The Hidden Children HTML version

Chapter 7. Lois
When I came to the log house by the Spring Waiontha, lantern in hand and my packet
tucked beneath my arm, it was twilight, and the starless skies threatened rain. Road and
field and forest were foggy and silent; and I thought of the first time I had ever set eyes
on Lois, in the late afternoon stillness which heralded a coming storm.
I had with me, as I say, a camp lantern which enabled me to make my way through the
thicket to the Spring Waiontha. Not finding her there, I retraced my steps and crossed the
charred and dreary clearing to the house of logs.
No light burned within; doubtless this widow woman was far too poor to afford a light of
any sort. But my lantern still glimmered, and I went up to the splintered door and rapped.
Lois opened it, her knitting gathered in her hand, and stood aside for me to enter.
At first, so dusky was the room that I perceived no other occupant beside ourselves. Then
Lois said: "Mrs. Rannock, Mr. Loskiel, of whom I spoke at supper, is to be made known
to you."
Then first I saw a slight and ghostly figure rise, take shape in the shadows, and move
slowly into my lantern's feeble beams---- a frail and pallid woman, who made her
reverence as though dazed, and uttered not a word.
Lois whispered in my ear:
"She scarcely seems to know she is alive, since Cherry Valley. A Tory slew her little
sister with a hatchet; then her husband fell; and then, before her eyes, a blue-eyed Indian
pinned her baby to its cradle with a bayonet."
I crossed the room to where she stood, offering my hand; and she laid her thin and work-
worn fingers listlessly in mine.
"Madam," I said gently, "there are today two thousand widows such as you betwixt
Oriska and Schenectady. And, to our cause, each one of you is worth a regiment of men,
your sorrows sacred to us all, strengthening our vows, steeling us to a fierce endeavour.
No innocent death in this long war has been in vain; no mother's agony. Yet, only God
can comfort such as you."
She shook her head slowly.
"No God can comfort me," she said, in a voice so lifeless that it sounded flat as the words
that sleepers utter, dreaming of trouble.