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CHAPTER VIII OFF TO CROWN POINT
It was with happy hearts that Seth and Reuben followed Major Rogers. Reuben rejoiced in having his great desire gratified, while Seth not only shared in his friend's joy, but was glad on his own account, because they would not now be separated, but could serve side by side against the enemy.

"I hope the Major will soon be starting out again," said Reuben, "and will take us both with him. I'm just longing to be off on a scout, ain't you, Seth?"

"Indeed I am," answered Seth. "It's so tiresome hanging around the fort. If the French or the Indians would only have a try at us now and then, I'd like it better."

This being their frame of mind, the delight with which they heard that Colonel Glasier had given instruction to Major Rogers to make as thorough as possible an examination of the strength of the enemy at Crown Point and the fortifications they were constructing there may be readily understood, and also how anxious they were to find out whether or not they would form part of the scouting party.

Upon this point they were kept in uncertainty until a short time before the Rangers were to set out, and they had almost resigned themselves to being left behind when to their vast relief the Major sent for them, and in his abrupt way commanded them to be ready to start in half an hour.

They had no trouble in obeying the order, and at the appointed time the scouting party, numbering fifty in all, marched away from the fort, every man in the best of spirits and ready for any adventure or danger that might be encountered.

At this time of year the bosom of the lake was so covered with snow that it was not possible to skate, and they took snow-shoes instead, carrying them strapped upon their backs until they should be needed. Every one of Rogers' Rangers was almost as expert in the use of the snow-shoes as were the Canadians, from whom they had learned their value, and Seth and Reuben were very glad that they had made themselves proficient in the art of the raquette during the days of inaction at the fort when they found they could keep their places in the swiftly moving party without any difficulty.

The route chosen by Major Rogers lay well to the west of Lake George, and for the first day the Rangers kept together, as there was slight chance of meeting with any of the enemy.

But on the following days more precautions against being ambushed were taken, the company breaking up into detachments, which followed one another at a little distance, the whole party reuniting at mid-day and at sundown.

By this shrewd arrangement the risk of them all falling into the hands of the enemy was greatly reduced, as those in the lead could give warning to those in the rear, and, though they might suffer themselves, enable their comrades to beat a retreat if the odds were all against them, or dash forward to the support of the vanguard if there was anything like equal terms to be had.

Advancing thus, they made their way undiscovered and unopposed through the trackless forest, startling the wild beasts from their lairs, and flushing many a covey of plump partridges, which strongly tempted them to use their guns; but their leader had sternly forbidden the firing of a shot except at the enemy. He was not going to have his presence betrayed for the sake of a bit of game.

Seth and Reuben managed to keep together and yet to extend their acquaintance among the members of the band. For the most part they found them congenial companions, although all were their seniors in age as well as in service, and the gatherings around the campfire at night, when pipes were out and stories swapped, were very pleasant after the long day's tramping over rough ground.

At length, seven days after setting out from the fort, they arrived within a mile of Crown Point, and, having concealed themselves in a thickly wooded hollow, where they were open to attack from only one direction, they awaited the further direction of their commander.

Every man fully realized the peril of the situation, and yet they were all in the highest spirits.

"I wonder how long it will take the French to find out we are so near them," said Seth to Reuben, with a smile of unconcern. "What wouldn't they give to know just where we are! I suppose they'd see how soon they could surround us and take us all prisoners."

"That would be their game most likely," responded Reuben, no less lightly; "but they're not going to do it all the same. The Major knows too much to be caught like a rat in a trap."

While the main body remained in the hollow, scouts were kept on all sides to give warning if the enemy should appear, and in the mean while Major Rogers, accompanied by a couple of his most trusted Rangers, ventured to ascend a very steep mountain, from the summit of which they could obtain a clear and full view of the fortification at Crown Point and of the surrounding country.

The Major was highly pleased at gaining this point of view without being discovered.

"Ah, ha!" he chuckled, as lying down upon his stomach, he peered over the peak and saw the whole place spread out before him like a map, with the French soldiers and the Canadians working away as busily as beavers, while the Indians loafed lazily about, or sat curled up in their blankets, as if they were quite above mere manual labor.

"Wouldn't it give our French friends a start if they knew we were watching them? And what a fine fort they are building, to be sure! I must make a plan of it to send to General Johnson. It's clear to me the place can't be attacked too soon. The longer it's left the harder nut it will be to crack. I must make the General understand that," and he shook his head in the decisive way that was characteristic of him.

The position of the Rangers exposed them to the full power of the wind and cold, but Major Rogers proceeded to make his plan of the fortification as calmly as if he were in a comfortable room, and did not stop u............
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