fires at night, but having
discovered no signs of the enemy, and led into over-confidence,
perhaps, by the unusual strength of his party, he was rash enough to
accept a wager with one of the officers of the light infantry as to
which was the best marksman, and the following morning was set for the
trial of skill.

When Seth learned of this he was much troubled, for although he had not
come upon any trace of the enemy, he somehow had a conviction that
they were not far away, and he ventured to suggest to his chief that it
might not be wise to have musket firing until the neighborhood had been
more thoroughly examined.

But the Major took his remonstrance amiss.

"When I wish your advice I will ask you for it, young man," he said,
with an asperity of tone that made Seth's countenance redden. "I am
quite sure there are no French or Indians within cannon sound of us, so
you need give yourself no concern about what I propose to do."

Seth knew that it was vain to argue the matter, and said no more,
although the foreboding of approaching disaster grew stronger through
the night.

Soon after daylight the shooting match took place, and Major Rogers
proved an easy victor, but the triumph, which evidently gave him
great satisfaction, was obtained at a fearful cost, for the sound
of the shots reached the ears of a large band of French and Indians
under command of the famous partisan Marin, who at once took steps to
reconnoitre and ambuscade his reckless enemy.

All around the old fort the forest had formerly been cut down and
burned, but during the long years of neglect the opening thus made
became overgrown with bushes and saplings so densely as to be
impassable save where a narrow Indian path traversed it.

Along this path Major Rogers and his men were forced to march in single
file, and so soon as the shooting contest was settled they slung their
packs and set out.

The Connecticut men were in the lead, then came the regulars, and the
Rangers brought up the rear.

Never in his life before had Seth felt so depressed in spirits,
although he could in no wise account to himself for it.

"I'm sure there's trouble coming," he said to the Ranger who walked
next him. "I do wish they hadn't been firing at the mark. The sound of
their guns will go far this still morning."

The words had hardly left his lips when the noise of rapid firing came
over the tops of the bushes, and he exclaimed excitedly:

"I knew it! I knew it! The French have ambushed us. Quick now to the

And he dashed off through the brushwood, followed by his men. They had,
of course, great difficulty in making their way, although the yells of
Indians mingling with the reports of the muskets made clear to them
that Seth's surmise as to what had taken place was correct, and they
were wild to get to the assistance of their imperilled comrades.

What had happened was this: When the head of the line emerged from the
tangled shrubbery, and was about to enter the forest there broke forth
a horrid chorus of savage yells, and suddenly the place became alive
with Indians.

One of them, a huge Caughnawaga chief, with uplifted hatchet sprang at
the foremost of the English, who threw up his gun, and pulled trigger.
But unhappily it missed fire, and the next moment he fell with cloven

Then the firing began. The French and the Indians, lying across the
path in a semicircle, had the double advantage of surprise and of
position, and the Connecticut men at first fell back among the bushes
in disorder, but presently rallied, and held their opponents in check
until the regulars and Rangers could force their way through the
thickets to their support.

So dense was the brushwood that it was only after much loss of time and
with great difficulty that the English were able to assume some kind of
order in front of the enemy, and even then each man was forced to fight
for himself as best he could.

The fulfilment of his foreboding cast no spell over Seth's courage. He
plunged into the conflict as though he bore a charmed life, and many an
Indian fell at the crack of his gun.

Yet with the wisdom of the true woodsman he did not expose himself
unnecessarily, but took advantage to the utmost of such cover as their
position afforded.

The fusillade continued for nearly two hours with heavy loss on both
sides, but without the combatants coming to close quarters, as the
French evidently feared a hand-to-hand struggle, and the English
leaders, having no idea of the actual strength of their assailants, did
not deem it prudent to attempt to charge upon them.

The fierce and bloody conflict was at its height when Seth, moving
forward to get a better position for shooting, suddenly found himself
face to face with three Indians, who had crept upon him through the

His gun was empty, and he had no time to reload it, but he felled one
of the savages with the butt, and was about to treat another in the
same fashion when the third sprang at him and tripping him cleverly,
flung him heavily to the ground, where both threw themselves on him,
and pinned him fast.

They were powerful braves, and, although Seth struggled frantically
to free himself, they soon had his hands bound with thongs which hurt
cruelly, and rendered him helpless.

Then, each seizing an arm, they rushed him to the rear of their own
line, where they lashed him to a tree so that he could not move a limb.

