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finished, the party embarked again. The lake, so beautiful at evening, was no less so in the morning ; for unlike many a ball-room beauty, its charms were such as could bear the broad light. The leaking of one of their flimsy canoes, which they were obliged to repair, delayed them so much that the day was far advanced before they reached the • First Narrows,' where the lake contracts itself, and is dotted with a multitude of islands. They grew impatient and anxious lest the savages should reach Ticonderoga before them. They had better cause for anxiety than they thought ; who can foretell the capricious movements of a party of savages? Their restless and watchful enemy had already caught sight of them, and were following their course along the shore.
They skirted the wooded banks of a long island that lay parallel to the main land and close to it, near the entrance of the Narrows. It was a beautiful sight to see the trees glide past them, and the water ripple upon the pebbles with the motion of the deep-laden canoes; but when the island was past, the main shore lay off on their right, with its swelling foliage obscured by a rich shade, and the cool dark waters sleeping in its shadows. Endicott was not in a poetical mood — indeed, he seldom was; but he could not help gazing on a scene so quiet and yet so pic. turesque. He was startled suddenly into life and action. A female voice, in hasty and terrified accents, came from the woods. “I am here! - dear Endicott! - keep away!- keep away!- they are going to fi ' but here it was abruptly stifled. The men instinctively ceased paddling, and then pushed back the canoes farther into the lake. The matter required no explanation : all saw at once that nothing had saved them from falling into an ambush of the enemy they were in pursuit of, but the heroic self-devotion of the prisoner. Most of the party were men made reckless by misery, with every feeling and instinct overwhelmed by a burning hatred of the Indians, and a keen thirst for vengeance upon the accursed race. Only two or three of them hesitated as to the course to be pursued. Neither regard for their own lives nor that of the poor captive had much weight with them. Endicott, on his part, was as eager as the rest, and longed to rush to the rescue of Sarah, without thinking of the peril to which his rashness would ex. pose her, if indeed she had not already been made a victim to the fury of her captors. The canoes drew back and retraced their course along the island, which effectually protected them and concealed their motions, till they rounded its farther extremity, and made directly for the shore. Then it was a matter of doubt whether a salute of bullets from the woods would not reward their temerity. The very hardihood of the attempt alone saved them; for the savages, who were of twice their number, did not dream that they would venture to land in the teeth of such peril. The canoes ploughed the water into furrows. My ancestor's blood was up. He jumped from the foremost canoe, and waded to the beach; but as he reached it, a sinewy hand griped his shoulder, and a stern voice admonished him that that was no place nor time to yield to frantic impulses.
It would be hard to imagine a situation more perilous than that into which these men had placed themselves, or one in which danger ap
peared under a more horrid and insidious aspect. Nothing of the enemy was visible after they had entered the woods, though they might be concealed behind every rock or tree. They listened awhile, and then began cautiously to advance toward that part of the shore whence the voice had proceeded. In a few minutes they came upon the mani. fest traces of a large body of savages ; and here again they stopped to listen. It was close by a large brook that descended from the upland forests to the lake, urging its way over great piles of moss-grown rocks; plunging with a sullen, heavy roar into obscure ravines, or pouring itself into deep basins and hollows among the rocks, before it streamed glancing out through the foliage into the gay sunshine of the lake. The forest was a dismal contrast to the bright landscape they had just left. The chill confined air was of that heavy nature that oppresses the spirit, and brings consumption to the lungs. Not a ray of sunlight could penetrate the dense foliage above; all around breathed cold and dampness ; the black columns of the standing trees that seeemed sweating a clammy moisture ; the moss-grown carcasses of those that lay prostrate and decaying, piled in masses together; and the slippery green rocks themselves. There was no undergrowth but the stiff spreading shoots of the hardy spruce and balsam fir, which covered the rough and broken ground, affording abundant lurking places for an enemy. All was quiet as death except the stream with its dull plunging.
