Once you've read the book, check back here for the following scene that didn't make the final editing cut. It's actually more of an extended or alternate version of a scene that still exists in the finished book, but be warned, if you haven't already read A Flight of Arrows....
THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW
Lots of them!
You are warned....
Seriously, if you don't like spoilers stop reading this post now.
All righty then. If you're still with me I'm going to assume you've read the book, or spoilers don't flummox you none.
One of my favorite things to do while plotting and writing my novels is to be on the lookout for any and every chance to allow a character or two or three from a previous book to wander into the pages of the new story. Readers of The Pathfinders and my debut novel, Burning Sky, already know I've done this with two characters, Joseph Tames-His-Horse and Daniel Clear-Day, both of which I introduced in Burning Sky.
In the Pathfinders, Joseph has a smaller role, but Daniel Clear-Day has a much larger role to play. But originally I had intended to include a few other characters readers first met in Burning Sky.
In that book I mentioned the tragic history of the Waring family as it pertains to the Battle of Oriskany, and because that battle figures large in A Flight of Arrows, I thought it would be a gift to readers and fans of Burning Sky to let you see those characters on the eve of that battle. But the placement of the scene slowed the pace of the novel, and in the end it turned out the Warings did not play a significant enough role in the story to let them stay.
So without (much) further ado... this scene is an extension of the one you will have read that begins on page 261 of Chapter 32. It's told from Two Hawks's point of view, the evening before the battle when he crosses the ravine to check out Herkimer's gathering troops, camped near Oriska for the night....
Copyright 2016 Lori Benton, all rights reserved
For a camp full of white men, their noise was subdued. The clank of a pot, the chop of an axe, the hiss of water on embers, low voices conversing about food or gear. The whinny of a tethered horse. No music, no singing. Already some slept, rolled in blankets or laid out in trampled ferns.
Not one dressed exactly like another. Some wore tailed coats and waistcoats, their heads topped with fine cocked hats. Just as many were clad in fringed shirts of rough cloth or deerskin, floppy hats stuck through with feathers, moccasins on their feet. Most were armed with muskets, a few with rifles, their belts thrust through with bayonets, hatchets, knives, and pistols besides.
Many were hardly more than boys. Aside from a few who probably fought in the old war—their hard faces creased and watchful—he doubted whether most of them had seen battle. Then he grinned at such thinking. Neither had he seen battle so who was he to judge?
He was still grinning when a figure seated at a fire, his back to Two Hawks, caught his eye. Maybe it had been the unusual splash of color that drew his attention—the figure wore a red-checked shirt—but something else held it. The back was that of a young man, well-muscled, the hair pulled back and tied below a cocked hat shining blond in the firelight.
“Sam,” he said before considering that a spy might not wish to be named so freely, even among friends. Who could say?
But the young man turned at the name, gazing into the shadows with narrowed eyes searching, night-blinded by the flames into which he’d been staring. “Aye? Who’s there? That you, Keppler?”
It wasn’t Sam Reagan, but one who looked much like him, at least to Two Hawks’s eyes. He thought briefly of melting back into the shadows and moving on. But two others at the fire—one enough like the Red Checks who’d spoken to be his brother, and a man most likely their father—had spotted him.
He came forward into the firelight. “I took you for one I know. Another called Sam with the pale hair like yours.”
“An Indian,” said the other young one, then shot his brother a grin. “And he fancies your pretty blond scalp, Sam.”
“Hush, Nick,” said the older man. He had the same hair as the one he’d just admonished, darker than Sam’s pale shade but still blond. These three were among the more finely clothed Two Hawks had seen. No woodsman’s frocks or hunting shirts among them, but a coat with pewter buttons on the older man, the others in shirts and good plain breeches and boots.
The man beckoned Two Hawks. “Join us if you will. There’s coffee, not long since brewed. Elias Waring,” he added by way of introduction, as Two Hawks approached. “These rapscallions are my middle sons, Nicholas and Samuel. We’re from up along West Canada Creek—settlement called Shiloh—part of a new company attached to the Kingsland battalion.”
“The only part not fallen out back down the road,” Nicholas said.
