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Or The Winning of a Continent

BY G. A. HENTY [1894]

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Chapter 11

Vocabulary:  colonial, fugitives, moccasins, Ticonderoga
1. It was near five o'clock before the final rout of the French took place; but, before that time, several hundreds of the Canadians and Indians had left the scene of action, and had returned to the scene of the fight in the wood, to plunder and scalp the dead. They were resting, after their bloody work, by a pool in the forest, when a scouting party from Fort Lyman, under Captains M'Ginnis and Folsom, came upon them and opened fire.

2. The Canadians and Indians, outnumbering their assailants greatly, fought for some time, but were finally defeated and fled. M'Ginnis was mortally wounded, but continued to give orders till the fight was over. The bodies of the slain were thrown into the pool, which to this day bears the name, "the bloody pool."

3. The various bands of French fugitives reunited in the forest, and made their way back to their canoes in South Bay, and reached Ticonderoga utterly exhausted and famished, for they had thrown away their knapsacks in their flight, and had nothing to eat from the morning of the fight until they rejoined their comrades.

4. Johnson had the greatest difficulty in protecting the wounded French general from the Mohawks, who, although they had done no fighting in defense of the camp, wanted to torture and burn Dieskau in revenge for the death of Hendrick and their warriors who had fallen in the ambush.  He, however, succeeded in doing so, and sent him in a litter under a strong escort to Albany. Dieskau was afterwards taken to England, and remained for some years at Bath, after which he returned to Paris. He never, however, recovered from his numerous wounds, and died a few years later.

5. He always spoke in the highest terms of the kindness he had received from the colonial officers. Of the provincial soldiers he said that, in the morning they fought like boys, about noon like men, and in the afternoon like devils.

6. The English loss in killed, wounded, and missing was two hundred and sixty-two, for the most part killed in the ambush in the morning. The French, according to their own account, lost two hundred and twenty-eight, but it probably exceeded four hundred, the principal portion of whom were regulars, for the Indians and Canadians kept themselves so well under cover that they and the provincials, behind their logs, were able to inflict but little loss on each other.

7. Had Johnson followed up his success, he might have reached South Bay before the French, in which case the whole of Dieskau's column must have fallen into his hands; nor did he press forward against Ticonderoga, which he might easily have captured. For ten days nothing was done except to fortify the camp, and when, at the end of that time,
he thought of advancing against Ticonderoga, the French had already fortified the place so strongly that they were able to defy attack. The colonists sent him large reinforcements, but the season was getting late, and, after keeping the army stationary until the end of November, the troops, having suffered terribly from the cold and exposure, became almost mutinous, and were finally marched back to Albany, a small
detachment being left to hold the fort by the lake. This was now christened Fort William Henry.

8. The victory was due principally to the gallantry and coolness of Lyman; but Johnson, in his report of the battle, made no mention of that officer's name, and took all the credit to himself. He was rewarded by being made a baronet, and by being voted a pension, by parliament, of five thousand a year.

9. James Walsham, having no duties during the fight at the camp, had taken a musket and lain down behind the logs with the soldiers, and had, all the afternoon, kept up a fire at the trees and bushes behind which the enemy were hiding. After the battle, he had volunteered to assist the over-worked surgeons, whose labours lasted through the night. When he found that no forward movement was likely to take place, he determined
to leave the camp. He therefore asked Captain Rogers, who was the leader of a band of scouts, and a man of extraordinary energy and enterprise, to allow him to accompany him on a scouting expedition towards Ticonderoga.

10. "I shall be glad to have you with me," Rogers replied; "but you know it is a service of danger. It is not like work with regular troops, where all march, fight, stand, or fall together. Here each man fights for himself. Mind, there is not a man among my band who would not risk his life for the rest; but, scattered through the woods as each man is,
each must perforce rely principally on himself. The woods near Ticonderoga will be full of lurking redskins, and a man may be brained and scalped without his fellow, a few yards away, hearing a sound. I only say this that you may feel that you must take your chances. The men under me are, every one, old hunters and Indian fighters, and are a
match for the redskin in every move of forest war. They are true grit to the backbone, but they are rough outspoken men, and, on a service when a foot carelessly placed on a dried twig, or a word spoken above a whisper, may bring a crowd of yelping redskins upon us, and cost every man his scalp, they would speak sharply to the king himself, if he were on the scout with them, and you must not take offense at any rough word
that may be said."

