The canoe was passing between low shores, and they landed on the left bank, lifting out of the water the little vessel that had served them so well, and carrying it to a point some distance in the bushes. There they sat down beside it a while and drew long, deep and panting breaths.
"I don't want to repeat that experience soon," said Robert. "I think every muscle and bone in me is aching."
"So do mine," said Willet, "but they ache in a good cause, and what's of more importance just now a successful one too. Having left no trail the Indians won't be able to follow us, and we can rest here a long time, which compels me to tell you again to put on your clothes and become respectable."
They were quite dry now, and they dressed. They also saw that their arms and ammunition were in order, and after Willet had scouted the country a bit, seeing that no human-being was near, they ate breakfast of the deer meat and felt thankful.
"The aches are leaving me," said Willet, "and in another half-hour I'll be the man I was yesterday. Not I'll be a better man. I've been in danger lots of times and always there's a wonderful feeling of happiness when I get out of it."
"That is, risk goes before real rest," said Robert.
"That's about the way to put it, and escaping as we've just done from a siege, this dawn is about the finest I've ever seen. Isn't that a big and glorious sun over there? I suppose it's the same sun I've been looking at for years, but it seems to me that it has a new and uncommonly splendid coat of gilding this morning."
"I think it was put on to celebrate our successful flight," said Robert. "It's not only a splendid sun, Dave, but it's an uncommonly friendly one too. I can look it squarely in the eye for just a second and it fairly beams on me."
"My brothers are right," said Tayoga gravely. "If it had not been the will of Manitou for us to escape from the trap that had been set for us the sun rising newly behind the mountains would not smile upon us."
"I take that as allegorical," said Robert. "We see with our souls, and our eyes are merely the mirrors through which we look. Seeing, or at least the color of it, is a state of mind."
Tayoga followed him perfectly and nodded.
"You are getting too deep," interrupted the hunter. "Let's be satisfied with our escape. Here, each of you take another piece of venison. I'm glad you still have your bow and arrows, Tayoga, because it won't be long before we'll have to begin looking for another deer."
"The woods swarm with game. It will not be difficult to find one," said Tayoga.
"But for the present I think we'd better lie close. Of course the chief danger of attack from those savages has passed, but we're some distance from Canada, and it's still doubtful ground. Another wandering band may run upon us and that Ojibway, Tandakora, will never quit hunting us, until a bullet stops him. He has a terrible attack of the scalp fever. We want to make good time on our journey, but we mustn't spoil everything by trying to go too fast."
"It might be wise for us to remain the entire day in the forest," replied the Onondaga. "After the great and long trial of our strength last night, we need much rest. And tonight we can make speed on the river again. What says Lennox?"
"I'm for it," replied Robert, "but I suggest that we go deeper into the forest, taking the canoe with us, and hide our trail. I think I see the gleam of water to our right and if I'm correct it means a brook, up which we can walk carrying the canoe with us."
"A good idea, Robert," said Willet. "Suppose you look first and see if it's really a brook."
The lad returned in a moment or two with a verification. The water of the little stream was clear, but it had a fine sandy bottom on which footprints were effaced in a few seconds. They waded up it nearly a mile until they came to stony ground, when they left the brook and walked on the outcrop or detached stones a considerable distance, passing at last through dense thickets into a tiny open space. They put the canoe down in the center of the opening, which was circular, and stretched their own bodies on the grass close to the bushes, through which they could see without being seen.
"That trail is well hidden," said Willet, "or rather it's no trail at all. It's just about as much trace as a bird leaves, flying through the air."
"Do you know where we are, Dave?" asked Robert.
"We're not so far from the edge of the wilderness. Before long the land will begin to slope down toward the St. Lawrence. But it's all wild enough. The French settlements themselves don't go very far back from the big river. And the St. Lawrence is a mighty stream, Robert. I reckon there's not another such river on the globe. The Mississippi I suppose is longer, and carries more volume to the sea, but the St. Lawrence is full of clear water, Robert, think of that! Most all the other big rivers of the world, I hear, are muddy and yellow, but the St. Lawrence, being the overflow of the big lakes, is pure. Sometimes it's blue and sometimes it's green, according to the sunlight or the lack of it, and sometimes it's another color, but always it's good, fresh water, flowing between mighty banks to the sea, the stream getting deeper and deeper and broader and broader the farther it goes, till beyond Quebec it's five and then ten miles across, and near the ocean it's nigh as wide as Erie or Ontario. I'm always betting on the St. Lawrence, Robert. I haven't been on all the other continents, but I don't believe they can show anything to beat it."
