Rain had ceased to fall, but the night was intensely dark, with a raw, cold wind that penetrated to one's very bones. Shortly after nightfall three men crossed the east branch of the Ausable River and entered the little settlement of Keene. Of the three only one was mounted, and he sat swaying in the saddle, seeming to retain his position with great difficulty. The two men on foot walked on either side of the horse, helping to support the mounted man. At intervals they encouraged him with words. A few lights gleamed from the windows of Keene. Before a cottage door the trio halted, and one of the men on foot kcked on the door.