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A Hero of Ticonderoga by Rowland E. Robinson

He didn't coom here sin he coom marryin' your mother


"Whativer

has coom o' your redheaded stepfather? He didn't coom here sin he coom marryin' your mother," said one of the English boys.

After this information, visits to the Fort were more frequent, since there was no fear of meeting Toombs. The sentinel, who, with his musket shouldered high above his left hip and his clubbed queue bobbing in unison to his slow, measured steps, always paced before the gate, made but a show of challenging him, and Nathan was almost as free as the inmates to every part of the Fort, excepting the officers' quarters and the vigilantly guarded magazine. The drill and parade of the soldiers, in their spotless scarlet uniforms and shining arms, though there were less than fifty, rank and file, seemed a grand martial display, and he was always thrilled with the stirring notes of drum and fife. Occasionally he met the commandant's wife walking on the parapet, so refined and different from the toil-worn women he had been accustomed to see, that she seemed a being of another world.

Once that fall Job and his young companion went far back into the solitude of the primeval forest to hunt moose. Even the thunder of Ticonderoga's guns was never echoed there, and from morning till night they heard the sound of no human life but their own. At night the dismal chorus of the wolves was heard far and near, and now and then, what was a pleasanter sound, the call of a moose, soft and mellow, in the distance.

With a birch bark horn Job simulated this call, and lured a moose into an ambuscade, where, within short range, the huge creature was killed. When with much labor the meat was transported and safely stored in the cabin, they were in no danger of a winter famine. Soon winter came, with days of snowbound isolation, and its days of out-door work and pleasant, healthful pastime.

The gloom of a blustering, snowy February day was thickening into the gloom of night, when a traveller and his jaded horse appeared at the door of the little log house.

"I've somehow missed my way on the lake," said he to Job, when the door was opened. "I'm bound for Bennington. Can you give me and my poor beast shelter till morning and then set me on the right road?"

"Sartainly, come in, come in," was answered, heartily. "You're welcome to such as I've got of bed an' board, an' your hoss'll be better off in the shed wi' corn fodder'n he'd be a browsin' in the woods."

When the stranger had seen his jaded horse cared for and had come in, the firelight revealed a man in the prime of life, of fine face and figure and of military bearing, though he was clad in the plain dress of a civilian. He proved a genial guest, and amused his companions with stories of his recent journey to Canada, and of his home in Connecticut, and with relations of the stirring events in that and the other colonies that portended a revolt against the mother country. In turn he was interested in everything pertaining to the New Hampshire Grants, the progress of the quarrel with New York claimants, the temper of the inhabitants toward England, but, particularly, was he curious about the condition of the adjacent fortress. Concerning its garrison and the plans of the fortification he found Nathan well informed.


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