"Have you seen much of the big lakes, Dave?"
"A lot of Erie and Ontario, but not so much of those farther west, Michigan, Huron and Superior, although they're far bigger and grander. Nothing like 'em in the lake line in this world. We don't know much about Superior, but I gather from the Indians that it's nigh to four hundred miles long, and maybe a hundred and fifty miles across in the middle. What a power of water! That's not a lake! It's a fresh-water sea. I've seen Niagara, too, Robert, where the river comes tumbling over two mighty cliffs, and the foam rises up to the sky, and the rainbow is always arching over the chasm below. It's a tremendous sight and it keeps growing on you the longer you look at it. The Indians, who like myths and allegories, have a fine story about it. They say that Heno, to whom Manitou gave charge of the thunderbolt, once lived in the great cave or hollow behind the falls, liking the damp and the eternal roar of the waters. And Manitou to help him keep a watch over all the thunderbolts gave him three assistants who have never been named. Now, the nations of the Hodenosaunee call themselves the grandchildren of Heno, and when they make invocation to him they call him grandfather. But they hold that Heno is always under the direction of Hawenneyu, the Great Spirit, who I take it is the same in their minds as Manitou. The more you learn of the Indians, and especially of the Hodenosaunee, Robert, the more you admire the beauty and power of their minds."
Willet spoke with great earnestness, his own mind through the experiences of many years being steeped in forest lore and imagery. Robert, although he knew less of Indian mythology, nevertheless knew enough to feel for it a great admiration.
"I studied the myths of the Greeks and Romans at Albany," he said, "and I don't see that they were very much superior to those of the Indians."
"Maybe they weren't superior at all," said Willet, "and I don't believe the Greeks and Romans ever had a country like the one in which we are roaming. The Book says God made the world in six days, and I think He must have spent one whole day, and His best day, too, on the country in here. Think of the St Lawrence, and all the big lakes and middle-sized lakes and little lakes, and the Hudson and the other splendid rivers, and the fine mountains east of the Hudson and west of it, and all the grand valleys, and the great country of the Hodenosaunee, and the gorgeous green forest running hundreds and hundreds of miles, every way! I tell you, Robert--and it's no sacrilege either--after He did such a splendid and well-nigh perfect job He could stop for the night and call it a good and full day's work. I reckon that nowhere else on the earth's surface are so many fine and wonderful things crowded into one region."
He took a deep breath and gazed with responsive eyes at the dim blue crests of the mountains.
"It's all that you call it," said Robert, whose soul was filled with the same love and admiration, "and I'm glad I was born within its limits. I've noticed, Dave, that the people of old lands think they alone have love of country. New people may love a new land just as much, and I love all this country about us, the lakes, and the rivers, and the mountains and the valleys and the forests."
He flung out his arms in a wide, embracing gesture, and he, too, took deep long breaths of the crisp air that came over the clean forest. Tayoga smiled, and the smile was fathomless.
"I, Tayoga, of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onondaga, of the great League of the Hodenosaunee, can rejoice more than either of you, my white friends," he said, "because I and my fathers for ages before me were born into this wonderful country of which you speak so well, but not too well, and much of it belongs to the Hodenosaunee. The English and the French are but of yesterday. Tododaho lighted the first council fire in the vale of Onondaga many generations before either came across the sea."
"It's true, Tayoga," said Willet, "and I don't forget it for a moment. All of us white people, English, French, Dutch, Germans and all other breeds, are mere newcomers, and I'm not one ever to deny the rights of the Hodenosaunee."
"I know that the Great Bear is always our friend," said the young Onondaga, "and Lennox too, no less."
"I am, Tayoga," said Robert fervently.
The white lad went to sleep by and by, the others to follow in their turn, and when he woke it was afternoon. About midway of his comrade's nap Tayoga had gone to sleep also, and now Willet followed him, leaving Robert alone on guard.
