The Lords of the Wild by Joseph A. Altsheler
Chapter X. In the Fog
When Robert went into the fog and began to creep from stump to stump, his imagination leaped up at once and put a foe at every point in front of him. Perhaps he deserved more credit for courage and daring than any of the others, because his vivid fancy foresaw all the dangers and more. Tayoga was on his right and Willet on his left. Daganoweda, who had all the eagerness of Black Rifle himself, was farther down the line. Flashes of fire appeared now and then in the fog ahead of them, and bullets hummed over their heads.
Robert, essentially humane, began to share, nevertheless, the zeal of these hunters of men around him. The French and Canadians were seeking their lives and they must strike back. He peered through the fog, looking for a chance to fire, forgetting the wet ground, and the rain which was fast soaking him through and through. He was concerned only to keep his rifle and powder dry. Two flashes on his right showed that the defenders were already replying.
"We cannot go much farther, Dagaeoga," whispered Tayoga, "or we will be among them. I shall take this stump just ahead."
"And I the one beside it. I don't mind admitting that a thick stump between you and your enemy is a good thing."
He sank down behind his chosen bulwark, and stared through the fog. The flashes of fire continued, but they were on his right and left, and nothing appeared directly in front of him. A cry came from a point farther down the line. One of the defenders had been hit and presently another fell. Robert again saw all the dangers and more, but his mind was in complete command of his body and he watched with unfailing vigilance. He saw Willet suddenly level his rifle across his protecting stump and fire. No cry came in response, but he believed that the hunter's bullet had found its target. Tayoga also pulled trigger, but Robert did not yet see anything at which to aim, although the sound of shots from the two hostile fronts was now almost continuous.
The combat in the dim mists had a certain weird quality and Robert's imaginative mind heightened its effect. It was almost like the blind shooting at the blind. A pink dot would appear in the fog, expand a little, and then go out. There would be a sharp report, the whistling of a bullet, perhaps, and that was all. The white men fought in silence, and, if there were any Indians with the French and Canadians they imitated them.
Robert, at last, caught a glimpse of a dusky figure about thirty yards in front of him, and, aiming his rifle, quickly fired. He had no way of knowing that he had hit, save that no shot came in reply, but Tayoga, who was once again ear to the ground, said that their foes were drawing back a little.
"They find our fire hotter than they had expected," he said. "If they can shoot in the fog so can we, and the Great Bear is more than a match for them in such a contest."
The whole line crept forward and paused again behind another row of stumps. A general volley met them and they found protection none too soon. Bullets chipped little pieces off the stumps or struck in the ground about them. But Robert knew that they had been fired largely at random, or had been drawn perhaps by a slight noise. There was a strong temptation to return the fire in a like manner, but he had the strength of mind to withhold his aim for the present, and not shoot until he had a sure target.
Yet the dim battle in the fog increased in volume. More skirmishers from the forces of St. Luc came up, and the line of fire spread to both left and right. A yell was heard now and then, and it was evident that the Indians in large numbers were coming into the combat. Willet's band was reenforced also from the camp, and his line extended to meet that of the foe. Rifles cracked incessantly, the white fog was sprinkled with pink dots, and, above the heads of the men, it was darkened by the smoke that rose from the firing. At rare intervals a deep cheer from a borderer replied to the savage war whoop.
A man four stumps from Robert was hit in the head and died without a sound, but Willet, firing at the flash of the rifle that slew him, avenged his loss. A bullet grazed Robert's head, cutting off two locks of hair very neatly. Its passage took his breath for a moment or two, and gave him a shock, but he recovered quickly, and, still controlling his impulse to pull trigger in haste, looked for something at which to aim.
The fog had not lifted at all, but by gazing into its heart a long time, Robert was able to see a little distance. Now and then the figure of an enemy, as he leaped from the shelter of one stump to another, was outlined dimly, but invariably there was not enough time for a shot. Soon he made out a large stump not very far ahead of him, and he saw the flash of a rifle from it. He caught a glimpse only of the hands that held the weapon, but he believed them to be a white man's hands and he believed also that the man behind the stump was one of the best French sharpshooters.
Robert resolved to bring down the Frenchman, who presently, when firing once more, might then expose enough of himself for a target. He waited patiently and the second shot came. He saw the hands again, the arms, part of one shoulder and the side of the head, and taking quick aim he pulled the trigger, though he was satisfied that his bullet had missed.