11. James laughed, and said that he should not care how much he was blown up, and that he should thankfully receive any lessons from such masters of forest craft.

12. "Very well," Captain Rogers said. "In that case, it is settled. I will let you have a pair of moccasins. You cannot go walking about in the woods in those boots. You had better get a rifle. Your sword you had best leave behind. It will be of no use to you, and will only be in your way."

13. James had no difficulty in providing himself with a gun, for numbers of weapons, picked up in the woods after the rout of the enemy, were stored in camp. The rifles had, however, been all taken by the troops, who had exchanged their own firelocks for them. Captain Rogers went with him among the men, and selected a well-finished rifle of which one of them had possessed himself. Its owner readily agreed to accept five
pounds for it, taking in its stead one of the guns in the store. Before choosing it, Captain Rogers placed a bit of paper against a tree, and fired several shots at various distances at it.

14. "It is a beautiful rifle," he said. "Its only fault is that it is rather heavy, but it shoots all the better for it. It is evidently a French gun, I should say by a first-rate maker, built probably for some French officer who knew what he was about. It is a good workmanlike piece, and, when you learn to hold it straight, you can trust it to shoot."

1.  At what time did the final rout take place?  ________________________

2.  How did Dieskau say the soldiers fought in the afternoon?  __________________

3.  Did Johnson give credit to Lyman?  _________________________

4.  How much did James pay for his rife?  ______________________

Vocabulary:  canoes, incautious, lichens, sufficient

15. That evening James, having made all his preparations, said goodbye to the general and to his other friends, and joined the scouts who were gathering by the shore of the lake. Ten canoes, each of which would carry three men, were lying by the shore.

16. "Nat, you and Jonathan will take this young fellow with you. He is a lad, and it is his first scout. You will find him of the right sort. He was with Braddock, and after that affair hurried up here to see fighting on the lakes. He can't have two better nurses than you are. He is going to be an officer in the king's army, and wants to learn as much as he can, so that, if he ever gets with his men into such a mess as Braddock tumbled into, he will know what to do with them."

17. "All right, captain! We will do our best for him. It's risky sort of business ours for a greenhorn, but if he is anyways teachable, we will soon make a man of him."

18. The speaker was a wiry, active man of some forty years old, with a weatherbeaten face, and a keen gray eye. Jonathan, his comrade, was a head taller, with broad shoulders, powerful limbs, and a quiet but good-tempered face.

19. "That's so, isn't it, Jonathan?" Nat asked.

20. Jonathan nodded. He was not a man of many words.

21. "Have you ever been in a canoe before?" Nat inquired.

22. "Never," James said; "but I am accustomed to boats of all sorts, and can handle an oar fairly."

23. "Oars ain't no good here," the scout said. "You will have to learn to paddle; but, first of all, you have got to learn to sit still. These here canoes are awkward things for a beginner. Now you hand in your traps, and I will stow them away, then you take your place in the middle of the boat. Here's a paddle for you, and when you begin to feel
yourself comfortable, you can start to try with it, easy and gentle to begin with; but you must lay it in when we get near where we may expect that redskins may be in the woods, for the splash of a paddle might cost us all our scalps."

24. James took his seat in the middle of the boat. Jonathan was behind him. Nat handled the paddle in the bow. There was but a brief delay in starting, and the ten boats darted noiselessly out on to the lake. For a time, James did not attempt to use his paddle. The canoe was of birch bark, so thin that it seemed to him that an incautious movement would instantly knock a hole through her.

25. Once under weigh, she was steadier than he had expected, and James could feel her bound forward with each stroke of the paddles. When he became accustomed to the motion of the boat, he raised himself from a sitting position in the bottom, and, kneeling as the others were doing, he began to dip his paddle quietly in the water in time with their stroke. His familiarity with rowing rendered it easy for him to keep time and swing, and, before long, he found himself putting a considerable amount of force into each stroke. Nat looked back over his shoulder.

26. "Well done, young 'un. That's first rate for a beginner, and it makes a deal of difference on our arms. The others are all paddling three, and, though Jonathan and I have beaten three before now, when our scalps depended on our doing so, it makes all the difference in the work whether you have a sitter to take along, or an extra paddle going."

