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Now, a few pleasant days of winter came. The ground dried under comparatively warm winds, and the forest awoke. They heard everywhere the ripple of running water, and wild animals came out of their dens. Tayoga shot a young bear which made a welcome addition to their supplies.
"I hold that there's nothing better in the woods than young bear," said Willet, as he ate a juicy steak Robert had broiled over the coals. "Venison is mighty good, especially so when you're hungry, but you can get tired of it. What say you, Tayoga?"
"It is true," replied the Onondaga. "Fat young bear is very fine. None of us wants one thing all the time, and we want something besides meat, too. The nations of the Hodenosaunee are great and civilized, much ahead of the other red people, because they plant gardens and orchards and fields, and have grain and vegetables, corn, beans, squash and many other things good for the table."
"And the Iroquois, while they grow more particular about the table, remain the most valiant of all the forest people. I see your point, Tayoga. Civilization doesn't take anything from a man's courage and tenacity. Rather it adds to them. There are our enemies, the French, who are as brave and enduring as anybody, and yet they're the best cooks in the world, and more particular about their food than any other nation."
"You always speak of the French with a kind of affection, Dave," said Robert.
"I suppose I do," said the hunter. "I have reasons."
"As I know now, Dave, you've been in Paris, can't you tell us something about the city?"
"It's the finest town in the world, Robert, and they've the brightest, gayest life there, at least a part of 'em have, but things are not going right at home with the French. They say a whole nation's fortune has been sunk in the palace at Versailles, and the people are growing poorer all the time, but the government hopes to dazzle 'em by waging a successful and brilliant war over here. I repeat, though, Robert, that I like the French. A great nation, sound at the core, splendid soldiers as we're seeing, and as we're likely to see for a long time to come."
They pushed on with all speed toward Mount Johnson, the weather still favoring them, making their last camp in a fine oak grove, and reckoning that they would achieve their journey's end before noon the next day. They did not build any fire that night, but when they rose at dawn they saw the smoke of somebody else's fire on the eastern horizon.
"It couldn't be the enemy," said Willet. "He wouldn't let his smoke go up here for all the world to see, so near to the home of Colonel William Johnson and within the range of the Mohawks."
"That is so," said Tayoga. "It is likely to be some force of Colonel Johnson himself, and we can advance with certainty."
Looking well to their arms in the possible contingency of a foe, they pushed forward through the woodland, the smoke growing meanwhile as if those who had built the fire either felt sure of friendly territory, or were ready to challenge the world. The Onondaga presently held up a hand and the three stopped.
"What is it, Tayoga?" asked the hunter.
"I wish to sing a song."
"Then sing it, Tayoga."
A bird suddenly gave forth a long, musical, thrilling note. It rose in a series of trills, singularly penetrating, and died away in a haunting echo. A few moments of silence and then from a point in the forest in front of them another bird sang a like song.
"They are friends," said Tayoga, who was the first bird, "and it may be, since we are within the range of the Mohawks, that it is our friend, the great young chief Daganoweda, who replied. I do not think any one else could sing a song so like my own."
"I'm wagering that it's Daganoweda and nobody else," said Willet confidently, and scorning cover now they advanced at increased speed toward the fire.
A splendid figure, tall, heroic, the nose lofty and beaked like that of an ancient Roman, the feather headdress brilliant and defiant like that of Tayoga, came forward to meet them, and Robert saw with intense pleasure that it was none other than Daganoweda himself. Nor was the delight of the young Mohawk chieftain any less--the taciturnity and blank faces of Indians disappeared among their friends--and he came forward, smiling and uttering words of welcome.
"Daganoweda," said Willet, "the sight of you is balm to the eyes. Your name means in our language, 'The Inexhaustible' and you're an inexhaustible friend. You're always appearing when we need you most, and that's the very finest kind of a friend."
"Great Bear, Tayoga and Dagaeoga come out of the great wilderness," said Daganoweda, smiling.
"So we do, Daganoweda. We've been there a long time, but we were not so idle."
