Corporal 'Lige's Recruit by James Otis
CHAPTER II. A
CHAPTER III. AN
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER VI. A
SQUAD OF FOUR.
CHAPTER VIII. AN
CHAPTER IX. A
CHAPTER X. CROWN
CORPORAL 'LIGE'S RECRUIT.
A Story of Crown Point and Ticonderoga.
By JAMES OTIS.
With Six Page Illustrations by J. Watson Davis.
NEW YORK: A. L. BURT, PUBLISHER.
Copyright, 1898, by A. L. Burt.
CORPORAL 'LIGE'S RECRUIT.
By James Otis.
CORPORAL 'LIGE'S RECRUIT.
CHAPTER I. RECRUITING.
There was great excitement among the citizens of the town of
Pittsfield in the province of Massachusetts on the first day of May in
the year 1775.
Master Edward Mott and Noah Phelps, forming a committee appointed by
the Provincial Assembly of Connecticut, had arrived on the previous
evening charged with an important commission, the making known of which
had so aroused the inhabitants of the peaceful settlement that it was
as if the reports of the muskets fired at Lexington and Concord were
actually ringing in their ears.
These two gentlemen had with them a following of sixteen men,
equipped as if for battle, and the arrival of so large an armed body
had aroused the curiosity of the good people until all were painfully
eager to learn the reason for what seemed little less than an invasion.
When it was whispered around that Master Mott and Phelps had,
immediately upon their arrival, inquired for Colonel James Easton and
Master John Brown, and were even then closeted with those citizens, the
more knowing ones predicted that this coming had much to do with the
warlike preparations that were making in Boston and New York, designed
to put a check upon the unlawful doings of his majesty the king.
When morning came, that is to say, on this first day of May, it was
generally understood throughout the settlement that the Provincial
Assembly of Connecticut had agreed upon a plan to seize the munitions
of war at Ticonderoga for the use of that body of men known as the
American army, then gathered at Cambridge and Roxbury in the province
The gossips of Pittsfield stated that one thousand dollars had been
advanced from the Provincial Treasury of Connecticut to pay the
expenses of the expedition; that the sixteen men making up the
following of the committee were recruits who had pledged themselves to
capture this important fortress which formed the key of communication
between New York and the Canadas, and that they proposed to march
through the country to Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga, recruiting as
they went, with the belief that on arriving there their force would be
sufficiently large to capture the fort.
The boys as well as the men were highly excited, as was but natural,
by such rumors, and a certain Isaac Rice, who prided himself upon being
fourteen years old, instead of gathering with his companions, listening
eagerly to every word which dropped from the lips of the older members
of the community, conceived the idea of applying to what he believed to
be the fountain-head of all information regarding military matters.
This supposedly wise man was none other than Corporal Elijah
Watkins, generally known as Corporal 'Lige, sometimes spoken of as
Master Watkins; but always to Isaac Rice, the corporal.
He was looked upon as an old man when he served under Abercrombie at
Ticonderoga in '58, and believed of a surety he was as well informed in
military affairs as Isaac Rice, his ardent disciple, fancied him to be.
Ever ready to give advice on important matters; not backward about
criticising the alleged mistakes of his superiors, and holding himself
as with the idea that during the late troubles with the French he had
learned all the art of warfare; but yet with such possibly disagreeable
qualities, Corporal 'Lige had shown himself to be a brave soldier,
willing at any time to do more even than was his duty.
The old man was sitting outside the door of a tiny log building
which he called home, smoking peacefully, much as he might have done
had the committee from Connecticut never passed that way, and this
apparent indifference surprised the boy.
Why, corporal, don't you know what's going on in the town? Haven't
you heard that they are talking of taking the fort at Ticonderoga, and
running the king out of the country?
First and foremost, Isaac lad, are you so ignorant as to think the
king is here in this 'ere province to be run out? An' then agin, can't
you realize that talkin's one thing an' doin's another?
Yes; but, corporal, haven't you heard the news?
If you mean so far as concerns the committee from Connecticut,
Isaac, I have heard it, and what's more, Master Noah Phelps talked with
me before ever he went to see Colonel Easton. He knew where he could
get information about Ticonderoga, for bless your soul, lad, wasn't I
there in '58? An' would you find a stick or stone around the place that
I can't call to mind?
Did Master Phelps come to see you first?
Well, yes, lad, it 'mounted to much the same thing. I was down the
road when he come into town, an' seein' me he acted like as if a great
load had been lifted off his shoulders, 'cause he knowed I could tell
him a thing or two if I was minded. 'Good-evenin' to you, Corporal
'Lige,' he said sweet as honey in the honeycomb, and I passed the time
of day with him, kind of suspicionin' something of this same business
was goin' on. 'Want to take a little trip up through the country?' he
asked friendly-like, and do you know, lad, the whole plan come to me in
a minute, an' I says to him, says I, 'Master Phelps, you can count me
in, if it so be yo're goin' toward the lakes.' 'That's where we're
bound for, Corporal 'Lige,' says he, 'and I'll put your name down.' I
said, says I, 'It's rations, an' somethin' in the way of pay, I
reckon?' an' he allowed as that part of it would be all fixed,
especially with me, 'cause you see, lad, it wouldn't be much good for
these people what never knew anything 'bout war, to start out leavin'
me behind. Why, bless your heart, I allow that's why they come through
Pittsfield, jest for the purpose of seein' Corporal 'Lige.
The old man ceased speaking to puff dense volumes of smoke from his
pipe, and Isaac Rice gazed at him in wonder and amaze.
That the committee from Connecticut had visited the town for the
sole and only reason of inducing the corporal to join the force, there
was no question in his mind, and now, more implicitly than ever before,
did he believe that throughout all the provinces there could be found
no abler soldier than Corporal 'Lige.
Yes, lad, I'm goin' with the committee, more to tell 'em what they
ought to do, as you might say, than to serve as a private soldier, for
you see I know Ticonderoga root and branch. I could tell you the whole
story from the meanin' of the name down to who is in command of it this
very minute, if there was time.
But there is, corporal. The committee are talkin' to Colonel Easton
and Master Brown now, and don't count on leaving here before
What do they want of the colonel?
I don't know; but they are stopping at his house.
I ain't sayin' but that the colonel is as good a soldier as you'll
find around here; but bless your soul, lad, though it ain't for me to
say it, he could learn considerable from Corporal 'Lige if he was to
spend a few hours every now and then listenin'.
But tell me all you can about Ticonderoga, corporal.
The old man looked around furtively as if half-expecting the
committee from Connecticut, or Colonel Easton, might be coming to ask
his advice on some disputed point, and then, shaking his forefinger now
and again at the lad much as though to prevent contradiction, he began:
In the first place the folks 'round here call it 'Ticonderoga' when
it ain't anything of the kind. The real name is 'Cheonderoga,' which is
Iroquois lingo for 'Sounding Water,' being called so, I allow, because
the falls at Lake George make a deal of noise. The French built
breastworks there in '55, which they christened Fort Carillon. Now you
see it's a mighty strong place owin' to the situation, and its bein'
located on a point which, so I've heard said, rises more'n a hundred
feet above the level of the water. The solid part of itthat is to
say, the landis only about five hundred acres. Three sides are
surrounded by water, an' in the rear is a swamp. That much for the
advantages of the spot, so to speak. Now I was there in July of '58
when Montcalm held the fort with four thousand men. Lord Howe was
second in command of General Abercrombie's forces, and Major Putnam,
down here, was with the crowd. That's when the major wouldn't let his
lordship go into the battle first; but banged right along ahead until
we come to the first breastworks, finding it so strong that the troops
were marched back to the landin' place and went into bivouac for the
night. It was the sixth day of July; on the eighth we tried it again;
but the fort couldn't be carried, an' the blood that was shed there,
lad, all under the British flag, would come pretty nigh drownin' every
man, woman an' child in this 'ere settlement. On the twenty-sixth of
July in the year 1759, General Amherst with eleven thousand men scared
the French out; they didn't fire a gun, but abandoned the fortification
and fled to Crown Point. Since that time the king's forces have held
How many are there now? Isaac asked, not so much for the purpose
of gaining information as to tempt the old man to continue his story.
I can't rightly say, lad, though it's somewhere in the neighborhood
of fifty. The commandant is, or was when I last heard, one Captain
Delaplace, and it is said that he's a thorough soldier, though I'm
allowin' he hasn't got any too much of a force with him.
Do you think the Connecticut gentlemen can raise men enough between
here and there to take a fort which resisted General Abercrombie's
That remains to be seen, lad. If they are willin' to act on such
advice as can be got from some people hereabouts, I allow there's a
good chance for it, more especially if the Green Mountain boys take a
hand in the matter, as Master Phelps thinks probable. In that case
Colonel Ethan Allen would most likely be in command.
And you are really going, corporal? asked Isaac.
Yes, lad, it don't seem as though I ought to hang back back when
I'm needed. If all we hear from the other provinces is true, you'll be
old enough to take a hand in the scrimmage before the fightin's over,
so here's a chance to serve an apprenticeship. If it so be you're of
the mind I'll take you under my wing, an' by the time we get back
you'll have a pretty decently good idea of a soldier's trade.
Do you really mean it, corporal? and Isaac sprang to his feet in
excitement. Do you really mean that I may go with you just as if I was
of age to carry a gun?
Ay, lad, if it so be your mother an' father are willin', an' I
can't see why they shouldn't agree, seein's how they know the company
you'll be in. It would seem different if you talked of goin' with the
general run of recruits, who are green hands at this kind of work.
But will the committee allow a lad of my age to go as a soldier?
Isaac, my boy, when Corporal 'Lige says to Master Phelps, says he,
'This 'ere lad is goin' under my wing, so to speak,' why bless your
heart, that's the end of the whole business. They've got to have me,
an' won't stand out about your joinin' when it's known my heart is set
Will you come now while I ask my mother?
Well, lad, I ain't prepared to say as how I will; but this much I'm
promisin': Go to her an' find out how she's feelin' about the matter.
If there's any waverin' in her mind I'll step inyou see I'll be the
reserves in this casean' when I charge she's bound to surrender. But
if it so happens that she's dead set against it at the start, why, you
had best not vex her by tryin' to push the matter.
Having perfect faith in the corporal's wisdom Isaac was thoroughly
satisfied with this decision, and after the old man had promised to
await his return at that point, the lad set out for home at full speed.
Perhaps if Isaac had been the only son of his mother he would have
found it difficult to gain her permission for such an adventure as
Corporal 'Lige had proposed.
There were five other boys in the family, and Isaac was neither the
oldest nor the youngest.
The fact that Mrs. Rice had so many did not cause her to be
unmindful of any, but less timorous perhaps, about parting with one.
However it may be, the lad gained the desired permission providing
his father would assent, and this last was little more than a
Master Rice was found among the throng of citizens in front of the
inn where recruiting was going on briskly.
The opportunity served to give the good man a certain semblance of
patriotism when he showed himself willing that one of his sons should
go for a soldier, and he would have had the boy sign the rolls then and
there, but that Isaac demurred.
It was not in his mind to enlist save in the company and after being
again assured of the corporal's protection, therefore he insisted on
presenting himself as the old man's recruit rather than his father's
Corporal 'Lige was well pleased when Isaac returned with a detailed
account of all that had taken place, and said approvingly:
You have shown yourself to be a lad of rare discretion, Isaac Rice,
and I will take it upon myself to see that such forethought brings due
reward. Suppose you had signed the rolls at the inn? What would you be
then? Nothin' more than a private.
But that is all I shall be when I sign them with you, corporal.
It may appear that way, I'm free to admit lad; but still you will
be a deal higher than any non-commissioned officer, because you'll be
under my wing, and when we have taken Ticonderoga, though I ain't
admitting that's the proper name of the fortwhen we've taken that, I
say, you'll be fit for any kind of a commission that you're qualified
Yes, Isaac replied doubtfully, and then he fell to speculating as
to whether even though Corporal 'Lige did not take him under his
wing, he might not be fit to fill any position for which he was
While he was thus musing a messenger came from Master Phelps saying
the recruiting was coming to an end in this town, and the party would
set out that same afternoon on their way to Bennington, expecting to
enlist volunteers from Colonel Easton's regiment of militia as they
passed through the country.
Never you fear but that I'll be right at my post of duty when the
command is given to form ranks, Corporal 'Lige said to the messenger,
and after the latter had departed he added as he turned to the boy,
Now, Isaac, lad, you can see what they think of Corporal 'Lige.
Colonel Easton and Master Brown are hangin' 'round the inn instead of
waitin' for the committee to visit them. An' what do I do? Why, I stay
quietly here, knowin' they can't well get along without me, an' instead
of coolin' my heels among a lot of raw recruits, I'm sent for when the
time is come, as if I was a staff officer. That's one thing you want to
bear in mind. If you don't count yourself of any importance, other
people are mighty apt to pass you by as a ne'er-do-well.
But I haven't enlisted yet, corporal.
Of course you have. When you said to me 'I'm ready to go as your
apprentice in this 'ere business,' it was jest the same as if you'd
signed the rolls. I'll arrange all that matter with Master Phelps, my
lad. Now do you hasten home; get what you can pick up in the way of an
outfit; borrow your father's gun, and kind of mention the fact to your
mother that the more she gives in the way of provisions the better
you'll be fed, for you an' me are likely to mess together.
How much are you going to take, corporal?
That will depend a good deal on what kind of a supply your mother
furnishes. I'm willin' to admit she's nigh on to as good a cook as can
be found in Pittsfield, an' will take my chances on what she puts up
for you, providin' there's enough of it.
Of course you are to take your musket?
I should be a pretty poor kind of a soldier if I didn't, ladthe
same one I used under Abercrombie, and he pointed with his thumb
toward the interior of the dwelling where, as Isaac knew, a well-worn
weapon hung on hooks just over the fireplace. It's one of the king's
arms, an' I reckon will do as good service against him as it did for
him, which is saying considerable, lad, as Major Putnam can vouch for.
Now set about making ready, for we two above all others must not be
behind-hand when the column moves.
A fine thing it was to be a soldier, so Isaac thought as he went
leisurely from Corporal 'Lige's log hut to his home; he was forced to
pass through the entire length of the village, stopping here and there
to acquaint a friend with what he believed to be a most important fact.
Among all the lads in Pittsfield of about his own age he was the
only one who proposed to enlist, and from all he heard and saw there
could be no question but that he was envied by his companions.
From the youngest boy to the oldest man, the citizens were in such a
ferment of excitement as gave recruits the idea that to enlist was
simply providing amusement for themselves during a certain number of
days, and, with the exception of those experienced in such matters, no
person believed for a moment that the brave ones who were rallying at
their country's call would suffer hardships or privations.
In fact, this going forth to capture the fort at Ticonderoga was to
be a pleasure excursion rather than anything else, and Isaac Rice
believed he was the most fortunate lad in the province of
His outfit did not require that his mother should spend very much
time upon it.
The clothes he wore comprised the only suit he owned, and when two
shirts and three pairs of stockings had been made into a parcel of the
smallest possible size, and he had borrowed his father's gun, powder
horn and shot pouch, the equipment was complete.
Then came the most important of the preparations, to Isaac's mind,
for he knew the corporal would criticize it closelythe store of
Had he been allowed his own bent the remainder of the Rice family
might have been put on short allowance, for, with a view to pleasing
the corporal, he urged that this article of food, and then that, should
be put into the bag which served him as a haversack, until the larder
must have been completely emptied but for his mother's emphatic refusal
to follow such suggestions.
If Mrs. Rice did not shed bitter tears over Isaac when he left her
to join the recruits, it was because she shared the opinion of many
others in Pittsfield, and felt positive the lad would soon return, none
the worse for his short time of soldiering.
It was but natural she should take a most affectionate farewell of
him, however, even though believing he would be in no especial danger,
and a glimpse of the tears which his mother could not restrain caused
an uncomfortable swelling in the would-be soldier's throat.
This leaving home, even to march away by the side of Corporal 'Lige,
was not as pleasant as he had supposed, and for the moment he ceased to
so much as think of the provision-bag.
Now, see here, mother, he said, with a brave attempt at
indifference. I'm not counting on doing anything more than help take
the fort, and since the corporal is to be with us, that can't be a long
You will ever be a good boy, Isaac?
Of course, mother.
And you will write me a letter, if it so be you find the
This was not a pleasing prospect to the boy, for he had never found
it an easy task to make a fair copy of the single line set down at the
top of his writing-book; but his heart was sore for the moment, and he
would have promised even more in order to check his mother's tears.
Therefore it was he agreed to make her acquainted with all his
movements, so far as should be possible, and, that done, it seemed as
if the sting was taken in a great measure from the parting.
Feeling more like a man than ever before in his life, Isaac set
forth from his home with a heavy musket over his shoulder, and the bag
of provisions hanging at his back, glancing neither to the right nor to
the left until he arrived at the corporal's dwelling.
An exclamation of surprise and delight burst from his lips when he
saw the old man, armed and equipped as he had been in '58, wearing the
uniform of a British soldier, even though by thus setting out he was
proving his disloyalty to the king.
Well you do look fine, corporal. I dare wager there are none who
will set forth from this town as much a soldier as you!
I reckon Colonel Easton will come out great with his militia
uniform; but what does it amount to except for the value of the gold
lace that's on it? All I'm wearin' has seen service, an' though it
ain't for me to say it, I shouldn't be surprised if him as is inside
this 'ere red coat could tell the militia colonel much regarding his
Of course you can, corporal, every one knows that, an' I'm
expecting to see you put next in command to Colonel Allen, if it so be
Not quite that, lad, not quite that, for there's jealousy in the
ranks the same as outside of them, though I warrant many of 'em will be
glad to ask Corporal 'Lige's advice before this 'ere business is over.
Now let's have a look to your stores, and we'll be off.
The examination of the impromptu haversack appeared to be
satisfactory to the old man, and without doing more in the way of
securing his dwelling from intruders than shutting the outer door, he
marched down the street with such a swagger as he evidently believed
befitting a soldier.
Isaac followed meekly at his heels, troubling his head not one whit
because he lacked a uniform, but believing he shared to a certain
degree in Corporal 'Lige's gorgeousness and martial bearing.
The two came to a halt outside the inn, standing stiffly at
attention, and there they remained until Master Phelps was forced to
go out and bid the old man enter, that the formality of signing the
rolls might be gone through with, after which Isaac Rice was duly
entitled to call himself a militiaman.
CHAPTER II. A SECLUDED CAMP.
When these raw recruits departed from the townCorporal 'Lige
insisted that they did not marchthey were followed for several miles
by nearly all the men and boys in the vicinity.
The old man was greatly exercised because Colonel Easton, who now
assumed command, allowed such an unsoldierly proceeding as that his
troops should walk arm in arm with their friends, each in his own
manner and at his own convenience.