His eyes could pierce the bushes, and for some distance beyond, and he saw that no intruder had drawn near. Nor had he expected any. The place was too remote and well hidden, and the keenest warriors in the world could not follow a vanished trail.
He ate two or three strips of the deer meat, walked around the complete circle of the opening, examining the approaches from every side, and having satisfied himself once more that no stranger was near, returned to his place on the grass near his comrades, full of the great peace that can come only to those of sensitive mind and lofty imagination. His sleep had rested him thoroughly. The overtaxed muscles were easy again, and with the vast green forest about him and the dim blue mountains showing on the horizon, he felt all the keen zest of living.
He was glad to be there. He was glad to be with Tayoga. He was glad to be with Willet and he was glad to be going on the important mission which the three hoped to carry out, according to promise, no matter what dangers surrounded them, and that there would be many they already had proof. But, for the present, at least, there was nothing but peace.
He lay on his back and stared up at the blue sky, in which clouds fleecy and tiny were drifting. All were going toward the northeast and that way the course of himself and his comrades lay. If Manitou prospered them, they would come to the Quebec of the French, which beforetime had been the Stadacona of old Indian tribes. That name, Quebec, was full of significance to him. Standing upon its mighty rock, it was another Gibraltar. It told him of the French power in North America, and he associated it vaguely with young officers in brilliant uniforms, powdered ladies, and all the splendor of an Old World court reproduced in the New World. St. Luc had come from there, and with his handsome face and figure and his gay and graceful manner he had typified the Quebec of the chevaliers, which the grave and solid burghers of Albany regarded with dread and aversion and yet with a strange sort of attraction.
He did not deny to himself that he too felt the attraction. An unknown kinship with Quebec, either in blood or imagination, was calling. He wondered if he would see St. Luc there, but on reflection he decided that it was impossible. The mission of the chevalier to the Hodenosaunee would require a long absence. He might arrive in the vale of Onondaga and have to wait many days before the fifty sachems should decide to meet in council and hear him.
But Robert believed that if St. Luc should appear before the fifty he would prove to be eloquent, and he would neglect no artifice of word and manner to make the Hodenosaunee think the French power at Quebec invincible. He would describe the great deeds of the French officers and soldiers. He would tell them of that glittering court of Versailles, and perhaps he would make them think their salvation depended upon an alliance with France.
Robert was sorry for the moment that his mission was taking him to Quebec and not to the vale of Onondaga, where Willet and he--and Tayoga too--could appear before the sachems as friends true and tested, and prove to them that the English were their good and natural allies. They would recall again what Frontenac had done. They would dwell upon the manner in which he had carried sword and fire among the Six Nations, then the Five, and they would keep open the old wound that yet rankled.
It was a passing wish. The Iroquois would remain faithful to their ancient allies, the English. The blood that Frontenac had shed would be forever a barrier between the Long House and the Stadacona that was. Once more Quebec filled his eye, and he gazed into the northeast where the French capital lay upon its mighty and frowning rock. His curiosity concerning it increased. He wanted to see what kind of city it was, and he wanted to see what kind of a man the Marquis Duquesne, the Governor-General of Canada, was. Well, he would be there before many days and he would see for himself. He and his comrades already had been triumphant over a danger so great that nothing could stop them now. He felt all the elation and certainty that came from a victory over odds.
He rose, parted the bushes and made another tour of the region about their covert. When he was at a point about a hundred yards away he fancied that he heard a sound in a thicket a considerable distance ahead. Promptly taking shelter behind a large tree, he used both eyes and ears, watching the thicket closely, and listening for any other sound that might come.
He heard nothing else but his keen eyes noted a bush swaying directly into the teeth of the wind, a movement that could not occur unless something alive in the thicket caused it. He slid his rifle forward and still watched. Now the bush shook violently, and an awkward black figure, shooting out, ran across the open. It was only a bear, and he was about to resume his circling walk, but second thought told him that the bear was running as if he ran away from an object of which he was afraid, and there was nothing in the northern forests except human beings to scare a bear.
