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Morven
Part IV


Morven and Donald talked it over and could see no help for it other than go to Canada. Were they to try to stay, they would have to disperse, going to villages and towns to seek work as laborers, and that meant poverty, if not starvation, for hard times had come on the heels of the close of the war They knew that the women as much as the men were averse to splitting up their little community. They had lived as one family, the strong caring for the weak, each helping the other, so that to break up relations that had existed so long, and be separated among strangers who were unfriendly a proposal they recoiled from. On the other hand, were they to continue together they must leave the United States, and their shortest route to Canada was over a mountainous wilderness of a full hundred miles or more. Of that region they knew only what their young men who had gone hunting in it told them, and they had no occasion to go far. They had no guide, all they were sure of was that going due north they would reach Canada. Donald suggested they move towards Lake George and, building or buying boats, gain Canada by Lake Champlain; he had been as far as Crown Point and saw no special difficulty. They parted to go and warn the People to prepare for speedy departure. No family was surprised. They had been expecting nothing else, tho’ hoping the change would not come until spring. To sell their cattle and other marketable property they at once sent word to drovers It was on the afternoon of the third day after Hoover’s visit, that Morven saw Tim coming over the field to his house. He bore a letter. It was from a brother of Miriam. It told how the family had been driven from their farm and were on their way to seek a new home in Cana da. They had to pass Albany, for, they had chosen the way by Lake Champlain. While staying over night in that town, they learned of a call for volun teers to raid the settlement of Highlanders, who were spoken of as allies of the Indians, and as deserving the treatment they had shown Republican families. The letter closed with an urgent message to leave and escape the massacre that had been planned. Morven, from what he had heard, knew of the dreadful deeds done in isolated settlements of Tories in the Hudson valley, and felt the danger. In the coming raid he saw the hand of Hoover. •, Instant action was needed, for Tim said the word was, that the soldiers would leave and it was now Thursday. Donald said this word decided their route—they must go by the wilderness and he suggested that men be at once sent to build a raft so that they could cross the lake to the north of their settlement instead of going round it, which might enable a pursuing party to overtake them. This was done, and a message sent to every household to be ready to move on Saturday. The chief preparation was the cooking of food and packing it in baskets to be carried on the back. Their acquaintance with the Indians had taught how burdens could be so carried and they had plenty of baskets. Children unable to walk were bundled up as papooses, and on the backs of the three indian ponies they had decided to take, were strapped the utensils and coverings for wig-wams.

With the first streak of day the settlement was alive with preparations for the start. There was no expression of regret, no reluctance in leaving: the blood of the Highlanders was up, they would fight if need be, but the hearts of all, even to the children, were exultant over the thought that they were on their way to a land where they would enjoy the earnings of their labor and be no longer persecuted for their political opinions. Led by Donald, several men with axes struck for the woods to clear a track, and, well behind them, to give time to clear any obstruction, a straggling line of men, women, and children followed, Morven giving assistance wherever most needed. Two hours’ march and the first of the foothills was reached, and a halt called on its slope.

Looking back they saw the valley they had dwelt in for half-a-dozen years, and while they were endeavoring to pick out where this and that house lay, a column of smoke rose, which speedily changed into a cloud and rolled before the wind. The young men left to form a rear-guard had fired the standing crops and with them went the log-houses. Shouts of exultation rose from their late occupants. "Our crops no Yankee will reap: our homes no Yankee will dwell in. They will come to rob and find a desolation." It was in the afternoon when the lake was reached, which proved to be one of those long narrow stretches of water common to the region. The north shore which faced them was bold and rocky, and to reach it was their purpose. Trees, suitable for a raft, had been selected along the water edge, felled, and rolled into the lake. One by one they had been lashed together with withes, so that a floating platform was ready to receive its first passengers, mostly children. The men who poled it were surprised, on nearing the farther shore, to see a man standing on a rock, who signed to them where to steer, and following his directions struck a landing where the water was deep enough to bring the raft alongside a ledge of rock. Morven, whose heart jumped on recognizing the stranger as John Blanket, grasped his hand. "You have come to help us?" The Indian gave a grunt. There was no time for talk. As soon as the raft was lightened of its load it was poled back to get another. Had it not been that it was moonlight all could not have crossed that night. The Indian led to a sheltered hollow, where fires were lit, and the first night in the wilderness was spent.

Before going to sleep, Morven had a long talk with John Blanket. He told how he had gone with his tribe to the reservation given by the British government on the Grand river, in Canada. Having vided a home, he had come east to claim as his bride the maiden to whom he had been betrothed, and whose people still lived in a forest depth on the edge of the great wilderness. He had waited for a while with the Indians on the bay of Quinte, and then, traversing lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence in a canoe, had plunged into the woods, where he hunted and fished until he had neared the old campingground of his people, and claimed the hand of her for whom he had come. so far. Careful not to show himself, for he knew he would be shot like a wild beast by the first Republican who sighted him, he had haunted the Mohawk valley for some time. He was in the woods when Morven had his meeting with Hoover, overheard what passed, and had his tomahawk ready to slay Hoover had the bullet of his pistol hit Morven. Knowing from what passed at the interview that the settlers would soon leave, he resolved to offer his services as guide, and left to tell his bride. The Highlanders had moved sooner than expected. That morning he had gone on a hunt and it was the sight of the smoke that had hurried him on his way back, reaching the lake as he saw them getting ready to cross it. Squeezing the Indian’s hand in gratitude, Morven slept all the sounder from knowing they had a guide.