"I have heard of the fort that was built in the forest and how the young white soldiers with the help of Great Bear, Tayoga and Dagaeoga beat off the French and the savage tribes."
"I supposed that runners of the Hodenosaunee would keep you informed. Well, the fort is there and our people still hold it, and we are here, anxious to get back into the main stream of big events. Who are at the fire, Daganoweda?"
"Waraiyageh (Colonel William Johnson) himself is there. He was fishing yesterday, it being an idle time for a few days, and with ten of my warriors I joined him last night. He will be glad to see you, Great Bear, whom he knows. And he will be glad to meet Tayoga and Dagaeoga who are to bear great names."
"Easy, Daganoweda, easy!" laughed Willet.
"These are fine lads, but don't flatter 'em too much just yet. They've done brave deeds, but before this war is over they'll have to do a lot more. We'll go with you and meet Colonel Johnson."
As they walked toward the fire a tall, strongly built man, of middle years, dressed in the uniform of an English officer, came forward to meet them. His face, with a distinct Irish cast, was frank, open and resolute.
"Ah, Willet, my friend," he said, extending his hand. "So you and I meet again, and glad I am to hold your fingers in mine once more. A faithful report has come to us of what you did in Quebec, and it seems the Willet of old has not changed much."
The hunter reddened under his tan.
"It was forced upon me, colonel," he said.
Colonel William Johnson laughed heartily.
"And he who forced it did not live to regret it," he said. "I've heard that French officers themselves did not blame you, but as for me, knowing you as I do, I'd have expected no less of David Willet."
He laughed again, and his laugh was deep and hearty. Robert, looking closely at him, thought him a fine, strong man, and he was quite sure he would like him. The colonel glanced at him and Tayoga, and the hunter said:
"Colonel Johnson, I wish to present Tayoga, who is of the most ancient blood of the Onondagas, a member of the Clan of the Bear, and destined to be a great chief. A most valiant and noble youth, too, I assure you, and the white lad is Robert Lennox, to whom I stand in the place of a father."
"I have heard of Tayoga," said Colonel Johnson, "and his people and mine are friends."
"It is true," said Tayoga, "Waraiyageh has been the best friend among the white people that the nations of the Hodenosaunee have ever had. He has never tricked us. He has never lied to us, and often he has incurred great hardship and danger to help us."
"It is pleasant in my ears to hear you say so, Tayoga," said Colonel Johnson, "and as for Mr. Lennox, who, my eyes tell me is also a noble and gallant youth, it seems to me I've heard some report of him too. You carried the private letters from the Governor of New York to the Marquis Duquesne, Governor General of Canada?"
"I did, sir," replied Robert.
"And of course you were there with Willet. Your mission, I believe, was kept as secret as possible, but I learned at Albany that you bore yourself well, and that you also gave an exhibition with the sword."
It was Robert's turn to flush.
"I'm a poor swordsman, sir," he said, "by the side of Mr. Willet."
"Good enough though, for the occasion. But come, I'll make an end to badinage. You must be on your way to Mount Johnson."
"That was our destination," said Willet.
"Then right welcome guests you'll be. I have a little camp but a short distance away. Molly is there, and so is that young eagle, her brother, Joseph Brant. Molly will see that you're well served with food, and after that you shall stay at Mount Johnson as long as you like, and the longer you'll stay the better it will please Molly and me. You shall tell us of your adventures, Mr. Lennox, and about that Quebec in which you and Mr. Willet seem to have cut so wide a swath with your rapiers."
"We did but meet the difficulties that were forced upon us," protested Willet.
Colonel Johnson laughed once more, and most heartily.
"If all people met in like fashion the difficulties that were forced upon them," he said, "it would be a wondrous efficient world, so much superior to the world that now is that one would never dream they had been the same. But just beyond the hill is our little camp which, for want of a better name, I'll call a bower. Here is Joseph, now, coming to meet us."