But the flame of battle was lighted in Robert's soul. Hating nobody and wishing good to all, he nevertheless sought to kill, because some one was seeking to kill him, and because killing was the business of those about him. What came to be known later as mass psychology took hold of him. All his mental and physical powers were concentrated on the single task of slaying an enemy. The affair now resolved itself into a duel between single foes.
Deciding to await a third shot from his enemy, he made his position behind the stump a little easier, poised, as it were, ready to throw every faculty, physical and mental, into his reply to that expected third shot. He was quite sure, too, that he would have a chance, because the man had exposed so much more of himself at the second shot than at the first, and his escape from the bullets would make him expose yet more at the third. His heart began to throb hard, and his pulses were beating fast. The battle was still going on about him, but he forgot all the rest of it, the shots, the shouts, the flashes, and remembered only his own part. He judged that in another minute the man would show himself. So believing, he laid his rifle across his stump, cocked it, and was ready to take aim and fire in a few seconds.
His foe's head appeared, after just about the delay that he had expected, and Robert's hand sprang to the trigger at the very moment the man pulled his own. The bullet hummed by his cheek. His finger contracted and then it loosened. A sudden acuteness of vision, or a chance thinning of the fog at that point, enabled him to see the man's face, and he recognized the French partisan, Charles Langlade, known also to the Indians as the Owl, who, with his wife, the Dove, had once held him in a captivity by no means unkind.
His humane instincts, his gratitude, his feeling for another flared up even in that moment of battle and passion, when the man-hunting impulse was so strong. His aim, quick as it was, had been sure and deadly, but, deflecting the muzzle of the rifle a shade, his finger contracted again. The spurt of fire leaped forth and the bullet sang by the ear of Langlade, singing to him a little song of caution as it passed, telling such a wary partisan as he that his stump was a very exposed stump, dangerous to the last degree, and that it would be better for him to find one somewhere else.
Robert did not see the Owl go away, but he was quite sure that he had gone, because it was just the sort of thing that such a skilled forest fighter would do. The fog thickened again, and, in a few more minutes, both lines shifted somewhat. Then he had to watch new stumps at new points, and his thoughts were once more in tune with those about him, concentrated on the battle and the man-hunt.
A bullet tipped his ear, and he saw that it came from a stump hardly visible in the fog. The sharpshooter was not likely to be Langlade again, and, at once, it became Robert's ambition to put him out of action. No consideration of mercy or humanity would restrain him now, if he obtained a chance of a good shot, and he waited patiently for it. Evidently this new sharpshooter had detected his presence also, and the second duel was on.
The man fired again in a minute or two, and the bullet chipped very close. He was so quick, too, that Robert did not get an opportunity to return his fire, but he recognized the face and to his great surprise saw that it was De Courcelles who had taken a place in line with the skirmishers. Rage seized him at once. This was the man who had tried to trick him to his death in that affair with the bully, Boucher, at Quebec. He was shaken with righteous anger. All the kindliness and mercy that he had felt toward Langlade disappeared. He was sure, too, that De Courcelles knew him and was trying his best to kill him.
Robert peered over his stump and sought eagerly for a shot. He could play at that game as well as De Courcelles, but his enemy was cautious. It was some time before he risked another bullet, and then Robert's, in reply, missed, though he also had been untouched. His anger increased. Although he had little hate in his composition he could not forget that this man De Courcelles had been a party to an infamous attempt upon his life, and even now, in what amounted to a duel, was seeking to kill him. His own impulses, under such a spur, and for the moment, were those of the slayer. He used all the skill that he had learned in the forest to secure an opportunity for the taking of his foe's life.
Robert sought to draw De Courcelles' fire again, meanwhile having reloaded his own rifle, and he raised his cap a little above the edge of the stump. But the trick was too old for the Frenchman and he did not yield to it. Taking the chance, he thrust up his face, dropping back immediately as De Courcelles' bullet sang over his head. Then he sprang up and was in time to pull trigger at his enemy, who fell back.
Robert was able to tell in the single glimpse through the fog that De Courcelles was not killed. The bullet had struck him in the shoulder, inflicting a wound, certainly painful but probably not dangerous, although it was likely to feed the man's hate of Robert. Even so, young Lennox was glad now that he had not killed him, that his death was not upon his hands; it was enough to disable him and to drive him out of the battle.