They stood still for some minutes, when a man at length offered himself to go forward and search for the enemy. Crouching from tree to tree, he began slowly to pick his way over the obstructions of the dangerous ground, glancing watchfully in every direction, and gradu. ally approaching a ridge of rocks overgrown with fringe and piles of dripping moss, that was discernible through the trees, several rods higher up:
Here he paused and listened long before he ventured to ascend. When he had got to the top, and clinging to some projecting roots, peered cautiously over the heap of logs and refuse that lay there, a tawny, braceletted arm, and a little hatchet, waved for an instant above this ambush, and the man fell back doubled to a ball. Then the Indian yell burst forth. In a moment, the woods above were filled with dark, demon-like figures, that came leaping down over the ridge and darting among the rocks and shrubbery, while the air vibrated with their shrill cries, and was clogged with the smoke of their rapid firing. Not a voice was raised in reply, except the shout of the man in command. In spite of this furious and characteristic attempt to strike them with a panie, the white men held their ground, or only drew back a yard or two. Indeed, they could not have retreated farther, as the lake was close behind, and their only alternative was to maintain their position or be killed on the spot ; so each sheltered himself behind a tree, and stubbornly refused to yield. The Indians rushed up yelling close upon them, when one or two were shot down by the iron-nerved woodsmen, at which their noisy and ostentatious display ceased at once. They all slunk behind the cover of rock, trees, or bushes, whence the incessant flashes of their guns now glanced out on every side, like darting tongues of serpents. But the sharp, quick crack of the New
England rifles mingled with the louder and duller reports of the Indian guns. The fight became already more than doubtful; for as the fierce impetuosity of the savages cooled at the unexpected check they had received, the deep Anglo-Saxon passion mounted higher in the breasts of the whites. Not that they gave vent to it, but it burned intensely within, rousing and concentrating all the faculties, and giving double strength and alertness to mind and sense. With foreheads knit, and lips pressed close together, they calculated the effect of every shot, and seized every advantage that offered.
The Indians continually shouted taunts and insults in broken English or Canadian French. There was one warrior, in particular, who had been remarkable for his reckless intrepidity in the first onset, and now lay crouched behind a pile of rocks and logs, loading and firing, and abusing his enemy meanwhile to the best of his power. He addressed himself especially to the nearest white man, by no means indulging him with that figurative rhetoric which I have read that the Indians are accustomed to employ on such occasions ; on the contrary, his language was the vilest and most profane that he could gather from the refuse of white men, mingled with lying boasts of his own exploits. Among the rest, he told his hearer that he had killed his wife, and eaten her heart, and to give emphasis to his assertion, he raised the scalp of a woman on his ramrod, and shook it above the rock. The white man did not reply a word, but he noticed a spot in the pile of logs behind which he knew the savage lay, where the wood seemed to his eye sufficiently decayed to allow the passage of a bullet; and at this place, he fired his rifle. The Indian did not shriek as he received the wound, but rose convulsively from his shelter, when two more bullets were instantly fired into him, and he dropped dead. At this the disheartened Indians broke : leaping backward from tree to tree, they retired up the hill; the white men pressed upon them with every faculty at its tension ; hand, foot, and eye on the alert. Thus, in spite of the disadvantage of the ground, they forced them slowly up the ascent.
Many rods up, a dilapidated old oak tree, covered all over with wens and protuberances, rose from the midst of the rocks, and stretched its solitary branch over the stream. It had once been the monarch of that forest, but the lightning had splintered away its top, and age had filled its gigantic trunk with decay. Around it, the savages clung tena. ciously, and made their last stand. At length, as the bullets hailed in upon them, and the white men pressed them closer and closer, they broke entirely, and with a wild cry retreated, scattering up the forest. Then, for the first time, a stern deep shout, very different from the quavering yells of the Indians, burst from the throats of the frontiers
Throughout the fight, my ancestor's rifle had done good service, but now he could contain himself no longer. That impetuous ardor that sometimes sleeps beneath the habitual coldness of New-England, now rose up within him and mastered him. When the savages broke, he sprang out of his shelter. Clear the way, scoundrels ! he shouted, dashing up the ascent with his rifle clubbed; but then his cap was struck from his head; a thousand sparkles flashed before his eyes, and he fell down headlong among the decayed logs and the wet moss. His
companions, more experienced and more cautious, did not follow his ex. ample. Without giving the least advantage to the retreating enemy, or allowing them a moment’s rest, they drove them on toward the top of the mountain. The smothered reports of the rifles, the shouts, and the occasional screams grew fainter and fainter, till they were lost in the distance :
. And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.' No trace of the fight remained, but the smoke that clung in the damp, motionless air, and the dead who were scattered about the wood.