He settled back in his shelter and resumed his watch in the thicket, leaving the bear to run where he pleased, which he did, disappearing with a snort in another thicket. A full ten minutes passed. Robert had not stirred. He was crouched behind the tree, blending with the grass, and he held his rifle ready to be fired in an instant, should the need arise.
The bush that had moved against the wind had ceased stirring long since, but now he saw another shaking and it, too, paid no attention to the laws of nature, defying the wind as the first had done. Robert concentrated his gaze upon it, thankful that he had not made the black bear the original cause of things, and presently he saw the feathered head of an Indian appear among the leaves. It was only a glimpse, he did not see the body or even the face of the warrior, but it was enough. Where one warrior was another was likely to be in those northern marches, the most dangerous kind of neutral ground.
He began to slide away, keeping the big tree trunk between him and the thicket, using all the arts of the forest trailer that he had learned by natural aptitude and long practice. He went back slowly, but the grass stems moved only a little as he went, and he was confident that he not only had not been seen, but would not be seen. Yet he scarcely dared to breathe--until he reached the bushes inclosing the opening in which his comrades lay.
He paused a few moments before waking the others and filled his lungs with air. He was surprised to find that the hands holding his rifle were damp with perspiration, and he realized then how great the brief strain had been. Suppose he had not seen the Indian in the bush, and had been ambushed while on his scouting round! Or suppose he had stayed with his comrades and had been ambushed there! But neither had happened, and, taking Willet by the shoulder, he shook him, at the same time whispering in his ear to make no noise. The hunter, his trained faculties at once awake and on guard, sat up quietly, and Tayoga, who seemed to awake instinctively at the same time, also, sat up.
"What is it, Robert?" whispered Willet.
"An Indian in the bush about two hundred yards away," replied the youth. "I merely saw his hair and the feather in it, but it's safe to assume that he's not the only one."
"That is so," said Tayoga. "A warrior does not come here alone."
"It can't be the band we beat off when we were in the hollow," said Willet confidently. "They must be far south of us, even if they haven't given up the chase."
"It is so, Great Bear," said Tayoga. "Was the warrior's head bare, Lennox, or did he have the headdress, gustoweh, like mine?"
"I think," replied Robert, "that the feather projected something like yours, perhaps from a cross-splint."
"Could you tell from what bird the feather came?"
"Yes, I saw that much. It was the plume of an eagle."
Tayoga mused a moment or two. Then he put two fingers to his mouth and blew between them a mellow, peculiar whistle, much like the notes of a deep-throated forest bird. He waited half a minute and a reply exactly similar came.
"These," said Tayoga, "are our people," and rising and parting the bushes, he walked, upright and fearless, toward the thicket in which Robert had seen the warrior. Robert and Willet, influenced by boldness as people always are, followed him with confidence, their rifles not thrust forward, but lying in the hollows of their arms.
A dozen warriors issued from the thicket, at their head a tall man of middle age, open and noble in countenance and dignified in bearing.
"These be Mohawks, Ganeagaono, the Keepers of the Eastern Gate," said Tayoga, "and the sachem Dayohogo, which in English means, At the Forks, leads them. He is a great man, valiant in battle and wise in council. His words have great weight when the fifty sachems meet in the vale of Onondaga to decide the questions of life and death."
He paused and bent his head respectfully before the man of superior age, and, as yet, of superior rank. A look of pleasure appeared upon the face of the Mohawk chief when he saw the young Onondaga.
"It is Tayoga of the clan of the Bear, of the nation Onundagaono (Onondaga)," he said.
"It is so, Dayohogo of the clan of the Wolf, of the nation Ganeagaono (Mohawk)," replied Tayoga. "Thou of the Keepers of the Eastern Gate and my father, Daatgadose, of the Keepers of the Council Fire, have been friends since they stood at the knees of their mothers, and we too are friends, Dayohogo."
"You speak true words, Tayoga," said the chief, looking with an appraising eye upon the handsome face and athletic figure of the young Onondaga. "And the white people with you? One I know to be the Great Bear who calls himself Willet, but the boy I know not."
"His name is Lennox, O Dayohogo. He is the true friend of the Great Bear, of Tayoga and of the Hodenosaunee. He has within the last two days, standing beside us, fought a valiant battle against the Abenakis, the Hurons, the St. Regis and warriors of the other savage tribes that call themselves the allies of Onontio."
