Page:Yule Logs.djvu/310

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294
A NEW ENGLAND RAID

a fugitive from Brookfield would carry the news to the colonel.

Night fell, and still the savages remained quiet. Stephen was on guard at the back of the house when Josh appeared leading his horse.

"Surely you are not going to do it?" he said.

"I am going to try," answered Josh grimly. "I guess about where I can catch Willard. It will be sharp work; but if I succeed by to-morrow at this time he may have given those red devils a lesson which they will not forget in a hurry. I am afraid they will wake up and worry you to-morrow; be on your guard, and do your uttermost to hold out till evening. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Stephen. "It is awfully plucky of you. I hope you will get through; it is our only chance. But you hardly look fit for such a ride."

"I am tougher than you think," said Josh; "most men would look worse than I do if they had gone through what I have done," and he held out his hand.

Stephen wrung it, saying, "I'll unbar the back gate for you, it opens on to the water-meadows; the ground is soft, so that the horse's hoofs will not be heard if you walk him, and I believe the savages are on the other side in the forest. It is less than half a mile to the river, and a mile farther up it is so shallow that you can easily ford it; on the other side you will be comparatively safe."

"Thanks," said Josiah. "The night's dark; that is in my favour," and he disappeared.

Throughout that night and the following morning the Indians remained quiet; but soon after noon they emerged from the forest, dragging and pushing forward a sort of cart of enormous dimensions mounted on rudely-constructed wheels. Bundles of hay, flax, and hemp, besides other combustible materials, were piled in it to a great height. They brought the thing within a short distance of the house, screening themselves behind it from the shots