On the Trail of Pontiac by Edward Stratemeyer
Chapter XXI. Sam Barringford Brings News
Louis Glotte understood the true situation at last, and the cold sweat stood out on his forehead. James Morris had a pistol in his hand, and the Frenchman saw that all of the others were also armed.
"So I am your prisonair?" he said slowly. "For vat, tell me zat?"
"You know well enough," put in Dave.
As James Morris' pistol came up the Frenchman's gun was placed on the rough table and his pistol followed. Glotte might have showed fight, but he saw that such a course would be worse than useless. He had walked into a neat trap and with his eyes wide open.
"Louis Glotte," said James Morris sternly, "I want you to tell me the truth, do you hear? If you do not tell me the plain truth, you shall suffer."
"Vat ees it you vant?"
"Who organized the attack on my pack-train?"
"I know nothing of zat."
"Stop! You do know, and you must tell me."
The Frenchman grew pale and something like a shiver passed over him. He saw that James Morris was in no mood for trifling.
"Who--who say zat Louis Glotte know 'bout dat?" he asked stammeringly.
"I say so. You were there, for one."
"No! no! I--I vas far away!"
"Tell me who organized the attack."
"No! no! I--I--I--Stop! Do not shoot me! I vill tell! Eet vas Jean Bevoir."
"I thought as much. Was Jacques Valette with him?"
"Oui! But say not I tell you, or za vill keel me!"
"And Hector Bergerac?"
The Frenchman shook his head. "Not Bergerac, no. He ees gone avay."
"Who were the others?"
After Considerable hesitation Louis Glotte named them over. Then James Morris questioned him concerning the Wanderers and learned that they had been headed by their chief, Flat Nose. The other red men he knew little about, but he said they were a dirty, irresponsible tribe, willing to do almost anything for the sake of getting provisions or rum.
"They think ze pack-train carry much rum," said Glotte. "Verra mad when za found out not so."
In the end he told practically all he knew, being assured that he would not be harmed if he made a full confession. Jean Bevoir and Flat Nose had led the attack, in which four of their party had been killed or wounded. What had been taken away was removed under the directions of Bevoir and taken to an Indian village "many miles away," as he expressed it. He said the red men were about a hundred and fifty strong, and had made Sam Barringford a prisoner. Of course he knew nothing of the visit of Dave, Jadwin, and Sanderson to the place, nor did James Morris enlighten him.
The trader then insisted upon knowing if an attack upon the trading-post was contemplated, and Glotte at last confessed that such was a fact. The man was a thorough coward at heart and willing to do almost anything in order to save his own life.
"We shall have to make you a prisoner for the present," said James Morris, and without ceremony Glotte's hands were bound behind him and he was tied to a strong post used for hitching purposes.
The Indian who had come up with the Frenchman had retreated to the forest, and for the time being not a human form was to be seen anywhere outside of the palisade. But the English did not relax their vigilance.
"Perhaps they'll wait until night to begin the attack," said Henry. "The redskins love to fight under cover of darkness--we know that too well."
"Or else the report that the gate is closed and the place guarded will dishearten them," returned his cousin.
Hour after hour went by and night came on. A stricter watch than ever was kept, but as before neither Indian or Frenchman showed himself. More than this, the night birds and owls uttered their cries as usual, mingled with the bark of a fox and the mournful howling of several wolves, all of which told that the vicinity was most likely entirely free from human beings.
"They wanted to catch us unawares, and they have discovered their mistake," said one frontiersman; and such was probably the case, for the whole of the night and the following morning passed without further alarm.
Some of those at the post were now impatient to go out and follow up the enemy, but others demurred, stating that their numbers were too small.
"If those wretches are in hiding, they'd wipe us out in no time," said Sanderson. "Better stay where we are for the present."
Nevertheless James Morris and Tony Jadwin went out, on a short scouting expedition, along the river and then for a few hundred feet into the forest. They advanced with great caution, taking care not to expose themselves in the open, and carrying their guns ready for use, should any of the enemy show themselves.
"We cannot afford to take many chances," said James Morris, as they moved forward. "Our force at the post is too small."
"Wish we had a company of Royal Americans here, to knock 'em out," said Jadwin.
