Sir William (Billy) Smithyman has achieved fame, fortune, and love on the New York frontier since he arrived from Ireland as a young man. But now the French are threatening everything he has built as they relentlessly attack everywhere along the British colonial frontier. Severely wounded leading an amateur army in the one victory the British can claim so far in the war, Billy has to coax the shaky Iroquois alliance he constructed into remaining loyal to King George, in the very face of what seems an imminent victory for the French.
Together with his beloved and wise Mohawk wife, Laura Silverbirch, and her warrior brother, Matthew, Billy has to fend off assassination attempts as well as enemy action after New France puts a price on his head. But hidden in the French forces is a friend, who may just be able to turn the tide as Billy and Matthew face a deadly counterattack from veteran French soldiers and partisans deep in the forest. The possession of a continent is at stake.
What the reviewers had to say about David More’s first novel,
The Eastern Door:
“A splendid new voice … ”
—Ken Cuthbertson, Award-Winning Biographer and Queen’s Alumni Review
“Solid and thrilling …excellent dialogue …respect for the history …a rewarding read.”
—Historical Novel Society
“His action scenes – both military and those of a more passionate nature – are gripping.”
Chapter Twenty-Seven -- The Last Hurrah, Ticonderoga, July 1758 Oh where, and Oh! where is your Highland laddie gone? He’s gone to fight the French, for King George upon the throne, And it’s Oh! In my heart, how I wish him safe at home! --Dorothea Jordan. The Blue Bells of Scotland It is a righteous crusade. Elias Ruskin, private in the Massachusetts militia and discoverer, on Boston Common, of the light of Christ, watched the flotilla around him advance down mirror-calm Lake George with wonder in his soul, and twenty-seven of his thirty enlistment shillings still safely in his pack. The green-clad mountains rising up steeply from the west shore were at the height of their summer lushness and lit at the top by the newly rising sun. Soaring above and between the mountains, eagles screamed protests at this noisy invasion of their silent forest domain, for there were 15,000 men in boats. At last, at last, we are driving the Papists out. Elias nudged his seatmate and spread his arms eloquently at the fleet rowing down the lake to Ticonderoga, that the French called Fort Carillon, for he was seeing himself as a preacher. "Nathaniel, does it not seem grand to you that this, this host, is but a part of our armies? That our armies could not only be here, but marching west to Fort Duquesne, and east to attack fortress Louisbourg, all at the same time?" Nathaniel grinned and they slapped each other's backs, which earned them a reprimand from the Sergeant near the stern of the bateau, crowded and low in the water with its fifteen soldiers and their gear and weapons. "Sit still there, you dogs, or you'll have us all drownded before we even sees a Frenchie!" Thoughts similar to those of Elias and Nathaniel were coursing through the mind of the Reverend Caleb Stephens as well, as he sat rigidly still in another of the bateaux, half a mile away. Reverend Stephens was happy, at times ecstatic, behind a pulpit, but he was not at all comfortable in a boat. Despairing of creating his school when all his pupils were soldiering, he had resolved to become one himself. The pay and, indeed, the food were in themselves nearly miracles, he thought, remembering the harsh winter all too clearly. He volunteered into one of the Massachusetts Bay colony companies as its chaplain, and at present he was praying fervently for the success in arms of the British army. He was also planning ahead, somewhat dreamily on this warm, still, summer morning, of what he could do with his school when Canada was British at last and he received his ten pounds victory bonus. They had begun to embark before dawn at the head of Lake George, from the charred ruins of Fort William Henry, and they were to spend a day and a night rowing eagerly down its exquisite length, taking the war at last to the French at its foot, in their stone fort at Ticonderoga. Bands and drummers played, brightly colored and tasseled regimental flags waved and soldiers in red and blue trimmed with glittering gold and silver sang lustily in a thousand boats. Some talk of Alexander, And some of Hercules Of Hector and Lysander, And such great names as these. But of all the world’s great heroes, There’s none that can compare With a tow, row, row, with a tow, row, row To the British Grenadier The lake, which lay at dawn like a sapphire pendant in its cleft between the hills, was now covered shore to shore by the fleet, seven miles long. The spring harvest of bloated corpses that had appeared after the successful winter defense of Fort William Henry on Lake George’s ice eighteen months ago had not lingered in anyone’s memory. But the terrible defeat and massacre that occurred a few months later had, and the urge for revenge was strong in this army. Elias had bitterly resented the war until now, for it had gotten in the way of his training and ordination. Since he had heard George Whitfield preach on Boston Common he had been transformed. He had joined the great Gospel revival and abandoned his former evil ways as the orphaned leader of a gang of young toughs. His heart and soul now impatiently yearned only to serve the Lord, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel had assured him of a place in Reverend Stephens' school, to learn his theology. After that, he had hoped to convert the heathen. All that would now have to wait, for bigger things were afoot. The British had been losing the war, but the new Prime Minister, Pitt, was changing all of that. By now the British had won only a single major battle against the French in more than three years of war on the frontier. Everyone knew of someone who had been murdered and scalped or had simply disappeared into the forest, into slavery or death. In fact, since the beginning of hostilities, the French had even pushed south another fifty miles into British territory and erected their new stone Fort Carillon high on a cliff at Ticonderoga. Early in the year Pitt had recalled do-nothing Lord Loudon and sent out Abercromby, a sop to Pitt’s opponents in Parliament. But the real commander was Pitt’s choice, the army’s second-in-command, the intelligent and immensely likeable Lord Howe. The New England part of the army prayed at least once and often twice a day; sometimes for their less pious and extremely profane regular army brethren, not to mention the provincial troops from neighbouring colonies. It was a force united in its belief in the purity of its cause. In astonishing and utterly rare unison, Caleb and other chaplains --Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Congregationalists -- thundered in unison that the army was on its way to conquer Babylon in the forests. Like Joshua at Jericho, they preached. The Massachusetts provincial regiments were on a holy mission to defeat forever those tawny, cloven-footed tribes hurried on by the satanic French invaders. Now that Elias had found the light, he could not allow his faith to be threatened. If the Frogs win this war, the idolatrous Catholics will force all us protestants to leave, or die.
David More, award-winning author of The Eastern Door, was born in Montreal, Canada. An avid sailor and boatbuilder, he lives in Kingston, Ontario, manages medical laboratories and teaches history at St. Lawrence College. He is a graduate of University of Waterloo (BA in History), Queen’s University (Master of Public Administration) and the Humber School for Writers.