All this time Seth had not spoken. He knew how vain was any appeal
for mercy, and steeled his heart for the torture that was sure to be
his fate.

Having secured him to the tree, his captors, letting the battle take
care of itself, proceeded to amuse themselves in characteristic fashion
by throwing their tomahawks at Seth's head with the idea of seeing
which could come closest to without actually striking their living


It was fine fun for the dusky fiends no doubt, but it was a terrible
ordeal for Seth, and yet the brave fellow hardly blinked as the cruel
steel flashed past his eyes, and buried itself in the tree with a
vicious thud, sometimes severing a stray lock of his hair in its flight.

Nor were the redskins the only ones to act thus inhumanly, for when
they had wearied of their amusement, a French officer came up, who
after assailing the helpless captive with vigorous abuse, thrust the
muzzle of his gun violently against his body, pretending to fire it,
and then struck him in the face with the butt, inflicting a painful

Still Seth maintained his stoical silence, for he had determined that
although they should tear him to pieces, or burn him with slow fire,
they should not extort from him any sign or sound of weakness.

When the retreat began the Indians unloosed Seth from the tree,
stripped him of nearly all his clothing, bound his wrists together
so tightly that the pain was intense, and then placing upon his bare
back as many of the packs of their wounded as could be piled up, they
hurried him along until at last in sheer exhaustion he fell to the
ground, and could not move despite the blows showered upon him.

He might have been despatched there and then had not a French officer,
moved to compassion by his desperate plight, persuaded the Indians to
untie his hands, and lighten his crushing burden. They also gave him a
pair of moccasins to protect his lacerated feet, from which they had
taken his shoes and stockings.

His misery being thus somewhat mitigated, Seth was able to go on and to
stagger under his load until his captors encamped for the night.

But cruelly as he had suffered already there was worse yet to come,
for, having removed the last vestige of clothing, they tied him to a
tree, and set to work to surround him with brushwood.

"Merciful Heaven, they are going to burn me!" he groaned. "If they
would only kill me first! How can I stand the terrible torture?"

Nevertheless he nerved himself to bear the awful ordeal, not deigning
to utter a cry for mercy.

The savages were evidently impressed by his heroic bearing, and
delayed lighting the wood, while they danced about him, brandishing
their tomahawks in his face, and trying to make him flinch from their
pretended blows.

In the midst of their fiendish frolicking there fell a sudden shower
of rain which soaked the wood so that it would not light, and this
seemed to offer some hope of a respite for their victim. But no sooner
had the rain ceased than the merciless wretches resumed their horrid
preparations, and this time succeeded in surrounding him with a circle
of brushwood which they set on fire, and then yelled and danced before
him in delight at his vain endeavors to avoid the rising flames.

His case certainly seemed desperate to the last degree. Thus far he had
held the hope that his tormentors might stop short of taking his life
in order to carry him back to Canada as a trophy of their prowess, but
when the fire began to scorch his naked limbs he gave himself up to

The flames were climbing to his waist. A few more minutes and it would
have been all over with him, when into the midst of the dancing,
yelling crowd there burst a stalwart figure shouting in French:

"You red devils, what are you about? How dare you torture one of our
prisoners like that and disgrace us all? If I had known what you were
about I would have put a stop to it before this."

It was Marin, the Canadian leader of the war party, who, on hearing
what was taking place, had with courageous humanity rushed to the
scene, determined to interpose at all hazards.

Nor was he content with upbraiding the Indians for their cruelty, but
dashed at the blazing brushwood, tore it away from Seth, cut his bonds
with a slash of his knife, and dragged him out of danger.

The whole thing was done so quickly and in so dauntless a fashion
that the savages were completely taken back, and when Marin, having
berated them further, placed Seth under the protection of a Caughnawaga
chief, who promised to be responsible for him, they acquiesced in the
arrangement without a murmur.

The Caughnawaga accepted the trust reposed in him, and at first seemed
disposed to treat Seth kindly, but the means he took to insure the
prisoner not attempting his escape, while certainly effective, were
by no means considerate of his comfort, seeing that he stretched him
on the ground in the form of a St. Andrew's cross with his wrists and
ankles fastened to the stems of young trees.

Nor was he satisfied with this, but must needs place brushwood upon his
body, and across it long slender saplings on the ends of which several
warriors lay down to sleep, so that Seth could not make the slightest
movement without rousing them.