The fighting grew once more in volume and fury. Rifles cracked continuously up and down the line. The war whoop of the Indians was incessant, and the deep cheer of the borderers replied to it. But Robert saw that the end of the combat was near; not that the rage of man was abated, but because nature, as if tired of so much strife, was putting in between a veil that would hide the hostile forces from each other. The fog suddenly began to thicken rapidly, rolling up from the lake in great, white waves that made figures dim and shadowy, even a few paces away.
If the fighting went on it would be impossible to tell friend from foe, and Willet at once sent forth a sharp call which was repeated up and down the line. The French leaders took like action, and, by mutual consent, the two forces fell apart. The firing and the shouts ceased abruptly and a slow withdrawal was begun. The fog had conquered.
"Is Dagaeoga hurt?" asked Tayoga.
"Untouched," replied Robert.
"I saw that you and the Frenchman, De Courcelles, were engaged in a battle of your own. I might have helped you, but if I know you, you did not wish my aid."
"No, Tayoga. It was man to man. I confess that while our duel was on I was filled with rage against him, and tried my best to kill, but now I'm glad I gave him only a wound."
"Your hate flows away as De Courcelles' blood flows out."
"If you want to put it that way. But do you hear anything of the enemy, Tayoga? Fog seems to be a conductor of sound now and then."
"Nothing except the light noises of withdrawal. The retreating footsteps become fainter and fainter, and I think we shall have peace for to-day. They might fire bullets at random against the camp, but St. Luc will not let them waste lead in such a manner. No, Dagaeoga, we will lie quiet now and dress our wounds."
He was right, as the firing was not renewed, though the pickets, stationed at short intervals, kept as sharp a watch as they could in the fog, while the others lay by the fires which were now built higher than usual. Colden was hopeful that St. Luc would draw off, but Tayoga and Black Rifle, who went out again into the fog, reported no sign of it. Beyond a doubt, he was prepared to maintain a long siege.
"We must get help," said Willet. "We're supposed to control Lake George and we know that forces of ours are at the south end, where they've advanced since the taking of Fort William Henry. We'll have to send messengers."
"Who are they to be?" asked Colden.
"Robert and Tayoga are most fit. You have plenty of boats. They can take a light one and leave at once, while the fog holds."
Colden agreed. Young Lennox and the Onondaga were more than willing, and, in a half hour, everything was ready for the start. A strong canoe with paddles for two was chosen and they put in it their rifles, plenty of ammunition and some food.
"A year from now, if the war is still going on, I'll be going with you on such errands," said Grosvenor confidently.
"Red Coat speaks the truth. He learns fast," said Tayoga.
"I won't tell you lads to be careful, because you don't need any advice," said Willet.
Many were at the water's edge, when they pushed off, and Robert knew that they were followed by the best of wishes, not only for their success but for themselves also. A few strokes of the paddles and the whole camp, save a luminous glow through the fog, was gone. A few more strokes and the luminous glow too departed. The two were alone once more in the wilderness, and they had little but instinct to guide them in their perilous journey upon the waters. But they were not afraid. Robert, instead, felt a curious exaltation of the spirit. He was supremely confident that he and Tayoga would carry out their mission, in spite of everything.
"It is odd how quickly the camp sank from sight," he said.
"It is because we are in the heart of a great fog," said Tayoga. "Since it was thick enough to hide the battle it is thick enough also to hide the camp and us from each other. But, Dagaeoga, it is a friendly fog, as it conceals us from our enemies also."
"That's so, Tayoga, but I'm thinking this fog will hold dangers for us too. St. Luc is not likely to neglect the lake, and he'll surmise that we'll send for help. We've had experience on the water in fogs before, and you'll have to use your ears as you did then."
"So I will, Dagaeoga. Suppose we stop now, and listen."
But nothing of a hostile nature came to them through the mists and vapors, and, resuming the paddles again, they bore more toward the center of the lake, where they thought they would be likely to escape the cruising canoes of the enemy, if any should be sent out by St. Luc. They expected too that the fog would thin there, but it did not do so, seeming to spread over the full extent of Andiatarocte.
"How long do you think the fog will last?" asked Robert.
"All day, I fear," replied Tayoga.
"That's bad. If any of our friends should be on the shore we won't be able to see 'em."
"But we have to make the best of it, Dagaeoga. We may be able to hear them."