Had the corporal been invested with the proper authority he would
have had these raw recruits marshaled into ranks and forced to step in
unison, carrying their muskets at the same angle, and otherwise
conforming themselves to his idea of soldierly bearingall this he
would have had them do; but whether he could have brought about such a
condition of affairs is extremely problematical.
I allowed Colonel James Easton came somewhere near bein' a soldier,
even though he is only a militiaman, the corporal said in a tone of
intense dissatisfaction to Isaac as the two marched solemnly side by
side in the midst of their disorderly companions, and I did think we
could set out from here and capture Ticonderoga, if all hands were
willin' to put their shoulders to the wheel; but I take back that
statement, lad, and am sorry I ever was so foolish as to enlist. I
ought to have known better when I saw the crowd that was signin' the
Why, what's the matter, corporal? and Isaac looked around in
surprise, for until this moment he had believed everything was
progressing in proper military fashion.
Matter? Corporal 'Lige cried angrily. Look around and see how
these men are comportin' themselves, an' then you'll know. Here are
them as should be soldiers, seein's they've signed the rolls, mixed up
with citizens till you couldn't tell one from the other unless
personally acquainted with all hands. Then how are they marchin'? Why,
a flock of geese couldn't straggle along in any more ungainly fashion.
I shouldn't suppose it would make any difference how they marched
so that they got there in time, Isaac ventured to suggest timidly.
Shouldn't, eh? Then what's the good of calling themselves soldiers?
Why don't they start out like a crowd of farmers an' try their hand at
taking the fort?
Well? Isaac replied calmly. Why shouldn't they? They are not
soldiers, you know, corporal, and so long's the fort is taken why
wouldn't it be as well if they didn't try to ape military manners?
The old man gazed sternly at the boy while one might have counted
ten, and then said in a tone of sadness:
It's a shame, Isaac Rice, that after bein' with me all these years,
an' hearin' more or less regardin' military matters, you shouldn't have
Why, what have I said now, corporal? Is it any harm to think that
farmers might take a fort?
Of course it is, lad. If anything of that kind could happen, what's
the use of having soldiers?
But I suppose it is necessary to have an army if there's going to
be war, Isaac replied innocently, and this last was sufficient to
completely fill the vials of the old man's wrath.
That this pupil of his should fail at the very first opportunity to
show a proper spirit, was to him most disappointing, and during the
half-hour which followed he refused to speak, even though Isaac
alternately begged his pardon for having been so ignorant and expressed
regret that he had said anything which might give offense.
During all this while the citizens of Pittsfield were following the
recruits in a most friendly manner, believing it their duty to thus
cheer those who might soon be amid the carnage of battle, and perhaps
not one realized how seriously he was by such method offending Corporal
Isaac's father was among this well-intentioned following, as were
two of the lad's brothers, and when these representatives of the Rice
family, having walked as far as the head of the household deemed
necessary, were about to turn back, they ranged themselves either side
of the corporal and his pupil, in order to bid the latter farewell.
I expect you will give a good account of yourself, Isaac, when it
comes to fighting, and I feel all the more confident in regard to it
because you are under the wing of a man who knows what it is to be a
This compliment was intended for Corporal 'Lige as a matter of
course; but he paid no other attention to it than to say:
If the lad had profited by my teachings, he'd know that he has no
right to talk with outsiders while he's in the ranks.
That's exactly it, Mr. Rice replied, wholly oblivious that the
corporal was administering what he believed to be a most severe rebuke.
That is exactly it, my son, and you will do well to remember that you
cannot fail in your duty so long as you take pattern from the
The old soldier gave vent to what can be described only as a snort
of contempt; and the boy's sorrow was as nothing compared with what it
had been when bidding good-by to his mother.
After the young Rices had turned their faces homeward in obedience
to the orders of the elder Rice, Isaac gave more heed to copying the
movements of the corporal, thereby atoning in a certain measure for his
previous injudicious remarks.
The boy firmly believed that no more able soldier could be found in
all the colonies than this same Corporal 'Lige, and had any person
ventured to remark that the expedition might be as well off without
him, Isaac would have set the speaker down as one lacking common sense.
Take the corporal out of the ranks, and young Rice would have said
there was no possibility either Crown Point or Ticonderoga could be
Thus it was that an order from Colonel Allen, Colonel Easton, or
Seth Warner was as nothing compared with one from Corporal 'Lige, in
the mind of Isaac Rice; but there were many in the ranks who did not
have such an exalted opinion of the old soldier, and these were free
with their criticisms and unfavorable remarks, much against the raw
recruit's peace of mind, as well as the corporal's annoyance.
It was because of these light-headed volunteers, who saw only in
this expedition a novel and agreeable form of junketing, out of which
it was their duty to extract all the sport possible regardless of the
feelings of others, that Corporal 'Lige withdrew himself, so to speak,
from his comrades, and barely acknowledged the salutes of any save his
At the end of the second day's journey he refused to go into camp
with them; but applied to the captain of his company for permission to
advance yet a short distance further, at which point he could join the
troops when they came forward next morning. It was known by all the
expedition, even including those who were making the old soldier the
butt of their mirth, that he was held in high esteem by Colonel Ethan
Allen, and the request, although irregular, was readily granted, after
a warning against the perils attendant upon such a course.
It is better you stay with the troops, corporal, the captain said
kindly, although I have no hesitation in saying you are free to do as
And I do not choose to remain in the encampment for all the young
geesewho fancy that by signing the rolls they have become
soldiersto sharpen their wits upon, therefore I would halt by myself,
taking only the recruit I claim as my own, for company.
I will have a care that you are not annoyed again, the officer
replied in a kindly tone; but this was not to Corporal 'Lige's liking.
If a soldier can only keep his self-respect by running to his
superior officers like a schoolboy when matters are not to his fancy it
is time he left the ranks. After we have smelt burning powder I fancy
these youngsters will keep a civil tongue in their heads, and until
then I had best care for myself.
This was such good logic that the captain could oppose no solid
argument against it, therefore the old soldier received permission for
himself and his recruit to form camp wherever it should please him,
provided, however, that they remained in the ranks while the command
Not until after the matter had been thus settled did the captain
take it upon himself to warn the corporal that it was not wholly safe
to thus separate from his companions.
It is well known that our movements are being watched by both
Tories and Indians, he said in a friendly manner, such as would not
offend the obstinate old soldier, and you can well fancy that they
would not hesitate to do some mischief to any of the expedition whom
they might come upon alone.
I can take care of myself, and also the boy, Corporal 'Lige
replied stiffly, as he saluted his superior officer with unusual
gravity, and with this the subject was dropped.
Then the old man said to his recruit, as he motioned him aside that
others might not get information concerning his purpose:
We'll draw such rations as may be served out, lad, and then push
ahead to where we can be in the company of sensible people, meaning our
Isaac would have felt decidedly more safe if he could remain with
the main body of troops, for he had heard the captain's caution; but he
did not think it wise to give such a desire words, and by his silence
signified that he was ready to do whatsoever his instructor should deem
to be for the best.
The rations served these volunteers who proposed to reduce the forts
at Ticonderoga and Crown Point ere they yet knew a soldier's duties
were not generous, and he who, from a desire to avoid seeming greedy,
delayed in applying for them, generally found himself without food,
save he might be so fortunate as to beg some from his more provident
Corporal 'Lige was exceedingly friendly to his stomach; he made it a
rule never to allow modesty to deprive him of a full share of whatever
might be served out, therefore it was he had drawn rations for himself
and Isaac almost before the troops came to a halt, and the hindermost
were yet marching into camp, weary and travel-stained, when he said to
his small comrade:
There is nothing to keep us here longer, and the sooner we are at a
goodly distance from these silly youngsters who fancy that the taking
of a musket in their hands makes them soldiers, the better I shall be
Isaac gave token of willingness to continue the march by shouldering
his weapon once more, and the two set off, attracting no attention from
their companions-in-arms, each of whom had little thought save to
minister to his own comfort, for this soldiering was rapidly becoming
more of a task and less of a pleasure-tour than had been at first
Not until he was fully a mile from the foremost of the main body did
the corporal give any evidence of an intention to halt, and then he
showed remarkably good judgment in his selection of a camping-place.
At the edge of a small brook about fifty yards from the main road
over which they had been traveling, he threw down his knapsack, and
announced in a tone of satisfaction that they would spend the night
It is not too far away, and yet at such a distance that we shall
not be forced to listen to the gabbling of those geese, he said as he
set about building a small campfire in order to prepare the food he had
procured. Make yourself comfortable, Isaac Rice, for it is a soldier's
solemn duty to gain all the rest he can.
Do you think we shall be safe here? the boy asked almost timidly,
for it seemed little short of a crime to question any proposition made
by the corporal.
Safe, lad? What's to prevent? If you keep your ears open for
stories of danger while you are with the army, you'll never know peace
of mind, for there are always those faint-hearted ones ready to
exaggerate the falling of a leaf into the coming of the enemy. I have
as much regard for my own safety as for yours, and I say that here we
can camp in peace and safety.
This was sufficient for the corporal's recruit, and he set about
making himself comfortable, with the conviction that none knew better
than his comrade the general condition of affairs.
CHAPTER III. AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE.
Surely this camping by themselves was exceedingly pleasant, Isaac
thought, as the old soldier took upon himself the duties of cook,
leaving his recruit with nothing to do save watch him as he worked.
On the previous night they had slept in the midst of a noisy throng
who chattered and made merry until an exceedingly late hour, thus
preventing the more weary from sleeping, and everywhere in the air,
hanging like clouds, was the dust raised by the feet of so many men.
Now these two were in the seclusion of the woods, with a carpet of
grass for a bed; the rippling brook to lull them to slumber, and
nothing more noisy than the insect life everywhere around to disturb
Corporal 'Lige was in a rare good humor. He prepared an appetizing
meal, although his materials were none of the best, and when it had
been eaten, seated himself by Isaac's side with pipe in his mouth,
ready and willing to spin yarns of his previous experience as a
The boy was an eager listener; but after a certain time even the
tones of the old soldier's voice were not sufficient to banish the
sleep elves, and his eyes closed in unconsciousness just when his
comrade had arrived at the most exciting portion of his narrative.
Perhaps I shan't be so willin' the next time you want to hear what
I've seen in this world, Corporal 'Lige said testily when he observed
that his audience was asleep, and then, knocking the ashes carefully
from his pipe, he lay down by the side of his small companion.
It seemed to Isaac that he had hardly more than closed his eyes in
unconsciousness when he was aroused by the pressure of some heavy
substance upon his hand, and looking up quickly he saw, in the dim
light, three men standing over the corporal.
The foot of one of these strangers was upon the boy's hand, as if he
did not think Isaac of sufficient importance either to warrant his
taking him prisoner, or to so much as step aside that he might be
Before hearing a single word, Isaac understood that these
late-comers were no friends of the corporal's, and he endured the pain
in silence, hoping that by so doing he might escape observation.
It was hardly probable the strangers failed to see him, for he had
been lying within a few feet of his companion; but that he was not the
object of their regard could be readily understood.
The man who had thus pinned the boy to the earth by his heel wore
moccasins rather than boots, otherwise Isaac would have received severe
injury, and as it was, the corporal's recruit suffered considerable
pain before the foot was finally removed; but yet made no sound.
So far as he could judge by the conversation, these strangers must
have been in camp some time before he was awakened, for when he first
opened his eyes they were in the midst of an unpleasant conversation
with the old soldier, such as had evidently been carried on for some
If he don't choose to tell, string him up to a tree, one of the
party cried impatiently at the moment Isaac first became conscious that
matters were not running smoothly in this private encampment. A dead
rebel is of more good than a live one, and we have no time to lose.
Hang me, if that's what you're hankerin' for! Corporal 'Lige cried
in a voice that sounded thick and choked as if a heavy pressure was
upon his throat. Even though I knew more concernin' this 'ere
expedition than I do, not a word should I speak.
We'll soon see whether you're so willing to dance on nothing, the
first speaker cried vindictively, and then came noises as if the man
was making ready to carry his threat into execution.
Give him another chance, one of the Tories suggested. Let the old
fool tell us all he knows of Allen's plans, an' we'll leave him none
the worse for our coming.
I know nothing! the corporal cried in a rage. Do you reckon the
colonel would lay out his campaign before me?
It is said he did so before you left Pittsfield.
Whoever says that is a liar; but even though he had made the
fullest explanations, I would not reveal the plans to you. You must
think I'm a mighty poor kind of a soldier if I don't know how to die
rather than play the traitor.
You'll soon have a chance of proving what you can do! the third
man cried angrily, and then it was he stepped forward, leaving Isaac
free to do as he thought best.
That these three Tories were bent on hanging the old soldier, or at
least so nearly doing so as to frighten him into disclosing all he knew
regarding Colonel Allen's plans, there could be no question, and young
Rice, trembling with fear though he was, had no other thought than as
to how it might be possible for him to aid his comrade.
It did not seem probable the men were ignorant regarding the boy's
presence, and the only explanation which can be made as to why they
failed to secure him is that he was so nearly a child as to appear of
but little consequence. They evidently had no thought that he could in
any way thwart their purpose, and, therefore, no heed was given to him.
It can readily be imagined that Isaac did not waste much time in
speculations as to why he was allowed to remain at liberty.
Now was come the moment when he might repay some portion of the debt
he believed he owed Corporal 'Lige, and the only anxiety in his mind
was lest he should not do it in proper military fashion.
He could not even so much as guess what a genuine soldier would do
under the same circumstances; but he had a very good idea as to how a
boy might extricate himself from such a difficulty, and lost no time in
beginning the work.
The three men were so busily engaged trying to frighten the corporal
into telling them what he might know of Colonel Allen's forces as not
to heed the noise Isaac made when he rolled himself toward the bushes
in that direction where the two muskets had been set up against a tree
under the foliage in such manner that they might not be affected by the
It was impossible for him to say exactly what these intruders were
doing to Corporal 'Lige, but, from the noises, he judged they had first
made a prisoner of the old man by seizing him around the throat,
perhaps while he was yet asleep, and now there was every indication
that they were making ready to carry out the threat of hanging.
Give him another chance to tell what he knows, one of the men
cried, and immediately afterward the old soldier replied:
String me up if you will, for there's no need of waiting any longer
with the idea that I'm goin' to give you any information, even if I
Then up with him! the man who had first spoken shouted, and Isaac,
without looking in that direction, heard the confused noises which told
him the enemy were trying to raise the old man to his feet.
By this time the boy had his hand on one of the muskets, and his
first impulse was to discharge it full at the intruders; but before he
could act, the thought came that there were two shots at his disposal,
and he ought to so plan as to make both of them count. He believed it
was necessary to work with the utmost speed, lest these three Tories
should have hung the corporal before he was ready to interfere, and yet
a certain number of seconds were absolutely necessary before he could
carry out that plan which had suddenly come into his mind.
With both muskets under his arm he crept cautiously a few paces
onward until screened by the foliage, and then raising one of the
weapons, took deliberate aim at the nearest enemy.
There was no thought in his mind that he was thus compassing the
death of a human being. He only knew his comrade's life was in danger,
and that a well-directed shot might save him.
The three men had by this time gotten a rope around Corporal 'Lige's
neck, and, finding that it was difficult to raise the old man to his
feet, were throwing the halter over the limb of the nearest tree as a
method of saving labor.
One of the Tories, he who appeared to be the elder, and who was
directing the movements of the others, stood a few paces from his
comrades, and, taking deliberate aim at him, Isaac shouted:
Throw down your weapons, and surrender, or you are dead men!
The words had but just been spoken when he discharged the musket,
and a scream of pain from the living target told that the bullet had
sped true to its mark.
The two men who were as yet unarmed dropped the rope they were
holding and sprang toward their weapons, which had been left on the
ground near by; but before they could reach them, Isaac had emptied a
second musket, and another cry of pain rang out.
Throw down your weapons and surrender, or you are dead men! he
shouted again, and at this the third Tory, who must have believed there
was more than one man in the thicket, took to his heels in alarm, while
Corporal 'Lige, who had received no worse injury than a severe choking,
seized upon the three muskets which were lying close beside him.
Even now, when two of the intruders were wounded and the third
running for dear life, Isaac was doubtful as to whether he should show
He remained in concealment, while the corporal gazed around him in
surprise for a dozen seconds or more, and gave no token of his
whereabouts until the old man shouted:
Hello, friends! Show yourselves!
Is it all right? Isaac asked timidly, and in a tone which was
little better than a squeak. Is it all right, corporal?
Come in here, Isaac Rice. Can it be it was you who fired those
The raw recruit came forward almost timidly, and Corporal 'Lige,
shifting the three muskets he had taken possession of over on to his
left arm, seized the boy by the hand.
I've done a good bit of soldierin' in my day, lad; seen surprises,
an' ambushes, an' attacks of a similar kind without number; but never
did I know of anything that was done with more neatness an' dispatch
than this same job of yours, which has saved my neck from bein'
stretched. I'm proud of you, lad!
Isaac was overwhelmed by this praise, yet not to such an extent but
that there was a great fear in his mind lest he had taken a human life,
and he asked anxiously:
Do you suppose I hurt either of them seriously, Corporal 'Lige?
and he pointed to where the wounded men lay.
It is to be hoped you killed 'em both, so that we may be spared any
further trouble with the vermin, and not until then did the corporal
condescend to give any attention to those enemies who had been so sadly
worsted by a boy.
Just at this moment the wounded Tories suffered more in mind than in
body, for they now understood who had made the attack upon them, and it
can readily be fancied that both were ashamed at having been thus
defeated in their purpose by one whom they had considered of so little
importance that no effort was made to deprive him of his liberty when
they surprised the encampment.
It was with the most intense relief that young Rice heard the
corporal's report, which was to the effect that he who had acted as
leader of the party had a severe but apparently not exceedingly
dangerous wound in the shoulder, while his comrade was suffering from a
bullet-hole in the leg.
They're disabled, lad, but not killed, an' the first bit of
soldierin' that you have been called on to do is like to give great
credit with such as Colonel Allen and Colonel Easton. Tell me how you
happened to think of overcoming them in this shape?
I didn't think of it, the boy replied. It seemed to me you were
like to be hanged and I only did what was in my power.
I came nigher to havin' my neck stretched than ever before, an' as
it was, the villainous Tories pulled mighty hard on that rope, before
you effected the rescue; but, lad, you must have thought! This attack
you made in such a soldierly fashion wasn't the result of chance, an'
that I'll go bail.
It was useless to make any attempt at convincing Corporal 'Lige of
what was only the truth.
The old man was so determined to look upon the rescue as a soldierly
act that he would not accept any other explanation, and the boy ceased
his fruitless efforts by asking:
What is to be done with these two Tories?
