Chapter I. A Glimpse at the Past
 

"Two wild turkeys and seven rabbits. Not such a bad haul after all, Henry."

"That is true, Dave. But somehow I wanted to get a deer if I could."

"Oh, I reckon almost any hunter would like to bring down a deer," went on Dave Morris. "But they are not so plentiful as they were before the war."

"That is true." Henry Morris placed the last rabbit he had brought down in his game-bag. "I can remember the time when the deer would come up to within a hundred yards of the house. But you have got to take a long tramp to find one now."

"And yet game ought to be plentiful," went on his younger cousin. "There wasn't much hunting in this vicinity during the war. Nearly everybody who could go to the front went."

"There were plenty who couldn't be hired to go, you know that as well as I do. Some were afraid they wouldn't get their pay and others were afraid the French or the Indians would knock 'em over." Henry Morris took a deep breath. "Beats me how they could stay home--with the enemy doing their best to wipe us out."

"I can't understand it either. But now the war is over, do you think we'll have any more trouble with the Indians?" continued Dave Morris, as he and his cousin started forward through the deep snow that lay in the woods which had been their hunting ground for the best part of the day.

"It's really hard to tell, Dave. Father thinks we'll have no more trouble, but Sam Barringford says we won't have real peace until the redskins have had one whipping they won't forget as long as they live."

"Well, Sam knows the Indians pretty thoroughly."

"No one knows them better. And why shouldn't he know 'em? He's been among them since he was a small boy, and he must be fifty now if he's a day."

"I can tell you one thing, Henry," continued Dave warmly. "I was mighty glad to see Sam recover from that wound he received at Quebec. At first I thought he would either die or be crazy for the rest of his life."

"It's his iron constitution that pulled him through. Many another soldier would have caved in clean and clear. But hurry up, if you want to get home before dark," and so speaking, Henry Morris set off through the woods at a faster pace than ever, with his cousin close at his heels. Each carried his game-bag on his back and a flint-lock musket over his shoulder.

The time was early in the year 1761, but a few months after the fall of Montreal had brought the war between France and England in America to a close. Canada was now in the possession of the British, and the settlers in our colonies along the great Atlantic seacoast, and on the frontier westward, were looking for a long spell of peace in which they might regain that which had been lost, or establish themselves in new localities which promised well.

As already mentioned, Dave and Henry Morris were cousins, Henry being the older by several years. They lived in the little settlement of Will's Creek, Virginia, close to where the town of Cumberland stands to-day. The Morris household consisted of Dave's father, Mr. James Morris, who was a widower, and Mr. Joseph Morris, his wife Lucy, and their children, Rodney, several years older than Henry, who came next, and Nell, a girl of about six, who was the household pet. In years gone by Rodney had been a good deal of a cripple, but a surgical operation had done wonders for him and now he was almost as strong as any of the others.

James Morris was a natural born trapper and fur trader, and when his wife died he left his son Dave in the care of his brother Joseph and wandered to the west, where he established a trading-post on the Kinotah, a small stream flowing into the Ohio River. This was at the time that George Washington, the future President of our country, was a young surveyor, and in the first volume of this series, entitled "With Washington in the West," I related how Dave fell in with Washington and became his assistant, and how, later on, Dave became a soldier to march under Washington during the disastrous Braddock campaign against Fort Duquesne.

General Braddock's failure to bring the French to submission cost James Morris dearly. His trading-post was attacked and he barely escaped with his life. Dave likewise became a prisoner of the enemy, and it was only through the efforts of a friendly Indian named White Buffalo, and an old frontier acquaintance named Sam Barringford, that the pair escaped to a place of safety.

War between France and England had then become a certainty. France was aided greatly by the Indians, and it was felt by the colonists that a strong blow must be struck and without delay. Expeditions against the French were organized, and in the second volume of the series, called "Marching on Niagara," are given the particulars of another campaign against Fort Duquesne (located where the city of Pittsburg, Penn., now stands) and then of the long and hard campaign against Fort Niagara. Dave and Henry were both in the contest, for they had joined the ranks of the Royal Americans, as the Colonial troops were called.

With the fall of Fort Niagara the English came once again into possession of all the territory lying between the Great Lakes and the lower Mississippi. But Canada was not yet taken, and there followed more campaigns, which have been described in the third volume of the series, called "At the Fall of Montreal." In these campaigns both Dave and Henry fought well, and with them was Sam Barringford, who had promised the parents that he would keep an eye on the youths. Henry had been taken prisoner and Barringford had been shot, but in the end all had been re-united, and as soon as the old frontiersman was well enough to do so, the three had left the army and gone back to the homestead at Will's Creek.

It had been a great family re-union and neighbors from miles around had come in to hear what the young soldiers and their sturdy old friend might have to tell. Because of the ending of the terrible war, there was general rejoicing everywhere.

"I never wish to see the like of it again," Mrs. Morris had said, not once, but many times. "Think of those who have been slain, and who are wounded!"

"You are right, Lucy," her husband had returned. "There is nothing worse than war, unless it be a pestilence. I, too, want nothing but peace hereafter."

"And I agree most heartily," had come from James Morris. "One cannot till the soil nor hunt unless we are at peace with both the French and the Indians."

"Be thankful that Jean Bevoir has been removed from your path," had come from his brother.

"And from our path, too, Joseph," Mrs. Morris had put in quickly.

Jean Bevoir had been a rascally French trader who owned a trading-post but a few miles from that established by James Morris on the Kinotah. Bevoir had claimed the Morris post for his own, and had aided the Indians in an attack which had all but ruined the buildings. Later on the Frenchman had helped in the abduction of little Nell, but the girl had been rescued by Dave and her brother Henry. Then Jean Bevoir drifted to Montreal, and while trying to loot some houses there during the siege, was shot down in a skirmish between the looters on one side, and the French and the English soldiers on the other. The Morrises firmly believed that Jean Bevoir was dead, but such was not a fact. A wound thought to be fatal had taken a turn for the better, and the fellow was now lying in a French farmhouse on the St. Lawrence, where two or three of his old companions in crime were doing their best to nurse him back to health and strength. Jean Bevoir had not forgotten the Morrises, nor what they had done to drag him down, as he expressed it, and, although the war was at an end, he was determined to make Dave, Henry, and the others pay dearly for the ruin they had brought to his plans in the past.

"I shall show them that, though France is beaten, Jean Bevoir still lives," he told himself boastingly. "The trading-post on the Kinotah with its beautiful lands, shall still be mine--the Morrises shall never possess it!" Sometimes he spoke to his companions of these things, but they merely smiled at him, thinking that what he had in mind to do would prove impossible of accomplishment.