It was midsummer when I came back again. I travelled up the river road, past our island refuge of that dark night; past the sweeping, low-voiced currents that bore me up; past the scene of our wreck in the whirlwind; past the great gap in the woods, to stand open God knows how long. I was glad to turn my face to the south shore, for in Canada there was now a cold welcome for most Yankees, and my fists were sore with resenting the bitter taunt. I crossed in a boat from Iroquois, and D’ri had been waiting for me half a day at the landing. I was never so glad to see a man—never but once. Walking home I saw corn growing where the forest had been—acres of it.
“D’ri,” said I, in amazement, “how did you ever do it? There ’s ten years’ work here.”
“God helped us,” said he, soberly. “The trees went over ’n the windfall,—slammed ’em down luk tenpins fer a mild er more,—an’ we jes’ burnt up the rubbish.”
April was near its end. The hills were turning green, albeit we could see, here and there on the high ledge above us, little patches of snow—the fading footprints of winter. Day and night we could hear the wings of the wild fowl roaring in the upper air as they flew northward. Summer was coming,—the summer of 1812,—and the war with the British. The President had called for a hundred thousand volunteers to go into training for battle. He had also proclaimed there would be no more whipping in the ranks. Then my father told me that, since I could have no peace at home, I should be off to the war and done with it.
We were working near the road that day Thurst Miles came galloping out of the woods, waving his cap at us. We ran to meet him—my father and I and the children. He pulled up a moment, his horse lathered to the ears.
“Injuns!” he shouted. “Git out o’ here quick ‘n’ mek fer the Corners! Ye ’ll be all massacreed ef ye don’t.”
Then he whacked the wet flank of his horse with a worn beech bough, and off he went.
We ran to the house in a great panic. I shall never forget the crying of the children. Indians had long been the favorite bugbear of the border country. Many a winter’s evening we had sat in the firelight, fear-faced, as my father told of the slaughter in Cherry Valley; and, with the certainty of war, we all looked for the red hordes of Canada to come, in paint and feathers.
“Ray,” my father called to me, as he ran, “ketch the cow quick an’ bring ’er ’long.”
I caught her by the horn and brought her to the door quickly. Mother was throwing some clothes into a big bundle. Father met me with a feather bed in his arms. He threw it over the back of the cow and bound it on with a bed-cord. That done, he gave me the leading-rope to tie about her horns. The hoofs of the flying horse were hardly out of hearing when we were all in the road. My mother