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Title: Wacousta : a tale of the Pontiac conspiracy — Volume 3
Author: Richardson, Major (John), 1796-1852
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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WACOUSTA;

  or

THE PROPHECY.

Volume Three of Three


by

John Richardson



CHAPTER I.

The night passed away without further event on board the schooner, yet
in all the anxiety that might be supposed incident to men so perilously
situated. Habits of long-since acquired superstition, too powerful to
be easily shaken off, moreover contributed to the dejection of the
mariners, among whom there were not wanting those who believed the
silent steersman was in reality what their comrade had represented,--an
immaterial being, sent from the world of spirits to warn them of some
impending evil. What principally gave weight to this impression were
the repeated asseverations of Fuller, during the sleepless night passed
by all on deck, that what he had seen was no other, could be no other,
than a ghost! exhibiting in its hueless, fleshless cheek, the
well-known lineaments of one who was supposed to be no more: and, if
the story of their comrade had needed confirmation among men in whom
faith in, rather than love for, the marvellous was a constitutional
ingredient, the terrible effect that seemed to have been produced on
Captain de Haldimar by the same mysterious visitation would have been
more than conclusive. The very appearance of the night, too, favoured
the delusion. The heavens, comparatively clear at the moment when the
canoe approached the vessel, became suddenly enveloped in the deepest
gloom at its departure, as if to enshroud the course of those who,
having so mysteriously approached, had also so unaccountably
disappeared. Nor had this threatening state of the atmosphere the
counterbalancing advantage of storm and tempest to drive them onward
through the narrow waters of the Sinclair, and enable them, by
anticipating the pursuit of their enemies, to shun the Scylla and
Charybdis that awaited their more leisure advance. The wind increased
not; and the disappointed seamen remarked, with dismay, that their
craft scarcely made more progress than at the moment when she first
quitted her anchorage.

It was now near the first hours of day; and although, perhaps, none
slept, there were few who were not apparently at rest, and plunged in
the most painful reflections. Still occupying her humble couch, and
shielded from the night air merely by the cloak that covered her own
blood-stained garments, lay the unhappy Clara, her deep groans and
stifled sobs bursting occasionally from her pent-up heart, and falling
the mysterious agency that already bore such undivided power over their
thoughts. On the bare deck, at her side, lay her brother, his face
turned upon the planks, as if to shut out all objects from eyes he had
not the power to close; and, with one arm supporting his heavy brow,
while the other, cast around the restless form of his beloved sister,
seemed to offer protection and to impart confidence, even while his
lips denied the accents of consolation. Seated on an empty hen-coop at
their head, was Sir Everard Valletort, his back reposing against the
bulwarks of the vessel, his arms folded across his chest, and his eyes
bent mechanically on the man at the helm, who stood within a few paces
of him,--an attitude of absorption, which he, ever and anon, changed to
one of anxious and enquiring interest, whenever the agitation of Clara
was manifested in the manner already shown.

The main deck and forecastle of the vessel presented a similar picture
of mingled unquietness and repose. Many of the seamen might be seen
seated on the gun-carriages, with their cheeks pressing the rude metal
that served them for a pillow. Others lay along the decks, with their
heads resting on the elevated hatches; while not a few, squatted on
their haunches with their knees doubled up to their very chins,
supported in that position the aching head that rested between their
rough and horny palms. A first glance might have induced the belief
that all were buried in the most profound slumber; but the quick
jerking of a limb,--the fitful, sudden shifting of a position,--the
utter absence of that deep breathing which indicates the
unconsciousness of repose, and the occasional spirting of tobacco juice
upon the deck,--all these symptoms only required to be noticed, to
prove the living silence that reigned throughout was not born either of
apathy or sleep.

At the gangway at which the canoe had approached now stood the
individual already introduced to our readers as Jack Fuller. The same
superstitious terror that caused his flight had once more attracted him
to the spot where the subject of his alarm first appeared to him; and,
without seeming to reflect that the vessel, in her slow but certain
progress, had left all vestige of the mysterious visitant behind, he
continued gazing over the bulwarks on the dark waters, as if he
expected at each moment to find his sight stricken by the same
appalling vision. It was at the moment when he had worked up his
naturally dull imagination to its highest perception of the
supernatural, that he was joined by the rugged boatswain, who had
passed the greater part of the night in pacing up and down the decks,
watching the aspect of the heavens, and occasionally tauting a rope or
squaring a light yard, unassisted, as the fluttering of the canvass in
the wind rendered the alteration necessary.

"Well, Jack!" bluntly observed the latter in a gruff whisper that
resembled the suppressed growling of a mastiff, "what the hell are ye
thinking of now?--Not got over your flumbustification yet, that ye
stand here, looking as sanctified as an old parson!"

"I'll tell ye what it is, Mr. Mullins," returned the sailor, in the
same key; "you may make as much game on me as you like; but these here
strange sort of doings are somehow quizzical; and, though I fears
nothing in the shape of flesh and blood, still, when it comes to having
to do with those as is gone to Davy Jones's locker like, it gives a
fellow an all-overishness as isn't quite the thing. You understand me?"

"I'm damned if I do!" was the brief but energetic rejoinder.

"Well, then," continued Fuller, "if I must out with it, I must. I think
that 'ere Ingian must have been the devil, or how could he come so
sudden and unbeknownst upon me, with the head of a 'possum: and then,
agin, how could he get away from the craft without our seeing him? and
how came the ghost on board of the canoe?"

"Avast there, old fellow; you means not the head of a 'possum, but a
beaver: but that 'ere's all nat'r'l enough, and easily 'counted for;
but you hav'n't told us whose ghost it was, after all."

"No; the captain made such a spring to the gunwale, as frighted it all
out of my head: but come closer, Mr. Mullins, and I'll whisper it in
your ear.--Hark! what was that?"

"I hears nothing," said the boatswain, after a pause.

"It's very odd," continued Fuller; "but I thought as how I heard it
several times afore you came."

"There's something wrong, I take it, in your upper story, Jack Fuller,"
coolly observed his companion; "that 'ere ghost has quite capsized you."

"Hark, again!" repeated the sailor. "Didn't you hear it then? A sort of
a groan like."

"Where, in what part?" calmly demanded the boatswain, though in the
same suppressed tone in which the dialogue had been, carried on.

"Why, from the canoe that lies alongside there. I heard it several
times afore."

"Well, damn my eyes, if you a'rn't turned a real coward at last,"
politely remarked Mr. Mullins. "Can't the poor fat devil of a Canadian
snooze a bit in his hammock, without putting you so completely out of
your reckoning?"

"The Canadian--the Canadian!" hurriedly returned Fuller: "why, don't
you see him there, leaning with his back to the main-mast, and as fast
asleep as if the devil himself couldn't wake him?"

"Then it was the devil, you heard, if you like," quaintly retorted
Mullins: "but bear a hand, and tell us all about this here ghost."

"Hark, again! what was that?" once more enquired the excited sailor.

"Only a gust of wind passing through the dried boughs of the canoe,"
said the boatswain: "but since we can get nothing out of that crazed
noddle of yours, see if you can't do something with your hands. That
'ere canoe running alongside, takes half a knot off the ship's way.
Bear a hand then, and cast off the painter, and let her drop astarn,
that she may follow in our wake. Hilloa! what the hell's the matter
with the man now?"

And well might he ask. With his eyeballs staring, his teeth chattering,
his body half bent, and his arms thrown forward, yet pendent as if
suddenly arrested in that position while in the act of reaching the
rope, the terrified sailor stood gazing on the stern of the canoe; in
which, by the faint light of the dawning day, was to be seen an object
well calculated to fill the least superstitious heart with terror and
dismay. Through an opening in the foliage peered the pale and spectral
face of a human being, with its dull eyes bent fixedly and mechanically
upon the vessel. In the centre of the wan forehead was a dark
incrustation, as of blood covering the superficies of a newly closed
wound. The pallid mouth was partially unclosed, so as to display a row
of white and apparently lipless teeth; and the features were otherwise
set and drawn, as those of one who is no longer of earth. Around the
head was bound a covering so close, as to conceal every part save the
face; and once or twice a hand was slowly raised, and pressed upon the
blood spot that dimmed the passing fairness of the brow. Every other
portion of the form was invisible.

"Lord have mercy upon us!" exclaimed the boatswain, in a voice that,
now elevated to more than its natural tone, sounded startlingly on the
stillness of the scene; "sure enough it is, indeed, a ghost!"

"Ha! do you believe me now?" returned Fuller, gaining confidence from
the admission of his companion, and in the same elevated key. "It is,
as I hope to be saved, the ghost I see'd afore."

The commotion on deck was now every where universal. The sailors
started to their feet, and, with horror and alarm visibly imprinted on
their countenances, rushed tumultuously towards the dreaded gangway.

"Make way--room, fellows!" exclaimed a hurried voice; and presently
Captain de Haldimar, who had bounded like lightning from the deck,
appeared with eager eye and excited cheek among them. To leap into the
bows of the canoe, and disappear under the foliage, was the work of a
single instant. All listened breathlessly for the slightest sound; and
then every heart throbbed with the most undefinable emotions, as his
lips were heard giving utterance to the deep emotion of his own
spirit,--

"Madeline, oh, my own lost Madeline!" he exclaimed with almost frantic
energy of passion: "do I then press you once more in madness to my
doting heart? Speak, speak to me--for God's sake speak, or I shall go
mad! Air, air,--she wants air only--she cannot be dead."

These last words were succeeded by the furious rending asunder of the
fastenings that secured the boughs, and presently the whole went
overboard, leaving revealed the tall and picturesque figure of the
officer; whose left arm encircled while it supported the reclining and
powerless form of one who well resembled, indeed, the spectre for which
she had been mistaken, while his right hand was busied in detaching the
string that secured a portion of the covering round her throat. At
length it fell from her shoulders; and the well known form of Madeline
de Haldimar, clad even in the vestments in which they had been wont to
see her, met the astonished gaze of the excited seamen. Still there
were some who doubted it was the corporeal woman whom they beheld; and
several of the crew who were catholics even made the sign of the cross
as the supposed spirit was now borne up the gangway in the arms of the
pained yet gratified De Haldimar: nor was it until her feet were seen
finally resting on the deck, that Jack Fuller could persuade himself it
was indeed Miss de Haldimar, and not her ghost, that lay clasped to the
heart of the officer.

With the keen rush of the morning air upon her brow returned the
suspended consciousness of the bewildered Madeline. The blood came
slowly and imperceptibly to her cheek; and her eyes, hitherto glazed,
fixed, and inexpressive, looked enquiringly, yet with stupid
wonderment, around. She started from the embrace of her lover, gazed
alternately at his disguise, at himself, and at Clara; and then passing
her hand several times rapidly across her brow, uttered an hysteric
scream, and threw herself impetuously forward on the bosom of the
sobbing girl; who, with extended arms, parted lips, and heaving bosom,
sat breathlessly awaiting the first dawn of the returning reason of her
more than sister.

We should vainly attempt to paint all the heart-rending misery of the
scene exhibited in the gradual restoration of Miss de Haldimar to her
senses. From a state of torpor, produced by the freezing of every
faculty into almost idiocy, she was suddenly awakened to all the
terrors of the past and the deep intonations of her rich voice were
heard only in expressions of agony, that entered into the most
iron-hearted of the assembled seamen; while they drew from the bosom of
her gentle and sympathising cousin fresh bursts of desolating grief.
Imagination itself would find difficulty in supplying the harrowing
effect upon all, when, with upraised hands, and on her bended knees,
her large eyes turned wildly up to heaven, she invoked in deep and
startling accents the terrible retribution of a just God on the inhuman
murderers of her father, with whose life-blood her garments were
profusely saturated; and then, with hysteric laughter, demanded why she
alone had been singled out to survive the bloody tragedy. Love and
affection, hitherto the first principles of her existence, then found
no entrance into her mind. Stricken, broken-hearted, stultified to all
feeling save that of her immediate wretchedness, she thought only of
the horrible scenes through which she had passed; and even he, whom at
another moment she could have clasped in an agony of fond tenderness to
her beating bosom,--he to whom she had pledged her virgin faith, and
was bound by the dearest of human ties,--he whom she had so often
longed to behold once more, and had thought of, the preceding day, with
all the tenderness of her impassioned and devoted soul,--even he did
not, in the first hours of her terrible consciousness, so much as
command a single passing regard. All the affections were for a period
blighted in her bosom. She seemed as one devoted, without the power of
resistance, to a grief which calcined and preyed upon all other
feelings of the mind. One stunning and annihilating reflection seemed
to engross every principle of her being; nor was it for hours after she
had been restored to life and recollection that a deluge of burning
tears, giving relief to her heart and a new direction to her feelings,
enabled her at length to separate the past from, and in some degree
devote herself to, the present. Then, indeed, for the first time did
she perceive and take pleasure in the presence of her lover; and
clasping her beloved and weeping Clara to her heart, thank her God, in
all the fervour of true piety, that she at least had been spared to
shed a ray of comfort on her distracted spirit. But we will not pain
the reader by dwelling on a scene that drew tears even from the rugged
and flint-nerved boatswain himself; for, although we should linger on
it with minute anatomical detail, no powers of language we possess
could convey the transcript as it should be. Pass we on, therefore, to
the more immediate incidents of our narrative.

The day now rapidly developing, full opportunity was afforded the
mariners to survey the strict nature of their position. To all
appearance they were yet in the middle of the lake, for around them lay
the belting sweep of forest that bounded the perspective of the
equidistant circle, of which their bark was the focus or immediate
centre. The wind was dying gradually away, and when at length the sun
rose, in all his splendour, there was scarce air enough in the heavens
to keep the sails from flapping against the masts, or to enable the
vessel to obey her helm. In vain was the low and peculiar whistle of
the seamen heard, ever and anon, in invocation of the departing breeze.
Another day, calm and breathless as the preceding, had been chartered
from the world of light; and their hearts failed them, as they foresaw
the difficulty of their position, and the almost certainty of their
retreat being cut off. It was while labouring under the disheartening
consciousness of danger, peculiar to all, that the anxious boatswain
summoned Captain de Haldimar and Sir Everard Valletort, by a
significant beck of the finger, to the side of the deck opposite to
that on which still lay the suffering and nearly broken-hearted girls.

"Well, Mullins, what now?" enquired the former, as he narrowly scanned
the expression of the old man's features: "that clouded brow of yours,
I fear me, bodes no agreeable information."

"Why, your honour, I scarcely knows what to say about it; but seeing as
I'm the only officer in the ship, now our poor captain is killed, God
bless him! I thought I might take the liberty to consult with your
honours as to the best way of getting out of the jaws of them sharks of
Ingians; and two heads, as the saying is, is always better than one."

"And now you have the advantage of three," observed the officer, with a
sickly smile; "but I fear, Mullins, that if your own be not sufficient
for the purpose, ours will be of little service. You must take counsel
from your own experience and knowledge of nautical matters."

"Why, to be sure, your honour," and the sailor rolled his quid from one
cheek to the other, "I think I may say as how I'll venture to steer the
craft with any man on the Canada lakes, and bring her safe into port
too; but seeing as how I'm only a petty officer, and not yet
recommended by his worship the governor for the full command, I thought
it but right to consult with my superiors, not as to the management of
the craft, but the best as is to be done. What does your honour think
of making for the high land over the larboard bow yonder, and waiting
for the chance of the night-breeze to take us through the Sinclair?"

"Do whatever you think best," returned the officer. "For my part, I
scarcely can give an opinion. Yet how are we to get there? There does
not appear to be a breath of wind."

"Oh, that's easily managed; we have only to brail and furl up a little,
to hide our cloth from the Ingians, and then send the boats a-head to
tow the craft, while some of us lend a hand at her own sweeps. We shall
get close under the lee of the land afore night, and then we must pull
up agin along shore, until we get within a mile or so of the head of
the river."

"But shall we not be seen by our enemies?" asked Sir Everard; "and will
they not be on the watch for our movements, and intercept our retreat?"

"Now that's just the thing, your honour, as they're not likely to do,
if so be as we bears away for yon headlands. I knows every nook and
sounding round the lake; and odd enough if I didn't, seeing as how the
craft circumnavigated it, at least, a dozen times since we have been
cooped up here. Poor Captain Danvers! (may the devil damn his
murderers, I say, though it does make a commander of me for once;) he
used always to make for that 'ere point, whenever he wished to lie
quiet; for never once did we see so much as a single Ingian on the
headland. No, your honour, they keeps all at t'other side of the lake,
seeing as how that is the main road from Mackina' to Detroit."

"Then, by all means, do so," eagerly returned Captain de Haldimar. "Oh,
Mullins! take us but safely through, and if the interest of my father
can procure you a king's commission, you shall not want it, believe me."

"And if half my fortune can give additional stimulus to exertion, it
shall be shared, with pleasure, between yourself and crew," observed
Sir Everard.

"Thank your honours,--thank your honours," said the boatswain, somewhat
electrified by these brilliant offers. "The lads may take the money, if
they like; all I cares about is the king's commission. Give me but a
swab on my shoulder, and the money will come fast enough of itself.
But, still, shiver my topsails, if I wants any bribery to make me do my
duty; besides, if 'twas only for them poor girls alone, I would go
through fire and water to sarve them. I'm not very chicken-hearted in
my old age, your honours, but I don't recollect the time when I
blubbered so much as I did when Miss Madeline come aboard. But I can't
bear to think of it; and now let us see and get all ready for towing."

Every thing now became bustle and activity on board the schooner. The
matches, no longer required for the moment, were extinguished, and the
heavy cutlasses and pistols unbuckled from the loins of the men, and
deposited near their respective guns. Light forms flew aloft, and,
standing out upon the yards, loosely furled the sails that had
previously been hauled and clewed up; but, as this was an operation
requiring little time in so small a vessel, those who were engaged in
it speedily glided to the deck again, ready for a more arduous service.
The boats had, meanwhile, been got forward, and into these the sailors
sprang, with an alacrity that could scarcely have been expected from
men who had passed not only the preceding night, but many before it, in
utter sleeplessness and despair. But the imminence of the danger, and
the evident necessity existing for exertion, aroused them to new
energy; and the hitherto motionless vessel was now made to obey the
impulse given by the tow ropes of the boats, in a manner that proved
their crews to have entered on their toil with the determination of
men, resolved to devote themselves in earnest to their task. Nor was
the spirit of action confined to these. The long sweeps of the schooner
had been shipped, and such of the crew as remained on board laboured
effectually at them,--a service, in which they were essentially aided,
not only by mine host of the Fleur de lis, but by the young officers
themselves.

At mid-day the headlands were seen looming largely in the distance,
while the immediate shores of the ill-fated fortress were momentarily,
and in the same proportion, disappearing under the dim line of horizon
in the rear. More than half their course, from the spot whence they
commenced towing, had been completed, when the harassed men were made
to quit their oars, in order to partake of the scanty fare of the
vessel, consisting chiefly of dried bear's meat and venison. Spirit of
any description they had none; but, unlike their brethren of the
Atlantic, when driven to extremities in food, they knew not what it was
to poison the nutritious properties of the latter by sipping the putrid
dregs of the water-cask, in quantities scarce sufficient to quench the
fire of their parched palates. Unslaked thirst was a misery unknown to
the mariners of these lakes: it was but to cast their buckets deep into
the tempting element, and water, pure, sweet, and grateful as any that
ever bubbled from the moss-clad fountain of sylvan deity, came cool and
refreshing to their lips, neutralising, in a measure, the crudities of
the coarsest food. It was to this inestimable advantage the crew of the
schooner had been principally indebted for their health, during the
long series of privation, as far as related to fresh provisions and
rest, to which they had been subjected. All appeared as vigorous in
frame, and robust in health, as at the moment when they had last
quitted the waters of the Detroit; and but for the inward sinking of
the spirit, reflected in many a bronzed and furrowed brow, there was
little to show they had been exposed to any very extraordinary trials.

Their meal having been hastily dispatched, and sweetened by a draught
from the depths of the Huron, the seamen once more sprang into their
boats, and devoted themselves, heart and soul, to the completion of
their task, pulling with a vigour that operated on each and all with a
tendency to encouragement and hope. At length the vessel, still
impelled by her own sweeps, gradually approached the land; and at
rather more than an hour before sunset was so near that the moment was
deemed arrived when, without danger of being perceived, she might be
run up along the shore to the point alluded to by the boatswain. Little
more than another hour was occupied in bringing her to her station; and
the red tints of departing day were still visible in the direction of
the ill-fated fortress of Michilimackinac, when the sullen rumbling of
the cable, following the heavy splash of the anchor, announced the
place of momentary concealment had been gained.

The anchorage lay between two projecting headlands; to the outermost
extremities of which were to be seen, overhanging the lake, the stately
birch and pine, connected at their base by an impenetrable brushwood,
extending to the very shore, and affording the amplest concealment,
except from the lake side and the banks under which the schooner was
moored. From the first quarter, however, little danger was incurred, as
any canoes the savages might send in discovery of their course, must
unavoidably be seen the moment they appeared over the line of the
horizon, while, on the contrary, their own vessel, although much
larger, resting on and identified with the land, must be invisible,
except on a very near approach. In the opposite direction they were
equally safe; for, as Mullins had truly remarked, none, save a few
wandering hunters, whom chance occasionally led to the spot, were to be
met with in a part of the country that lay so completely out of the
track of communication between the fortresses. It was, however, but to
double the second headland in their front, and they came within view of
the Sinclair, the head of which was situated little more than a league
beyond the spot where they now lay. Thus secure for the present, and
waiting only for the rising of the breeze, of which the setting sun had
given promise, the sailors once more snatched their hasty refreshment,
while two of their number were sent aloft to keep a vigilant look-out
along the circuit embraced by the enshrouding headlands.

During the whole of the day the cousins had continued on deck clasped
in each other's arms, and shedding tears of bitterness, and heaving the
most heart-rending sobs at intervals, yet but rarely conversing. The
feelings of both were too much oppressed to admit of the utterance of
their grief. The vampire of despair had banqueted on their hearts.
Their vitality had been sucked, as it were, by its cold and bloodless
lips; and little more than the withered rind, that had contained the
seeds of so many affections, had been left. Often had Sir Everard and
De Haldimar paused momentarily from the labour of their oars, to cast
an eye of anxious solicitude on the scarcely conscious girls, wishing,
rather than expecting, to find the violence of their desolation abated,
and that, in the full expansion of unreserved communication, they were
relieving their sick hearts from the terrible and crushing weight of
woe that bore them down. Captain de Haldimar had even once or twice
essayed to introduce the subject himself, in the hope that some fresh
paroxysm, following their disclosures, would remove the horrible
stupefaction of their senses; but the wild look and excited manner of
Madeline, whenever he touched on the chord of her affliction, had as
often caused him to desist.

Towards the evening, however, her natural strength of character came in
aid of his quiescent efforts to soothe her; and she appeared not only
more composed, but more sensible of the impression produced by
surrounding objects. As the last rays of the sun were tinging the
horizon, she drew up her form in a sitting position against the
bulwarks, and, raising her clasped hands to heaven, while her eyes were
bent long and fixedly on the distant west, appeared for some minutes
wholly lost in that attitude of absorption. Then she closed her eyes;
and through the swollen lids came coursing, one by one, over her
quivering cheek, large tears, that seemed to scald a furrow where they
passed. After this she became more calm--her respiration more free; and
she even consented to taste the humble meal which the young man now
offered for the third time. Neither Clara nor herself had eaten food
since the preceding morning; and the weakness of their frames
contributed not a little to the increasing despondency of their
spirits; but, notwithstanding several attempts previously made, they
had rejected what was offered them, with insurmountable loathing. When
they had now swallowed a few morsels of the sliced venison ham,
prepared with all the delicacy the nearly exhausted resources of the
vessel could supply, accompanied by a small portion of the cornbread of
the Canadian, Captain de Haldimar prevailed on them to swallow a few
drops of the spirit that still remained in the canteen given them by
Erskine on their departure from Detroit. The genial liquid sent a
kindling glow to their chilled hearts, and for a moment deadened the
pungency of their anguish; and then it was that Miss de Haldimar
entered briefly on the horrors she had witnessed, while Clara, with her
arm encircling her waist, fixed her dim and swollen eyes, from which a
tear ever and anon rolled heavily to her lap, on those of her beloved
cousin.



CHAPTER II.

Without borrowing the affecting language of the unhappy girl--a
language rendered even more touching by the peculiar pathos of her
tones, and the searching agony of spirit that burst at intervals
through her narrative--we will merely present our readers with a brief
summary of what was gleaned from her melancholy disclosure. On bearing
her cousin to the bedroom, after the terrifying yell first heard from
without the fort, she had flown down the front stairs of the
blockhouse, in the hope of reaching the guardroom in time to acquaint
Captain Baynton with what she and Clara had witnessed from their
window. Scarcely, however, had she gained the exterior of the building,
when she saw that officer descending from a point of the rampart
immediately on her left, and almost in a line with the block-house. He
was running to overtake and return the ball of the Indian players,
which had, at that moment, fallen into the centre of the fort, and was
now rolling rapidly away from the spot on which Miss de Haldimar stood.
The course of the ball led the pursuing officer out of the reach of her
voice; and it was not until he had overtaken and thrown it again over
the rampart, she could succeed in claiming his attention. No sooner,
however, had he heard her hurried statement, than, without waiting to
take the orders of his commanding officer, he prepared to join his
guard, and give directions for the immediate closing of the gates. But
the opportunity was now lost. The delay occasioned by the chase and
recovery of the ball had given the Indians time to approach the gates
in a body, while the unsuspicious soldiery looked on without so much as
dreaming to prevent them; and Captain Baynton had scarcely moved
forward in execution of his purpose, when the yelling fiends were seen
already possessing themselves of the drawbridge, and exhibiting every
appearance of fierce hostility. Wild, maddened at the sight, the almost
frantic Madeline, alive only to her father's danger, rushed back
towards the council-room, whence the startling yell from without had
already been echoed, and where the tramp of feet, and the clashing of
weapons, were distinguishable.

Cut off from his guard, by the rapid inundation of warriors, Captain
Baynton had at once seen the futility of all attempts to join the men,
and his first impression evidently had been to devote himself to the
preservation of the cousins. With this view he turned hastily to Miss
de Haldimar, and hurriedly naming the back staircase of the
block-house, urged her to direct her flight to that quarter. But the
excited girl had neither consideration nor fear for herself; she
thought only of her father: and, even while the fierceness of contest
was at its height within, she suddenly burst into the council-room. The
confusion and horror of the scene that met her eyes no language can
render: blood was flowing in every direction, and dying and dead
officers, already stripped of their scalps, were lying strewed about
the room. Still the survivors fought with all the obstinacy of despair,
and many of the Indians had shared the fate of their victims. Miss de
Haldimar attempted to reach her father, then vigorously combating with
one of the most desperate of the chiefs; but, before she could dart
through the intervening crowd, a savage seized her by the hair, and
brandished a tomahawk rapidly over her neck. At that moment Captain
Baynton sent his glittering blade deep into the heart of the Indian,
who, relinquishing his grasp, fell dead at the feet of his intended
victim. The devoted officer then threw his left arm round her waist,
and, parrying with his sword-arm the blows of those who sought to
intercept his flight, dragged his reluctant burden towards the door.
Hotly pressed by the remaining officers, nearly equal in number, the
Indians were now compelled to turn and defend themselves in front, when
Captain Baynton took that opportunity of getting once more into the
corridor, not, however, without having received a severe wound
immediately behind the right ear, and leaving a skirt and lappel of his
uniform in the hands of two savages who had successively essayed to
detain him. At that moment the band without had succeeded in forcing
open the door of the guard-room; and the officer saw, at a glance,
there was little time left for decision. In hurried and imploring
accents he besought Miss de Haldimar to forget every thing but her own
danger, and to summon resolution to tear herself from the scene: but
prayer and entreaty, and even force, were alike employed in vain.
Clinging firmly to the rude balustrades, she refused to be led up the
staircase, and wildly resisting all his efforts to detach her hands,
declared she would again return to the scene of death, in which her
beloved parent was so conspicuous an actor. While he was yet engaged in
this fruitless attempt to force her from the spot, the door of the
council-room was suddenly burst open, and a group of bleeding officers,
among whom was Major de Haldimar, followed by their yelling enemies,
rushed wildly into the passage, and, at the very foot of the stairs
where they yet stood, the combat was renewed. From that moment Miss de
Haldimar lost sight of her generous protector. Meanwhile the tumult of
execrations, and groans, and yells, was at its height; and one by one
she saw the unhappy officers sink beneath weapons yet reeking with the
blood of their comrades, until not more than three or four, including
her father and the commander of the schooner, were left. At length
Major de Haldimar, overcome by exertion, and faint from wounds, while
his wild eye darted despairingly on his daughter, had his sword-arm
desperately wounded, when the blade dropped to the earth, and a dozen
weapons glittered above his head. The wild shriek that had startled
Clara then burst from the agonised heart of her maddened cousin, and
she darted forward to cover her father's head with her arms. But her
senses failed her in the attempt; and the last thing she recollected
was falling over the weltering form of Middleton, who pressed her, as
she lay there, in the convulsive energy of death, to his almost
pulseless heart.

A vague consciousness of being raised from the earth, and borne rapidly
through the air, came over her even in the midst of her insensibility,
but without any definite perception of the present, or recollection of
the past, until she suddenly, when about midway between the fort and
the point of wood that led to Chabouiga, opened her eyes, and found
herself in the firm grasp of an Indian, whose features, even in the
hasty and fearful glance she cast at the countenance, she fancied were
not unfamiliar to her. Not another human being was to be seen in the
clearing at that moment; for all the savages, including even the women
assembled outside, were now within the fort assisting in the complex
horrors of murder, fire, and spoliation. In the wild energy of
returning reason and despair, the wretched girl struggled violently to
free herself; and so far with success, that the Indian, whose strength
was evidently fast failing him, was compelled to quit his hold, and
suffer her to walk. No sooner did Miss de Haldimar feel her feet
touching the ground, when she again renewed her exertions to free
herself, and return to the fort; but the Indian held her firmly secured
by a leathern thong he now attached to her waist, and every attempt
proved abortive. He was evidently much disconcerted at her resistance;
and more than once she expected, and almost hoped, the tomahawk at his
side would be made to revenge him for the test to which his patience
was subjected; but Miss de Haldimar looked in vain for the expression
of ferocity and impatience that might have been expected from him at
such a moment. There was an air of mournfulness, and even kindness,
mingled with severity, on his smooth brow that harmonised ill with the
horrible atrocities in which he had, to all appearance, covered as he
was with blood, been so recent and prominent an actor. The Indian
remarked her surprise; and then looking hurriedly, yet keenly, around,
and finding no living being near them, suddenly tore the shirt from his
chest, and emphatically pronouncing the names "Oucanasta," "De
Haldimar," disclosed to the still struggling captive the bosom of a
woman. After which, pointing in the direction of the wood, and finally
towards Detroit, she gave Miss de Haldimar to understand that was the
course intended to be pursued.

In a moment the resistance of the latter ceased. She at once recognised
the young Indian woman whom her cousin had rescued from death: and
aware, as she was, of the strong attachment that had subsequently bound
her to her preserver, she was at no loss to understand how she might
have been led to devote herself to the rescue of one whom, it was
probable, she knew to be his affianced wife. Once, indeed, a suspicion
of a different nature crossed her mind; for the thought occurred to her
she had only been saved from the general doom to be made the victim of
private revenge--that it was only to glut the jealous vengeance of the
woman at a more deliberative hour, she had been made a temporary
captive. The apprehension, however, was no sooner formed than
extinguished. Bitterly, deeply as she had reason to abhor the treachery
and cunning of the dark race to which her captor belonged, there was an
expression of openness and sincerity, and even imploringness, in the
countenance of Oucanasta, which, added to her former knowledge of the
woman, at once set this fear at rest, inducing her to look upon her
rather in the character of a disinterested saviour, than in that of a
cruel and vindictive enemy, goaded on to the indulgence of malignant
hate by a spirit of rivalry and revenge. Besides, even were her
cruellest fears to be realised, what could await her worse than the
past? If she could even succeed in getting away, it would only be to
return upon certain death; and death only could await her, however
refined the tortures accompanying its infliction, in the event of her
quietly following and yielding herself up to the guidance of one who
offered this slight consolation, at least, that she was of her own sex.
But Miss de Haldimar was willing to attribute more generous motives to
the Indian; and fortified in her first impression, she signified by
signs, that seemed to be perfectly intelligible to her companion, she
appreciated her friendly intentions, and confided wholly in her.

No longer checked in her efforts, Oucanasta now directed her course
towards the wood, still holding the thong that remained attached to
Miss de Haldimar's waist, probably with a view to deceive any
individuals from the villages on whom they might chance to fall, into a
belief that the English girl was in reality her prisoner. No sooner,
however, had they entered the depths of the forest, when, instead of
following the path that led to Chabouiga, Oucanasta took a direction to
the left, and then moving nearly on a parallel line with the course of
the lake, continued her flight as rapidly as the rude nature of the
underwood, and the unpractised feet of her companion, would permit.
They had travelled in this manner for upwards of four hours, without
meeting a breathing thing, or even so much as exchanging a sound
between themselves, when, at length, the Indian stopped at the edge of
a deep cavern-like excavation in the earth, produced by the tearing up,
by the wild tempest, of an enormous pine. Into this she descended, and
presently reappeared with several blankets, and two light painted
paddles. Then unloosing the thong from the waist of the exhausted girl,
she proceeded to disguise her in one of the blankets in the manner
already shown, securing it over the head, throat, and shoulders with
the badge of captivity, now no longer necessary for her purpose. She
then struck off at right angles from the course they had previously
pursued; and in less than twenty minutes both stood on the lake shore,
apparently at a great distance from the point whence they had
originally set out. The Indian gazed for a moment anxiously before her;
and then, with an exclamation, evidently meant to convey a sense of
pleasure and satisfaction, pointed forward upon the lake. Miss de
Haldimar followed, with eager and aching eyes, the direction of her
finger, and beheld the well-known schooner evidently urging her flight
towards the entrance of the Sinclair. Oh, how her sick heart seemed
ready to burst at that moment! When she had last gazed upon it was from
the window of her favourite apartment; and even while she held her
beloved Clara clasped fondly in her almost maternal embrace, she had
dared to indulge the fairest images that ever sprung into being at the
creative call of woman's fancy. How bitter had been the reverse! and
what incidents to fill up the sad volume of the longest life of sorrow
and bereavement had not Heaven awarded her in lieu! In one short hour
the weight of a thousand worlds had fallen on and crushed her heart;
and when and how was the panacea to be obtained to restore one moment's
cessation from suffering to her agonised spirit? Alas! she felt at that
moment, that, although she should live a thousand years, the bitterness
and desolation of her grief must remain. From the vessel she turned her
eyes away upon the distant shore, which it was fast quitting, and
beheld a column of mingled flame and smoke towering far above the
horizon, and attesting the universal wreck of what had so long been
endeared to her as her home. And she had witnessed all this, and yet
had strength to survive it!