I reckon they must be got back to camp, although it would be no
more than servin' 'em right if we put an end to their miserable lives
without further parley.
Oh, you wouldn't kill them in cold blood, Corporal 'Lige? Isaac
cried in alarm.
No; I don't reckon I would, though that's what ought to be done
with 'em. It's plain you an' I can't lug the two a matter of a mile or
more, so one must stand guard over 'em while the other goes back to the
camp. I'm leavin' it to you to say which service you'll perform, for
after this night's work I'm willin' to admit that my recruit has in him
the makin's of a better soldier than I can ever hope to be.
The boy gave no heed to this praise at the time, although later he
remembered the words with pleasure.
Now there was in his mind a fear lest the corporal should desire him
to guard the prisoners, and, the more imminent danger over, he was
growing exceedingly timorous.
I'll go back to the encampment if it so please you, Corporal 'Lige,
because I can run faster than you.
As you will, lad, as you will. Explain to Colonel Ethan Allen what
has happened here and let him say how these venomous snakes are to be
During this conversation neither of the wounded men had spoken; but
now, as the boy was about to set out for the encampment, he who had
evidently acted as the leader cried sharply:
Hold on a bit! What is the sense of sending us into your camp when
we are like to die? Why not give us a show for our lives?
In what way? Corporal 'Lige asked sternly.
By allowing us to go to our homes.
That will do, the old soldier said angrily. After your attempt to
kill me I'm not such a simple as to let you go scot free. Get you gone,
lad, and make the report to Colonel Allen as soon as may be.
The wounded Tory continued to plead with the corporal; but Isaac did
not wait to hear anything more.
He set out at full speed down the road in the direction where the
troops were encamped, running at his best pace, and fearing each
instant lest that Tory who had made his escape should suddenly come
CHAPTER IV. THE LETTER.
When Isaac was come within hailing distance of the few sentinels who
had been posted to guard against a surprise, he was astonished at being
halted after having announced who he was, and the laxness of military
discipline can be understood when it is said that, after being
recognized by the recruit at that particular post, the boy was allowed
to enter the encampment without further question.
Colonel Allen was not better lodged than his men. A lean-to formed
of a few boughs was the only shelter he had, and Isaac was forced to
search among the sleeping soldiers several moments before discovering
the whereabouts of the commander.
Once this had been done it was but the work of a few seconds to
acquaint the officer with what had occurred, and at this evidence that
the Tories were dogging the little army, more than one recruit who had
boasted the loudest as to what he would do when the time for fighting
should come, turned suspiciously pale as he approached to hear all
Isaac was saying.
Why did Corporal Watkins camp by himself? Colonel Allen asked when
the boy concluded his report.
Because some of the men poke fun at him, allowin' that he's too old
to be of service, an' far too crochety to make any fist at bein' a
soldier, Isaac replied promptly.
I wish from the bottom of my heart that I had one hundred men like
him, rather than some of the braggarts who do not know there is such a
work as the manual of arms, the colonel said in a loud voice, as if
desirous that all should hear. Tell the corporal that he will camp
with this force in the future, and I shall make it my especial business
to learn who it is that dares make matters uncomfortable for him.
Then, to the captain of the company to which Corporal 'Lige was
attached, an order was given that a squad of men be sent forward to
bring in the prisoners, and when this had been obeyed the old soldier,
as a matter of course, returned with them.
From that night Isaac heard nothing more regarding the wounded
Tories. It was said they had been sent back to Pittsfield under a
strong guard, and certain it is they disappeared from the encampment
before daybreak, but neither the boy nor the corporal could find a
single man who had seen them depart.
This incident, and it was hardly to be spoken of as anything of
importance, together with Colonel Allen's remark, served to render
Corporal 'Lige's life more pleasant, for those who had used him as the
butt of their mirth began to understand that he was superior to
themselves, in a soldierly way, and more than one sought his advice on
At sunset on the seventh day of May the raw recruits had arrived at
Castleton, fourteen miles east of Skenesborough, and Isaac himself has
given the details of that straggling march through the country, in the
first letter written to his mother after setting out as a soldier:
May the Eighth, 1775.
My Dear Mother, Father, and Children:
We have been camping here in this thicket since last night, and
there is anybody in all the company more tired of soldiering than
am, I would like to meet him. I wore a hole in the heel of my
on the second day, and got such a blister because of it that I've
obliged to go barefoot ever since.
We have had plenty to eat, for the folks along the road were most
kind; but it's sleeping that has been the worst on me, though the
corporal says I never can hope to be a soldier till I'm able to
down in three or four inches of water and get as much rest as I
at home in bed. I tell him I don't hope to be one any more, for
had about enough of it, though of course I shall stick by the
till we've taken the fort, and it's pretty certain we shall do
because now there are two hundred and seventy men in the ranks.
Colonel Easton enlisted thirty-nine of his militia before we got
Bennington, and there we were joined by the Green Mountain Boys
the command of Colonel Ethan Allen.
It surprised me to find that a good many of the people don't
we are doing right in trying to take away the fort from the
troops, and the corporal says that unless this thing is a success
are all like to be hanged for traitors, because his majesty will
an example of them who are foremost in the workwhich means us.
Two hours after we halted last night Colonel Benedict Arnold, who
said to have gone from New Haven as captain of a company, to
Cambridge, arrived here with a few men and a large amountso it
to meof military supplies.
Although knowing that Colonel Allen is in charge of this force,
claimed the right to take command, and, so the corporal says,
display of a commission signed by the Massachusetts Committee of
Safety, declaring that it entitled him to take charge of all the
troops. Now, although I'm not a soldierthe corporal says I
will beI've got sense enough to understand that if I enlisted
Colonel Easton, and was willing he should give way to Colonel
we might have the Green Mountain Boys with us, the Massachusetts
Committee of Safety have got nothing to do with saying who shall
in the battlethough I hope to goodness we shan't see one.
The corporal says that no committee is going to scare Ethan
and it's certain, so those of the Green Mountain Boys with whom
talked say, that this stranger won't get himself into command of
company, even though, as is said, he brings one hundred pounds in
money, two hundred pounds' weight of gunpowder, the same of
balls, and one thousand flints, to carry all of which, and
has ten horses.
Now, the corporal claims that these things, including the money,
munitions of war, and that if Colonel Arnold doesn't deliver them
to Colonel Allen, they will be taken from him, and he, Corporal
I mean, went early this morning to Master Phelps, offering to see
it that this property was delivered up to us; but for some reason
otherneither the corporal nor I can understand whathis offer
I have heard it said, and the corporal is of the opinion it is
that when the council of war was held last night before this
from New Haven arrived, Colonel Allen was chosen commander of the
whole expedition, Colonel Easton second in command, and Seth
third. It was decided that the greater number of us, with the
principal officers, would march from here to Shorehamwhich you
is opposite Ticonderogaand Captain Herrick with thirty men
the same time go to Skenesborough to capture young Major Skene,
father, the governor, is now in England; seize all the boats they
find, and join us at Shoreham. Captain Douglas is to go to Panton
a small troop, and get whatever craft is in the water roundabout.
corporal says he shall be quite well satisfied with this
providing the remainder of the plan is mapped out as he thinks
However, nobody seems to know whether Colonel Arnold will manage
get his commission from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety
recognized as good and sufficient authority for him to lord it
our people, and we ask each other what will become of his
war in case he doesn't, or how may the plans be changed if he
What I can't understand in this whole business is why the
shouldn't be the third officer in command, instead of Master
who I have no doubt is a very worthy gentleman; but of course
claim to be any such soldier as Corporal 'Lige. He says there's
a lot of jealousy among officers in the army, and that's why he
to be given a chance to show how much he can do.
The food I brought from home was used up the second daythe
had what he called a 'coming appetite'and perhaps it was just
well, for I had all the load any fellow could want to carry. I
believed before leaving home that father's musket was so heavy; I
it over my shoulder until it seemed as if the flesh was worn
down to the bone; then lugged it in my hand till my arm ached as
was going to drop off, and I verily believe I would have thrown
thing away but that Corporal 'Lige said a soldier didn't amount
very much unless he had a weapon of some kind.
The corporal says I am to give you his dutiful compliments, and
say that if his life is spared, by the blessing of God, he will
capture Ticonderoga before we come back.
As for me, I wish I was at home now, though it will be a fine
if we do what the old man says is our duty in these times,
I haven't yet found out why people think there is so much honor
gained in being a soldier. To my mind it's much like any other
running around the country; but the corporal says if he had the
management of affairs things would be different, because he'd
men right up to their work, though I don't see how it could well
done. For my part, I shouldn't carry a musket over my shoulder
was lame and tired just because any man said so. It would be as
whatever fashion I lugged it, providing the labor was lessened;
the corporal says it would make all the difference in the world
marched the same as we would at a muster.
I love you all very much, and shall be precious glad to find
at home again.
From your obedient and dutiful son,
In this letter the young recruit, who although having enjoyed the
teachings of Corporal 'Lige, was certainly not a soldier at heart, has
told the main facts in the case regarding the halt of the militia at
Castleton; but it will be observed that his modesty was too great to
permit of his mentioning the brave part he played in the rescue of
Corporal 'Lige from the Tories.
He has failed, however, most probably through ignorance, in giving
Colonel Arnold's authority for claiming his right to lead the
That officer had brought to Cambridge from New Haven a company of
which he was the captain, and upon arriving there at once reported to
the Massachusetts Committee of Safety that it would be possible, before
the forts had been reinforced, to seize the works at Ticonderoga and
Crown Point with a comparatively small body of men.
He proceeded to organize an expedition for such a purpose, and to
this end was supplied with the money and munitions of war mentioned by
Isaac, together with a colonel's commission, which gave him the chief
command of troops, not exceeding four hundred in number, which he might
raise to accompany him against the lake fortresses.
Upon arriving at Stockbridge, in the province of Massachusetts, he
learned that another expedition had set outthat is to say the same
one Corporal 'Lige and Isaac accompaniedand after engaging officers
and men to the number of fourteen he hastened onward, overtaking the
militia as Isaac has said.
In this camp where military discipline was conspicuous by its
absence, the recruits, who had learned within the hour what had been
decided upon the night previous by the council of war, soon ascertained
the position which the officer from New Haven claimed, and knew exactly
what he proposed to do by virtue of his commission.
Even though the men had not learned such facts from their officers,
those recruits who accompanied Colonel Arnold would have at once made
the matter public.
At about the time Isaac finished the letter to his mother the
encampment was in a state bordering on insubordination.
Colonel Arnold's recruits raised in Stockbridge insisted that their
leader should command the forces, not only because he was authorized to
do so, but owing to the fact that he had the money and ammunition
necessary to carry out the plan, while the members of Colonel Allen's
regiment, known as the Green Mountain Boys were equally determined that
such honor as might be gained should be their colonel's, and in a brief
space of time these new-fledged patriots were ripe for riot.
Now was come the hour when Corporal 'Lige had shown him some portion
of that consideration which he believed due his experience in military
Those members of Colonel Easton's militia regiment which had joined
the expedition, jealous because their leader had given way to Colonel
Allen, now demanded loudly and publicly that he must lead the party or
they would turn back.
Inasmuch, however, as this portion of the troops amounted to fifty
or thereabouts, they had a small showing when the Green Mountain boys,
who were more than two hundred strong, came forth in turn with their
Colonel Allen was to be retained first in command, as had been
decided upon the previous evening, or they should march back to
Bennington without an hour's delay.
On the other hand, the men from Stockbridge insisted that Colonel
Arnold was the lawful commander because he was the only one who held a
commission for such purpose, and threatened that neither money nor
munitions of war should be given up unless his claims were fully
On this morning of the eighth of May the men were divided into three
divisions according to their opinions, and it seemed much as if the
officers were willing they should settle it without interference, for
those highest in command remained in council among themselves, giving
no heed to the threats which were uttered here and there until it
seemed positive personal encounters must soon take the place of words.
The men from round about Pittsfield, recognizing the need of a
leader in what might properly be termed a mutiny, selected Corporal
'Lige as if by common consent, and Isaac had but just written his
mother's name on the missive which had cost him so much labor, when he
and the corporal were surrounded by the faction to which belonged their
neighbors and friends.
One of these, a butcher, whose home was in Pittsfield, thus
addressed the old man, using at the beginning of his remark just that
compliment best calculated to please him.
You, who have had so much experience in military affairs, Corporal
'Lige, should be able to settle this matter without any great loss of
time, for according to my way of thinking it must be arranged among the
men themselves, or not at all.
I have seen plenty of fightin', the corporal began slowly, as if
undecided what words had best be used; but it was in the king's army,
as you well know, and there every one in command held their commission
from his majesty, which plainly said he was to be the leader. Now it
seems in this 'ere case that the only officer who has any real
authority is the one from New Haven
A chorus of derisive howls interrupted the old man, and not a few of
his neighbors accused him of being a traitor because he was apparently
on the point of giving his decision in favor of the stranger.
Waiting patiently until they had exhausted their anger, and were
silent once more, he continued placidly:
As I said before it seems to me the only one with any show of
authority is the officer from New Haven; but, and Corporal 'Lige
emphasized this word, but what do you know of this 'ere Massachusetts
Committee of Safety? Accordin' to my way of figurin', that body of men
are lookin' out for matters round about Boston, and we've got with us
recruits all the way from Pittsfield up to Bennington, none of whom are
given overmuch to heedin' what the Boston folks think is right or
wrong. Therefore I say, that while the officer from New Haven seems to
have the only real authority, it strikes me that his commission does
not extend as far as this 'ere spot, where we are encamped.
Again he was interrupted; but this time by cries expressive of
satisfaction and good will.
We were the ones who started the idea of taking the fort, a
recruit from Pittsfield cried, and that being the case I hold we've
got the right to say who shall lead us.
But the Green Mountain Boys won't go except their colonel is in
command, another added, and a third cried:
The men of Stockbridge will hold to Colonel Arnold, and won't go on
Well, I've heard all that before, Corporal 'Lige said in a tone of
fine irony. If you have come to me to repeat the same story that has
been goin' 'round the encampment since daybreak, why then you are
wastin' your time. If you want my opinion so that this thing can be put
right in short order, hold your tongues, an' I'll give it.
Let Corporal 'Lige finish.
He is soldier enough to know what should be done.
Go on, corporal, go on.
This evidence of popularity was most pleasing to the old man, and
smiling benignantly upon those nearest, he said, with the air of one
who cannot be in the wrong:
This is how it must be done: Let them as come with Colonel Easton,
stick to him; the Green Mountain Boys shall hang to the tail of Colonel
Allen's coat, and the Stockbridge men may follow Colonel Arnold. That
makes three bands of us. Now, mark you, lads, there are three sides to
that 'ere fortone apiece. Let us meet here at whatever hour you will,
and then start on the minute, each troop taking a different course, an'
them who arrive first an' capture the fortification, gets the credit.
But we are needing what Colonel Arnold brought with him, someone
Ay, and you would have heard me fix that if you'd waited. Where did
this 'ere Massachusetts Committee of Safety get these munitions of war
an' this money? Why, they got it out of the province, of course. And
where did we come from? Why, we come from the province of
Massachusetts, of course. Then who does this money and these munitions
of war belong to? Why, they belong to us, of course. Now, as near as I
have heard, there are only fourteen following Colonel Arnold. How long
will it take us to lay our hands on all that stuff? Then I guarantee
that Colonel Eastonfor if he wants me to do it I'll help him in
conducting the campaignwill march straight through an' take
Ticonderoga before you've had time to say Jack Robinson. Never mind
what the Green-Mountain Boys do, an' as for the Stockbridge men, they
ain't enough for the countin'.
The advice which Corporal 'Lige had given met with the unqualified
approval of all whom he addressed, and instantly shouts were raised in
his honor until those recruits who were not in the secret looked about
them in alarm and dismay as if fearing an attack.
Isaac was frightened, of that there could be no mistake.
It seemed to him as if an immediate and unquestionably dangerous
encounter could not be prevented, for already were the men hanging
about Corporal 'Lige in a dense body as bees hang about their queen
when swarming, all urging that he lead them on to wrest from the
Stockbridge men the property which he had proven did not belong to
Isaac glanced this way and then as if trying to determine in which
direction it would be safest to flee, but at this moment his eyes fell
upon a lad of about his own age, who had come in from the highway and
was staring about him in perplexity.
CHAPTER V. NATHAN BEMAN.
In his fear and trouble it seemed to Isaac as if this stranger might
render him some valuable assistance.
It was as if he stood alone amid the recruits, now that Corporal
'Lige had been claimed, so to speak, as leader of the Pittsfield
faction, and the lad needed some one to whom he could appeal for
Therefore it was that while the new-comer was staring about him as
if distracted by the tumult, Isaac approached in the most friendly
manner as he asked:
Are you a recruit?
What do you mean by that?
Do you belong to the soldiers here?
Do you call these soldiers? the stranger asked almost
Well, if they ain't, what do you call them?
They look to me like a crowd of folks what was goin' to have a
fight pretty soon.
That's jest what I'm afraid of. Say, do you live near here?
No, I came from Shoreham. We heard there was a crowd comin' to take
Fort Ticonderoga, an' seein's how they didn't get along very fast, I
thought I'd come an' hunt 'em up. Do you count yourself a soldier?
I did when I left Pittsfield; but I've kind'er got over that
feelin' now. What's your name?
Mine's Isaac Rice.
What made you come out with a crowd like this?
All the folks 'round our way was enlisting, and they said it was
the duty of everybody to fight against the king. Besides that the
corporal was going, an' he agreed to put me through in great shape.
Who's the corporal?
That's him over there with the red coat on.
Do you allow an old chap like him could put anybody through in very
You mustn't talk like that about Corporal 'Lige where anybody will
hear you. Why, he's a regular soldier; fought under General Abercrombie
in '58, an' I reckon if it hadn't been for him the king's troops would
have got it terrible bad.
An' that's about the way they did get it.
Well, Corporal 'Lige is here now, an' it'll be different. Did you
ever see the fort?
See it? Why, I'm over there pretty near very week. Our folks sell
eggs an' chickens an' such truck to the garrison, an' I know the place
jest like I do my own home.
Do you s'pose we can take it?
There seems to be a sight of you here; but I shouldn't want to make
a guess till after I'd seen whether there's going to be a row among all
hands or not. Father says when thieves fall out honest men get their
However frightened Isaac might be, he was not disposed to allow any
boy of his own size to call the members of this army thieves, even
though they were in a state of insubordination, and forgetting all his
fears he demanded sternly:
Who are you calling thieves?
Now, you needn't get so huffy, 'cause I didn't mean anything,
Nathan replied quietly, and yet with no show of alarm; but father is
always sayin' that, an' I s'pose it meanswell I don't know what,
except that all hands of you are fightin' here, an' it looks like as if
Captain Delaplace would get the best of it.