It was the joyous chatter of the children that roused Morven in the morning. He was told the Indian had gone towards the lake, and he found him lying prone on a rock watching the opposite shore. "They have followed you," said John. "See the smoke of last night’s fire." Morven looked where he pointed but could see nothing. "They took the trail you made and are now at the lake."

"Had we not better be on the move? It will take them some time to get round the lake, and we may leave them far behind."

The Indian shook his head. "They would overtake you today—maybe at a worse place than this to fight them. You march slow, they go fast, all young and good bushmen."

"I do not want to fight; I hate the shedding of blood."

Blanket smiled grimly. "You have to fight them or let them kill you all."

Morven gazed on the lovely scene before him, the union of hill and forest and glassy lake, glorified in warm sunshine, and sighed to think nature was so peaceful and beautiful and man so destructive and hateful. As they were to wait where they were until they learned the movements of their pursuers, towards noon the People gathered under the shade of the trees to hold the fellowship-service they had never failed to observe as each Sunday came—all save Blanket, who had left the camp after breakfast. Morven read the 14th chapter of Exodus, and from that hour his hearers evened themselves with the children of Israel. When their worship was over, he missed the young men and Donald. He was told Blanket had beckoned them while he was speaking and they had disappeared with him in the forest.

About a nile to the east of the camp a brook found its way to the lake through a rent in the rock. The depth and width of the gorge varied, but nowhere was it narrow enough for a man to leap nor the banks sufficiently slanting to permit of safe descent or climbing the opposite steep. Blanket conjectured, when the Americans saw their prey had escaped by ferrying the lake they would go round the eastern end of it and, having done so, must cross this chasm to reach them. Assured of this he went to the outlet of the brook to watch for their coming. The sun had passed the meridian before his keen eyes got a glimpse of them, when he went to the camp for the young men. The Americans, who had guides who knew the ground, halted at a point of the brook where the gorge was narrowest, when two of the party began to fell a pine that grew near the edge. So skilfully did they wield their axes, that the tree fell as they desired, straight across the chasm. Stepping on it the men hewed away the few obstructing branches, and there was a tolerable bridge for light-looted riflemen. John Blanket and his followers, concealed in the thicket that fringed the gorge, watched every movement and heard much of the talk of the Americans, for, confident they were alone, they laughed and bantered each other about their expedition and of the capture they believed to be within their grasp. Their remarks about Highland girls often made the blood of the young men boil with indignation and they whispered Blanket if they should not shoot, but he always shook his head. When the bridge was ready, the leader ordered them to form single file, wide apart., so that not more than two at a time would be on the frail bridge. They had evidently served in the army, for they obeyed orders with precision and alacrity. Just as the leading man was about to step off the Indian whispered "Fire." Those on the bridge fell headlong to the foaming water beneath, the others sprang back and rushed for the shelter of the bush—all save two who dropped in their flight. Instantly the Americans sent a shower of bullets to the place where they supposed their assailants were hid, which did no damage. Then there was silence. Blanket whispered they were consulting what to do. After an interval a white cloth at the end of a ramrod appeared above the bushes and an unarmed man walked towards the fatal bridge. Donald went forward to speak to him.

"We want to move these two wounded men who are lying scorching in the sun."

"We make no war on wounded men. If you leave their rifles, powder-horns, and knives you can carry them with you; we will not shoot."

"Thank you, my one-armed friend. Now, I will do you a favor. On surrendering to us the man named Morven, for whom we have a warrant, we will go back to Albany and leave your party unmolested."

"What would you do with him?"

"We will take him to Albany where he will have a fair trial on charges laid against him by the Honorable Douw Hoover."

"You talk as if we were under obligation to you. We owe you nothing; we have done you no harm. It is you who have abused us. You have robbed us of our farms and you hunt us for our lives."

"That is saucy talk for men who have .. just tumbled three of our best fellows into that chasm and wounded two more. Come into the open and we will lick you in a fair fight. This ambushing is cowardly."

"What did you expect? That we would wait like sheep in our camp till you poured a volley, slaught ered everyman, and then seized our women? The deer when brought to bay lowers its horns to save dam and fawn from the wolf. Your comrades had murder in their hearts when they stepped on that tree and deserved what they got."

"Were it any use talking, I would tell you what Tories have done and what they deserve, but the deal this morning is yours and we have to grin and bear it. Come now, don’t let us go back to Albany with nothing to show for our tramp. Give us that fellow Morven."

"Morven has done nothing deserving trial and we know what your fair trials mean. If that is the condition of your leaving us alone, we will fight it out with you."

"Come now, be reasonable, we are able to catch you all—"

Donald flourished his one arm. "Back quick, and if you know what is good for you, tell your friends to save their hides by going back the way they came."