The fog was the greatest they had ever seen on Andiatarocte, seeming to ooze up from the depths of the waters, and to spread over everything. The keenest eyes, like those of Robert and Tayoga, could penetrate it only a few yards, and it hung in heavy, wet folds over their faces. It was difficult even to tell direction and they paddled very slowly in a direction that they surmised led to the south. After a while they stopped again that Tayoga might establish a new listening post upon the water, though nothing alarming yet came to those marvelous ears of his. But it was evident that he expected peril, and Robert also anticipated it.
"A force as large as St. Luc's is sure to have brought canoes overland," said young Lennox, "and in a fog like this he'll have them launched on the lake."
"It is so," said Tayoga, using his favorite expression, "and I think they will come soon."
They moved on once more a few hundred yards, and then, when the Onondaga listened a long time, he announced that the hostile canoes were on the lake, cruising about in the fog.
"I hear one to the right of us, another to the left, and several directly ahead," he said. "Sharp Sword brought plenty of canoes with him and he is using them. I think they have formed a line across the lake, surmising that we would send a message to the south. Sharp Sword is a great leader, and he forgets nothing."
"They can't draw a line that we won't pass."
Now they began to use their paddles very slowly and gently, the canoe barely creeping along, and Tayoga listening with all his powers. But the Onondaga was aware that his were not the only keen ears on the lake, and that, gentle as was the movement of the paddies that he and Robert held, it might be heard.
"The canoe on our right is coming in a little closer to us," he whispered. "It is a very large canoe, because it holds four paddles. I can trace the four separate sounds. They try to soften their strokes lest the hidden messenger whom they want to catch may hear them, but they cannot destroy the sound altogether. Now, the one on the left is bearing in toward us also. I think they have made a chain across the lake, and hope to keep anything from passing."
"Can you hear those ahead of us?"
"Very slightly, and only now and then, but it is enough to tell us that they are still there. But, Dagaeoga, we must go ahead even if they are before us; we cannot think of turning back."
"No such thought entered my head, Tayoga. We'll run this gauntlet."
"That was what I knew you would say. The canoes from both right and left still approach. I think they carry on a patrol in the fog, and move back and forth, always keeping in touch. Now, we must go forward a little, or they will be upon us, but be ever so gentle with the paddle, Dagaeoga. That is it! We make so little sound that it is no sound at all, and they cannot hear us. Now, we are well beyond them, and the two canoes are meeting in the fog. The men in them talk together. You hear them very well yourself, Dagaeoga. Their exact words do not come to our ears, but we know they are telling one another that no messenger from the beleaguered camp has yet passed. Now, they part and go back on their beat. We can afford to forget them, Dagaeoga, and think of those ahead. We still have the real gauntlet to run. Be very gentle with the paddle again.
"I hear the canoes ahead of us very clearly now. One of them is large also with four paddles in it, and two of the men are Frenchmen. I cannot understand what they say, but I hear the French accent; the sound is not at all like that the warriors make. One of the Frenchmen is giving instructions, as I can tell by his tone of command, and I think the canoes are going to spread out more. Yes, they are moving away to both right and left. They must feel sure that we are here somewhere in the fog, trying to get by them, but the big canoe with the Frenchmen in it keeps its place. Bear a little to the left, Dagaeoga, and we can pass it unseen."
It was the most delicate of tasks to paddle the canoe, and cause scarcely a ripple in the water, but they were so skillful they were able to do it, and make no sound that Robert himself could hear. Although his nerves were steady his excitement was intense. A situation so extraordinary put every power of his imagination into play. His fancy fairly peopled the water with hostile canoes; they were in a triple ring about him and Tayoga. All his pulses were beating hard, yet his will, as usual, was master of his nerves, and the hand that held the paddle never shook.
"A canoe on the outer line, and from the left, is now bearing in toward us," whispered Tayoga.
"There are two men in it, as the strokes of the paddles show. They are coming toward us. Some evil spirit must have whispered to them that we are here. Ah, they have stopped! What does it mean, Dagaeoga? Listen! Did you not hear a little splash? They think to surprise us! They keep the paddles silent and try a new trick! Hold the canoe here, Dagaeoga, and I will meet the warrior who comes!"