An Indian lad of about eleven years, but large and uncommonly strong for his age, was walking down the hill toward them. He was dressed partly in civilized clothing, and his manner was such that he would have drawn the notice of the observing anywhere. His face was open and strong, with great width between the eyes, and his gaze was direct and firm. Robert knew at once that here was an unusual boy, one destined if he lived to do great things. His prevision was more than fulfilled. It was Joseph Brant, the renowned Thayendanegea, the most famous and probably the ablest Indian chief with whom the white men ever came into contact.
"This is Joseph Brant, the brother of Molly, my wife, and hence my young brother-in-law," said Colonel Johnson. "Joseph, our new friends are David Willet, known to the Hodenosaunee as the Great Bear, Robert Lennox, who seems to be in some sort a ward of Mr. Willet, and Tayoga, of the Clan of the Bear, of your great brother nation, Onondaga."
Young Thayendanegea saluted them all in a friendly but dignified way. He, like Tayoga, had a white education, and spoke perfect, but measured English.
"We welcome you," he said. "Colonel Johnson, sir, my sister has already seen the strangers from the hill, and is anxious to greet them."
"Molly, for all her dignity, has her fair share of curiosity," laughed Colonel Johnson, "and since it's our duty to gratify it, we'll go forward."
Robert had heard often of Molly Brant, the famous Mohawk wife of Colonel, afterward Sir William Johnson, a great figure in that region in her time, and he was eager to see her. He beheld a woman, young, tall, a face decidedly Iroquois, but handsome and lofty. She wore the dress of the white people, and it was of fine material. She obviously had some of the distinguished character that had already set its seal upon her young brother, then known as Keghneghtada, his famous name of Thayendanegea to come later. Her husband presented the three, and she received them in turn in a manner that was quiet and dignified, although Robert could see her examining them with swift Indian eyes that missed nothing. And with his knowledge of both white heart and red heart, of white manner and red manner, he was aware that he stood in the presence of a great lady, a great lady who fitted into her setting of the vast New York wilderness. So, with the ornate manner of the day, he bent over and kissed her hand as he was presented.
"Madam," he said, "it is a great pleasure to us to meet Colonel Johnson here in the forest, but we have the unexpected and still greater pleasure of meeting his lady also."
Colonel Johnson laughed, and patted Robert on the shoulder.
"Mr. Willet has been whispering to me something about you," he said. "He has been telling me of your gift of speech, and by my faith, he has not told all of it. You do address the ladies in a most graceful fashion, and Molly likes it. I can see that."
"Assuredly I do, sir," said she who had been Molly Brant, the Mohawk, but who was now the wife of the greatest man in the north country. "Tis a goodly youth and he speaks well. I like him, and he shall have the best our house can offer."
Colonel Johnson's mellow laugh rang out again.
"Spoken like a woman of spirit, Molly," he said. "I expected none the less of you. It's in the blood of the Ganeagaono and had you answered otherwise you would have been unworthy of your cousin, Daganoweda, here."
The young Mohawk chieftain smiled. Johnson, who had married a girl of their race, could jest with the Mohawks almost as he pleased, and among themselves and among those whom they trusted the Indians were fond of joking and laughter.
"The wife of Waraiyageh not only has a great chief for a husband," he said, "but she is a great chief herself. Among the Wyandots she would be one of the rulers."
The women were the governing power in the valiant Wyandot nation, and Daganoweda could pay his cousin no higher compliment.
"We talk much," said Colonel Johnson, "but we must remember that our friends are tired. They've come afar in bad weather. We must let them rest now and give them refreshment."
He led the way to the light summer house that he had called a bower. It was built of poles and thatch, and was open on the eastern side, where it faced a fine creek running with a strong current. A fire was burning in one corner, and a heavy curtain of tanned skins could be draped over the wide doorway. Articles of women's apparel hung on the walls, and others indicating woman's work stood about. There were also chairs of wicker, and a lounge covered with haircloth. It was a comfortable place, the most attractive that Robert had seen in a long time, and his eyes responded to it with a glitter that Colonel Johnson noticed.
"I don't wonder that you like it, lad," he said. "I've spent some happy hours here myself, when I came in weary or worn from hunting or fishing. But sit you down, all three of you. I'll warrant me that you're weary enough, tramping through this wintry forest. Blunt, shove the faggots closer together and make up a better fire."