The misery of that night may hardly be conceived, since in addition
to all the physical suffering, the proud, sensitive nature of the New
Englander writhed as he realized what an utterly ludicrous figure he

Next day after a painful march he reached Fort Ticonderoga, and was
taken before Montcalm, who asked him a number of questions about the
strength of the English forces, and their plans for the future.

But he got little light from Seth, who, thoroughly understanding the
purpose of the examination, either evaded the questions, or firmly
refused to reply to them, even though the French commander threatened
to have him tortured if he did not answer in the way desired.

The end of it was that Montcalm, finding he could elicit nothing from
him, ordered him to be sent up to Montreal as a prisoner of war.



It was many days before Seth recovered from what he had endured at the
hands of the Indians, and some of his injuries left scars which he bore
for the remainder of his life.

At Montreal he found a number of his fellow-countrymen in the same
plight as himself. They were fairly well treated, but of course kept
under constant surveillance, and allowed little liberty of movement,
so that their life soon became very monotonous, and each one of them
cherished his own hopes of escape.

Now and again attempts were made, but they proved for the most part
failures, the vigilance of the French and the incessant activity of the
Indians rendering it wellnigh impossible to get safely away.

Of course Seth had no sooner recovered his strength than he likewise
set his ingenuity to work upon the problem of regaining his freedom,
but rack his brains as he might he could devise no scheme that seemed
feasible, while the days grew into weeks, and the weeks into months of
maddening monotony.

"I believe I'll go out of my mind if I don't get free soon," he said to
one of his companions in captivity. "Just to think of all that's going
on, and we have no hand in it. We might as well be dead and buried for
all the good we are."

No wonder, indeed, if this forced inaction told hard upon the
prisoners, and particularly upon those of them like Seth, whose delight
it was to be in active service no matter how dangerous, as in their
durance vile there reached them rumors of the tremendous effort England
was putting forth to conquer Canada, and stirring accounts of the vast
fleet which was pushing its way up the St. Lawrence River for the
taking of Quebec. Nearly the whole force of the colony had been brought
together at the threatened capital, where both Vaudreuil and Montcalm
were making all possible preparations to meet the invaders, and Seth
raged against the fate which kept him out of the arena of action, until
at last he grew so desperate as to be ready to seize upon the wildest
scheme for escape.

Such was his mood when all unexpectedly there came to him the chance
he craved. During the early days of his imprisonment he had had the
opportunity of doing a service for the wife of one of his guards, and
thereby won her gratitude.

She had come from his own Province, and in spite of having lived many
years in Canada her heart still held a warm corner for her countrymen.
Although Seth knew nothing of it he had been much in the good woman's
mind, and she was possessed with the idea of enabling him to escape,
but wisely kept her own counsel about it until the opportunity offered.
Then she surprised him by taking him aside, and saying in a significant

"Are you tired of being a prisoner here?"

"Of course I am," responded Seth, emphatically. "Tired to death of it.
I don't know what I'll do if I can't manage to get out of this somehow."

"You would like to make your escape, then?" continued the woman.

Seth laughed bitterly as he answered:

"Why do you ask me that? You know as well as I do that I would give
anything on earth to escape, and be with my men again."

The woman smiled at his earnestness.

"If I were to show you how you might escape, what would you do?"

Seth's face lit up, and his eyes dilated. He was about to say that
he would do anything in the world for her, and then he checked
himself, for the humiliating thought came that he, a poor penniless
prisoner--did not have it in his power to reward her at all.

She quite understood how it was, and went on to say: "Do not mind about
that. I meant nothing. If I do help you to escape it will be because
you come from my own country, and I shall not want anything from you."

She then proceeded to explain herself, and Seth listened with every
nerve a-quiver.

It seemed that preparations were being made to send more soldiers down
to Quebec by the river, and that a number of canoes duly supplied with
stores were ready for the start in the morning. If Seth could contrive
to get off with one of these canoes he might make his way down the
river to where the English were encamped on the shore opposite Quebec.

Seth heard her with indescribable delight. The dangers and difficulties
of the undertaking were as naught in his eyes, and he poured out his
gratitude in the strongest words he could command.

Of course he could not make the venture alone. He must needs have a
companion to help him in paddling the canoe.