The courage of the unhappy girl had hitherto been sustained by no
effort of volition of her own. From the moment when, discovering a
friend in Oucanasta, she had yielded herself unresistingly to the
guidance of that generous creature, her feelings had been characterised
by an obtuseness strongly in contrast with the high excitement that had
distinguished her previous manner. A dreamy recollection of some past
horror, it is true, pursued her during her rapid and speechless flight;
but any analysis of the causes conducing to that horror, her subjugated
faculties were unable to enter upon. Even as one who, under the
influence of incipient slumber, rejects the fantastic images that rise
successively and indistinctly to the slothful brain, until, at length,
they weaken, fade, and gradually die away, leaving nothing but a
formless and confused picture of the whole; so was it with Miss de
Haldimar. Had she been throughout alive to the keen recollections
associated with her flight, she could not have stirred a foot in
furtherance of her own safety, even if she would. The mere instinct of
self-preservation would never have won one so truly devoted to the
generous purpose of her deliverer, had not the temporary stupefaction
of her mind prevented all desire of opposition. It is true, in the
moment of her discovery of the sex of Oucanasta, she had been able to
exercise her reflecting powers; but they were only in connection with
the present, and wholly abstract and separate from the past. She had
followed her conductor almost without consciousness, and with such deep
absorption of spirit, that she neither once conjectured whither they
were going, nor what was to be the final issue of their flight. But
now, when she stood on the lake shore, suddenly awakened, as if by some
startling spell, to every harrowing recollection, and with her
attention assisted by objects long endeared, and rendered familiar to
her gaze--when she beheld the vessel that had last borne her across the
still bosom of the Huron, fleeing for ever from the fortress where her
arrival had been so joyously hailed--when she saw that fortress itself
presenting the hideous spectacle of a blackened mass of ruins fast
crumbling into nothingness--when, in short, she saw nothing but what
reminded her of the terrific past, the madness of reason returned, and
the desolation of her heart was complete. And then, again, when she
thought of her generous, her brave, her beloved, and too unfortunate
father, whom she had seen perish at her feet--when she thought of her
own gentle Clara, and the sufferings and brutalities to which, if she
yet lived, she must inevitably be exposed, and of the dreadful fate of
the garrison altogether, the most menial of whom was familiar to her
memory, brought up, as she had been, among them from her
childhood--when she dwelt on all these things, a faintness, as of
death, came over her, and she sank without life on the beach. Of what
passed afterwards she had no recollection. She neither knew how she had
got into the canoe, nor what means the Indian had taken to secure her
approach to the schooner. She had no consciousness of having been
removed to the bark of the Canadian, nor did she even remember having
risen and gazed through the foliage on the vessel at her side; but she
presumed, the chill air of morning having partially restored pulsation,
she had moved instinctively from her recumbent position to the spot in
which her spectre-like countenance had been perceived by Fuller. The
first moment of her returning reason was that when, standing on the
deck of the schooner, she found herself so unexpectedly clasped to the
heart of her lover.

Twilight had entirely passed away when Miss de Haldimar completed her
sad narrative; and already the crew, roused to exertion by the swelling
breeze, were once more engaged in weighing the anchor, and setting and
trimming the sails of the schooner, which latter soon began to shoot
round the concealing headland into the opening of the Sinclair. A
deathlike silence prevailed throughout the decks of the little bark, as
her bows, dividing the waters of the basin that formed its source,
gradually immerged into the current of that deep but narrow river; so
narrow, indeed, that from its centre the least active of the mariners
might have leaped without difficulty to either shore. This was the most
critical part of the dangerous navigation. With a wide sea-board, and
full command of their helm, they had nothing to fear; but so limited
was the passage of this river, it was with difficulty the yards and
masts of the schooner could be kept disengaged from the projecting
boughs of the dense forest that lined the adjacent shores to their very
junction with the water. The darkness of the night, moreover, while it
promised to shield them from the observation of the savages,
contributed greatly to perplex their movements; for such was the
abruptness with which the river wound itself round in various
directions, that it required a man constantly on the alert at the bows
to apprise the helmsman of the course he should steer, to avoid
collision with the shores. Canopies of weaving branches met in various
directions far above their heads, and through these the schooner glided
with a silence that might have called up the idea of a Stygian freight.
Meanwhile, the men stood anxiously to their guns, concealing the
matches in their water-buckets as before; and, while they strained both
ear and eye through the surrounding; gloom to discover the slightest
evidence of danger, grasped the handles of their cutlasses with a firm
hand, ready to unsheathe them at the first intimation of alarm.

At the suggestion of the boatswain, who hinted at the necessity of
having cleared decks, Captain de Haldimar had prevailed on his
unfortunate relatives to retire to the small cabin arranged for their
reception; and here they were attended by an aged female, who had long
followed the fortunes of the crew, and acted in the twofold character
of laundress and sempstress. He himself, with Sir Everard, continued on
deck watching the progress of the vessel with an anxiety that became
more intense at each succeeding hour. Hitherto their course had been
unimpeded, save by the obstacles already enumerated; and they had now,
at about an hour before dawn, gained a point that promised a speedy
termination to their dangers and perplexities. Before them lay a reach
in the river, enveloped in more than ordinary gloom, produced by the
continuous weaving of the tops of the overhanging trees; and in the
perspective, a gleam of relieving light, denoting the near vicinity of
the lake that lay at the opposite extremity of the Sinclair, whose name
it also bore. This was the narrowest part of the river; and so
approximate were its shores, that the vessel in her course could not
fail to come in contact both with the obtruding foliage of the forest
and the dense bullrushes skirting the edge of either bank.

"If we get safe through this here place," said the boatswain, in a
rough whisper to his anxious and attentive auditors, "I think as how
I'll venture to answer for the craft. I can see daylight dancing upon
the lake already. Ten minutes more and she will be there." Then turning
to the man at the helm,--"Keep her in the centre of the stream, Jim.
Don't you see you're hugging the weather shore?"

"It would take the devil himself to tell which is the centre," growled
the sailor, in the same suppressed tone. "One might steer with one's
eyes shut in such a queer place as this and never be no worser off than
with them open."

"Steady her helm, steady," rejoined Mullins, "it's as dark as pitch, to
be sure, but the passage is straight as an arrow, and with a steady
helm you can't miss it. Make for the light ahead."

"Abaft there!" hurriedly and loudly shouted the man on the look-out at
the bows, "there's a tree lying across the river, and we're just upon
it."

While he yet spoke, and before the boatswain could give such
instructions as the emergency required, the vessel suddenly struck
against the obstacle in question; but the concussion was not of the
violent nature that might have been anticipated. The course of the
schooner, at no one period particularly rapid, had been considerably
checked since her entrance into the gloomy arch, in the centre of which
her present accident had occurred; so that it was without immediate
injury to her hull and spars she had been thus suddenly brought to. But
this was not the most alarming part of the affair. Captain de Haldimar
and Sir Everard both recollected, that, in making the same passage, not
forty-eight hours previously, they had encountered no obstacle of the
kind, and a misgiving of danger rose simultaneously to the hearts of
each. It was, however, a thing of too common occurrence in these
countries, where storm and tempest were so prevalent and partial, to
create more than a mere temporary alarm; for it was quite as probable
the barrier had been interposed by some fitful outburst of Nature, as
that it arose from design on the part of their enemies: and when the
vessel had continued stationary for some minutes, without the prepared
and expectant crew discovering the slightest indication of attack, the
former impression was preserved by the officers--at least avowedly to
those around.

"Bear a hand, my lads, and cut away," at length ordered the boatswain,
in a low but clear tone; "half a dozen at each end of the stick, and we
shall soon clear a passage for the craft."

A dozen sailors grasped their axes, and hastened forward to execute the
command. They sprang lightly from the entangled bows of the schooner,
and diverging in equal numbers moved to either extremity of the fallen
tree.

"This is sailing through the heart of the American forest with a
vengeance," muttered Mullins, whose annoyance at their detention was
strongly manifested as he paced up and down the deck. "Shiver my
topsails, if it isn't bad enough to clear the Sinclair at any time,
much more so when one's running for one's life, and not a whisper's
length from one's enemies. Do you know, Captain," abruptly checking his
movement, and familiarly placing his hand on the shoulder of De
Haldimar, "the last time we sailed through this very reach I couldn't
help telling poor Captain Danvers, God rest his soul, what a nice spot
it was for an Ingian ambuscade, if they had only gumption enough to
think of it."

"Hark!" said the officer, whose heart, eye, and ear were painfully on
the alert, "what rustling is that we hear overhead?"

"It's Jack Fuller, no doubt, your honour; I sent him up to clear away
the branches from the main topmast rigging." Then raising his head, and
elevating his voice, "Hilloa! aloft there!"

The only answer was a groan, followed by a deeper commotion among the
rustling foliage.

"Why, what the devil's the matter with you now, Jack?" pursued the
boatswain, in a voice of angry vehemence. "Are ye scared at another
ghost, and be damned to you, that ye keep groaning there after that
fashion?"

At that moment a heavy dull mass was heard tumbling through the upper
rigging of the schooner towards the deck, and presently a human form
fell at the very feet of the small group, composed of the two officers
and the individual who had last spoken.

"A light, a light!" shouted the boatswain; "the foolish chap has lost
his hold through fear, and ten to one if he hasn't cracked his
skull-piece for his pains. Quick there with a light, and let's see what
we can do for him."

The attention of all had been arrested by the sound of the falling
weight, and as one of the sailors now advanced, bearing a dark lantern
from below, the whole of the crew, with the exception of those employed
on the fallen tree, gathered themselves in a knot round the motionless
form of the prostrate man. But no sooner had their eyes encountered the
object of their interest, when each individual started suddenly and
involuntarily back, baring his cutlass, and drawing forth his pistol,
the whole presenting a group of countenances strongly marked by various
shades of consternation and alarm, even while their attitudes were
those of men prepared for some fierce and desperate danger. It was
indeed Fuller whom they had beheld, but not labouring, as the boatswain
had imagined, under the mere influence of superstitious fear. He was
dead, and the blood flowing from a deep wound, inflicted by a sharp
instrument in his chest, and the scalped head, too plainly told the
manner of his death, and the danger that awaited them all.

A pause ensued, but it was short. Before any one could find words to
remark on the horrible circumstance, the appalling war-cry of the
savages burst loudly from every quarter upon the ears of the devoted
crew. In the desperation of the moment, several of the men clutched
their cutlasses between their teeth, and seizing the concealed matches,
rushed to their respective stations at the guns. It was in vain the
boatswain called out to them, in a voice of stern authority, to desist,
intimating that their only protection lay in the reservation of the
fire of their batteries. Goaded and excited, beyond the power of
resistance, to an impulse that set all subordination at defiance, they
applied the matches, and almost at the same instant the terrific
discharge of both broadsides took place, rocking the vessel to the
water's edge, and reverberating, throughout, the confined space in
which she lay, like the deadly explosion of some deeply excavated mine.

Scarcely had the guns been fired, when the seamen became sensible of
their imprudence. The echoes were yet struggling to force a passage
through the dense forest, when a second yell of the Indians announced
the fiercest joy and triumph, unmixed by disaster, at the result; and
then the quick leaping of many forms could be heard, as they divided
the crashing underwood, and rushed forward to close with their prey. It
was evident, from the difference of sound, their first cry had been
pealed forth while lying prostrate on the ground, and secure from the
bullets, whose harmless discharge that cry was intended to provoke; for
now the voices seemed to rise progressively from the earth, until they
reached the level of each individual height, and were already almost
hotly breathing in the ears of those they were destined to fill with
illimitable dismay.

"Shiver my topsails, but this comes of disobeying orders," roared the
boatswain, in a voice of mingled anger and vexation. "The Ingians are
quite as cunning as ourselves, and arn't to be frighted that way.
Quick, every cutlass and pistol to his gangway, and let's do our best.
Pass the word forward for the axemen to return to quarters."

Recovered from their first paroxysm of alarm, the men at length became
sensible of the presence of a directing power, which, humble as it was,
their long habits of discipline had taught them to respect, and, headed
on the one side by Captain de Haldimar, and on the other by Sir Everard
Valletort, neither of whom, however, entertained the most remote chance
of success, flew, as commanded, to their respective gangways. The yell
of the Indians had again ceased, and all was hushed into stillness; but
as the anxious and quicksighted officers gazed over the bulwarks, they
fancied they could perceive, even through the deep gloom that every
where prevailed, the forms of men,--resting in cautious and eager
attitudes, on the very verge of the banks, and at a distance of little
more than half pistol shot. Every heart beat with expectancy,--every
eye was riveted intently in front, to watch and meet the first
movements of their foes, but not a sound of approach was audible to the
equally attentive ear. In this state of aching suspense they might have
continued about five minutes, when suddenly their hearts were made to
quail by a third cry, that came, not as previously, from the banks of
the river, but from the very centre of their own decks, and from the
top-mast and riggings of the schooner. So sudden and unexpected too was
this fresh danger, that before the two parties had time to turn, and
assume a new posture of defence, several of them had already fallen
under the butchering blades of their enemies. Then commenced a
desperate but short conflict, mingled with yellings, that again were
answered from every point; and rapidly gliding down the pendant ropes,
were to be seen the active and dusky forms of men, swelling the number
of the assailants, who had gained the deck in the same noiseless
manner, until resistance became almost hopeless.

"Ha! I hear the footsteps of our lads at last," exclaimed Mullins
exultingly to his comrades, as he finished despatching a third savage
with his sturdy weapon. "Quick, men, quick, up with hatchet and
cutlass, and take them in the rear. If we are to die, let's die--"
game, he would perhaps have added, but death arrested the word upon his
lips; and his corpse rolled along the deck, until its further progress
was stopped by the stiffened body of the unhappy Fuller.

Notwithstanding the fall of their brave leader, and the whoopings of
their enemies, the flagging spirits of the men were for a moment
excited by the announcement of the return even of the small force of
the axemen, and they defended themselves with a courage and
determination worthy of a better result; but when, by the lurid light
of the torches, now lying burning about the decks, they turned and
beheld not their companions, but a fresh band of Indians, at whose
pouch-belts dangled the reeking scalps of their murdered friends, they
at once relinquished the combat as hopeless, and gave themselves
unresistingly up to be bound by their captors.

Meanwhile the cousins experienced a renewal of all those horrors from
which their distracted minds had been temporarily relieved; and,
petrified with alarm, as they lay in the solitary berth that contained
them both, endured sufferings infinitely more terrible than death
itself. The early part of the tumult they had noticed almost without
comprehending its cause, and but for the terrific cry of the Indians
that had preceded them, would have mistaken the deafening broadsides
for the blowing up of the vessel, so tremendous and violent bad been
the concussion. Nay, there was a moment when Miss de Haldimar felt a
pang of deep disappointment and regret at the misconception; for, with
the fearful recollection of past events, so strongly impressed on her
bleeding heart, she could not but acknowledge, that to be engulfed in
one general and disastrous explosion, was mercy compared with the
alternative of falling into the hands of those to whom her loathing
spirit bad been too fatally taught to deny even the commonest
attributes of humanity. As for Clara, she had not the power to think,
or to form a conjecture on the subject:--she was merely sensible of a
repetition of the horrible scenes from which she had so recently been
snatched, and with a pale cheek, a fixed eye, and an almost pulseless
heart, lay without motion in the inner side of the berth. The piteous
spectacle of her cousin's alarm lent a forced activity to the despair
of Miss de Haldimar, in whom apprehension produced that strong energy
of excitement that sometimes gives to helplessness the character of
true courage. With the increasing clamour of appalling conflict on
deck, this excitement grew at every moment stronger, until it finally
became irrepressible, so that at length, when through the cabin windows
there suddenly streamed a flood of yellow light, extinguishing that of
the lamp that threw its flickering beams around the cabin, she flung
herself impetuously from the berth, and, despite of the aged and
trembling female who attempted to detain her, burst open the narrow
entrance to the cabin, and rushed up the steps communicating with the
deck.

The picture that here met her eyes was at once graphic and fearful in
the extreme. On either side of the river lines of streaming torches
were waved by dusky warriors high above their heads, reflecting the
grim countenances, not only of those who bore them, but of dense groups
in their rear, whose numbers were alone concealed by the foliage of the
forest in which they stood. From the branches that wove themselves
across the centre of the river, and the topmast and rigging of the
vessel, the same strong yellow light, produced by the bark of the birch
tree steeped in gum, streamed down upon the decks below, rendering each
line and block of the schooner as distinctly visible as if it had been
noon on the sunniest of those far distant lakes. The deck itself was
covered with the bodies of slain men--sailors, and savages mixed
together; and amid these were to be seen fierce warriors, reclining
triumphantly and indolently on their rifles, while others were occupied
in securing the arms of their captives with leathern thongs behind
their backs. The silence that now prevailed was strongly in contrast
with, and even more fearful than, the horrid shouts by which it had
been preceded; and, but for the ghastly countenances of the captives,
and the quick rolling eyes of the savages, Miss de Haldimar might have
imagined herself the sport of some extraordinary and exciting illusion.
Her glance over these prominent features in the tragedy had been
cursory, yet accurate. It now rested on one that had more immediate and
terrifying interest for herself. At a few paces in front of the
companion ladder, and with their backs turned towards her, stood two
individuals, whose attitudes denoted the purpose of men resolved to
sell with their lives alone a passage to a tall fierce-looking savage,
whose countenance betrayed every mark of triumphant and deadly passion,
while he apparently hesitated whether his uplifted arm should stay the
weapon it wielded. These individuals were Captain de Haldimar and Sir
Everard Valletort; and to the former of these the attention of the
savage was more immediately and exultingly directed; so much so,
indeed, that Miss de Haldimar thought she could read in the ferocious
expression of his features the death-warrant of her cousin. In the wild
terror of the moment she gave a piercing scream that was answered by a
hundred yelling voices, and rushing between her lover and his enemy,
threw herself wildly and supplicatingly at the feet of the latter.
Uttering a savage laugh, the monster spurned her from him with his
foot, when, quick as thought, a pistol was discharged within a few
inches of his face; but with a rapidity equal to that of his assailant,
he bent aside his head, and the ball passed harmlessly on. The yell
that followed was terrific; and while it was yet swelling into fulness,
Captain de Haldimar felt an iron hand furiously grappling his throat,
and, ere the grasp was relinquished, he again stood the bound and
passive victim of the warrior of the Fleur de lis.



CHAPTER III.

The interval that succeeded to the last council-scene of the Indians
was passed by the officers of Detroit in a state of inexpressible
anxiety and doubt. The fears entertained for the fate of their
companions, who had set out in the perilous and almost forlorn hope of
reaching Michilimackinac, in time to prevent the consummation of the
threatened treachery, had, in some degree, if not wholly, been allayed
by the story narrated by the Ottawa chief. It was evident, from his
statement, the party had again met, and been engaged in fearful
struggle with the gigantic warrior they had all so much reason to
recollect; and it was equally apparent, that in that struggle they had
been successful. But still, so many obstacles were likely to be opposed
to their navigation of the several lakes and rivers over which lay
their course, it was almost feared, even if they eventually escaped
unharmed themselves, they could not possibly reach the fort in time to
communicate the danger that awaited their friends. It is true, the time
gained by Governor de Haldimar on the first occasion had afforded a
considerable interval, of which advantage might be taken; but it was
also, on the other hand, uncertain whether Ponteac had commanded the
same delay in the council of the chiefs investing Michilimackinac, to
which he had himself assented. Three days were sufficient to enable an
Indian warrior to perform the journey by land; and it was chiefly on
this vague and uncertain ground they based whatever little of hope was
entertained on the subject.

It had been settled at the departure of the adventurers, that the
instant they effected a communication with the schooner on Lake Huron,
Francois should be immediately sent back, with instructions so to
contrive the period of his return, that his canoe should make its
appearance soon after daybreak at the nearest extremity of Hog Island,
the position of which has been described in our introductory chapter.
From this point a certain signal, that could be easily distinguished
with the aid of a telescope, was to be made from the canoe, which,
without being of a nature to attract the attention of the savages, was
yet to be such as could not well be mistaken by the garrison. This was
a precaution adopted, not only with the view of giving the earliest
intimation of the result of the enterprise, but lest the Canadian
should be prevented, by any closer investment on the part of the
Indians, from communicating personally with the fort in the way he had
been accustomed.

It will easily be comprehended therefore, that, as the period
approached when they might reasonably look for the return of Francois,
if he should return at all, the nervous anxiety of the officers became
more and more developed. Upwards of a week had elapsed since the
departure of their friends; and already, for the last day or two, their
impatience had led them, at early dawn, and with beating hearts, to
that quarter of the rampart which overlooked the eastern extremity of
Hog Island. Hitherto, however, their eager watching had been in vain.
As far as our recollection of the Canadian tradition of this story
serves us, it must have been on the fourth night after the final
discomfiture of the plans of Ponteac, and the tenth from the departure
of the adventurers, that the officers were assembled in the mess-room,
partaking of the scanty and frugal supper to which their long
confinement had reduced them. The subject of their conversation, as it
was ever of their thoughts, was the probable fate of their companions;
and many and various, although all equally melancholy, were the
conjectures offered as to the result. There was on the countenance of
each, that deep and fixed expression of gloom, which, if it did not
indicate any unmanliness of despair, told at least that hope was nearly
extinct: but more especially was this remarkable in the young but sadly
altered Charles de Haldimar, who, with a vacant eye and a pre-occupied
manner, seemed wholly abstracted from the scene before him.

All was silence in the body of the fort. The men off duty had long
since retired to rest in their clothes, and only the "All's well!" of
the sentinels was heard at intervals of a quarter of an hour, as the
cry echoed from mouth to mouth in the line of circuit. Suddenly,
however, between two of those intervals, and during a pause in the
languid conversation of the officers, the sharp challenge of a sentinel
was heard, and then quick steps on the rampart, as of men hastening to
the point whence the challenge had been given. The officers, whom this
new excitement seemed to arouse into fresh activity, hurriedly quitted
the room; and, with as little noise as possible, gained the spot where
the voice had been heard. Several men were bending eagerly over the
rampart, and, with their muskets at the recover, riveting their gaze on
a dark and motionless object that lay on the verge of the ditch
immediately beneath them.

"What have you here, Mitchell?" asked Captain Blessington, who was in
command of the guard, and who had recognised the gruff voice of the
veteran in the challenge just given.

"An American burnt log, your honour," muttered the soldier, "if one was
to judge from its stillness; but if it is, it must have rolled there
within the last minute; for I'll take my affidavy it wasn't here when I
passed last in my beat."

"An American burnt log, indeed! it's some damned rascal of a spy,
rather," remarked Captain Erskine. "Who knows but it may be our big
friend, come to pay us a visit again? And yet he is not half long
enough for him, either. Can't you try and tickle him with the bayonet,
any of you fellows, and see whether he is made of flesh and blood?"

Although this observation was made almost without object, it being
totally impossible for any musket, even with the addition of its
bayonet, to reach more than half way across the ditch, the several
sentinels threw themselves on their chests, and, stretching over the
rampart as far as possible, made the attempt to reach the suspicious
looking object that lay beyond. No sooner, however, had their arms been
extended in such a manner as to be utterly powerless, when the dark
mass was seen to roll away in an opposite direction, and with such
rapidity that, before the men could regain their feet and level their
muskets, it had entirely disappeared from their view.

"Cleverly managed, to give the red skin his due," half laughingly
observed Captain Erskine, while his brother officers continued to fix
their eyes in astonishment on the spot so recently occupied by the
strange object; "but what the devil could be his motive for lying there
so long? Not playing the eaves-dropper, surely; and yet, if he meant to
have picked off a sentinel, what was to have prevented him from doing
it sooner?"

"He had evidently no arms," said Ensign Delme.

"No, nor legs either, it would appear," resumed the literal Erskine.
"Curse me if I ever saw any thing in the shape of a human form bundled
together in that manner."

"I mean he had no fire-arms--no rifle," pursued Delme.

"And if he had, he certainly would have rifled one of us of a life,"
continued the captain, laughing at his own conceit. "But come, the bird
is flown, and we have only to thank ourselves for having been so
egregiously duped. Had Valletort been here, he would have given a
different account of him."

"Hist! listen!" exclaimed Lieutenant Johnstone, calling the attention
of the party to a peculiar and low sound in the direction in which the
supposed Indian had departed.

It was repeated, and in a plaintive tone, indicating a desire to
propitiate. Soon afterwards a human form was seen advancing slowly, but
without show either of concealment or hostility in its movements. It
finally remained stationary on the spot where the dark and shapeless
mass had been first perceived.

"Another Oucanasta for De Haldimar, no doubt," observed Captain
Erskine, after a moment's pause. "These grenadiers carry every thing
before them as well in love as in war."

The error of the good-natured officer was, however, obvious to all but
himself. The figure, which was now distinctly traced in outline for
that of a warrior, stood boldly and fearlessly on the brink of the
ditch, holding up its left arm, in the hand of which dangled something
that was visible in the starlight, and pointing energetically to this
pendant object with the other.

A voice from one of the party now addressed the Indian in two several
dialects, but without eliciting a reply. He either understood not, or
would not answer the question proposed, but continued pointing
significantly to the indistinct object which he still held forth in an
elevated position.

"The governor must be apprised of this," observed Captain Blessington
to De Haldimar, who was his subaltern of the guard. "Hasten, Charles,
to acquaint your father, and receive his orders."

The young officer willingly obeyed the injunction of his superior. A
secret and indefinable hope rushed through his mind, that as the Indian
came not in hostility, he might be the bearer of some communication
from their friends; and he moved rapidly towards that part of the
building occupied by his father.

The light of a lamp suspended over the piazza leading to the governor's
rooms reflecting strongly on his regimentals, he passed unchallenged by
the sentinels posted there, and uninterruptedly gained a door that
opened on a narrow passage, at the further extremity of which was the
sitting-room usually occupied by his parent. This again was entered
from the same passage by a second door, the upper part of which was of
common glass, enabling any one on the outside to trace with facility
every object within when the place was lighted up.

A glance was sufficient to satisfy the youth his father was not in the
room; although there was strong evidence he had not retired for the
night. In the middle of the floor stood an oaken table, and on this lay
an open writing desk, with a candle on each side, the wicks of which
had burnt so long as to throw a partial gloom over the surrounding
wainscotting. Scattered about the table and desk were a number of
letters that had apparently been just looked at or read; and in the
midst of these an open case of red morocco, containing a miniature. The
appearance of these letters, thus left scattered about by one who was
scrupulously exact in the arrangement of his papers, added to the
circumstance of the neglected and burning candles, confirmed the young
officer in an impression that his father, overcome by fatigue, had
retired into his bed-room, and fallen unconsciously asleep. Imagining,
therefore, he could not, without difficulty, succeed in making himself
heard, and deeming the urgency of the case required it, he determined
to wave the usual ceremony of knocking, and penetrate to his father's
bedroom unannounced. The glass door being without fastening within,
easily yielded to his pressure of the latch; but as he passed by the
table, a strong and natural feeling of curiosity induced him to cast
his eye upon the miniature. To his infinite surprise, nay, almost
terror, he discovered it was that of his mother--the identical portrait
which his sister Clara had worn in her bosom from infancy, and which he
had seen clasped round her neck on the very deck of the schooner in
which she sailed for Michilimackinac. He felt there could be no
mistake, for only one miniature of the sort had ever been in possession
of the family, and that the one just accounted for. Almost stupified at
what he saw, and scarcely crediting the evidence of his senses, the
young officer glanced his eye hurriedly along one of the open letters
that lay around. It was in the well remembered hand-writing of his
mother, and commenced, "Dear, dearest Reginald." After this followed
expressions of endearment no woman might address except to an affianced
lover, or the husband of her choice; and his heart sickened while he
read. Scarcely, however, had he scanned half a dozen lines, when it
occurred to him he was violating some secret of his parents; and,
discontinuing the perusal with an effort, he prepared to acquit himself
of his mission.

On raising his eyes from the paper he was startled by the appearance of
his father, who, with a stern brow and a quivering lip, stood a few
paces from the table, apparently too much overcome by his indignation
to be able to utter a sentence.

Charles de Haldimar felt all the awkwardness of his position. Some
explanation of his conduct, however, was necessary; and he stammered
forth the fact of the portrait having riveted his attention, from its
striking resemblance to that in his sister's possession.

"And to what do these letters bear resemblance?" demanded the governor,
in a voice that trembled in its attempt to be calm, while he fixed his
penetrating eye on that of his son. "THEY, it appears, were equally
objects of attraction with you."

"The letters were in the hand-writing of my mother; and I was
irresistibly led to glance at one of them," replied the youth, with the
humility of conscious wrong. "The action was involuntary, and no sooner
committed than repented of. I am here, my father, on a mission of
importance, which must account for my presence."

"A mission of importance!" repeated the governor, with more of sorrow
than of anger in the tone in which he now spoke. "On what mission are
you here, if it be not to intrude unwarrantably on a parent's privacy?"

The young officer's cheek flushed high, as he proudly answered:--"I was
sent by Captain Blessington, sir, to take your orders in regard to an
Indian who is now without the fort under somewhat extraordinary
circumstances, yet evidently without intention of hostility. It is
supposed he bears some message from my brother."

The tone of candour and offended pride in which this formal
announcement of duty was made seemed to banish all suspicion from the
mind of the governor; and he remarked, in a voice that had more of the
kindness that had latterly distinguished his address to his son, "Was
this, then, Charles, the only motive for your abrupt intrusion at this
hour? Are you sure no inducement of private curiosity was mixed up with
the discharge of your duty, that you entered thus unannounced? You must
admit, at least, I found you employed in a manner different from what
the urgency of your mission would seem to justify."

There was lurking irony in this speech; yet the softened accents of his
father, in some measure, disarmed the youth of the bitterness he would
have flung into his observation,--"That no man on earth, his parent
excepted, should have dared to insinuate such a doubt with impunity."

For a moment Colonel de Haldimar seemed to regard his son with a
surprised but satisfied air, as if he had not expected the
manifestation of so much spirit, in one whom he had been accustomed
greatly to undervalue.

"I believe you, Charles," he at length observed; "forgive the
justifiable doubt, and think no more of the subject. Yet, one word," as
the youth was preparing to depart; "you have read that letter" (and he
pointed to that which had principally arrested the attention of the
officer): "what impression has it given you of your mother? Answer me
sincerely. MY name," and his faint smile wore something of the
character of triumph, "is not REGINALD, you know."

The pallid cheek of the young man flushed at this question. His own
undisguised impression was, that his mother had cherished a guilty love
for another than her husband. He felt the almost impiety of such a
belief, but he could not resist the conviction that forced itself on
his mind; the letter in her handwriting spoke for itself; and though
the idea was full of wretchedness, he was unable to conquer it.
Whatever his own inference might be, however, he could not endure the
thought of imparting it to his father; he, therefore, answered
evasively.

"Doubtless my mother had some dear relative of the name, and to him was
this letter addressed; perhaps a brother, or an uncle. But I never
knew," he pursued, with a look of appeal to his father, "that a second
portrait of my mother existed. This is the very counterpart of Clara's."

"It may be the same," remarked the governor, but in a tone of
indecision, that dented his faith in what he uttered.

"Impossible, my father. I accompanied Clara, if you recollect, as far
as Lake Sinclair; and when I quitted the deck of the schooner to
return, I particularly remarked my sister wore her mother's portrait,
as usual, round her neck."

"Well, no matter about the portrait," hurriedly rejoined the governor;
"yet, whatever your impression, Charles," and he spoke with a warmth
that was far from habitual to him, "dare not to sully the memory of
your mother by a doubt of her purity. An accident has given this letter
to your inspection, but breathe not its contents to a human creature;
above all, respect the being who gave you birth. Go, tell Captain
Blessington to detain the Indian; I will join you immediately."

Strongly, yet confusedly, impressed with the singularity of the scene
altogether, and more particularly with his father's strange admonition,
the young officer quitted the room, and hastened to rejoin his
companions. On reaching the rampart he found that the Indian, during
his long absence, had departed; yet not without depositing, on the
outer edge of the ditch, the substance to which he had previously
directed their attention. At the moment of De Haldimar's approach, the
officers were bending over the rampart, and, with straining eyes,
endeavouring to make out what it was, but in vain; something was just
perceptible in the withered turf, but what that something was no one
could succeed in discovering.

"Whatever this be, we must possess ourselves of it," said Captain
Blessington: "it is evident, from the energetic manner of him who left
it, it is of importance. I think I know who is the best swimmer and
climber of our party."

Several voices unanimously pronounced the name of "Johnstone."

"Any thing for a dash of enterprise," said that officer, whose slight
wound had been perfectly healed. "But what do you propose that the
swimmer and climber should do, Blessington?"

"Secure yon parcel, without lowering the drawbridge."

"What! and be scalped in the act? Who knows if it be not a trick after
all, and that the rascal who placed it there is not lying within a few
feet, ready to pounce upon me the instant I reach the bank."

"Never mind," said Erskine, laughingly, "we will revenge your death, my
boy."

"Besides, consider the nunquam non paratus, Johnstone," slily remarked
Lieutenant Leslie.

