Fort Howe proved a great comfort to the trading post at Portland Point, and to the thirty or more families settled in the vicinity. Scarcely had it been erected, and its guns mounted, when the rapacious pirate from Machias, A. Greene Crabtree by name, appeared upon the scene, as he had done before with disastrous results. But this time he received the surprise of his life. He viewed with astonishment the new Fort upon the hill, and the flag of England floating from the ramparts. So great was his astonishment that he beat a hasty retreat, and troubled no more the little settlement at Portland Point.
Fort Howe was not a large place, containing in all two blockhouses and barracks, with twelve rooms for the officers, and accommodation for one hundred men. The armament consisted of two five and a half inch brass mortars, and eight iron guns, the latter including two eighteen-pounders, four six-pounders, and two four-pounders.
Although Fort Howe was small, yet it meant a great deal to the people scattered along the St. John River and its various tributaries. It was the seat of authority where all knew that true British justice would be meted out by the brave, sturdy commander in charge, Major Gilfred Studholme. It had a restraining influence upon restless, warlike Indians, and rebels dwelling along the river. At the same time it filled the hearts of all loyal, peaceful people with a feeling of security. To them it was a symbol of England’s power, and they often discussed it around their camp fires, and in their lonely forest homes.
As Dane Norwood paused for a minute upon the brow of the opposite hill, after he had left the Indian, a feeling of pride and awe welled up in his heart as he looked across at the Fort. He had heard much about it, but never until this day had he set eyes upon the place. He saw the big flag fluttering in the breeze, and the black muzzels of the cannon frowning seaward. He longed to hear them roar again, and he wondered how far they would shoot, much farther, he had been told, than the largest flint-lock ever made.
Leaving the brow of the hill, he moved swiftly down a narrow trail which led to a large pond of water below. At its outlet was a tidal grist mill, back of which a strong dam had been built. Along this latter was a foot path which he followed, and soon reached the opposite bank. From here a well-constructed road, lined with trees, wound up the hill to the Fort. Dane walked somewhat slower now, and his heart beat fast. He was at the end of his long journey, and soon he would be in the presence of the man of whom he had heard so much. He slipped his hand beneath his buckskin jacket and felt, as he had done so often during the last three days, a small package hidden in an inside pocket. In a few minutes more it would be delivered into the hands of the owner, and his responsibility would be ended.
When part way up the hill he came to a strong barricade, where he was suddenly confronted and challenged by a sentry, who demanded where he was going and what he wanted.