Robert felt the penetrating eye of the Mohawk chief upon him. But the gaze of the Indian was friendly, and while he felt admiration for Tayoga he felt equal approval of Lennox.
"You have fought against odds and you have come away safe," he said.
"None of us received any hurt," replied Tayoga, modestly, "but we slew more than one of those who attacked. It was in a gorge of the river far back, and we escaped in the night, swimming with our canoe. Now we rest here, and truly, Dayohogo, we are glad to see you and your warriors. The forest has become safe for us. We have part of a deer left, and we ask you to share it with us."
"Gladly," said Dayohogo. "We bring venison and corn meal, and we will have food together."
His warriors were stalwart men, armed well, and they had no fear of any foe, lighting a fire in the open, warming their deer meat and making bread of their corn meal. The three ate with them, and Robert felt that they were among friends. The Mohawks not only had Frontenac to remember, but further back Champlain, the French soldier and explorer, who had defeated them before they knew the use of firearms. He felt that Duquesne at Quebec would have great difficulty in overcoming the enmity of this warlike and powerful red nation, and he resolved to do what he could to keep them attached to the British cause. It might be only a little, but a little many times amounted to much.
Dayohogo and his warriors had been on a scout toward the north to the very borders of the French settlements, and the chief told the three that an unusual movement was going on there. Regular soldiers were expected soon from France. War belts and splendid presents had been sent to the tribes about the Great Lakes, both to the north and to the south, and Onontio was addressing messages of uncommon politeness to his brethren, the valiant Ganeagaono, otherwise the Mohawks, the Keepers of the Eastern Gate.
"And do the Mohawk chiefs listen to the words of Onontio?" asked Robert anxiously.
Dayohogo did not reply at once. He looked at the green woods. Birds, blue or gray or brown, were darting here and there in the foliage, and his eye rested for a moment on a tiny wren.
"The voice of Onontio is the voice of a bird chattering in a tree," he said. "In the day of my father's father's father the children of Onontio, under Champlain, came with guns, which were strange to us, and with presents they induced the Adirondack warriors to help them. They came up the great lake which the white people call Champlain, then they crossed to Ticonderoga, near the outlet of the lake, Saint Sacrement, and fell upon two hundred warriors of the Ganeagaono, who then knew only the bow and arrow and the war club, and slew many of them. It was four generations ago, but we do not forget. Then when my father was a young warrior Frontenac came with a host of white soldiers and the Canadian Indians and killed the warriors and laid waste with fire the lands of the Five Nations, now the Six. Can the Hodenosaunee forget?"
The chief gloomed into the fire, and his eyes flashed with the memory of ancient wrongs.
"Onontio has sent belts to the Ganeagaono also, has he not?" asked Robert.
The eyes of the chief flashed again.
"He has tried to do so," he replied, "but the Ganeagaono are loyal to their brethren of the Hodenosaunee since Tododahoe first found the sacred wampum on the shore of the lake, Chautauqua. Our three clans, the Turtle, the Wolf and the Bear, met in our largest village south of the river, Ganeagaono (Mohawk), and listened to the bearers of the belts. Then we sent them back to Onontio, telling them if they wished to be heard further they must bring the belt to the council of all the sachems of the Hodenosaunee in the vale of Onondaga."
"The other nations of the Hodenosaunee," said Tayoga, "have always known that the Ganeagaono would do no less. The Keepers of the Eastern Gate have never departed by the width of a single hair from their obligations."
Dayohogo turned his gloomy face upon the Onondaga youth, and it was lighted up suddenly by a smile of appreciation and pleasure.
"Tayoga of the Onundagaono," he said in measured tones, "you have spoken well. The Onundagaono, the Keepers of the Council Fire, and the Ganeagaono, the Keepers of the Eastern Gate, be the first tribes of the Hodenosaunee, and better it be for a warrior of either to burn two days and two nights in the fire than to violate in the least the ancient customs and laws of the Hodenosaunee."