"What, again, Leslie?" energetically responded the young Scotsman. "Yet
think not I hesitate, for I did but jest: make fast a rope round my
loins, and I think I will answer for the result."

Colonel de Haldimar now made his appearance. Having heard a brief
statement of the facts, and approving of the suggestion of Captain
Blessington, a rope was procured, and made fast under the shoulders of
the young officer, who had previously stripped himself of his uniform
and shoes. He then suffered himself to drop gently over the edge of the
rampart, his companions gradually lowering the rope, until a deep and
gasping aspiration, such as is usually wrung from one coming suddenly
in contact with cold water, announced he had gained the surface of the
ditch. The rope was then slackened, to give him the unrestrained
command of his limbs; and in the next instant he was seen clambering up
the opposite elevation.

Although the officers, indulging in a forced levity, in a great degree
meant to encourage their companion, had treated his enterprise with
indifference, they were far from being without serious anxiety for the
result. They had laughed at the idea, suggested by him, of being
scalped; whereas, in truth, they entertained the apprehension far more
powerfully than he did himself. The artifices resorted to by the
savages, to secure an isolated victim, were so many and so various,
that suspicion could not but attach to the mysterious occurrence they
had just witnessed. Willing even as they were to believe their present
visitor, whoever he was, came not in a spirit of enmity, they could not
altogether divest themselves of a fear that it was only a subtle
artifice to decoy one of them within the reach of their traitorous
weapons. They, therefore, watched the movements of their companion with
quickening pulses; and it was with a lively satisfaction they saw him,
at length, after a momentary search, descend once more into the ditch,
and, with a single powerful impulsion of his limbs, urge himself back
to the foot of the rampart. Neither feet nor hands were of much
service, in enabling him to scale the smooth and slanting logs that
composed the exterior surface of the works; but a slight jerk of the
well secured rope, serving as a signal to his friends, he was soon
dragged once more to the summit of the rampart, without other injury
than a couple of slight bruises.

"Well, what success?" eagerly asked Leslie and Captain Erskine in the
same breath, as the dripping Johnstone buried himself in the folds of a
capacious cloak procured during his absence.

"You shall hear," was the reply; "but first, gentlemen, allow me, if
you please, to enjoy, with yourselves, the luxury of dry clothes. I
have no particular ambition to contract an American ague fit just now;
yet, unless you take pity on me, and reserve my examination for a
future moment, there is every probability I shall not have a tooth left
by to-morrow morning."

No one could deny the justice of the remark, for the teeth of the young
man were chattering as he spoke. It was not, therefore, until after he
had changed his dress, and swallowed a couple of glasses of Captain
Erskine's never failing spirit, that they all repaired once more to the
mess-room, when Johnstone anticipated all questions, by the production
of the mysterious packet.

After removing several wrappers of bark, each of which was secured by a
thong of deerskin, Colonel de Haldimar, to whom the successful officer
had handed his prize, at length came to a small oval case of red
morocco, precisely similar, in size and form, to that which had so
recently attracted the notice of his son. For a moment he hesitated,
and his cheek was observed to turn pale, and his hand to tremble; but
quickly subduing his indecision, he hurriedly unfastened the clasp, and
disclosed to the astonished view of the officers the portrait of a
young and lovely woman, habited in the Highland garb.

Exclamations of various kinds burst from the lips of the group of
officers. Several knew it to be the portrait of Mrs. de Haldimar;
others recognised it from the striking likeness it bore to Clara and to
Charles; all knew it had never been absent from the possession of the
former since her mother's death; and feeling satisfied as they did that
its extraordinary appearance among them, at the present moment, was an
announcement of some dreadful disaster, their countenances wore an
impress of dismay little inferior to that of the wretched Charles, who,
agonized beyond all attempt at description, had thrown himself into a
seat in the rear of the group, and sat like one bewildered, with his
head buried in his hands.

"Gentlemen," at length observed Colonel de Haldimar, in a voice that
proved how vainly his natural emotion was sought to be subdued by his
pride, "this, I fear me, is an unwelcome token. It comes to announce to
a father the murder of his child; to us all, the destruction of our
last remaining friends and comrades."

"God forbid!" solemnly aspirated Captain Blessington. After a pause of
a moment or two he pursued: "I know not why, sir; but my impression is,
the appearance of this portrait, which we all recognise for that worn
by Miss de Haldimar, bears another interpretation."

Colonel de Haldimar shook his head.--"I have but too much reason to
believe," he observed, smiling in mournful bitterness, "it has been
conveyed to us not in mercy but in revenge."

No one ventured to question why; for notwithstanding all were aware
that in the mysterious ravisher of the wife of Halloway Colonel de
Haldimar had a fierce and inexorable private enemy, no allusion had
ever been made by that officer himself to the subject.

"Will you permit me to examine the portrait and envelopes, Colonel?"
resumed Captain Blessington: "I feel almost confident, although I
confess I have no other motive for it than what springs from a
recollection of the manner of the Indian, that the result will bear me
out in my belief the bearer came not in hostility but in friendship."

"By my faith, I quite agree with Blessington," said Captain Erskine;
"for, in addition to the manner of the Indian, there is another
evidence in favour of his position. Was it merely intended in the light
in which you consider it, Colonel, the case or the miniature itself
might have been returned, but certainly not the metal in which it is
set. The savages are fully aware of the value of gold, and would not so
easily let it slip through their fingers."

"And wherefore thus carefully wrapped up?" remarked Lieutenant
Johnstone, "unless it had been intended it should meet with no injury
on the way. I certainly think the portrait never would have been
conveyed, in its present perfect state, by an enemy."

"The fellow seemed to feel, too, that he came in the character of one
whose intentions claimed all immunity from harm," remarked Captain
Wentworth. "He surely never would have stood so fearlessly on the brink
of the ditch, and within pistol shot, had he not been conscious of
rendering some service to those connected with us."

To these several observations of his officers, Colonel de Haldimar
listened attentively; and although he made no reply, it was evident he
felt gratified at the eagerness with which each sought to remove the
horrible impression he had stated to have existed in his own mind.
Meanwhile, Captain Blessington had turned and examined the miniature in
fifty different ways, but without succeeding in discovering any thing
that could confirm him in his original impression. Vexed and
disappointed, he at length flung it from him on the table, and sinking
into a seat at the side of the unfortunate Charles, pressed the hand of
the youth in significant silence.

Finding his worst fears now confirmed. Colonel de Haldimar, for the
first time, cast a glance towards his son, whose drooping head, and
sorrowing attitude, spoke volumes to his heart. For a moment his own
cheek blanched, and his eye was seen to glisten with the first tear
ever witnessed there by those around him. Subduing his emotion,
however, he drew up his person to its lordly height, as if that act
reminded him the commander was not to be lost in the father, and
quitting the room with a heavy brow and step, recommended to his
officers the repose of which they appeared to stand so much in need.
But not one was there who felt inclined to court the solitude of his
pillow. No sooner were the footsteps of the governor heard dying away
in the distance, when fresh lights were ordered, and several logs of
wood heaped on the slackening fire. Around this the officers now
grouped, and throwing themselves back in their chairs, assumed the
attitudes of men seeking to indulge rather in private reflection than
in personal converse.

The grief of the wretched Charles de Haldimar, hitherto restrained by
the presence of his father, and encouraged by the touching evidences of
interest afforded him by the ever-considerate Blessington, now burst
forth audibly. No attempt was made by the latter officer to check the
emotion of his young friend. Knowing his passionate fondness for his
sister, he was not without fear that the sudden shock produced by the
appearance of her miniature might destroy his reason, even if it
affected not his life; and as the moment was now come when tears might
be shed without exciting invidious remark in the only individual who
was likely to make it, he sought to promote them as much as possible.
Too much occupied in their own mournful reflections to bestow more than
a passing notice on the weakness of their friend, the group round the
fireplace scarcely seemed to have regarded his emotion.

This violent paroxysm past, De Haldimar breathed more freely; and,
after listening to several earnest observations of Captain Blessington,
who still held out the possibility of something favourable turning up,
on a re-examination of the portrait by daylight, he was so far composed
as to be able to attend to the summons of the sergeant of the guard,
who came to say the relief were ready, and waiting to be inspected
before they were finally marched off. Clasping the extended hand of his
captain between his own, with a pressure indicative of his deep
gratitude, De Haldimar now proceeded to the discharge of his duty; and
having caught up the portrait, which still lay on the table, and thrust
it into the breast of his uniform, he repaired hurriedly to rejoin his
guard, from which circumstances alone had induced his unusually long
absence.



CHAPTER IV.

The remainder of that night was passed by the unhappy De Haldimar in a
state of indescribable wretchedness. After inspecting the relief, he
had thrown himself on his rude guard-bed; and, drawing his cloak over
his eyes, given full rein to the wanderings of his excited imagination.
It was in vain the faithful old Morrison, who never suffered his master
to mount a guard without finding some one with whom to exchange his
tour of duty, when he happened not to be in orders himself, repeatedly
essayed, as he sat stirring the embers of the fire, to enter into
conversation with him. The soul of the young officer was sick, past the
endurance even of that kind voice; and, more than once, he impetuously
bade him be silent, if he wished to continue where he was; or, if not,
to join his comrades in the next guard-room. A sigh was the only
respectful but pained answer to these sharp remonstrances; and De
Haldimar, all absorbed even as he was in his own grief, felt it deeply;
for he knew the old man loved him, and he could not bear the idea of
appearing to repay with slight the well-intentioned efforts of one whom
he had always looked upon more as a dependant on his family than as the
mere rude soldier. Still he could not summon courage to disclose the
true nature of his grief, which the other merely ascribed to general
causes and vague apprehensions of a yet unaccomplished evil. Morrison
had ever loved his sister with an affection in no way inferior to that
which he bore towards himself. He had also nursed her in childhood; and
his memory was ever faithful to trace, as his tongue was to dwell on,
those gentle and amiable qualities, which, strongly marked at an
earlier period of her existence, had only undergone change, inasmuch as
they had become matured and more forcibly developed in womanhood.
Often, latterly, had the grey-haired veteran been in the habit of
alluding to her; for he saw the subject was one that imparted a
mournful satisfaction to the youth; and, with a tact that years, more
than deep reading of the human heart, had given him, he ever made a
point of adverting to their re-union as an event admitting not of doubt.

Hitherto the affectionate De Haldimar had loved to listen to these
sounds of comfort; for, although they carried no conviction to his
mind, impressed as he was with the terrible curse of Ellen Halloway,
and the consequent belief that his family were devoted to some fearful
doom, still they came soothingly and unctuously to his sick soul; and,
all deceptive even as he felt them to be, he found they created a hope
which, while certain to be dispelled by calm after-reflection, carried
a momentary solace to his afflicted spirit. But, now that he had every
evidence his adored sister was no more, and that the illusion of hope
was past for ever, to have heard her name even mentioned by one who,
ignorant of the fearful truth the events of that night had elucidated,
was still ready to renew a strain every chord of which had lost its
power of harmony, was repugnant beyond bearing to his heart. At one
moment he resolved briefly to acquaint the old man with the dreadful
fact, but unwillingness to give pain prevented him; and, moreover, he
felt the grief the communication would draw from the faithful servitor
of his family must be of so unchecked a nature as to render his own
sufferings even more poignant than they were. Neither had he
(independently of all other considerations) resolution enough to forego
the existence of hope in another, even although it had passed entirely
away from himself. It was for these reasons he had so harshly and (for
him) unkindly checked, the attempt of the old man at a conversation
which he, at every moment, felt would be made to turn on the ill-fated
Clara.

Miserable as he felt his position to be, it was not without
satisfaction he again heard the voice of his sergeant summoning him to
the inspection of another relief. This duty performed, and anxious to
avoid the paining presence of his servant, he determined, instead of
returning to his guard-room, to consume the hour that remained before
day in pacing the ramparts. Leaving word with his subordinate, that, in
the event of his being required, he might be found without difficulty,
he ascended to that quarter of the works where the Indian had been
first seen who had so mysteriously conveyed the sad token he still
retained in his breast. It was on the same side with that particular
point whence we have already stated a full view of the bridge with its
surrounding scenery, together with the waters of the Detroit, where
they were intersected by Hog Island, were distinctly commanded. At
either of those points was stationed a sentinel, whose duty it was to
extend his beat between the boxes used now rather as lines of
demarcation than as places of temporary shelter, until each gained that
of his next comrade, when they again returned to their own, crossing
each other about half way: a system of precaution pursued by the whole
of the sentinels in the circuit of the rampart.

The ostensible motive of the officer in ascending the works, was to
visit his several posts; but no sooner had he found himself between the
points alluded to, which happened to be the first in his course, than
he seemed to be riveted there by a species of fascination. Not that
there was any external influence to produce this effect, for the utmost
stillness reigned both within and around the fort; and, but for the
howling of some Indian wolf-dog in the distance, or the low and
monotonous beat of their drums in the death-dance, there was nought
that gave evidence of the existence of the dreadful enemy by whom they
were beset. But the whole being of the acutely suffering De Haldimar
was absorbed in recollections connected with the spot on which he
stood. At one extremity was the point whence he had witnessed the
dreadful tragedy of Halloway's death; at the other, that on which had
been deposited the but too unerring record of the partial realisation
of the horrors threatened at the termination of that tragedy; and
whenever he attempted to pass each of these boundaries, he felt as if
his limbs repugned the effort.

In the sentinels, his appearance among them excited but little
surprise; for it was no uncommon thing for the officers of the guard to
spend the greatest part of the night in visiting, in turn, the several
more exposed points of the ramparts; and that it was now confined to
one particular part, seemed not even to attract their notice. It was,
therefore, almost wholly unremarked by his men, that the heart-stricken
De Haldimar paced his quick and uncertain walk with an imagination
filled with the most fearful forebodings, and with a heart throbbing
with the most painful excitement. Hitherto, since the discovery of the
contents of the packet, his mind had been so exclusively absorbed in
stupifying grief for his sister, that his perception seemed utterly
incapable of outstepping the limited sphere drawn around it; but now,
other remembrances, connected with the localities, forced themselves
upon his attention; and although, in all these, there was nothing that
was not equally calculated to carry dismay and sorrow to his heart,
still, in dividing his thoughts with the one supreme agony that bowed
him down, they were rather welcomed than discarded. His mind was as a
wheel, embracing grief within grief, multiplied to infinitude; and the
wider and more diffusive the circle, the less powerful was the
concentration of sickening heart and brain on that which was the more
immediate axis of the whole.

Reminded, for the first time, as he pursued his measured but aimless
walk, by the fatal portrait which he more than once pressed with
feverish energy to his lips, of the singular discovery he had made that
night in the apartments of his father, he was naturally led, by a chain
of consecutive thought, into a review of the whole of the extraordinary
scene. The fact of the existence of a second likeness of his mother was
one that did not now fail to reawaken all the unqualified surprise he
had experienced at the first discovery. So far from having ever heard
his father make the slightest allusion to this memorial of his departed
mother, he perfectly recollected his repeatedly recommending to Clara
the safe custody of a treasure, which, if lost, could never be
replaced. What could be the motive for this mystery?--and why had he
sought to impress him with the belief it was the identical portrait
worn by his sister which had so unintentionally been exposed to his
view? Why, too, had he evinced so much anxiety to remove from his mind
all unfavourable impressions in regard to his mother? Why have been so
energetic in his caution not to suffer a taint of impurity to attach to
her memory? Why should he have supposed the possibility of such
impression, unless there had been sufficient cause for it? In what,
moreover, originated his triumphant expression of feature, when, on
that occasion, he reminded him that HIS name was not Reginald? Who,
then, was this Reginald? Then came the recollection of what had been
repeated to him of the parting scene between Halloway and his wife. In
addressing her ill-fated husband, she had named him Reginald. Could it
be possible this was the same being alluded to by his father? But no;
his youth forbade the supposition, being but two years older than his
brother Frederick; yet might he not, in some way or other, be connected
with the Reginald of the letter? Why, too, had his father shown such
unrelenting severity in the case of this unfortunate victim?--a
severity which had induced more than one remark from his officers, that
it looked as if he entertained some personal feeling of enmity towards
a man who had done so much for his family, and stood so high in the
esteem of all who knew him.

Then came another thought. At the moment of his execution, Halloway had
deposited a packet in the hands of Captain Blessington;--could these
letters--could that portrait be the same? Certain it was, by whatever
means obtained, his father could not have had them long in his
possession; for it was improbable letters of so old a date should have
occupied his attention NOW, when many years had rolled over the memory
of his mother. And then, again, what was the meaning of the language
used by the implacable enemy of his father, that uncouth and ferocious
warrior of the Fleur de lis, not only on the occasion of the execution
of Halloway, but afterwards to his brother, during his short captivity;
and, subsequently, when, disguised as a black, he penetrated, with the
band of Ponteac, into the fort, and aimed his murderous weapon at his
father's head. What had made him the enemy of his family? and where and
how had originated his father's connection with so extraordinary and so
savage a being? Could he, in any way, be implicated with his mother?
But no; there was something revolting, monstrous, in the thought:
besides, had not his father stood forward the champion of her
innocence?--had he not declared, with an energy carrying conviction
with every word, that she was untainted by guilt? And would he have
done this, had he had reason to believe in the existence of a criminal
love for him who evidently was his mortal foe? Impossible.

Such were the questions and solutions that crowded on and distracted
the mind of the unhappy De Haldimar, who, after all, could arrive at no
satisfactory conclusion. It was evident there was a secret,--yet,
whatever its nature, it was one likely to go down with his father to
the grave; for, however humiliating the reflection to a haughty parent,
compelled to vindicate the honour of a mother to her son, and in direct
opposition to evidence that scarcely bore a shadow of
misinterpretation, it was clear he had motives for consigning the
circumstance to oblivion, which far outweighed any necessity he felt of
adducing other proofs of her innocence than those which rested on his
own simple yet impressive assertion.

In the midst of these bewildering doubts, De Haldimar heard some one
approaching in his rear, whose footsteps he distinguished from the
heavy pace of the sentinels. He turned, stopped, and was presently
joined by Captain Blessington.

"Why, dearest Charles," almost querulously asked the kind officer, as
he passed his arm through that of his subaltern,--"why will you persist
in feeding this love of solitude? What possible result can it produce,
but an utter prostration of every moral and physical energy? Come,
come, summon a little fortitude; all may not yet be so hopeless as you
apprehend. For my own part, I feel convinced the day will dawn upon
some satisfactory solution of the mystery of that packet."

"Blessington, my dear Blessington!"--and De Haldimar spoke with
mournful energy,--"you have known me from my boyhood, and, I believe,
have ever loved me; seek not, therefore, to draw me from the present
temper of my mind; deprive me not of an indulgence which, melancholy as
it is, now constitutes the sole satisfaction I take in existence."

"By Heaven! Charles, I will not listen to such language. You absolutely
put my patience to the rack."

"Nay, then, I will urge no more," pursued the young officer. "To
revert, therefore, to a different subject. Answer me one question with
sincerity. What were the contents of the packet you received from poor
Halloway previous to his execution? and in whose possession are they
now?"

Pleased to find the attention of his young friend diverted for the
moment from his sister, Captain Blessington quickly rejoiced, he
believed the packet contained letters which Halloway had stated to him
were of a nature to throw some light on his family connections. He had,
however, transferred it, with the seal unbroken, as desired by the
unhappy man, to Colonel de Haldimar.

An exclamation of surprise burst involuntarily from the lips of the
youth. "Has my father ever made any allusion to that packet since?" he
asked.

"Never," returned Captain Blessington; "and, I confess, his failing to
do so has often excited my astonishment. But why do you ask?"

De Haldimar energetically pressed the arm of his captain, while a heavy
sigh burst from his oppressed heart "This very night, Blessington, on
entering my father's apartment to apprise him of what was going on
here, I saw,--I can scarcely tell you what, but certainly enough to
convince me, from what you have now stated, Halloway was, in some
degree or other, connected with our family. Tell me," he anxiously
pursued, "was there a portrait enclosed with the letters?"

"I cannot state with confidence, Charles," replied his friend; "but if
I might judge from the peculiar form and weight of the packet, I should
be inclined to say not. Have you seen the letters, then?"

"I have seen certain letters which, I have reason to believe, are the
same," returned De Haldimar. "They were addressed to 'Reginald;' and
Halloway, I think you have told me, was so called by his unhappy wife."

"There can be little doubt they are the same," said Captain
Blessington; "but what were their contents, and by whom written, that
you deem they prove a connection between the unhappy soldier and your
family?"

De Haldimar felt the blood rise into his cheek, at this natural but
unexpected demand. "I am sure, Blessington," he replied, after a pause,
"you will not think me capable of unworthy mystery towards yourself but
the contents of these letters are sacred, inasmuch as they relate only
to circumstances connected with my father's family."

"This is singular indeed," exclaimed Captain Blessington, in a tone
that marked his utter and unqualified astonishment at what had now been
disclosed to him; "but surely, Charles," he pursued, "if the packet
handed me by Halloway were the same you allude to, he would have caused
the transfer to have been made before the period chosen by him for that
purpose."

"But the name," pursued De Haldimar; "how are we to separate the
identity of the packets, when we recur to that name of 'Reginald?'"

"True," rejoined the musing Blessington; "there is a mystery in this
that baffles all my powers of penetration. Were I in possession of the
contents of the letters, I might find some clue to solve the enigma:
but--"

"You surely do not mean this as a reproach, Blessington?" fervently
interrupted the youth. "More I dare not, cannot say, for the secret is
not my own; and feelings, which it would be dishonour to outrage, alone
bind me to silence. What little I have revealed to you even now, has
been uttered in confidence. I hope you have so understood it."

"Perfectly, Charles. What you have stated, goes no further; but we have
been too long absent from our guard, and I confess I have no particular
fancy for remaining in this chill night-air. Let us return."

De Haldimar made no opposition, and they both prepared to quit the
rampart. As they passed the sentinel stationed at that point where the
Indian had been first seen, their attention was directed by him to a
fire that now suddenly rose, apparently at a great distance, and
rapidly increased in volume. The singularity of this occurrence riveted
the officers for a moment in silent observation; until Captain
Blessington at length ventured a remark, that, judging from the
direction, and the deceptive nature of the element at night, he should
incline to think it was the hut of the Canadian burning.

"Which is another additional proof, were any such wanting, that every
thing is lost," mournfully urged the ever apprehensive De Haldimar.
"Francois has been detected in rendering aid to our friends; and the
Indians, in all probability, after having immolated their victim, are
sacrificing his property to their rage."

During this exchange of opinions, the officers had again moved to the
opposite point of the limited walk of the younger. Scarcely had they
reached it, and before Captain Blessington could find time to reply to
the fears of his friend, when a loud and distant booming like that of a
cannon was heard in the direction of the fire. The alarm was given
hastily by the sentinels, and sounds of preparation and arming were
audible in the course of a minute or two every where throughout the
fort. Startled by the report, which they had half inclined to imagine
produced by the discharge of one of their own guns, the half slumbering
officers had quitted the chairs in which they had passed the night in
the mess-room, and were soon at the side of their more watchful
companions, then anxiously listening for a repetition of the sound.

The day was just beginning to dawn, and as the atmosphere cleared
gradually away, it was perceived the fire rose not from the hut of the
Canadian, but at a point considerably beyond it. Unusual as it was to
see a large fire of this description, its appearance became an object
of minor consideration, since it might be attributed to some caprice or
desire on the part of the Indians to excite apprehension in their
enemies. But how was the report which had reached their ears to be
accounted for? It evidently could only have been produced by the
discharge of a cannon; and if so, where could the Indians have procured
it? No such arm had recently been in their possession; and if it were,
they were totally unacquainted with the manner of serving it.

As the day became more developed, the mystery was resolved. Every
telescope in the fort had been called into requisition; and as they
were now levelled in the direction of the fire, sweeping the line of
horizon around, exclamations of surprise escaped the lips of several.

"The fire is at the near extremity of the wood on Hog Island,"
exclaimed Lieutenant Johnstone. "I can distinctly see the forms of a
multitude of savages dancing round it with hideous gestures and
menacing attitudes."

"They are dancing their infernal war dance," said Captain Wentworth.
"How I should like to be able to discharge a twenty-four pound battery,
loaded with grape, into the very heart of the devilish throng."

"Do you see any prisoners?--Are any of our friends among them?" eagerly
and tremblingly enquired De Haldimar of the officer who had last spoken.

Captain Wentworth made a sweep of his glass along the shores of the
island; but apparently without success. He announced that he could
discover nothing but a vast number of bark canoes lying dry and
upturned on the beach.

"It is an unusual hour for their war dance," observed Captain
Blessington. "My experience furnishes me with no one instance in which
it has not been danced previous to their retiring to rest."

"Unless," said Lieutenant Boyce, "they should have been thus engaged
all night; in which case the singularity may be explained."

"Look, look," eagerly remarked Lieutenant Johnstone--"see how they are
flying to their canoes, bounding and leaping like so many devils broke
loose from their chains. The fire is nearly deserted already."

"The schooner--the schooner!" shouted Captain Erskine. "By Heaven, our
own gallant schooner! see how beautifully she drives past the island.
It was her gun we heard, intended as a signal to prepare us for her
appearance."

A thrill of wild and indescribable emotion passed through every heart.
Every eye was turned upon the point to which attention was now
directed. The graceful vessel, with every stitch of canvass set, was
shooting rapidly past the low bushes skirting the sands that still
concealed her hull; and in a moment or two she loomed largely and
proudly on the bosom of the Detroit, the surface of which was slightly
curled with a north-western breeze.

"Safe, by Jupiter!" exclaimed the delighted Erskine, dropping the glass
upon the rampart, and rubbing his hands together with every
manifestation of joy.

"The Indians are in chase," said Lieutenant Boyce; "upwards of fifty
canoes are following in the schooner's wake. But Danvers will soon give
us an account of their Lilliputian fleet."

"Let the troops be held in readiness for a sortie, Mr. Lawson," said
the governor, who had joined his officers just as the schooner cleared
the island; "we must cover their landing, or, with this host of savages
in pursuit, they will never effect it alive."

During the whole of this brief but exciting scene, the heart of Charles
de Haldimar beat audibly. A thousand hopes and fears rushed confusedly
on his mind, and he was as one bewildered by, and scarcely crediting
what he saw. Could Clara,--could his cousin--could his brother--could
his friend be on board? He scarcely dared to ask himself these
questions; still it was with a fluttering heart, in which hope,
however, predominated, that he hastened to execute an order of his
captain, that bore immediate reference to his duty as subaltern of the
guard.



CHAPTER V.

Meanwhile the schooner dashed rapidly along, her hull occasionally hid
from the view of those assembled on the ramparts by some intervening
orchard or cluster of houses, but her tall spars glittering in their
covering of white canvass, and marking the direction of her course. At
length she came to a point in the river that offered no other
interruption to the eye than what arose from the presence of almost all
the inhabitants of the village, who, urged by curiosity and surprise,
were to be seen crowding the intervening bank. Here the schooner was
suddenly put about, and the English colours, hitherto concealed by the
folds of the canvass, were at length discovered proudly floating in the
breeze.

Immediately over the gateway of the fort there was an elevated
platform, approached by the rampart, of which it formed a part, by some
half dozen rude steps on either side; and on this platform was placed a
long eighteen pounder, that commanded the whole extent of road leading
from the drawbridge to the river. Hither the officers had all repaired,
while the schooner was in the act of passing the town; and now that,
suddenly brought up in the wind's eye, she rode leisurely in the
offing, every movement on her decks was plainly discernible with the
telescope.

"Where the devil can Danvers have hid all his crew?" first spoke
Captain Erskine; "I count but half a dozen hands altogether on deck,
and these are barely sufficient to work her."

"Lying concealed, and ready, no doubt, to give the canoes a warm
reception," observed Lieutenant Johnstone; "but where can our friends
be? Surely, if there, they would show themselves to us."

There was truth in this remark; and each felt discouraged and
disappointed that they did not appear.

"There come the whooping hell fiends," said Major Blackwater. "By
Heaven! the very water is darkened with the shadows of their canoes."

Scarcely had he spoken, when the vessel was suddenly surrounded by a
multitude of savages, whose fierce shouts rent the air, while their
dripping paddles, gleaming like silver in the rays of the rising sun,
were alternately waved aloft in triumph, and then plunged into the
troubled element, which they spurned in fury from their blades.

"What can Danvers be about? Why does he not either open his fire, or
crowd sail and away from them?" exclaimed several voices.

"The detachment is in readiness, sir," said Mr. Lawson, ascending the
platform, and addressing Major Blackwater.

"The deck, the deck!" shouted Erskine.

Already the eyes of several were bent in the direction alluded to by
the last speaker, while those whose attention had been diverted by the
approaching canoes glanced rapidly to the same point. To the surprise
and consternation of all, the tall and well-remembered form of the
warrior of the Fleur de lis was seen towering far above the bulwarks of
the schooner; and with an expression in the attitude he had assumed,
which no one could mistake for other than that of triumphant defiance.
Presently he drew from the bosom of his hunting coat a dark parcel, and
springing into the rigging of the main-mast, ascended with incredible
activity to the point where the English ensign was faintly floating in
the breeze. This he tore furiously away, and rending it into many
pieces, cast the fragments into the silver element beneath him, on
whose bosom they were seen to float among the canoes of the savages,
many of whom possessed themselves, with eagerness, of the gaudy
coloured trophies. The dark parcel was now unfolded by the active
warrior, who, after having waved it several times round his head,
commenced attaching it to the lines whence the English ensign had so
recently been torn. It was a large black flag, the purport of which was
too readily comprehended by the excited officers.

"D--n the ruffian! can we not manage to make that, flag serve as his
own winding sheet?" exclaimed Captain Erskine. "Come, Wentworth, give
us a second edition of the sortie firing; I know no man who understands
pointing a gun better than yourself, and this eighteen pounder might do
some mischief."

The idea was instantly caught at by the officer of artillery, who read
his consent in the eye of Colonel de Haldimar. His companions made way
on either side; and several gunners, who were already at their
stations, having advanced to work the piece at the command of their
captain, it was speedily brought to bear upon the schooner.

"This will do, I think," said Wentworth, as, glancing his experienced
eye carefully along the gun, he found it pointed immediately on the
gigantic frame of the warrior. "If this chain-shot miss him, it will be
through no fault of mine."

Every eye was now riveted on the main-mast of the schooner, where the
warrior was still engaged in attaching the portentous flag. The gunner,
who held the match, obeyed the silent signal of his captain; and the
massive iron was heard rushing past the officers, bound on its
murderous mission. A moment or two of intense anxiety elapsed; and when
at length the rolling volumes of smoke gradually floated away, to the
dismay and disappointment of all, the fierce warrior was seen standing
apparently unharmed on the same spot in the rigging. The shot had,
however, been well aimed, for a large rent in the outstretched canvass,
close at his side, and about mid-height of his person, marked the
direction it had taken. Again he tore away, and triumphantly waved the
black flag around his head, while from his capacious lungs there burst
yells of defiance and scorn, that could be distinguished for his own
even at that distance. This done, he again secured the death symbol to
its place; and gliding to the deck by a single rope, appeared to give
orders to the few men of the crew who were to be seen; for every stitch
of canvass was again made to fill, and the vessel, bounding forward
before the breeze then blowing upon her quarter, shot rapidly behind
the town, and was finally seen to cast anchor in the navigable channel
that divides Hog Island from the shores of Canada.

At the discharge of the eighteen pounder, the river had been suddenly
cleared, as if by magic, of every canoe; while, warned by the same
danger, the groups of inhabitants, assembled on the bank, had rushed
for shelter to their respective homes; so that, when the schooner
disappeared, not a vestige of human life was to be seen along that
vista so recently peopled with human forms. An order from Colonel de
Haldimar to the adjutant, countermanding the sortie, was the first
interruption to the silence that had continued to pervade the little
band of officers; and two or three of these having hastened to the
western front of the rampart, in order to obtain a more distinct view
of the movements of the schooner, their example was speedily followed
by the remainder, all of whom now quitted the platform, and repaired to
the same point.

Here, with the aid of their telescopes, they again distinctly commanded
a view of the vessel, which lay motionless close under the sandy beach
of the island, and exhibiting all the technicalities of skill in the
disposition of sails and yards peculiar to the profession. In vain,
however, was every eye strained to discover, among the multitude of
savages that kept momentarily leaping to her deck, the forms of those
in whom they were most interested. A group of some half dozen men,
apparently common sailors, and those, in all probability, whose
services had been compelled in the working of the vessel, were the only
evidences that civilised man formed a portion of that grotesque
assemblage. These, with their arms evidently bound behind their backs,
and placed on one of the gangways, were only visible at intervals, as
the band of savages that surrounded them, brandishing their tomahawks
around their heads, occasionally left an opening in their circle. The
formidable warrior of the Fleur de lis was no longer to be seen,
although the flag which he had hoisted still fluttered in the breeze.

"All is lost, then," ejaculated the governor, with a mournfulness of
voice and manner that caused many of his officers to turn and regard
him with surprise. "That black flag announces the triumph of my foe in
the too certain destruction of my children. Now, indeed," he concluded
in a lower tone, "for the first time, does the curse of Ellen Halloway
sit heavily on my soul."

A deep sigh burst from one immediately behind him. The governor turned
suddenly round, and beheld his son. Never did human countenance wear a
character of more poignant misery than that of the unhappy Charles at
the moment. Attracted by the report of the cannon, he had flown to the
rampart to ascertain the cause, and had reached his companions only to
learn the strong hope so recently kindled in his breast was fled for
ever. His cheek, over which hung his neglected hair, was now pale as
marble, and his lips bloodless and parted; yet, notwithstanding this
intensity of personal sorrow, a tear had started to his eye, apparently
wrung from him by this unusual expression of dismay in his father.

"Charles--my son--my only now remaining child," murmured the governor
with emotion, as he remarked, and started at the death-like image of
the youth; "look not thus, or you will utterly unman me."