Among these, to all appearance, was my ancestor. He lay on his face, poor fellow, which had rested on his left arm as he fell, while the blood dropped from his forehead. Yet he was not dead, or I should never have lived to write this history of his exploits. He lay four hours, as he told my grandfather, in a swoon, for the bullet had ploughed across his temple, within a hair's-breadth of his life ; my grandfather well remembers the scar, which is indeed plainly visible in the portrait of my ancestor which hangs in the best parlor of my respected relative, Bridgadier General Artemas Carver, physician, of the town of Swanzey, New Hampshire. When his senses returned, he was in a state of wretched bewilderment. He was quite oblivious of all that had happened, and unconscious of every thing around. A sense of icy coldness chilling all his limbs, and a dull pain in his head, were his only sensations when his eyes opened, till the dreary forms of the savage rocks and trees obtruded themselves on his vision like a night-mare.
He felt about him with his hands, and grasped them full of clammy oozing moss. Then, turning his eyes upward, he beheld what increased his perplexity and confusion. It was a pale, though handsome female face; no other, in short, than that of Sarah, who was stooping over him, frightened and trembling, but animated with all the affectionate and self-forgetting devotion of a woman. This, I am aware, has an air of romance; and I feel really anxious in setting it down, lest the reader should accuse me in his heart of unfaithfulness to my trust, and an unprincipled intention to sacrifice truth to effect. I beg him to banish all such doubts. My ancestor was no fit hero of romance ; his sleep was too healthful and sound to be disturbed by visions, and as for day-dreaming, he eschewed it utterly; and Sarah was no heroine, but only a warm-hearted girl, who could flatter herself sometimes with her own image in the mirror, and in the moment of her lover's peril, lose all thought of self in fearless disinterested affection.
The warning she so unexpectedly gave the white men that morning nearly cost her her life. More hatchets than one had been raised over her head, and it was fortunate that the chief of the party was a man of authority, feared and admired by his tribesmen. Nothing but his prompt interference saved her. As it was he who had taken her pri. soner with his own hand, she was, according to Indian usage, his exclusive property. Though he had at first intended to sell her to the French in Canada, her beauty soon made him change his mind, and resolve to take her to Caughnawaga as his squaw. This flattering
destination preserved her from immolation, when the frontiersmen made their rash attack : her savage lover, if he deserved the name, placed her for safe keeping in the old hollow oak, round which the Indians made their last stand. Here she listened in terror to the sounds of the fight, and the pattering of bullets on the tough rind of her prison ; and when the struggle had passed away and all was quiet, she crept out and explored the scene of violence. There lay her lover among the fallen. At first, she clasped her arms around him in despair, but feeling his heart still beating, she arranged the soft boughs of spruce beneath him, and brought water from the brook to bathe his face and temples.
When Endicott could stand, and had recovered his faculties, eve. ning had already approached, as could be seen by the ruddy light that brightened at intervals the thick canopy of leaves above them, and richly illumined the foliage that screened the lake from their view. They wandered down to the shore : the bright and glorious landscape of mountains and crimsoned waters, sprinkled with their numberless islands, brought new life to their spirits by contrast with the sombre forest. The fresh breeze of the summer evening, too, was very unlike the heavy atmosphere of the wood.
Their situation was still very perilous. Endicott sought out a place in which to pass the night, and chose a deep sheltered nook among rocks and bushes, not far from the shore. Here he ventured to kindle a fire; and preparing a bed of the young shoots of the spruce, he built over it a little hut of boughs sufficient to ward off the night wind. Sarah entered it and lay down. He took his gun, and seated himself on a stone near by, to keep watch against prowling beasts or men. As the night grew dark, the wind freshened; the waves rose high, and splashed with a monotonous sound upon the rocks of the shore. The trees over his head, too, rustled their leaves with a mysterious whisper. ing sound, as the breeze passed through them; and a patch of long grass near the shore bent and rose mournfully. Endicott watched the dark restless waters, and the stars that shone faintly between the tree. tops, till, about the middle of the night, overcome with fatigue, he fell into a doze. It was disturbed by hideous dreams: loud voices at length struck on his sleeping ear too distinctly to be any thing but reality. He started from slumber in bewilderment. Hoarse, impatient voices, were indeed sounding close at hand; they were those of his comrades, returned from the battle to visit the field and recover their canoes. He joyfully shouted in reply, and was welcomed as one from the dead.
Not to protract my tale, I will leave the adventurers to return to the settlements without following them. The Indians had been completely beaten. A small body of them, who held together, had been driven over the back of the mountains as far as the swamps around Wood Creek, where they scattered like a flock of partridges through the woods. Their cruelties were bitterly expiated. But to avoid wearying the reader with a love-story, I will only remark that, many years after, when the War of the Revolution broke out, my ancestor and Sarah were living, surrounded by a numerous progeny, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a large house that a month ago might be seen standing near the banks of Charles River, close behind Mount Auburn Cemetery. I