The Red Ranger - H.A. Cody - ebook
Opis

The main character from the very beginning meets with difficulty. The storm does not allow you to continue your journey through the sea. He lands on an unknown shore. Where is the difficulty to overcome, and find out the difficult situation. The air seemed suffocating, and dark memories made his brain wince. He called himself a fool for coming here, and he decided never to visit this place again.

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Liczba stron: 376

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Contents

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER XXVI

CHAPTER XXVII

CHAPTER XXVIII

CHAPTER XXIX

CHAPTER XXX

CHAPTER XXXI

CHAPTER I

The Man Who Didn’t Hang

The tide was against him, so he was forced to go ashore. He did not wish to remain here but to keep steadily on his way up through the reversible falls. The current, however, was running like a mill-sluice, and the water was churned into mad breakers as it leaped over the lip of the rock which extended from the island to the western shore. Pierre LeNoir was annoyed. He should have made more haste and arrived sooner. Lucille would be expecting him and she would be anxious at his delay. A softer expression came into his eyes, and his stern face relaxed a little as he thought of her.

As Pierre drew his canoe up on the shore, he looked at the frowning walls of the old fort on the bank above. He could not keep his eyes off those battered logs, with the rotting bastions lifting their sinister heads against their setting of tall dark pines. So fearfully did they seem to leer at him, that he longed to get them out of his sight. They fascinated him, and drew him irresistibly forward.

Slowly he climbed the hill up which Charnisay had led his sea dogs on that fateful Easter morning years before. He stood at the door where the brave Lady LaTour, with sword in hand, had encouraged her gallant men. He entered the fortand beheld on all sides masses of rubbish, ruin and decay. From room to room he moved, evading at first one on the right towards which he cast several furtive glances. But at length he was drawn hither for just one look. This large room had served as the dining-hall and general place of meeting. Now it was empty, damp and desolate. It was here he had often sat at the table with his comrades, taken part in the flow of talk, and joined in the songs. But there was no song in his heart now. He raised his eyes to the ceiling until they rested upon one great beam. To his heated brain there came once more that terrible scene of old. He saw the dangling rope with the curling noose at the end. He lived over again the terror and despair that had filled his soul, when to save his own life he had turned against his comrades in arms. He beheld their proud defiant looks, and the scorn in their eyes as he placed the noose around each neck. He could not blot out that spectacle. Neither could he forget the expression of reproach and misery in the eyes of the noble woman standing near with a rope around her own neck.

Pierre had more than enough of this room. The air seemed stifling, and the dark memories made his brain reel. He called himself a fool for coming here, and he determined never to visit the place again.

As he made his way towards the big open door, he caught sight of the rickety stairway leading to the loft above. A desire seized him to see the large room where he and his companions had slept. He wondered what it looked like now. Ascending the broken and rotten steps, he soon found himself on the upper floor. At once a scene of desolation met his eyes. In places the roof had fallen in, and on all sides there was a litter of dirt and rubbish. The sight repelled him and he was glad to pass through the opening on the left which led to the bastion on the south side of the fort. The cooling air from the water was refreshing after the closeness inside. He breathed more freely, and that haunting fear in his heart gradually subsided. He looked out over the Bay and recalled the day he had stood here watching Charnisay’s ships of war standing up towards the harbor. He remembered the intense excitement in the fort, and saw, too, Lady LaTour standing by his side, anxiously watching. That was long ago, but the scene was as vivid now as then.

And as he looked, he presently gave a great start, for on the opposite side of the island at the entrance to the harbor he beheld three tapering top-masts. At first he believed that he had been mistaken, that what he saw was a delusion of his brain owing to his mental vision of Charnisay’s ships. But as he looked more keenly he knew that he had not been deceived. There certainly was a vessel anchored on the southern side of the island, and she must be a large one to carry masts tall enough to lift their heads above the tops of the trees. It must be an enemy, and at once a fear smote his heart. He was in danger, and his only safety lay in a speedy retreat. He decided to cross the harbor and carry his canoe above the falls by way of the Indian carrying-place. This would be a difficult undertaking for one man, buthe would do it rather than fall into the hands of an unknown enemy.

Quickly descending, he hurried out into the open. He had taken but a few steps along the tangled path, when three men leaped upon him from the thick brushes close by. With a startled gasp, he recoiled and reached for his pistol at his side. But ere his hand could touch the weapon he was overpowered, hurled to the ground, while the pistol and his sheath knife were taken from him. Then one of his assailants gave him a vigorous kick, accompanied by several words in a foreign tongue which he could not understand. But he did know the meaning of that kick, so scrambling to his feet, he faced his captors. They were rough fierce-looking men, bearded and heavily armed. They were sailors, judging by their appearance, and belonged, no doubt, to the ship at the island. Suddenly he realised that they were Dutchmen. He had heard of them and their daring deeds along the coast. But why had they come here? And what did they intend to do with him?