The command was to a white servant who obeyed promptly, but Madame Johnson herself had already shifted the chairs for the guests, and had taken their deerskin cloaks. Without ceasing to be the great lady she moved, nevertheless, with a lightness of foot and a celerity that was all a daughter of the forest. Robert watched her with fascinated eyes as she put the summer house in order and made it ready for the comfort of her guests. Here was one who had acquired civilization without losing the spirit of the wild. She was an educated and well bred woman, the wife of the most powerful man in the colonies, and she was at the same time a true Mohawk. Robert knew as he looked at her that if left alone in the wilderness she could take care of herself almost as well as her cousin, Daganoweda, the young chief.
Then his gaze shifted from Molly Brant to her brother. Despite his youth all his actions showed pride and unlimited confidence in himself. He stood near the door, and addressed Robert in English, asking him questions about himself, and he also spoke to Tayoga, showing him the greatest friendliness.
"We be of the mighty brother nations, Onondaga and Mohawk, the first of the great League," he said, "and some day we will sit together in the councils of the fifty sachems in the vale of Onondaga."
"It is so," said Tayoga gravely, speaking to the young lad as man to man. "We will ever serve the Hodenosaunee as our fathers before us have done."
"Leave the subject of the Hodenosaunee," said Colonel Johnson cheerily. "I know that you lads are prouder of your birth than the old Roman patricians ever were, but Mr. Willet, Mr. Lennox and I were not fortunate enough to be born into the great League, and you will perhaps arouse our jealousy or envy. Come, gentlemen, sit you down and eat and drink."
His Mohawk wife seconded the request and food and drink were served. Robert saw that the bower was divided into two rooms the one beyond them evidently being a sleeping chamber, but the evidences of comfort, even luxury, were numerous, making the place an oasis in the wilderness. Colonel Johnson had wine, which Robert did not touch, nor did Tayoga nor Daganoweda, and there were dishes of china or silver brought from England. He noticed also, and it was an unusual sight in a lodge in the forest, about twenty books upon two shelves. From his chair he read the titles, Le Brun's "Battles of Alexander," a bound volume of The Gentleman's Magazine, "Roderick Random," and several others. Colonel Johnson's eyes followed him.
"I see that you are a reader," he said. "I know it because your eyes linger upon my books. I have packages brought from time to time from England, and, before I came upon this expedition, I had these sent ahead of me to the bower that I might dip into them in the evenings if I felt so inclined. Reading gives us a wider horizon, and, at the same time, takes us away from the day's troubles."
"I agree with you heartily, sir," said Robert, "but, unfortunately, we have little time for reading now."
"That is true," sighed Colonel Johnson. "I fear it's going to be a long and terrible war. What do you see, Joseph?"
Young Brant was sitting with his face to the door, and he had risen suddenly.
"A runner comes," he replied. "He is in the forest beyond the creek, but I see that he is one of our own people. He comes fast."
Colonel Johnson also arose.
"Can it be some trouble among the Ganeagaono?" he said.
"I think not," said the Indian boy.
The runner emerged from the wood, crossed the creek and stood in the doorway of the bower. He was a tall, thin young Mohawk, and he panted as if he had come fast and long.
"What is it, Oagowa?" asked Colonel Johnson.
"A hostile band, Hurons, Abenakis, Caughnawagas, and others, has entered the territory of the Ganeagaono on the west," replied the warrior. "They are led by an Ojibway chief, a giant, called Tandakora."
Robert uttered an exclamation.
"The name of the Ojibway attracts your attention," said Colonel Johnson.
"We've had many encounters with him," replied the youth. "Besides hating the Hodenosaunee and all the white people, I think he also has a personal grievance against Mr. Willet, Tayoga and myself. He is the most bitter and persistent of all our enemies."
"Then this man must be dealt with. I can't go against him myself. Other affairs press too much, but I can raise a force with speed."
"Let me go, sir, against Tandakora!" exclaimed young Brant eagerly and in English.