The Onondaga dropped his rifle, hunting shirt and belt with his pistol in it, into the bottom of the canoe, and then, his knife in his teeth, he was over the side so quickly that Robert did not have time to protest. In an instant he was gone in the fog, and the youth in the canoe could do nothing but wait, a prey to the most terrible apprehensions.
Robert, with an occasional motion of the paddle, held the canoe steady on the water, and tried to pierce the fog with his eyes. He knew that he must stay just where he was, or Tayoga, when he came back, might never find him. If he came back! If--He listened with all his ears for some sound, however slight, that might tell him what was happening.
Out of the fog came a faint splash, and then a sigh that was almost a groan. Young Lennox shuddered, and the hair on his head stood up a little. He knew that sound was made by a soul passing, but whose soul? Once more he realized to the full that his lot was cast in wild and perilous places.
A swimming face appeared in the fog, close to the canoe, and then his heart fell from his throat to its usual place. Tayoga climbed lightly into the canoe, no easy feat in such a situation, put on his belt and replaced the knife in the sheath. Robert asked him nothing, he had no need to do so. The sigh that was almost a groan had told the full tale.
"Now we will bear to the right again, Dagaeoga," said Tayoga, calmly, as the water dripped from him. Robert shivered once more. His fertile fancy reproduced that brief, fierce struggle in the water, but he said nothing, promptly following the suggestion of Tayoga, and sending the canoe to the right. The position was too perilous, though, for them to continue on one course long, and at the end of forty or fifty yards they stopped, both listening intently.
"Some of them are talking with one another now," whispered Tayoga. "The warrior who swam does not come back to his canoe, and they wonder why he stays in the water so long. Soon they will know that he is never coming out of the water. Now I hear a voice raised somewhat above the others. It is a French voice. It is not that of St. Luc, because he must remain on shore to direct his army. It is not that of De Courcelles, because you wounded him, and he must be lying in camp nursing his hurts. So I conclude that it is Jumonville, who is next in rank and who therefore would be likely to command on this important service. I am sure it is Jumonville, and his raised voice indicates that he is giving orders. He realizes that the swimmer will not return and that we must be near. Perhaps he knows or guesses that the messengers are you and I, because he has learned long since that we are fitted for just such service, and that we have done such deeds. For instance, our journey to Quebec, on which we first met him."
"Then he'll think Dave is here too, because he was with us then."
"No, he will be quite sure the Great Bear is not here. He knows that he is too important in the defense of the camp, that, while Captain Colden commands, it is the Great Bear who suggests and really directs everything. His sharp orders signify some sudden, new plan. They have a fleet of canoes, and I think they are making a chain, with the links connected so closely that we cannot pass. It is a real gauntlet for us to run, Dagaeoga."
"And how are we to run it?"
"We must pass as warriors, as men of their own."
"I do not look like a warrior."
"But you can make yourself look like one, in the fog at least, enough, perhaps, to go by. Your hair is a little long; take off your hunting shirt, and the other shirt beneath it, bare yourself to the waist, and in such a fog as this it would take the keenest of eyes, only a few yards away, to tell that you are white. Quick, Dagaeoga! Lay the garments on the bottom of the canoe. Bend well upon your paddle and appear to be searching the water everywhere for the messengers who try to escape. I will do the same. Ah, that is well. You look and act so much like a warrior of the woods, Dagaeoga, that even I, in the same canoe, could well take you for a Huron. Now we will whisper no more for a while, because they come, and they will soon be upon us."
Robert bent over his paddle. His upper clothing lay in the bottom of the canoe, with his rifle and Tayoga's upon the garments, ready to be snatched up in an instant, if need should come. The cold, wet fog beat upon his bare shoulders and chest, but he did not feel it. Instead his blood was hot in every vein, and the great pulses in his temples beat so hard that they made a roaring in his ears.
Distinct sounds now came from both left and right, the swish of paddles, the ripple of water against the side of a canoe, men talking. They were coming to the chain that had been stretched in front of them, and their fate would soon be decided. Now, they must be not only brave to the uttermost, but they must be consummate actors too.
Figures began to form themselves in the fog, the outline of a canoe with two men in it appeared on their right, another showed just ahead, and two more on the left. Robert from his lowered eyes, bent over the paddle, caught a glimpse of the one ahead, a great canoe, or rather boat, containing five men, one of whom wielded no paddle, but who sat in its center, issuing orders. Through the fog came a slight gleam of metal from his epaulets and belt, and, although the face was indistinct, Robert knew that it was Jumonville.