27. It was falling dusk when the boat started, and was, by this time, quite dark. Scarce a word was heard in the ten canoes as, keeping near the right-hand shore of the lake, they glided rapidly along in a close body. So noiselessly were the paddles dipped into the water that the drip from them, as they were lifted, was the only sound heard.

28. Four hours' steady paddling took them to the narrows, about five-and-twenty miles from their starting point. Here, on the whispered order of Nat, James laid in his paddle; for, careful as he was, he occasionally made a slight splash as he put it in the water. The canoes now kept in single file, almost under the trees on the right bank, for the lake was here scarce a mile across, and watchful eyes might be on the lookout on the shore to the left. Another ten miles was passed, and then the canoes were steered in to the shore.

29. The guns, blankets, and bundles were lifted out; the canoes raised on the shoulders of the men, and carried a couple of hundred yards among the trees; then, with scarcely a word spoken, each man rolled himself in his blanket and lay down to sleep, four being sent out as scouts in various directions. Soon after daybreak, all were on foot again,
although it had been arranged that no move should be made till night set in. No fires were lighted, for they had brought with them a supply of biscuit and dry deers' flesh sufficient for a week.

30. "How did you get on yesterday?" Captain Rogers asked, as he came up to the spot where James had just risen to his feet.

31. "First rate, captain!" Nat answered for him. "I hardly believed that a young fellow could have handled a paddle so well, at the first attempt.  He rowed all the way, except just the narrows, and though I don't say as he was noiseless, he did wonderfully well, and we came along with the rest as easy as may be."

32. "I thought I heard a little splash, now and then," the captain said, smiling; "but it was very slight, and could do no harm where the lake is two or three miles wide, as it is here. But you will have to lay in your paddle when we get near the other end, for the sides narrow in there, and the redskins would hear a fish jump, half a mile away."

33. During the day the men passed their time in sleep, in mending their clothes, or in talking quietly together. The use of tea had not yet become general in America, and the meals were washed down with water drawn from the lake (where an over-hanging bush shaded the shore from the sight of anyone on the opposite bank), mixed with rum from the gourds which all the scouts carried.

34. Nat spent some time in pointing out, to James, the signs by which the hunters found their way through the forest; by the moss and lichens growing more thickly on the side of the trunks of the trees opposed to the course of the prevailing winds, or by a slight inclination of the upper boughs of the trees in the same direction.

35. "An old woodsman can tell," he said, "on the darkest night, on running his hand round the trunk of a tree, by the feel of the bark, which is north and south; but it would be long before you can get to such niceties as that; but, if you keep your eyes open as you go along, and look at the signs on the trunks, which are just as plain, when you once know them, as the marks on a man's face, you will be able to make your way through the woods in the daytime. Of course, when the sun is shining, you get its help, for, although it is not often a gleam comes down through the leaves, sometimes you come upon a little patch, and you are sure, now and then, to strike on a gap where a tree has fallen, and that gives you a line again. A great help to a young beginner is the sun, for a young hand in the woods gets confused, and doubts the signs of the trees; but, in course, when he comes on a patch of sunlight, he can't make a mistake nohow as to the direction."

5.  How old was Nat?  _______________________

6.  Was James in the front, middle or back of the boat?  ____________________

7.  How long did it take them to travel 25 miles?  ________________________

8.  What is a great help for a young beginner in finding his way?  _________________

Vocabulary:  earnestly, Iroquois, promontory

36. James indulged in a silent hope that, if he were ever lost in the woods, the sun would be shining, for, look as earnestly as he would, he could not perceive the signs which appeared so plain and distinct to the scout. Occasionally, indeed, he fancied that there was some slight difference between one side of the trunk and the other; but he was by no means sure that, even in these cases, he should have noticed it unless it had been pointed out to him; while, in the greater part of the trees he could discern no difference whatever.

37. "It's just habit, my lad," Nat said encouragingly to him; "there's just as much difference between one side of the tree and the other, as there is between two men's faces. It comes of practice. Now, just look at the roots of this tree; don't you see, on one side they run pretty nigh straight out from the trunk, while from the other they go down deep into the ground. That speaks for itself. The tree has thrown out its roots, to claw into the ground and get a hold, on the side from which the wind comes; while, on the other side, having no such occasion, it has dipped its root down to look for moisture and food."

