Third of a three-day series

The visual tranquility of a little-traveled hallway in the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton is interrupted by the vivid colors of a mural stretching 18 feet along one wall. It appears to depict colonial times.

A construction worker passing by glances at two figures lounging against a tree sharing a jug of rum. ''Looks like some drunken Indians,'' he says.

Elaine Graeff, who works in the sheriff's office around the corner, comes to the mural during her breaks to sit quietly on the bench beneath it and crochet. ''It looks like some kind of gathering,'' she offers.

Colonists in white powdered wigs, breeches and stockings gather around an imposing Indian figure.

He wears an animal-tooth necklace, a loincloth over bright yellow fringed buckskin breeches, tan moccasins, a black tri-corner hat and a reddish-brown waistcoat, open against his smooth, muscular chest. His right hand is pressed flat against his breast, his left arm, extended palm up — is that in emphasis or supplication?

Behind him stands another Indian in sharp profile, with a bearskin over his arm and what might be war feathers in his scalp lock.

Despite the intriguing questions it raises for a careful observer, the mural, for most passers-by, is a mild curiosity — a scene from an unknown event in a forgotten time.

The regal Indian figure addressing the colonists is Teedyuscung, ''king of the Delawares'' during the French and Indian War.

''His life story does epitomize everything that's going on in that part of the world during this period,'' says University of Pennsylvania history professor Daniel K. Richter, director of the Center for Early American Studies.

Teedyuscung's story is key to understanding what the courthouse mural depicts — the beginning of the end of the French and Indian War, peace talks begun in Easton 250 years ago.

''What blows my mind is the Indian councils in Easton get no celebration,'' says historian Lance Metz of the National Canal Museum in Easton, a devotee of Lehigh Valley history. ''They were the most important thing that ever happened in the Lehigh Valley. Any historian worth his salt is going to say that.''

Journey to the Forks

Teedyuscung — his name means ''as far as the wood's edge'' — was a man caught between a fading world and an emerging one.

He was born about 1700 near Trenton, N.J., into a family of Delawares living on traditional Indian land on which white settlers were building farms and homesteads.

Historians know little about Teedyuscung's youth. His family was poor. He learned to make baskets and brooms, as did many Delaware families who sold handmade goods to the whites for food and clothing.

He learned to speak English but couldn't read or write. He was largely ignorant of traditional customs of the Lenape, or Delawares, contemporary colonial observers reported.

By 1710, whites claimed most of the Delaware land in the Trenton area.

''The atmosphere which when the whites first landed had been one of mutual tolerance and respect was now electric with suspicion,'' Anthony F.C. Wallace wrote in his 1949 biography, ''King of the Delawares: Teedyuscung 1700-1763.''