The officer was telling the canoes to keep close watch, not to let the chain be broken, that the messengers were close at hand, that they would soon be taken, and that their comrade who did not come back would be avenged. Robert bent a little lower over his paddle. His whole body prickled, and the roaring in his ears increased.
Tayoga suddenly struck him a smart blow across his bowed back, and spoke to him fiercely in harsh, guttural Huron. Robert did not understand the words, but they sounded like a stern rebuke for poor work with the paddle. The blow and the words stimulated him, keyed him to a supreme effort as an actor. All his histrionic temperament flared up at once. He made a poor stroke with the paddle, threw up much surplus water, and, as he cowered away from Tayoga, he corrected himself hastily. Tayoga uttered a sharp rebuke again, but did not strike a second time. That would have been too much. Robert's next stroke was fine and sweeping, and he heard Jumonville say in French which many of the Indians understood:
"Go more toward the center of the lake and take a place in the line."
Tayoga and Robert obeyed dumbly, passing Jumonville's boat at a range of five or six yards, going a little beyond the line, and, turning about as if to make a curve that would keep them from striking any other canoe. Again Robert made a false stroke with the paddle, causing the canoe to rock dangerously, and now, Tayoga, fully justified by the fierce code of the forest in striking him again, snatched his own paddle out of the water and gave him a smart rap with the flat of it across the back, at the same time upbraiding him fiercely in Huron.
"Dolt! Fool!" he exclaimed. "Will you never learn how to hold your paddle? Will you never know the stroke? Will you tip us both into the water at such a time, when the messengers of the enemy are seeking to steal through? Do better with the paddle or you shall stay at home with the old women, and work for the warriors!"
Robert snarled in reply, but he did not repay the blow. He made another awkward sweep that sent them farther on the outward curve, and he heard Jumonville's harsh laugh. He was still the superb actor. His excitement was real, and he counterfeited a nervousness and jerkiness that appeared real also. One more wild stroke, and they shot farther out. Jumonville angrily ordered them to return, but Robert seemed to be possessed by a spell of awkwardness, and Tayoga craftily aided him.
"Come back!" roared Jumonville.
Robert and Tayoga were fifteen yards away, and the great blanket of fog was enclosing them.
"Now! Now, Dagaeoga!" whispered the Onondaga tensely. "We paddle with all our might straight toward the south!"
Two paddles wielded by skillful and powerful arms flashed in the water, and the canoe sped on its way. A shout of anger rose behind them, and Robert distinctly heard Jumonville say in French:
"After them! After them! It was the messengers who stole by! They have tricked us!"
Those words were sweet in the ears of young Lennox. He had played the actor, and the reward, the saving of their lives, had been paid. It was one of their greatest triumphs and the savor of it would endure long. The very thought gave fresh power to his arm and back, and he swept his paddle with a strength that he had never known before. The canoe skimmed the water like a bird and fairly flew in their chosen course.
Robert's own faculties became marvelously acute. He heard behind them the repeated and angry orders of Jumonville, the hurried strokes of many paddles, the splashing of canoes turned quickly about, a hum of excited voices, and then he felt a great swell of confidence. The roaring in his ears was gone, his nerves became amazingly steady, and every stroke with his paddle was long and finished, a work of art.
Four or five minutes of such toil, and Tayoga rested on his paddle. Robert imitated him.
"Now we will take our ease and listen," said the Onondaga. "The fog is still our friend, and they will think we have turned to one side in it, because that is the natural thing to do. But you and I, Dagaeoga, will not turn just yet."
"I can't hear anything, Tayoga, can you?"
"I cannot, Dagaeoga, but we will not have long to wait. Now, I catch the light swish of a paddle. They are feeling about in the fog. There goes another paddle--and more. They come closer, but we still bide here a little. I hear the voice of Jumonville. He is very angry. But why should he be more angry at any other than at himself? He saw us with his own eyes. He shouts many sharp orders, and some of them are foolish. They must be so, because no man could shout orders so fast, and in such a confused way, and have them all good. He sends more canoes to both right and left to seek us. You and I can afford to laugh, Dagaeoga."
Sitting at rest in their canoe they laughed. With Robert it was not so much a laugh of amusement as a laugh of relief after such tremendous tension. He felt that they were now sure to escape, and with Tayoga he waited calmly.