Fort Amity

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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"So adieu, Jack, until we meet in Quebec! You have the start of us, report says, and this may even find you drinking his Majesty's health in Fort Carillon. Why not? You carry Howe, and who carries Howe carries the eagles on his standards; or so you announce in your last. Well, but have we, on our part, no vexillum? Brother Romulus presents his compliments to Brother Remus, and begs leave to answer 'Wolfe!' 'Tis scarce forty-eight hours since Wry-necked Dick brought his ships into harbour with the Brigadier on board, and already I have seen him and—what is more—fallen in love. 'What like is he?' says you. 'Just a sandy-haired slip of a man,' says I, 'with a cock nose': but I love him, Jack, for he knows his business. We've a professional at last. No more Pall Mall promenaders—no more Braddocks. Loudons, Webbs! We live in the consulship of Pitt, my lad—deprome Caecubum—we'll tap a cask to it in Quebec. And if Abercromby's your Cæsar—"

Here a bugle sounded, and Ensign John à Cleeve of the 46th Regiment of Foot (Murray's) crushed his friend's letter into his pocket and sprang off the woodpile where he had seated himself with the regimental colours across his knees. He unfolded them from their staff, assured himself that they hung becomingly—gilt tassels and yellow silken folds—and stepped down to the lake-side where the bateaux waited.

The scene is known to-day for one of the fairest in the world. Populous cities lie near it and pour their holiday-makers upon it through the summer season. Trains whistle along the shore under its forests; pleasure-steamers, with music on their decks, shoot across bays churned of old by the paddles of war-canoes; from wildernesses where Indians lurked in ambush smile neat hotels, white-walled, with green shutters and deep verandas; and lovers, wandering among the hemlocks, happen on a clearing with a few turfed mounds, and seat themselves on these last ruins of an ancient fort, nor care to remember even its name. Behind them—behind the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains—and pushed but a little way back in these hundred and fifty years, lies the primeval forest, trodden no longer now by the wasting redman, but untamed yet, almost unhandselled. And still, as the holidaymakers leave it, winter closes down on the lake-side and wraps it in silence, broken by the loon's cry or the crash of a snow-laden tree deep in the forest—the same sounds, the same aching silence, endured by French and English garrisons watching each other and the winter through in Fort Carillon or Fort William Henry.

"The world's great age begins anew."… It begins anew, and hourly, wherever hearts are high and youth sets out with bright eyes to meet his fate. It began anew for Ensign John à Cleeve on this morning of July 5, 1758; it was sounded up by bugles, shattering the forest silence; it breathed in the wind of the boat's speed shaking the silken flag above him. His was one of twelve hundred boats spreading like brilliant water-fowl across the lake which stretched for thirty miles ahead, gay with British uniforms, scarlet and gold, with Highland tartans, with the blue jackets of the Provincials; flash of oars, innumerable glints of steel, of epaulettes, of belt, cross-belt and badge; gilt knops and tassels and sheen of flags....