But there could be no difficulty about that; one of his
fellow-prisoners, Lieutenant Putnam of Connecticut, would be only too
glad to join him, and, having arranged with the woman to meet her at
midnight, he went off with bounding heart to find Putnam, and tell him
the good news.

Putnam was at first inclined to suspect some trap.

"It seems too good to be true," he said doubtfully.

"Not a bit of it," replied Seth. "I'm sure the woman is to be trusted,
and if you feel like holding back, why just say so, and I'll get
somebody else."

But Putnam at once declared his readiness to share the venture, and
they proceeded to perfect their plans.

The night proved favorable in every particular. It was very dark and
still, and had it not been for the woman's perfect familiarity with the
premises they could never have found their way to the landing-place
where the canoes were drawn up.

Happily the sentries had fallen asleep, and there was no one to
challenge them when they pushed off, after whispering their gratitude
to the good woman who had so signally befriended them.

Out into the swift current they sent the canoe, and as they sped down
stream their hearts beat high with hope, and they would have sung for
joy had they dared.

"Isn't this wonderful?" Seth exclaimed when they were well out into the
river. "After all our months of waiting for a chance to escape to have
it come to us in this way! It seems like a dream."

"Thank Heaven it's a reality," responded Putnam fervently. "And if we
do reach the camp all right we may perhaps be in time to have a share
in the taking of Quebec."

They paddled strongly and steadily until daybreak, and then sought out
a secluded cove where they could go into hiding for the day.

There was no difficulty in this, the shores of the St. Lawrence being
densely wooded, and they soon had their canoe concealed amongst the
trees where no passer-by could discover it.

They slept soundly during the greater part of the day and as they were
enjoying a hearty supper they saw a flotilla of canoes hastening down

"That's where our canoe rightfully belongs," laughed Seth, pointing to
the heavy-laden craft. "I wonder what was said when they missed it. I
hope our good friend did not get into any trouble on account of it."

"No fear of that," replied Putnam, "she's too clever to be found out.
They'll just think we managed it ourselves somehow."

"But we'll have to be doubly careful with all those canoes ahead of
us," said Seth. "What had we better do? Keep behind them, or try and
get away ahead to-night?"

"Get ahead of them to-night by all means," responded Putnam, "even
though they do pass us again next day."

And this is what they did day after day and night after night, playing
a unique and thrilling game of see-saw with the unwitting flotilla,
which kept steadily on its way seaward, while they alternately led and
followed in the rear.

Many a narrow escape from discovery they had. More than once it seemed
impossible that they should evade detection. But by a series of happy
chances they succeeded in keeping out of sight to the end of the

Landing at Point Levi, which had been for some time in the possession
of the English under General Wolfe, they met with a warm reception,
and Seth was particularly pleased to find a band of Rangers forming
part of the force there strongly entrenched. He was, of course, a
welcome addition to the company, and had no difficulty in obtaining an
officer's outfit, which enabled him to take his proper place among them.

The siege of Quebec had now been going on for many weeks, and although
the English had firmly established themselves on the opposite shore
of the St. Lawrence, as well as on the Island of Orleans below, and
had wellnigh reduced the city itself to ruins, the French showed no
signs of yielding, and seemed determined to maintain the struggle

Realizing that his operations, thus far, while no doubt greatly
distressing the enemy, had not brought the surrender of the city very
much nearer, since it was nothing to lay Quebec in ruins if he could
not also defeat the army that protected it, General Wolfe, with an
ardor and daring that no difficulties could daunt, resolved to attempt
an effective blow by striking the French army in flank or rear.

To accomplish this his plan was to land below Montmorenci Falls, ascend
the lofty river bank, cross the stream at the first ford above the
falls, and attack the enemy from that quarter.

The venture was made at night after several frigates had spent the day
shelling the camp of the Chevalier de Levis, who occupied the heights
just above the cataract.

A force of three thousand men in all, including a company of Rangers
under Seth's command, landed before daybreak a little below the
cataract, where they were opposed by a troop of Canadians and Indians.

After a short but sharp encounter, with some loss on both sides, these
were routed, and, led by the Rangers, the English made their way up the
heights, gained the plateau above, and at once set about entrenching
themselves, while Seth took his men into the forest in search of a
place to ford the river.

It was a dangerous mission, for who could tell how many Indians lurked
in the leafy fastnesses; but Seth was too happy at being once more in
the thick of things to give a thought to the perils of his position.