The commandant of the fort, of course.
Well, see here, Nathan, it begins to look as though there was goin'
to be a row for a fact, and I hoped you lived close by so I could go to
your house till it was over.
But you're a soldier, ain't you?
Not much of one.
Well, if you've enlisted, a fight is right where you belong, and
Nathan appeared to think this settled the matter beyond any argument.
I ain't so certain of that; but even if I do belong in a fight I
shan't stay in one. It seems like as if Corporal 'Lige had turned me
off, an' all he's thinking about is helping our crowd get the best of
Well, there ain't anything very dangerous here yet awhile; suppose
we wait an' see how things turn? I don't care overmuch for fightin'
myself; but that's no reason why I shouldn't want to know whether
there's likely to be a row or not.
Isaac admired the courage of his new acquaintance and immediately
adopted him as a protector, taking up his position a pace or two in the
rear of Nathan as he watched the threatening movements.
The recruits from Pittsfield and vicinity were standing in close
order with the corporal at their head, evidently ready for whatever
turn might come in affairs.
Some of them retained their weapons; but the majority appeared to
have more confidence in their fists, and with arms bared to the elbow
were awaiting the word which would precipitate them upon the small body
from Stockbridge who guarded the treasure.
This last detachment had either learned of the advice given by
Corporal 'Lige, or scented danger because they were so few in numbers
as compared with the other two factions, and were standing shoulder to
shoulder ready to resist an expected attack.
A short distance away the Green-Mountain Boys remained strictly by
themselves; but not giving any sign of taking part in the lawless
proceedings. So long as Ethan Allen was considered the head of the
expedition they were satisfied to stand aloof from any brawl.
As has been said before, the leading officers were nowhere to be
seen; some of the better informed declared they were in the shelter
near by which had been used as their quarters during the night, and
with Colonel Arnold were discussing the question of superiority in
Corporal 'Lige hesitated to give the word which should precipitate
He had been elevated to the position of leader and perhaps the
responsibility weighed heavily upon him, for certain it is that after
advising what should be done, he evinced a disposition to retire from
what might be the scene of a conflict.
Look here, old man, we're ready to do as you have said. Now give
the word and lead us on to those recruits. We'll soon find out what
they're made of, one of the men said as the corporal turned toward the
rear much as though intending to join Isaac and Nathan:
Yes, give the word. This is your plan, and we're ready to carry it
out as you have said!
Fair an' easy; fair an' easy, comrades, Corporal 'Lige said
soothingly. A good general doesn't depend wholly on his plan until
he's made certain of the enemy's position. You don't allow that we can
rush in hilter-skilter an' hope to work our purpose, eh?
Why not? There are only a dozen of them to near fifty of us.
But look at Colonel Allen's regiment.
Well, what of them? They are not in this quarrel, for their
commander is leader of the expedition so far.
No, they are not in it, the corporal said; but what assurance
have we they won't take a hand as soon as we begin operations? Don't
you allow they know what the Stockbridge men brought with them?
Why, everybody in camp knows that.
Then do you suppose they're goin' to stand by idly while we take
the money and munitions?
The men began to murmur among themselves, and Corporal 'Lige
appeared well satisfied that they should thus consume the time; but
before many minutes had passed one and another spoke derisively of the
old man, asking what his plan was good for if he didn't dare carry it
out, or why he had not made mention of what Colonel Allen's men might
do in event of his suggestion being acted upon?
At first the corporal was not minded to take heed of these
disparaging remarks; but as the clamor increased he was forced to
defend himself, and made answer sharply:
The plan was good, and the only one likely to succeed. When I got
that far with it you jumped to the idea that it should be worked out at
once. Now all the while I was keeping my eye fixed on Colonel Allen's
men, tryin' to make up my mind what they'd do when we struck the first
blow, and I haven't decided yet.
You're a coward! You claimed to be an old soldier, and to know more
of warfare than any one in this encampment, not excepting the
commanders, but yet you don't dare lead fifty men against a dozen!
If I don't dare it isn't because I'm afraid of bodily injury; but I
can't afford to stake my reputation as a soldier where the chances are
likely to be so heavy against us. It's one thing to have a good plan,
an' just as important to know when to carry it out. If we hang together
an' are ready to take advantage of the first opportunity that comes,
then we'll be showing our strength; but not by rushing in
hilter-skilter like a crowd of boys primed for a rough-an'-tumble
Corporal 'Lige's argument was evidently considered a good one, for
at once the outcries which had been raised against him died away, the
men yet remaining in position as if ready to act upon any suggestion he
I don't reckon there's goin' to be much trouble 'round here after
all, Nathan said in a tone of disappointment, and Isaac gave vent to a
sigh of relief. It strikes me that old man crawled out of a pretty
Do you mean to say he wouldn't dare do what the men wanted?
Well, he would be a pretty poor stick if he didn't. There's four of
this crowd to one of that. What I allow is he's afraid of the officers,
and if this is any kind of a military company he's got good cause to
be, accordin' to the way things run up to the fort. There you wouldn't
hear privates tellin' who should command 'em, an' who shouldn't, else
they'd find themselves in trouble.
At this moment a great shout went up from the Green-Mountain Boys,
and as the two factions who had stood facing each other ready for the
encounter glanced around quickly, they saw Colonel Ethan Allen
Then the Stockbridge men set up a shout, for Colonel Arnold stepped
to Allen's side as if of equal rank, and the Pittsfield detachment
remained silent, because Colonel Easton was walking in the rear of
these two officers.
It looks as if our colonel had given in, an' wasn't countin' on
standin' up for his own rights, Corporal 'Lige said mournfully. Let
one of you run over there an' tell him what we're ready to do. Say
we'll begin the scrimmage as soon as he gives the word.
This order was obeyed, and the little troop watched the messenger as
he approached the colonel, and, without so much as touching his cap by
way of salute, spoke earnestly during a few seconds.
Then Colonel Easton was seen to shake his head decidedly, and the
man returned to his fellows looking thoroughly ashamed.
What's the matter? Corporal 'Lige asked sharply.
He says if we had any idea of our duties as soldiers we should be
less ready to advise and more eager to obey.
There's a good deal of sense in that, the corporal said
thoughtfully; but at the same time I claim matters are in such shape
that we're justified in making the proposition. When a body of men have
got a commander what won't stand up for himself, it's time the rank and
file took the matter in hand.
Is that what you call good soldiering? Nathan Beman asked shrilly,
and Isaac clutched his new friend by the arm frantically for it alarmed
him that any one should dare ask such a bold question of the corporal.
The old man turned around angrily; opened his mouth as if to speak,
and then, repenting of his purpose, faced the on-coming officers once
more, much as if to say that such a question from such a questioner was
not worthy of regard.
The group of officers advanced until they were standing at equal
distances from each of the three factions, and Colonel Allen said,
speaking slowly and distinctly, looking at the forces from Stockbridge
It is no secret that you men are disgruntled because I have been
chosen commander of the expedition. You are enlisted as militia from
the province of Massachusetts and as enroled men have no voice in
choosing a commander. Therefore I propose to make no explanation of the
matter; but have taken this opportunity to address you in order to say
that, by the advice and with the consent of the others in command,
those of you who cannot obey such orders as may be given regardless of
who is the leader, had best return home from this point. It shall not
be counted against you as deserters, for the names of those who are
unwilling to serve cheerfully will be stricken quietly from the rolls,
without any mention whatever, dishonorable or otherwise. Colonel Arnold
presents himself with due authority from the province of Massachusetts
to take command of any troops not exceeding four hundred which may be
raised for the purpose of attacking Fort Ticonderoga. Under all the
circumstances he has decided to wave his claim of rank and act as
volunteer until the purpose for which we have advanced be accomplished.
Now, then, those of you who cannot obey my orders, step to the right.
The Green-Mountain Boys began to raise shouts of approval, but their
colonel checked them by saying sternly:
Silence in the ranks! Let no man dare give voice to his approval or
disapproval of what may occur in this encampment!
It was as if Colonel Easton believed some of his men might take
advantage of the opportunity, and stepping quickly to the side of
Allen, he said:
Lads, when the question came up last night as to who should lead
this expedition, I cast the first vote for Colonel Allen. He is a
soldier of much experience and great ability. It is my earnest desire
that he take upon himself the responsibility of directing our
movements, and whatsoever he orders shall be performed by me faithfully
Colonel Arnold made no attempt to address his men, and the three
officers stood in silence several moments, after which Allen said:
Because none of you have signified your desire to be relieved from
the enlistment, we will suppose all are willing to go forward, and from
now out there can be no excuse for insubordination or hesitation.
This said, the officers withdrew once more, and now that their
colonel was no longer there to check them the Green Mountain Boys set
up a shout of triumph, which was answered by derisive yells from
Corporal 'Lige's troop, and apparent indifference by the men from
I reckon I may as well go home now, Nathan said in a low tone to
Isaac. There don't seem to be any chance of a row because the men are
going to give in easy enough; but I'd like to see 'em find their way
into the fort. It ain't so easy as they're countin' on.
Who is this boy, Isaac? Corporal 'Lige asked as he stepped toward
the lads, apparently glad of an opportunity to disengage himself from
those who had shown they were ready to obey his commands.
Isaac gave such explanation as was within his power, and the old man
asked, addressing Nathan:
What do you know about Fort Ticonderoga?
The boy made reply much as he had to Isaac, and the corporal
questioned him sharply:
Have you been allowed to roam over the fortification at will?
There was no reason why I shouldn't. I know all the boys who live
in the fort, an' after I finished what I went for, who'd stop us from
How many soldiers are there in the place?
Somewhere about fifty, I should think.
Women and children?
Yes, 'most twice as many, I reckon, though I never counted 'em.
And you say you know all the ins and outs of the fort?
Look here, how many times do you want me to tell you? Of course I
do; but what's that got to do with you?
Nathan spoke in such a disrespectful tone that Isaac literally
trembled lest the corporal should fall upon him in his wrath.
Wait you here till I come back, an' see to it that you don't move
from this spot.
The corporal gave this command in his sternest tones, and without
waiting for a reply hastened off in the direction where the officers
had disappeared, while Nathan stood looking at his new acquaintance in
mingled surprise and bewilderment.
Now, what does that old man mean when he tells me to wait here?
What right's he got to order me 'round?
Don't get disgruntled, Isaac said imploringly. I tell you he's a
great soldier, and you'll see that his order means something, 'cause
the corporal don't make foolish talk.
Then, what was it I heard when I come up here an' he was tellin'
the men what to do, but backed down after findin' they were ready to
That part of it was all right. The time hadn't come for him to
carry out his plans, and he explained it. Couldn't you hear him?
I heard what he said; but that didn't deceive me.
Then Isaac explained with many a detail why the old man was the
ablest soldier in the encampment, and while he was trying to convince
the skeptical Nathan, Corporal 'Lige returned, looking very important
You're to come with me, he said tapping Nathan on the shoulder.
Where? the boy asked sharply.
I said you were to come with me.
Well, you may say it again before I go. I want to know what you're
thinkin' of doin'. I ain't one of these make-believe soldiers that can
be ordered 'round by such as you.
During an instant the corporal glowered at the boy as if of a mind
to chastise him for his too familiar words, and then Isaac interposed
to save his new-found friend from what he feared would be most severe
He'll go with you, Corporal 'Lige; don't be angry with him. You see
he's a stranger here, an' doesn't understand what
I understand enough not to go till I know what he's about, Nathan
cried angrily, wrenching himself free from Isaac's detaining grasp and
leaping back a few paces.
The corporal clapped his hand to his side as if to raise a sword,
and then realizing that he had no such weapon, said in a remarkably
I told Colonel Allen that you were well acquainted with the
interior of the fort, and he would speak with you a few moments.
Well, if you'd said that in the first place I would have been
willing; but when you jumped down on me as if I was one of these
recruits, I wasn't goin' to stand it.
If you are willin' to come, follow me.
Am I to go with you? Isaac asked pleadingly, and the corporal
hesitated an instant before replying:
Yes, lad, I don't reckon it'll do any harm, and it may give you an
insight into the way we manage military affairs.
CHAPTER VI. A SQUAD OF FOUR.
Isaac was in high glee at thus being permitted to visit
headquarters, for even though he went there only by permission of
Corporal 'Lige and not because his presence was desired, it seemed to
him that it was in a certain degree a recognition of the possible fact
that he was really a soldier.
Nathan Beman, however, did not appear to think there was any
compliment in the invitation. Naturally of a suspicious nature, he
fancied in some way this visit might work to his harm, and, in
addition, he was displeased by the air of superiority which was
observable in the corporal when he addressed any remark to the lad.
The old soldier walked several paces in advance of the boys, and did
not appear to think it necessary he should look around to see if they
were following, for in his mind a request to visit headquarters was the
same as an imperative command, and one which no sane person would
venture to disobey.
I suppose he thinks he can tow me 'round wherever he likes, and
I've got a mind to show him he can't, Nathan said to Isaac, motioning
with his thumb toward the corporal.
It's Colonel Allen who wants to see you, Isaac ventured to suggest
How do you know?
Why Corporal 'Lige said so.
I ain't certain that makes it true, 'cause he's said a good many
things that don't amount to much since I've been around this place.
But the corporal wouldn't lie, Isaac said solemnly, and Nathan
added with a peculiar smile:
Oh, no, he wouldn't lie!
See here, what have you got against the corporal?
Me? Why should I have anything against him?
That's what puzzles me; but it seems as though you didn't think
very much of him.
Neither do I. I've seen soldiers up 'round Ticonderoga, not
make-believes like the old man, who is all talk an' no substance.
Isaac's face flushed. He was not disposed to let this stranger make
sport of Corporal 'Lige, whom he knew was thoroughly versed in the art
of warfare, and a brave man withal; but before he had decided in his
own mind how the most telling reproof could be administered, they
arrived at headquarters, which was neither more nor less than a shelter
built of pine boughs, situate so far from the main encampment as to
afford some degree of seclusion.
Isaac judged from the eager look on the faces of the officers that
this visit was considered by them of more importance than it was by
Nathan, and instantly Corporal 'Lige saluted, Colonel Allen asked:
Are both the lads acquainted with the fort?
No, colonel; here is the one who lives up Shoreham way, and he
touched Nathan on the shoulder. This, he added, motioning toward
Isaac, is a recruit I have taken under my protection.
It was evident that Colonel Allen came nearer Nathan's standard of a
soldier than Corporal 'Lige, for he stood in a respectful attitude
before the officer as if recognizing the latter's right to question
Is your father alive? the colonel asked.
Yes, sir; he owns a farm up on the lake.
How often have you visited the fort within the past year?
Mostly twice a week, sir; never less than once.
Then you are sufficiently well acquainted with the troops to be
able to gain admission at any time?
Yes, sir; father sells a lot of truck there, an' I mostly carry it
Are you known to Captain Delaplace?
Yes, sir, and his wife as well.
What brought you here, lad?
We heard it said there was a lot of soldiers marchin' up this way,
and I didn't have much of anything to do, so come down to have a look
Is it generally known near about where you live that troops are
marching toward the fort?
I don't think so, sir. Simon York, a trapper, told father, and it
was agreed between them that nothing should be spoken about it lest the
news get out.
Do you know how many soldiers there are in the fort now?
Near about fifty, sir.
Hark you, lad, are you minded to do a service for those who would
strike a blow against the king?
I suppose that would depend on what it was, an' how much I'd make
out of it, Nathan replied cautiously.
Then you are not of the mind to do anything toward establishing the
independence of the coloniesit is simply a question of shillings and
Well, sir, perhaps it is something like that, Nathan replied,
growing confused. Father thinks since the news came from Concord and
Lexington that all the provincials ought to turn to and show their
mettle; but mother says so long as the king's troops buy truck and pay
good prices for it, it is our business to see that we don't take the
bread and butter out of our own mouths.
I understand; yours is what might be called a divided household,
and Colonel Allen looked around with a smile at his companions.
I guess I don't know what you mean by that, sir; but things our way
are about as I have told you.
Corporal 'Lige glowered at the boy who thus unblushingly announced
that he measured his patriotism by its value in money, and Isaac
wondered that a lad so young could talk thus pertly to one as high in
authority as was Colonel Ethan Allen.
If you should be paid six shillings, would you be willing to guide
one of these gentlemen into the fort and come back with him to where
our troops might then be stationed?
Which one wants to go? Nathan asked, not intending to commit
himself until the full details were given.
This gentleman, and Colonel Allen pointed toward Master Phelps,
one of the Committee from the Connecticut Assembly.
Nathan looked at him critically a moment, and then asked, as if
suspicious some portion of the plan was being kept secret from him:
Does he want to see Captain Delaplace?
He simply wishes to view the fort, and it would be necessary you
should pretend he was a neighbor who had come with no other motive than
that of curiosity.
You couldn't pass him off for any neighbor of our'n.
'Cause he's dressed too fine, an' his face is so pale that
anybody'd know he didn't live 'round here.
All that may be readily changed, Master Phelps interrupted. I'll
promise to look so nearly like one of your neighbors that there shall
be no question raised.
When do I get the six shillings? Nathan asked.
After you have performed the work faithfully to the extent of
bringing Master Phelps back to me, Colonel Allen replied, now speaking
quite sharply. It would be a serious matter indeed if you were to
betray him to the commandant of the fort, or indicate that this body of
men are near at hand.
If I take the six shillings, I'll earn 'em. It's none of my
business where you folks are, nor what's goin' on 'round the fort; all
I'm looking after is the cash I can make.
Will you undertake the task?
Yes, Nathan replied, and then, as if a sudden thought had come to
I will if this boy goes along too.
Is he a friend of yours?
I don't s'pose so, 'cause I never saw him before; but it's goin' to
be mighty pokey all alone with a man like him, and Nathan pointed to
At this point Corporal 'Lige stepped forward and saluted, thus
attracting the colonel's attention, after which he motioned toward the
outside as if to ask for a private interview.
The colonel immediately left the hut, followed by the corporal, and
Nathan looked after them suspiciously, whispering to Isaac:
Now, what do you s'pose that old imitation soldier is up to? He
mustn't try to get the best of me.
You needn't be afraid Corporal 'Lige will do anything that's wrong,
'cause he's an honest man, an' no imitation of a soldier; but a true
I ain't so certain about all that; but you seem to have a pretty
good idea of him, so perhaps he is half-way decent after all.
At his point the old soldier and the colonel returned, the latter
saying when he was inside the hut once more:
In order that you may have no lack of company I propose that Master
Phelps, Corporal Watkins, and the lad all go with you.
Who's Watkins? Nathan whispered to Isaac.
