The final volume in an epic eight novel, four volume collection of Altsheler's great series of early America
During the eighteenth century the American frontier traversed the eastern woodlands, mountains and lakes of the continent. The 'flaming border' was a hostile land populated by the tribes of the Shawnees, Wyandots, Delaware's and others—fierce warrior peoples determined to maintain their dominance to stem the encroachment of the early European pioneers. These settlers were a new people, determined to cut back the wilderness, to create communities and farm the fertile soil. Ever since the 'white man' had set foot in the New World the dispute had raged in seemingly endless bloodshed. The French and their Indian allies had fought and lost their bid for the continent, but still the war between 'white' and 'red' raged. The border moved inexorably Westward and the land about the great Ohio and Mississippi Rivers was where the struggle would continue. Among the vanguard of the white men were intrepid backwoodsmen, scouts, trappers, hunters and those who—for adventure or vengeance—brought the fight to their Indian and renegade foes. Among these are this series' principal characters, Henry Ware, Paul Cotter and their companions. These novels by Joseph Altsheler—sometimes referred to as 'The Young Trailers' series—chronicle these extraordinary times as the background to the adventures of these remarkable young men. Altsheler was well regarded for high adventure set in American history and accurately encompassing actual personalities and real events. This Leonaur collection is available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket. Altsheler's 'Civil War' series and his 'French and Indian War' series are also available from Leonaur.
This special series ends with the seventh novel The Scouts of the Valley and the eighth and final novel, The Border Watch. These classic adventures of Henry Ware, Paul Cotter and their companions are as gripping today as at the time of their first publication and this substantial four volume collection is the ideal way to own and enjoy them.
Seeing that all was lost, the five drew farther away into the woods. They were not wounded, yet their faces were white despite the tan. They had never before looked upon so terrible a scene. The Indians, wild with the excitement of a great triumph and thirsting for blood, were running over the field scalping the dead, killing some of the wounded, and saving others for the worst of tortures. Nor were their white allies one whit behind them. They bore a full part in the merciless war upon the conquered. Timmendiquas, the great Wyandot, was the only one to show nobility. Several of the wounded he saved from immediate death, and he tried to hold back the frenzied swarm of old squaws who rushed forward and began to practice cruelties at which even the most veteran warrior might shudder. But Queen Esther urged them on, and “Indian” Butler himself and the chiefs were afraid of her. <br>
Henry, despite himself, despite all his experience and powers of self-control, shuddered from head to foot at the cries that came from the lost field, and he was sure that the others were doing the same. The sun was setting, but its dying light, brilliant and intense, tinged the field as if with blood, showing all the yelling horde as the warriors rushed about for scalps, or danced in triumph, whirling their hideous trophies about their heads. Others were firing at men who were escaping to the far bank of the Susquehanna, and others were already seeking the fugitives in their vain hiding places on the little islet.<br>
The five moved farther into the forest, retreating slowly, and sending in a shot now and then to protect the retreat of some fugitive who was seeking the shelter of the woods. The retreat had become a rout and then a massacre. The savages raged up and down in the greatest killing they had known since Braddock’s defeat. The lodges of the Iroquois would be full of the scalps of white men.<br>
All the five felt the full horror of the scene, but it made its deepest impress, perhaps, upon Paul. He had taken part in border battles before, but this was the first great defeat. He was not blind to the valour and good qualities of the Indian and his claim upon the wilderness, but he saw the incredible cruelties that he could commit, and he felt a horror of those who used him as an ally, a horror that he could never dismiss from his mind as long as he lived.<br>
“Look!” he exclaimed, “look at that!”<br>
A man of seventy and a boy of fourteen were running for the forest. They might have been grandfather and grandson. Undoubtedly they had fought in the Battalion of the Very Old and the Very Young, and now, when everything else was lost, they were seeking to save their lives in the friendly shelter of the woods. But they were pursued by two groups of Iroquois, four warriors in one, and three in the other, and the Indians were gaining fast.<br>
“I reckon we ought to save them,” said Shif’less Sol.<br>
“No doubt of it,” said Henry. “Paul, you and Sol move off to the right a little, and take the three, while the rest of us will look out for the four.”<br>
The little band separated according to the directions, Paul and Sol having the lighter task, as the others were to meet the group of four Indians at closer range. Paul and Sol were behind some trees, and, turning at an angle, they ran forward to intercept the three Indians. It would have seemed to anyone who was not aware of the presence of friends in the forest that the old man and the boy would surely be overtaken and be tomahawked, but three rifles suddenly flashed among the foliage. Two of the warriors in the group of four fell, and a third uttered a yell of pain. Paul and Shif’less Sol fired at the same time at the group of three. One fell before the deadly rifle of Shif’less Sol, but Paul only grazed his man. Nevertheless, the whole pursuit stopped, and the boy and the old man escaped to the forest, and subsequently to safety at the Moravian towns.
Paul, watching the happy effect of the shots, was about to say something to Shif’less Sol, when an immense force was hurled upon him, and he was thrown to the ground. His comrade was served in the same way, but the shiftless one was uncommonly strong and agile. He managed to writhe half way to his knees, and he shouted in a tremendous voice: “Run, Henry, run! You can’t do anything for us now!”<br>
Braxton Wyatt struck him fiercely across the mouth. The blood came, but the shiftless one merely spat it out, and looked curiously at the renegade.<br>
“I’ve often wondered about you, Braxton,” he said calmly. “I used to think that anybody, no matter how bad, had some good in him, but I reckon you ain’t got none.”<br>
Wyatt did not answer, but rushed forward in search of the others. But Henry, Silent Tom, and Long Jim had vanished. A powerful party of warriors had stolen upon Shif’less Sol and Paul, while they were absorbed in the chase of the old man and the boy, and now they were prisoners, bound securely. Braxton Wyatt came back from the fruitless search for the three, but his face was full of savage joy as he looked down at the captured two.<br>
“We could have killed you just as easily,” he said, “but we didn’t want to do that. Our friends here are going to have their fun with you first.”<br>
Paul’s cheeks whitened a little at the horrible suggestion, but Shif’less Sol faced them boldly. Several white men in uniform had come up, and among them was an elderly one, short and squat, and with a great flame coloured handkerchief tied around his bead.<br>
“You may burn us alive, or you may do other things jest ez bad to us, all under the English flag,” said Shif’less Sol, “but I’m thinkin’ that a lot o’ people in England will be ashamed uv it when they hear the news.”<br>
“Indian” Butler and his uniformed soldiers turned away, leaving Shif’less Sol and Paul in the hands of the renegade and the Iroquois. The two prisoners were jerked to their feet and told to march.<br>
“Come on, Paul,” said Shif’less Sol. “’Tain’t wuth while fur us to resist. But don’t you quit hopin’, Paul. We’ve escaped from many a tight corner, an’ mebbe we’re goin’ to do it ag’in.”<br>
“Shut up!” said Braxton Wyatt savagely. “If you say another word I’ll gag you in a way that will make you squirm.”<br>
Shif’less Sol looked him squarely in the eye. Solomon Hyde, who was not shiftless at all, had a dauntless soul, and he was not afraid now in the face of death preceded by long torture.<br>