In the hills north of the Mohawk Valley the crew has set to work feeding the soldiers struggling west to face the French. Thomas is five years older since we met him in CAPTAIN’S CROSS and passing his skill at sea and in the forests on to young Paul. Lessons hard learned with little room for mistakes. The war with the French and their Indian allies has exploded upon the colonies and so far, the British have made little progress toward victory.
On the trail of game, the lads find themselves the prey. From my soon to be released land and sea adventure, CAPTAIN’S SORTIE:
Thomas scarcely breathed and within a few more steps saw Draco down on his belly and pointing his nose straight ahead. Only the soft swish the small breeze made as it passed through the upper leaves added to the stillness. Not a bird sound. Something or someone, more likely, was just beyond the pines blocking the way. Thomas tried to will his eyes to see through them, but it would not be.
It happened together. Paul crashed ahead through the trees from behind leading the horses atop his own and Draco lunged just as an Indian showed himself through the pine boughs and fired his musket past Thomas’ head toward Paul. The Indian died only a second later and Thomas hesitated deciding if he was to reload the rifle or go after Draco with his pistol and sword.
The sound of the dog roaring, as only Draco could do, within the pines and Paul hitting the ground with a cry of pain gave Thomas no choice. He spun and covered the distance to Paul and as he got close enough to see the boy awash in blood, he heard a gunshot then another from the pines. Thomas grabbed Paul’s collar and drug him back behind the horses scooping up Paul’s short rifle as he passed. A thick beech sheltered him as he put his body between Paul and the pines and began to reload his own rifle.
“Where?” he whispered to Paul. He heard no answer and did not dare take his eyes from the place the Indian had emerged. Thomas nudged Paul’s shoulder and said again, “Where?”
“In the pine trees, Thomas. The Indians are…” Paul coughed and went silent. Thomas meant to learn of Paul’s wound, but the boy went past that to the threat before them.