The American returned to where the party was hid, when four men came out to carry away the two wounded men. Knowing they were watched by marksmen who had their rifles pointed at them, they ostentatiously piled the guns, powder - horns, and knives of the disabled men in a heap, before lifting them.

"What next, John?" asked Donald.

"The Yankees are going home," answered Blanket in a whisper, "they did not expect to follow us so far, and have not food to stay longer. Their haversacks are, empty."

"Let us go after them, the bridge is there."

Blanket shook his head. "We are not able for them—too many."

"Are we not to have even another shot at them? They have taken our land, they would have taken our lives, had you not circumvented them."

The young men, who had been listening, eagerly backed Donald’s request, one stepping towards the tree-bridge. "Stop," cried Blanket, "you may be shot. Do not cross; come this way."

The Indian led them down towards the lake, halting when they were about to come in sight of it. He pointed to the other side of the gorge, where a forest-fire had made a clearance of several acres.

"They will cross that," he said with a sweep of his hand, "when you will have a chance of another shot."

Crouched under cover of tree, and rock, and bush, they waited with rifles pointed to sweep the opening in front of them The Americans were long in coming. Having to prepare stretchers to carry their wounded they were delayed. It was nearing sunset when, at the farther end of the opening, the first American stepped out, followed by others in straggling fashion, When a broken line of them spanned the clearance Blanket gave the word and eight rifles rang out. Instantly the Americans dropped, some from being hit, others to seek cover. The fury of battle had taken possession of Donald. Rising up to see what damage had been done, he gave the warcry of his clan. Blanket, who was reloading his rifle, hurriedly stretched out his hand to pull him down. It was too late. An American, watching from behind a tree, saw him and took aim. Donald fell backward with a bullet in his brain. It was the last shot. Crawling or creeping on all fours those of the Americans who had been surprised in the act of crossing the opening, gained the bush, the others made a sweep round the end of it. What their loss was the Highlanders never learned, nor did they care, for they were too absorbed in the death of Donald.

The first intimation those who remained in the camp had that an enemy was near, was the sound of firing, when Morven instantly made the best preparations he could for keeping the People together and getting them under cover. A man was sent forward in the direction of the shooting to learn what they might expect, but before he returned Tim came running with the news. He told the story of the Americans spanning the gorge with a tree, of their repulse, and that not a Highlander had got a scratch. Later the messenger returned, with the word from Blanket that the danger had passed, but he would continue to watch until all was safe. The afternoon wore away until the camp again heard the rattle of a volley, ending with the single shot that was the death-knell of Donald. On one of the young men coming in with the news, there was a burst of sorrow. Morven started for the scene of conflict, followed by all who could leave. When he saw Donald outstretched on the flat rock on which he had leaped to bid defiance to the persecutors, Morven dropped on his knees and drew the still warm body into his arms. The bystanders drew aside in silence, for they knew of the friendship, deep and true, that had existed between the two men and guessed Morven’s mighty sorrow. On the arrival of the women, the Keen was raised and the children sobbed and clung in fear to their mothers. It was Morven who restored order. Mastering his feelings, he composedly gave orders for the burial. They were on the march for their lives, and delay might be dangerous. A spade was brought from the camp and a shallow grave dug. A full moon was pouring its radiance through the tree-tops as the company gathered round it, and when Donald, wrapped in his plaid, was laid to rest, a sob of passionate sorrow swept the excited people, to which Morven gave expression and direction in an earnest address. He recalled all the good qualities of their friend, his unselfishness, all he had done for them in rescuing them from Virginia, ending in giving up his life in their defence, closing with an exhortation to persevere in their march to free-dom. One had fallen; the young men must take his place in the duties he performed. Then followed a prayer, a wild cry for help to lead them through the wilderness to freedom, words that rushed like a torrent and swept his hearers into an enthusiastic resolution not to falter in their journey. On Morven ending a woman started the 46th psalm, sung with the fervor of Highlanders to whom God is very near. The grave was filled, and as each man, woman and child passed it before returning to camp, they dropped a stone upon it, and under that cairn the body of Donald rests until this day.

THIRD DAY

After a wakeful night we were glad to leave the scene of our loss. Young men sent to the site of yesterday’s fight returned with the muskets and munition of the slain: the addition of the five guns was a gain to us. The trail chosen by Blanket lay over rising ground, sometimes steep and rough. The day becoming sultry there were many laggards. After travelling about six miles, on coming to a brook with grassy banks, a halt was called, and the horses turned to pasture. The boys fished, the girls searched for ripe berries, the young men went hunting, and the older ones turned to repairing moccasins. The hunters came back with two deer and a lot of partridges. After dark, a thunderstorm.