Following up the course of the tumultuous torrent he found it growing
more placid and less deep, and felt confident of coming upon what he
sought, when he was met by a large party of Indians, who poured a heavy
fire upon his scanty ranks.

The bullets whistled all about him, and several of his men went down,
but he stood his ground at first, returning the fire with good effect
until it became so clear that the odds were overwhelmingly against him
that he ordered a retreat.

Fortunately the sound of the firing brought the regulars up to his
support, and the Indians were repulsed with heavy loss.

But the search for the ford was discontinued, as Wolfe decided it would
be best to make his position thoroughly strong before doing anything
else, and the French allowed him to fortify himself undisturbed.

Seth saw a great deal of the famous general at this time. His first
impression was one of surprise. He could not understand how so renowned
a commander could have so unimposing an appearance. His slight frame,
homely features, and red hair had nothing martial about them, and only
his clear, bright, and piercing eye gave any hint of the heroic soul

But as the days went by and he witnessed his amazing energy, his
wonderful foresight, his thorough mastery of the art of warfare, and
his dauntless courage, he came fairly to worship him, and to have
implicit faith in his achieving the great thing he had undertaken.

"We may be a good while doing it, but we'll take Quebec just as surely
as we stand here at this moment," he said to one of the English
officers as they stood together looking toward the beleaguered city.
"Whatever General Wolfe has set his mind upon is bound to be done."



The weeks went by and still Montcalm held Quebec, and the English
invaders made little progress toward wresting it from him. Flags of
truce often passed between the hostile camps.

"You will demolish the town, no doubt," said the bearer of one of them,
"but you shall never get inside of it."

To which Wolfe replied:

"I will have Quebec if I stay here till the end of November."

Along the river from Montmorenci Falls to Point Levi there were
frequent artillery fights between the English warships and the French
batteries, while bands of Indians infested the outskirts of the English
camps, killing and scalping the sentries at every opportunity.

The special duty of the Rangers was to attend to these red devils, and
they did it nobly.

Seth was never idle. Had he needed any incitement to diligence and
daring in meeting the assaults of the Indians, his admiration for
General Wolfe and desire to merit his approval would have supplied it,
and it was one of the proudest moments of his life when, on his return
from a dash into the forest which had resulted in the despatching of a
dozen Indians, and the taking of half as many prisoners, the General
called him before him, and in the presence of his whole staff, said:

"I want to express to you, Lieutenant Allen, my appreciation of the
very valuable service you and your Rangers are rendering. My own men
know nothing about this forest fighting in which yours are so expert,
and I would be well pleased if we had a much larger company of you
than we have. When this business is over I will see to it that your
excellent work receives due acknowledgment."

Seth heard this praise with heightened colour and throbbing pulses. No
sweeter words had ever fallen upon his ears, and he was so moved that
he found difficulty in making a brief response expressing his thanks
for the commendation, and assuring the general that he would continue
to serve him to the utmost of his ability.

Still the days grew into weeks, until autumn drew near without the
defence of the city showing signs of weakening. A part of the English
fleet had run the gauntlet of the French batteries and reached the
upper river, so that the city was now exposed to attack from above and
below as well as in front, but the unique strength of its situation
enabled it even then to defy the invaders, who began to despair of
accomplishing their object.

At last Wolfe determined upon attempting the desperate expedient of
landing a force on the beach above Quebec, scaling the precipitous
bluff to the Plains of Abraham, and thence advancing upon the city.

No sooner did this daring design come to Seth's knowledge than he
resolved to have a part in the enterprise if he could, and he made
haste to secure an interview with the general that he might prefer his

He found the great man engrossed in business, and had to wait long
before he could obtain his ear, but when he did make known his desire,
the kindly smile that lit up the commander's countenance augured well
as to the nature of his reply.

"And so you are not content with having thus far escaped the scalping
knives of your Indian friends, but hanker for further perils," he
said in a bantering tone. "Do you realize what tremendous risks we
are taking, and that there is a very good chance of our being cut to
pieces, or taken prisoners?"

"That does not trouble me in the least," responded Seth brightly. "I
only know that you intend to lead the attacking party yourself, and
wherever you go I'm ready to go too."