Why, that's Corporal 'Lige, of course.
I knew he was stickin' his nose into it some way.
You'll be glad to have him, 'cause he's jest as good as he can be
after you get acquainted.
Nathan remained silent a few seconds, and then asked abruptly:
When does the crowd want to go?
At once. It should be possible to visit the fort before sunset.
Well, that's accordin' to how fast they can walk; but if they
start, an' don't get there in time, father'll keep them overnight
without chargin' more'n what's right for the lodgings.
Very well; you may make ready to set out immediately, and when you
have returned the money shall be paid you.
I'm ready now.
Master Phelps will need a few moments in which to prepare himself
for the journey, and I doubt not but that the corporal and his comrade
have some belongings which they will want to take with them. Remain you
here, lad, until the others have made all necessary preparations and
are in condition for the journey.
This was a command which Nathan could not well disobey; but he
looked toward Isaac while the latter was hurried away by Corporal
'Lige, as if there were yet other questions concerning this project
which he would like to ask.
Don't turn back, lad, the old soldier said when his protégé
made a move as if to return. There's to be no time lost, and you'll
have good opportunity for talking once we're on the road.
How did it happen the colonel sent you and me? Isaac asked when
the two were so far from headquarters that his words could not be
That's owing to the hint I gave Colonel Allen when that young
skinflint made his talk. A lad who won't take sides in this matter
'twixt the colonies and the king, but holds out for whatever money he
can get, is not to be trusted, accordin' to my way of thinkin'. While
he was settin' himself down for a cold-blooded, close-fisted specimen
of humanity such as you wouldn't look for in one so young, I made up my
mind that there had best be a sharp watch kept of him, else a word or
two might be dropped at the fort which would upset all our plans.
Do you believe he would take Colonel Allen's money and then betray
I am certain a lad who would haggle for six shillings under such
circumstances as this would sell out to the next man who offered half
as much more, and the colonel was of the same mind after I'd mentioned
I don't see why I should go.
Don't you want to? the corporal asked in surprise.
Of course it would be more pleasant than marching with the troops;
but still I can't understand what good it is possible for me to do.
I don't reckon you will be of any service; but the boy had taken a
notion to have you with him, so it seemed like a good chance for me to
put my oar in, and between the two of us I reckon he won't have much
show of playing double.
In a very few seconds the corporal and Isaac had made their
preparations for the journey, which simply consisted in gathering up
all their belongings, much to the surprise of the lad, who questioned
whether, if they were to go to the fort apparently from motives of
curiosity, it was well they carried muskets.
If it seems necessary we can leave them where this boy lives; but
it is certain we cannot depend on any one else bringing our luggage
along for us, so take what we own, lad, an' then be at home wherever we
When the two returned to headquarters they found Master Phelps
awaiting their coming, and Nathan kept close and suspicious watch upon
each person and everything within his range of vision.
The messenger from the General Assembly had made a very decided
change in his personal appearance, and Isaac was forced to look twice
before feeling positive this was the same Master Phelps whom he had
seen a few moments before.
Now he was clad after the fashion of a farmer, in garments which he
had probably borrowed from some member of the troop; his face was
browned and soiled, while his hands were exceedingly dirty, and even
Nathan must have been satisfied that the commandant of the fort would
not see in this visitor other than he professed to be.
If that lad had a trifle more sense he'd understand there wasn't
anything to be gained by deceiving him, the corporal said in a low
tone to Isaac; but he's so self-opinionated he thinks everybody is
plotting mischief against him.
You don't seem to like him very well, Isaac ventured to say, and
Corporal 'Lige replied emphatically:
Neither do I.
Then unless he an' I go off by ourselves, I don't reckon this will
be a very pleasant journey, Isaac said to himself as he thought of the
corporal and Nathan, each distrusting and making complaint against the
Colonel Allen was determined there should be no delay in the setting
out of this spying expedition, and immediately the corporal and Isaac
showed themselves he insisted that the little party start without
further loss of time.
Young Beman at once showed his preference as to a traveling
companion, for he ranged himself by Isaac's side, and when the corporal
would have joined them, said curtly:
You'd better keep back with the other man. I s'pose I'll have to
lead the way, and when we strike off the main road the path ain't wide
enough for more than two.
Don't the highway lead to Shoreham? the corporal asked
Yes; but we can save more'n four miles by cuttin' through the
woods, and Nathan hurried Isaac on as a means both of putting an end
to the corporal's inquiries, and forcing him to join Master Phelps.
Once the journey was well begun young Beman presented himself in a
more favorable light.
He ceased to refer to the corporal as an imitation soldier, and
gave no further evidence of being suspicious; but questioned Isaac as
to what the town of Pittsfield was like, and concerning Boston, where
young Rice had visited two years previous in company with his father.
Master Phelps was not accustomed to this method of traveling, and
when the guide struck into the woods where the trail lead alternately
over a hilly and swampy country he was soon forced to declare that he
could not proceed at such a rapid pace.
You will have to slacken up a bit, Corporal 'Lige shouted, for
the gentleman ain't used to this kind of footin'.
We can't go very slow, else we shan't get to the fort before
sunset, Nathan replied indifferently, and Master Phelps said in a tone
which admitted of no argument:
It isn't possible for me to keep pace with you. If it so be we fail
to finish the journey before dark, we can take lodgings with your
father and accomplish our purpose early to-morrow morning.
The prospect of introducing to his father guests who would pay for
all they received, was so satisfactory to young Beman that he made no
protest at being thus forced to slacken pace. It may be he was
unnecessarily slow from this time out, for it was already dark when
they arrived at the guide's home, and Nathan said to Master Phelps
before entering the building:
I'll tell father you folks want to stay all night, and that's as
much as I need say. If you count on explaining why you have come, it's
none of my business. The officer what hired me said I was to keep quiet
about everything I'd seen down to the camp, so I might as well begin by
holding my tongue.
Then Nathan ushered the guests into the kitchen, where was found Mr.
Beman sitting by the fireplace, for the night had grown cold and chill,
while his wife was preparing the supper.
Here are some travelers who want to stay all night, Nathan
announced, and added in a lower tone to Isaac, Come out to the barn
with me while I do my chores; there's no fun in sittin' here.
Five minutes later the three men followed the boys, and Isaac
fancied it was Master Phelps' intention to explain to the farmer the
purpose of their coming, but that he feared to do so in the presence of
the mistress of the household, who, if her son had quoted her words
correctly, favored the king's representatives rather than the colonists
in the doings which had lately arisen.
Nathan took good care that his new friend should perform a full
share of the evening's work, and Isaac assisted in milking the cows,
carrying water, and chopping wood until he had of a surety earned as
bountiful a spread as could be set before him.
The farmer and his guests did not appear until they had been
summoned twice after the appetizing meal was placed upon the table, and
while she was impatiently awaiting them, Mrs. Beman questioned her son
sharply as to what business his father could have with the strangers.
For a time Nathan avoided making any direct answer; but when his
mother pressed him closely he answered her quite as pertly as he had
Colonel Allen, by saying:
I'm to be paid for holdin' my tongue about whatever is goin'
onI'll have six shillings by this time to-morrow night, an' I can't
afford to talk to anybody.
Six shillings just for holding your tongue, Nathan?
Well, it's for that an' a little more; but I ain't goin' to make
any talk, so if you want me to earn the money you'd better stop askin'
Is your father going to get as much?
I don't know anything about his trades; it's all I can do to take
care of my own, an' work 'em through accordin' to the agreement, when
there's so much questionin' goin' on, Nathan replied quite sharply,
and his mother, who was evidently as prudent as himself in financial
matters, desisted from pressing him further.
After this brief conversation Isaac felt positive Corporal 'Lige
need have no fear regarding possible treachery on Nathan's part, for if
the boy refused to tell his mother he surely would be close-mouthed in
the presence of others.
When the party finally made their appearance and were seated at the
supper table, the three men evidently on the best of terms with each
other, Mrs. Beman's curiosity was still further aroused, as was but
natural. Yet no word was dropped during the progress of the meal, nor
so long as the guests remained downstairs, which could have given her
the slightest clew.
It was Nathan's purpose to have Isaac for a bed-fellow; but to this
his mother made emphatic protest, and when the time for retiring came
the three guests were conducted to a room adjoining the kitchen, while
the farmer's family retired to the loft above.
Then it was in cautious whispers that Isaac told the corporal why he
felt confident there was no danger Nathan would betray them, and the
old soldier said grimly:
He didn't have a fair test when he was talking with his mother,
'cause there was no chance she would pay him for the information. What
I'm afeared of is that some one may offer him more than Colonel Allen
did, an' then I'll go bail everything he knows will come out in short
I don't believe he would do other than he has agreed.
Well, lad, you hold to that opinion, an' I'll have my own, an'
'twixt the two of us I reckon he won't be able to do any mischief. His
father is a proper kind of man; holds to it that the colonists are
right in making war against the king, and stands ready to do all he can
in furtherance of the cause. Therefore if this young jack-a-napes holds
himself too high an' mighty in the mornin' we shan't be wholly in his
When day dawned, however, Corporal 'Lige had no reason to complain
The lad showed himself of the mind to earn the six shillings, and
now that he was at home, appeared less suspicious of his companion's
Perhaps this was due in part to the fact that his father, well
knowing what the visitors would have, took it upon himself to give the
guide positive instructions, and at an early hour Nathan set out
accompanied by Master Phelps.
It was his intention that Isaac should be one of the party; but to
this the farmer made decided objections, insisting that more than one
stranger might cause suspicion, and therefore it was that Corporal
'Lige and his pupil remained quietly at the farm until noon of that
day, when the delegate from the Connecticut Assembly returned well
pleased with what he had seen.
In a private conversation held with the corporal he reported that
strong though the fortification was, the walls were in a state of great
dilapidation; few, if any, precautions taken against surprise; military
discipline was hardly known, and the sentinels in particular were
remiss in their duty.
Master Phelps had no difficulty in making such investigations as he
chose, and declared that in his opinion, providing the garrison could
be taken by surprise, there was nothing to prevent a capture of the
However, in order that all this might be effected, boats were
necessary, and there was not a sufficient number on the shores near
about to convey one-tenth of the men in Colonel Allen's command.
It is well you have come with me, Master Phelps said to the
corporal, for while I am returning, you and the lad, accompanied by
the farmer, shall set about seizing all the boats which may be found in
this vicinity, having due heed to your movements, however, lest you
proceed so far in the direction of Crown Point as to arouse suspicions
in that quarter. Work as expeditiously as is in your power, for the
troops will arrive here not later than midnight, and it is absolutely
necessary there be ready proper craft to convey them across the lake.
Then Master Phelps, still holding to Nathan as a guide, set off to
meet the force, which was believed to be rapidly approaching, and the
farmer said impatiently to the corporal:
If it so be, sir, you count on carrying out the orders given 'twixt
now and dark, it is time for us to be moving, for boats are not
plentiful hereabout, and we shall have a long tramp before gathering as
many as will carry your force across.
CHAPTER VII. TICONDEROGA.
It was not necessary Farmer Beman should urge Corporal 'Lige to make
haste in this matter which had been intrusted to him, for the old
soldier understood full well how necessary it was that means of
transportation for the troops should be at hand when the men arrived,
and had good reason to believe that such task as was assigned him could
not be readily performed.
He even showed himself more eager in the work than the farmer, for
when the latter would have delayed in order to eat the noonday meal,
the old man positively refused as he said:
We can have dinner after Ticonderoga has been taken, but until then
there must be no thought of rest. Although as I understand, detachments
are to be sent to Skenesborough and Panton, it is not positive they can
get boats from there to this point in time, and we must act as if
believing the matter of transportation depended wholly upon ourselves.
Had Nathan been there to witness the old man's activity after some
special work had been set for him, he might have changed his opinion
about the corporal's being an imitation soldier.
He walked here and there, tiring his companions almost to the verge
of exhaustion, and yet apparently as fresh as when he began; but when
the sun set he had only seventeen boats drawn up on the shore at that
point where it was supposed the troops would halt, and Isaac believed
there were absolutely no more within the radius of a dozen miles.
I allow you've done your best, corporal, Farmer Beman said as the
three stood looking ruefully at the small number of boats, many of
which would be loaded to the water's edge with half a dozen men, and
it now stands us in hand to get supper, considerin' we missed our
dinner so completely.
There must be no time wasted. Let Isaac run up to the house for
such provisions as your wife can spare, and we'll set out in some other
direction, for every craft that we add to this 'ere lot is jest so much
You may set out in as many directions as you choose; but you will
not find another boat this night, Farmer Beman said decidedly, and
with what was very like a show of ill-temper. I've guided you to every
place I know of, and if you are so headstrong as to keep on when
there's little show of accomplishing anything, you must go alone.
And that's exactly what I shall do, the corporal said
emphatically. Even though I knew nothing would be accomplished I
should keep on workin' until the force arrived, 'cause it isn't for me
to set down and say my task is finished.
If that's your idea of soldierin', then I'm mighty glad I haven't
enlisted, and the farmer went deliberately to his home, convinced, as
was his son, that the old corporal was not as well skilled in warfare
as he would have it appear.
Even Isaac was disposed to protest against his teacher's decision,
and urged that it was little less than folly to think of adding to the
fleet, for Farmer Beman had declared positively there were no more
boats in the vicinity.
To this the corporal replied with some warmth, and there might have
been a serious undermining of friendship had not Nathan arrived just at
Well, is that all you've done this afternoon? he asked sharply,
and the corporal turned on him fiercely.
Do you know of other boats?
Seems to me there's more'n a hundred 'round here.
Where are they?
Nathan began a list, mentioning this neighbor or that, and as often
seeing among the collection the craft to which he referred, until
finally he was forced to admit that to the best of his knowledge there
were no more.
I thought you knew of more than a hundred? Corporal 'Lige cried
That's what I reckoned myself; but when I come to figger 'em up
they wasn't there.
You come with us, an' it may be we'll find another.
What? After I've walked down to Castleton an' back to-day, I go
with you out rowin'? It'll take more'n six shillings to hire me to do
anything like that this night; besides you haven't got time before the
troops get here.
How near are they? Corporal 'Lige asked in alarm.
Well, they ought'er be showin' up by this time, for I wasn't five
minutes ahead of 'em, andthere they are now!
Nathan pointed to a group of men who had just come into the clearing
from amid the thicket, and as the old man looked up one of the party
motioned for him to approach.
Although Nathan had announced that he was nearly exhausted from his
ardent labors, his weariness was not so great as his curiosity, and he
followed the corporal and Isaac.
It was Colonel Arnold, Colonel Easton and the two representatives of
the Connecticut Assembly, who had thus come into view, and the former,
after explaining to Corporal 'Lige that the troops had been halted in
the thicket lest they might be seen from the fort even in the gloom,
asked concerning the means of transportation.
Chagrined though he was at his inability to do more, the corporal
was forced to admit that he had hardly a sufficient number of boats to
take over seventy-five or eighty of the men; but this the colonel did
not at the time believe to be of great importance, for it seemed
positive Captain Herrick from Skenesborough, and Captain Douglas from
Panton, must before midnight send craft enough to transfer the entire
Therefore it was that the leaders of the party appeared well
satisfied, and the corporal must have come to the conclusion that he
had fretted himself without reasonable cause.
You will remain in charge of the fleet, Colonel Allen said to the
old soldier, with the boy to act as your lieutenant, and you may
detail two men as oarsmen in each boat. We will set out as soon as the
remainder of the craft arrives.
Then it was that Nathan believed he saw an opportunity to add to his
earnings of the day, and made the proposition that if the further sum
of four shillings be paid him he would aid in ferrying the troops
across, providing the work could be finished before midnight; but if it
should be delayed until morning he desired to be paid twice that
No one seemed disposed to take advantage of this very generous
offer; now that his particular portion of the work had been done, it
was very much as if every one save Isaac ignored him.
That's jest the way with these people from down 'round Bennington.
They get all they can for the least money, an' then throw you off. I
ought to have held out for more'n six shillings when I took that Master
Phelps, as you call him, over to the fort.
But you got paid very well, Isaac suggested.
Yes, so far as it went; but if I'd thought of all that's going on I
would have put up my price, or held out half-hired till the business
Now for the first time since their meeting did Corporal 'Lige's
pupil speak sharply to this friend.
You should be ashamed to demand money for such work as you have
done this day, he said stoutly. Whatever resistance be made to the
king is for the benefit of all the colonies, and if each one insisted
on being paid, as you've done, his majesty might work his will, for
there would be none to say him nay.
Young Beman was both surprised and injured by this outburst.
That's what I call pretty tough, after all I've done for you! he
cried sharply. If it hadn't been for me you wouldn't have got over
here and had a chance of staying all night in our house.
I didn't have a chance without paying for it, as I understand
Master Phelps is to settle with your father for our accommodations.
Yes, an' just before I come away mother told me she thought as
likely as not father'd be such a fool as to refuse to take a cent; but
I ain't goin' to quarrel with you, even if I have been defrauded of
what is my right. Come up to the house an' get some supper, won't you?
You mean that I shall partake of the food after I have helped you
do the chores?
Well, yes, something like that. Of course you don't expect to get
your supper for nothing.
No; I'd rather go without than do more work now after tramping
around all the afternoon. There'll be something in the way of rations
found in camp, an' I'll take my chances there.
Young Beman turned away quickly as if angry with this new friend,
and observing the movement Corporal 'Lige asked Isaac:
What's the trouble with yon skinflint? Haven't been quarrelin',
I think I have seen enough of a lad who must be paid for all he
does at such a time, and having said this Isaac went in search of his
supper, not minded to make further explanations.
Weary though he was, the lad was soon forced to aid the corporal in
getting the boats' crews together, and after it was fully dark those
selected to act as oarsmen were marched to the water's edge, that they
might be in readiness when their services were required.
After this there was nothing to be done save await the coming of the
The men were not allowed to build fires lest the lights should be
seen by those in the fort, and so cautious was the leader that even
loud talking was forbidden, therefore the men could do little else than
spend the time in sleeping, a fact by no means disagreeable to the
majority after their march of the day.
On the shore of the lake the oarsmen followed the example of their
comrades in the woods, until all save the corporal and Isaac were
wrapped in the unconsciousness of slumber.
The old soldier, considering himself responsible for the safety of
the fleet, would neither lie down nor allow his young lieutenant to do
so, and they paced to and fro on the sand keeping sharp lookout for the
expected boats, but without avail.
Midnight came, and yet no word from either of the two detachments
which had been sent in search of means of transportation.
Colonel Allen and Colonel Arnold, growing impatient because of the
long delay, came to the shore, and Corporal 'Lige stood stiff as the
barrel of his own musket when he saluted.
