Page images
PDF
EPUB

planned by Henry St. John, afterward Lord Bolinbroke, the friend of Pope and Swift, the brilliant orator and conversationalist and the popular but unscrupulous secretary of war under Queen Anne. The preparations were on a grand scale, and the Canadians trembled at the powerful demonstration being made by the English.

Fifteen ships of war, forty transports and six store-ships were placed under the command of Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker, and, with marines and battalions of veteran soldiers, they sailed for America and arrived at Boston in June, 1711. The New England colonies promptly raised a provincial force, and the ships sailed for Quebec on the tenth of August, bearing about seven thonsand troops. Among the Americans to enlist in this enterprise was Elmer Stevens, who had been raised to the rank of lieutenant. Elmer was a brave, dashing young man, who had honestly and fairly won the honors he claimed.

When the New England privateers waited on Admiral Walker and offered their services, the admiral said: .

“Send one of your best sailors aboard my ship. I want to consult with him.”

They chose Lieutenant Stevens.

“You will remain on my ship as pilot,” said the admiral.

Elmer felt elated at the honor conferred on him and proceeded to give the admiral all the information necessary concerning the dangerous coast they were approaching, and warned him against the dread fogs which so often render navigation perilous.

While this formidable naval force was massing against Canada, other colonies had formed a provincial army for the capture of Montreal and the holding of the region of the upper St. Lawrence. These were under the command of Nicholson, who held a general's commission and marched from Albany on the Hudson, on the same day the fleet left Boston. They were four thousand in number and were chiefly furnished by New York and Connecticut. Six hundred of them were warriors of the Five Nations.

Reports of the movements were not long in reaching the ears of Governor Vaudreuil at Montreal, who immediately dispatched Jesuit missionaries and other agents to secure Indian allies, and then hastened to Quebec to prepare for the invaders. It was during his stay at Quebec, preparing for the defence of that city, that he received his visit from Monsieur De Vere and his daughter, as recorded in the preceding chapter. Every galley slave in the dominion and every able-bodied man, even women, worked on the forts.

As the reader will remember, galley slave number 39 at this time made his escape.

Two weeks had elapsed since that dark and awful night, and a man was wandering along the wild and rocky coast. He was alone. The sky above, the forest at his back, and the sea before him. The scene was one of desolation. The wild waves beat in ceaseless fury against the unresisting rocks of the coast. The traveller sat down near the beach and, removing his three-cornered hat, gazed out to sea.

“Not a sail in sight,” he murmured. His clothes were faded and his features haggard. The pedestrian had for days fed on such berries and wild fruits as grew in the forest, or such animals and fowls as he was able to capture. His breakfast had been made from a nest of young birds. Occasionally he turned his eyes back toward the forest as if he feared he was being followed.

“Not a sail in sight.”

He sighed as he repeated the sentence. The traveller did not know where he was. He gazed on the surrounding landscape, coast, sea and sky, without recognizing any familiar feature. There is no more desolate scene than an uninhabited rocky coast, with a sailless sea. The ceaseless and melancholy beating of waves against rocks and the screams of the sea birds alone break the awful silence.

The traveller did not sit long on the stone, but rose and began a weary march to the north. The gulf was below, miles wide, so the idea of his crossing it was preposterous.

He travelled on and on for three hours over the rocky uneven coast and was still out of sight of the St. Lawrence River. Pausing, he turned about and gazed out to sea; but as far as his eyes could reach he saw only the waves. Soon he discovered, coming around some headlands, a sail, then another, another, and a dozen more were coming, and the solitary traveller in this wilderness asked himself:

“ Are they English or French ?”

The distance was too great for him to make out the colors; but they were drawing nearer, and he resolved to wait until he could see what flag they floated.

“They are going to enter the gulf, and, if English, are no doubt the armament expected to attack Quebec.” He ran hurriedly back down the coast toward the approaching fleet.

“Those clouds of fog! It will be dangerous to attempt to enter the river now!” he cried.

He reached a point of land furthest out to sea, halting by the side of a stone in the shape of an

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

"THEY ARE GOING TO BETRAY MY COUNTRYMEN! HOW CAN I PREVENT THEM?"

« PreviousContinue »