“On account we brought our horses,” Samuel added.
“You are an officer?” This Elias Waring had the air of one, but looking the man over again for sign of rank, Two Hawks found none.
“I held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the old French war,” Waring explained, taking up a tin cup off the ground and with a rag grasping the handle of a kettle at the fire’s edge. “At present I function as company captain.” He poured the cup half-full of steaming liquid and handed it to Two Hawks, who took it and sat down on a log drawn up to the flames.
“What are you called?” Waring asked.
The cup was too hot to hold. Two Hawks set it down. “Jonathan.” He glanced sidelong as the one called Nicholas dug an elbow into his brother’s ribs. The term praying Indian was muttered in a snigger.
Ignoring his sons, Waring said, “You’ve been ahead to the fort, scouting?”
“I have seen the fort, yes.”
“Have you news of the siege?”
Two Hawks related what he’d seen, from the coming of St. Leger’s advance patrol to the arrival of the main forces, and that many of the British troops were away west cutting a road to bring in the big rolling guns. “I have been as far west as Oswego, before St. Leger began his march.”
He felt some satisfaction as he spoke of all he’d seen in that place—including those ravens that had darkened the sky—seeing the gazes of these Waring men go from surprise at his good English, to keen interest in his words. For a moment it felt they’d forgotten he was an Indian talking to them. He took up the coffee and sipped it. Strong, but good. He’d developed a taste for the stuff in Schenectady, but didn’t swallow much, knowing it would keep him wakeful.
“Gansevoort blocked the water passage.” Waring chuckled. “That should make our work somewhat easier.”
“Not too easy,” Nicholas interjected, as if he resented the notion of an effortless victory.
“That’s right,” Samuel said. “We aim to kick some British tail before all’s said and done.”
“You’ll have your chance,” Elias Waring said.
Two Hawks exchanged a look with the man, one that made him feel much older than these lads probably just a year or two younger than he. He thought about Thayendanegea’s Indians, hundreds of them not working on that road. They would fancy these blond Waring scalps.
“St. Leger is not the only one with soldiers separated from him,” he said. “What of yours back down that road? Will they come along in time for kicking British tail?”
“’Course they will,” Samuel was quick to assert. “They’ll catch us up by daybreak.”
“That they will,” said a voice from beyond the firelight, deeper than the Waring brothers’, rough with fatigue and dry with thirst.
Two Hawks turned with the Warings as a blond, sun-browned giant stepped from the trees into the fire’s glow. Wearing a shirt of fringed deerskin over rough breeches, he was older than the lads at the fire, and one of the biggest white men Two Hawks had ever seen—tall as that Canadian Mohawk who’d come to Kanowalohale years ago, and been his friend.
Unlike his memories of Joseph Tames-His-Horse, this man was thick-muscled through the chest and shoulders. Probably he was handsome for a white man. Just now it was hard to tell with him glaring at Two Hawks with eyes like midwinter lakes. A breeze whipped the flames of the fire sideways to sputter and crackle. Two Hawks felt his muscles tense.
Elias Waring spoke. “I’d hoped you would return before we slept. Sit you down.” Waring turned to Two Hawks. “My eldest son, Richard. He’s captain of a ranger patrol for the Kingsland battalion. Richard, this is Jonathan, an Oneida scout.”
Richard Waring ignored the introduction. “I’ve news, Father. General Herkimer means to send runners tonight ahead to Gansevoort. He’s to send a sortie out to us if he hears our gunfire on the morrow—and give three cannon blasts once he’s received the message.” All the while he spoke, Richard Waring was eyeing Two Hawks. “Why is that Indian at our fire?”
“He’s here at my invitation,” Waring said, giving his son a cautioning eye. “He’s one of the scouts attached to the militia. They’re camped across the gully yonder.”
“I’ve had a look at them.” His father’s words didn’t ease the tension coming off that big man looming over them, refusing to sit at the fire—so long as Two Hawks shared it.
Two Hawks set down the coffee and stood. He didn’t look at Richard Waring again as he made his farewells to his kin, but felt that frozen stare drilling his back until the darkness hid him.