A sudden and involuntary impulse caused him to extend his arms. The
young officer sprang forward into the proffered embrace, and sank his
head upon the cheek of his father. It was the first time he had enjoyed
that privilege since his childhood; and even overwhelmed as he was by
his affliction, he felt it deeply.

This short but touching scene was witnessed by their companions,
without levity in any, and with emotion by several. None felt more
gratified at this demonstration of parental affection for the sensitive
boy, than Blessington and Erskine.

"I cannot yet persuade myself," observed the former officer, as the
colonel again assumed that dignity of demeanour which had been
momentarily lost sight of in the ebullition of his feelings,--"I cannot
yet persuade myself things are altogether so bad as they appear. It is
true the schooner is in the possession of the enemy, but there is
nothing to prove our friends are on board."

"If you had reason to know HIM into whose hands she has fallen, as I
do, you would think differently, Captain Blessington," returned the
governor. "That mysterious being," he pursued, after a short pause,
"would never have made this parade of his conquest, had it related
merely to a few lives, which to him are of utter insignificance. The
very substitution of yon black flag, in his insolent triumph, was the
pledge of redemption of a threat breathed in my ear within this very
fort: on what occasion I need not state, since the events connected
with that unhappy night are still fresh in the recollections of us all.
That he is my personal enemy, gentlemen, it would be vain to disguise
from you; although who he is, or of what nature his enmity, it imports
not now to enter upon Suffice it, I have little doubt my children are
in his power; but whether the black flag indicates they are no more, or
that the tragedy is only in preparation, I confess I am at a loss to
understand."

Deeply affected by the evident despondency that had dictated these
unusual admissions on the part of their chief, the officers were
forward to combat the inferences he had drawn: several coinciding in
the opinion now expressed by Captain Wentworth, that the fact of the
schooner having fallen into the hands of the savages by no means
implied the capture of the fort whence she came; since it was not at
all unlikely she had been chased during a calm by the numerous canoes
into the Sinclair, where, owing to the extreme narrowness of the river,
she had fallen an easy prey.

"Moreover," observed Captain Blessington, "it is highly improbable the
ferocious warrior could have succeeded in capturing any others than the
unfortunate crew of the schooner; for had this been the case, he would
not have lost the opportunity of crowning his triumph by exhibiting his
victims to our view in some conspicuous part of the vessel."

"This, I grant you," rejoined the governor, "to be one solitary
circumstance in our favour; but may it not, after all, merely prove
that our worst apprehensions are already realised?"

"He is not one, methinks, since vengeance seems his aim, to exercise it
in so summary, and therefore merciful, a manner. Depend upon it,
colonel, had any of those in whom we are more immediately interested,
fallen into his hands, he would not have failed to insult and agonize
us by an exhibition of his prisoners."

"You are right, Blessington," exclaimed Charles de Haldimar, in a voice
that his choking feelings rendered almost sepulchral; "he is not one to
exercise his vengeance in a summary, and merciful manner. The deed is
yet unaccomplished, for even now the curse of Ellen Halloway rings
again in my ear, and tells me the atoning blood must be spilt on the
grave of her husband."

The peculiar tone in which these words were uttered, caused every one
present to turn and regard the speaker, for they recalled the prophetic
language of the unhappy woman. There was now a wildness of expression
in his handsome features, marking the mind utterly dead to hope, yet
struggling to work itself up to passive endurance of the worst. Colonel
de Haldimar sighed painfully, as he bent his eye half reproachfully on
the dull and attenuated features of his son; and although he spoke not,
his look betrayed the anguish that allusion had called up to his heart.

"Forgive me, my father," exclaimed the youth, grasping a hand that was
reluctantly extended. "I meant it not in unkindness; but indeed I have
ever had the conviction strongly impressed on my spirit. I know I
appear weak, childish, unsoldierlike; yet can it be wondered at, when I
have been so often latterly deceived by false hopes, that now my heart
has room for no other tenant than despair. I am very wretched," he
pursued, with affecting despondency; "in the presence of my companions
do I admit it, but they all know how I loved my sister. Can they then
feel surprise, that having lost not only her, but my brother and my
friend, I should be the miserable thing I am."

Colonel de Haldimar turned away, much affected; and throwing his back
against the sentry box near him, passed his hand over his eyes, and
remained for a few moments motionless.

"Charles, Charles, is this your promise to me?" whispered Captain
Blessington, as he approached and took the hand of his unhappy friend.
"Is this the self-command you pledged yourself to exercise? For
Heaven's sake, agitate not your father thus, by the indulgence of a
grief that can have no other tendency than to render him equally
wretched. Be advised by me, and quit the rampart. Return to your guard,
and endeavour to compose yourself."

"Ha! what new movement is that on the part of the savages?" exclaimed
Captain Erskine, who had kept his glass to his eye mechanically, and
chiefly with a view of hiding the emotion produced in him by the almost
infantine despair of the younger De Haldimar: "surely it is--yet, no,
it cannot be--yes, see how they are dragging several prisoners from the
wood to the beach. I can distinctly see a man in a blanket coat, and
two others considerably taller, and apparently sailors. But look,
behind them are two females in European dress. Almighty Heaven! there
can be no doubt."

A painful pause ensued. Every other glass and eye was levelled in the
same direction; and, even as Erskine had described it, a party of
Indians were seen, by those who had the telescopes, conducting five
prisoners towards a canoe that lay in the channel communicating from
the island with the main land on the Detroit shore. Into the bottom of
these they were presently huddled, so that only their heads and
shoulders were visible above the gunwale of the frail bark. Presently a
tall warrior was seen bounding from the wood towards the beach. The
crowd of gesticulating Indians made way, and the warrior was seen to
stoop and apply his shoulder to the canoe, one half of which was high
and dry upon the sands. The heavily laden vessel obeyed the impetus
with a rapidity that proved the muscular power of him who gave it. Like
some wild animal, instinct with life, it lashed the foaming waters from
its bows, and left a deep and gurgling furrow where it passed. As it
quitted the shore, the warrior sprang lightly in, taking his station at
the stern; and while his tall and remarkable figure bent nimbly to the
movement, he dashed his paddle from right to left alternately in the
stream, with a quickness that rendered it almost invisible to the eye.
Presently the canoe disappeared round an intervening headland, and the
officers lost sight of it altogether.

"The portrait, Charles; what have you done with the portrait?"
exclaimed Captain Blessington, actuated by a sudden recollection, and
with a trepidation in his voice and manner that spoke volumes of
despair to the younger De Haldimar. "This is our only hope of solving
the mystery. Quick, give me the portrait, if you have it."

The young officer hurriedly tore the miniature from the breast of his
uniform, and pitched it through the interval that separated him from
his captain, who stood a few feet off; but with so uncertain and
trembling an aim, it missed the hand extended to secure it, and fell
upon the very stone the youth had formerly pointed out to Blessington,
as marking the particular spot on which he stood during the execution
of Halloway. The violence of the fall separated the back of the frame
from the picture itself, when suddenly a piece of white and crumpled
paper, apparently part of the back of a letter, yet cut to the size and
shape of the miniature, was exhibited to the view of all.

"Ha!" resumed the gratified Blessington, as he stooped to possess
himself of the prize; "I knew the miniature would be found to contain
some intelligence from our friends. It is only this moment it occurred
to me to take it to pieces, but accident has anticipated my purpose.
May the omen prove a good one! But what have we here?"

With some difficulty, the anxious officer now succeeded in making out
the characters, which, in default of pen or pencil, had been formed by
the pricking of a fine pin on the paper. The broken sentences, on which
the whole of the group now hung with greedy ear, ran nearly as
follows:--"All is lost. Michilimackinac is taken. We are prisoners, and
doomed to die within eight and forty hours. Alas! Clara and Madeline
are of our number. Still there is a hope, if my father deem it prudent
to incur the risk. A surprise, well managed, may do much; but it must
be tomorrow night; forty-eight hours more, and it will be of no avail.
He who will deliver this is our friend, and the enemy of my father's
enemy. He will be in the same spot at the same hour to-morrow night,
and will conduct the detachment to wherever we may chance to be. If you
fail in your enterprise, receive our last prayers for a less disastrous
fate. God bless you all!"

The blood ran coldly through every vein during the perusal of these
important sentences, but not one word of comment was offered by an
individual of the group. No explanation was necessary. The captives in
the canoe, the tall warrior in its stern, all sufficiently betrayed the
horrible truth.

Colonel de Haldimar at length turned an enquiring look at his two
captains, and then addressing the adjutant, asked--

"What companies are off duty to-day, Mr. Lawson?"

"Mine," said Blessington, with an energy that denoted how deeply
rejoiced he felt at the fact, and without giving the adjutant time to
reply.

"And mine," impetuously added Captain Erskine; "and, by G--! I will
answer for them; they never embarked on a duty of the sort with greater
zeal than they will on this occasion."

"Gentlemen, I thank you," said Colonel de Haldimar, with deep emotion,
as he stepped forward and grasped in turn the hands of the
generous-hearted officers. "To Heaven, and to your exertions, do I
commit my children."

"Any artillery, colonel?" enquired the officer of that corps.

"No, Wentworth, no artillery. Whatever remains to be done, must be
achieved by the bayonet alone, and under favour of the darkness.
Gentlemen, again I thank you for this generous interest in my
children--this forwardness in an enterprise on which depend the lives
of so many dear friends. I am not one given to express warm emotion,
but I do, indeed, appreciate this conduct deeply." He then moved away,
desiring Mr. Lawson, as he quitted the rampart, to cause the men for
this service to be got in instant readiness.

Following the example of their colonel, Captains Blessington and
Erskine quitted the rampart also, hastening to satisfy themselves by
personal inspection of the efficiency in all respects of their several
companies; and in a few minutes, the only individual to be seen in that
quarter of the works was the sentinel, who had been a silent and pained
witness of all that had passed among his officers.



CHAPTER VI.

Doubtless, many of our readers are prepared to expect that the doom of
the unfortunate Frank Halloway was, as an officer of his regiment had
already hinted, the fruit of some personal pique and concealed motive
of vengeance; and that the denouement of our melancholy story will
afford evidence of the governor's knowledge of the true character of
him, who, under an assumed name, excited such general interest at his
trial and death, not only among his military superiors, but those with
whom his adverse destiny had more immediately associated him. It has
already been urged to us, by one or two of our critical friends to whom
we have submitted what has been thus far written in our tale, that, to
explain satisfactorily and consistently the extreme severity of the
governor, some secret and personally influencing motive must be
assigned; but to these we have intimated, what we now repeat,--namely,
that we hope to bear out our story, by natural explanation and simple
deduction. Who Frank Halloway really was, or what the connection
existing between him and the mysterious enemy of the family of De
Haldimar, the sequel of our narrative will show; but whatever its
nature, and however well founded the apprehension of the governor of
the formidable being hitherto known as the warrior of the Fleur de lis,
and however strong his conviction that the devoted Halloway and his
enemy were in secret correspondence, certain it is, that, to the very
hour of the death of the former, he knew him as no other than the
simple private soldier.

To have ascribed to Colonel de Haldimar motives that would have induced
his eagerly seeking the condemnation of an innocent man, either to
gratify a thirst of vengeance, or to secure immunity against personal
danger, would have been to have painted him, not only as a villain, but
a coward. Colonel de Haldimar was neither; but, on the contrary, what
is understood in worldly parlance and the generally received
acceptation of the terms, a man of strict integrity and honour, as well
as of the most undisputed courage. Still, he was a severe and a haughty
man,--one whose military education had been based on the principles of
the old school--and to whom the command of a regiment afforded a field
for the exercise of an orthodox despotism, that could not be passed
over without the immolation of many a victim on its rugged surface.
Without ever having possessed any thing like acute feeling, his heart,
as nature had formed it, was moulded to receive the ordinary
impressions of humanity; and had he been doomed to move in the sphere
of private life, if he had not been distinguished by any remarkable
sensibilities, he would not, in all probability, have been conspicuous
for any extraordinary cruelties. Sent into the army, however, at an
early age, and with a blood not remarkable for its mercurial aptitudes,
he had calmly and deliberately imbibed all the starched theories and
standard prejudices which a mind by no means naturally gifted was but
too well predisposed to receive; and he was among the number of those
(many of whom are indigenous to our soil even at the present day) who
look down from a rank obtained, upon that which has been just quitted,
with a contempt, and coldness, and consciousness of elevation,
commensurate only with the respect paid to those still above them, and
which it belongs only to the little-minded to indulge in.

As a subaltern, M. de Haldimar had ever been considered a pattern of
rigid propriety and decorum of conduct. Not the shadow of military
crime had ever been laid to his charge. He was punctual at all parades
and drills; kept the company to which he was attached in a perfect hot
water of discipline; never missed his distance in marching past, or
failed in a military manoeuvre; paid his mess-bill regularly to the
hour, nay, minute, of the settling day; and was never, on any one
occasion, known to enter the paymaster's office, except on the
well-remembered 24th of each month; and, to crown all, he had never
asked, consequently never obtained, a day's leave from his regiment,
although he had served in it so long, that there was now but one man
living who had entered it with him. With all these qualities, Ensign de
Haldimar promised to make an excellent soldier; and, as such, was
encouraged by the field-officers of the corps, who unhesitatingly
pronounced him a lad of discernment and talent, who would one day rival
them in all the glorious privileges of martinetism. It was even
remarked, as an evidence of his worth, that, when promoted to a
lieutenancy, he looked down upon the ensigns with that becoming
condescension which befitted his new rank; and up to the captains with
the deferential respect he felt to be due to that third step in the
five-barred gate of regimental promotion, on which his aspiring but
chained foot had not yet succeeded in reposing. What, therefore, he
became when he had succeeded in clambering to the top, and looked down
from the lordly height he had after many years of plodding service
obtained, we must leave it to the imaginations of our readers to
determine. We reserve it to a future page, to relate more interesting
particulars.

Sufficient has been shown, however, from this outline of his character,
as well as from the conversations among his officers, elsewhere
transcribed, to account for the governor's conduct in the case of
Halloway. That the recommendation of his son, Captain de Haldimar, had
not been attended to, arose not from any particular ill-will towards
the unhappy man, but simply because he had always been in the habit of
making his own selections from the ranks, and that the present
recommendation had been warmly urged by one who he fancied pretended to
a discrimination superior to his own, in pointing out merits that had
escaped his observation. It might be, too, that there was a latent
pride about the manner of Halloway that displeased and dissatisfied one
who looked upon his subordinates as things that were amenable to the
haughtiness of his glance,--not enough of deference in his demeanour,
or of supplicating obsequiousness in his speech, to entitle him to the
promotion prayed for. Whatever the motive, there was nothing of
personality to influence him in the rejection of the appeal made in
favour of one who had never injured him; but who, on the contrary, as
the whole of the regiment could attest, had saved the life of his son.

Rigid disciplinarian as he was, and holding himself responsible for the
safety of the garrison it was but natural, when the discovery had been
made of the unaccountable unfastening of the gate of the fort,
suspicion of no ordinary kind should attach to the sentinel posted
there; and that he should steadily refuse all credence to a story
wearing so much appearance of improbability. Proud, and inflexible, and
bigoted to first impressions, his mind was closed against those
palliating circumstances, which, adduced by Halloway in his defence,
had so mainly contributed to stamp the conviction of his moral
innocence on the minds of his judges and the attentive auditory; and
could he even have conquered his pride so far as to have admitted the
belief of that innocence, still the military crime of which he had been
guilty, in infringing a positive order of the garrison, was in itself
sufficient to call forth all the unrelenting severity of his nature.
Throughout the whole of the proceedings subsequently instituted, he had
acted and spoken from a perfect conviction of the treason of the
unfortunate soldier, and with the fullest impression of the falsehood
of all that had been offered in his defence. The considerations that
influenced the minds of his officers, found no entrance into his proud
breast, which was closed against every thing but his own dignified
sense of superior judgment. Could he, like them, have given credence to
the tale of Halloway, or really have believed that Captain de Haldimar,
educated under his own military eye, could have been so wanting in
subordination, as not merely to have infringed a positive order of the
garrison, but to have made a private soldier of that garrison accessary
to his delinquency, it is more than probable his stern habits of
military discipline would have caused him to overlook the offence of
the soldier, in deeper indignation at the conduct of the infinitely
more culpable officer; but not one word did he credit of a statement,
which he assumed to have been got up by the prisoner with the mere view
of shielding himself from punishment: and when to these suspicions of
his fidelity was attached the fact of the introduction of his alarming
visitor, it must be confessed his motives for indulging in this belief
were not without foundation.

The impatience manifested during the trial of Halloway was not a result
of any desire of systematic persecution, but of a sense of wounded
dignity. It was a thing unheard of, and unpardonable in his eyes, for a
private soldier to assert, in his presence, his honour and his
respectability in extenuation, even while admitting the justice of a
specific charge; and when he remarked the Court listening with that
profound attention, which the peculiar history of the prisoner had
excited, he could not repress the manifestation of his anger. In
justice to him, however, it must be acknowledged that, in causing the
charge, to which the unfortunate man pleaded guilty, to be framed, he
had only acted from the conviction that, on the two first, there was
not sufficient evidence to condemn one whose crime was as clearly
established, to his judgment, as if he had been an eye-witness of the
treason. It is true, he availed himself of Halloway's voluntary
confession, to effect his condemnation; but estimating him as a
traitor, he felt little delicacy was necessary to be observed on that
score.

Much of the despotic military character of Colonel de Haldimar had been
communicated to his private life; so much, indeed, that his sons,--both
of whom, it has been seen, were of natures that belied their origin
from so stern a stock,--were kept at nearly as great a distance from
him as any other subordinates of his regiment. But although he seldom
indulged in manifestations of parental regard towards those whom he
looked upon rather as inferiors in military rank, than as beings
connected with him by the ties of blood, Colonel de Haldimar was not
without that instinctive love for his children, which every animal in
the creation feels for its offspring. He, also, valued and took a pride
in, because they reflected a certain degree of lustre upon himself, the
talents and accomplishments of his eldest son, who, moreover, was a
brave, enterprising officer, and, only wanted, in his father's
estimation, that severity of carriage and hauteur of deportment,
befitting HIS son, to render him perfect. As for Charles,--the gentle,
bland, winning, universally conciliating Charles,--he looked upon him
as a mere weak boy, who could never hope to arrive at any post of
distinction, if only by reason of the extreme delicacy of his physical
organisation; and to have shown any thing like respect for his
character, or indulged in any expression of tenderness for one so far
below his estimate of what a soldier, a child of his, ought to be,
would have been a concession of which his proud nature was incapable.
In his daughter Clara, however, the gentleness of sex claimed that
warmer affection which was denied to him, who resembled her in almost
every attribute of mind and person. Colonel de Haldimar doated on his
daughter with a tenderness, for which few, who were familiar with his
harsh and unbending nature, ever gave him credit. She was the image of
one on whom all of love that he had ever known had been centered; and
he had continued in Clara an affection, that seemed in itself to form a
portion, distinct and apart, of his existence.

We have already seen, as stated by Charles de Haldimar to the
unfortunate wife of Halloway, with what little success he had pleaded
in the interview he had requested of his father, for the preserver of
his gallant brother's life; and we have also seen how equally
inefficient was the lowly and supplicating anguish of that wretched
being, when, on quitting the apartment of his son, Colonel de Haldimar
had so unexpectedly found himself clasped in her despairing embrace.
There was little to be expected from an intercession on the part of one
claiming so little ascendancy over his father's heart, as the
universally esteemed young officer; still less from one who, in her
shriek of agony, had exposed the haughty chief to the observation both
of men and officers, and under circumstances that caused his position
to border on the ludicrous. But however these considerations might have
failed in effect, there was another which, as a soldier, he could not
wholly overlook. Although he had offered no comment on the
extraordinary recommendation to mercy annexed to the sentence of the
prisoner, it had had a certain weight with him; and he felt, all
absolute even as he was, he could not, without exciting strong
dissatisfaction among his troops, refuse attention to a document so
powerfully worded, and bearing the signature and approval of so old and
valued an officer as Captain Blessington. His determination, therefore,
had been formed, even before his visit to his son, to act as
circumstances might require; and, in the mean while, he commanded every
preparation for the execution to be made.

In causing a strong detachment to be marched to the conspicuous point
chosen for his purpose, he had acted from a conviction of the necessity
of showing the enemy the treason of the soldier had been detected;
reserving to himself the determination of carrying the sentence into
full effect, or pardoning the condemned, as the event might warrant.
Not one moment, meanwhile, did he doubt the guilt of Halloway, whose
description of the person of his enemy was, in itself, to him,
confirmatory evidence of his treason. It is doubtful whether he would,
in any way, have been influenced by the recommendation of the Court,
had the first charges been substantiated; but as there was nothing but
conjecture to bear out these, and as the prisoner had been convicted
only on the ground of suffering Captain de Haldimar to quit the fort
contrary to orders, he felt he might possibly go too far in carrying
the capital punishment into effect, in decided opposition to the
general feeling of the garrison,--both of officers and men.

When the shot was subsequently fired from the hut of the Canadian, and
the daring rifleman recognised as the same fearful individual who had
gained access to his apartment the preceding night, conviction of the
guilt of Halloway came even deeper home to the mind of the governor. It
was through Francois alone that a communication was kept up secretly
between the garrison and several of the Canadians without the fort; and
the very fact of the mysterious warrior having been there so recently
after his daring enterprise, bore evidence that whatever treason was in
operation, had been carried on through the instrumentality of mine host
of the Fleur de lis. In proof, moreover, there was the hat of Donellan,
and the very rope Halloway had stated to be that by which the
unfortunate officer had effected his exit. Colonel de Haldimar was not
one given to indulge in the mysterious or to believe in the romantic.
Every thing was plain matter of fact, as it now appeared before him;
and he thought it evident, as though it had been written in words of
fire, that if his son and his unfortunate servant had quitted the fort
in the manner represented, it was no less certain they had been forced
off by a party, at the head of whom was his vindictive enemy, and with
the connivance of Halloway. We have seen, that after the discovery of
the sex of the supposed drummer-boy when the prisoners were confronted
together, Colonel de Haldimar had closely watched the expression of
their countenances, but failed in discovering any thing that could be
traced into evidence of a guilty recognition. Still he conceived his
original impression to have been too forcibly borne out, even by the
events of the last half hour, to allow this to have much weight with
him; and his determination to carry the thing through all its fearful
preliminary stages became more and more confirmed.

In adopting this resolution in the first instance, he was not without a
hope that Halloway, standing, as he must feel himself to be, on the
verge of the grave, might be induced to make confession of his guilt,
and communicate whatever particulars might prove essential not only to
the safety of the garrison generally, but to himself individually, as
far as his personal enemy was concerned. With this view, he had charged
Captain Blessington, in the course of their march from the hut to the
fatal bridge, to promise a full pardon, provided he should make such
confession of his crime as would lead to a just appreciation of the
evils likely to result from the treason that had in part been
accomplished. Even in making this provision, however, which was met by
the prisoner with solemn yet dignified reiteration of his innocence,
Colonel de Haldimar had not made the refusal of pardon altogether
conclusive in his own mind: still, in adopting this plan, there was a
chance of obtaining a confession; and not until there was no longer a
prospect of the unhappy man being led into that confession, did he feel
it imperative on him to stay the progress of the tragedy.

What the result would have been, had not Halloway, in the strong
excitement of his feelings, sprung to his feet upon the coffin,
uttering the exclamation of triumph recorded in the last pages of our
first volume, is scarcely doubtful. However much the governor might
have contemned and slighted a credulity in which he in no way
participated himself, he had too much discrimination not to perceive,
that to have persevered in the capital punishment would have been to
have rendered himself personally obnoxious to the comrades of the
condemned, whose dispirited air and sullen mien, he clearly saw,
denounced the punishment as one of unnecessary rigour. The haughty
commander was not one to be intimidated by manifestations of
discontent; neither was he one to brook a spirit of insubordination,
however forcibly supported; but he had too much experience and military
judgment, not to determine that this was riot a moment, by foregoing an
act of compulsory clemency, to instil divisions in the garrison, when
the safety of all so much depended on the cheerfulness and unanimity
with which they lent themselves to the arduous duties of defence.

However originating in policy, the lenity he might have been induced to
have shown, all idea of the kind was chased from his mind by the
unfortunate action of the prisoner. At the moment when the distant
heights resounded with the fierce yells of the savages, and leaping
forms came bounding down the slope, the remarkable warrior of the Fleur
de lis--the fearful enemy who had whispered the most demoniac vengeance
in his ears the preceding night--was the only one that met and riveted
the gaze of the governor. He paused not to observe or to think who the
flying man could be of whom the mysterious warrior was in
pursuit,--neither did it, indeed, occur to him that it was a pursuit at
all. But one idea suggested itself to his mind, and that was an attempt
at rescue of the condemned on the part of his accomplice; and when at
length Halloway, who had at once, as if by instinct, recognised his
captain in the fugitive, shouted forth his gratitude to Heaven that "he
at length approached who alone had the power to save him," every shadow
of mercy was banished from the mind of the governor, who, labouring
under a natural misconception of the causes of his exulting shout, felt
that justice imperatively demanded her victim, and no longer hesitated
in awarding the doom that became the supposed traitor. It was under
this impression that he sternly gave and repeated the fatal order to
fire; and by this misjudged and severe, although not absolutely cruel
act, not only destroyed one of the noblest beings that ever wore a
soldier's uniform, but entailed upon himself and family that terrific
curse of his maniac wife, which rang like a prophetic warning in the
ears of all, and was often heard in the fitful starlings of his own
ever-after troubled slumbers.

What his feelings were, when subsequently he discovered, in the
wretched fugitive, the son whom he already believed to have been
numbered with the dead, and heard from his lips a confirmation of all
that had been advanced by the unhappy Halloway, we shall leave it to
our readers to imagine. Still, even amid his first regret, the rigid
disciplinarian was strong within him; and no sooner had the detachment
regained the fort, after performing the last offices of interment over
their ill-fated comrade, than Captain de Haldimar received an
intimation, through the adjutant, to consider himself under close
arrest for disobedience of orders. Finally, however, he succeeded in
procuring an interview with his father; in the course of which,
disclosing the plot of the Indians, and the short period allotted for
its being carried into execution, he painted in the most gloomy colours
the alarming, dangers which threatened them all, and finished by
urgently imploring his father to suffer him to make the attempt to
reach their unsuspecting friends at Michilimackinac. Fully impressed
with the difficulties attendant on a scheme that offered so few
feasible chances of success, Colonel de Haldimar for a period denied
his concurrence; but when at length the excited young man dwelt on the
horrors that would inevitably await his sister and betrothed cousin,
were they to fall into the hands of the savages, these considerations
were found to be effective. An after-arrangement included Sir Everard
Valletort, who had expressed a strong desire to share his danger in the
enterprise; and the services of the Canadian, who had been brought back
a prisoner to the fort, and on whom promises and threats were bestowed
in an equally lavish manner, were rendered available. In fact, without
the assistance of Francois, there was little chance of their effecting
in safety the navigation of the waters through which they were to pass
to arrive at the fort. He it was, who, when summoned to attend a
conference among the officers, bearing on the means to be adopted,
suggested the propriety of their disguising themselves as Canadian duck
hunters; in which character they might expect to pass unmolested, even
if encountered by any outlying parties of the savages. With the doubts
that had previously been entertained of the fidelity of Francois, there
was an air of forlorn hope given to the enterprise; still, as the man
expressed sincere earnestness of desire to repay the clemency accorded
him, by a faithful exercise of his services, and as the object sought
was one that justified the risk, there was, notwithstanding, a latent
hope cherished by all parties, that the event would prove successful.
We have already seen to what extent their anticipations were realised.

Whether it was that he secretly acknowledged the too excessive
sternness of his justice in regard to Halloway (who still, in the true
acceptation of facts, had been guilty of a crime that entailed the
penalty he had paid), or that the apprehensions that arose to his heart
in regard to her on whom he yearned with all a father's fondness
governed his conduct, certain it is, that, from the hour of the
disclosure made by his son, Colonel de Haldimar became an altered man.
Without losing any thing of that dignity of manner, which had hitherto
been confounded with the most repellent haughtiness of bearing, his
demeanour towards his officers became more courteous; and although, as
heretofore, he kept himself entirely aloof, except when occasions of
duty brought them together, still, when they did meet, there was more
of conciliation in his manner, and less of austerity in his speech.
There was, moreover, a dejection in his eye, strongly in contrast with
his former imperious glance; and more than one officer remarked, that,
if his days were devoted to the customary practical arrangements for
defence, his pallid countenance betokened that his nights were nights
rather of vigil than of repose.

However natural and deep the alarm entertained for the fate of the
sister fort, there could be no apprehension on the mind of Colonel de
Haldimar in regard to his own; since, furnished with the means of
foiling his enemies with their own weapons of cunning and deceit, a few
extraordinary precautions alone were necessary to secure all immunity
from danger. Whatever might be the stern peculiarities of his
character,--and these had originated chiefly in an education purely
military,--Colonel de Haldimar was an officer well calculated to the
important trust reposed in him; for, combining experience with judgment
in all matters relating to the diplomacy of war, and being fully
conversant with the character and habits of the enemy opposed to him,
he possessed singular aptitude to seize whatever advantages might
present themselves.

The prudence and caution of his policy have already been made manifest
in the two several council scenes with the chiefs recorded in our
second volume. It may appear singular, that, with the opportunity thus
afforded him of retaining the formidable Ponteac,--the strength and
sinew of that long protracted and ferocious war,--in his power, he
should have waved his advantage; but here Colonel de Haldimar gave
evidence of the tact which so eminently distinguished his public
conduct throughout. He well knew the noble, fearless character of the
chief; and felt, if any hold was to be secured over him, it was by
grappling with his generosity, and not by the exercise of intimidation.
Even admitting that Ponteac continued his prisoner, and that the
troops, pouring their destructive fire upon the mass of enemies so
suddenly arrested on the drawbridge, had swept away the whole, still
they were but as a mite among the numerous nations that were leagued
against the English; and to these nations, it was evident, they must,
sooner or later, succumb.

Colonel de Haldimar knew enough of the proud but generous nature of the
Ottawa, to deem that the policy he proposed to pursue in the last
council scene would not prove altogether without effect on that
warrior. It was well known to him, that much pains had been taken to
instil into the minds of the Indians the belief that the English were
resolved on their final extirpation; and as certain slights, offered to
them at various periods, had given a colouring of truth to this
assertion, the formidable league which had already accomplished the
downfall of so many of the forts had been the consequence of these
artful representations. Although well aware that the French had
numerous emissaries distributed among the fierce tribes, it was not
until after the disclosure made by the haughty Ponteac, at the close of
the first council scene, that he became apprised of the alarming
influence exercised over the mind of that warrior himself by his own
terrible and vindictive enemy. The necessity of counteracting that
influence was obvious; and he felt this was only to be done (if at all)
by some marked and extraordinary evidence of the peaceful disposition
of the English. Hence his determination to suffer the faithless chiefs
and their followers to depart unharmed from the fort, even at the
moment when the attitude assumed by the prepared garrison fully proved
to the assailants their designs had been penetrated and their schemes
rendered abortive.



CHAPTER VII.

With the general position of the encampment of the investing Indians,
the reader has been made acquainted through the narrative of Captain de
Haldimar. It was, as has been shown, situate in a sort of oasis close
within the verge of the forest, and (girt by an intervening underwood
which Nature, in her caprice, had fashioned after the manner of a
defensive barrier) embraced a space sufficient to contain the tents of
the fighting men, together with their women and children. This,
however, included only the warriors and inferior chiefs. The tents of
the leaders were without the belt of underwood, and principally
distributed at long intervals on that side of the forest which skirted
the open country towards the river; forming, as it were, a chain of
external defences, and sweeping in a semicircular direction round the
more dense encampment of their followers. At its highest elevation the
forest shot out suddenly into a point, naturally enough rendered an
object of attraction from whatever part it was commanded.

Darkness was already beginning to spread her mantle over the
intervening space, and the night fires of the Indians were kindling
into brightness, glimmering occasionally through the wood with that
pale and lambent light peculiar to the fire-fly, of which they offered
a not inapt representation, when suddenly a lofty tent, the brilliant
whiteness of which was thrown into strong relief by the dark field on
which it reposed, was seen to rise at a few paces from the abrupt point
in the forest just described, and on the extreme summit of a ridge,
beyond which lay only the western horizon in golden perspective.

The opening of this tent looked eastward and towards the fort; and on
its extreme summit floated a dark flag, which at intervals spread
itself before the slight evening breeze, but oftener hung drooping and
heavily over the glittering canvass. One solitary pine, whose trunk
exceeded not the ordinary thickness of a man's waist, and standing out
as a landmark on the ridge, rose at the distance of a few feet from the
spot on which the tent had been erected; and to this was bound the tall
and elegant figure of one dressed in the coarse garb of a sailor. The
arms and legs of this individual were perfectly free; but a strong
rope, rendered doubly secure after the manner of what is termed
"whipping" among seamen, after having been tightly drawn several times
around his waist, and then firmly knotted behind, was again passed
round the tree, to which the back of the prisoner was closely lashed;
thus enabling, or rather compelling, him to be a spectator of every
object within the tent.

Layers of bark, over which were spread the dressed skins of the bear
and the buffalo, formed the floor and carpet of the latter; and on
these, in various parts, and in characteristic attitudes, reposed the
forms of three human beings;--one, the formidable warrior of the Fleur
de lis. Attired in the garb in which we first introduced him to our
readers, and with the same weapons reposing at his side, the haughty
savage lay at his lazy length; his feet reaching beyond the opening of
the tent, and his head reposing on a rude pillow formed of a closely
compressed pack of skins of wild animals, over which was spread a sort
of mantle or blanket. One hand was introduced between the pillow and
his head, the other grasped the pipe tomahawk he was smoking; and while
the mechanical play of his right foot indicated pre-occupation of
thought, his quick and meaning eye glanced frequently and alternately
upon the furthest of his companions, the prisoner without, and the
distant fort.

