The Hidden Children HTML version

Chapter 16. Lana Helmer
Our Sunday morning gun had scarce been fired when from up the river came the
answering thunder of artillery. Thirteen times did the distant cannon bellow their salute,
announcing Clinton's advance, our camp swarmed like an excited hive, mounted officers
galloping, foot officers running, troops tumbling out as the drums rattled the "general" in
every regimental bivouac.
Colonel Proctor's artillery band marched out toward the landing place as I entered No. 2
Block-House and ran up the ladder, and I heard the ford-guard hurrahing and the garrison
troops on the unfinished parapets answering them with cheer after cheer.
At my loud rapping on the flooring, Lois opened the trap for me, her lovely, youthful
features flushed with excitement; Lana, behind her, beckoned me; and I sprang up into
the loft and paid my duty to them both.
"What a noble earthquake of artillery up the river!" said Lois. "Butler has no cannon, has
"Not even a grasshopper!" said I gaily. "Those cannon shot are Clinton's how d'ye do!"
"Poor's guns, were they not?" asked Lana, striving to smile. "And that means you march
away and leave us with 'The World Turned Upside Down!'" And she shrugged her
shoulders and whistled a bar of the old-time British air.
"Come to the parapet!" said Lois impatiently. "For the last few minutes there has been a
sound in the woods-- very far away, Euan-- yet, if one could hear so far I would swear
that I heard the conch-horn of your rifles!"
"Did I not tell you she knew it well?" said Lana with her pallid smile, as we opened the
massive guard-door, squeezed through the covered way, and came out along the rifle-
platform among our noisy soldiers.
"Listen!" murmured Lois, close at my elbow. "There! It comes again! Do you not hear it,
Euan! That low, long, sustained and heart-thrilling undertone droning in the air through
all this tumult!"
And presently I heard the sound-- the wondrous melancholy, yet seductive music of our
conch-horn. Its magic call set my every pulse a-throbbing. All the alluring mystery and
solitude, all the sorrow of the wilderness were in those long-drawn blasts; all the
enchantment of the woodland, too, calling, calling to the sons of the forest, riflemen,
hunter, Coureur-de-Bois.