The Scouts of the Valley

by Joseph A. Altsheler

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Chapter XXIV. Down the Ohio

"We didn't get Wyatt," said Henry, "but we did pretty well, nevertheless."

"That's so," said Shif'less Sol. "Thar's nothin' left o' his band but hisself, an' I ain't feelin' any sorrow 'cause I helped to do it. I guess we've saved the lives of a good many innocent people with this morning's work."

"Never a doubt of it," said Henry, "and here's the army now finishing up the task."

The soldiers were setting fire to the town in many places, and in two hours the great Seneca Castle was wholly destroyed. The five took no part in this, but rested after their battles and labors. One or two had been grazed by bullets, but the wounds were too trifling to be noticed. As they rested, they watched the fire, which was an immense one, fed by so much material. The blaze could be seen for many miles, and the ashes drifted over all the forest beyond the fields.

All the while the Iroquois were fleeing through the wilderness to the British posts and the country beyond the lakes, whence their allies had already preceded them. The coals of Little Beard's Town smoldered for two or three days, and then the army turned back, retracing its steps down the Genesee.

Henry and his comrades felt that their work in the East was finished. Kentucky was calling to them. They had no doubt that Braxton Wyatt, now that his band was destroyed, would return there, and he would surely be plotting more danger. It was their part to meet and defeat him. They wished, too, to see again the valley, the river, and the village in which their people had made their home, and they ,wished yet more to look upon the faces of these people.

They left the army, went southward with Heemskerk and some others of the riflemen, but at the Susquehanna parted with the gallant Dutchman and his comrades.

"It is good to me to have known you, my brave friends," said Heemskerk, "and I say good-by with sorrow to you, Mynheer Henry; to you, Mynheer Paul; to you, Mynheer Sol; to you, Mynheer Tom; and to you, Mynheer Jim."

He wrung their hands one by one, and then revolved swiftly away to hide his emotion.

The five, rifles on their shoulders, started through the forest. When they looked back they saw Cornelius Heemskerk waving his hand to them. They waved in return, and then disappeared in the forest. It was a long journey to Pittsburgh, but they found it a pleasant one. It was yet deep autumn on the Pennsylvania hills, and the forest was glowing with scarlet and gold. The air was the very wine of life, and when they needed game it was there to be shot. As the cold weather hung off, they did not hurry, and they enjoyed the peace of the forest. They realized now that after their vast labors, hardships, and dangers, they needed a great rest, and they took it. It was singular, and perhaps not so singular, how their minds turned from battle, pursuit, and escape, to gentle things. A little brook or fountain pleased them. They admired the magnificent colors of the foliage, and lingered over the views from the low mountains. Doe and fawn fled from them, but without cause. At night they built splendid fires, and sat before them, while everyone in his turn told tales according to his nature or experience.

They bought at Pittsburgh a strong boat partly covered, and at the point where the Allegheny and the Monongahela unite they set sail down the Ohio. It was winter now, but in their stout caravel they did not care. They had ample supplies of all kinds, including ammunition, and their hearts were light when they swung into the middle of the Ohio and moved with its current.

"Now for a great voyage," said Paul, looking at the clear stream with sparkling eyes.

"I wonder what it will bring to us," said Shif'less Sol.

"We shall see," said Henry.

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