How many can be taken in the boats you have here? Colonel Arnold
Somewhere about eighty, sir, and if it so be you give the word we
can ferry the whole party across in three trips.
That would never do, Colonel Arnold replied decidedly. We must go
in a body or give up all hope of surprising the garrison.
In this Colonel Allen was agreed, and the two officers remained near
at hand, now pacing to and fro, and again listening intently for those
sounds which would tell of the hoped-for arrival, until it lacked no
more than two hours of daybreak, when they were joined by Master Phelps
and Colonel Easton, the latter saying sufficiently loud for Isaac to
distinguish the words:
Unless such a move is made as may be possible with the means at our
disposal, the plan of capturing the fort has come to naught, for it
isn't reasonable to suppose our party can remain in this vicinity
throughout to-morrow without some intimation being given the commandant
by those who live in the vicinity.
What was evidently a conversation between the officers followed; but
it was conducted in so low a tone that Isaac could not hear the words,
and he remained near at hand expecting to receive the order to launch
the boats, until Colonel Easton called him by name.
You know where is situated the home of the lad who guided Master
Phelps into the fort?
Oh, yes, sir; it is but a short distance from here.
Go you there, and bring the boy.
I question if he will come, sir, unless I make explanation of why
he is wanted, or promise that he shall be paid for thus disturbing
himself. He seems to have no thought save of money.
Yet, his father is with us in this matter, I am told, so far as
Then go and rouse the lad; if he refuses to come, say to the father
that Colonel Allen requires the services of the boy, and if he answers
not what we make as a request, I will send a detachment to enforce a
Isaac obeyed promptly, not finding it a simple matter to make his
way across the field in the darkness; but finally succeeding after one
or two tumbles, each of which left their marks in the shape of a
scratch or contusion, and with the first knock at the door he heard
Farmer Beman's voice asking as to who was there.
It is Isaac Rice, sir, and Colonel Easton has sent me to say that
Colonel Allen desires the attendance of Nathan at once.
What does he want him for? the shrill voice of Mrs. Beman cried,
and Isaac replied truthfully that he did not know, since no explanation
had been made him.
Then could be heard the farmer, his wife, and son in what was
evidently an altercation, until no less than five minutes had passed,
at the end of which time young Nathan appeared in the doorway fully
clad, as he asked impatiently:
How much are they willing to give me for coming out in the night
I think it would be well if you depended upon their generosity,
otherwise it is in Colonel Allen's power to force you to do as he
asks, Isaac replied curtly, and from the inside Farmer Beman shouted:
Get you gone, boy, and do their bidding. If I again hear you
demanding money for such services, your jacket shall be tanned with the
stoutest hickory switch I can get hereabouts.
One would have said young Beman was the most abused lad in the
province of New York, as he followed Isaac down to the shore,
alternately bewailing his ill-fortune because he had not given Captain
Delaplace information of the coming of such a body of men, trusting to
that officer's generosity for a greater sum of money than was given him
by Colonel Allen, and vehemently protesting he would not stir one step
from the encampment without being well paid for his services. Colonel
Easton, overhearing this threat, stepped directly in front of the
grumbling lad and called for Corporal 'Lige, much to the surprise of
both the boys, saying when the old soldier arrived:
Corporal, it is Colonel Allen's wish that this lad remain near him
after we have landed on the other side, to show the way into the fort.
He is not disposed to do so willingly, it seems, and it shall be your
duty to see that the order be obeyed. If he attempts to escape, shoot
him down; but give him gentle treatment so long as he complies with
I'll take care of him, sir, that you may depend on, the corporal
said grimly, and from that instant Nathan Beman remained silent
regarding his desire to be paid for acting the part of guide.
Because of having received this order the corporal was forced to
relinquish his position as commodore of the fleet, and thus it was that
he and his pupil were among the few who entered Ticonderoga early that
Within five minutes after Nathan had apparently been subdued, word
was passed for as many of the Green Mountain Boys as could be conveyed
in the boats to embark at once, and almost at the same moment Colonel
Easton, turning to the old man, said:
It is your duty, Corporal 'Lige, to take passage in the same craft
that carries our leader, for the lad of whom you have charge must be
kept where Colonel Allen can speak to him at an instant's notice.
Had the men been allowed to follow their inclinations, the frail
boats which formed the fleet would have been swamped even before they
pushed off from the shore, for every member of the troop was eager to
be with the first division, and it was only after considerable
difficulty in the way of restraining the men that the different craft
were properly and safely loaded.
When the corporal and the lad who was thus virtually held prisoner
entered the boat where was Colonel Allen, Isaac followed as if it was
his right so to do.
He could not fancy any position of affairs where he would be
debarred from remaining with the man who had taken him under his
wing, and it so chanced that in the excitement of embarking he passed
aboard unheeded by who might have checked him.
The darkness of night was just giving way to the gray light of dawn
when the little fleet put off from the shore, and without being really
aware he did so, Isaac counted the number of those who were thus
Beside the officers, there were eighty-three, including himself and
Nathan, and it was no longer reasonable to expect that those who had
been sent to Skenesborough and Panton would arrive in time to be of
Will they try to take the fort with so few? he asked in a whisper
of Corporal 'Lige, and the latter added emphatically:
If all that is told of Colonel Allen be true, he wouldn't hesitate
to make an attempt single-handed.
But surely we cannot hope to do much, for fifty men behind a fort
should be a much larger force than ours.
Savin' and exceptin' these men be surprised, as our leader counts
them in Fort Ticonderoga will be, the corporal replied, and then
placed his finger on his lips that the lad should cease talking, for
the order had been passed from boat to boat just before the fleet left
the shore that no conversation be indulged in.
Nathan, sulky because of having been put in charge of the man whom
he disliked, gave no apparent attention to anything.
In almost perfect silence the journey by water was made, and brought
to an end just as the day was breaking, when, in obedience to signals
rather than words, the men disembarked and were formed in three ranks
close to the water's edge.
Then it was that Colonel Allen advanced to where the men might hear
when he spoke in the tone of ordinary conversation, and said with a
calmness which in itself was impressive:
There are but few of us here to undertake the work which was cut
out; but yet each of you should be a match for any two whom we may
meet. Should we delay until all the force can be ferried across, there
will be no longer opportunity to surprise the garrison; therefore we
must act for our comrades as well as ourselves, remembering that should
we falter we cast shame on them also. Now, lads, it is my purpose to
march into the fort, and I only ask that you follow where I lead.
The officers stepped forward quickly to make certain there should be
no cheering, and wheeling about with true military precision Colonel
Allen started forward, Colonel Arnold by his side, and Corporal 'Lige
with Nathan and Isaac directly in the rear.
Behind them came eighty of the Green Mountain Boys.
There was no command given.
Each of the men copied the movements of the leader, and noiselessly
but rapidly they made their way up the heights toward the sallyport,
Isaac's face paling as he went, for he believed of a surety now was
come the time when he should hear the clash of arms and find himself in
the midst of combatants, each striving to take the other's life.
On passing an angle at the rear of the fortification the entrance of
a trench or covert-way was come upon and here they surprised a sentinel
half asleep, leaning against the earthwork.
Awakened thus suddenly, and seeing what he might naturally suppose
to be the advance guard of a large force directly upon him, he took
hasty aim at Colonel Allen and pulled the trigger.
Involuntarily Isaac closed his eyes, believing their leader must be
killed at such short range, but the weapon hung fire and the sentinel
took to his heels through this trench, the attacking party following at
The fugitive led the way to the parade-ground within the barracks,
where was found another sentinel, and he made a thrust with his bayonet
at Colonel Easton, who was side by side with the leaders; but had
hardly raised his weapon before a blow from the flat of Colonel Allen's
sword sent him headlong to the ground.
At this the men, unable longer to control themselves, gave vent to a
tremendous shout, and without orders separated into two divisions, each
bent on gaining possession of the barrack ranges.
As bees swarm out of their hives, so did the startled redcoats rush
from the buildings, and it seemed to Isaac as if instantly each man
appeared he was disarmed by one of the Green Mountain Boys, who, as
fast as he secured a captive, marched him to the center of the
parade-ground in order that he might not block up the entrance of the
Now was come the moment when Nathan's services were required.
It was no longer possible to keep silence, for the shouts of the men
must have aroused every one within the inclosure, and turning quickly,
Colonel Allen cried in a loud voice:
Get you before me with that lad, corporal and let him lead the way
to the commandant's quarters.
Nathan did not require urging.
He understood that this man had come with serious purpose, and knew
full well it might be dangerous for him to hang back.
Darting ahead as swiftly as the corporal would allow, he conducted
Colonel Allen to the door of Captain Delaplace's dwelling, and the
leader gave three resounding knocks with the hilt of his sword, as he
Surrender this fort, commandant! Surrender at once in order to save
the lives of your men!
The door was quickly opened in response to this demand, and a
half-clad man, over whose shoulder could be seen the frightened face of
a woman, appeared in the doorway.
Before he could speak Colonel Allen cried:
I order you instantly to surrender, sir!
By whose authority do you make such demand? the captain cried with
In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!
These words sounded in Isaac's ears like the thunder of cannon, and
even while he questioned to himself if it were possible this handful of
men had really captured the fortress, Ticonderoga was surrendered.
CHAPTER VIII. AN INTERRUPTION.
Nathan, who had looked upon the men under Colonel Allen much as he
had Corporal 'Lige, was literally amazed by this ready submission of
the king's troops, standing silent and motionless by the side of Isaac
as the garrison was paraded without arms, and the surrender made in due
Some days afterward Isaac learned that the spoils of war at this
place were one hundred and twenty iron cannon, fifty swivels, two
ten-inch mortars, one howitzer, one cohorn, ten tons musket-balls,
three cartloads flints, thirty gun-carriages, a quantity of shells, a
large amount of material for boat building, one hundred stand of small
arms, ten casks of powder, two brass cannon, thirty barrels of flour
and eighteen barrels of pork.
Forty-eight soldiers were surrendered and preparations were at once
begun to send these, together with the women and children, to Hartford.
Hardly was the surrender made complete when such of the troops as
had been left on the opposite shore under Seth Warner, arrived in a
schooner, much to the surprise of all, until it was learned that
Captain Herrick, who had been sent to Skenesborough to seize the son of
the governor, had succeeded in his mission without bloodshed.
He took not only the young major, but twelve negroes and attendants,
seized the schooner owned by the elder Skene, and had come down the
lake in the early morning with the hope of aiding in the capture of
Isaac had supposed this victory would end the adventure, and was
saying to himself that his experience had been rather pleasing than
otherwise, so much so in fact that he almost regretted the time was
near at hand for him to return home, when he saw, much to his surprise,
a portion of the troops being formed in line as if to leave
Corporal 'Lige had been assigned to the task of overhauling the
goods in the warehouse for the purpose of making out a list of the
same, and it was to him that Isaac, followed by Nathan, went for
Forming in line, eh? the old man asked as, wiping the perspiration
from his face, he went outside to have a look around, and instantly he
noted the preparations which were making, turned back to his work as if
it was of but little concern.
What is the meaning of that, corporal? Isaac suggested. Are we
going back without having stayed here a single day?
There will be no turnin' back, lad, until the work is finished, and
the fort at Crown Point yet remains to be taken. I allow Seth Warner is
goin' to tackle that job, which won't be a difficult one, since it is
said there are not above a dozen men in the garrison.
Suppose you an' I go with 'em? Nathan suggested, now no longer
eager to demand money for his services; but, fired by what he had seen,
and burning to participate in new conquests.
What do you say, corporal? Isaac asked, feeling that it was
necessary to gain the old man's permission before he could join in the
Again Corporal 'Lige went to the door of the warehouse, looking
about him with the air of a weather-prophet, after which he replied in
a careless tone:
I don't reckon it makes any difference whether you lads are here or
sailin' 'round the lake, therefore if Seth Warner gives his permission,
you may go so far as I am concerned; but it'll be only a question of
whifflin' from one point to another, for while the wind holds in this
direction I'm allowin' none of the force will reach Crown Point.
The wind is likely to haul 'round after sunset, so let us take our
chances, Nathan whispered, and Isaac was not loth to embark.
Therefore the two started across the parade-ground for the purpose
of speaking with the old hunterSeth Warnerwhen Captain Herrick, who
had just made his report of the night's work at Skenesborough, halted
the boys by saying:
I reckon you two lads are the ones Colonel Allen would speak with
at once? You will find him in the commandant's quarters.
He is most likely thinkin' of payin' me for comin' over last
night, Nathan said as the two turned to obey the command, and I have
made up my mind not to take money for the service.
Isaac looked at his companion in surprise, and the latter added
I reckon father was right when he said every one in the colonies
should do all he could in this cause, and, besides, it looks to me as
if the king's troops would speedily get the worst of it.
Young Beman was not unlike many in the neighborhood who in
after-days were royalists or patriots as the cause of freedom grew weak
However, Nathan had no opportunity to refuse a payment of money for
his services, for when the lads stood before Colonel Allen, the latter
said in a tone of command, and yet with the air of one asking a favor:
I want to send a messenger to Sudbury. Do you think you can find
the place, Isaac Rice?
I will show him the way, sir, Nathan said promptly, and the
colonel favored him with a glance of surprise, but took no further heed
of his sudden complaisance.
At that settlement you will find one Captain Remember Baker; tell
him what has been done at this point, and say it is my wish he join me
here without delay. Select the lightest boat you can find for crossing
the lake, and make all haste.
Then the colonel turned away, intent upon the work of preparing a
list of the garrison which had surrendered, and some of his officers
entering for further instructions prevented the boys from making any
inquiries concerning the mission.
On leaving the quarters, Nathan, eager to serve this new commander
of the fort with all possible celerity, would have hastened at once to
the shore in order to set out, but that Isaac insisted upon giving
Corporal 'Lige due information as to their proposed movements, much to
the displeasure of young Beman, who claimed that the old soldier was of
no account when the colonel had given orders.
Well, this one is, Isaac said stoutly. He's a good friend of
mine, and I wouldn't think of leavin' without first tellin' him, no
matter whose orders I was obeying.
Well, I s'pose you must have your own way, but the time will come
when you won't think so much of that pig-headed old man as you do now.
To this ill-natured remark the lad did not reply, but on presenting
himself to Corporal 'Lige and explaining what he was about to do, the
latter, still busy with his work of taking account of the stores, made
very much the same remark as had Nathan.
Don't consider, lad, that you are to report to me when ordered on
duty. Be careful of yourself; do not run into danger needlessly, and
get you gone without delay, for Colonel Allen is a man who doesn't take
kindly to loiterers.
Nathan showed himself to be one who could perform a task promptly
and in good order when it suited his pleasure so to do.
He it was who selected the boat in which they were to cross the
lake; borrowed a musket from one of the men that he might not be forced
to make the journey weaponless, and succeeding in begging such an
amount of provisions as would serve them for dinner.
While these few preparations were being made, Warner, with a
detachment of twenty five men from Colonel Allen's regiment, put off on
his journey to Crown Point, and after watching them a moment Nathan
Beman said in a tone of one who is satisfied with himself:
It's jest as well we didn't have a chance to go with that crowd,
for they won't get anywhere near there until the wind changes, and it
seems as though whoever is in charge of the job, ought to know it.
I suppose the plan is to take the fort by surprise, as was this
one, and unless our people get there soon, it will be a failure,
because the news of what has been done here must fly over the country
While the wind blows this way, and so strong, no one will get up
the lake, therefore the garrison won't learn of the surrender of
Ticonderoga unless some one goes across the country. However, we
needn't bother, seein's our work is all cut an' dried, and we had
better not waste too much time here.
Isaac was beginning to entertain a very friendly feeling toward this
lad now that he had changed his views so entirely regarding the value
of his services, and, as a matter of course, Nathan could be a most
pleasing traveling companion when it suited his purpose, as it did at
The journey to Sudbury proved to be a longer one than was
A strong wind which blew directly down the lake, carried the boys
fully two miles below the point at which they should have landed, and
Nathan was much averse to following back along the shore in order to
gain the trail which led to Sudbury.
It will be just that much useless labor, he said emphatically,
and I am not given to walking more than may be necessary.
But there's a chance of going astray if we strike across from
here, Isaac suggested, for, as has already been shown, he knew little
of woodcraft, and this traveling blindly around a section of the
country where there was every reason to believe enemies might be found
was not to his liking.
I'd be a mighty poor sort of a guide if I couldn't go across from
here without straying from the course so much as a dozen yards, Master
Beman said decidedly. To walk up the shore two miles or more only for
the purpose of striking the trail, is foolishness.
But the thicket is so dense here, Isaac suggested timidly, almost
fearing to venture an opinion lest he should provoke the mirth of his
companion. It will be harder to make our way through than to go
Nathan made no reply.
He bestowed upon Corporal 'Lige's recruit a glance as of pity, and
then, without further words, plunged into the underbrush.
Master Rice could do no less than follow.
Before the boys had traveled half an hour on the direct course to
Sudbury, it is more than probable young Beman repented of having
attempted to make a short cut, for the advance was indeed difficult.
At times it was really painful to force one's way through the
tangled foliage, while now and again the boys found themselves
floundering over swampy land; but Nathan made no complaint because he
was responsible for having taken such a course, and Isaac hardly dared
protest lest his companion should be angered.
I still maintain that it was better to come this way than travel
two miles in vain, Nathan said as he threw himself upon the ground,
and Corporal 'Lige's recruit ventured to suggest mildly:
I'd rather walk three miles on the shore than one here, where a
fellow is obliged to fight his way through.
Perhaps you know this country better than I do, and would take the
Not so. You left Ticonderoga as guide, and it would not be seemly
in me, who am a stranger here as well as a lad unaccustomed to this
sort of warfare which is now being conducted, to do other than follow
your lead; but
The remark which was intended to soothe the irritation in the
guide's breast was not concluded, for Isaac was interrupted by the
sudden and unexpected appearance of three men, who came upon the boys
as if from an ambush.
Hullo! Master Beman cried carelessly as if something in the way of
a salutation was expected from him.
Instead of replying to this hail the two lads were seized roughly,
and without a word the strangers, taking possession of the musket,
began searching the messengers' clothing as if expecting something of
value or importance would be found.
Look here! What are you about? Nathan cried angrily, while Isaac
submitted in silence, for he understood that these three might be
enemies to the cause. What do you mean by handling me in this shape?
Better keep your tongue between your teeth, young Beman, one of
the men said in a surly tone. When we ask for information there'll be
time enough for you to wag it so freely.
Surprised at having been thus recognized, and heedless of the
warning, Nathan continued:
Who are you? I never saw you before! What right have you to handle
me in this fashion?
The right of any of his majesty's subjects, for in these times it
is well to overhaul every rebel one runs across.
I'm no rebel! Nathan cried, now exhibiting signs of alarm.