38. "Yes, I do see that," James said, "that is easy enough to make out; but the next tree, and the next, and, as far as I see, all the others, don't seem to have any difference in their roots one side or the other."

39. "That is so," the scout replied. "You see, those are younger trees than this, and it is like enough they did not grow under the same circumstances. When a few trees fall, or a small clearing is made by a gale, the young trees that grow up are well sheltered from the wind by the forest, and don't want to throw out roots to hold them up; but when
a great clearing has been made, by a fire or other causes, the trees, as they grow up together, have no shelter, and must stretch out their roots to steady them.

40. "Sometimes, you will find all the trees, for a long distance, with their roots like this; sometimes only one tree among a number. Perhaps, when they started, that tree had more room, or a deeper soil, and grew faster than the rest, and got his head above them, so he felt the wind more, and had to throw out his roots to steady himself; while the others, all growing the same height, did not need to do so."

41. "Thank you," James said. "I understand now, and will bear it in mind.  It is very interesting, and I should like, above all things, to be able to read the signs of the woods as you do."

42. "It will come, lad. It's a sort of second nature. These things are gifts. The redskin thinks it just as wonderful that the white man should be able to take up a piece of paper covered with black marks, and to read off sense out of them, as you do that he should be able to read every mark and sign of the wood. He can see, as plain as if the man was still standing on it, the mark of a footprint, and can tell you if it was made by a warrior or a squaw, and how long they have passed by, and whether they were walking fast or slow; while the ordinary white man might go down on his hands and knees, and stare at the ground, and wouldn't be able to see the slightest sign or mark. For a white man, my eyes are good, but they are not a patch on a redskin's. I have lived among the woods since I was a boy; but even now, a redskin lad can pick up a trail and follow it when, look as I will, I can't see as a blade of grass has been bruised. No; these things is partly nature and partly practice. Practice will do a lot for a white man; but it
won't take him up to redskin nature."

43. Not until night had fallen did the party again launch their canoes on the lake. Then they paddled for several hours until, as James imagined, they had traversed a greater distance, by some miles, than that which they had made on the previous evening. He knew, from what he had learned during the day, that they were to land some six miles below the point where Lake George joins Lake Champlain, and where, on the opposite side, on a promontory stretching into the lake, the French were constructing their new fort.

44. The canoes were to be carried some seven or eight miles through the wood, across the neck of land between the two lakes, and were then to be launched again on Lake Champlain, so that, by following the east shore of that lake, they would pass Ticonderoga at a safe distance. The halt was made as noiselessly as before, and, having hauled up the canoes, the men slept till daybreak; and then, lifting the light craft
on their shoulders, started for their journey through the woods. It was toilsome work, for the ground was rough and broken, often thickly covered with underwood. Ridges had to be crossed and deep ravines passed, and, although the canoes were not heavy, the greatest care had to be exercised, for a graze against a projecting bough, or the edge of
a rock, would suffice to tear a hole in the thin bark.

45. It was not until late in the afternoon that they arrived on the shores of Lake Champlain. A fire was lighted now, the greatest care being taken to select perfectly dry sticks, for the Iroquois were likely to be scattered far and wide among the woods. The risk, however, was far less than when in sight of the French side of Lake George. After
darkness fell, the canoes were again placed in the water, and, striking across the lake, they followed the right-hand shore. After paddling for about an hour and a half, the work suddenly ceased.

46. The lake seemed to widen on their left, for they had just passed the tongue of land between the two lakes, and on the opposite shore a number of fires were seen, burning brightly on the hillside. It was Ticonderoga they were now abreast of, the advanced post of the French.  They lingered for some time before the paddles were again dipped in
water, counting the fires and making a careful note of the position.  They paddled on again until some twelve miles beyond the fort, and then crossed the lake and landed on the French shore.

47. But the canoes did not all approach the shore together, as they had done on the previous nights. They halted half a mile out, and Captain Rogers went forward with his own and another canoe and landed, and it was not for half an hour that the signal was given, by an imitation of the croaking of a frog, that a careful search had ascertained the
forest to be untenanted, and the landing safe.