Within a few feet of the warrior lay, extended on a buffalo skin, the
delicate figure of a female, whose hair, complexion, and hands, denoted
her European extraction. Her dress was entirely Indian, however;
consisting of a machecoti with leggings, mocassins, and shirt of
printed cotton studded with silver brooches,--all of which were of a
quality and texture to mark the wearer as the wife of a chief; and her
fair hair, done up in a club behind, reposed on a neck of dazzling
whiteness. Her eyes were large, blue, but wild and unmeaning; her
countenance vacant; and her movements altogether mechanical. A wooden
bowl filled with hominy,--a preparation of Indian corn,--was at her
side; and from this she was now in the act of feeding herself with a
spoon of the same material, but with a negligence and slovenliness that
betrayed her almost utter unconsciousness of the action.

At the further side of the tent there was another woman, even more
delicate in appearance than the one last mentioned. She, too, was
blue-eyed, and of surpassing fairness of skin. Her attitude denoted a
mind too powerfully absorbed in grief to be heedful of appearances; for
she sat with her knees drawn up to her chin, and rocking her body to
and fro with an undulating motion that seemed to have its origin in no
effort of volition of her own. Her long fair hair hung negligently over
her shoulders; and a blanket drawn over the top of her head like a
veil, and extending partly over the person, disclosed here and there
portions of an apparel which was strictly European, although rent, and
exhibiting in various places stains of blood. A bowl similar to that of
her companion, and filled with the same food, was at her side; but this
was untasted.

"Why does the girl refuse to eat?" asked the warrior of her next him,
as he fiercely rolled a volume of smoke from his lips. "Make her eat,
for I would speak to her afterwards."

"Why does the girl refuse to eat?" responded the woman in the same
tone, dropping her spoon as she spoke, and turning to the object of
remark with a vacant look. "It is good," she pursued, as she rudely
shook the arm of the heedless sufferer. "Come, girl, eat."

A shriek burst from the lips of the unhappy girl, as, apparently roused
from her abstraction, she suffered the blanket to fall from her head,
and staring wildly at her questioner, faintly demanded,--

"Who, in the name of mercy, are you, who address me in this horrid
place in my own tongue? Speak; who are you? Surely I should know that
voice for that of Ellen, the wife of Frank Halloway!"

A maniac laugh was uttered by the wretched woman. This continued
offensively for a moment; and she observed, in an infuriated tone and
with a searching eye,--"No, I am not the wife of Halloway. It is false.
I am the wife of Wacousta. This is my husband!" and as she spoke she
sprang nimbly to her feet, and was in the next instant lying prostrate
on the form of the warrior; her arms thrown wildly around him, and her
lips imprinting kisses on his cheek.

But Wacousta was in no mood to suffer her endearments. He for the first
time seemed alive to the presence of her who lay beyond, and, to whose
whole appearance a character of animation had been imparted by the
temporary excitement of her feelings. He gazed at her a moment, with
the air of one endeavouring to recall the memory of days long gone by;
and as he continued to do so, his eye dilated, his chest heaved, and
his countenance alternately flushed and paled. At length he threw the
form that reposed upon his own, violently, and even savagely, from him;
sprang eagerly to his feet; and clearing the space that divided him
from the object of his attention at a single step, bore her from the
earth in his arms with as much ease as if she had been an infant, and
then returning to his own rude couch, placed his horror-stricken victim
at his side.

"Nay, nay," he urged sarcastically, as she vainly struggled to free
herself; "let the De Haldimar portion of your blood rise up in anger if
it will; but that of Clara Beverley, at least--."

"Gracious Providence! where am I, that I hear the name of my sainted
mother thus familiarly pronounced?" interrupted the startled girl; "and
who are you,"--turning her eyes wildly on the swarthy countenance of
the warrior,--"who are you, I ask, who, with the mien and in the garb
of a savage of these forests, appear thus acquainted with her name?"

The warrior passed his hand across his brow for a moment, as if some
painful and intolerable reflection had been called up by the question;
but he speedily recovered his self-possession, and, with an expression
of feature that almost petrified his auditor, vehemently observed,--

"You ask who I am! One who knew your mother long before the accursed
name of De Haldimar had even been whispered in her ear; and whom love
for the one and hatred for the other has rendered the savage you now
behold! But," he continued, while a fierce and hideous smile lighted up
every feature, "I overlook my past sufferings in my present happiness.
The image of Clara Beverley, even such as my soul loved her in its
youth, is once more before me in her child; THAT child shall be my
wife!"

"Your wife! monster;--never!" shrieked the unhappy girl, again vainly
attempting to disengage herself from the encircling arm of the savage.
"But," she pursued, in a tone of supplication, while the tears coursed
each other down her cheek, "if you ever loved my mother as you say you
have, restore her children to their home; and, if saints may be
permitted to look down from heaven in approval of the acts of men, she
whom you have loved will bless you for the deed."

A deep groan burst from the vast chest of Wacousta; but, for a moment,
he answered not. At length he observed, pointing at the same time with
his finger towards the cloudless vault above their heads,--"Do you
behold yon blue sky, Clara de Haldimar?"

"I do;--what mean you?" demanded the trembling girl, in whom a
momentary hope had been excited by the subdued manner of the savage.

"Nothing," he coolly rejoined; "only that were your mother to appear
there at this moment, clad in all the attributes ascribed to angels,
her prayer would not alter the destiny that awaits you. Nay, nay; look
not thus sorrowfully," he pursued, as, in despite of her efforts to
prevent him, he imprinted a burning kiss upon her lips. "Even thus was
I once wont to linger on the lips of your mother; but hers ever pouted
to be pressed by mine; and not with tears, but with sunniest smiles,
did she court them." He paused; bent his head over the face of the
shuddering girl; and gazing fixedly for a few minutes on her
countenance, while he pressed her struggling form more closely to his
own, exultingly pursued, as if to himself,--"Even as her mother was, so
is she. Ye powers of hell! who would have ever thought a time would
come when both my vengeance and my love would be gratified to the
utmost? How strange it never should have occurred to me he had a
daughter!"

"What mean you, fierce, unpitying man?" exclaimed the terrified Clara,
to whom a full sense of the horror of her position had lent unusual
energy of character. "Surely you will not detain a poor defenceless
woman in your hands,--the child of her you say you have loved. But it
is false!--you never knew her, or you would not now reject my prayer."

"Never knew her!" fiercely repeated Wacousta. Again he paused. "Would I
had never known her! and I should not now be the outcast wretch I am,"
he added, slowly and impressively. Then once more elevating his
voice,--"Clara de Haldimar, I have loved your mother as man never loved
woman; and I have hated your father" (grinding his teeth with fury as
he spoke) "as man never hated man. That love, that hatred are
unquenched--unquenchable. Before me I see at once the image of her who,
even in death, has lived enshrined in my heart, and the child of him
who is my bitterest foe. Clara de Haldimar, do you understand me now?"

"Almighty Providence! is there no one to save me?--can nothing touch
your stubborn heart?" exclaimed the affrighted girl; and she turned her
swimming eyes on those of the warrior, in appeal; but his glance caused
her own to sink in confusion. "Ellen Halloway," she pursued, after a
moment's pause, and in the wild accents of despair, "if you are indeed
the wife of this man, as you say you are, oh! plead for me with him;
and in the name of that kindness, which I once extended to yourself,
prevail on him to restore me to my father!"

"Ellen Halloway!--who calls Ellen Halloway?" said the wretched woman,
who had again resumed her slovenly meal on the rude couch, apparently
without consciousness of the scene enacting at her side. "I am not
Ellen Halloway: they said so; but it is not true. My husband was
Reginald Morton: but he went for a soldier, and was killed; and I never
saw him more."

"Reginald Morton! What mean you, woman?--What know you of Reginald
Morton?" demanded Wacousta, with frightful energy, as, leaning over the
shrinking form of Clara, he violently grasped and shook the shoulder of
the unhappy maniac.

"Stop; do not hurt me, and I will tell you all, sir," she almost
screamed. "Oh, sir, Reginald Morton was my husband once; but he was
kinder than you are. He did not look so fiercely at me; nor did he
pinch me so."

"What of him?--who was he?" furiously repeated Wacousta, as he again
impatiently shook the arm of the wretched Ellen. "Where did you know
him?--Whence came he?"

"Nay, you must not be jealous of poor Reginald:" and, as she uttered
these words in a softening and conciliating tone, her eye was turned
upon those of the warrior with a mingled expression of fear and
cunning. "But he was very good and very handsome, and generous; and we
lived near each other, and we loved each other at first sight. But his
family were very proud, and they quarrelled with him because he married
me; and then we became very poor, and Reginald went for a soldier,
and--; but I forget the rest, it is so long ago." She pressed her hand
to her brow, and sank her head upon her chest.

"Ellen, woman, again I ask you where he came from? this Reginald Morton
that you have named. To what county did he belong?"

"Oh, we were both Cornish," she answered, with a vivacity singularly in
contrast with her recent low and monotonous tone; "but, as I said
before, he was of a great family, and I only a poor clergyman's
daughter."

"Cornish!--Cornish, did you say?" fiercely repeated the dark Wacousta,
while an expression of loathing and disgust seemed for a moment to
convulse his features; "then is it as I had feared. One word more. Was
the family seat called Morton Castle?"

"It was," unhesitatingly returned the poor woman, yet with the air of
one wondering to hear a name repeated, long forgotten even by herself.
"It was a beautiful castle too, on a lovely ridge of hills; and it
commanded such a nice view of the sea, close to the little port of
----; and the parsonage stood in such a sweet valley, close under the
castle; and we were all so happy." She paused, again put her hand to
her brow, and pressed it with force, as if endeavouring to pursue the
chain of connection in her memory, but evidently without success.

"And your father's name was Clayton?" said the warrior, enquiringly;
"Henry Clayton, if I recollect aright?"

"Ha! who names my father?" shrieked the wretched woman. "Yes, sir, it
was Clayton--Henry Clayton--the kindest, the noblest of human beings.
But the affliction of his child, and the persecutions of the Morton
family, broke his heart. He is dead, sir, and Reginald is dead too; and
I am a poor lone widow in the world, and have no one to love me." Here
the tears coursed each other rapidly down her faded cheek, although her
eyes were staring and motionless.

"It is false!" vociferated the warrior, who, now he had gained all that
was essential to the elucidation of his doubts, quitted the shoulder he
had continued to press with violence in his nervous hand, and once more
extended himself at his length; "in me you behold the uncle of your
husband. Yes, Ellen Clayton, you have been the wife of two Reginald
Mortons. Both," he pursued with unutterable bitterness, while he again
started up and shook his tomahawk menacingly in the direction of the
fort,--"both have been the victims of yon cold-blooded governor; but
the hour of our reckoning is at hand. Ellen," he fiercely added, "do
you recollect the curse you pronounced on the family of that haughty
man, when he slaughtered your Reginald. By Heaven! it shall be
fulfilled; but first shall the love I have so long borne the mother be
transferred to the child."

Again he sought to encircle the waist of her whom, in the strong
excitement of his rage, he had momentarily quitted; but the unutterable
disgust and horror produced in the mind of the unhappy Clara lent an
almost supernatural activity to her despair. She dexterously eluded his
grasp, gained her feet, and with tottering steps and outstretched arms
darted through the opening of the tent, and piteously exclaiming, "Save
me! oh, for God's sake, save me!" sank exhausted, and apparently
lifeless, on the chest of the prisoner without.

To such of our readers as, deceived by the romantic nature of the
attachment stated to have been originally entertained by Sir Everard
Valletort for the unseen sister of his friend, have been led to expect
a tale abounding in manifestations of its progress when the parties had
actually met, we at once announce disappointment. Neither the lover of
amorous adventure, nor the admirer of witty dialogue, should dive into
these pages. Room for the exercise of the invention might, it is true,
be found; but ours is a tale of sad reality, and our heroes and
heroines figure under circumstances that would render wit a satire upon
the understanding, and love a reflection upon the heart. Within the
bounds of probability have we, therefore, confined ourselves.

What the feelings of the young Baronet must have been, from the first
moment when he received from the hands of the unfortunate Captain
Baynton (who, although an officer of his own corps, was personally a
stranger to him,) that cherished sister of his friend, on whose ideal
form his excited imagination had so often latterly loved to linger, up
to the present hour, we should vainly attempt to paint. There are
emotions of the heart, it would be mockery in the pen to trace. From
the instant of his first contributing to preserve her life, on that
dreadful day of blood, to that when the schooner fell into the hands of
the savages, few words had passed between them, and these had reference
merely to the position in which they found themselves, and whenever Sir
Everard felt he could, without indelicacy or intrusion, render himself
in the slightest way serviceable to her. The very circumstances under
which they had met, conduced to the suppression, if not utter
extinction, of all of passion attached to the sentiment with which he
had been inspired. A new feeling had quickened in his breast; and it
was with emotions more assimilated to friendship than to love that he
now regarded the beautiful but sorrow-stricken sister of his bosom
friend. Still there was a softness, a purity, a delicacy and tenderness
in this new feeling, in which the influence of sex secretly though
unacknowledgedly predominated; and even while sensible it would have
been a profanation of every thing most sacred and delicate in nature to
have admitted a thought of love within his breast at such a moment, he
also felt he could have entertained a voluptuous joy in making any
sacrifice, even to the surrender of life itself, provided the
tranquillity of that gentle and suffering being could be by it ensured.

Clara, in her turn, had been in no condition to admit so exclusive a
power as that of love within her soul. She had, it is true, even amid
the desolation of her shattered spirit, recognised in the young officer
the original of a portrait so frequently drawn by her brother, and
dwelt on by herself. She acknowledged, moreover, the fidelity of the
painting: but however she might have felt and acted under different
circumstances, absorbed as was her heart, and paralysed her
imagination, by the harrowing scenes she had gone through, she, too,
had room but for one sentiment in her fainting soul, and that was
friendship for the friend of her brother; on whom, moreover, she
bestowed that woman's gratitude, which could not fail to be awakened by
a recollection of the risks he had encountered, conjointly with
Frederick, to save her from destruction. During their passage across
lake Huron, Sir Everard had usually taken his seat on the deck, at that
respectful distance which he conceived the delicacy of the position of
the unfortunate cousins demanded; but in such a manner that, while he
seemed wholly abstracted from them, his eye had more than once been
detected by Clara fixed on hers, with an affectionateness of interest
she could not avoid repaying with a glance of recognition and approval.
These, however, were the only indications of regard that had passed
between them.

If, however, a momentary and irrepressible flashing of that sentiment,
which had, at an earlier period, formed a portion of their imaginings,
did occasionally steal over their hearts while there was a prospect of
reaching their friends in safety, all manifestation of its power was
again finally suppressed when the schooner fell into the hands of the
savages. Become the immediate prisoners of Wacousta, they had been
surrendered to that ferocious chief to be dealt with as he might think
proper; and, on disembarking from the canoe in which their transit to
the main land had been descried that morning from the fort, had been
separated from their equally unfortunate and suffering companions.
Captain de Haldimar, Madeline, and the Canadian, were delivered over to
the custody of several choice warriors of the tribe in which Wacousta
was adopted; and, bound hand and foot, were, at that moment, in the war
tent of the fierce savage, which, as Ponteac had once boasted to the
governor, was every where hung around with human scalps, both of men,
of women, and of children. The object of this mysterious man, in
removing Clara to the spot we have described, was one well worthy of
his ferocious nature. His vengeance had already devoted her to
destruction; and it was within view of the fort, which contained the
father whom he loathed, he had resolved his purpose should be
accomplished. A refinement of cruelty, such as could scarcely have been
supposed to enter the breast even of such a remorseless savage as
himself, had caused him to convey to the same spot, him whom he rather
suspected than knew to be the lover of the young girl. It was with the
view of harrowing up the soul of one whom he had recognised as the
officer who had disabled him on the night of the rencontre on the
bridge, that he had bound Sir Everard to the tree, whence, as we have
already stated, he was a compelled spectator of every thing that passed
within the tent; and yet with that free action of limb which only
tended to tantalize him the more amid his unavailable efforts to rid
himself of his bonds,--a fact that proved not only the dire extent to
which the revenge of Wacousta could be carried, but the actual and
gratuitous cruelty of his nature.

One must have been similarly circumstanced, to understand all the agony
of the young man during this odious scene, and particularly at the
fierce and repeated declaration of the savage that Clara should be his
bride. More than once had he essayed to remove the ligatures which
confined his waist; but his unsuccessful attempts only drew an
occasional smile of derision from his enemy, as he glanced his eye
rapidly towards him. Conscious at length of the inutility of efforts,
which, without benefiting her for whom they were principally prompted,
rendered him in some degree ridiculous even in his own eyes, the
wretched Valletort desisted altogether, and with his head sunk upon his
chest, and his eyes closed, sought at least to shut out a scene which
blasted his sight, and harrowed up his very soul.

But when Clara, uttering her wild cry for protection, and rushing forth
from the tent, sank almost unconsciously in his embrace, a thrill of
inexplicable joy ran through each awakened fibre of his frame. Bending
eagerly forward, he had extended his arms to receive her; and when he
felt her light and graceful form pressing upon his own as its last
refuge--when he felt her heart beating against his--when he saw her
head drooping on his shoulder, in the wild recklessness of
despair,--even amid that scene of desolation and grief he could not
help enfolding her in tumultuous ecstasy to his breast. Every horrible
danger was for an instant forgotten in the soothing consciousness that
he at length encircled the form of her, whom in many an hour of
solitude he had thus pictured, although under far different
circumstances, reposing confidingly on him. There was delight mingled
with agony in his sensation of the wild throb of her bosom against his
own; and even while his soul fainted within him, as he reflected on the
fate that awaited her, he felt as if he could himself now die more
happily.

Momentary, however, was the duration of this scene. Furious with anger
at the evident disgust of his victim, Wacousta no sooner saw her sink
into the arms of her lover, than with that agility for which he was
remarkable he was again on his feet, and stood in the next instant at
her side. Uniting to the generous strength of his manhood all that was
wrung from his mingled love and despair, the officer clasped his hands
round the waist of the drooping Clara; and with clenched teeth, and
feet firmly set, seemed resolved to defy every effort of the warrior to
remove her. Not a word was uttered on either side; but in the fierce
smile that curled the lip of the savage, there spoke a language even
more terrible than the words that smile implied. Sir Everard could not
suppress an involuntary shudder; and when at length Wacousta, after a
short but violent struggle, succeeded in again securing and bearing off
his prize, the wretchedness of soul of the former was indescribable.

"You see 'tis vain to struggle against your destiny, Clara de
Haldimar," sneered the warrior. "Ours is but a rude nuptial couch, it
is true; but the wife of an Indian chief must not expect the luxuries
of Europe in the heart of an American wilderness."

"Almighty Heaven! where am I?" exclaimed the wretched girl, again
unclosing her eyes to all the horror of her position; for again she lay
at the side, and within the encircling arm, of her enemy. "Oh, Sir
Everard Valletort, I thought I was with you, and that you had saved me
from this monster. Where is my brother?--Where are Frederick and
Madeline?--Why have they deserted me?--Ah! my heart will break. I
cannot endure this longer, and live."

"Clara, Miss de Haldimar," groaned Sir Everard, in a voice of searching
agony; "could I lay down my life for you, I would; but you see these
bonds. Oh God! oh God! have pity on the innocent; and for once incline
the heart of yon fierce monster to the whisperings of mercy." As he
uttered the last sentence, he attempted to sink on his knees in
supplication to Him he addressed, but the tension of the cord prevented
him; yet were his hands clasped, and his eyes upraised to heaven, while
his countenance beamed with an expression of fervent enthusiasm.

"Peace, babbler! or, by Heaven! that prayer shall be your last,"
vociferated Wacousta. "But no," he pursued to himself, dropping at the
same time the point of his upraised tomahawk; "these are but the
natural writhings of the crushed worm; and the longer protracted they
are, the more complete will be my vengeance." Then turning to the
terrified girl,--"You ask, Clara de Haldimar, where you are? In the
tent of your mother's lover, I reply,--at the side of him who once
pressed her to his heart, even as I now press you, and with a fondness
that was only equalled by her own. Come, dear Clara," and his voice
assumed a tone of tenderness that was even more revolting than his
natural ferocity, "let me woo you to the affection she once possessed.
It was a heart of fire in which her image stood enshrined,--it is a
heart of fire still, and well worthy of her child."

"Never, never!" shrieked the agonised girl. "Kill me, murder me, if you
will; but oh! if you have pity, pollute not my ear with the avowal of
your detested love. But again I repeat, it is false that my mother ever
knew you. She never could have loved so fierce, so vindictive a being
as yourself."

"Ha! do you doubt me still?" sternly demanded the savage. Then drawing
the shuddering girl still closer to his vast chest,--"Come hither,
Clara, while to convince you I unfold the sad history of my life, and
tell you more of your parents than you have ever known. When," he
pursued solemnly, "you have learnt the extent of my love for the one,
and of my hatred for the other, and the wrongs I have endured from
both, you will no longer wonder at the spirit of mingled love and
vengeance that dictates my conduct towards yourself. Listen, girl," he
continued fiercely, "and judge whether mine are injuries to be tamely
pardoned, when a whole life has been devoted to the pursuit of the
means of avenging them."

Irresistibly led by a desire to know what possible connection could
have existed between her parents and this singular and ferocious man,
the wretched girl gave her passive assent. She even hoped that, in the
course of his narrative, some softening recollections would pass over
his mind, the effect of which might be to predispose him to mercy.
Wacousta buried his face for a few moments in his large hand, as if
endeavouring to collect and concentrate the remembrances of past years.
His countenance, meanwhile, had undergone a change; for there was now a
shade of melancholy mixed with the fierceness of expression usually
observable there. This, however, was dispelled in the course of his
narrative, and as various opposite passions were in turn powerfully and
severally developed.



CHAPTER VIII.

"It is now four and twenty years," commenced Wacousta, "since your
father and myself first met as subalterns in the regiment he now
commands, when, unnatural to say, an intimacy suddenly sprang up
between us which, as it was then to our brother officers, has since
been a source of utter astonishment to myself. Unnatural, I repeat, for
fire and ice are not more opposite than were the elements of which our
natures were composed. He, all coldness, prudence, obsequiousness, and
forethought. I, all enthusiasm, carelessness, impetuosity, and
independence. Whether this incongruous friendship--friendship! no, I
will not so far sully the sacred name as thus to term the unnatural
union that subsisted between us;--whether this intimacy, then, sprang
from the adventitious circumstance of our being more frequently thrown
together as officers of the same company,--for we were both attached to
the grenadiers,--or that my wild spirit was soothed by the bland
amenity of his manners, I know not. The latter, however, is not
improbable; for proud, and haughty, and dignified, as the colonel NOW
is, such was not THEN the character of the ensign; who seemed thrown
out of one of Nature's supplest moulds, to fawn, and cringe, and worm
his way to favour by the wily speciousness of his manners. Oh God!"
pursued Wacousta, after a momentary pause, and striking his palm
against his forehead, "that I ever should have been the dupe of such a
cold-blooded hypocrite!

"I have said our intimacy excited surprise among our brother officers.
It did; for all understood and read the character of your father, who
was as much disliked and distrusted for the speciousness of his false
nature, as I was generally esteemed for the frankness and warmth of
mine. No one openly censured the evident preference I gave him in my
friendship; but we were often sarcastically termed the Pylades and
Orestes of the regiment, until my heart was ready to leap into my
throat with impatience at the bitterness in which the taunt was
conceived; and frequently in my presence was allusion made to the blind
folly of him, who should take a cold and slimy serpent to his bosom
only to feel its fangs darted into it at the moment when most fostered
by its genial heat. All, however, was in vain. On a nature like mine,
innuendo was likely to produce an effect directly opposite to that
intended; and the more I found them inclined to be severe on him I
called my friend, the more marked became my preference. I even fancied
that because I was rich, generous, and heir to a title, their
observations were prompted by jealousy of the influence he possessed
over me, and a desire to supplant him only for their interests' sake.
Bitterly have I been punished for the illiberality of such an opinion.
Those to whom I principally allude were the subalterns of the regiment,
most of whom were nearly of our own age. One or two of the junior
captains were also of this number; but, by the elders (as we termed the
seniors of that rank) and field officers, Ensign de Haldimar was always
regarded as a most prudent and promising young officer.

"What conduced, in a great degree, to the establishment of our intimacy
was the assistance I always received from my brother subaltern in
whatever related to my military duties. As the lieutenant of the
company, the more immediate responsibility attached to myself; but
being naturally of a careless habit, or perhaps considering all duty
irksome to my impatient nature that was not duty in the field, I was
but too often guilty of neglecting it. On these occasions my absence
was ever carefully supplied by your father, who, in all the minutiae of
regimental economy, was surpassed by no other officer in the corps; so
that credit was given to me, when, at the ordinary inspections, the
grenadiers were acknowledged to be the company the most perfect in
equipment and skilful in manoeuvre. Deeply, deeply," again mused
Wacousta, "have these services been repaid.

"As you have just learnt, Cornwall is the country of my birth. I was
the eldest of the only two surviving children of a large family; and,
as heir to the baronetcy of the proud Mortons, was looked up to by lord
and vassal as the future perpetuator of the family name. My brother had
been designed for the army; but as this was a profession to which I had
attached my inclinations, the point was waved in my favour, and at the
age of eighteen I first joined the ---- regiment, then quartered in the
Highlands of Scotland. During my boyhood I had ever accustomed myself
to athletic exercises, and loved to excite myself by encountering
danger in its most terrific forms. Often had I passed whole days in
climbing the steep and precipitous crags which overhang the sea in the
neighbourhood of Morton Castle, ostensibly in the pursuit of the heron
or the seagull, but self-acknowledgedly for the mere pleasure of
grappling with the difficulties they opposed to me. Often, too, in the
most terrific tempests, when sea and sky have met in one black and
threatening mass, and when the startled fishermen have in vain
attempted to dissuade me from my purpose, have I ventured, in sheer
bravado, out of sight of land, and unaccompanied by a human soul. Then,
when wind and tide have been against me on my return, have I, with my
simple sculls alone, caused my faithful bark to leap through the
foaming brine as though a press of canvass had impelled her on. Oh,
that this spirit of adventure had never grown with my growth and
strengthened with my strength!" sorrowfully added the warrior, again
apostrophising himself: "then had I never been the wretch I am.

"The wild daring by which my boyhood had been marked was again
powerfully awakened by the bold and romantic scenery of the Scottish
Highlands; and as the regiment was at that time quartered in a part of
these mountainous districts, where, from the disturbed nature of the
times, society was difficult of attainment, many of the officers were
driven from necessity, as I was from choice, to indulge in the sports
of the chase. On one occasion a party of four of us set out early in
the morning in pursuit of deer, numbers of which we knew were to be met
with in the mountainous tracts of Bute and Argyleshire. The course we
happened to take lay through a succession of dark deep glens, and over
frowning rocks; the difficulties of access to which only stirred up my
dormant spirit of enterprise the more. We had continued in this course
for many hours, overcoming one difficulty only to be encountered by
another, and yet without meeting a single deer; when, at length, the
faint blast of a horn was heard far above our heads in the distance,
and presently a noble stag was seen to ascend a ledge of rocks
immediately in front of us. To raise my gun to my shoulder and fire was
the work of a moment, after which we all followed in pursuit. On
reaching the spot where the deer had first been seen, we observed
traces of blood, satisfying us he had been wounded; but the course
taken in his flight was one that seemed to defy every human effort to
follow in. It was a narrow pointed ledge, ascending boldly towards a
huge cliff that projected frowningly from the extreme summit, and on
either side lay a dark, deep, and apparently fathomless ravine; to look
even on which was sufficient to appal the stoutest heart, and unnerve
the steadiest brain. For me, however, long accustomed to dangers of the
sort, it had no terror. This was a position in which I had often wished
once more to find myself placed, and I felt buoyant and free as the
deer itself I intended to pursue. In vain did my companions (and your
father was one) implore me to abandon a project so wild and hazardous.
I bounded forward, and they turned shuddering away, that their eyes
might not witness the destruction that awaited me. Meanwhile, balancing
my long gun in my upraised hands, I trod the dangerous path with a
buoyancy and elasticity of limb, a lightness of heart, and a
fearlessness of consequences, that surprised even myself. Perhaps it
was to the latter circumstance I owed my safety, for a single doubt of
my security might have impelled a movement that would not have failed
to have precipitated me into the yawning gulf below. I had proceeded in
this manner about five hundred yards, when I came to the termination of
the ledge, from the equally narrow transverse extremity of which
branched out three others; the whole contributing to form a figure
resembling that of a trident. Pausing here for a moment, I applied the
hunting horn, with which I was provided, to my lips. This signal,
announcing my safety, was speedily returned by my friends below in a
cheering and lively strain, that seemed to express at once surprise and
satisfaction; and inspirited by the sound, I prepared to follow up my
perilous chase. Along the ledge I had quitted I had remarked occasional
traces where the stricken deer had passed; and the same blood-spots now
directed me at a point where, but for these, I must have been utterly
at fault. The centre of these new ridges, and the narrowest, was that
taken by the animal, and on that I once more renewed my pursuit. As I
continued to advance I found the ascent became more precipitous, and
the difficulties opposed to my progress momentarily more multiplied.
Still, nothing daunted, I continued my course towards the main body of
rock that now rose within a hundred yards. How this was to be gained I
knew not; for it shelved out abruptly from the extreme summit,
overhanging the abyss, and presenting an appearance which I cannot more
properly render than by comparing it to the sounding-boards placed over
the pulpits of our English churches. Still I was resolved to persevere
to the close, and I but too unhappily succeeded." Again Wacousta
paused. A tear started to his eye, but this he impatiently brushed away
with his swarthy hand.

"It was evident to me," he again resumed, "that there must be some
opening through which the deer had effected his escape to the
precipitous height above; and I felt a wild and fearful triumph in
following him to his cover, over passes which it was my pleasure to
think none of the hardy mountaineers themselves would have dared to
venture upon with impunity. I paused not to consider of the difficulty
of bearing away my prize, even if I succeeded in overtaking it. At
every step my excitement and determination became stronger, and I felt
every fibre of my frame to dilate, as when, in my more boyish days, I
used to brave, in my gallant skiff, the mingled fury of the warring
elements of sea and storm. Suddenly, while my mind was intent only on
the dangers I used then to hold in such light estimation, I found my
further progress intercepted by a fissure in the crag. It was not the
width of this opening that disconcerted me, for it exceeded not ten
feet; but I came upon it so unadvisedly, that, in attempting to check
my forward motion, I had nearly lost my equipoise, and fallen into the
abyss that now yawned before and on either side of me. To pause upon
the danger, would, I felt, be to ensure it. Summoning all my dexterity
into a single bound, I cleared the chasm; and with one buskined foot
(for my hunting costume was strictly Highland) clung firmly to the
ledge, while I secured my balance with the other. At this point the
rock became gradually broader, so that I now trod the remainder of the
rude path in perfect security, until I at length found myself close to
the vast mass of which these ledges were merely ramifications or veins:
but still I could discover no outlet by which the wounded deer could
have escaped. While I lingered, thoughtfully, for a moment, half in
disappointment, half in anger, and with my back leaning against the
rock, I fancied I heard a rustling, as of the leaves and branches of
underwood, on that part which projected like a canopy, far above the
abyss. I bent my eye eagerly and fixedly on the spot whence the sound
proceeded, and presently could distinguish the blue sky appearing
through an aperture, to which was, the instant afterwards, applied what
I conceived to be a human face. No sooner, however, was it seen than
withdrawn; and then the rustling of leaves was heard again, and all was
still as before.

"Why did my evil genius so will it," resumed Wacousta, after another
pause, during which he manifested deep emotion, "that I should have
heard those sounds and seen that face? But for these I should have
returned to my companions, and my life might have been the life--the
plodding life--of the multitude; things that are born merely to crawl
through existence and die, knowing not at the moment of death why or
how they have lived at all. But who may resist the destiny that
presides over him from the cradle to the grave? for, although the mass
may be, and are, unworthy of the influencing agency of that Unseen
Power, who will presume to deny there are those on whom it stamps its
iron seal, even from the moment of their birth to that which sees all
that is mortal of them consigned to the tomb? What was it but destiny
that whispered to me what I had seen was the face of a woman? I had not
traced a feature, nor could I distinctly state that it was a human
countenance I had beheld; but mine was ever an imagination into which
the wildest improbability was scarce admitted that it did not grow into
conviction in the instant.

"A new direction was now given to my feelings. I felt a presentiment
that my adventure, if prosecuted, would terminate in some extraordinary
and characteristic manner; and obeying, as I ever did, the first
impulse of my heart, I prepared to grapple once more with the
difficulties that yet remained to be surmounted. In order to do this,
it was necessary that my feet and hands should be utterly without
incumbrance; for it was only by dint of climbing that I could expect to
reach that part of the projecting rock to which my attention had been
directed. Securing my gun between some twisted roots that grew out of
and adhered to the main body of the rock, I commenced the difficult
ascent; and, after considerable effort, found myself at length
immediately under the aperture. My progress along the lower superficies
of this projection was like that of a crawling reptile. My back hung
suspended over the chasm, into which one false movement of hand or
foot, one yielding of the roots entwined in the rock, must inevitably
have precipitated me; and, while my toes wormed themselves into the
tortuous fibres of the latter, I passed hand over hand beyond my head,
until I had arrived within a foot or two of the point I desired to
reach. Here, however, a new difficulty occurred. A slight projection of
the rock, close to the aperture, impeded my further progress in the
manner hitherto pursued; and, to pass this, I was compelled to drop my
whole weight, suspended by one vigorous arm, while, with the other, I
separated the bushes that concealed the opening. A violent exertion of
every muscle now impelled me upward, until at length I had so far
succeeded as to introduce my head and shoulders through the aperture;
after which my final success was no longer doubtful. If I have been
thus minute in the detail of the dangerous nature of this passage,"
continued Wacousta, gloomily, "it is not without reason. I would have
you to impress the whole of the localities upon your imagination, that
you may the better comprehend, from a knowledge of the risks I
incurred, how little I have merited the injuries under which I have
writhed for years."