Colonel Johnson looked at him a moment, his eyes glistening, and then he laughed, not with irony but gently and with approval.
"Truly 'tis a young eagle," he said, "but, Joseph, you must remember that your years are yet short of twelve, and you still have much time to spend over the books in which you have done so well. If I let you be cut off at such an early age you can never become the great chief you are destined to be. Bide a while, Joseph, and your cousin, Daganoweda, will attend to this Ojibway who has wandered so far from his own country."
Young Brant made no protest. Trained in the wonderful discipline of the Hodenosaunee he knew that he must obey before he could command. He resumed his seat quietly, but his eager eyes watched his tall cousin, the young Mohawk chieftain, as Colonel Johnson gave him orders.
"Take with you the warriors that you have now, Daganoweda," he said. "Gather the fifty who are now encamped at Teugega. Take thirty more from Talaquega, and I think that will be enough. I don't know you, Daganoweda, and I don't know your valiant Mohawk warriors, if you are not able to account thoroughly for the Ojibway and his men. Don't come back until you've destroyed them or driven them out of your country."
Colonel Johnson's tone was at once urgent and complimentary. It intimated that the work was important and that Daganoweda would be sure to do it. The Mohawk's eyes glittered in his dark face. He lifted his hand in a salute, glided from the bower, and a moment later he and his warriors passed from sight in the forest.
"That cousin of yours, Molly, deserves his rank of chief," said Colonel Johnson. "The task that he is to do I consider as good as done already. Tandakora was too daring, when he ventured into the lands of the Ganeagaono. Now, if you gentlemen will be so good as to be our guests we'll pass the night here, and tomorrow we'll go to Mount Johnson."
It was agreeable to Robert, Willet and Tayoga, and they spent the remainder of the day most pleasantly at the bower. Colonel Johnson, feeling that they were three whom he could trust, talked freely and unveiled a mind fitted for great affairs.
"I tell you three," he said, "that this will be one of the most important wars the world has known. To London and Paris we seem lost in the woods out here, and perhaps at the courts they think little of us or they do not think at all, but the time must come when the New World will react upon the Old. Consider what a country it is, with its lakes, its forests, its rivers, and its fertile lands, which extend beyond the reckoning of man. The day will arrive when there will be a power here greater than either England or France. Such a land cannot help but nourish it."
He seemed to be much moved, and spoke a long time in the same vein, but his Indian wife never said a word. She moved about now and then, and, as before, her footsteps making no noise, being as light as those of any animal of the forest.
The dusk came up to the door. They heard the ripple of the creek, but could not see its waters. Madam Johnson lighted a wax candle, and Colonel Johnson stopped suddenly.
"I have talked too much. I weary you," he said.
"Oh, no, sir!" protested Robert eagerly. "Go on! We would gladly listen to you all night."
"That I think would be too great a weight upon us all," laughed Colonel Johnson. "You are weary. You must be so from your long marching and my heavy disquisitions. We'll have beds made for you three and Joseph here. Molly and I sleep in the next room."
Robert was glad to have soft furs and a floor beneath him, and when he lay down it was with a feeling of intense satisfaction. He liked Colonel William Johnson, and knew that he had a friend in him. He was anxious for advancement in the great world, and he understood what it was to have powerful support. Already he stood high with the Hodenosaunee, and now he had found favor with the famous Waraiyageh.
They left in the morning for Mount Johnson, and there were horses for all except the Indians, although one was offered to Tayoga. But he declined to ride--the nations of the Hodenosaunee were not horsemen, and kept pace with them at the long easy gait used by the Indian runner. Robert himself was not used to the saddle, but he was glad enough to accept it, after their great march through the wilderness.