Rising from his seat General Wolfe stepped up to Seth and laid his hand
upon his shoulder, while he said, in a voice that shook with emotion,
for he had been greatly depressed of late, and the New England youth's
expression of loyal devotion had touched and cheered his heart:

"You're a brave, true lad. I appreciate and honor your noble feelings.
You shall go with us."

Seth murmured his thanks and withdrew in a state of high elation.
He would not then have changed places with any officer in the whole
English army.

When Wolfe had gathered his men, whose total number fell short of five
thousand, and the necessary boats and bateaux to transport them from
the ships to the shore, he appointed the night for the venture.

On a call being made for volunteers to lead the soldiers up the heights
Seth was among the first to respond, and only twenty-four being wanted
he was glad to be accepted for the dangerous task.

It was a still dark night when the procession of boats carrying the
vanguard of the English, followed by the ships with the remainder,
borne on the current, steered silently down the St. Lawrence, and
Seth in the foremost boat, sobered by a sense of the tremendous risk,
speculated as to the chances of being alive twenty-four hours hence.

"We're bound to lose a good many of our men," he said to himself, "and
maybe it will be my turn to fall. I've had a lot of narrow escapes and
I suppose I can't count on always being so lucky. Well, there's no
telling, and I'm not going to worry about it. I'll just do the best I
can, and leave the rest to Providence."

As the boats neared their destination the tide bore them in toward the
shore, and suddenly the silence was broken by the sharp "_qui vive_" of
a French sentry invisible in the darkness.

Now Seth had put to good use the long months of his captivity at
Montreal by acquiring a knowledge of the French language, having
noticed what an advantage Major Rogers found his command of it to be,
and so with quick wit he responded:


"_A quel regiment?_" the sentry demanded, being not altogether

"_De la Reine_," answered Seth, because he knew that this corps was
with Bougainville up the river, and the sentry, who was expecting
a convoy of provisions from that direction, asked no more awkward

But the danger from this source was not yet over. A little further on
another vigilant sentry challenged, and ran down to the water's edge
to get a better look at them. Seth, however, was equal to the occasion.

"Be quiet," he said, in a tone of reproof, "or the English will hear
us. We have provisions for the army."

As an English war vessel lay at anchor not very far off the warning
seemed well-founded, and the suspicions of the sentry being allayed,
he, too, forebore to question further.

A few minutes later the boats rounded the headland above the Anse
du Foulon, and were beached on the narrow strand at the foot of the

Seth and his fellow-volunteers at once sprang ashore, and set about
climbing the steep, tree-clothed ascent, being closely followed by a
number of regulars.

It was a no less difficult than perilous task, and had the French above
been on the alert they might easily have foiled the daring attempt,
for the climbers could not have defended themselves, seeing that it
required all their energies to work their way up.

Seth could not help thinking how easily a stalwart guardsman might
drive them back single-handed, and it was with a very decided feeling
of relief that at last, breathless and wellnigh spent, he reached the
top unchallenged, and saw in the dim light a cluster of tents not far

As soon as the others had joined him, and they had caught their
breath, they charged upon the tents, which, strange to say, were
without a sentry, and the sleeping inmates, suddenly aroused, made
little resistance, the most of them fleeing panic-stricken, while a few
were taken prisoners.

Having thus become masters of the position the little band now hurrahed
heartily, and the glad sound falling upon the ears of General Wolfe,
anxiously waiting below, he at once gave the command for the remainder
of the troops to follow, and up they went, some here and some there,
clutching at trees and bushes, their muskets strung at their backs.

The general himself was one of the foremost to reach the top, although
before starting he said to one of the officers:

"You can try it, but I don't think you'll get up."

By daybreak his battalions were drawn up in good order along the crest
of the heights, and not being opposed they advanced thence to the
Plains of Abraham, and formed their line of battle within a mile of the

So utterly unexpected was their appearance that the French were thrown
into confusion for a time, and there were orders and counter-orders,
misunderstanding, perplexity, and delay until at last Montcalm assumed
the responsibility of proceeding to the attack.

Nearly two thousand Canadians and Indians acting as sharp-shooters
fusilladed the English in front and flank, and many of their bullets
caused gaps in the red lines until the soldiers were ordered to lie
down on the grass so as to avoid the deadly fire.

Seth was thoroughly at home in this kind of fighting, and working his
way to an advantageous position, he made every shot tell.

It was toward ten o'clock before the main body of the French advanced
to the attack. They had formed themselves into three bodies, and they
came on rapidly, uttering loud shouts, and firing as soon as they were
within range.