Your father is, which amounts to the same thing, the man replied,
as, after having satisfied himself the lad had nothing concealed about
his person, he rose to his feet. Why are you abroad to-day?
How long since is it that a lad may not move about as he wishes?
Since rebellion first showed its head in these colonies. Now,
answer my question, or it will be the worse for you!
Isaac, thoroughly alarmed, had made no resistance either by word or
movement when the stranger searched him, and although ignorant, as he
had often said, of warfare, he understood now full well that they were
fallen into the hands of enemies, who would not hesitate at the taking
of human life in order to compass their ends.
Therefore he remained stretched upon the ground as when the men
first came upon them, so terrified that it was almost impossible either
to move or speak.
Young Beman was frightened, but not to such an extent as to prevent
him from displaying anger, and instead of replying to the question he
attempted to rise to his feet.
A blow delivered with unnecessary force sent him headlong to the
ground again, and his captor said warningly:
Have a care what you are about, Nathan Beman, for we are not
disposed either to bandy words or waste much time on such as you, who,
having professed friendship for those in the fort, was ready to betray
Now, Nathan's fears were as great as Isaac's; but he made one more
effort at asserting himself, and began by telling a lie.
What have I done at the fort? I am but just come from my father's
Take that for the falsehood, and this for believing us to be fools,
who can be deceived by such as you, the man replied as he viciously
kicked the boy twice. You have but just come from Ticonderoga, and
must have been sent by the rebels who captured the fort.
What reason have you for saying that? Nathan asked in a more
First, the fact of your being here, and secondly because your
comrade spoke, while we were within hearing, of your having been sent
Nathan shot an angry glance toward Isaac as if Corporal 'Lige's
recruit alone was to blame for this unpleasant interruption to the
journey; but he ventured no reply lest further chastisement might
Tell me to whom you are sent, and have a care in the replying, for
we are not minded to waste much time upon such as you.
Nathan was beginning to understand that he was wholly in the power
of an enemy, whom he could not readily deceive, and also believed that
it might be painful for him if the answer was delayed.
He was not so devoted to the cause as to be willing to suffer in its
behalf, and, therefore, said surlily:
We were going to Captain Remember Baker at Sudbury.
Who sent you?
Where is the message you are carrying?
He gave us none save by word of mouth.
Repeat it, and be careful lest you make the mistake of telling
There is nothing in it of importance or interest to you. It was
simply that Captain Baker should come at once to Ticonderoga.
Then the fort was taken last night?
I thought you knew that? Nathan cried in surprise, now
understanding that he had divulged what it was most important should
have been kept a profound secret until Crown Point had been captured.
We heard that the rebels were marching toward the fort; but could
not get there in time to warn the commandant.
Why was it you made prisoners of two boys if you were not knowing
to all that has taken place? Nathan asked, his curiosity getting the
better of his fears.
We took the chance that you could give us the desired information,
because it was not reasonable old Beman's son should be in this section
unless on business of his father's, and in these times one can well
guess what that business might be. Therefore, having heard you
floundering through the thicket, we drew near to listen to such
conversation as you might indulge in.
Are you going to waste time explaining our purpose to that young
cub, Jason Wentworth? one of the men asked impatiently, and he who had
been addressed replied with a laugh:
We are not in as much haste now as we were half an hour ago, Ezra
Jones. Captain Baker will not get the message, and while the wind holds
in this quarter I'm allowing the rebels won't reach Crown Point before
They will if we loiter here all day. Truss up the lads, so they can
do no mischief, and let us be off.
Would you leave them here in the thicket, Ezra Jones?
They might starve to death, and while I'm willing to serve the king
in all things, it is not my intent to be thus barbarous.
They can make themselves heard if any one passes by on the trail,
the third man replied very carelessly, and Ezra added quickly:
Ay! I had not thought of that. They must be gagged, or, what may be
better for us, shot offhand.
Are you willing to kill two boys in cold blood, Ezra Jones?
There was no reply to this question, and Jason Wentworth turned
round to the other man.
Matthew White, will you take it upon yourself to do what is little
less than murder?
No; carry them further into the thicket, where they cannot be heard
from the trail, and there tie them up.
It were better we shot them at once, than leave them to starve,
Jason Wentworth said much as if speaking to himself, and during this
conversation the feelings of the two lads can be faintly imagined.
The question of their death by bullet or starvation was being
discussed in such a business-like manner, as if there was no
alternative, that the boys were literally paralyzed with fear.
It seemed to Isaac Rice as if the three men remained silent fully
five minutes before Jason Wentworth spoke again, and then it was with
the air of one who has decided some vexed question.
I'm not willing to play the part of a savage, he said, speaking
slowly in order to give his words due weight. Neither do I propose
that they shall carry the message. We'll take them with us.
And thus we shall be caused much delay, Ezra Jones muttered.
If they are wise we will travel as rapidly as when alone, and in
case of a refusal to obey orders they can be shot, or left to starve,
as easily half an hour hence as now. Besides, there will be much work
at the oars 'twixt here and Crown Point, and they can do a little more
than their share of it.
Perhaps it was this last suggestion which caused the other two men
to agree to the proposition.
At all events, no further objection was made, and Master Wentworth
took it upon himself to direct the march of the prisoners.
You are to keep half a dozen paces in advance, and take good care
there is no loitering, or any attempt at giving us the slip, he said
to the boys, who yet lay upon the ground. I do not propose that you
shall be starved to death; but at the same time I would put a
musket-ball into one or both of you without compunction, rather than
suffer delay or escape. Now get on your feet, and move lively, for only
by obedience can you save your lives.
There was no disposition on the part of Colonel Allen's messengers
to run counter to the command which had been given.
Each knew full well that two of their three captors were in favor of
leaving them to a most cruel death, which could be escaped only by
prompt acquiescence to all the orders given.
Therefore it was they leaped to their feet quickly, and set forward
at a sharp pace, when Jason Wentworth pointed out the direction to be
At this moment it was Isaac who suffered most in mind, for he knew
full well that Corporal 'Lige would condemn him for not having the
courage to face death rather than give information to the enemy.
Even though it was Nathan who had divulged what should have been
kept a secret, the raw recruit knew in his own heart he had agreed that
the information should be given, because of having made no protest.
If Seth Warner failed in his purpose, it would be owing in a certain
degree to what had been told these men, and Isaac, who had hoped to win
renown, if not glory, by enlisting, could charge himself with what was
worse than a blunder.
On the other hand Nathan was not sore in mind because of the
possibility that Crown Point might still be held by the king's troops;
but he had sufficient sense to understand that if he had retraced his
steps along the shore to the trail, as Isaac proposed, this capture
might not have been made.
Therefore, but in a different fashion, was his mental trouble as
great as that of his comrade.
To the chagrin of both the boys they came upon the trail leading
from the lake to Sudbury, after not more than two or three minutes'
traveling, and thus knew that if their halt had been delayed a very
short time it might have been possible to have given these enemies the
Once on the trail word was given to halt, and the three men held a
brief consultation as to the course they should pursue.
One was in favor of going directly to the shore, where it appeared
they believed a boat could be found; but the others insisted on keeping
within the thicket until they were arrived a mile or more above the
fort, lest, being seen, pursuit should be made by those who had
This last proposition prevailed, although there were many chances
they might not find a boat further up the lake; but Jason Wentworth
persisted it would be better if they make the journey entirely on foot,
than take the risk of being captured before word could be carried to
On being commanded to push forward once more the boys obeyed
readily, if not willingly, and during the hour which elapsed before
they gained the desired point, Nathan and Isaac had ample opportunity
for conversation, since their captors did not seem to be averse to
their talking one with the other.
Of course, we shall be held prisoners by the king's troops once we
are arrived at Crown Point, Isaac ventured to say after they had
traveled steadily, although slowly, onward for nearly half an hour, and
young Beman replied in a petulant tone:
That goes without saying, and it shows what a fool I've been in
running around with those who would oppose the king's will. If father
is eager to ruin himself, that's no reason I should be a fool, and I'd
better have listened to mother.
Why speak of what has been done? Corporal 'Lige's recruit asked in
what he intended should be a soothing tone. I am not acquainted with
the country as you are, neither am I so brave; but yet it seems as if
we should be on the alert for a chance to escape.
Now you talk like a fool! How may we escape with these three men on
watch, all of whom are willing to shoot us at the first chance we give
them. I'm not minded to have a bullet put through my body; but would
rather trust to the king's troops, in the hope that after a time we may
be set free.
Yet if we could give these men the slip?
You may be certain we shan't have a chance.
Yet, suppose we did?
Why will you be so weak-headed, Isaac Rice? If this is really war
between the king and the colonies, the lives of boys like us count for
but little, especially since two of these men are eager to be rid of
Isaac understood that it was useless just at this time to make any
attempt at arousing his companion from the petulant despondency into
which he had fallen, wherefore wisely kept silent; but at the same time
was firmly resolved to be on the lookout for any opportunity of gaining
His timorousness had fled before the thought that there might yet be
a chance, he knew not how, of preventing the information of the fall of
Ticonderoga from being carried to Crown Point.
The boy had in his heart just then what is commonly called courage,
and his will was good, at whatever cost to himself, to repair the
mischief which had been done.
He had hoped to animate his companion to the same pitch, but the
failure to do this did not discourage him, and while obeying strictly
the orders given, he was keenly aware of everything which might be of
He heard the men discussing what they would do in case of a failure
to find a boat near by where they gained the shore, and learned that in
such an event one of them would return to the landing-place to get the
craft of which they knew, with the idea that a single oarsman would not
be molested while pulling leisurely up stream as if bent on business of
He also understood that it was the purpose of his captors, after
warning the garrison at Crown Point, to muster a force of Loyalists
from the immediate vicinity, and march into Sudbury with the idea of
taking Captain Baker and his men prisoners before a second messenger
should be sent from Ticonderoga.
There seemed little hope that such information could avail him, and
yet he was in a certain degree elated because of having gained it.
On arriving at the shore of the lake, where the men had thought it
possible a boat might be found, no craft of any kind was to be seen.
The wind still held strongly from the north, and Jason Wentworth
announced in a tone of satisfaction:
The rebels won't get very far on their journey toward Crown Point
this day, and I am mistaken if the wind doesn't freshen after sunset.
It will be precious hard work for us to make our way against such a
breeze, Ezra Jones grumbled.
Ay; but we can do it with four oars out, and even though we pull at
them twenty-four hours, the labor should count as nothing so that we
arrive in good time.
But the garrison there is weak?
They should be able to hold out until assistance can arrive. We can
muster fifty men for them within two hours; but standing here talking
isn't doing the work, and it's important we set off without unnecessary
delay. Ezra, you go down the shore, and Matthew up, each searching for
a boat, and when one has been found pull to this point, where I will
stay with the prisoners.
Is it to your mind that I shall take the craft from opposite the
fort, running the risk of being overhauled?
Better that than remain here wasting time in talk.
Matthew White was of the opinion that it would be wisest to make the
journey afoot rather than take the risk of being overhauled by the
rebels; but to this Master Wentworth would not listen, and, he
evidently being the leader of the party, carried his point.
The two men set out, and immediately after their departure Jason
Wentworth ordered his prisoners back into the underbrush a short
distance from the shore, where he stood guard over them, and at the
same time could keep close watch for the return of his companions.
CHAPTER IX. A BOLD STROKE.
Isaac's heart beat hard and fast when he and Nathan were thus left
with but a single man to guard them, for he believed the time had come
when they might succeed in turning the tables, because surely it would
be easier to overpower one than three.
In this, however, he soon came to understand that he was mistaken.
Had either of the others been left on guard it is possible something
might have been done; but Jason Wentworth was not a man to be caught
napping, and while he seemingly directed his gaze out over the waters,
at the slightest movement of either of the prisoners he was on the
alert against an attempt at escape.
Twice had Isaac changed his position in order to make certain the
man was keeping close watch upon them when his attention was apparently
directed elsewhere, and each time he saw Master Wentworth's musket
raised that it might be ready in case a bullet was needed to check the
flight of his captives.
You had better not try that again, the man said warningly when
Isaac shifted his position the third time for no other reason than to
make himself more comfortable. In a case like this your lives count as
nothing, and while I am unwilling to leave you to starve in the woods,
I shall not hesitate to kill either or both, therefore do not make any
feint at giving me the slip lest my patience should become exhausted.
After that Isaac was exceedingly careful, as was young Beman, to
remain silent and motionless.
While Corporal 'Lige's recruit was ready to encounter serious danger
in order to accomplish his ends, there was no idea in his mind of
risking life needlessly when there was nothing to be gained.
Young Beman lay face downward, as he had thrown himself when the
halt was called, giving no heed to the conversation between his comrade
and Master Wentworth, and Isaac believed young Beman intended for him
to understand that he would take no part in an effort to effect their
An hour passed and nothing had been heard from the two who had gone
in search of a boat.
It surely seemed as if they must have met with some mishap, and a
great hope sprang up in Isaac's breast.
When thirty minutes more had passed Master Wentworth's face gave
evidence of the anxiety which had come upon him, and he looked toward
his prisoners with such an odd expression that Isaac Rice trembled,
fearing the man was beginning to believe it would be better to do with
them as his friends had suggested.
Then, when it seemed impossible for Jason Wentworth longer to
control his impatience, Master White returned as when he departed, and
having the appearance of one who had walked far and rapidly.
You found no boat? Master Wentworth said interrogatively, and the
man replied, as he seated himself wearily near by the prisoners:
I do not believe there is one this side of Crown Point. Most likely
the rebels took good care to gather in every craft that was to be found
within half a dozen miles of here.
For the first time since the little party came to a halt did Nathan
evince any interest in what was going on around him, and now he
partially turned as if to speak.
Isaac, believing he was on the point of telling what he knew
regarding the seizure of boats, covered the boy's mouth with his hand,
for he was not minded to give the enemy any information.
Master Wentworth observed the movement, and evidently would have
demanded an explanation, but for the fact that at this moment Ezra
Jones came up through the thicket, instead of along the shore.
His report was much like Master White's.
The boat he had expected to find near the trail leading to Sudbury
was missing, and he had continued on nearly two miles further, but
Again did hope come into Isaac's desponding breast.
The boy had believed Master Jones would surely find the craft in
which he and Nathan had crossed the lake; but fortune favored the
rebel cause in that respect at least, for the man must have turned
about, when, by continuing on a very short distance further, he would
have come upon that for which he was searching.
We must go on foot, Master Wentworth said after a short pause,
and the sooner we set out the better.
It's all very well for you, who have been resting here, to say
that, Jones replied petulantly. I've been making a road through the
thicket for a matter of five miles or more, and don't propose to move
again until after I've had a breathing spell.
Why didn't you come back by the shore, as you went?
Because there are a hundred pair of eyes watching this side of the
lake. I could see the rebels on the opposite shore before I gained the
trail, and then it was necessary to keep well hidden in the bushes.
Even though I had found a boat, it is doubtful if I should have been
allowed to pull up this way, for Seth Warner and Ethan Allen are much
too keen to let any one pass who is headed in the direction of Crown
They are waiting for the wind to die away before setting out to
take the fort, and if we would save it to the king it is time to be
about the work, Master Wentworth said half to himself, but his
comrades gave no heed to the words.
Then ensued a long time of silence, and Isaac was well content, for
each moment of delay lessened the danger, as he believed.
Thanks to the indolence of Masters White and Jones, it was nearly
nightfall before they were ready to begin the journey, and then the
latter intimated that he had recovered from his fatigue.
If we fail to give the warning in time, you and White can take the
fault to yourselves, Master Wentworth said angrily, after which he
ordered the prisoners on in advance once more.
They have begun to quarrel among themselves, and perhaps our time
will come before morning, Isaac whispered to Nathan as they pushed on
in advance, and young Beman appeared more willing to listen than when
the subject was first broached; but yet he made no reply.
An hour later night had fully come, and the flying clouds so
completely obscured the sky that it was difficult for the travelers to
make their way even along the shore where was nothing, save here and
there a point of rocks, to impede the progress.
More than once did the boys walk directly into the water, and twice
Master White fell headlong over a fallen tree, despite all efforts to
the contrary, and then it was Jason Wentworth who proposed a halt.
We are not making two miles an hour at this rate, he said in the
tone of one who is offended with his companions. We may as well stop
where we are until it is light enough for us to see the way.
Nathan and Isaac came to a halt immediately, and, ordering them to
keep close by his side, the leader of the party sought for a
camping-place amid the shrubbery.
It was not possible to make any choice selection while it was so
dark that one could not distinguish objects a dozen paces in advance,
and at the first cleared space sufficiently large to admit of the men
stretching out at full length, Master Wentworth made his preparations
for the night.
He ordered the boys to lie down; covered them with four or five
saplings, and on the ends of these he and Master White laid themselves
in such manner that the first movement made by the prisoners must
awaken the captors.
It was the Indian method of guarding captives; but, owing to the
absence of robes or blankets with which to cover the ends of the
saplings, those who lay on the outside had a most uncomfortable bed.
Isaac, still on the alert for any advantage, observed, rather by
sense of hearing than of sight, that Master Wentworth kept his musket
close beside him, while the other two leaned their weapons against the
It seemed to Corporal 'Lige's recruit as if Nathan Beman had finally
come to understand that escape might yet be possible, for the latter
prodded his comrade with his elbow from time to time, as if to prevent
him from falling asleep, and Isaac returned the pressure with vigor.
Then, when it appeared as if fully an hour had passed, the heavy
breathing of the men told that they were fast asleep, and Nathan
These fellows ain't so smart as I'd counted on. I've heard father
tell how he outwitted the savages when they had him in the same kind of
a trap, an' I can work this if you're ready.
Begin at once; there is no time to lose.
Then it was that young Beman breathed loudly as if wrapped in
profound slumber, and tossed about restlessly, all the while pressing
against Master White.
Isaac did not understand the purpose of such maneuver, but he was
content with knowing that his comrade had at last consented to make an
effort toward escape.
More than once Master White partially awakened, and grumbled because
of Nathan's restlessness; but at the same moment he unconsciously moved
aside slightly, and each time he did this the prisoners were so much
Then came the time when Nathan whispered:
He has at last rolled off the saplings, and I can crawl away
without disturbing him. Are you ready to follow?
Yes. Can't you get the muskets? Two are near our feet, and the
other is by the side of Wentworth.
It is enough if we give them the slip.
If we get possession of the muskets they cannot send a bullet after
us in case one awakens before we are well off.
I'll try it, Nathan replied as he began wriggling his body out
from under the saplings, not daring to move in the direction of where
Master White lay.
Isaac, literally trembling with excitement, followed his example,
and it seemed to him as if half an hour had been consumed in the task,
when really no more than five minutes were thus spent before the boys
were on their feet and the men apparently still wrapped in slumber.
