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      Certainly they could. Sandy was earnest. If the Captain ordered that they be kept for his special useand if he drank lime juice. Come on, lets ask him. They followed Sandy to the bridge.

      The defenceless women and children were safe, however: a captain, ranking Landor, reported to that effect when he met them some dozen miles outside San Tomaso. He reported further that he had a pack-train for Landor and orders to absorb his troop. Landor protested at having to retrace their trail at once. His men and his stock were in no state to travel. The men were footsore and blistered. They had led their horses, for the most part, up and down rough hills for two days. But the trail was too hot and too large to be abandoned. They unsaddled, and partaking together of coffee and bacon and biscuits, mounted and went off once more. Their bones ached, and the feet of many of them bled; but the citizens had gone their way to their homes in the valley, and they felt that, on the whole, they had reason to be glad."Cairness," said the parson, fixing his eyes upon the back of the bent head, as if they were trying to see through into the impenetrable brain beneath, "are you going to spend the rest of your life at this sort of thing?"

      He gave another grunt. "Go away to-morrow. Go to the Fort." He pointed with the hand that held the bit of cigarette in the direction of Apache. "Tell your man."

      Wolfe raised batteries at Point Levi and on the island, and bombarded the town, but he could not draw the wary Montcalm from his strong position. In his front lay the river and some unapproachable sandbanks, behind and around him rocks and dense woods inaccessible. Once only he made a rush across the river, and endeavoured, with a detachment of one thousand six hundred men, to gain the batteries on Point Levi; but his troops soon saw the attempt to be hopeless, and retired. No measures were neglected by Wolfe, on his part, to draw Montcalm from his position. He marched along the banks of the Montmorency opposite to him, and made feints as if he would cross it somewhere above him, but to no purposeMontcalm knew his advantage. Wolfe wrote home, that if Montcalm had but shut himself up in Quebec, he could have taken the town very easily, but he could not readily force him from his admirable position. Growing at length impatient, he determined to attack him where he was, and he dispatched Admiral Holmes up the river with a number of transports, as though he contemplated something in that quarter. He then landed, on the 31st of July, a body of troops near the mouth of the Montmorency, which there falls three hundred feet into the St. Lawrence. He had discovered a ford at some distance up the river, and dispatched Brigadier Townshend to cross there and attack Montcalm in flank, whilst he himself, by means of the ships and their boats, gained the beach and attacked in front. The Centurion man-of-war was placed to engage a battery which swept the place of landing, and then the troops were conveyed in boats, which drew little water, towards the shore. Some of these, however, got entangled amongst rocks, and created a delay in getting them off. By this time the French were hurrying down towards the landing-place with their artillery, and began to fire murderously from the banks above upon them. Wolfe, seeing that Townshend would cross the ford before they were ready to co-operate, sent an officer to recall him. At this time, the Grenadiers having reached the beach, rushed forward upon the entrenchments before the rest of the troops could be got out of the boats to support them. They were met by such a destructive fire that they were compelled to fall back with much slaughter. By this time night was setting in, attended by a storm, the roaring of which, mingling with the roar of the mighty St. Lawrence as the tide fell, seemed to warn them to recover their camp. The word was given to re-cross the river, and they made good their retreat without the French attempting to pursue them, though the Indians lurked in the rear to scalp such of the dead and such of the wounded as could not be brought off.

      "Go ahead and obey your orders," said Shorty. "Don't mind me. I'm willin' to take it. I've had my say, which was worth a whole week o' buckin'. It 'll be something to tell the boys when I git back, that I saw old Billings swellin' around, and told him right before his own men just what we think of him. Lord, how it 'll tickle 'em. I'll forgit all about the buckin', but they won't forgit that.""Don't tech hit! Don't have nothin' to do with it!" shouted the old man. "Hit's high treason to take Federal money. Law's awful severe about that. Not less'n one year, nor more'n 20 in the penitentiary, for a citizen, and death for a soljer, to be ketched dealin' in the inemy's money. I kin turn yo' right to the law. Ole man, take yo' money and cl'ar off the place immejitly. Go out and gather up yo' chickens, Betsy, and fasten 'em in the coop. Go away, sah, 'or I shell blow the horn for help."

      Hed fly over that swamp and see if the other belt had fallen out of the seaplaneand hed need a pilotso he got Jeff! Dick put the finishing touch to the revelation. Larry kept Tommy busy, so Mr. Whiteside got Jeff.


      "The blazes you did. You expect Colonels to run hoss-corrals, and manage mule boarding-houses, do you? stop your blimmed nonsense and answer my questions."Cairness jumped forward, and his arm went around her, steadying her. For a short moment she leaned against his shoulder. Then she drew away, and her voice was quite steady as she greeted him. He could never have guessed that in that moment she had[Pg 95] learned the meaning of her life, that there had flashed burningly through her brain a wild, unreasoning desire to stand forever backed against that rock of strength, to defy the world and all its restrictions.


      "Col. Billings, some day I won't belong to the staff, and you won't have no shoulder-straps. Then I'll invite you to a little discussion, without no moderator in the chair."


      The woman joined her voice. She had a meat cleaver in her hand, and there was blood on her apron where she had wiped the roast she was now leaving to burn in the stove. "Like as not we'll all be massacred. I told Bill to get off this place two weeks ago, and he's such an infernal loafer he couldn't make up his mind to move hisself." She flourished her cleaver toward the big Texan, her husband, who balanced on the tongue of a wagon, his hands in his pockets, smiling ruefully and apologetically, and chewing with an ardor he never put to any other work. "We been here four years now," she went on raspingly, "and if you all feel like staying here to be treated like slaves by these John Bulls, you can do it. But you bet I know when I've got enough. To-morrow I quits." Her jaws snapped shut, and she stood glaring at them defiantly.