Instead of returning the fire the English advanced a few rods, then
halted, and stood still and silent until their antagonists were within
forty paces of them, when the word of command rang out, and a crash of
musketry answered all along the line.

The volley was delivered with remarkable precision, and when the smoke
cleared away, its terrible effect was immediately manifest, for the
ground was strewn with dead and wounded, while the advancing force had
stopped short, and was turned into a frantic mob of shouting, cursing,
gesticulating men.

The English commander was quick to see his opportunity and gave the
order to charge. Then over the field rose the British cheer mingled
with the fierce yell of the Highland slogan. Some of the corps pushed
forward with the bayonet. Others continued to use their muskets, but
the Highlanders drew their broadswords and charged furiously, making
deadly play with their long, keen, weapons.

Seth, who had kept well to the front through it all, and had done his
full share of the fighting, now found himself in close proximity to the
general, who was leading the Louisbourg Grenadiers in the charge.

"He is too brave. He should not take such risks. He ought to let his
officers do that for him," was the Ranger's comment, as he saw how
recklessly Wolfe was exposing himself, for although the courage of it
filled him with admiration, his shrewd common-sense told him that the
commander-in-chief ought not to be exposed to the same dangers as his

But Wolfe had no thought for himself. Victory at any cost, even that
of his own life, was his one supreme object, and he pressed onward as
though the routing of the enemy depended upon his personal efforts.

Presently a bullet struck him in the wrist, badly shattering it, but he
simply wrapped his handkerchief about the wound, and kept on.

Again he was struck, yet still undaunted he continued to advance until
a third shot lodged in his breast, and he staggered and sat down.

At once several officers, of whom Seth was one, hastened to his help,
and bore him tenderly to the rear, where he begged them to lay him down.

They did so, and Seth asked if he should go in search of a surgeon.

"There's no need," answered Wolfe, in a tone of complete conviction,
"it's all over with me."

A moment later Seth having turned to glance at the battlefield, called
out, exultantly:

"They run, see how they run!"

"Who run?" Wolfe demanded like a man roused from sleep.

"The enemy, sir," responded Seth. "They're giving way everywhere."

"Go one of you to Colonel Burton," returned the great commander, not
forgetting his duty even though his life-blood was fast ebbing, "tell
him to march Webb's regiment down to the Charles River to cut off their

Then turning on his side, while the ghastly pallor of death overspread
his features, he murmured:

"Now God be praised, I will die in peace," and passed away.

Profoundly moved Seth stayed by the body of the departed hero, saying
to himself:

"What a pity! Why didn't he live to enjoy the glory of his victory! He
shouldn't have led the charge. But it's too late now."

Meanwhile the exultant English swept on, driving their panic-stricken
opponents before them almost up to the gates of the city through which
the fugitives poured pell-mell, with their gallant commander Montcalm,
mortally wounded, in their midst and supported in his saddle by a
soldier on either side.

Wolfe's work was done, and he had paid for it with his own life. With
the taking of Quebec the mastery of the continent passed into the hands
of the English, and the dominion of the French ceased for all time.

When the joy over the victory and the sorrow over the death of Wolfe
had in a measure moderated, a piece of news reached Seth that gave him
keen satisfaction, and made him wish that it had been possible for him
to be in two places at once.

This was that a strong force under the command of Lord Amherst had
succeeded in wresting both Ticonderoga and Crown Point from the enemy,
and that the whole region about the beautiful lakes was in possession
of the English.

"And can you tell me how are Major Rogers and the Rangers?" Seth
eagerly inquired of his informant.

"They're all right, so far as I know," was the satisfactory answer.
"They did splendid work all through the campaign."

There being nothing for him to do in Canada Seth lost no time
in rejoining his own leader, whom he found at Albany, enjoying a
well-earned rest after his arduous services.

The meeting between the two friends was very cordial, and it took many
hours of talk for them to tell each other of their experiences during
their long separation.

The conclusion of the war rendering unnecessary the maintenance of the
Rangers their commander returned to his more profitable occupation of
trading, but Seth had grown too fond of a soldier's life to give it
up, and accordingly he sought and obtained a commission in the regular
army, where he ultimately rose to high rank by the exercise of those
same qualities of self-control, steadfastness, and sagacity which had
distinguished him when he was one of Rogers' Rangers.


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