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A Hero of Ticonderoga by Rowland E. Robinson

CHAPTER XVI TICONDEROGA A halt was silently signalled


Those

who had made the passage tramped to and fro to stir their blood, for there was a creeping chill in the night air. The first light of dawn was stealing up the eastern sky, the woods and mountains showing in sharp relief against it, yet no signs came to strained eyes and ears of the returning boats.

"The lazy-bones," growled Allen, forgetting the long distance. "What has gone wrong? Daylight will betray us if we wait much longer. What do you say, my men--shall we wait, and maybe lose our best chance of success, or go on with what strength we have?"

There was a murmur of universal assent, and Allen commanded:

"Fall in, in three ranks!"

Instantly the men formed in the order of the ranger service. "I want no man to go against his will. You that wish to go with me, poise arms." Every gun was brought to the position.

"Shoulder arms! Right face! Forward, march!"

Before the last word was fairly given, Arnold stepped in front of the speaker.

"I swear," he cried, shaken with his passion, "I will not yield my right. I planned this enterprise. My money set it on foot. I swear I will command, and not yield my right to Ethan Allen or the devil."

There was a muttered growl of dissatisfaction among the men, and Allen was

raging. "What shall I do with this fellow? Put him under guard?" he asked, turning to one of his captains.

"Gentlemen," said Captain Callender, a staid and quiet man, "for the sake of the good cause, don't quarrel. Yield a little, both of you. Share the command equally, and enter the Fort side by side."

Allen returned his half-drawn sword to its scabbard and said bluffly: "For the sake of the cause I agree to this." The Connecticut colonel sullenly assented, and the three columns moved briskly along the shore, led by the two colonels marching side by side, till, through the branches of the budding trees, the leaders saw close before them the walls of Ticonderoga, looming dark and vague in the gray of the morning.

CHAPTER XVI--TICONDEROGA

A halt was silently signalled, and Job, the skilfullest scout of all this band of woodsmen, was sent forward to reconnoitre. Silently, as a ghost, his tall figure melted into the obscurity of dawn, and presently appeared, out of the blur of shadows, bearing whispered tidings that all was quiet within the Fort, and only one sentinel carelessly guarding the open wicket of the main entrance.

A whispered word of command drifted back along the ranks and the troops moved forward. They mounted a slight declivity and advanced to the right toward the gate. Now the sentinel could be seen pacing his beat; now the white cross-belts and the facings of his uniform made out, and still he maintained his deliberate pace, unconscious of the enemy, while, perhaps, his thoughts were far away in the green fields of merry England, where the hawthorn was blooming and the lark singing "at heaven's gate."


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