The weather continued fine for winter, crisp, clear, sparkling with life and the spirits of all were high. Colonel Johnson beckoned to Robert to ride by the side of him and the two led the way. Kegneghtada, despite his extreme youth, had refused a horse also, and was swinging along by the side of Tayoga, stride for stride. A perfect understanding and friendship had already been established between the Onondaga and the Mohawk, and as they walked they talked together earnestly, young Brant bearing himself as if he were on an equal footing with his brother warrior, Tayoga. Colonel Johnson looked at them, smiled approval and said to Robert:
"I have called my young brother-in-law an eagle, and an eagle he truly is. We're apt to think, Mr. Lennox, that we white people alone gather our forces and prepare for some aim distant but great. But the Indian intellect is often keen and powerful, as I have had good cause to know. Many of their chiefs have an acuteness and penetration not surpassed in the councils of white men. The great Mohawk whom we call King Hendrick probably has more intellect than most of the sovereigns on their thrones in Europe. And as for Joseph, the lad there who so gallantly keeps step with the Onondaga, where will you find a white boy who can excel him? He absorbs the learning of our schools as fast as any boy of our race whom I have ever known, and, at the same time, he retains and improves all the lore and craft of the red people."
"You have found the Mohawks a brave and loyal race," said Robert, knowing the colonel was upon a favorite theme of his.
"That I have, Mr. Lennox. I came among them a boy. I was a trader then, and I settled first only a few miles from their largest town, Dyiondarogon. I tried to keep faith with them and as a result I found them always keeping faith with me. Then, when I went to Oghkwaga, I had the same experience. The Indians were defrauded in the fur trade by white swindlers, but dishonesty, besides being bad in itself, does not pay, Mr. Lennox. Bear that in mind. You may cheat for a while with success, but in time nobody will do business with you. Though you, I take it, will never be a merchant."
"It is not because I frown upon the merchant's calling, sir. I esteem it a high and noble one. But my mind does not turn to it."
"So I gather from what I have seen of you, and from what Mr. Willet tells me. I've been hearing of your gift of oratory. You need not blush, my lad. If we have a gift we should accept it thankfully, and make the best use of it we can. You, I take it, will be a lawyer, then a public man, and you will sway the public mind. There should be grand occasions for such as you in a country like this, with its unlimited future."
They came presently into a region of cultivation, fields which would be green with grain in the spring, showing here and there, and the smoke from the chimney of a stout log house rising now and then. Where a creek broke into a swift white fall stood a grist mill, and from a wood the sound of axes was heard.
Robert's vivid imagination, which responded to all changes, kindled at once. He liked the wilderness, and it always made a great impression upon him, and he also took the keenest interest and delight in everything that civilization could offer. Now his spirit leaped up to meet what lay before him.
He found at Mount Johnson comfort and luxury that he had not expected, an abundance of all that the wilderness furnished, mingled with importations from Europe. He slept in a fine bed, he looked into more books, he saw on the walls reproductions of Titian and Watteau, and also pictures of race horses that had made themselves famous at Newmarket, he wrote letters to Albany on good paper, he could seal them with either black or red wax, and there were musical instruments upon one or two of which he could play.
Robert found all these things congenial. The luxury or what might have seemed luxury on the border, had in it nothing of decadence. There was an air of vigor, and Colonel Johnson, although he did not neglect his guests, plunged at once and deeply into business. A little village, dependent upon him and his affairs had grown up about him, and there were white men more or less in his service, some of whom he sent at once on missions for the war. Through it all his Indian wife glided quietly, but Robert saw that she was a wonderful help, managing with ease, and smoothing away many a difficulty.
Despite the restraint of manner, the people at Mount Johnson were full of excitement. The news from Canada and also from the west became steadily more ominous. The French power was growing fast and the warriors of the wild tribes were crowding in thousands to the Bourbon banner. Robert heard again of St. Luc and of some daring achievement of his, and despite himself he felt as always a thrill at the name, and a runner also brought the news that more French troops had gone into the Ohio country.
The fourth night of their stay at Mount Johnson Robert remained awake late. He and young Brant, the great Thayendanegea that was to be, had already formed a great friendship, the beginning of which was made easier by Robert's knowledge of Indian nature and sympathy with it. The two wrapped in fur cloaks had gone a little distance from the house, because Brant said that a bear driven by hunger had come to the edge of the village, and they were looking for its tracks. But Robert was more interested in observing the Indian boy than in finding the foot prints of the bear.