All this passed rapidly through his mind as he stood cowering there. The thought of being made a prisoner at this old fort was not comforting. He glanced up at the wall and it seemed to his disordered brain as if the spirits of his dead comrades were jeering down upon him. He believed he could hear their mocking laughter. But it was only the voices of his captors who were greatly amused at his terror-stricken face. They were speaking to him, although he did not know what they were saying. But when the leader pointed down the path and headed him in that direction, he understood.

As he stumbled forward, he tried to conceive some way of escape. But none came. His canoe was where he had left it, and nearby was a ship’s boat. His companions ordered him into the boat, and when they had pushed off, the canoe was taken in tow. Then down the harbor they moved. Two of the men rowed, while the third, with pistol in hand, guarded the prisoner.

The breeze drifting in from the sea cooled Pierre’s heated brow. His fear, caused by his visit to the fort and his sudden capture, changed to anger. What right had these men to lay hands upon him? he asked himself. But, then, he well knew that in a wilderness land might is the only right recognized, and the question of justice is seldom considered. That watchful man seated before him with pistol in hand was a symbol of the only law that prevailed in Acadia.

In a short time it was possible for Pierre to see the ship. She looked very big and menacing as she rode at anchor with her sails furled. Many men were crowding her rails watching the small boat coming down the harbor. Fear again came upon Pierre as he peered anxiously forward. Was he to be carried away to sea? Were more men needed on the ship? And what would become of Lucille? She would be left alone with only old Noel and his wife to protect her. His cup of despair was now full to overflowing as he thought of all this.

When the ship was at length reached, he climbed on board and at once became the centre of curiosity as if he were some wild creature from the forest. Men crowded around to look at him,talking and laughing in the most animated manner. He recognized the captain by his appearance. He was a big, tall, swarthy man, with a hawk-like nose and sharp piercing eyes. Pierre watched him as he talked to the three men who had made the capture. But what they were saying he did not know. Ere long he was surprised by hearing his own French tongue. He glanced around and saw a man looking keenly at him and smiling.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am only Pierre LeNoir, a poor trader.”

“What were you doing here?”

“I was on the lookout for a supply ship, but she didn’t come.”

“And she never will. We met her, and have the supplies on board.”

“Who are you?” Pierre was plucking up courage, for this man seemed friendly.

“We are Dutch raiders, and this frigate is the Flying Horse, with Jurriaen Aernouts in command, and his associate John Rhoade.”

“Aernouts!” Pierre merely gasped the word. He had heard of the noted Dutch pirate and his terrible deeds.

“Ah, you have heard of him,” and the man smiled at LeNoir’s consternation. “Yes, he is well known, and all on this river will soon know him better, especially de Soulanges at Fort Jemseg, and other traders.”

“But you are a Frenchman,” Pierre replied. “You speak the language.”

“Oh, it doesn’t make any difference what a man is in this land. I’m a Frenchman to-day, an Englishman to-morrow, and a Dutchman the nextday. I have joined this ship for I want to see the place where my father died.”

“Your father died here?”

“Yes, in that old fort over yonder. A traitor put him to death, and that traitor was once his best friend. But to save his own life he hung his comrades, and my father with the rest. I hope to meet him some day if he is still alive.”

Pierre felt his knees suddenly weaken beneath him. Terror clutched at his heart, and his face became ghastly. This the other noticed, and smiled again.

“Oh, you needn’t fear, my friend. I am not blaming you for what happened years ago.”

These words relieved Pierre. This man did not know him.

“What is your name?” he asked.

“Basil LeRoi. My father was Jean LeRoi, who served with LaTour, and he was over in that fort when it was captured by Charnisay.”

“And who was the traitor?” Pierre asked as calmly as possible.

“Gervais Reynard, so my mother told me. I was very young when she received word of my father’s death. But I remember her great grief and how I said that I would find the traitor some day and kill him.”

“And you have been searching for him?”

“I have. It is my great purpose in life, but so far he has escaped me. No one knows anything about him. You have not heard of him, I suppose?”

“No, he is not known here. Most of the people along this river have come in recent years."

“Very likely. But I thought the story of Reynard’s terrible deed might be known to the Indians.”

“Oh, they do talk about the capture of the fort, and how white people fought with one another, but they never mention Reynard. Maybe they never heard of what he did.”

“Perhaps not,” LeRoi sadly replied as he gazed thoughtfully shoreward. “He may have hung himself out of remorse like Judas did when he betrayed his Master.”

The two were alone now, for the other men having satisfied their curiosity had scattered to various parts of the ship. Even the captain was no where in sight. He had gone into the cabin, knowing that LeRoi could deal with the prisoner and tell him what was expected of him. He was not interested in a cringing Frenchman, as he had more important things to think about.

“How long have you been in this country?” LeRoi asked.

“Only a few years,” Pierre lied. “I came from Quebec.”

“You know this river, then?”

“Fairly well.”

“And you know Fort Jemseg?”

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