Again one of those painful pauses with which his narrative was so often
broken, occurred; and, with an energy that terrified her whom he
addressed, Wacousta pursued--"Clara de Haldimar, it was here--in this
garden--this paradise--this oasis of the rocks in which I now found
myself, that I first saw and loved your mother. Ha! you start: you
believe me now.--Loved her!" he continued, after another short
pause--"oh, what a feeble word is love to express the concentration of
mighty feelings that flowed like burning lava through my veins! Who
shall pretend to give a name to the emotion that ran thrillingly--madly
through my excited frame, when first I gazed on her, who, in every
attribute of womanly beauty, realised all my fondest fancy ever
painted?--Listen to me, Clara," he pursued, in a fiercer tone, and with
a convulsive pressure of the form he still encircled:--"If, in my
younger days, my mind was alive to enterprise, and loved to contemplate
danger in its most appalling forms, this was far from being the master
passion of my soul; nay, it was the strong necessity I felt of pouring
into some devoted bosom the overflowing fulness of my heart, that made
me court in solitude those positions of danger with which the image of
woman was ever associated. How often, while tossed by the raging
elements, now into the blue vault of heaven, now into the lowest gulfs
of the sea, have I madly wished to press to my bounding bosom the being
of my fancy's creation, who, all enamoured and given to her love,
should, even amid the danger that environed her, be alive but to one
consciousness,--that of being with him on whom her life's hope alone
reposed! How often, too, while bending over some dark and threatening
precipice, or standing on the utmost verge of some tall projecting
cliff, my aching head (aching with the intenseness of its own
conceptions) bared to the angry storm, and my eye fixed unshrinkingly
on the boiling ocean far beneath my feet, has my whole soul--my every
faculty, been bent on that ideal beauty which controlled every sense!
Oh, imagination, how tyrannical is thy sway--how exclusive thy
power--how insatiable thy thirst! Surrounded by living beauty, I was
insensible to its influence; for, with all the perfection that reality
can attain on earth, there was ever to be found some deficiency, either
physical or moral, that defaced the symmetry and destroyed the
loveliness of the whole; but, no sooner didst thou, with magic wand,
conjure up one of thy embodiments, than my heart became a sea of flame,
and was consumed in the vastness of its own fires.

"It was in vain that my family sought to awaken me to a sense of the
acknowledged loveliness of the daughters of more than one ancient house
in the county, with one of whom an alliance was, in many respects,
considered desirable. Their beauty, or rather their whole, was
insufficient to stir up into madness the dormant passions of my nature;
and although my breast was like a glowing furnace, in which fancy cast
all the more exciting images of her coinage to secure the last impress
of the heart's approval, my outward deportment to some of the fairest
and loveliest of earth's realities was that of one on whom the
influence of woman's beauty could have no power. From my earliest
boyhood I had loved to give the rein to these feelings, until they at
length rendered me their slave. Woman was the idol that lay enshrined
within my inmost heart; but it was woman such as I had not yet met
with, yet felt must somewhere exist in the creation. For her I could
have resigned title, fortune, family, every thing that is dear to man,
save the life, through which alone the reward of such sacrifice could
have been tasted, and to this phantom I had already yielded up all the
manlier energies of my nature; but, deeply as I felt the necessity of
loving something less unreal, up to the moment of my joining the
regiment, my heart had never once throbbed for created woman.

"I have already said that, on gaining the summit of the rock, I found
myself in a sort of oasis of the mountains. It was so. Belted on every
hand by bold and precipitous crags, that seemed to defy the approach
even of the wildest animals, and putting utterly at fault the
penetration and curiosity of man, was spread a carpet of verdure, a
luxuriance of vegetation, that might have put to shame the fertility of
the soft breeze-nourished valleys of Italy and Southern France. Time,
however, is not given me to dwell on the mingled beauty and wildness of
a scene, so consonant with my ideas of the romantic and the
picturesque. Let me rather recur to her (although my heart be lacerated
once more in the recollection) who was the presiding deity of the
whole,--the being after whom, had I had the fabled power of Prometheus,
I should have formed and animated the sharer of that sweet wild
solitude, nor once felt that fancy, to whom I was so largely a debtor,
had in aught been cheated of what she had, for a series of years, so
rigidly claimed.

"At about twenty yards from the aperture, and on a bank, formed of
turf, covered with moss, and interspersed with roses and honeysuckles,
sat this divinity of the oasis. She, too, was clad in the Highland
dress, which gave an air of wildness and elegance to her figure that
was in classic harmony with the surrounding scenery. At the moment of
my appearance she was in the act of dressing the wounded shoulder of a
stag, that had recently been shot; and from the broad tartan riband I
perceived attached to its neck, added to the fact of the tameness of
the animal, I presumed that this stag, evidently a favourite of its
mistress, was the same I had fired at and wounded. The rustling I made
among the bushes had attracted her attention; she raised her eyes from
the deer, and, beholding me, started to her feet, uttering a cry of
terror and surprise. Fearing to speak, as if the sound of my own voice
were sufficient to dispel the illusion that fascinated both eye and
heart into delicious tension on her form, yet with my soul kindled into
all that wild uncontrollable love which had been the accumulation of
years of passionate imagining, I stood for some moments as motionless
as the rock out of which I appeared to grow. It seemed as though I had
not the power to think or act, so fully was every faculty of my being
filled with the consciousness that I at length gazed upon her I was
destined to love for ever.

"It was this utter immobility on my own part, that ensured me a
continuance of the exquisite happiness I then enjoyed. The first
movement of the startled girl had been to fly towards her dwelling,
which stood at a short distance, half imbedded in the same clustering
roses and honey-suckles that adorned her bank of moss; but when she
remarked my utter stillness, and apparent absence of purpose, she
checked the impulse that would have directed her departure, and
stopped, half in curiosity, half in fear, to examine me once more. At
that moment all my energies appeared to be restored; I threw myself
into an attitude expressive of deep contrition for the intrusion of
which I had been unconsciously guilty, and dropping on one knee, and
raising my clasped hands, inclined them towards her in token of mingled
deprecation of her anger, and respectful homage to herself. At first
she hesitated,--then gradually and timidly retrod her way to the seat
she had so abruptly quitted in her alarm. Emboldened by this movement,
I made a step or two in advance, but no sooner had I done so than she
again took to flight. Once more, however, she turned to behold me, and
again I had dropped on my knee, and was conjuring her, with the same
signs, to remain and bless me with her presence. Again she returned to
her seat, and again I advanced. Scarcely less timid, however, than the
deer, which followed her every movement, she fled a third time,--a
third time looked back, and was again induced, by my supplicating
manner, to return. Frequently was this repeated, before I finally found
myself at the feet, and pressing the hand--(oh God! what torture in the
recollection!)--yes, pressing the hand of her for whose smile I would,
even at that moment, have sacrificed my soul; and every time she fled,
the classic disposition of her graceful limbs, and her whole natural
attitude of alarm, could only be compared with those of one of the
huntresses of Diana, intruded on in her woodland privacy by the
unhallowed presence of some daring mortal. Such was your mother, Clara
de Haldimar; yes, even such as I have described her was Clara Beverley."

Again Wacousta paused, and his pause was longer than usual, as, with
his large hand again covering his face, he seemed endeavouring to
master the feelings which these recollections had called up. Clara
scarcely breathed. Unmindful of her own desolate position, her soul was
intent only on a history that related so immediately to her beloved
mother, of whom all that she had hitherto known was, that she was a
native of Scotland, and that her father had married her while quartered
in that country. The deep emotion of the terrible being before her, so
often manifested in the course of what he had already given of his
recital, added to her knowledge of the facts just named, scarcely left
a doubt of the truth of his statement on her mind. Her ear was now bent
achingly towards him, in expectation of a continuance of his history,
but he still remained in the same attitude of absorption. An
irresistible impulse caused her to extend her hand, and remove his own
from his eyes: they were filled with tears; and even while her mind
rapidly embraced the hope that this manifestation of tenderness was but
the dawning of mercy towards the children of her he had once loved, her
kind nature could not avoid sympathizing with him, whose uncouthness of
appearance and savageness of nature was, in some measure, lost sight of
in the fact of the powerful love he yet apparently acknowledged.

But no sooner did Wacousta feel the soft pressure of her hand, and meet
her eyes turned on his with an expression of interest, than the most
rapid transition was effected in his feelings. He drew the form of the
weakly resisting girl closer to his heart; again imprinted a kiss upon
her lips; and then, while every muscle in his iron frame seemed
quivering with emotion, exclaimed,--"By Heaven! that touch, that
glance, were Clara Beverley's all over! Oh, let me linger on the
recollection, even such as they were, when her arms first opened to
receive me in that sweet oasis of the Highlands. Yes, Clara," he
proceeded more deliberately, as he scanned her form with an eye that
made her shudder, "such as your mother was, so are you; the same
delicacy of proportion; the same graceful curvature of limb, only less
rounded, less womanly. But you must be younger by about two years than
she then was. Your age cannot exceed seventeen; and time will supply
what your mere girlhood renders you deficient in."

There was a cool licence of speech--a startling freedom of manner--in
the latter part of this address, that disappointed not less than it
pained and offended the unhappy Clara. It seemed to her as if the
illusion she had just created, were already dispelled by his language,
even as her own momentary interest in the fierce man had also been
destroyed from the same cause. She shuddered; and sighing bitterly,
suffered her tears to force themselves through her closed lids upon her
pallid cheek. This change in her appearance seemed to act as a check on
the temporary excitement of Wacousta. Again obeying one of these rapid
transitions of feeling, for which he was remarkable, he once more
assumed an expression of seriousness, and thus continued his narrative.



CHAPTER IX.

"It boots not now, Clara, to enter upon all that succeeded to my first
introduction to your mother. It would take long to relate, not the
gradations of our passion, for that was like the whirlwind of the
desert, sudden and devastating from the first; but the burning vow, the
plighted faith, the reposing confidence, the unchecked abandonment that
flew from the lips, and filled the heart of each, sealed, as they were,
with kisses, long, deep, enervating, even such as I had ever pictured
that divine pledge of human affection should be. Yes, Clara de
Haldimar, your mother was the child of nature THEN. Unspoiled by the
forms, unvitiated by the sophistries of a world with which she had
never mixed, her intelligent innocence made the most artless avowals to
my enraptured ear,--avowals that the more profligate minded woman of
society would have blushed to whisper even to herself. And for these I
loved her to my own undoing.

"Blind vanity, inconceivable folly!" continued Wacousta, again pressing
his forehead with force; "how could I be so infatuated as not to
perceive, that although her heart was filled with a new and delicious
passion, it was less the individual than the man she loved. And how
could it be otherwise, since I was the first, beside her father, she
had ever seen or recollected to have seen? Still, Clara de Haldimar,"
he pursued, with haughty energy, "I was not always the rugged being I
now appear. Of surpassing strength I had ever been, and fleet of foot,
but not then had I attained to my present gigantic stature; neither was
my form endowed with the same Herculean rudeness; nor did my complexion
wear the swarthy hue of the savage; nor had my features been rendered
repulsive, from the perpetual action of those fierce passions which
have since assailed my soul. My physical faculties had not yet been
developed to their present grossness of maturity, neither had my moral
energies acquired that tone of ferocity which often renders me hideous,
even in my own eyes. In a word, the milk of my nature (for, with all my
impetuosity of character, I was generous-hearted and kind) had not yet
been turned to gall by villainy and deceit. My form had then all that
might attract--my manners all that might win--my enthusiasm of speech
all that might persuade--and my heart all that might interest a girl
fashioned after nature's manner, and tutored in nature's school. In the
regiment, I was called the handsome grenadier; but there was another
handsomer than I,--a sly, insidious, wheedling, false, remorseless
villain. That villain, Clara de Haldimar, was your father.

"But wherefore," continued Wacousta, chafing with the recollection,
"wherefore do I, like a vain and puling schoolboy, enter into this
abasing contrast of personal advantages? The proud eagle soars not more
above the craven kite, than did my soul, in all that was manly and
generous, above that of yon false governor; and who should have prized
those qualities, if it were not the woman who, bred in solitude, and
taught by fancy to love all that was generous and noble in the heart of
man, should have considered mere beauty of feature as dust in the
scale, when opposed to sentiments which can invest even deformity with
loveliness? In all this I may appear vain; I am only just.

"I have said that your mother had been brought up in solitude, and
without having seen the face of another man than her father. Such was
the case;--Colonel Beverley, of English name, but Scottish connections,
was an old gentleman of considerable eccentricity of character. He had
taken a part in the rebellion of 1715; but sick and disgusted with an
issue by which his fortunes had been affected, and heart-broken by the
loss of a beloved wife, whose death had been accelerated by
circumstances connected with the disturbed nature of the times, he had
resolved to bury himself and child in some wild, where the face of man,
whom he loathed, might no more offend his sight. This oasis of the
mountains was the spot selected for his purpose; for he had discovered
it some years previously, on an occasion, when, closely pursued by some
of the English troops, and separated from his followers, he had only
effected his escape by venturing on the ledges of rock I have already
described. After minute subsequent search, at the opposite extremity of
the oblong belt of rocks that shut it in on every hand, he had
discovered an opening, through which the transport of such necessaries
as were essential to his object might be effected; and, causing one of
his dwelling houses to be pulled down, he had the materials carried
across the rocks on the shoulders of the men employed to re-erect them
in his chosen solitude. A few months served to complete these
arrangements, which included a garden abounding in every fruit and
flower that could possibly live in so elevated a region; and; this, in
time, under his own culture, and that of his daughter, became the Eden
it first appeared to me.

"Previous to their entering on this employment, the workmen had been
severally sworn to secrecy; and when all was declared ready for his
reception, the colonel summoned them a second time to his presence;
when, after making a handsome present to each, in addition to his hire,
he found no difficulty in prevailing on them to renew their oath that
they would preserve the most scrupulous silence in regard to the place
of his retreat. He then took advantage of a dark and tempestuous night
to execute his project; and, attended only by an old woman and her
daughter, faithful dependants of the family, set out in quest of his
new abode, leaving all his neighbours to discuss and marvel at the
singularity of his disappearance. True to his text, however, not even a
boy was admitted into his household: and here they had continued to
live, unseeing and unseen by man, except when a solitary and distant
mountaineer occasionally flitted among the rocks below in pursuit of
his game. Fruits and vegetables composed their principal diet; but once
a fortnight the old woman was dispatched through the opening already
mentioned, which was at other times so secured by her master, that no
hand but his own could remove the intricate fastenings. This expedition
had for its object the purchase of bread and animal food at the nearest
market; and every time she sallied forth an oath was administered to
the crone, the purport of which was, not only that she would return,
unless prevented by violence or death, but that she would not answer
any questions put to her, as to who she was, whence she came, or for
whom the fruits of her marketing were intended.

"Meanwhile, wrapped up in his books, which were chiefly classic
authors, or writers on abstruse sciences, the misanthropical colonel
paid little or no attention to the cultivation of the intellect of his
daughter, whom he had merely instructed in the elementary branches of
education; in all which, however, she evinced an aptitude and
perfectability that indicated quickness of genius and a capability of
far higher attainments. Books he principally withheld from her, because
they brought the image of man, whom he hated, and wished she should
also hate, too often in flattering colours before her; and had any work
treating of love been found to have crept accidentally into his own
collection, it would instantly and indignantly have been committed to
the flames.

"Thus left to the action of her own heart--the guidance of her own
feelings--it was but natural your mother should have suffered her
imagination to repose on an ideal happiness, which, although in some
degree destitute of shape and character, was still powerfully felt.
Nature is too imperious a law-giver to be thwarted in her dictates; and
however we may seek to stifle it, her inextinguishable voice will make
itself heard, whether it be in the lonely desert or in the crowded
capital. Possessed of a glowing heart and warm sensibilities, Clara
Beverley felt the energies of her being had not been given to her to be
wasted on herself. In her dreams by night, and her thoughts by day, she
had pictured a being endowed with those attributes which were the fruit
of her own fertility of conception. If she plucked a flower, (and all
this she admitted at our first interview," groaned Wacousta,) "she was
sensible of the absence of one to whom that flower might be given. If
she gazed at the star-studded canopy of heaven, or bent her head over
the frowning precipices by which she was every where surrounded, she
felt the absence of him with whom she could share the enthusiasm
excited by the contemplation of the one, and to whom she could impart
the mingled terror and admiration produced by the dizzying depths of
the other. What dear acknowledgments (alas! too deceitful,) flowed from
her guileless lips, even during that first interview. With a candour
and unreservedness that spring alone from unsophisticated manners and
an untainted heart, she admitted, that the instant she beheld me, she
felt she had found the being her fancy had been so long tutored to
linger on, and her heart to love. She was sure I was come to be her
husband (for she had understood from her aged attendant that a man who
loved a woman wished to be her husband); and she was glad her pet stag
had been wounded, since it had been the means of procuring her such
happiness. She was not cruel enough to take pleasure in the sufferings
of the poor animal; for she would nurse it, and it would soon be well
again; but she could not help rejoicing in its disaster, since that
circumstance had been the cause of my finding her out, and loving her
even as she loved me. And all this was said with her head reclining on
my chest, and her beautiful countenance irradiated with a glow that had
something divine in the simplicity of purpose it expressed.

"On my demanding to know whether it was not her face I had seen at the
opening in the cliff, she replied that it was. Her stag often played
the truant, and passed whole hours away from her, rambling beyond the
precincts of the solitude that contained its mistress; but no sooner
was the small silver bugle, which she wore across her shoulder, applied
to her lips, than 'Fidelity' (thus she had named him) was certain to
obey the call, and to come bounding up the line of cliff to the main
rock, into which it effected its entrance at a point that had escaped
my notice. It was her bugle I had heard in the course of my pursuit of
the animal; and, from the aperture through which I had effected my
entrance, she had looked out to see who was the audacious hunter she
had previously observed threading a passage, along which her stag
itself never appeared without exciting terror in her bosom. The first
glimpse she had caught of my form was at the moment when, after having
sounded my own bugle, I cleared the chasm; and this was a leap she had
so often trembled to see taken by 'Fidelity,' that she turned away and
shuddered when she saw it fearlessly adventured on by a human being. A
feeling of curiosity had afterwards induced her to return and see if
the bold hunter had cleared the gulf, or perished in his mad attempt;
but when she looked outward from the highest pinnacle of her rocky
prison, she could discover no traces of him whatever. It then occurred
to her, that, if successful in his leap, his progress must have been
finally arrested by the impassable rock that terminated the ridge; in
which case she might perchance obtain a nearer sight of his person.
With this view she had removed the bushes enshrouding the aperture;
and, bending low to the earth, thrust her head partially through it.
Scarcely had she done so, however, when she beheld me immediately,
though far beneath her, with my back reposing against the rock, and my
eyes apparently fixed on hers.

"Filled with a variety of opposite sentiments, among which unfeigned
alarm was predominant, she had instantaneously removed her head; and,
closing the aperture as noiselessly as possible, returned to the
moss-covered seat on which I had first surprised her; where, while she
applied dressings of herbs to the wound of her favourite, she suffered
her mind to ruminate on the singularity of the appearance of a man so
immediately in the vicinity of their retreat. The supposed
impracticability of the ascent I had accomplished, satisfied, even
while (as she admitted) it disappointed her. I must of necessity
retrace my way over the dangerous ridge. Great, therefore, was her
surprise, when, after having been attracted by the rustling noise of
the bushes over the aperture, she presently saw the figure of the same
hunter emerge from the abyss it overhung. Terror had winged her flight;
but it was terror mingled with a delicious emotion entirely new to her.
It was that emotion, momentarily increasing in power, that induced her
to pause, look back, hesitate in her course, and finally be won, by my
supplicating manner, to return and bless me with her presence.

"Two long and delicious hours," pursued Wacousta, after another painful
pause of some moments, "did we pass in this manner; exchanging thought,
and speech, and heart, as if the term of our acquaintance had been
coeval with the first dawn of our intellectual life; when suddenly a
small silver toned bell was heard from the direction of the house, hid
from the spot--on which we sat by the luxuriant foliage of an
intervening laburnum. This sound seemed to dissipate the dreamy calm
that had wrapped the soul of your mother into forgetfulness. She
started suddenly up, and bade me, if I loved her, begone; as that bell
announced her required attendance on her father, who, now awakened from
the mid-day slumber in which he ever indulged, was about to take his
accustomed walk around the grounds; which was little else, in fact,
than a close inspection of the walls of his natural castle. I rose to
obey her; our eyes met, and she threw herself into my extended arms. We
whispered anew our vows of eternal love. She called me her husband, and
I pronounced the endearing name of wife. A burning kiss sealed the
compact; and, on her archly observing that the sleep of her father
continued about two hours at noon, and that the old woman and her
daughter were always occupied within doors, I promised to repeat my
visit every second day until she finally quitted her retreat to be my
own for life. Again the bell was rung; and this time with a violence
that indicated impatience of delay. I tore myself from her arms, darted
to the aperture, and kissing my hand in reply to the graceful waving of
her scarf as she half turned in her own flight, sunk finally from her
view; and at length, after making the same efforts, and mastering the
same obstacles that had marked and opposed my advance, once more found
myself at the point whence I had set out in pursuit of the wounded deer.

"Many were the congratulations I received from my companions, whom I
found waiting my return. They had endured the three hours of my absence
with intolerable anxiety and alarm; until, almost despairing of
beholding me again, they had resolved on going back without me. They
said they had repeatedly sounded their horns; but meeting with no
answer from mine, had been compelled to infer either that I had strayed
to a point whence return to them was impracticable, or that I must have
perished in the abyss. I readily gave in to the former idea; stating I
had been led by the traces of the wounded deer to a considerable
distance, and over passes which it had proved a work of time and
difficulty to surmount, yet without securing my spoil. All this time
there was a glow of animation on my cheek, and a buoyancy of spirit in
my speech, that accorded ill, the first, with the fatigue one might
have been supposed to experience in so perilous a chase; the second,
with the disappointment attending its result. Your father, ever cool
and quick of penetration, was the first to observe this; and when he
significantly remarked, that, to judge from my satisfied countenance,
my time had been devoted to the pursuit of more interesting game, I
felt for a moment as if he was actually master of my secret, and was
sensible my features underwent a change. I, however, parried the
attack, by replying indifferently, that if he should have the hardihood
to encounter the same dangers, he would, if successful, require no
other prompter than the joy of self-preservation to lend the same glow
of satisfaction to his own features. Nothing further was said on the
subject; but conversing on indifferent topics, we again threaded the
mazes of rock and underwood we had passed at an early hour, and finally
gained the town in which we were quartered.

"During dinner, as on our way home, although my voice occasionally
mixed with the voices of my companions, my heart was far away, and full
of the wild but innocent happiness in which it had luxuriated. At
length, the more freely to indulge in the recollection, I stole at an
early hour from the mess-room, and repaired to my own apartments. In
the course of the morning, I had hastily sketched an outline of your
mother's features in pencil, with a view to assist me in the design of
a miniature I purposed painting from memory. This was an amusement of
which I was extremely and in which I had attained considerable
excellence; being enabled, from memory alone, to give a most correct
representation of any object that particularly fixed my attention. She
had declared utter ignorance of the art herself, her father having
studiously avoided instructing her in it from some unexplained motive;
yet as she expressed the most unbounded admiration of those who
possessed it, it was my intention to surprise her with a highly
finished likeness of herself at my next visit. With this view I now set
to work; and made such progress, that before I retired to rest I had
completed all but the finishing touches, to which I purposed devoting a
leisure hour or two by daylight on the morrow.

"While occupied the second day in its completion, it occurred to me I
was in orders for duty on the following, which was that of my promised
visit to the oasis; and I despatched my servant with my compliments to
your father, and a request that he would be so obliging as to take my
guard for me on the morrow, and I would perform his duty when next his
name appeared on the roster. Some time afterwards I heard the door of
the room in which I sat open, and some one enter. Presuming it to be my
servant, returned from the execution of the message with which he had
just been charged, I paid no attention to the circumstance; but
finding, presently, he did not speak, I turned round with a view of
demanding what answer he had brought. To my surprise, however, I beheld
not my servant, but your father. He was standing looking over my
shoulder at the work on which I was engaged; and notwithstanding in the
instant he resumed the cold, quiet, smirking look that usually
distinguished him, I thought I could trace the evidence of some deep
emotion which my action had suddenly dispelled. He apologised for his
intrusion, although we were on those terms that rendered apology
unnecessary, but said he had just received my message, and preferred
coming in person to assure me how happy he should feel to take my duty,
or to render me any other service in his power. I thought he laid
unusual emphasis on the last sentence; yet I thanked him warmly,
stating that the only service I should now exact of him would be to
take my guard, as I was compelled to be absent nearly the whole of the
following morning. He observed, with a smile, he hoped I was not going
to venture my neck on those dangerous precipices a second time, after
the narrow escape I had had on the preceding day. As he spoke, I
thought his eye met mine with a sly yet scrutinizing glance; and, not
wishing to reply immediately to his question, I asked him what he
thought of the work with which I was endeavouring to beguile an idle
hour. He took it up, and I watched the expression of his handsome
countenance with the anxiety of a lover who wishes that all should
think his mistress beautiful as he does himself. It betrayed a very
indefinite sort of admiration; and yet it struck me there was an
eagerness in his dilating eye that contrasted strongly with the calm
and unconcern of his other features. At length I asked him, laughingly,
what he thought of my Cornish cousin. He replied, cautiously enough,
that since it was the likeness of a cousin, and he dwelt emphatically
on the word, he could not fail to admire it. Candour, however,
compelled him to admit, that had I not declared the original to be one
so closely connected with me, he should have said the talent of so
perfect an artist might have been better employed. Whatever, however,
his opinion of the lady might be, there could be no question that the
painting was exquisite; yet, he confessed, he could not but be struck
with the singularity of the fact of a Cornish girl appearing in the
full costume of a female Highlander. This, I replied, was mere matter
of fancy and association, arising from my having been so much latterly
in the habit of seeing that dress principally worn. He smiled one of
his then damnable soft smiles of assent, and here the conversation
terminated, and he left me.

"The next day saw me again at the side of your mother, who received me
with the same artless demonstrations of affection. There was a mellowed
softness in her countenance, and a tender languor in her eye, I had not
remarked the preceding day. Then there was more of the vivacity and
playfulness of the young girl; now, more of the deep fervour and the
composed serenity of the thoughtful woman. This change was too
consonant to my taste--too flattering to my self-love--not to be
rejoiced in; and as I pressed her yielding form in silent rapture to my
own, I more than ever felt she was indeed the being for whom my glowing
heart had so long yearned. After the first full and unreserved
interchange of our souls' best feelings, our conversation turned upon
lighter topics; and I took an opportunity to produce the fruit of my
application since we had parted. Never shall I forget the surprise and
delight that animated her beautiful countenance when first she gazed
upon the miniature. The likeness was perfect, even to the minutest
shading of her costume; and so forcibly and even childishly did this
strike her, that it was with difficulty I could persuade her she was
not gazing on some peculiar description of mirror that reflected back
her living image. She expressed a strong desire to retain it; and to
this I readily assented: stipulating only to retain it until my next
visit, in order that I might take an exact copy for myself. With a look
of the fondest love, accompanied by a pressure on mine of lips that
distilled dewy fragrance where they rested, she thanked me for a gift
which she said would remind her, in absence, of the fidelity with which
her features had been engraven on my heart. She admitted, moreover,
with a sweet blush, that she herself had not been idle. Although her
pencil could not call up my image in the same manner, her pen had
better repaid her exertions; and, in return for the portrait, she would
give me a letter she had written to beguile her loneliness on the
preceding day. As she spoke she drew a sealed packet from the bosom of
her dress, and placing it in my hand, desired me not to read it until I
had returned to my home. But there was an expression of sweet confusion
in her lovely countenance, and a trepidation in her manner, that, half
disclosing the truth, rendered me utterly impatient of the delay
imposed; and eagerly breaking the seal, I devoured rather than read its
contents.

"Accursed madness of recollection!" pursued Wacousta, again striking
his brow violently with his hand,--"why is it that I ever feel thus
unmanned while recurring to those letters? Oh! Clara de Haldimar, never
did woman pen to man such declarations of tenderness and attachment as
that too dear but faithless letter of your mother contained. Words of
fire, emanating from the guilelessness of innocence, glowed in every
line; and yet every sentence breathed an utter unconsciousness of the
effect those words were likely to produce. Mad, wild, intoxicated, I
read the letter but half through; and, as it fell from my trembling
hand, my eye turned, beaming with the fires of a thousand emotions,
upon that of the worshipped writer. That glance was more than her own
could meet. A new consciousness seemed to be stirred up in her soul.
Her eye dropped beneath its long and silken fringe--her cheek became
crimson--her bosom heaved--and, all confidingness, she sank her head
upon my chest, which heaved scarcely less wildly than her own.

"Had I been a cold-blooded villain--a selfish and remorseless seducer,"
continued Wacousta with vehemence--"what was to have prevented my
triumph at that moment? But I came not to blight the flower that had
long been nurtured, though unseen, with the life-blood of my own being.
Whatever I may be NOW, I was THEN the soul of disinterestedness and
honour; and had she reposed on the bosom of her own father, that
devoted and unresisting girl could not have been pressed there with
holier tenderness. But even to this there was too soon a term. The hour
of parting at length arrived, announced, as before, by the small bell
of her father, and I again tore myself from her arms; not, however,
without first securing the treasured letter, and obtaining a promise
from your mother that I should receive another at each succeeding
visit."



CHAPTER X.

"Nearly a month passed away in this manner; and at each interview our
affection seemed to increase. The days of our meeting were ever days of
pure and unalloyed happiness; while the alternate ones of absence were,
on my part, occupied chiefly with reading the glowing letters given me
at each parting by your mother. Of all these, however, there was not
one so impassioned, so natural, so every way devoted, as the first. Not
that she who wrote them felt less, but that the emotion excited in her
bosom by the manifestation of mine on that occasion, had imparted a
diffidence to her style of expression, plainly indicating the source
whence it sprung.

"One day, while preparing to set out on my customary excursion, a
report suddenly reached me that the route had arrived for the regiment,
who were to march from ---- within three days. This intelligence I
received with inconceivable delight; for it had been settled between
your mother and myself, that this should be the moment chosen for her
departure. It was not to be supposed (and I should have been both
pained and disappointed had it been otherwise,) that she would consent
to abandon her parent without some degree of regret; but, having
foreseen this objection from the first, I had gradually prepared her
for the sacrifice. This was the less difficult, as he appeared never to
have treated her with affection,--seldom with the marked favour that
might have been presumed to distinguish the manner of a father towards
a lovely and only daughter. Living for himself and the indulgence of
his misanthropy alone, he cared little for the immolation of his
child's happiness on its unhallowed shrine; and this was an act of
injustice I had particularly dwelt upon; upheld in truth, as it was, by
the knowledge she herself possessed, that no consideration could induce
him to bestow her hand on any one individual of a race he so cordially
detested; and this was not without considerable weight in her decision.

"With a glowing cheek, and a countenance radiant with happiness, did
your mother receive my proposal to prepare for her departure on the
following day. She was sufficiently aware, even through what I had
stated myself, that there were certain ceremonies of the Church to be
performed, in order to give sanctity to our union, and ensure her own
personal respectability in the world; and these, I told her, would be
solemnised by the chaplain of the regiment. She implicitly confided in
me; and she was right; for I loved her too well to make her my
mistress, while no barrier existed to her claim to a dearer title. And
had she been the daughter of a peasant, instead of a high-born
gentleman, finding her as I had found her, and loving her as I did love
her, I should have acted precisely in the same way.

"The only difficulty that now occurred was the manner of her flight.
The opening before alluded to as being the point whence the old woman
made her weekly sally to the market town, was of so intricate and
labyrinthian a character that none but the colonel understood the
secret of its fastenings; and the bare thought of my venturing with her
on the route by which I had hitherto made my entry into the oasis, was
one that curdled my blood with fear. I could absolutely feel my flesh
to contract whenever I painted the terrible risk that would be incurred
in adopting a plan I had once conceived,--namely, that of lashing your
mother to my back, while I again effected my descent to the ledge
beneath, in the manner I had hitherto done. I felt that, once on the
ridge, I might, without much effort, attain the passage of the fissure
already described; for the habit of accomplishing this leap had
rendered it so perfectly familiar to me, that I now performed it with
the utmost security and ease; but to imagine our united weight
suspended over the abyss, as it necessarily must be in the first stage
of our flight, when even the dislodgment of a single root or fragment
of the rock was sufficient to ensure the horrible destruction of her
whom I loved better than my own life, had something too appalling in it
to suffer me to dwell on the idea for more than a moment. I had
proposed, as the most feasible and rational plan, that the colonel
should be compelled to give us egress through the secret passage, when
we might command the services of the old woman to guide us through the
passes that led to the town; but to this your mother most urgently
objected, declaring that she would rather encounter any personal peril
that might attend her escape, in a different manner, than appear to be
a participator in an act of violence against her parent whose obstinacy
of character she moreover knew too well to leave a hope of his being
intimidated into the accomplishment of our object, even by a threat of
death itself. This plan I was therefore compelled to abandon; and as
neither of us were able to discover the passage by which the deer
always effected its entrance, I was obliged to fix upon one, which it
was agreed should be put in practice on the following day.

"On my return, I occupied myself with preparations for the reception of
her who was so speedily to become my wife. Unwilling that she should be
seen by any of my companions, until the ceremony was finally performed,
I engaged apartments in a small retired cottage, distant about half a
mile from the furthest extremity of the town, where I purposed she
should remain until the regiment finally quitted the station. This
point secured, I hastened to the quarters of the chaplain, to engage
his services for the following evening; but he was from home at the
time, and I repaired to my own rooms, to prepare the means of escape
for your mother. These occupied me until a very late hour; and when at
length I retired to rest, it was only to indulge in the fondest
imaginings that ever filled the heart of a devoted lover. Alas! (and
the dark warrior again sighed heavily) the day-dream of my happiness
was already fast drawing to a close.