"Joseph," he said, "you expect, of course, to be a great warrior and chief some day."
The boy's eyes glittered.
"There is nothing else for which I would care," he replied. "Hark, Dagaeoga, did you hear the cry of a night bird?"
"I did, Joseph, but like you I don't think it's the voice of a real bird. It's a signal."
"So it is, and unless I reckon ill it's the signal of my cousin Daganoweda, returning from the great war trail that he has trod against the wild Ojibway, Tandakora."
The song of a bird trilled from his own throat in reply, and then from the forest came Daganoweda and his warriors in a dusky file. Robert and young Brant fell in with them and walked toward the house. Not a word was spoken, but the eyes of the Mohawk chieftain were gleaming, and his bearing expressed the very concentrated essence of haughty pride. At the house they stopped, and, young Brant going in, brought forth Colonel Johnson.
"Well, Daganoweda," said the white man.
"I met Tandakora two days' journey north of Mount Johnson," replied the Mohawk. "His numbers were equal to our own, but his warriors were not the warriors of the Hodenosaunee. Six of the Ganeagaono are gone, Waraiyageh, and sixteen more have wounds, from which they will recover, but when Tandakora began his flight toward Canada eighteen of his men lay dead, eight more fell in the pursuit, which was so fast that we bring back with us forty muskets and rifles."
"Well done, Daganoweda," said Colonel Johnson. "You have proved yourself anew a great warrior and chief, but you did not have to prove it to me. I knew it long ago. Fine new rifles, and blankets of blue or red or green have just come from Albany, half of which shall be distributed among your men in the morning."
"Waraiyageh never forgets his friends," said the appreciative Mohawk.
He withdrew with his warriors, knowing that the promise would be kept.
"Why was I not allowed to go with them?" mourned young Brant.
Colonel Johnson laughed and patted his shiny black head.
"Never mind, young fire-eater," he said. "We'll all of us soon have our fill of war--and more."
Robert was present at the distribution of rifles and blankets the next morning, and he knew that Colonel Johnson had bound the Mohawks to him and the English and American cause with another tie. Daganoweda and his warriors, gratified beyond expression, took the war path again.
"They'll remain a barrier between us and the French and their allies," said Colonel Johnson, "and faith we'll need 'em. The other nations of the Hodenosaunee wish to keep out of the war, but the Mohawks will be with us to the last. Their great chief, King Hendrick, is our devoted friend, and so is his brother, Abraham. This, too, in spite of the bad treatment of the Ganeagaono by the Dutch at Albany. O, I have nothing to say against the Dutch, a brave and tenacious people, but they have their faults, like other races, and sometimes they let avarice overcome them! I wish they could understand the nations of the Hodenosaunee better. Do what you can at Albany, Mr. Lennox, with that facile tongue of yours, to persuade the Dutch--and the others too--that the danger from the French and Indians is great, and that we must keep the friendship of the Six Nations."
"I will do my best, sir," promised Robert modestly. "I at least ought to know the power and loyalty of the Hodenosaunee, since I have been adopted into the great League and Tayoga, an Onondaga, is my brother, in all but blood."
"And I stand in the same position," said Willet firmly. "We understand, sir, your great attachment for the Six Nations, and the vast service you have done for the English among them. If we can supplement it even in some small degree we shall spare no effort to do so."
"I know it, Mr. Willet, and yet my heart is heavy to see the land I love devastated by fire and sword."
Colonel Johnson loaned them horses, and an escort of two of his own soldiers who would bring back the horses, and they started for Albany amid many hospitable farewells.
"You and I shall meet again," said young Brant to Robert.
"I hope so," said Robert.
"It will be as allies and comrades on the battle field."
"But you are too young, Joseph, yet to take part in war."
"I shall not be next year, and the war will not be over then, so my brother, Colonel William Johnson says, and he knows."
Robert looked at the sturdy young figure and the eager eyes, and he knew that the Indian lad would not be denied.
Then the little party rode into the woods, and proceeded without event to Albany.
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