FOURTH DAY

Being all fatigued slept soundly. Were wakened by the screaming of a little girl. In the spring Flora’s father had given her a lamb, whose dam had died. She had made it her companion, and it was allowed by Morven to follow when the settlement was left. Flora slept beside it and the night turning cold crept close and had her arms round its neck for warmth. A wolf had marked the lamb and watched his chance all night. When the camp-fires had burned low he saw his opportunity, and crawling in, pounced on the lamb. Flora did not let go, but clinging to the crea ture's neck and crying ‘Ma goul’ wakened the sleepers. The first to realize. what had happened was John Blanket. Sleeping as if on the warpath, arms outstreched, face downward, he was on his feet in an instant, comprehended the cause of the alarm, and, by the light of the setting moon, dealt a blow with his tomahawk that killed the wolf. The fleece of the lamb saved it from serious injury and it trotted after its little mistress as usual. The wolf was skinned and its hide given to the mother of the child as a blanket for her. We were not sorry to be roused so early, for the day was cool, encouraging us to climb the hills. Went through a narrow pass, after which took a long rest at midday. The tramp in the afternoon was fatiguing though we moved slowly. When we halted for the day Blanket said we had gone ten miles. Many footsore. Of two deer shot, Blanket took the fat and showed how when rubbed on stiff legs and sore feet it gave relief. Encouraged us by saying our climbing was nearly ended.

FIFTH DAY

Cloudy. Halted only an hour for dinner. Had not resumed our march long when it began to rain. Blanket would not listen to stopping, though the rain became heavy and chilled the hardiest. When most discouraged Morven struck up a humorous Gaelic song, which all caught up, and we trudged along thinking of Scotland instead of our discomfort. Song followed song until we came alongside a stretch of shelving rock, which reached far enough out to form a shelter. Under this overhanging rock we were dry and when fires were set agoing, got warm.

Save a few birds and grey squirrels shot on the march we had no game today. There was food enough for the children and no more.

SIXTH DAY

After a downpour of rain that lasted to daybreak, the wind changed. Blanket and the young men went hunting and brought in a deer for breakfast. Trail more level, with less bush, trees smaller and nearly all spruce. In the afternoon came to the foot of a lake, which Blanket said was long and ran north. He proposed as a relief for the wearied ones that rafts be made and we sail to its upper end. Had plenty of fish for supper, caught in the lake. While resting after it, were astonished by the appearance of a stranger. He was a trapper and had his cabin at the outlet of the lake. He spoke discouragingly of our ever reaching Canada. Asked Tim to go with him to his cabin, who returned with a freshly-skinned beaver, which was got ready for next day’s breakfast.

SEVENTH DAY

A number of the young people went to visit the trapper, guided by Tim. They all came back with presents. He had a collection of bird-skins, and the girls had bright colored wings and tail-feathers in their hair. For the youngest baby came a coon-skin to make a wrap. Best of all, several deer-skins prepared for making moccasins and balls of sinews to sew them. It was late in the afternoon when the rafts were ready, and after going a few miles tied up behind a point when darkness fell. It was well we did so, for a gale rose before morning that would have torn our rafts asunder. Several children complained of not feeling well. John Blanket advised consulting a man who lived not far from head of the lake, and who is wise in curing people.

EIGHTH DAY

Lake being still, started at daylight and got to end by noon. More children ailing, with an affection of the skin. There being a natural meadow for the horses and pressing need for more food, young men went hunting. John Blanket was asked how far the cabin of the wise man was distant, and answered, a little tramp. Morven and the young man whom he had made his friend started with him, one of the sick children being carried. The trail led over a hill to the east. On gaining its top there was a wide view, with lake Champlain on one side and battalions of peaks on the other, "Look!" cried Blanket, pointing to the north, "there is Canada." As we looked the fleecy clouds parted over the far-distant scene and the sun’s rays lit up something as bright as silver. "That is the St. Lawrence," cried the Indian. "And that," replied Morven, "is the land where we will be freemen, to think our own thoughts and own what we earn." As we neared the foot of the hill we saw a clearance, with a woman working in it, and coming closer a shanty facing the south, snug in a recess of the mountain. The woman gave a scream of surprise on seeing us and next one of delight as she hurried forward and clutched the child to her bosom. The old man, resting under a vine that shadowed the front of the cabin, bade us welcome. Morven told him of the purpose of our visit. Looking at the child he asked what she had been fed on, and when told on what game was got by the way, he shook his head and said the cause of trouble was want of other food. "When did she have bread?" Morven replied the last loaf had been eaten six days ago. He bade his wife fetch an onion. The child ate it greedily. "Deer’s flesh is good," said the old man, "so is roasted partridge, and broiled trout, but they do not give all our bodies need. Before you go back I will show you how, even in this wilderness, other food is to be got."

While the wife went in doors with the child to busy herself in getting us a meal, the old man talked. He was curious about our journey and could not believe that we were a large company, including women and children, travelling to Canada. "You can never get there; go back at once."

"Never," replied Morven, "the Hand that has led us thus far will open a way to the journey’s end."

"You have had brooks to cross and scrub forests to go through, but soon it will be deep rivers you will come to and forests that shut out the light."

"Never fear," retorted Morven, "we have the power and the spirit to bear us onward. The frailest woman in our company would scorn to say she was beat. Onward we go to Canada."

The old man smiled as one not believing. Questioned in turn he told us about himself. He was of German descent and had married a woman who was partly of Mohawk origin. On the breaking out of war, he wished to find a place where he could be secure and had found it where he now lived. He had children living in the Mohawk valley and in the winter one or other of his sons came on snowshoes to visit him, bringing him store goods and taking in payment the furs he had secured. He had a flock of goats, some poultry, and kept bees. With what his wife raised in her garden they were comfortable.