"Before we had the fight with the savage band," said Robert, "we met a Frenchman, the Chevalier Raymond Louis de St. Luc, who was going to the vale of Onondaga with belts from Onontio. St. Luc is a brave man, a great orator, and his words will fall, golden and sweet like honey, on the ears of the fifty chiefs. He will say that Champlain and Frontenac belonged to an ancient day, that the forests have turned green and then turned red a hundred and fifty times since Champlain and sixty times since Frontenac. He will say that what they did was due to a false wind that blew between the French and the Hodenosaunee, hiding the truth, and making friends see in the faces of friends the faces of enemies. He will say that a true wind blows now, and that it has blown away all the falsehoods. He will say that Onontio is a better friend than Corlear to the Hodenosaunee, and far more powerful."
The veteran Mohawk chief looked at young Lennox, and again his gaze was one of approval, also of comprehension.
"My young white friend is already a great warrior," he said. "What he did with Tayoga and the Great Bear proves it, but great as he is he is even greater in the council. The words of the son of Onontio, St. Luc, may drip from his lips like honey, but the speech of Lennox is the voice of the south wind singing among the reeds. Lennox will be a great orator among his people."
Robert blushed, and yet his heart was beating at the praise of Dayohogo, obviously so sincere. He felt with a sudden instinctive rush of conviction that the Mohawk was telling him the truth. It was an early and partial display of the liquid and powerful speech, which afterward gave him renown in New York and far beyond, and which caused people everywhere to call him the "Golden Mouthed." And he was always eager to acknowledge that much of its strength came from the lofty thought and brilliant imagery shown by many of the orators of the nations of the Hodenosaunee, with whom so much of his youth was spent.
"I only spoke the thought that was in my mind, Dayohogo," he said modestly.
"Wherein is the beginning of great speech," said the sachem sagely. "When Lennox returns from the journey on which he is now going it would be fit for him to go to the vale of Onondaga and meet St. Luc in debate before the fifty sachems."
Robert's heart leaped again. It was like a call to battle, and now he knew what his great aim in life should be. He would strive with study and practice to make himself first in it, but, for the present, he had other thoughts and purpose. Willet, however, took fire too from the words of the Mohawk chief.
"I've noticed before, Robert," he said, "that you had the gift of tongues, and we'll make a great orator of you. In times such as ours a man of that kind is needed bad. Maybe what Dayohogo thinks ought to be, will be, and you will yet oppose St. Luc before the fifty sachems in the vale of Onondaga."
"It would be well," said Dayohogo thoughtfully, "because the men at Albany still give the Hodenosaunee trouble, making a promise seem one thing when it is given, and another when the time to keep it comes."
"I know, Dayohogo!" exclaimed Willet, vehemently. "I know how those sleek traders who are appointed to deal with you cheat you out of your furs and try to cheat you out of your lands! But be patient a little longer, you who have been patient so long. Word has come from England that the King will remove his commissioners, and make Sir William Johnson his Indian agent for all North America."
The eyes of Dayohogo and his warriors glistened.
"Is it true?" he asked. "Is Waraiyageh (Johnson) to be the one who will talk with us and make the treaties with us?"
"I know it to be a fact, Dayohogo."
"Then it is well. We can trust Waraiyageh, and he knows that he can trust us. Where our trail runs to Kolaneha (Johnstown) on a hill not far from our tower castle he has built a great house, and I and my brother chiefs of all the three clans the Wolf, the Bear and the Turtle, have been there and have received presents from him. He is the friend of the Ganeagaono, and he knew that he could build a house among us and live there in peace, with our warriors to guard him."
The news that Johnson would be the King's Indian agent had an electric effect upon the Mohawks. Whether he talked English or Iroquois he talked a language they understood, and his acts were comprehensible by them. He had their faith and he never lost it.
Some of the hunters went out, and, the woods being full of game, they quickly shot another deer. Then the warriors still feeling in their strength that they had nothing to dread from enemies, built high the fire, cut up the deer, cooked it and made a great feast. The good feeling that existed between the Mohawks and the two whites increased. Robert unconsciously began to exercise his gift of golden speech. He dwelt upon the coming appointment of Waraiyageh, their best friend, to deal in behalf of the King with the Hodenosaunee, and he harped continually upon Champlain and Frontenac. He made them seem to be of yesterday, instead of long ago. He opened the old wounds the Mohawks had received at the hands of the French and made them sting and burn again. He dwelt upon the faith of the English, their respect for the lands of the Hodenosaunee and the ancient friendship with the Six Nations. He had forgotten the words of Dayohogo that he would be a great orator, but five minutes after they were spoken he was justifying them.