48. No sooner was the signal given than the canoes were set in motion, and were soon safely hauled up on shore. Five men went out, as usual, as scouts, and the rest, fatigued by their paddle and the hard day's work, were soon asleep.

49. In the morning they were about to start, and Rogers ordered the canoes to be hauled up and hidden among the bushes, where, having done their work, they would for the present be abandoned, to be recovered and made useful on some future occasion.

50. The men charged with the work gave a sudden exclamation when they reached the canoes.

51. "What is that?" Rogers said angrily. "Do you want to bring all the redskins in the forest upon us?"

52. "The canoes are all damaged," one of the scouts said, coming up to him.

53. There was a general movement to the canoes, which were lying on the bank a few yards' distance from the water's edge. Every one of them had been rendered useless. The thin birch bark had been gashed and slit, pieces had been cut out, and not one of them had escaped injury or was fit to take the water. Beyond a few low words, and exclamations of dismay, not a word was spoken as the band gathered round the canoes.

54. "Who were on the watch on this side?" Rogers asked.

55. "Nat and Jonathan took the first half of the night," one of the scouts said. "Williams and myself relieved them."

56. As all four were men of the greatest skill and experience, Rogers felt sure that no neglect or carelessness on their part could have led to the disaster.

57. "Did any of you see any passing boats, or hear any sound on the lake?"

58. The four men who had been on guard replied in the negative.

59. "I will swear no one landed near the canoes," Nat said. "There was a glimmer on the water all night; a canoe could not have possibly come near the bank, anywheres here, without our seeing it."

60. "Then he must have come from the land side," Rogers said. "Some skulking Indian must have seen us out on the lake, and have hidden up when we landed. He may have been in a tree overhead all the time, and, directly the canoes were hauled up, he may have damaged them and made off.

9.  James wanted to learn the signs of what?  _____________________

10.  How far did they carry the canoes?  ________________________

11.  How did Captain Rogers signal that it was safe to land the canoes?  ____________

12.  How many canoes were damaged?  _______________________

Vocabulary: contemptuously, moccasin, perspiration, simultaneously

61. "There is no time to be lost, lads. It is five hours since we landed.  If he started at once the redskins may be all round us now. It is no question now of our scouting round the French fort, it is one of saving our scalps."

62. "How could it have been done?" James Walsham asked Nat, in a low tone.  "We were all sleeping within a few yards of the canoes, and some of the men were close to them. I should have thought we must have heard it."

63. "Heard it!" the hunter said contemptuously; "why, a redskin would make no more noise in cutting them holes and gashes, than you would in cutting a hunk of deer's flesh for your dinner. He would lie on the ground, and wriggle from one to another like an eel; but I reckon he didn't begin till the camp was still. The canoes wasn't hauled up till we had searched the woods, as we thought, and then we was moving about close by them till we lay down.

64. "I was standing there on the water's edge not six feet away from that canoe. I never moved for two hours, and, quiet as a redskin may be, he must have taken time to do that damage, so as I never heard a sound as loud as the falling of a leaf. No, I reckon as he was at the very least two hours over that job. He may have been gone four hours or a bit over, but not more; but that don't give us much of a start. It would take him an hour and a half to get to the fort, then he would have to report to the French chap in command, and then there might be some talk before he set out with the redskins, leaving the French to follow."

65. "It's no use thinking of mending the canoes, I suppose," James asked.

66. The hunter shook his head.

67. "It would take two or three hours to get fresh bark and mend those holes," he said, "and we haven't got as many minutes to spare. There, now, we are off."

68. While they had been speaking, Rogers had been holding a consultation with two or three of his most experienced followers, and they had arrived at pretty nearly the same conclusion as that of Rogers, namely, that the Indian had probably taken two or three hours in damaging the canoes and getting fairly away into the forest; but that, even if he
had done so, the Iroquois would be up in the course of half an hour.

69. "Let each man pack his share of meat on his back," Rogers said. "Don't leave a scrap behind. Quick, lads, there's not a minute to be lost. It's a case of legs, now. There's no hiding the trail of thirty men from redskin eyes."