"How are you able to keep goats where there are so many wolves?"

"There is not a wild beast in these woods that will master a goat, unless it might be a catamount that would drop on the back of one, and that would be a rare chance, for they do not stray singly. The goat is the pluckiest creature I know: it will fight anything and break the bones of a bear with its bunts."

"Do you never feel lonely?’

"I would sooner be lonely than live where there is strife, with your neighbors lying in wait to rob you of life and property."

The table had kinds of food we had not seen for days: the child was in glee over an egg and a cup of milk. We were taken to the woods behind the house, when the old man pointed out plants whose leaves could be cooked as greens and others whose roots could be boiled with flesh. Poisonous herbs were shown and their marks pointed out. Using tea made from the tips of hemlock branches was urged, skimming any gum that came to the surface of the boiling water. The talk about food started the old man on his theory of medicine. His notion was that the virtue of every animal was in the fat that covered or lay nearest the heart, and that the use of that fat cured the opposite defect in man. For example, he said, your back gives out and you cannot move, rub yourself with toad-oil and next morning you will be able to leap without hurting yourself. You cannot sleep, get fat of a bear killed in December and rub your head and nose with it and you sleep right away. The goose has a long neck and narrow breast yet never has a cold: rub its oil on throat and chest when you catch a cold. Grease of muskrat good for colds from wet feet; beaver oil for lazy feeling in spring. In parting he insisted on Morven taking a bottle of toad-oil. His wife went with us to camp, carrying the child on her back. Her visit did good, for she showed the women methods of forest housekeeping which they had not known. She brought a jar of goat’s milk, which was a godsend to the infants, and left a bag of onions when she walked away at sunset.

NINTH DAY

So many of the children ailing that even had it been a week day we could not have gone on. There being plenty of food, all had enough and a restful day was spent. Weather bright and warm. The service held by the edge of the lake was solemn. In the evening the young folk, by their own motion, gathered to sing psalms.

TENTH DAY

There was white frost at sunrise. Blanket, who had gone out at daylight, returned with word of bear-tracks. Several young men left with him. The bear had not gone far, was shot and the lads left to dress and cut up the carcase ready for carrying. Blanket with Tim hurried off to rejoin the camp, for it was time to resume the march. In crossing an opening in the forest, the Indian’s ear caught a sound known to every hunter. Instantly his rifle went to his shoulder when, with a crash, a deer came bounding in front of them. The rifle rang out, the bullet missed—the sun was in Blanket’s eyes when he fired. Another leap and the deer would have been in the bush, but while in midair an arrow pierced its throat and it dropped quivering on the grass. Both the Indian and Tim stood surprised, but were astounded when a slender girl tripped towards them, dressed in buckskin, embroidered with beads and porcupine quills, every motion bespeaking agility and grace.

Approaching John Blanket she dropped on her right knee and bent her shapely head until her forehead touched his foot.

"Spotted Fawn, have you dropped from the sky?"

"Spotted Fawn could not live without you and she is here."

"Why did you seek me? You were safe until I went back for you."

"Are you angry with me, my chief, my Rolling Cloud?"

Stooping the Indian raised the girl and clasped her hands. "No, never angry with you; but why come?"

"Oh there were such stories came to us from Albany. The leader of the band that followed you, one said, when he found the settlers had burned their houses and crops pushed on to punish them, and on coming up with them he killed a lot and drove the others into the wilderness to perish. I feared you would be among the wounded and I found your trail and came to care for you."

"To find I am all right. Come Spotted Fawn, we must be going; the Highlanders need their guide."

The sight of the graceful Indian girl was hailed with a shout as we came up with the party. At once she found her place with the boys and girls, and with her merry ways she had not been with them many minutes when she had them running after her each clamoring for her notice.

In the afternoon, when a day’s journey had been covered, Morven would have camped but Blanket would not have it so. Rain was coming, he said, and they needed shelter. There was a cave two miles ahead. The children were done out and it took all Spotted Fawn’s resources to keep them moving until she hit on the game of shooting an arrow ahead and then seeing who would be first to get it. When the cave was reached Blanket got the axmen to clear away the bushes from the entrance then, taking his rifle and a bundle of cattails, he crept in. We could see him strike a light, and with a blazing cattail examine the interior to make sure no wild beast had chosen its recesses for its lair. Returning he told the children to enter. There being no vent for smoke in the cave, a fire could not be lit, so two fires were started outside and cooking began. The fat of the bear made the venison more palatable. During the night the rain fell in torrents, but before we lay down Morven read aloud from the printed slip, cut from an Albany newspaper, Spotted Fawn had brought, the account of the company sent to drive the Highlanders from their farms. It said the company, on arriving at the scene of action, found that not only had the Tories fled but they had set fire to the property that had been transferred to true-born Americans. To teach other Tories to respect the rights of those on whom the government had bestowed confiscated lands, the company volunteered to a man to pursue them. Following their trail they came up with the fleeing Tories next day.

