Don't you think we'd better creep back? he whispered to St. Clair. Some of them taking a short cut may ride right upon us.
Yes, it's time to make ourselves scarce.
They turned back, going as rapidly as they dared, but that which Harry had feared came to pass. The rear files of the horsemen, evidently intending to go to the other side of the camp, rode through the low bushes. Four of them passed so near the boys that they caught in the moonlight a glimpse of the two stooping figures.
This version includes new illustrations.
In the wilderness of the Northeast, Robert Lennox’s life is staked on how well he can evade the fierce Tandakora and his persistent warriors. Attuned to every sound and movement in the forest, he follows birds and hides his tracks in bubbling brooks en route to joining up with his friends Tayoga, an Onondaga warrior, and David Willet, a skilled hunter. Two forces compete in Robert’s mind: a deep reverence for the beauty of the natural world, and an entrenched unease over ever-lurking danger.
First published in 1919, The Lords of the Wild is a heralded entry in Joseph A. Altsheler’s French and Indian War Series, which follows the exploits of young Robert Lennox and his friends as they are embroiled in one of the most tumultuous conflicts of American colonial history.
This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
The deer sought its covert, a buffalo, grazing in a little prairie, thrust its huge form into a thicket, the squirrel lay snug in its nest in the hollow of a tree, and the bird in the shelter of the foliage ceased to sing. The only sounds were those of the elements, and the world seemed to have returned to the primeval state that had endured for ages. It was the kingdom of fur, fin and feather, and, so far as the casual eye could have seen, man had not yet come.
He sat for a time gazing out of the window at the gray, wintry landscape that fled past, and then, having a youthful zest for new things, looked at those who traveled with him in the car. The company seemed to him, on the whole, to lack novelty and interest, being composed of farmers going to the capital of the Confederacy to sell food; wounded soldiers like himself, bound for the same place in search of cure; and one woman who sat in a corner alone, neither speaking nor spoken to, her whole aspect repelling any rash advance.
The scene cast a singular spell, uncanny and exciting, over young Clarke. The sweep of plains on one side, and on the other the dim outline of mountains behind which a blood-red sun was sinking, gave it a setting at once majestic and full of menace. The horizon, as the twilight spread over its whole surface, suggested the wilderness, the unknown and many dangers.
It was a white caravan that looked down from the crest of the mountains upon the green wilderness, called by the Indians, Kain-tuck-ee. The wagons, a score or so in number, were covered with arched canvas, bleached by the rains, and, as they stood there, side by side, they looked like a snowdrift against the emerald expanse of forest and foliage.
The fleet of boats and canoes bearing supplies for the far east turned from the Mississippi into the wide mouth of the Ohio, and it seemed, for a time, that they had come into a larger river instead of a tributary. The splendid stream, called by the Indians "The Beautiful River," flowed silently, a huge flood between high banks, and there was not one among the voyagers who did not feel instinctively the depths beneath him.
A canoe containing two boys and a man was moving slowly on one of the little lakes in the great northern wilderness of what is now the State of New York. The water, a brilliant blue under skies of the same intense sapphire tint, rippled away gently on either side of the prow, or rose in heaps of glittering bubbles, as the paddles were lifted for a new stroke.
Vast masses of dense foliage in the tender green of early spring crowned the high banks of the lake on every side. The eye found no break anywhere. Only the pink or delicate red of a wild flower just bursting into bloom varied the solid expanse of emerald walls; and save for the canoe and a bird of prey, darting in a streak of silver for a fish, the surface of the water was lone and silent.
He showed skill and rapidity in his homely task. A shining needle darted in and out of the gray cloth, and the rent that had seemed hopeless was being closed up with neatness and precision. No one derided him because he was engaged upon a task that was usually performed by women. The Army of Northern Virginia did its own sewing.
John Scott and Philip Lannes walked together down a great boulevard of Paris. The young American's heart was filled with grief and anger. The Frenchman felt the same grief, but mingled with it was a fierce, burning passion, so deep and bitter that it took a much stronger word than anger to describe it.
Both had heard that morning the mutter of cannon on the horizon, and they knew the German conquerors were advancing. They were always advancing. Nothing had stopped them. The metal and masonry of the defenses at Liège had crumbled before their huge guns like china breaking under stone. The giant shells had scooped out the forts at Maubeuge, Maubeuge the untakable, as if they had been mere eggshells, and the mighty Teutonic host came on, almost without a check.
It would soon be Christmas and Harry Kenton, at his desk in the Pendleton Academy, saw the snow falling heavily outside. The school stood on the skirt of the town, and the forest came down to the edge of the playing field. The great trees, oak and ash and elm, were clothed in white, and they stood out a vast and glittering tracery against the somber sky.
The desk was of the old kind, intended for two, and Harry's comrade in it was his cousin, Dick Mason, of his own years and size. They would graduate in June, and both were large and powerful for their age. There was a strong family resemblance and yet a difference. Harry's face was the more sensitive and at times the blood leaped like quicksilver in his veins. Dick's features indicated a quieter and more stubborn temper. They were equal favorites with teachers and pupils.
The wilderness rolled away to north and to south, and also it rolled away to east and to west, an unbroken sweep of dark, glossy green. Straight up stood the mighty trunks, but the leaves rippled and sang low when a gentle south wind breathed upon them. It was the forest as God made it, the magnificent valley of North America, upon whose edges the white man had just begun to nibble.
The scene was wild and primordial. To an eye looking down it would have seemed that man had never come there, and that this was the dawn of time. The deep waters lapped the silent shore until a gentle sighing sound arose, a sound that may have gone on unheard for ages. Close to the water a file of wild ducks flew like an arrow to the north, and, in a little cove where the current came in shallow waves, a stag bent his head to drink.
Paul stopped in a little open space, and looked around all the circle of the forest. Everywhere it was the same--just the curving wall of red and brown, and beyond, the blue sky, flecked with tiny clouds of white. The wilderness was full of beauty, charged with the glory of peace and silence, and there was naught to indicate that man had ever come. The leaves rippled a little in the gentle west wind, and the crisping grass bowed before it; but Paul saw no living being, save himself, in the vast, empty world.