Tayoga and Willet glanced at each other, but remained silent. Young Lennox was saying enough for all three. Dayohogo did not take his eyes from the speaker, following all his words, and the warriors, lying on their elbows, watched him and believed what he said. When he stopped the chief and all the warriors together uttered a deep exclamation of approval.
"You are called Lennox," said Dayohogo, "and after the white custom it is the only name that you have ever had, but we have a better way. When a warrior distinguishes himself greatly we give him a new name, which tells what he has done. Hereafter, Lennox, you will be known to the Ganeagaono as Dagaeoga, which is the name of a great chief of the clan of the Turtle, of our nation."
"I thank you much, Dahoyogo," said Robert, earnestly, knowing that a high honor was conferred upon him. "I shall try to deserve in some small way the great name you have conferred upon me."
"One can but do his best," said the Mohawk gravely.
But Willet rejoiced openly in the distinction that had been bestowed upon his young comrade, saying that some day it might be carried out with formal ceremonies by the Mohawk nation, and was a fact of great value. To be by adoption a son of any nation of the Hodenosaunee would be of enormous assistance to him, if he negotiated with the League in behalf of the English colonists. But to be adopted by both Onondagas and Mohawks gave him a double power.
Robert had already been influenced powerfully by Tayoga, the young Onondaga, and now the words of Dayohogo, the Mohawk, carried that influence yet further. He understood as few white men did the power of the Hodenosaunee and how its nations might be a deciding factor in the coming war between French and English, just as he understood long after that war was over their enormous weight in the new war between the Americans and English, and he formed a resolution as firm as tempered steel that his main effort for many years to come should be devoted to strengthening the ties that connected the people of New York and the great League.
The afternoon went on in pleasant talk. The Indians, among themselves or with those whom they knew from long experience to be good friends, were not taciturn. Robert told the Mohawks that they were going to Quebec, and Dayohogo expressed curiosity.
"It is the story in our nation, and it is true," he said, "that generations ago we held the great rock of Stadacona, and that the first Frenchman, Cartier, who came to Canada, found us there, and drove us away with firearms, which we had never seen before, and which we did not know how to meet. It is said also by our old men that we had a town with palisades around it at Hochelaga (Montreal), but whether it is true or not I do not know. It may be that it was a town of the Wanedote (Hurons), our enemies. And yet the Wanedote are of our blood, though far back in the past we split asunder, and now they take the peace belts of the French, while we take those of the English."
"And the capital of the French, which they call Quebec, and which you call Stadacona, stands on land which really belongs to the Mohawks," said Robert meaningly.
Dayohogo made no answer, but gloomed into the fire again. After a while he said that his warriors and he must depart. They were going toward Ticonderoga, where the French had built the fort, Carillon, within the territory of the Mohawks. He had been glad to meet Tayoga, the Great Bear, and the new young white chief, Dagaeoga, whose speech was like the flowing of pleasant waters. It was a favoring wind that had brought them together, because they had enjoyed good talk, and had exchanged wise counsel with one another. Robert agreed with him in flowery allegory and took from the canoe where it had been stored among their other goods a present for the chief--envoys seldom traveled through the Indian country without some such article for some such occasion.
It was gajewa, a war club, beautifully carved and polished, made of ironwood about three feet long, and with tufts of brilliant feathers at either end. Inserted at one end was a deer's horn, about five inches in length, and as sharp as a razor. While it was called a war club, it was thus more of a battle ax, and at close range and wielded by a powerful arm it was a deadly weapon. It had been made at Albany, and in order to render it more attractive three silver bands had been placed about it at equal intervals.
It was at once a weapon and a decoration, and the eyes of Dayohogo glistened as he received it.
"I take the gift, Dagaeoga," he said, "and I will not forget."
Then they exchanged salutations, and the Mohawks disappeared silently in the forest.