As the shades of evening were stealing over the land, the men gathered for their march against the enemy. They were a formidable band, and Davidson was much pleased as he watched them fall into line. The Colonel had charge of the little squad of Loyalists, and his old spirit possessed him as he drilled and instructed them for a few minutes in front of his house. The rangers watched this performance with interest, and smiled indulgently.
“I am afraid that won’t do much good in wilderness warfare,” Davidson reminded. “General Braddock tried it, and you know what happened. However, I am hoping that there will be no fighting, so it won’t make much difference.”
Half an hour later the men were swinging on their way through the woods. No one spoke, and all walked as warily as possible. As night shut down travelling became more difficult for the men of the settlement, although the rangers seemed as much at home in the darkness as in the daylight. For over two and a half hours they moved steadily forward, and at length stopped by the side of a little brook which flowed down to the river. Here they rested and ate some of the food which they had brought with them. They had not been long here ere a low whistle sounded up the valley. Davidson at once replied, and a few minutes later soft approaching footsteps were heard. Then a dim form emerged from the darkness, and stood in their midst.
“I am glad to see you on time, Dane,” Davidson accosted. “How many men did you get?”
“Twenty-five,” was the reply. “Pete is bringing them up. I slipped on ahead to see if things are all right.”
“Yes, everything is working well so far. Have you found out anything new?”
“Nothing except that some of the rebels have gathered at Pine Lake, and others are expected to-morrow. Pete and I were trailing them to-day, and it was rare sport.”
“I hope you were careful, Dane.”
“We are always careful, though it wasn’t necessary to-day. The Indians were quite cautious, but some of the white men lumbered along like oxen, cursing and complaining at a great rate. Flazeet and Rauchad had quite a time with them, and kept encouraging them with promises of rum and the fun they would have with the Loyalists.”
“They’ll get a different kind of fun from what they expect,” Davidson replied. “And the more rum they swig, the better it will be for us. How far is it from here to the lake?”
“About five miles in a straight course. We can do it easily in an hour and a half.”
“Oh, you could do it all right in that time, and less, for that matter. But all here are not so well accustomed to the woods at night. Isn’t that so, Colonel?”
“It certainly is,” was the emphatic reply. “I shall need two or three hours, for I find the walking very difficult. And, besides, one has to be careful not to make any noise.”
“Whatever noise we make will not trouble the rebels,” and Davidson laughed. “They’ll be sleeping as sound as babies by daylight.”