[Illustration: “We were both near breaking down.”]
“Vive le roi!” I whispered, taking her hand.
“Vive le roi!” she whispered, turning away.
How empty and weak are my words that try to tell of that day! I doubt if there is in them anywhere what may suggest, even feebly, the height and depth of that experience or one ray of the light in her face. There are the words nearly as we said them; there are the sighs, the glances, the tears: but everywhere there is much missing—that fair young face and a thousand things irresistible that drift in with every tide of high feeling. Of my history there is not much more to write, albeit some say the best is untold.
I had never such a heart of lead as went with me to my work that afternoon. What became of me I cared not a straw then, for I knew my love was hopeless. D’ri met me as I got off my horse at the Harbor. His keen eye saw my trouble quickly—saw near to the bottom of it.
“Be’n hit?” said he, his great hand on my shoulder.
“With trouble,” I answered. “Torn me up a little inside.”
“Thought so,” he remarked soberly. “Judas Priest! ye luk es ef a shell ’ad bu’st ‘n yer cockpit. Ain’ nuthin’ ’ll spile a man quicker. Sheer off a leetle an’ git out o’ range. An’ ’member, Ray, don’t never give up the ship. Thet air ‘s whut Perry tol’ us.”
I said nothing and walked away, but have always remembered his counsel, there was so much of his big heart in it. The army was to move immediately, in that foolish campaign of Wilkinson that ended with disaster at Chrysler’s Farm. They were making the boats, small craft with oars, of which three hundred or more would be needed to carry us. We were to go eastward on the river and join Hampden, whose corps was to march overland to Plattsburg, at some point on the north shore. Word came, while I was away, that down among the islands our enemy had been mounting cannon. It looked as if our plan had leaked, as if, indeed, there were good chance of our being blown out of water the first day of our journey. So, before the army started, I was to take D’ri and eleven others, with four boats, and go down to reconnoitre.
We got away before sundown that day, and, as dark came, were passing the southwest corner of Wolf Island. I was leading the little fleet, and got ashore, intending to creep along the edge and rejoin them at the foot of the island. I had a cow-bell, muted with cork, and was to clang it for a signal in case of need. Well, I was a bit more reckless that night than ever I had been. Before I had gone twenty rods I warned them to flee and leave me. I heard a move in the brush, and was backing off, when a light flashed on me, and I felt the touch of a bayonet. Then quickly I saw there was no help for me, and gave the signal, for I was walled in. Well, I am not going to tell the story of my capture.