With their habitual deceit, the Tories had endeavored to defeat the company by a wretched attempt at an ambuscade, which, beyond causing some lamentable loss of life, had not stopped the victorious march of the patriots, who captured the Highlanders’ camp and drove the fleeing miscreants into the wilderness, to be the prey of wild beasts and hunger. On the return of the company to Albany they had been accorded an enthusiastic reception and patriotic speeches had been made by prominent citizens.

ELEVENTH DAY

Rain stopped at noon when Morven wished to move. Blanket said better stay as rain was not over. It began again and heavier than before. Owing to rain there was no hunting, and food was short. Men made shift with one meal. We made bows for the children, and Spotted Fawn kept them amused by teaching them in the cave how to use them.

TWELFTH DAY

Hollows filled with water and brooks high. Had gone a few miles when Mrs McPhee dropped in a faint. She is a young woman, whose husband was killed in a skirmish while serving with the King’s Royal regiment of New York. Discovered her faint was due to weakness from lack of food, giving all that was portioned out to her children. Encouraged today by meeting no streams running southward, proving we have crossed height of land. Hunters had fine success, so there was plenty to eat when we camped for the night after a day’s journey.

THIRTEENTH DAY

Weather fine and settled. Blanket kept urging us on all day, and we made great progress, for there were few hindrances on the road he led us, which was plainly down hill. In the lake, on whose banks we camped towards nightfall, we caught many fish, and hunters shot three deer at watering-places.

FOURTEENTH DAY

Blanket with the young men went still-hunting last night and shot two deer, which came in well for breakfast. Clear and cool and we got along well. In the afternoon, in coming to an opening where a bush fire had swept along, a view of the country north of us burst on view. The edge of the distant scene, which lay below us, Blanket told us was Canada, which cheered us all. He said Indians were near, as he had come across a track, and later we heard two shots. He insisted on a longer tramp than usual, for, if the weather changed, there would be suffering. The children were always the drag, but Spotted Fawn when they gave out in the afternoon, got them in heart again by making the boys hares and the girls squirrels, who ran ahead, when she, as the fox, came bounding after them. It was nearly dark when the camp-fires were lit on the face of a hill.

FIFTEENTH DAY

Smoke, which grew thicker as we travelled. Blanket said there must be a big bush fire to the west of us. When we halted at noon Sandy McGillis and his wife were missed. We thought they were behind and would speedily appear. When ready to move again they were still missing. The young men proposed they should go back and find them. Blanket said no, they too might lose their way, for the smoke was growing worse and making our eyes smart. After travelling a while order was passed to camp, for it had become too dark to see landmarks. Shouting kept up to guide the wanderers and bigger fires than usual kept blazing all night. A dog came up to one of the night-watchers and he cried out for joy on recognizing it was Sandy’s collie. It would not eat, but pawed at the young man and then turned as if to tell him to follow, Leaving his comrade to guard the camp he followed the dog, for day was breaking. He told us afterwards the beast led him a long way east until he came on his master and mistress. McGillis had taken a sudden faint turn and rested under a tree until it should pass. On feeling able to resume the journey, they missed the trail in the smoke and knowing they were lost he and his wife had passed an anxious night, for they feared they would never find their way out and would perish for want of food, for though he had a gun he had no powder. "Collie saved us," said Mrs McGillis, "and he will never want a bone as long as he lives."

SIXTEENTH DAY

At the cry that the St Lawrence was in sight, all got up early. With a change of wind the smoke had disappeared and the glint of the river could be seen where the sunlight struck it. Sunday though it was the children raised a cheer. Blanket had left at sunrise and did not come back until after service. The chapter read and expounded was the last of Deuteronomy. Blanket on arriving told us there was an Indian hunting-camp near by, where he had spent the morning. He had a long talk with Morven, who left with him after dinner. Many followed, and found the camp to be made up of three families. They were astonished at the journey we had made, and said we would make good Indians. The squaws were kind to the children, giving them belts and mocassins. They had no other food than game, but gave what was welcome, a small quantity of salt. Blanket and Morven had a long talk with the braves. The Indians came from a village on the south bank of the St. Lawrence, where it is narrow, and advised crossing near there to a post that was being formed by government men. Morven wrote a letter, telling who we were and what we needed, which a young Indian undertook to deliver to the head government man within two days. He started that afternoon. As the sun neared setting his rays lit up the St. Lawrence like burnished gold and we rejoiced exceedingly that the end of our travel was in sight.

SEVENTEENTH DAY

Had a visit from the Indians before we started. The Indians brought what they could spare to help us on our way and were pleasant and cheerful. That we were reaching lower levels was shown by the change in the forest, the spruce disappearing and there being more and larger hardwood trees. The track, however, was more difficult, for there were more fallen trees and many great stones and rocks. Forded several small streams, which all ran northeast. The woods abounded in black and grey squirrels which the children shot with their bows and Spotted Fawn added hares and partridges. The hunters got only one deer, the growing thickness of the hush hiding them from sight. Camped in a hollow by the side of a rushing brook.