Even now Nathan would have made good his escape without an effort to
secure the weapons, and pressed his comrade's arm to intimate that
there was no time to be lost; but Isaac, dropping to his hands and
knees, crept toward Master Wentworth.
When the plan had so far succeeded that they were on their feet, a
bold scheme came into Isaac's head, and he believed now was come the
time for him to gain the good opinion of Corporal 'Lige, if he should
be so fortunate as to see the old soldier again.
Moving with infinite care, and giving no heed to what Nathan might
be doing, the boy crept to Master Wentworth's side, and it was with
difficulty he repressed a cry of exultation as his fingers closed over
Cautiously rising to his feet, and at the same instant assuring
himself the flint was in place, but forgetting that he had no powder
with which to prime the weapon, Isaac stepped back to where he had left
Nathan was no longer there, but from a short distance away came a
slight rustling of the foliage, and Isaac waited, his heart beating so
violently that it seemed positive the thumping must awaken their
Before Corporal 'Lige's recruit could have counted twenty, Nathan
stood by his side, and it needed but one touch of the hand to tell the
former that all the weapons had been secured.
Young Beman had done his work well, for he not only held the two
muskets, but a powder-horn well filled, and a shot pouch heavy with
Now it was that, having all the advantage, Nathan began to be
sensible of a glow of patriotism, and he whispered to his comrade as he
carefully primed one of the muskets:
It wouldn't be a hard task to take these fellows into Sudbury, if
we had something with which to fetter their hands.
My mother made the cloth of this coat I am wearing, and I promise
that it's as strong as a rope.
Without waiting for a reply Isaac began stripping the garment into
narrow bands, by aid of his teeth, and the noise caused Master
Wentworth to half rise as he cried:
Hey! White! Jones!
Stay where you are! Nathan shouted. We've got all the muskets,
and are in the mood to shoot if you make any trouble. It won't go much
against the grain to put a couple of bullets into the two who wanted to
leave us trussed up in the thicket, where we would starve to death!
Master Wentworth sank back upon the ground very quickly, and at the
same instant must have discovered that his ammunition had not been
seized, for he cried to his companions:
They can't prime the muskets, and it is the same
You'll know whether we can or not if you make any move! Don't think
we were such fools as to forget that part of the business! I've got all
the powder and balls that'll be needed to give you three a solid dose.
Tie Master Wentworth's hands behind his back, Isaac, and if he so much
as winks while you are doing it I'll quiet him. Lie down! he added
fiercely as in the dim light he saw one of the others attempting to
rise. If you make any fuss we'll shoot first an' talk afterward!
It was more than probable one of the men might, because of the
darkness, have gotten off without injury; but each knew that should
such an attempt be made Nathan could shoot down perhaps two of the
party, and each probably feared it might be himself who would receive
Therefore it was that they obeyed young Beman's orders strictly, and
as soon as might be Master Wentworth was lying on his face with both
hands tied securely behind his back.
To fetter the others in the same fashion was neither a long nor a
difficult task, because, like the bullies they were, both showed the
white feather when danger threatened their precious selves, and no more
than fifteen minutes had elapsed from the time Nathan first set about
making the attempt at escape before the prisoners were powerless for
With their hands thus securely lashed behind them, it was impossible
for the men to rise without assistance, and while Nathan stood with the
musket raised that he might shoot at the first show of resistance,
Isaac helped the prisoners to their feet.
Now it is you three who will obey our orders, instead of knocking
us about, young Beman said gleefully, and I'll make the same threat
Master Wentworth did: At the first show of trying to escape, I'll
shoot, an' even though it is dark, there's little chance of missing
aim, for we shall keep close in the rear. Take one musket, Isaac, and
the other we'll leave here, rather than hamper ourselves by too much of
Do you count on trying to make your way through the thicket while
it is so dark? Ezra Jones asked in a surly tone.
That's what we shall do.
Then you may as well shoot us offhand, for if it was hard work when
we were free, what chance have we with our hands tied?
If you think that is the best plan I'll follow your advice, and
never so much as wince in the doing of it, for you was one who would
have left us to starve, Nathan said so promptly that the man
involuntarily ducked his head as if fearing a bullet might follow the
Where are you bent on taking us? Jason Wentworth asked, after he
had somewhat recovered his composure.
Our orders were to go to Sudbury, and I think we'd better keep on
in that direction, rather than lose time by carrying you to
Ticonderoga. We could do that last if we pleased, for our boat is
hidden among the bushes nearabout where Master Jones turned back. What
say you, Isaac Rice? Is it to be Sudbury, or the fort?
It is best we see Captain Baker as soon as may be, and if you think
we can find our way through the woods, I'll say nothing against a short
cut, for time presses.
The prisoners were driven like sheep, both boys marching directly
behind them with leveled muskets, and, as may be expected, the advance
was exceedingly slow.
The men stumbled over fallen trees, and each of them fell headlong
half a dozen times before the seemingly long night came to an end; but
still they were urged on at the best possible pace until sunrise, when
a brief halt was made.
Two hours after the journey had been resumed the trail was found,
and from that time on until the outskirts of the settlement was gained,
the party marched at a reasonably rapid rate of speed.
Once a glimpse of Sudbury was had Isaac became exceedingly prudent,
and insisted upon calling a halt, while Nathan declared they should
press forward until the prisoners could be delivered to Captain Baker.
I shan't feel comfortable in mind until all three are off our
hands, for there's no knowing how many friends they may have in the
That is exactly why I would halt here, Isaac replied, and Corporal
'Lige would have rejoiced had he known how rapidly his recruit was
learning his duties as a soldier. We do not know in which house
Captain Baker lives, and while making inquiries, still having the
prisoners with us, we might come upon those who would turn the tables
once more, before we had so much as gained speech with the officer.
Then what would you do?
We are within less than half a mile of the settlement. Let us march
the prisoners into the thicket, where they will be hidden from view of
any who may come this way, and while one stands guard over them, the
other can seek out the captain. After that has been done he can take
charge of the affair, and our work will be well and thoroughly done.
Who is to remain here? Nathan asked.
It shall be as you say.
Young Beman remained silent a moment, and then, with the air of one
who has decided an important question, said:
You shall go into the settlement, and if either of these Tories so
much as opens his mouth while you are gone, I'll put a bullet through
And you must not hesitate to carry out that threat, Isaac added
firmly. Now is come the time when we may prevent any news from being
carried to Crown Point, and at the same moment deliver Colonel Allen's
message, therefore blood must be spilled if necessary.
Jones and White looked thoroughly alarmed, while Jason Wentworth
You lads are in the right, from your own standpoint, which is a
wrong one, however; but since we have been so dull as to let you get
the best of us, it is but proper we should pay the penalty for
Will you give us your word not to make an outcry if any person
should pass by on the trail? Isaac quietly, having no little respect
for this enemy who could look upon the situation so fairly.
If by giving up my life I can prevent the capture of Crown Point,
you may be certain I shall not hesitate.
Isaac looked significantly at Nathan, as if to say that this man
should be guarded more closely than the others, and after the prisoners
had been marched into the thicket, where they were completely hidden
from view, Corporal 'Lige's recruit set out, Nathan calling after him:
Do not loiter by the way, either in going or coming, for I am not
quite at my ease while alone.
Have no fear I shall delay. It should not be a long task to find
Captain Baker, and most likely you'll see me again in less than an
hour. Keep your wits about you, and remember how much mischief may be
done if you hesitate to shoot when it becomes necessary to do so.
CHAPTER X. CROWN POINT.
Never since the moment when Corporal 'Lige had promised to make a
soldier of him, had Isaac Rice been as happy as now.
He had atoned for the mistake made when they first set out on the
journey, although it was really none of his, and, in addition to having
prevented the news of what had been done at Ticonderoga from being
carried to Crown Point, had as prisoners three who could have made no
slight amount of trouble for the colonists.
Surely the old corporal would praise Nathan and himself, and he
glowed with pride as he thought of the report he could make on his
return to the fort.
Of course Nathan Beman has as big a share in this work as I, and it
is his right; but I know it was not me who grew faint-hearted when we
were in the power of the enemy, an' there's a deal of satisfaction in
On arriving at Sudbury, half an hour after having left his comrade,
Isaac made inquiries for Captain Baker's dwelling, and learned that had
Nathan's proposition been carried out, they would have been forced to
parade the prisoners through the entire settlement before coming upon
The captain was within sound of his wife's voice when Isaac finally
stood before the good woman asking to see her husband, and came up
quickly; but with a look of disappointment on his face when he saw his
visitor was only a boy.
Is this Captain Remember Baker? Corporal 'Lige's recruit asked,
for he was not minded any mistake should be made now that his work was
so nearly accomplished.
Yes; what do you want?
I am come from Colonel Allen
Where is he? the captain asked eagerly.
That I may not tell you until we are alone.
Come into the house! Come in and refresh yourself, and you shall
tell me that with which you are charged while partaking of such food as
my wife can prepare quickly.
It is not well for me to spend time in eating until after Nathan
Beman is relieved from his charge.
What have you to do with that young Tory, if it is true that you
come from Ethan Allen? and now the captain began to show signs of
I will tell the whole story, beginning with the capture of
So the fort has been taken by our people! Captain Baker cried
joyously as he clasped the messenger by the hand with such force as to
make the boy wince. Tell me quickly! When was the work done?
More than once before he had come to the story of his and Nathan's
adventures was Isaac interrupted by the eager soldier; but after a
certain time he succeeded in imparting all the information, and was
rewarded by hearing the captain say:
You showed rare good sense in leaving the prisoners outside the
settlement, for while we in Sudbury are with the colonists in their
task of teaching the king a much-needed lesson, there are some who
might have tried to work mischief had you applied to them asking the
location of my dwelling. Wait here until I can summon a few of the
Green Mountain Boys, who have been awaiting word from Ethan Allen, and
we'll soon relieve you of the Tories.
Captain Baker ran out, not stopping for a reply, and while he was
absent his wife insisted on Isaac's eating such food as she had already
prepared, until it seemed to the boy that he would not need anything
more for twenty-four hours.
Then six men, each armed with a musket, arrived, and were ushered
into the house, and Isaac was called upon to tell once more of how
Ticonderoga had been captured, after which the party set out to find
Corporal 'Lige's recruit acted the part of guide, and in less than
an hour the three Tories, having been given a liberal supply of
cornbread, were being marched back on the trail toward the captured
Both Isaac and Nathan believed it was their duty to accompany the
prisoners; but Captain Baker insisted that they remain at his home in
order to gain the repose which was needed, promising that they should
arrive at Ticonderoga nearly as soon as if they had gone with the
company escorting the Tories.
Therefore it was the boys remained, well content with the work they
had performed, and not until the morning of the twelfth of May was the
return journey begun.
Then the wind was blowing gently from the southward, and Nathan said
We have of a surety lost the chance of going to Crown Point, for
the hunter will be up and doing this morning, and is likely well on his
way by this time.
Overhearing his words the captain added:
Ay, lad if he didn't get there yesterday, which I misdoubt, you may
count that he started before daybreak this morning; but you can have
the satisfaction of knowing that save for your work, his task might not
be so easy.
Think you he can surprise the garrison? Isaac asked.
I see no reason why it should not be done, especially after your
capture of the Tories, for thus far Colonel Allen has succeeded in
keeping his movements a secret, at least from the people in this
section of the country, and why may you not say the same of Crown
To the surprise of the boys no less than twenty men were assembled
in front of Captain Baker's house by the time breakfast had been eaten,
and on making inquiry Isaac learned that these were all of the Green
Mountain Boys who had been ordered by their leader to rendezvous at
Sudbury until summoned elsewhere.
The company, under command of Captain Baker, took up the line of
march over an old trail through the woods, marching to a point on the
shore of the lake nearly two miles further down from where the boys had
landed, when they came from the fort.
There, snugly hidden in the thicket ready for just such an emergency
as had already come, were found four stout boats, each capable of
carrying not less than a dozen men, and after all were embarked and the
little fleet pushed off from the shore, it appeared quite formidable.
Each craft boasted of a sail, and with the wind from the southward
there was no need of labor at the oars, therefore this portion of the
journey promised to be most pleasant.
This is different from what we expected when Master Wentworth
marched us in front of his musket, Isaac said in a tone of content,
and his comrade replied:
We got out of a small hole in fine style.
It was when they were midway from the point of embarkation to Fort
Ticonderoga that young Beman cried excitedly, pointing toward that
shore which they had just quitted, where could be seen two small boats
laden with men who were pulling into a cove as if seeking shelter:
It looks to me as if those fellows are wearing red coats!
It was the first intimation Captain Baker had that there were others
in the immediate vicinity, and instantly he gave word for the boats to
be hauled around for the purpose of learning who these strangers were.
Hardly had this maneuver been executed when one of the men announced
positively that young Beman was right in his conjecture.
They are most likely Britishers, who escaped from Ticonderoga, or
have come from Crown Point on their way to St. John in search of
reinforcements, Captain Baker cried excitedly, and orders were given
for the men to take to the oars.
Then ensued a chase which was quickly ended, owing to the precaution
taken by the Britishers themselves.
They had put into the cove hoping to escape detection, and it proved
to be a trap for them.
No sooner were the boats arrived off this place of refuge than
Captain Baker gave orders for them to be strung out in line, thus
cutting off all hope of escape by water, and in his own craft pulled
near to where the two boats, manned by seven soldiers, were drawn up as
if prepared to do battle.
It was soon evident they understood well the truth of the old adage
that discretion is the better part of valor, for immediately Captain
Baker called upon them to surrender, they threw their arms into the
bottom of the boat in token of submission.
Nathan was most grievously disappointed. He had fancied there might
be a skirmish, or at least an exchange of shots, for until the morning
when Ticonderoga was taken so readily he had believed the king's
soldiers to be invincible, and even now he was not prepared to see them
surrender to a force little more than four times their number.
The prisoners readily answered the questions put by the captain.
They were from Crown Point, and having learned of the surrender of
Ticonderoga had been dispatched by the sergeant in command of the
garrison, for reinforcements.
They stated, in addition, that it was not believed those who had
taken Ticonderoga would push on to Crown Point immediately,
consequently plenty of time remained in which that post might be
reinforced. Therefore it was the sergeant in command had not hesitated
to weaken his small garrison by thus sending seven men on a mission
which might more readily have been accomplished by one.
There is yet time for us to do Seth Warner a good turn, Captain
Baker cried sufficiently loud for all his men to hear. It is more than
likely the garrison at Crown Point will hold out when the Green
Mountain Boys demand its surrender, believing reinforcements are, or
speedily will be, on the way. Now, instead of stopping at Ticonderoga,
our plan is to push directly on to the fort, and when it is known that
we have captured the messengers I reckon the fortification will be
surrendered with but little parley.
Although the captain had thus spoken as if making a suggestion, his
men understood that his words were little short of a command, and after
transferring the prisoners the fleet was gotten under way.
Thanks to the freshening wind the boats were soon making good time
in the race to overtake the force led by Seth Warner.
And it is to be Crown Point for us, after all! Nathan cried
exultantly, whereat, hearing the words, Captain Baker asked:
What is your name, lad?
Nathan Beman from Shoreham.
So? I knew your father was on the right side; but understood that
you and your mother were hardly to be trusted.
I cannot say anything for mother; but since I have seen the king's
soldiers surrender so readily I am with the Green Mountain Boys and
those who share their opinions.
When you are so nearly with them as to enlist, come to me, lad, and
I will give you a musket in the best company that can be found this
side of Cambridge.
Isaac looked at his new friend reproachfully, and the latter said
with a laugh:
I know all you are thinking; but when I enlist, and it ain't
certain but that I shall do so soon if the people continue to hold out
against the king, I propose to set my name down for that company to
which you belong.
Do so when we go back to the fort, Isaac cried gleefully, and
side by side you and I will see many a brave adventure.
But the trouble is we may see more than will be pleasing, though I
truly believe I shall enlist.
And Corporal 'Lige shall teach us both a soldier's duty.
This proposition apparently did not meet with favor, for Nathan at
once changed the subject of the conversation by inquiring regarding the
probable condition of affairs at Crown Point, after which the boys
listened to the conversation of their companions as they spoke of
Lexington and Concord, and of what should be done to avenge the murders
And now it came to pass that these two lads were most grievously
disappointed in their anticipations concerning the capture of the fort.
Probably each had in his mind the thought that he was to see
somewhat of war, more at least than had been witnessed at Ticonderoga;
but it was not to be.
As the little fleet approached the point, Warner and his men were
Although Captain Baker's party was but a mile away at that time,
when they gained the shore the garrison had been surrendered without
the firing of a gun, and the booming of the cannon told that again were
the imitation soldiers successful in their efforts to teach his
majesty a lesson.
One hundred and fourteen cannon, of which sixty-one were fit for
service, were among the spoils on this morning, and after having made
up a list of such goods as were found in the fort, Seth Warner did the
two lads the great favor of sending them to Colonel Allen with the news
of the bloodless victory.
Go you on ahead, lads, Captain Baker said when the boys had been
intrusted with the message. I won't spoil a good fortune by seeming to
accompany you; but will linger here until you are well on the way, and
after having given Ethan Allen the best news he could possibly receive
at such a critical time, I very much question whether you may not ask
whatsoever you will from him.
Hurriedly the messengers departed in order that they might arrive
well in advance of Captain Baker's company, and when they were pulling
down the lake, Isaac said thoughtfully:
You heard what Captain Baker said, that Colonel Allen might grant
anything we asked?
Yes, and I know what is in your mind this minute.
Name it then.
You think I am counting on asking him for money.
Isaac's face flushed and he made no reply.
I might have done so a few days ago, but now I am coming around on
the same track with father, and say that the colonists do right in
resisting the king. If it so be he permits, I will enlist this day.
And Nathan Beman kept his promise, even going so far as to desire
Corporal 'Lige should stand sponsor for him when, the message having
been delivered, Colonel Allen thanked them again and again for the
cheering intelligence and asked what they would choose as their reward.
Only the permission to enlist, Nathan said, and the colonel stared
at him in open-mouthed astonishment for several seconds, after which he
asked with a laugh:
Are you not the same lad who so thirsted for money that he refused
to show the way into the fort unless first paid for his services?
Ay, sir; but I have come to think differently since then, and now
I'm going for a soldier, because it looks to me as if the colonists
would speedily worst the king.
Whereas a few days ago it appeared to you that the boot was on the
I did not think farmers could be turned into soldiers, sir.
You may readily believe it now, lad, more especially since you have
seen how easy it is for one who was almost a royalist to become a good
American, and now I am speaking of yourself. Enlist wherever you will,
and I will take it upon myself to see that both you lads rise in the
service as rapidly as you shall deserve.