70. In a couple of minutes, all were ready for the start, and Rogers at once led the way, at a long slinging trot, straight back from the lake, first saying:

71. "Pick your way, lads, and don't tread on a fallen stick. There is just one chance of saving our scalps, and only one, and that depends upon silence."

72. As James ran along, at the heels of Nat, he was struck with the strangeness of the scene, and the noiselessness with which the band of moccasin-footed men flitted among the trees. Not a word was spoken. All had implicit confidence in their leader, the most experienced bush fighter on the frontier, and knew that, if anyone could lead them safe from the perils that surrounded them, it was Rogers.

73. James wondered what his plan could be. It seemed certain to him that the Indians must, sooner or later, overtake them. They would be aware of the strength of the band, and, confiding in their superior numbers, would be able to push forward in pursuit without pausing for many precautions. Once overtaken, the band must stand at bay, and, even could they hold the Indians in check, the sound of the firing would soon bring the French soldiers to the spot.

74. They had been gone some twenty minutes only, when a distant war whoop rose in the forest behind them.

75. "They have come down on the camp," Nat said, glancing round over his shoulder, "and find we have left it. I expect they hung about a little before they ventured in, knowing as we should be expecting them, when we found the canoes was useless. That war whoop tells 'em all as we have gone. They will gather there, and then be after us like a pack of hounds.

76. "Ah! That is what I thought the captain was up to."

77. Rogers had turned sharp to the left, the direction in which Ticonderoga stood. He slacked down his speed somewhat, for the perspiration was streaming down the faces even of his trained and hardy followers. From time to time, he looked round to see that all were keeping well together. Although, in such an emergency as this, none thought of
questioning the judgment of their leader, many of them were wondering at the unusual speed at which he was leading them along. They had some two miles start of their pursuers, and, had evening been at hand, they would have understood the importance of keeping ahead until darkness came on to cover their trail; but, with the whole day before them, they felt that they must be overtaken sooner or later, and they could not see the object of exhausting their strength before the struggle began.

78. As they ran on, at a somewhat slower pace now, an idea as to their leader's intention dawned upon most of the scouts, who saw, by the direction they were taking, that they would again strike the lake shore near the French fort. Nat, who, light and wiry, was running easily, while many of his comrades were panting with their exertions, was now by the side of James Walsham.

79. "Give me your rifle, lad, for a bit. You are new to this work, and the weight of the gun takes it out of you. We have got another nine or ten miles before us, yet."

80. "I can hold on for a bit," James replied. "I am getting my wind better, now; but why only ten miles? We must be seventy away from the fort."

81. "We should never get there," Nat said. "A few of us might do it, but the redskins would be on us in an hour or two. I thought, when we started, as the captain would have told us to scatter, so as to give each of us some chance of getting off; but I see his plan now, and it's the only one as there is which gives us a real chance. He is making straight for the French fort. He reckons, no doubt, as the best part of the French troops will have marched out after the redskins."

82. "But there would surely be enough left," James said, "to hold the fort against us; and, even if we could take it, we could not hold it an hour when they all came up."

83. "He ain't thinking of the fort, boy, he's thinking of the boats. We know as they have lots of 'em there, and, if we can get there a few minutes before the redskins overtake us, we may get off safe. It's a chance, but I think it's a good one."

84. Others had caught their leader's idea and repeated it to their comrades, and the animating effect soon showed itself in the increased speed with which the party hurried through the forest. Before, almost every man had thought their case hopeless, had deemed that they had only to continue their flight until overtaken by the redskins, and that they must, sooner or later, succumb to the rifles of the Iroquois and their French allies. But the prospect that, after an hour's run, a means of escape might be found, animated each man to renewed efforts.

85. After running for some distance longer, Rogers suddenly halted and held up his hand, and the band simultaneously came to a halt. At first, nothing could be heard save their own quick breathing; then a confused noise was heard to their left front, a deep trampling and the sound of voices, and an occasional clash of arms.

86. "It is the French column coming out," Nat whispered, as Rogers, swerving somewhat to the right, and making a sign that all should run as silently as possible, continued his course.

13.  How long had it been since they landed?  ____________________

14.  How long would it take to fix the canoes?  _______________________

15.  How long had they been traveling before they heard the war whoop?  __________

16.  Where where the scouts headed to try and escape?  _______________________

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