EIGHTEENTH DAY

The net placed across the brook had many fish in it, which were cooked for breakfast. The day was showery and chilly but Blanket kept urging us on. Had to wade through several swampy places. Blanket said should a heavy rain come we could not reach the big river, for the land was flat along its southern bank. Little to eat and all dog-tired.

NINETEENTH DAY

There being no food, had to remain in camp until the hunters should return. Blanket had tracked a bear into a berry-patch; it was fat and good. The others had only small game. On starting moved as fast as possible, following the east bank of a stream which grew wider as we went on. Had deep gullies with streams at bottom to cross, which tired the children, though the men helped them all they could. There being nothing to eat the Men killed a pony in the bush, and told us it was moose-meat.

TWENTIETH DAY

Started to rain during the night and continued all morning. All wet and feeling miserable from cold and hunger, for we had only some meat and the fish that were caught in tlie river. Blanket said we would go only a few miles farther down the river, for he expected boats would come to take us across the St. Lawrence, seeing we were now near the spot where word was sent by the Indian youth to the government-man he would find us. Halted where solid land ended, and spent all afternoon watching for sight of boats. None came. Many fish caught but no game.

TWENTY-FIRST DAY

One of misery. There was a ground mist with drizzling rain; dark and dreary. Only good feature, it was calm and not cold, and favorable for fishing. Spotted Fawn kept the children busy all forenoon shaping skins as disguises. When all was ready and they came out in the afternoon and went through all manner of games and antics the saddest amongst us roared with laughter. Only game shot was from a flock of duck that flew over our heads.

TWENTY-SECOND DAY

Watching for the boats. Tim climbed a high pine-tree, but could not see far for the bends in the river and the trees. Sorry we could not do something; would have liked to take up our journey, but could not, for all round us was deep swamp, except where our camp was. Hunters did not go out as they might be left behind. Noon was drawing nigh and we sat waiting and watching, when all at once Spotted Fawn started to her feet with the cry, "Hear:" We listened, but heard naught save the cry of a bittern. "They are coming," she said, "get ready," and now we all came to hear the last sound any of us expected, that of the Highland bagpipes. Oh, what a shout went up, and in that instant all our cares, hunger, and weariness were forgotten, and we shook hands and mothers clasped their bairns and cried. In a little while the foremost boat slid into sight, and was followed by six more—they were like herring-boats but wider and longer. The piper was in the last boat, and his question "How are you all?" sent our hearts into our mouths, for he spoke in Gaelic. It was no time for talk, for they told us the sail was a long one, and the day was passing, so we hurried into the boats, leaving what they could not hold for another day, with the two ponies, for, as already told, unknown to us we had eaten one to save us from perishing. We knew the ponies could not stray far, for there was no grass beyond the river bank.

Not all got into the boats. John Blanket said we would part now, as it was time to return to his own people and his canoe was higher up on the St. Lawrence, and was on its south bank. Morven urged him to come, for he hoped the officer in charge of the station who had sent the boats would reward him. "Without you," said Morven, "we would have perished in the wilderness. Come, and I will show you we are not ungrateful."

"No," replied Blanket, "before the new moon is done I must be with my own people. The Mohawk does not value money as the white-man, or look to be paid for what he does. You were the friend of Johnson and of my chief, you took our side against the Yankees, and it was my call to befriend you," and he threw back his head with a gesture that showed his resolve was made. Drawing from his bosom the brooch of Locheil, Morven pinned it on the breast of Spotted Fawn, and wringing Blanket’s hand got into the last boat. As it was turning the bend he looked back. The Indian and his bride were standing on the river-bank gazing after them; she fluttered her little hand in farewell. He never saw them again.

On the boats clearing the sedges and rushes that grew across the mouth of the river we entered the St. Lawrence. Sails were hoisted, and with the southeast wind that was blowing took a slant for the north shore. The only food the boatmen had brought was sea-biscuit, and by us all they were remembered as the sweetest bite of our lives. To wile the time Morven started a Gaelic song. It was taken up by the occupants of each boat, and the heartiness with which we sang song after song told of our joy at our escape from the wilderness. The sun had begun to redden the waves of the St. Lawrence when we neared the point for which we were steering, and on which were several new log-buildings. Falling in line, the piper struck up his loudest pibroch, and when we saw at the landing-place a group of men waiting for us, and higher up the bank a pole from which flew a small British flag, nothing could restrain us, and we shouted as if our senses had left us. Apart from those who were helping us to land, and standing by himself on top of the bank, was a stumpy red-faced man in the undress of an officer. Morven went straight to him and saluting said, "The commandant of the post, I presume."

"That’s the honor conferred upon me by his Gracious Majesty, and you, I take it, are the man Morven who wrote me in such extremely urgent terms for help."

"The same, and on behalf of these rescued people I beg to thank you. Had the boats not come this day it would have gone hard with us."

The officer haughtily waved his hand and threw back his head.

"May I entreat you now to add to your kindness by giving them food and shelter."

"His Majesty’s bounty is only extended to those whose loyalty is properly attested and as I am his representative I must be satisfied as to that. Follow me, sir."