"At half an hour before noon, I was again in the oasis; your mother was
at the wonted spot; and although she received me with her sunniest
smiles, there were traces of tears upon her cheek. I kissed them
eagerly away, and sought to dissipate the partial gloom that was again
clouding her brow. She observed it pained me to see her thus, and she
made a greater effort to rally. She implored me to forgive her
weakness; but it was the first time she was to be separated from her
parent; and conscious as she was that it was to be for ever, she could
not repress the feeling that rose, despite of herself, to her heart.
She had, however, prepared a letter, at my suggestion, to be left on
her favourite moss seat, where it was likely she would first be sought
by her father, to assure him of her safety, and of her prospects of
future happiness; and the consciousness that he would labour under no
harrowing uncertainty in regard to her fate, seemed, at length, to
soothe and satisfy her heart.

"I now led her to the aperture, where I had left the apparatus provided
for my purpose: this consisted of a close netting, about four feet in
depth, with a board for a footstool at the bottom, and furnished at
intervals with hoops, so as to keep it full and open. The top of this
netting was provided with two handles, to which were attached the ends
of a cord many fathoms in length; the whole of such durability, as to
have borne weights equal to those of three ordinary sized men, with
which I had proved it prior to my setting out. My first care was to
bandage the eyes of your mother, (who willingly and fearlessly
submitted to all I proposed,) that she might not see, and become faint
with seeing, the terrible chasm over which she was about to be
suspended. I then placed her within the netting, which, fitting closely
to her person, and reaching under her arms, completely secured her; and
my next urgent request was, that she would not, on any account, remove
the bandage, or make the slightest movement, when she found herself
stationary below, until I had joined her. I then dropped her gently
through the aperture, lowering fathom after fathom of the rope, the
ends of which I had firmly secured round the trunk of a tree, as an
additional safeguard, until she finally came on a level with that part
of the cliff on which I had reposed when first she beheld me. As she
still hung immediately over the abyss, it was necessary to give a
gradual impetus to her weight, to enable her to gain the landing-place.
I now, therefore, commenced swinging her to and fro, until she at
length came so near the point desired, that I clearly saw the principal
difficulty was surmounted. The necessary motion having been given to
the balance, with one vigorous and final impulsion I dexterously
contrived to deposit her several feet from the edge of the lower rock,
when, slackening the rope on the instant, I had the inexpressible
satisfaction to see that she remained firm and stationary. The waving
of her scarf immediately afterwards (a signal previously agreed upon),
announced she had sustained no injury in this rather rude collision
with the rock, and I in turn commenced my descent.

"Fearing to cast away the ends of the rope, lest their weight should by
any chance effect the balance of the footing your mother had obtained,
I now secured them around my loins, and accomplishing my descent in the
customary manner, speedily found myself once more at the side of my
heart's dearest treasure. Here the transport of my joy was too great to
be controlled; I felt that NOW my prize was indeed secured to me for
ever; and I burst forth into the most passionate exclamations of
tenderness, and falling on my knees, raised my hands to Heaven in
fervent gratitude for the success with which my enterprise had been
crowned. Another would have been discouraged at the difficulties still
remaining; but with these I was become too familiar, not to feel the
utmost confidence in encountering them, even with the treasure that was
equally perilled with myself. For a moment I removed the bandage from
the eyes of your mother, that she might behold not only the far distant
point whence she had descended, but the frowning precipice I had daily
been in the habit of climbing to be blest with her presence. She did
so,--and her cheek paled, for the first time, with a sense of the
danger I had incurred; then turning her soft and beautiful eyes on
mine, she smiled a smile that seemed to express how much her love would
repay me. Again our lips met, and we were happy even in that lonely
spot, beyond all language to describe. Once more, at length, I prepared
to execute the remainder of my task; and I again applied the bandage to
her eyes, saying that, although the principal danger was over, still
there was another I could not bear she should look upon. Again she
smiled, and with a touching sweetness of expression that fired my
blood, observing at the same time she feared no danger while she was
with me, but that if my object was to prevent her from looking at me,
the most efficient way certainly was to apply a bandage to her eyes.
Oh! woman, woman!" groaned Wacousta, in fierce anguish of spirit, "who
shall expound the complex riddle of thy versatile nature?

"Disengaging the rope from the handles of the netting, I now applied to
these a broad leathern belt taken from the pouches of two of my men,
and stooping with my back to the cherished burden with which I was
about to charge myself, passed the centre of the belt across my chest,
much in the manner in which, as you are aware, Indian women carry their
infant children. As an additional precaution, I had secured the netting
round my waist by a strong lacing of cord, and then raising myself to
my full height, and satisfying myself of the perfect freedom of action
of my limbs, seized a long balancing pole I had left suspended against
the rock at my last visit, and commenced my descent of the sloping
ridge. On approaching the horrible chasm, a feeling of faintness came
over me, despite of the confidence with which I had previously armed
myself. This, however, was but momentary. Sensible that every thing
depended on rapidity of movement, I paused not in my course; but,
quickening my pace as I gradually drew nearer, gave the necessary
impetus to my motion, and cleared the gap with a facility far exceeding
what had distinguished my first passage, and which was the fruit of
constant practice alone. Here my balance was sustained by the pole; and
at length I had the inexpressible satisfaction to find myself at the
very extremity of the ridge, and immediately at the point where I had
left my companions in my first memorable pursuit. Alas!" continued the
warrior, again interrupting himself with one of those fierce
exclamations of impatient anguish that so frequently occurred in his
narrative, "what subject for rejoicing was there in this? Better far we
had been dashed to pieces in the abyss, than I should have lived to
curse the hour when first my spirit of adventure led me to traverse
it." Again he resumed:--

"In the deep transport of my joy, I once more threw myself on my knees
in speechless thanksgiving to Providence for the complete success of my
undertaking. Your mother, whom I had previously released from her
confinement, did the same; and at that moment the union of our hearts
seemed to be cemented by a divine influence, manifested in the fulness
of the gratitude of each. I then raised her from the earth, imprinting
a kiss upon her fair brow, that was hallowed by the purity of the
feeling I had so recently indulged in; and throwing over her shoulders
the mantle of a youth, which I had secreted near the spot, enjoined her
to follow me closely in the path I was about to pursue. As she had
hitherto encountered no fatigue, and was, moreover, well provided with
strong buskins I had brought for the purpose, I thought it advisable to
discontinue the use of the netting, which must attract notice, and
cause us, perhaps, to be followed, in the event of our being met by any
of the hunters that usually traversed these parts. To carry her in my
arms, as I should have preferred, might have excited the same
curiosity, and I was therefore compelled to decide upon her walking;
reserving to myself, however, the sweet task of bearing her in my
embrace over the more difficult parts of our course.

"I have not hitherto found it necessary to state," continued Wacousta,
his brow lowering with fierce and gloomy thought, "that more than once,
latterly, on my return from the oasis, which was usually at a stated
hour, I had observed a hunter hovering near the end of the ledge, yet
quickly retreating as I advanced. There was something in the figure of
this man that recalled to my recollection the form of your father; but
ever, on my return to quarters, I found him in uniform, and exhibiting
any thing but the appearance of one who had recently been threading his
weary way among rocks and fastnesses. Besides, the improbability of
this fact was so great, that it occupied not my attention beyond the
passing moment. On the present occasion, however, I saw the same
hunter, and was more forcibly than ever struck by the resemblance to my
friend. Prior to my quitting the point where I had liberated your
mother from the netting, I had, in addition to the disguise of the
cloak, found it necessary to make some alteration in the arrangement of
her hair; the redundancy of which, as it floated gracefully over her
polished neck, was in itself sufficient to betray her sex. With this
view I had removed her plumed bonnet. It was the first time I had seen
her without it; and so deeply impressed was I by the angel-like
character of the extreme feminine beauty she, more than ever, then
exhibited, that I knelt in silent adoration for some moments at her
feet, my eyes and countenance alone expressing the fervent and almost
holy emotion of my enraptured soul. Had she been a divinity, I could
not have worshipped her with a purer feeling. While I yet knelt, I
fancied I heard a sound behind me; and, turning quickly, beheld the
head of a man peering above a point of rock at some little distance. He
immediately, on witnessing my action, sank again beneath it, but not in
sufficient time to prevent my almost assuring myself that it was the
face of your father I had beheld. My first impulse was to bound
forward, and satisfy myself who it really was who seemed thus ever on
the watch to intercept my movements; but a second rapid reflection
convinced me, that, having been discovered, it was most likely the
intruder had already effected his retreat, and that any attempt at
pursuit might not only alarm your mother, but compromise her safety. I
determined, however, to tax your father with the fact on my return to
quarters; and, from the manner in which he met the charge, to form my
own conclusion.

"Meanwhile we pursued our course; and after an hour's rather laborious
exertion, at length emerged from the succession of glens and rocks that
lay in our way; when, skirting the valley in which the town was
situated, we finally reached the cottage where I had secured my
lodging. Previous to entering it, I had told your mother, that for the
few hours that would intervene before the marriage ceremony could be
performed, I should, by way of lulling the curiosity of her hostess,
introduce her as a near relative of my own. This I did accordingly;
and, having seen that every thing was comfortably arranged for her
convenience, and recommending her strongly to the care of the old
woman, I set off once more in search of the chaplain of the regiment
Before I could reach his residence, however, I was met by a sergeant of
my company, who came running towards me, evidently with some
intelligence of moment. He stated, that my presence was required
without delay. The grenadiers, with the senior subaltern, were in
orders for detachment for an important service; and considerable
displeasure had been manifested by the colonel at my absence,
especially as of late I had greatly neglected my military duties. He
had been looking for me every where, he said, but without success, when
Ensign de Haldimar had pointed out to him in what direction it was
likely I might be found.

"At a calmer moment, I should have been startled at the last
observation; but my mind was too much engrossed with the principal
subject of my regret, to pay any attention to the circumstance. It was
said the detachment would be occupied in this duty a week or ten days,
at least; and how was I to absent myself from her whom I so fondly
loved for this period, without even being permitted first to see and
account to her for my absence? There was torture in the very thought;
and in the height of my impatience, I told the sergeant he might give
my compliments to the colonel, and say I would see the service d--d
rather than inconvenience myself by going out on this duty at so short
a notice; that I had private business of the highest importance to
myself to transact, and could not absent myself. As the man, however,
prepared coolly to depart, it suddenly occurred to me, that I might
prevail on your father to take my duty now, as on former occasions he
had willingly done, and I countermanded my message to the colonel;
desiring him, however, to find out Ensign de Haldimar, and say that I
requested to see him immediately at my quarters, whither I was now
proceeding to change my dress.

"With a beating heart did I assume an uniform that appeared, at that
moment, hideous in my eyes; yet I was not without a hope I might yet
get off this ill-timed duty. Before I had completed my equipment, your
father entered; and when I first glanced my eye full upon his, I
thought his countenance exhibited evidences of confusion. This
immediately reminded me of the unknown hunter, and I asked him if he
was not the person I described. His answer was not a positive denial,
but a mixture of raillery and surprise that lulled my doubts, enfeebled
as they were by the restored calm of his features. I then told him that
I had a particular favour to ask of him, which, in consideration of our
friendship, I trusted he would not refuse; and that was, to take my
duty in the expedition about to set forth. His manner implied concern;
and he asked, with a look that had much deliberate expression in it,
'if I was aware that it was a duty in which blood was expected to be
shed? He could not suppose that any consideration would induce me to
resign my duty to another officer, when apprised of this fact.' All
this was said with the air of one really interested in my honour; but
in my increasing impatience, I told him I wanted none of his cant; I
simply asked him a favour, which he would grant or decline as he
thought proper. This was a harshness of language I had never indulged
in; but my mind was sore under the existing causes of my annoyance, and
I could not bear to have my motives reflected on at a moment when my
heart was torn with all the agonies attendant on the position in which
I found myself placed. His cheek paled and flushed more than once,
before he replied, 'that in spite of my unkindness his friendship might
induce him to do much for me, even as he had hitherto done, but that on
the present occasion it rested not with him. In order to justify
himself he would no longer disguise the fact from me, that the colonel
had declared, in the presence of the whole regiment, I should take my
duty regularly in future, and not be suffered to make a convenience of
the service any longer. If, however, he could do any thing for me
during my absence, I had but to command him.

"While I was yet giving vent, in no very measured terms, to the
indignation I felt at being made the subject of public censure by the
colonel, the same sergeant came into the room, announcing that the
company were only waiting for me to march, and that the colonel desired
my instant presence. In the agitation of my feelings, I scarcely knew
what I did, putting several portions of my regimental equipment on so
completely awry, that your father noticed and rectified the errors I
had committed; while again, in the presence of the sergeant, I
expressed the deepest regret he could not relieve me from a duty that
was hateful to the last degree.

"Torn with agony at the thought of the uncertainty in which I was
compelled to leave her, whom I so fondly adored, I had now no other
alternative than to make a partial confidant of your father. I told him
that in the cottage which I pointed out he would find the original of
the portrait he had seen me painting on a former occasion,--the Cornish
cousin, whose beauty he professed to hold so cheaply. More he should
know of her on my return; but at present I confided her to his honour,
and begged he would prove his friendship for me by rendering her
whatever attention she might require in her humble abode. With these
hurried injunctions he promised to comply; and it has often occurred to
me since, although I did not remark it at the time, that while his
voice and manner were calm, there was a burning glow upon his handsome
cheek, and a suppressed exultation in his eye, that I had never
observed on either before. I then quitted the room; and hastening to my
company with a gloom on--my brow that indicated the wretchedness of my
inward spirit, was soon afterwards on the march from ----."

Again the warrior seemed agitated with the most violent emotion; he
buried his face in his hands; and the silence that ensued was longer
than any he had previously indulged in. At length he made an effort to
arouse himself; and again exhibiting his swarthy features, disclosed a
brow, not clouded, as before, by grief, but animated with the fiercest
and most appalling passions, while he thus impetuously resumed.



CHAPTER XI.

"If, hitherto, Clara de Haldimar, I have been minute in the detail of
all that attended my connection with your mother, it has been with a
view to prove to you how deeply I have been injured; but I have now
arrived at a part of my history, when to linger on the past would goad
me into madness, and render me unfit for the purpose to which I have
devoted myself. Brief must be the probing of wounds, that nearly five
lustres have been insufficient to heal; brief the tale that reveals the
infamy of those who have given you birth, and the utter blighting of
the fairest hopes of one whose only fault was that of loving, "not too
wisely, but too well."

"Will you credit the monstrous truth," he added, in a fierce but
composed whisper, while he bent eagerly over the form of the trembling
yet attentive girl, "when I tell you that, on my return from that fatal
expedition, during my continuance on which her image had never once
been absent from my mind, I found Clara Beverley the wife of De
Haldimar? Yes," continued Wacousta, his wounded feeling and mortified
pride chafing, by the bitter recollection, into increasing fury, while
his countenance paled in its swarthiness, "the wife, the wedded wife of
yon false and traitorous governor! Well may you look surprised, Clara
de Haldimar: such damnable treachery as this may startle his own blood
in the veins of another, nor find its justification even in the
devotedness of woman's filial piety. To what satanic arts so
calculating a villain could have had recourse to effect his object I
know not; but it is not the less true, that she, from whom my previous
history must have taught you to expect the purity of intention and
conduct of an angel, became his wife,--and I a being accursed among
men. Even as our common mother is said to have fallen in the garden of
Eden, tempted by the wily beauty of the devil, so did your mother fall,
seduced by that of the cold, false, traitorous De Haldimar." Here the
agitation of Wacousta became terrific. The labouring of his chest was
like that of one convulsed with some racking agony and the swollen
veins and arteries of his head seemed to threaten the extinction of
life in some fearful paroxysm. At length he burst into a violent fit of
tears, more appalling, in one of his iron nature, than the fury which
had preceded it,--and it was many minutes before he could so far
compose himself as to resume.

"Think not, Clara de Haldimar, I speak without the proof. Her own words
confessed, her own lips avowed it, and yet I neither slew her, nor her
paramour, nor myself. On my return to the regiment I had flown to the
cottage, on the wings of the most impatient and tender love that ever
filled the bosom of man for woman. To my enquiries the landlady
replied, that my cousin had been married two days previously, by the
military chaplain, to a handsome young officer, who had visited her
soon after my departure, and was constantly with her from that moment;
and that immediately after the ceremony they had left, but she knew not
whither. Wild, desperate, almost bereft of reason, and with a heart
bounding against my bosom, as if each agonising throb were to be its
last, I ran like a maniac back into the town, nor paused till I found
myself in the presence of your father. My mind was a volcano, but still
I attempted to be calm, even while I charged him, in the most
outrageous terms, with his villainy. Deny it he could not; but, far
from excusing it, he boldly avowed and justified the step he had taken,
intimating, with a smile full of meaning, there was nothing in a
connection with the family of De Haldimar to reflect disgrace on the
cousin of Sir Reginald Morton; and that; the highest compliment he
could pay his friend was to attach himself to one whom that friend had
declared to be so near a relative of his own. There was a coldness of
taunt in these remarks, that implied his sense of the deception I had
practised on him, in regard to the true nature of the relationship; and
for a moment, while my hand firmly grasped the hilt of my sword, I
hesitated whether I should not cut him down at my feet: I had
self-command, however, to abstain from the outrage, and I have often
since regretted I had. My own blood could have been but spilt in
atonement for my just revenge; and as for the obloquy attached to the
memory of the assassin, it could not have been more bitter than that
which has followed me through life. But what do I say?" fiercely
continued the warrior, an exulting ferocity sparkling in his eye, and
animating his countenance; "had he fallen, then my vengeance were but
half complete. No; it is now he shall feel the deadly venom in his
heart, that has so long banqueted on mine.

"Determined to know from her own lips," he pursued, to the shuddering
Clara, whose hopes, hitherto strongly excited, now, began again to fade
beneath the new aspect given to the strange history of this terrible
man;--"determined to satisfy myself from her own acknowledgment,
whether all I had heard was not an imposition, I summoned calmness
enough to desire that your mother might confirm in person the
alienation of her affection, as nothing short of that could convince me
of the truth. He left the room, and presently re-appeared, conducting
her in from another: I thought she looked more beautiful than ever,
but, alas! I had the inexpressible horror to discover, before a word
was uttered, that all the fondness of her nature was indeed transferred
to your father. How I endured the humiliation of that scene has often
been a source of utter astonishment to myself; but I did endure it. To
my wild demand, how she could so soon have forgotten her vows, and
falsified her plighted engagements, she replied, timidly and
confusedly, she had not yet known her own heart; but if she had pained
me by her conduct, she was sorry for it, and hoped I would forgive her.
She would always be happy to esteem me as a friend, but she loved her
Charles far, far better than she had ever loved me. This damning
admission, couched in the same language of simplicity that had first
touched and won my affection, was like boiling lead upon my brain. In a
transport of madness I sprang towards her, caught her in my arms, and
swore she should accompany me back to the oasis--when I had taken her
there, to be regained by my detested rival, if he could; but that he
should not eat the fruit I had plucked at so much peril to myself. She
struggled to disengage herself, calling on your father by the most
endearing epithets to free her from my embrace. He attempted it, and I
struck him senseless to the floor at a single blow with the flat of my
sabre, which in my extreme fury I had unsheathed. Instead, however, of
profiting by the opportunity thus afforded to execute my threat, a
feeling of disgust and contempt came over me, for the woman, whose
inconstancy had been the cause of my committing myself in this
ungentlemanly manner; and bestowing deep but silent curses on her head,
I rushed from the house in a state of frenzy. How often since have I
regretted that I had not pursued my first impulse, and borne her to
some wild, where, forgetting one by whose beauty of person her eye
alone had been seduced, her heart might have returned to its allegiance
to him who had first awakened the sympathies of her soul, and would
have loved her with a love blending the fiercest fires of the eagle
with the gentlest devotedness of the dove. But destiny had differently
ordained.

"Did my injuries end here?" pursued the dark warrior, as his eye
kindled with rage. "No: for weeks I was insensible to any thing but the
dreadful shock my soul had sustained. A heavy stupor weighed me down,
and for a period it was supposed my reason was overthrown: no such
mercy was reserved for me. The regiment had quitted the Highlands, and
were now stationary in ----, whither I had accompanied it in arrest.
The restoration of my faculties was the signal for new persecutions.
Scarcely had the medical officers reported me fit to sustain the
ordeal, when a court-martial was assembled to try me on a variety of
charges. Who was my prosecutor? Listen, Clara," and he shook her
violently by the arm. "He who had robbed me of all that gave value to
life, and incentive to honour,--he who, under the guise of friendship,
had stolen into the Eden of my love, and left it barren of affection.
In a word, yon detested governor, to whose inhuman cruelty even the son
of my brother has, by some strange fatality of coincidence, so recently
fallen a second sacrifice. Curses, curses on him," he pursued, with
frightful vehemence, half rising as he spoke, and holding forth his
right arm in a menacing attitude; "but the hour of retribution is at
hand, and revenge, the exclusive passion of the gods, shall at length
be mine. In no other country in the world--under no other circumstances
than the present--could I have so secured it.

"What were the charges preferred against me?" he continued, with a
violence that almost petrified the unhappy girl. "Hear them, and judge
whether I have not cause for the inextinguishable hate that rankles at
my heart. Every trifling disobedience of orders--every partial neglect
of duty that could be raked up--was tortured into a specific charge;
and, as I have already admitted I had latterly transgressed not a
little in this respect, these were numerous enough. Yet they were but
preparatory to others of greater magnitude. Next succeeded one that
referred to the message I had given, and countermanded, to the sergeant
of my company, when in the impatience of my disappointment I had
desired him to tell the colonel I would see the service d--d rather
than inconvenience myself at that moment for it. This was unsupported
by other evidence, however, and therefore failed in the proof. But the
web was too closely woven around to admit of my escaping.--Will you,
can you believe any thing half so atrocious, as that your father should
have called on this same man not only to prove the violent and
insubordinate language I had used in reference to the commanding
officer in my own rooms, but also to substantiate a charge of
cowardice, grounded on the unwillingness I had expressed to accompany
the expedition, and the extraordinary trepidation I had evinced, while
preparing for the duty, manifested, as it was stated to be, by the
various errors he had rectified in my equipment with his own hand? Yes,
even this pitiful charge was one of the many preferred; but the
severest was that which he had the unblushing effrontery to make the
subject of public investigation, rather than of private redress--the
blow I had struck him in his own apartments. And who was his witness in
this monstrous charge?--your mother, Clara. Yea, I stood as a criminal
in her presence; and yet she came forward to tender an evidence that
was to consign me to a disgraceful sentence. My vile prosecutor had,
moreover, the encouragement, the sanction of his colonel throughout,
and by him he was upheld in every contemptible charge his ingenuity
could devise. Do you not anticipate the result?--I was found guilty,
and dismissed the service.

"How acted my brother officers, when, previously to the trial, I
alluded to the damnable treachery of your father? Did they condemn his
conduct, or sympathise with me in my misfortune?--No; they shrugged
their shoulders, and coldly observed, I ought to have known better than
to trust one against whom they had so often cautioned me; but that as I
had selected him for my friend, I should have bestowed a whole, and not
a half confidence upon him. He had had the hypocrisy to pretend to them
he had violated no trust, since he had honourably espoused a lady whom
I had introduced to him as a cousin, and in whom I appeared to have no
other interest than that of relationship. Not, they said, that they
believed he actually did entertain that impression; but still the
excuse was too plausible, and had been too well studied by my cunning
rival, to be openly refuted. As for the mere fact of his supplanting
me, they thought it an excellent thing,--a ruse d'amour for which they
never would have given him credit; and although they admitted it was
provoking enough to be ousted out of one's mistress in that cool sort
of way, still I should not so far have forgotten myself as to have
struck him while he was unarmed, when it was so easy to have otherwise
fastened an insult on him. Such," bitterly pursued Wacousta, "was the
consolation I received from men, who, a few short weeks before, had
been sedulous to gain and cultivate my friendship,--but even this was
only vouchsafed antecedent to my trial. When the sentence was
promulgated, announcing my dismissal from the service, every back was
turned upon me, as though I had been found guilty of some dishonourable
action or some disgraceful crime; and, on the evening of the same day,
when I threw from me for ever an uniform that I now loathed from my
inmost soul, there was not one among those who had often banqueted at
my expense, who had the humanity to come to me and say, 'Sir Reginald
Morton, farewell.'

"What agonies of mind I endured,--what burning tears I nightly shed
upon a pillow I was destined to press in freezing loneliness,--what
hours of solitude I passed, far from the haunts of my fellow-men, and
forming plans of vengeance,--it would take much longer time to relate
than I have actually bestowed on my unhappy history. To comprehend
their extent and force, you must understand the heart of fire in which
the deep sense of injury had taken root; but the night wears away, and
briefly told must be the remainder of my tale. The rebellion of
forty-five saw me in arms in the Scottish ranks; and, in one instance,
opposed to the regiment from which I had been so ignominiously
expelled. Never did revenge glow like a living fire in the heart of man
as it did in mine; for the effect of my long brooding in solitude had
been to inspire me with a detestation, not merely for those who had
been most rancorous in their enmity, but for every thing that wore the
uniform, from the commanding officer down to the meanest private. Every
blow that I dealt, every life that I sacrificed, was an insult washed
away from my attainted honour; but him whom I most sought in the melee
I never could reach. At length the corps to which I had attached myself
was repulsed; and I saw, with rage in my heart, that my enemy still
lived to triumph in the fruit of his villainy.

"Although I was grown considerably in stature at this period, and was
otherwise greatly altered in appearance, I had been recognised in the
action by numbers of the regiment; and, indeed, more than once I had,
in the intoxication of my rage, accompanied the blow that slew or
maimed one of my former associates with a declaration of the name of
him who inflicted it. The consequence was, I was denounced as a rebel
and an outlaw, and a price was put upon my head. Accustomed, however,
as I had ever been, to rocks and fastnesses, I had no difficulty in
eluding the vigilance of those who were sent in pursuit of me; and thus
compelled to live wholly apart from my species, I at length learned to
hate them, and to know that man is the only enemy of man upon earth.

"A change now came ever the spirit of my vengeance; for about this
period your mother died. I had never ceased to love, even while I
despised her; and notwithstanding, had she, after her flagrant
inconstancy, thrown herself into my arms, I should have rejected her
with scorn, still I was sensible no other woman could ever supply her
place in my affection. She was, in truth, the only being I had ever
looked upon with fondness; and deeply even as I had been injured by
her, I wept her memory with many a scalding tear. This, however, only
increased my hatred for him who had rioted in her beauty, and
supplanted me in her devotedness. I had the means of learning,
occasionally, all that passed in the regiment; and the same account
that brought me the news of your mother's death also gave me the
intelligence that three children had been the fruit of her union with
De Haldimar. How," pursued Wacousta, with bitter energy, "shall I
express the deep loathing I felt for those children? It seemed to me as
if their existence had stamped a seal of infamy on my own brow; and I
hated them, even in their childhood, as the offspring of an abhorred,
and, as it appeared to me, an unnatural union. I heard, moreover (and
this gave me pleasure), that their father doated on them; and from that
moment I resolved to turn his cup of joy into bitterness, even as he
had turned mine. I no longer sought his life; for the jealousy that had
half impelled that thirst existed no longer: but, deeming his cold
nature at least accessible through his parental affection, I was
resolved that in his children he should suffer a portion of the agonies
he had inflicted on me. I waited, however, until they should be grown
up to an age when the heart of the parent would be more likely to mourn
their loss; and then I was determined my vengeance should be complete.

"Circumstances singularly favoured my design. Many years afterwards,
the regiment formed one of the expedition against Quebec under General
Wolfe. They were commanded by your father, who, in the course of
promotion, had obtained the lieutenant-colonelcy; and I observed by the
army list, that a subaltern of the same name, whom I presumed to be his
eldest son, was in the corps. Here was a field for my vengeance beyond
any I could have hoped for. I contrived to pass over into Cornwall, the
ban of outlawry being still unrepealed; and having procured from my
brother a sum sufficient for my necessities, and bade him an eternal
farewell, embarked in a fishing-boat for the coast of France, whence I
subsequently took a passage to this country. At Montreal I found the
French general, who gladly received my allegiance as a subject of
France, and gave me a commission in one of the provincial corps that
usually served in concert with our Indian allies. With the general I
soon became a favourite; and, as a mark of his confidence at the attack
on Quebec, he entrusted me with the command of a detached irregular
force, consisting partly of Canadians and partly of Indians, intended
to harass the flanks of the British army. This gave me an opportunity
of being at whatever point of the field I might think most favourable
to my design; and I was too familiar with the detested uniform of the
regiment not to be able to distinguish it from afar. In a word, Clara,
for I am weary of my own tale, in that engagement I had an opportunity
of recognising your brother. He struck me by his martial appearance as
he encouraged his grenadiers to the attack of the French columns; and,
as I turned my eye upon him in admiration, I was stung to the soul by
his resemblance to his father. Vengeance thrilled throughout every
fibre of my frame at that moment. The opportunity I had long sought was
at length arrived; and already, in anticipation, I enjoyed the conquest
his fall would occasion to my enemy. I rushed within a few feet of my
victim; but the bullet aimed at his heart was received in the breast of
a faithful soldier, who had flown to intercept it. How I cursed the
meddler for his officiousness!"

"Oh, that soldier was your nephew," eagerly interrupted Clara, pointing
towards her companion, who had fallen into a profound slumber, "the
husband of this unfortunate woman. Frank Halloway (for by that name was
he alone known in the regiment) loved my brother as though he had been
of the same blood. He it was who flew to receive the ball that was
destined for another. But I nursed him on his couch of suffering, and
with my own hands prepared his food and dressed his wound. Oh, if pity
can touch your heart (and I will not believe that a heart that once
felt as you say yours has felt can be inaccessible to pity), let the
recollection of your nephew's devotedness to my mother's child disarm
you of vengeance, and induce you to restore us!"

"Never!" thundered Wacousta,--"never! The very circumstance you have
now named is an additional incentive to my vengeance. My nephew saved
the life of your brother at the hazard of his own; and how has he been
rewarded for the generous deed? By an ignominious death, inflicted,
perhaps, for some offence not more dishonouring than those which have
thrown me an outcast upon these wilds; and that at the command and in
the presence of the father of him whose life he was fool enough to
preserve. Yet, what but ingratitude of the grossest nature could a
Morton expect at the hands of the false family of De Haldimar! They
were destined to be our bane, and well have they fulfilled the end for
which they were created."

"Almighty Providence!" aspirated the sinking Clara, as she turned her
streaming eyes to heaven; "can it be that the human heart can undergo
such change? Can this be the being who once loved my mother with a
purity and tenderness of affection that angels themselves might hallow
with approval; or is all that I have heard but a bewildering dream?"

"No, Clara," calmly and even solemnly returned the warrior; "it is no
dream, but a reality--a sad, dreadful, heart-rending reality; yet, if I
am that altered being, to whom is the change to be ascribed? Who turned
the generous current of my blood into a river of overflowing gall? Who,
when my cup was mantling with the only bliss I coveted upon earth,
traitorously emptied it, and substituted a heart-corroding poison in
its stead? Who blighted my fair name, and cast me forth an alien in the
land of my forefathers? Who, in a word, cut me off from every joy that
existence can impart to man? Who did all this? Your father! But these
are idle words. What I have been, you know; what I now am, and through
what agency I have been rendered what I now am, you know also. Not more
fixed is fate than my purpose. Your brother dies even on the spot on
which my nephew died; and you, Clara, shall be my bride; and the first
thing your children shall be taught to lisp shall be curses on the vile
name of De Haldimar!"

"Once more, in the name of my sainted mother, I implore you to have
mercy," shrieked the unhappy Clara. "Oh!" she continued, with vehement
supplication, "let the days of your early love be brought back to' your
memory, that your heart may be softened; and cut yourself not wholly
off from your God, by the commission of such dreadful outrages. Again I
conjure you, restore us to my father."

"Never!" savagely repeated Wacousta. "I have passed years of torture in
the hope of such an hour as this; and now that fruition is within my
grasp, may I perish if I forego it! Ha, sir!" turning from the almost
fainting Clara to Sir Everard, who had listened with deep attention to
the history of this extraordinary man;--"for this," and he thrust aside
the breast of his hunting coat, exhibiting the scar of a long but
superficial wound,--"for this do you owe me a severe reckoning. I would
recommend you, however,"--and he spoke in mockery,--"when next you
drive a weapon into the chest of an unresisting enemy, to be more
certain of your aim. Had that been as true as the blow from the butt of
your rifle, I should not have lived to triumph in this hour. I little
deemed," he pursued, still addressing the nearly heart-broken officer
in the same insolent strain, "that my intrigue with that dark-eyed
daughter of the old Canadian would have been the means of throwing your
companion so speedily into my power, after his first narrow escape.
Your disguise was well managed, I confess; and but that there is an
instinct about me, enabling me to discover a De Haldimar, as a hound
does the deer, by scent, you might have succeeded in passing for what
you appeared. But" (and his tone suddenly changed its irony for
fierceness) "to the point, sir. That you are the lover of this girl I
clearly perceive, and death were preferable to a life embittered by the
recollection that she whom we love reposes in the arms of another. No
such kindness is meant you, however. To-morrow you shall return to the
fort; and, when there, you may tell your colonel, that, in exchange for
a certain miniature and letters, which, in the hurry of departure, I
dropped in his apartment, some ten days since, Sir Reginald Morton, the
outlaw, has taken his daughter Clara to wife, but without the
solemnisation of those tedious forms that bound himself in accursed
union with her mother. Oh! what would I not give," he continued,
bitterly, "to witness the pang inflicted on his false heart, when first
the damning truth arrests his ear. Never did I know the triumph of my
power until now; for what revenge can be half so sweet as that which
attains a loathed enemy through the dishonour of his child? But, hark!
what mean those sounds?"

A loud yelling was now heard at some distance in rear of the tent.
Presently the bounding of many feet on the turf was distinguishable;
and then, at intervals, the peculiar cry that announces the escape of a
prisoner. Wacousta started to his feet, and fiercely grasping his
tomahawk, advanced to the front of the tent, where he seemed to listen
for a moment attentively, as if endeavouring to catch the direction of
the pursuit.

