Read CHAPTER IX of The Hero of Ticonderoga / Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, free online book, by John de Morgan, on ReadCentral.com.

Treachery.

Zebedee was flushed and excited when he entered the paternal dwelling.

He had been away all day, and knew that he was likely to get a good thrashing for neglect of his work.

Ezekiel was waiting for him very patiently.

Zeb had taken all in at a glance. There was a thick beechen stick standing by the chimney corner, and old Zeke was not far from it.

One of his most favored passages of the Bible was the one in which the spoiling of the child is said to be caused by the small use of the rod.

Zeb knew what it meant.

He had often felt the strength of his father’s muscles, and he fully realized that if he was spoiled it was not because the rod had been spared.

Only three mornings before Zeb had entered the kitchen, which served as dining room as well, and had partaken of his breakfast standing, and at the midday meal he still preferred an upright position instead of the one adopted by the other members of his family.

To be accurate and truthful, it was a rare thing for Zeb to be able to sit down with any comfort, for his interviews with his father were very frequent and generally of a very painful nature.

He entered the kitchen looking more defiant than his brothers or sister had ever seen him.

Zeke did not speak.

He took off his coat and rolled up his homespun linen shirt sleeves.

Then he reached out and got the beechen stick.

Zebedee waited.

He knew that there was a certain formula to be gone through.

His father never thrashed him while angry; he always catechised him, then waited a few minutes before plying the stick or the whip.

“Zeb, did you sort those potatoes?”

“No.”

“Did you learn that verse from the Bible the elder told you to commit to memory?”

“No.”

“Playing all day?”

“Yes.”

“Then I must use the rod, or my son will be ruined.”

Everything had been calm up to that point.

The other members of the family had gone out.

Zeb was alone with his father.

“Come here.”

“What for?”

“Come here, I say, and place yourself across my knee.”

“Not this time, dad.”

If Zebedee had drawn a pistol and shot at his father that worthy could not have been more astonished. He almost dropped the stick.

“What do you mean?”

“Just what I say. You are never going to beat me again.”

“What?”

“Just what I say, dad. I’m going to make a bargain with you. You swear that you will never hit me again and I’ll make you a rich man.”

Ezekiel dropped the stick.

He opened his ponderous jaws and looked at his eldest son much as he might at a wild beast.

“You ;what?”

“Just what I say, dad. Little pitchers have big ears. Well, the big ears have heard that you hate Ethan Allen.”

“Well?”

“You would get the reward if you could.”

“Well?”

“Swear that you will never hit me again ;”

“I will not. Come here, you rapscalion, and I’ll teach you to make a laughingstock of me.”

Zeb saw his father pick up the stick again, and he got into the corner, and picking up a chair, held it so that his father could not strike him.

“See here, father,” he said, very quietly, “you are stronger than I am. You have a right to whip me, and I perhaps deserve it; that isn’t saying much, but it’s enough. Now I want to tell you that if you strike me I’ll leave you this very night, and either join the Green Mountain Boys, or I’ll get the reward and go to York and never see you again.”

“What has come over you?”

“Nothing, only I see a way to make some money for you, or myself, and I’ll give it to you if you swear never to strike me again.”

“It’s a bargain.”

“Honor bright?”

“Yes, honor bright.”

“All right, father. Pull down your sleeves and come with me where no one can hear what I have to say.”

To the great surprise of the family, no sounds of crying or sobbing came from the kitchen, and when Zeb’s mother ;a little, frail woman, who had never had her own way since she had been married to Zeke, opened the door an hour later and peeped in, she screamed out:

“It’s all over! I felt he would do it some day.”

“Do what, mother?” asked a girl of twelve.

“Your father has killed Zeb. He said he would, and now he has done it, and he has gone to bury him.”

Then there was a scene of shrieking and weeping and sobbing.

All the children joined in, and the mother was heart-broken.

In the midst of it all father and son walked in, radiant and smiling.

If Zeb had been really dead and made himself visible to his astonished family, they could not have been more alarmed.

“Mistress Garvan, stop your blubbering. We shall have visitors this night; sha’n’t we, Zeb?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Friends of mine. Oh, it will be a great time. Mistress, I’ll buy the childer new clothes, ay, that I will, and I’ll have a new ox for the farm. It is good, I tell you, to have friends.”

Mistress Garvan wondered what had come over her stern husband.

She knew he had not been drinking, for he would not allow even as much as a drop of dry cider to come into the house.

“What have you been doing, Zeke?” she asked him.

“Nothing; it’s only a little surprise we have. Isn’t it so, Zeb?”

But Zeb had disappeared, and so no answer was forthcoming from him.

Zeb had seen more than he had heard, and he knew of the encampment on
Lake Dunmore.

He had watched the men, and found out that they drilled at night. He had become suspicious, but had no means of verifying his suspicions until that conversation with Eben.

When Eben had incautiously mentioned his name, Zeb remembered that he had heard a man tell his father that Allen was accompanied by a young scout whose name was Pike.

Zeke was getting very fidgety.

He kept looking at the tall clock, which his father had brought from England many years before, and wondered whether his plot had failed. But his face brightened when a knock at the door betokened the presence of visitors.

He opened the door himself, and Ethan Allen and Remember Baker stepped in.

“Welcome, most welcome! I would rather see you here than the king of England.”

Allen placed his finger on his lip as a hint not to speak too loudly.

Zeke laughed.

“I respect your caution; a day will come when your name will be shouted from the housetops.”

“You are too flattering, farmer.”

“Not so; but come to supper. My good wife knows how to tickle the palate of my friends, and you are my friends. Where’s Zeb, mother?”

“He went out.”

“He is a bad fellow; I am sure I shall never tame him. I would he were old enough to join the ;”

“Yes; what age is he?”

“Only sixteen.”

“He is old enough if he has inclination ;”

“A truce to such talk; let us get some supper. By my father’s memory, I smell pig’s head and cabbage. Good thing, even if it is late at night. Come, friends, and we will talk after.”

Zeke led the way into the kitchen and bade his guest be seated.

Scarcely had they commenced eating when a knock at the back door caused the farmer to drop his knife.

The door opened and a man’s voice was heard:

“In the king’s name surrender, Ethan Allen, and you, Remember Baker!”

“Treason!” exclaimed Allen.

“Trapped!” added Baker.

“Yes, rebels, and the reward will be mine!” shouted the farmer in a joyous voice.