The officer led to the largest and best finished of the log-houses, where an orderly was in waiting. With great deliberation the officer took his seat at the end of a rude table and with pen in hand commanded Morven to give him the names of his adult male companions, whence they had come, and what service they had rendered the King. Morven replied in a surprised voice, "Sir, these people have been robbed of everything, I may say, save their lives by a victorious enemy, and to escape further persecution fled to the wilderness. For three weeks they have been wandering northward in the hope of finding a refuge. They are starving and half-naked. Will you not give orders to provide for their wants first and leave these questioas to another time?"

"Fellow, do you presume to dictate to me, who am honored by His Majesty’s commission as major and am commandant of this post?"

"Nay, I honor your commission and your authority, but I appeal to you as a man to have pity on the needs of women and children and give the relief that lies in your power before it grows dark."

"Did you, sir, serve your King in the late war?" asked the Major.

"I did not; but seven of the young men who are without did, and can produce their discharges, signed by Sir John Johnson."

"Why did you not fight for your sovereign?"

"I had another duty to perform, of which I will tell you again; but for the present give help to the needy."

Eying Morven suspiciously the major dipped his pen in the ink-bottle. Holding out a slip of paper to his servant he said, "Here, give this order to Sergeant Grant; this fellow going with you. You are excused," he said to Morven, "I shall see you again. Do not consider this aid is a warrant that more will be given. The case of the men having discharges will be considered, the others need expect no assistance."

On going out they found the order was superfluous, for the newcomers had been given shelter, fires were blazing, and the cooking of supper was afoot. "You did not wait for an order from the major," said Morven to the sergeant.

"The piper, the major, his servant, and myself are the only soldiers—all the others are civilians and care little for the major or his orders. He is hard to put up with," he whispered in Gaelic, "and I advise you to speak him fair, for he has much in his power."

Morven turned to help in making the people com fortable. He had looked for a hearty welcome, and his reception by this pompous little Englishman made him bitter of spirit.

With the close of the American war, in the winter of 1782 there was a rush of those Americans who had remained true to British allegiance to get out of the country in order to escape the persecutions of the victorious republicans. To help them the British government sent ships to convey them to the West Indies, to Britain itself, where the majority went, to New Brunswick, and to Nova Scotia. Nearer to the loyalists who had lived in New York state was Ontario, and they crossed the St. Lawrence and the Niagara rivers. To provide for them agents were sent to survey the land and allot to each family a free grant, while depots of provisions were established to keep them alive until they could get sufficient land under crop to maintain them. One of these depots was placed at the foot of the Long Sault rapids, and Major Fenner placed in charge. To assist him he had Sergeant Grant and the piper, both belonging to the King’s Royal regiment, and a gang of workmen. The sergeant and piper had been sent to prepare for the coming of the men of the regiment, which had been disbanded, and who were waiting in barracks until all was ready for them to begin their new life. They were mostly Highlanders who had enlisted under Sir John Johnson. When we arrived, a clearance had been made and log-storehouses and a barracks were going up. In these we were quartered for the night. The following morning Morven was standing looking across the river when Sergeant Grant joined him.

"What are those small huts yonder?" asked Morven, pointing to the opposite shore of the St. Lawrence.

"That is the Indian settlement St. Regis."

"The place our guide said we would have to go did the boats not come for us."

"And that came near being so. When the Indian arrived with your letter there was nothing bigger than canoes at hand, but on Friday a convoy of boats arrived from Lachine with supplies, and when they were unloaded they were sent for you."

The major’s orderly was seen coming. He brought a message that Morven wait on his master after breakfast On going at the appointed hour he beheld the major in full regimentals walking up and down in front of his quarters. Bowing to him, Morven waited.

"Ha, you have come back to answer the questions I propounded. Have you brought the discharges signed by Sir John Johnson, lieutenant-colonel, late brigadier-general of militia?"

"These are matters of business, and therefore do not become this day."

"What do you mean, fellow?"

"This is the Sabbath, and to be respected by leaving worldly affairs aside."

"Do you presume to instruct me how to observe Sunday? I obey the King’s regulations, by hoisting the ensign and assuming full-dress. There ought also to be church parade, but there is no chaplain."

"Sir, there are other instructions besides those of the King as to the observance of the Sabbath."

The major halted and looked Morven haughtily over. "You seem to be a very common fellow, and a ragged one to boot. May I ask how, in your superior way, you propose to keep what you call the Sabbath?"

‘For this day, our purpose is to have a meeting of thanksgiving for our deliverance from the wilderness."

"Are you a Puritan?"

"I am a Scot, and brought up to publicly worship my Maker on this day."

"A meeting! There is no service nearer than Montreal. Do you pretend to be a minister? Your appearance does not speak of holy orders."

"I am no minister, but fear not to approach Him who has appointed no one between Himself and His children save Christ, and who calls for no ceremonial or oblation from those who seek Him."

Mimicing Morven’s Scottish accent, the major mockingly bowed to him and, tossing his head, told him he was dismissed. We met in the afternoon in an open glade where a little river joins the St. Lawrence. Never did prayers of thanksgiving come from more grateful hearts or psalms of praise from more sincere lips.


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