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HOME > Short Stories > With Rogers on the Frontier > CHAPTER XXIII OUT OF CAPTIVITY INTO ACTION AGAIN
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It was many days before Seth recovered from what he had endured at the hands of the Indians, and some of his injuries left scars which he bore for the remainder of his life.

At Montreal he found a number of his fellow-countrymen in the same plight as himself. They were fairly well treated, but of course kept under constant surveillance, and allowed little liberty of movement, so that their life soon became very monotonous, and each one of them cherished his own hopes of escape.

Now and again attempts were made, but they proved for the most part failures, the vigilance of the French and the incessant activity of the Indians rendering it wellnigh impossible to get safely away.

Of course Seth had no sooner recovered his strength than he likewise set his ingenuity to work upon the problem of regaining his freedom, but rack his brains as he might he could devise no scheme that seemed feasible, while the days grew into weeks, and the weeks into months of maddening monotony.

"I believe I'll go out of my mind if I don't get free soon," he said to one of his companions in captivity. "Just to think of all that's going on, and we have no hand in it. We might as well be dead and buried for all the good we are."

No wonder, indeed, if this forced inaction told hard upon the prisoners, and particularly upon those of them like Seth, whose delight it was to be in active service no matter how dangerous, as in their durance vile there reached them rumors of the tremendous effort England was putting forth to conquer Canada, and stirring accounts of the vast fleet which was pushing its way up the St. Lawrence River for the taking of Quebec. Nearly the whole force of the colony had been brought together at the threatened capital, where both Vaudreuil and Montcalm were making all possible preparations to meet the invaders, and Seth raged against the fate which kept him out of the arena of action, until at last he grew so desperate as to be ready to seize upon the wildest scheme for escape.

Such was his mood when all unexpectedly there came to him the chance he craved. During the early days of his imprisonment he had had the opportunity of doing a service for the wife of one of his guards, and thereby won her gratitude.

She had come from his own Province, and in spite of having lived many years in Canada her heart still held a warm corner for her countrymen. Although Seth knew nothing of it he had been much in the good woman's mind, and she was possessed with the idea of enabling him to escape, but wisely kept her own counsel about it until the opportunity offered. Then she surprised him by taking him aside, and saying in a significant tone:

"Are you tired of being a prisoner here?"

"Of course I am," responded Seth, emphatically. "Tired to death of it. I don't know what I'll do if I can't manage to get out of this somehow."

"You would like to make your escape, then?" continued the woman.

Seth laughed bitterly as he answered:

"Why do you ask me that? You know as well as I do that I would give anything on earth to escape, and be with my men again."

The woman smiled at his earnestness.

"If I were to show you how you might escape, what would you do?"

Seth's face lit up, and his eyes dilated. He was about to say that he would do anything in the world for her, and then he checked himself, for the humiliating thought came that he, a poor penniless prisoner—did not have it in his power to reward her at all.

She quite understood how it was, and went on to say: "Do not mind about that. I meant nothing. If I do help you to escape it will be because you come from my own country, and I shall not want anything from you."

She then proceeded to explain herself, and Seth listened with every nerve a-quiver.

It seemed that preparations were being made to send more soldiers down to Quebec by the river, and that a number of canoes duly supplied with stores were ready for the start in the morning. If Seth could contrive to get off with one of these canoes he might make his way down the river to where the English were encamped on the shore opposite Quebec.

Seth heard her with indescribable delight. The dangers and difficulties of the undertaking were as naught in his eyes, and he poured out his gratitude in the strongest words he could command.

Of course he could not make the venture alone. He must needs have a companion to help him in paddling the canoe.

But there could be no difficulty about that; one of his fellow-prisoners, Lieutenant Putnam of Connecticut, would be only too glad to join him, and, having arranged with the woman to meet her at midnight, he went off with bounding heart to find Putnam, and tell him the good news.

Putnam was at first inclined to suspect some trap.

"It seems too good to be true," he said doubtfully.

"Not a bit of it," replied Seth. "I'm sure the woman is to be trusted, and if you feel like holding back, why just say so, and I'll get somebody else."

But Putnam at once declared his readiness to share the venture, and they proceeded to perfect their plans.

The night proved favorable in every particular. It was very dark and still, and had it not been for the woman's perfect familiarity with the premises they could never have found their way to the landing-place where the canoes were drawn up.

Happily the sentries had fallen asleep, and there was no one to challenge them when they pushed off, after whispering their gratitude to the good woman who had so signally befriended them.

Out into the swift current they sent the canoe, and as they sped down stream their hearts beat high with hope, and they would have sung for joy had they dared.

"Isn't this wonderful?" Seth exclaimed when they were well out into the river.............
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