Three hours were spent on the scouting tour, and both of the men were on the point of turning back to the fort, satisfied that the Frenchmen and Indians had indeed given up the proposed attack, when they heard the sound of rapid footsteps, and a man burst into view, running with all his might and main.
"Halt!" cried James Morris, who at the first sound had raised his musket, while Jadwin did the same.
"Don't shoot!" came back, in the well-known voice of Sam Barringford.
"Sam!" cried the trader, lowering his weapon, "what does this mean?"
"It means I'm 'most out o' breath with runnin'" gasped the old frontiersman. "But git to the post--the French and Indians air a-comin'!"
Sam Barringford had come up close to the others, and now without more words all three headed for the post. It was easy to discern that the old frontiersman was well-nigh exhausted, and he was glad enough to take hold of James Morris' shoulder on one side and Tony Jadwin's on the other.
"Been a prisoner of them skunks, fire burn 'em!" he explained. "I'll tell ye all about it later. Have ye heard o' Henry, an' the others?"
"Yes, Henry is safe and so are most of the others. Cass and Lampton are dead. We were afraid you had been killed, too, until Louis Glotte told us you were a prisoner." And then James Morris told of the manner in which Dave, Jadwin, and Sanderson had followed up the trail.
"Glad ye got Glotte a prisoner," said Barringford. "He is 'most as mean a skunk as Jean Bevoir."
They now came in view of the post and were quickly admitted by those on guard.
"Sam Barringford!" cried Dave and Henry in a breath, and ran up to greet their old friend.
After he had been fed and allowed to rest a bit, Barringford told his story in detail. He said he had followed Jean Bevoir and the others to the river near which the Indian village was located. A stray Indian dog had exposed his hiding place, and after a desperate fight in which one Indian had been killed and he himself had been cut in the shoulder with a tomahawk, they had succeeded in making him a prisoner. He had been put into the wigwam already mentioned, with his hands bound behind him and to a stake driven deeply into the soil. He knew of the message sent in by Pontiac, and added that numerous other attacks were to be made on forts and settlements throughout the West.
"But how did you get away?" asked Dave.
"Easier nor I expected," was the old frontiersman's answer. "As soon as it was settled the post should be attacked there was some confusion, and the guard left the wigwam. I yanked and pulled with all my might and at last the stake came out of the ground. Then I rolled to the back of the wigwam and slipped under the skins to some bushes. As soon as I was that far, I got on my feet and legged it for all I knew how. I ran along the river for about a mile, because I didn't know how to get across with my hands tied. At last I got the rawhides loose and slipped 'em, and then I came over at a shallow spot where I didn't have to swim but a few yards. I ran as fast as I could, for I didn't know how soon the attack would start."
"Something has gone wrong, or they would be here by this time," put in Sanderson.
Glotte viewed the coming of Sam Barringford with great astonishment. "How you geet avay?" he asked.
"That is my business, Glotte," answered the old frontiersman. "I reckon you thought I couldn't do it, eh?" And he chuckled to himself.
"Zat fellow ees a sharp one," was the Frenchman's comment. "He ees like ze flea to slip avay, oui!"
Throughout the remainder of the night the guard remained as watchful as ever. But it was labor lost, for neither French nor Indians showed themselves.
At daybreak White Buffalo said he would go out on another scouting tour, taking with him two of his braves. They moved off by the way of the river bank and then made a large semicircle, returning to the post from a diametrically opposite direction.
"Wanderers and bad Frenchmen all gone," announced the chief, on coming back. "They came, but did not fight."
"Do you mean to say that they have been here?" cried James Morris.
White Buffalo nodded several times. "Five canoes come down the river, land by the four big trees. The trail is in the mud and the wet grass--so many Frenchmen"--he held up five fingers--"and so many Indians"--holding up both hands twice and then four fingers, a total of twenty-four.
"Where did they go to?" asked Henry.
"Go into the woods and stand. Two walk around to the hill--one canoe land on other side of river and Indians go up past the post--then come back. Then all gone once more. Afraid to fight! The Frenchmen and the Wanderers are cowards!" And the face of the Delaware showed his deep disdain.
"It must be true," put in Sanderson. "They most likely met the Indian who came here first, and then the fellow with Glotte, and both told 'em it would be of no use--that we were too strong for them."
"Well, if they are gone, I hope they don't come back again," said Dave, and a number standing around echoed the sentiment.