On the seventh day they rested at a point but a few miles from the mouth of the Richelieu River, where a large blockhouse, Fort Richelieu, had been built by M. de Saurel. Once past this they had no great distance to go to reach the seigneury of De Catinat’s friend of the noblesse who would help them upon their way. They had spent the night upon a little island in midstream, and at early dawn they were about to thrust the canoe out again from the sand-lined cove in which she lay, when Ephraim Savage growled in his throat and pointed Out across the water.
A large canoe was coming up the river, flying along as quick as a dozen arms could drive it. In the stern sat a dark figure which bent forward with every swing of the paddles, as though consumed by eagerness to push onwards. Even at that distance there was no mistaking it. It was the fanatical monk whom they had left behind them.
Concealed among the brushwood, they watched their pursuers fly past and vanish round a curve in the stream. Then they looked at one another in perplexity.
“We’d have done better either to put him overboard or to take him as ballast,” said Ephraim. “He’s hull down in front of us now, and drawing full.”
“Well, we can’t take the back track anyhow,” remarked Amos.
“And yet how can we go on?” said De Catinat despondently. “This vindictive devil will give word at the fort and at every other point along the river. He has been back to Quebec. It is one of the governor’s own canoes, and goes three paces to our two.”
“Let me cipher it out.” Amos Green sat on a fallen maple with his head sunk upon his hands. “Well,” said he presently, “if it’s no good going on, and no good going back, there’s only one way, and that is to go to one side. That’s so, Ephraim, is it not?”
“Ay, ay, lad, if you can’t run you must tack, but it seems shoal water on either bow.”