"Ha! by Heaven!" he exclaimed, "there must be treachery in this, or yon
slippery captain would not so soon be at his flight again, bound as I
had bound him." Then uttering a deafening yell, and rushing past Sir
Everard, near whom he paused an instant, as if undecided whether he
should not first dispose of him, as a precautionary measure, he flew
with the speed of an antelope in the direction in which he was guided
by the gradually receding sounds.

"The knife, Miss de Haldimar," exclaimed Sir Everard, after a few
moments of breathless and intense anxiety. "See, there is one in the
belt that Ellen Halloway has girt around her loins. Quick, for Heaven's
sake, quick; our only chance of safety is in this."

With an activity arising from her despair, the unhappy Clara sprang
from the rude couch on which she had been left by Wacousta, and,
stooping over the form of the maniac, extended her hand to remove the
weapon from her side; but Ellen, who had been awakened from her long
slumber by the yells just uttered, seemed resolute to prevent it. A
struggle for its possession now ensued between these frail and delicate
beings; in which Clara, however, had the advantage, not only from the
recumbent position of her opponent, but from the greater security of
her grasp. At length, with a violent effort, she contrived to disengage
it from the sheath, around which Ellen had closely clasped both her
hands; but, with the quickness of thought, the latter were again
clenched round the naked blade, and without any other evident motive
than what originated in the obstinacy of her madness, the unfortunate
woman fiercely attempted to wrest it away. In the act of doing so, her
hands were dreadfully cut; and Clara, shocked at the sight of the blood
she had been the means of shedding, lost all the energy she had
summoned, and sunk senseless at the feet of the maniac, who now began
to utter the most piteous cries.

"Oh, God! we are lost," exclaimed Sir Everard; "the voice of that
wretched woman has alarmed our enemy, and even now I hear him
approaching. Quick, Clara, give me the knife. But no, it is now too
late; he is here."

At that instant, the dark form of a warrior rushed noiselessly to the
spot on which he stood. The officer turned his eyes in desperation on
his enemy, but a single glance was sufficient to assure him it was not
Wacousta. The Indian paused not in his course, but passing close round
the tree to which the baronet was attached, made a circular movement,
that brought him in a line with the direction that had been taken by
his enemy; and again they were left alone.

A new fear now oppressed the heart of the unfortunate Valletort, even
to agony: Clara still lay senseless, speechless, before him; and his
impression was, that, in the struggle, Ellen Halloway had murdered her.
The latter yet continued her cries; and, as she held up her hands, he
could see by the fire-light they were covered with blood. An
instinctive impulse caused him to bound forward to the assistance of
the motionless Clara; when, to his infinite surprise and joy, he
discovered the cord, which had bound him to the tree, to be severed.
The Indian who had just passed had evidently been his deliverer; and a
sudden flash of recollection recalled the figure of the young warrior
that had escaped from the schooner and was supposed to have leaped into
the canoe of Oucanasta at the moment when Madeline de Haldimar was
removed into that of the Canadian.

In a transport of conflicting feelings, Sir Everard now raised the
insensible Clara from the ground; and, having satisfied himself she had
sustained no serious injury, prepared for a flight which he felt to be
desperate, if not altogether hopeless. There was not a moment to be
lost, for the cries of the wretched Ellen increased in violence, as she
seemed sensible she was about to be left utterly alone; and ever and
anon, although afar off, yet evidently drawing nearer, was to be heard
the fierce denouncing yell of Wacousta. The spot on which the officer
stood, was not far from that whence his unfortunate friend had
commenced his flight on the first memorable occasion; and as the moon
shone brightly in the cloudless heavens, there could be no mistake in
the course he was to pursue. Dashing down the steep, therefore, with
all the speed his beloved burden would enable him to attain, he made
immediately for the bridge, over which his only chance of safety lay.

It unfortunately happened, however, that, induced either by the malice
of her insanity, or really terrified at the loneliness of her position,
the wretched Ellen Halloway had likewise quitted the tent, and now
followed close in the rear of the fugitives, still uttering the same
piercing cries of anguish. The voice of Wacousta was also again heard
in the distance; and Sir Everard had the inexpressible horror to find
that, guided by the shrieks of the maniac woman, he was now shaping his
course, not to the tent where he had left his prisoners, but in an
oblique direction towards the bridge; where he evidently hoped to
intercept them. Aware of the extreme disadvantages under which he
laboured in a competition of speed with his active enemy, the unhappy
officer would have here terminated the struggle, had he not been
partially sustained by the hope that the detachment prayed for by De
Haldimar, through the friendly young chief, to whom he owed his own
liberation, might be about this time on its way to attempt their
rescue. This thought supported his faltering resolution, although
nearly exhausted with his efforts--compelled, as he was, to sustain the
motionless form of the slowly reviving Clara; and he again braced
himself to the unequal flight The moon still shone beautifully bright,
and he could now distinctly see the bridge over which he was to pass;
but notwithstanding he strained his eyes as he advanced, no vestige of
a British uniform was to be seen in the open space that lay beyond.
Once he turned to regard his pursuers. Ellen was a few yards only in
his rear; and considerably beyond her rose, in tall relief against the
heavens, the gigantic form of the warrior. The pursuit of the latter
was now conducted with a silence that terrified even more than the
yells he had previously uttered; and he gained so rapidly on his
victims, that the tread of his large feet was now distinctly audible.
Again the officer, with despair in his heart, made the most incredible
exertions to reach the bridge, without seeming to reflect that, even
when there, no security was offered him against his enemy. Once, as he
drew nearer, he fancied he saw the dark heads of human beings peering
from under that part of the arch which had afforded cover to De
Haldimar and himself oh the memorable occasion of their departure with
the Canadian; and, convinced that the warriors of Wacousta had been
sent there to lie in ambuscade and intercept his retreat, his hopes
were utterly paralysed; and although he stopped not, his flight was
rather mechanical than the fruit of any systematic plan of escape.

He had now gained the extremity of the bridge, with Ellen Halloway and
Wacousta close in his rear, when suddenly the heads of many men were
once more distinguishable, even in the shadow of the arch that overhung
the sands of the river. Three individuals detached themselves from the
group and leaping upon the further extremity of the bridge, moved
rapidly to meet him. Meanwhile the baronet had stopped suddenly, as if
in doubt whether to advance or to recede. His suspense was but
momentary. Although the persons of these men were disguised as Indian
warriors, the broad moonlight that beamed full on their countenances,
disclosed the well-remembered features of Blessington, Erskine, and
Charles de Haldimar. The latter sprang before his companions, and,
uttering a cry of joy, sank in speechless agony on the neck of his
still unconscious sister.

"For God's sake, free me, De Haldimar!" exclaimed the excited baronet,
disengaging his charge from the embrace of his friend. "This is no
moment for congratulation. Erskine, Blessington, see you not who is
behind me? Be upon your guard; defend your lives!" And as he spoke, he
rushed forward with feint and tottering steps to place his companions
between the unhappy girl and the danger that threatened her.

The swords of the officers were drawn; but instead of advancing upon
the formidable being, who stood as if paralysed at this unexpected
rencontre, the two seniors contented themselves with assuming a
defensive attitude,--retiring slowly and gradually towards the other
extremity of the bridge.

Overcome by his emotion, Charles de Haldimar had not noticed this
action of his companions, and stood apparently riveted to the spot. The
voice of Blessington calling on him by name to retire, seemed to arouse
the dormant consciousness of the unhappy maniac. She uttered a piercing
shriek, and, springing forward, sank on her knees at his feet,
exclaiming, as she forcibly detained him by his dress,--

"Almighty Heaven! where am I? surely that was Captain Blessington's
kind voice I heard; and you--you are Charles de Haldimar. Oh! save my
husband; plead for him with your father!----but no," she continued
wildly,--"he is dead--he is murdered! Behold these hands all covered
with his blood! Oh!----"

"Ha! another De Haldimar!" exclaimed Wacousta, recovering his
slumbering energies, "this spot seems indeed fated for our meeting.
More than thrice have I been balked of my just revenge, but now will I
secure it. Thus, Ellen, do I avenge your husband's and my nephew's
death. My own wrongs demand another sacrifice. But, ha! where is she?
where is Clara? where is my bride?"

Bounding over the ill-fated De Haldimar, who lay, even in death, firmly
clasped in the embrace of the wretched Ellen, the fierce man dashed
furiously forward to renew his pursuit of the fugitives. But suddenly
the extremity of the bridge was filled with a column of armed men, that
kept issuing from the arch beneath. Sensible of his danger, he sought
to make good his retreat; but when he turned for the purpose, the same
formidable array met his view at the opposite extremity; and both
parties now rapidly advanced in double quick time, evidently with a
view of closing upon and taking him prisoner. In this dilemma, his only
hope was in the assistance that might be rendered him by his warriors.
A yell, so terrific as to be distinctly heard in the fort itself, burst
from his vast chest, and rolled in prolonged echoes through the forest.
It was faintly answered from the encampment, and met by deep but
noiseless curses from the exasperated soldiery, whom the sight of their
murdered officer was momentarily working into frenzy.

"Kill him not, for your lives!--I command you, men, kill him not!"
muttered Captain Blessington with suppressed passion, as his troops
were preparing to immolate him on their clustering bayonets. "Such a
death were, indeed, mercy to such a villain."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Wacousta in bitter scorn; "who is there of all your
accursed regiment who will dare to take him alive?" Then brandishing
his tomahawk around him, to prevent their finally closing, he dealt his
blows with such astonishing velocity, that no unguarded point was left
about his person; and more than one soldier was brought to the earth in
the course of the unequal struggle.

"By G--d!" said Captain Erskine, "are the two best companies of the
regiment to be kept at bay by a single desperado? Shame on ye, fellows!
If his hands are too many for you, lay him by the heels."

This ruse was practised with success. In attempting to defend himself
from the attack of those who sought to throw him down, the warrior
necessarily left his upper person exposed; when advantage was taken to
close with him and deprive him of the play of his arms. It was not,
however, without considerable difficulty, that they succeeded in
disarming and binding his hands; after which a strong cord being
fastened round his waist, he was tightly lashed to a gun, which,
contrary to the original intention of the governor, had been sent out
with the expedition. The retreat of the detachment then commenced
rapidly; but it was not without being hotly pursued by the band of
warriors the yell of Wacousta had summoned in pursuit, that they
finally gained the fort: under what feelings of sorrow for the fate of
an officer so beloved, we leave it to our readers to imagine.



CHAPTER XII.

The morning of the next day dawned on few who had pressed their
customary couches--on none, whose feverish pulse and bloodshot eye
failed to attest the utter sleeplessness in which the night had been
passed. Numerous groups of men were to be seep assembling after the
reveille, in various parts of the barrack square--those who had borne a
part in the recent expedition commingling with those who had not, and
recounting to the latter, with mournful look and voice, the
circumstances connected with the bereavement of their universally
lamented officer. As none, however, had seen the blow struck that
deprived him of life, although each had heard the frantic exclamations
of a voice that had been recognised for Ellen Halloway's, much of the
marvellous was necessarily mixed up with truth in their
narrative,--some positively affirming Mr. de Haldimar had not once
quitted his party, and declaring that nothing short of a supernatural
agency could have transported him unnoticed to the fatal spot, where,
in their advance, they had beheld him murdered. The singular appearance
of Ellen Halloway also, at that moment, on the very bridge on which she
had pronounced her curse on the family of De Haldimar, and in company
with the terrible and mysterious being who had borne her off in triumph
on that occasion to the forest, and under circumstances calculated to
excite the most superstitious impressions, was not without its weight
in determining their rude speculations; and all concurred in opinion,
that the death of the unfortunate young officer was a judgment on their
colonel for the little mercy he had extended to the noble-hearted
Halloway.

Then followed allusion to their captive, whose gigantic stature and
efforts at escape, tremendous even as the latter were, were duly
exaggerated by each, with the very laudable view of claiming a
proportionate share of credit for his own individual exertions; and
many and various were the opinions expressed as to the manner of death
he should be made to suffer. Among the most conspicuous of the orators
were those with whom our readers have already made slight acquaintance
in our account of the sortie by Captain Erskine's company for the
recovery of the supposed body of Frederick de Haldimar. One was for
impaling him alive, and setting him up to rot on the platform above the
gate. Another for blowing him from the muzzle of a twenty-four pounder,
into the centre of the first band of Indians that approached the fort,
that thus perceiving they had lost the strength and sinew of their
cunning war, they might be the more easily induced to propose terms of
peace. A third was of opinion he ought to be chained to the top of the
flag-staff, as a target, to be shot at with arrows only, contriving
never to touch a mortal part. A fourth would have had him tied naked
over the sharp spikes that constituted the chevaux-de-frize garnishing
the sides of the drawbridge. Each devised some new death--proposed some
new torture; but all were of opinion, that simply to be shot, or even
to be hanged, was too merciful a punishment for the wretch who had so
wantonly and inhumanly butchered the kind-hearted, gentle-mannered
officer, whom they had almost all known and loved from his very
boyhood; and they looked forward, with mingled anxiety and vengeance,
to the moment when, summoned as it was expected he shortly would be,
before the assembled garrison, he would be made to expiate the atrocity
with his blood.

While the men thus gave indulgence to their indignation and their
grief, their officers were even mere painfully affected. The body of
the ill-fated Charles had been borne to his apartment, where, divested
of its disguise, it had again been inducted in such apparel as was
deemed suited to the purpose. Extended on the very bed on which he lay
at the moment when she, whose maniac raving, and forcible detention,
had been the immediate cause of his destruction, had preferred her wild
but fruitless supplication for mercy, he exhibited, even in death, the
same delicate beauty that had characterised him on that occasion; yet,
with a mildness and serenity of expression on his still, pale features,
strongly in contrast with the agitation and glow of excitement that
then distinguished him. Never was human loveliness in death so marked
as in Charles de Haldimar; and but for the deep wound that, dividing
his clustering locks, had entered from the very crown of the head to
the opening of his marble brow, one ignorant of his fate might have
believed he but profoundly slept. Several women of the regiment were
occupied in those offices about the corpse, which women alone are
capable of performing at such moments, and as they did so, suffered
their tears to flow silently yet abundantly over him, who was no longer
sensible either of human grief or of human joy. Close at the head of
the bed stood an old man, with his face buried in his hands; the latter
reposing against the wainscoting of the room. He, too, wept, but his
weeping was more audible, more painful, and accompanied by suffocating
sobs. It was the humble, yet almost paternally attached servant of the
defunct--the veteran Morrison.

Around the bed were grouped nearly all the officers, standing in
attitudes indicative of anxiety and interest, and gazing mournfully on
the placid features of their ill-fated friend. All, on entering, moved
noiselessly over the rude floor, as though fearful of disturbing the
repose of one who merely slumbered; and the same precaution was
extended to the brief but heartfelt expressions of sorrow that passed,
from one to the other, as they gazed on all that remained of the gentle
De Haldimar. At length the preparations of the women having been
completed, they retired from the room, leaving one of their number
only, rather out of respect than necessity, to remain by the corpse.
When they were departed, this woman, the wife of one of Blessington's
sergeants, and the same who had been present at the scene between Ellen
Halloway and the deceased, cut off a large lock of his beautiful hair,
and separating it into small tresses, handed one to each of the
officers. This considerate action, although unsolicited on the part of
the latter, deeply touched them, as indicating a sense of the high
estimation in which the youth bad been held. It was a tribute to the
memory of him they mourned, of the purest kind; and each, as he
received his portion, acknowledged with a mournful but approving look,
or nod, or word, the motive that bad prompted the offering. Nor was it
a source of less satisfaction, melancholy even as that satisfaction
was, to perceive that, after having set aside another lock, probably
for the sister of the deceased, she selected and consigned to the bosom
of her dress a third, evidently intended for herself. The whole scene
was in striking contrast with the almost utter absence of all
preparation or concern that had preceded the interment of Murphy, on a
former occasion. In one, the rude soldier was mourned,--in the other,
the gentle friend was lamented; nor the latter alone by the companions
to whom intimacy had endeared him, but by those humbler dependants, who
knew him only through those amiable attributes of character, which were
ever equally extended to all. Gradually the officers now moved away in
the same noiseless manner in which they had approached, either in
pursuance of their several duties, or to make their toilet of the
morning. Two only of their number remained near the couch of death.

"Poor unfortunate De Haldimar!" observed one of these, in a low tone,
as if speaking to himself; "too fatally, indeed, have your forebodings
been realised; and what I considered as the mere despondency of a mind
crashed into feebleness by an accumulation of suffering, was, after
all, but the first presentiment of a death no human power might avert.
By Heaven! I would give up half my own being to be able to reanimate
that form once more,--but the wish is vain."

"Who shall announce the intelligence to his sister?" sighed his
companion. "Never will that already nearly heart-broken girl be able to
survive the shock of her brother's death. Blessington, you alone are
fitted to such a task; and, painful as it is, you must undertake it. Is
the colonel apprised of the dreadful truth, do you know?"

"He is. It was told him at the moment of our arrival last night; but
from the little outward emotion displayed by him, I should be tempted
to infer he had almost anticipated some such catastrophe."

"Poor, poor Charles!" bitterly exclaimed Sir Everard Valletort--for it
was he. "What would I not give to recall the rude manner in which I
spurned you from me last night. But, alas! what could I do, laden with
such a trust, and pursued, without the power of defence, by such an
enemy? Little, indeed, did I imagine what was so speedily to be your
doom! Blessington," he pursued, with increased emotion, "it grieves me
to wretchedness to think that he, whom I loved as though he had been my
twin brother, should have perished with his last thoughts, perhaps,
lingering on the seeming unkindness with which I had greeted him after
so anxious an absence."

"Nay, if there be blame, it must attach to me," sorrowfully observed
Captain Blessington. "Had Erskine and myself not retired before the
savage, as we did, our unfortunate friend would in all probability have
been alive at this very hour. But in our anxiety to draw the former
into the ambuscade we had prepared for him, we utterly overlooked that
Charles was not retreating with us."

"How happened it," demanded Sir Everard, his attention naturally
directed to the subject by the preceding remarks, "that you lay thus in
ambuscade, when the object of the expedition, as solicited by Frederick
de Haldimar, was an attempt to reach us in the encampment of the
Indians?"

"It certainly was under that impression we left the fort; but, on
coming to the spot where the friendly Indian lay waiting to conduct us,
he proposed the plan we subsequently adopted as the most likely, not
only to secure the escape of the prisoners, whom he pledged himself to
liberate, but to defend ourselves with advantage against Wacousta and
the immediate guard set over them, should they follow in pursuit.
Erskine approving, as well as myself, of the plan, we halted at the
bridge, and disposed of our men under each extremity; so that, if
attacked by the Indians in front, we might be enabled to throw them
into confusion by taking them in rear, as they flung themselves upon
the bridge. The event seemed to answer our expectations. The alarm
raised in the encampment satisfied us the young Indian had contrived to
fulfil his promise; and we momentarily looked for the appearance of
those whose flight we naturally supposed would be directed towards the
bridge. To our great surprise, however, we remarked that the sounds of
pursuit, instead of approaching us, seemed to take an opposite
direction, apparently towards the point whence we had seen the
prisoners disembarked in the morning. At length, when almost tempted to
regret we had not pushed boldly on, in conformity with our first
intention, we heard the shrill cries of a woman; and, not long
afterwards, the sounds of human feet rushing down the slope. What our
sensations were, you may imagine; for we all believed it to be either
Clara or Madeline de Haldimar fleeing alone, and pursued by our
ferocious enemies. To show ourselves would, we were sensible, be to
ensure the death of the pursued, before we could possibly come up; and,
although it was with difficulty we repressed the desire to rush forward
to the rescue, our better judgment prevailed. Finally we saw you
approach, followed closely by what appeared to be a mere boy of an
Indian, and, at a considerable distance, by the tall warrior of the
Fleur de lis. We imagined there was time enough for you to gain the
bridge; and finding your more formidable pursuer was only accompanied
by the youth already alluded to, conceived at that moment the design of
making him our prisoner. Still there were half a dozen muskets ready to
be levelled on him should he approach too near to his fugitives, or
manifest any other design than that of simply recapturing them. How
well our plan succeeded you are aware; but, alas!" and he glanced
sorrowfully at the corpse, "why was our success to be embittered by so
great a sacrifice?"

"Ah, would to Heaven that he at least had been spared," sighed Sir
Everard, as he took the wan white hand of his friend in his own; "and
yet I know not: he looks so calm, so happy in death, it is almost
selfish to repine he has escaped the horrors that still await us in
this dreadful warfare. But what of Frederick and Madeline de Haldimar?
From the statement you have given, they must have been liberated by the
young Ottawa before he came to me; yet, what could have induced them to
have taken a course of flight so opposite to that which promised their
only chance of safety?"

"Heaven only knows," returned Captain Blessington. "I fear they have
again been recaptured by the savages; in which case their doom is
scarcely doubtful; unless, indeed, our prisoner of last night be given
up in exchange for them."

"Then will their liberty be purchased at a terrible price," remarked
the baronet. "Will you believe, Blessington, that that man, whose
enmity to our colonel seems almost devilish, was once an officer in
this very regiment?"

"You astonish me, Valletort.--Impossible! and yet it has always been
apparent to me they were once associates."

"I heard him relate his history only last night to Clara, whom he had
the audacity to sully with proposals to become his bride," pursued the
baronet. "His tale was a most extraordinary one. He narrated it,
however, only up to the period when the life of De Haldimar was
attempted by him at Quebec. But with his subsequent history we are all
acquainted, through the fame of his bloody atrocities in all the posts
that have fallen into the hands of Ponteac. That man, savage and even
fiendish as he now is, was once possessed of the noblest qualities. I
am sorry to say it; but Colonel de Haldimar has brought this present
affliction upon himself. At some future period I will tell you all."

"Alas!" said Captain Blessington, "poor Charles, then, has been made to
pay the penalty of his father's errors; and, certainly, the greatest of
these was his dooming the unfortunate Halloway to death in the manner
he did."

"What think you of the fact of Halloway being the nephew of this
extraordinary man, and both of high family?" demanded Sir Everard.

"Indeed! and was the latter, then, aware of the connection?"

"Not until last night," replied Sir Everard. "Some observations made by
the wretched wife of Halloway, in the course of which she named his
true name, (which was that of the warrior also,) first indicated the
fact to the latter. But, what became of that unfortunate creature?--was
she brought in?"

"I understand not," said Captain Blessington. "In the confusion and
hurry of securing our prisoner, and the apprehension of immediate
attack from his warriors, Ellen was entirely overlooked. Some of my men
say they left her lying, insensible, on the spot whence they had raised
the body of our unfortunate friend, which they had some difficulty in
releasing from her convulsive embrace. But, hark! there is the first
drum for parade, and I have not yet exchanged my Indian garb."

Captain Blessington now quitted the room, and Sir Everard, relieved
from the restraining presence of his companions, gave free vent to his
emotion, throwing himself upon the body of his friend, and giving
utterance to the feelings of anguish that oppressed his heart.

He had continued some minutes in this position, when he fancied he felt
the warm tears of a human being bedewing a hand that reposed on the
neck of his unfortunate friend. He looked up, and, to his infinite
surprise, beheld Clara de Haldimar standing before him at the opposite
side of the bed. Her likeness to her brother, at that moment, was so
striking, that, for a second or two, the irrepressible thought passed
through the mind of the officer, it was not a living being he gazed
upon, but the immaterial spirit of his friend. The whole attitude and
appearance of the wretched girl, independently of the fact of her
noiseless entrance, tended to favour the delusion. Her features, of an
ashy paleness, seemed fixed, even as those of the corpse beneath him;
and, but for the tears that coursed silently down her cheek, there was
scarcely an outward evidence of emotion. Her dress was a simple white
robe, fastened round her waist with a pale blue riband; and over her
shoulders hung her redundant hair, resembling in colour, and disposed
much in the manner of that of her brother, which had been drawn
negligently down to conceal the wound on his brow. For some moments the
baronet gazed at her in speechless agony. Her tranquil exterior was
torture to him; for he, feared it betokened some alienation of reason.
He would have preferred to witness the most hysteric convulsion of
grief, rather than that traitorous calm; and yet he had not the power
to seek to remove it.

"You are surprised to see me here, mingling my grief with yours, Sir
Everard," she at length observed, with the same calm mien, and in tones
of touching sweetness. "I came, with my father's permission, to take a
last farewell of him whose death has broken my heart. I expected to be
alone; but--Nay, do not go," she added, perceiving that the officer was
about to depart. "Had you not been here, I should have sent for you;
for we have both a sacred duty to perform. May I not ask your hand?"

More and more dismayed at her collected manner, the young officer gazed
at her with the deepest sorrow depicted in every line of his own
countenance. He extended his hand, and Clara, to his surprise, grasped
and pressed it firmly.

"It was the wish of this poor boy that his Clara should be the wife of
his friend, Sir Everard. Did he ever express such to you?"

"It was the fondest desire of his heart," returned the baronet, unable
to restrain the emotion of joy that mingled, despite of himself, with
his worst apprehensions.

"I need not ask how you received his proposal," continued Clara, with
the same calmness of manner. "Last night," she pursued solemnly, "I was
the bride of the murderer of my brother, of the lover of my
mother,--tomorrow night I may be the bride of death; but to-night I am
the bride of my brother's friend. Yes, here am I come to pledge myself
to the fulfilment of his wish. If you deem a heart-broken girl not
unworthy of you, I am your wife, Sir Everard; and, recollect, it is a
solemn pledge, that which a sister gives over the lifeless body of a
brother, beloved as this has been."

"Oh, Clara--dearest Clara," passionately exclaimed the excited young
man, "if a life devoted to your happiness can repay you for this, count
upon it as you would upon your eternal salvation. In you will I love
both my friend and the sister he has bequeathed to me. Clara, my
betrothed wife, summon all the energies of your nature to sustain this
cruel shock; and exert yourself for him who will be to you both a
brother and a husband."

As he spoke he drew the unresisting girl towards him, and, locking her
in his embrace, pressed, for the first time, the lips, which it had
maddened him the preceding night to see polluted by the forcible kisses
of Wacousta. But Clara shared not, but merely suffered his momentary
happiness. Her cheek wore not the crimson of excitement, neither were
her tears discontinued. She seemed as one who mechanically submitted to
what she had no power of resistance to oppose; and even in the embrace
of her affianced husband, she exhibited the same deathlike calm that
had startled him at her first appearance. Religion could not hallow a
purer feeling than that which had impelled the action of the young
officer. The very consciousness of the sacred pledge having been
exchanged over the corpse of his friend, imparted a holiness of fervour
to his mind; and even while he pressed her, whom he secretly swore to
love with all the affection of a fond brother and a husband united, he
felt that if the spirit of him, who slept unconscious of the scene,
were suffered to linger near, it would be to hallow it with approval.

"And now," said Clara at length, yet without attempting to disengage
herself,--"now that we are united, I would be alone with my brother. My
husband, leave me."

Deeply touched at the name of husband, Sir Everard could not refrain
from imprinting another kiss on the lips that uttered it. He then
gently disengaged himself from his lovely but suffering charge, whom he
deposited with her head resting on the bed; and making a significant
motion of his hand to the woman, who, as well as old Morrison, had been
spectators of the whole scene, stole gently from the apartment, under
what mingled emotions of joy and grief it would be difficult to
describe.



CHAPTER XIII.

It was the eighth hour of morning, and both officers and men, quitting
their ill-relished meal, were to be seen issuing to the parade, where
the monotonous roll of the assemblee now summoned them. Presently the
garrison was formed in the order we have described in our first volume;
that is to say, presenting three equal sides of a square. The vacant
space fronted the guard-house, near one extremity of which was to be
seen a flight of steps communicating with the rampart, where the
flag-staff was erected. Several men were employed at this staff,
passing strong ropes through iron pulleys that were suspended from the
extreme top, while in the basement of the staff itself, to a height of
about twenty feet, were stuck at intervals strong wooden pegs, serving
as steps to the artillerymen for greater facility in clearing, when
foul, the lines to which the colours were attached. The latter had been
removed; and, from the substitution of a cord considerably stronger
than that which usually appeared there, it seemed as if some far
heavier weight was about to be appended to it. Gradually the men,
having completed their unusual preparations, quitted the rampart, and
the flagstaff, which was of tapering pine, was left totally unguarded.

The "Attention!" of Major Blackwater to the troops, who had been
hitherto standing in attitudes of expectancy that rendered the
injunction almost superfluous, announced the approach of the governor.
Soon afterwards that officer entered the area, wearing his
characteristic dignity of manner, yet exhibiting every evidence of one
who had suffered deeply. Preparation for a drum-head court-martial, as
in the first case of Halloway, had already been made within the square,
and the only actor wanting in the drama was he who was to be tried.

Once Colonel de Haldimar made an effort to command his appearance, but
the huskiness of his voice choked his utterance, and he was compelled
to pause. After the lapse of a few moments, he again ordered, but in a
voice that was remarked to falter,--

"Mr. Lawson, let the prisoner be brought forth."

The feeling of suspense that ensued between the delivery and execution
of this command was painful throughout the ranks. All were penetrated
with curiosity to behold a man who had several times appeared to them
under the most appalling circumstances, and against whom the strongest
feeling of indignation had been excited for his barbarous murder of
Charles de Haldimar. It was with mingled awe and anger they now awaited
his approach. At length the captive was seen advancing from the cell in
which he had been confined, his gigantic form towering far above those
of the guard of grenadiers by whom he was surrounded; and with a
haughtiness in his air, and insolence in his manner, that told he came
to confront his enemy with a spirit unsubdued by the fate that too
probably awaited him.

Many an eye was turned upon the governor at that moment. He was
evidently struggling for composure to meet the scene he felt it to be
impossible to avoid; and he turned pale and paler as his enemy drew
near.

At length the prisoner stood nearly in the same spot where his
unfortunate nephew had lingered on a former occasion. He was unchained;
but his hands were firmly secured behind his back. He threw himself
into an attitude of carelessness, resting on one foot, and tapping the
earth with the other; riveting his eye, at the same time, with an
expression of the most daring insolence, on the governor, while his
swarthy cheek was moreover lighted up with a smile of the deepest scorn.

"You are Reginald Morton the outlaw, I believe," at length observed the
governor in an uncertain tone, that, however, acquired greater firmness
as he proceeded,--"one whose life has already been forfeited through
his treasonable practices in Europe, and who has, moreover, incurred
the penalty of an ignominious death, by acting in this country as a spy
of the enemies of England. What say you, Reginald Morton, that you
should not be convicted in the death that awaits the traitor?"

"Ha! ha! by Heaven, such cold, pompous insolence amuses me,"
vociferated Wacousta. "It reminds me of Ensign de Haldimar of nearly
five and twenty years back, who was then as cunning a dissembler as he
is now." Suddenly changing his ribald tone to one of scorn and
rage:--"You BELIEVE me, you say, to be Reginald Morton the outlaw. Well
do you know it. I am that Sir Reginald Morton, who became an outlaw,
not through his own crimes, but through your villainy. Ay, frown as you
may, I heed it not. You may award me death, but shall not chain my
tongue. To your whole regiment do I proclaim you for a false,
remorseless villain." Then turning his flashing eye along the
ranks:--"I was once an officer in this corps, and long before any of
you wore the accursed uniform. That man, that fiend, affected to be my
friend; and under the guise of friendship, stole into the heart I loved
better than my own life. Yes," fervently pursued the excited prisoner,
stamping violently with his foot upon the earth, "he robbed me of my
affianced wife; and for that I resented an outrage that should have
banished him to some lone region, where he might never again pollute
human nature with his presence--he caused me to be tried by a
court-martial, and dismissed the service. Then, indeed, I became the
outlaw he has described, but not until then. Now, Colonel de Haldimar,
that I have proclaimed your infamy, poor and inefficient as the triumph
be, do your worst--I ask no mercy. Yesterday I thought that years of
toilsome pursuit of the means of vengeance were about to be crowned
with success; but fate has turned the tables on me and I yield."

To all but the baronet and Captain Blessington this declaration was
productive of the utmost surprise. Every eye was turned upon the
colonel. He grew impatient under the scrutiny, and demanded if the
court, who meanwhile had been deliberating, satisfied of the guilt of
the prisoner, had come to a decision in regard to his punishment. An
affirmative answer was given, and Colonel de Haldimar proceeded.

"Reginald Morton, with the private misfortunes of your former life we
have nothing to do. It is the decision of this court, who are merely
met out of form, that you suffer immediate death by hanging, as a just
recompense for your double treason to your country. There," and he
pointed to the flag-staff, "will you be exhibited to the misguided
people whom your wicked artifices have stirred up into hostility
against us. When they behold your fate, they will take warning from
your example; and, finding we have heads and arms not to suffer offence
with impunity, be more readily brought to obedience."

"I understand your allusion," coolly rejoined Wacousta, glancing
earnestly at, and apparently measuring with his eye, the dimensions of
the conspicuous scaffold on which he was to suffer. "You had ever a
calculating head, De Haldimar, where any secret villainy, any thing to
promote your own selfish ends, was to be gained by it; but your
calculation seems now, methinks, at fault."

Colonel de Haldimar looked at him enquiringly.

"You have STILL a son left," pursued the prisoner with the same
recklessness of manner, and in a tone denoting allusion to him who was
no more, that caused an universal shudder throughout the ranks. "He is
in the hands of the Ottawa Indians, and I am the friend of their great
chief, inferior only in power among the tribe to himself. Think you
that he will see me hanged up like a dog, and fail to avenge my
disgraceful death?"

"Ha! presumptuous renegade, is this the deep game you have in view?
Hope you then to stipulate for the preservation of a life every way
forfeited to the offended justice of your country? Dare you to cherish
the belief, that, after the horrible threats so often denounced by you,
you will again be let loose upon a career of crime and blood?"

"None of your cant, de Haldimar, as I once observed to you before,"
coolly retorted Wacousta, with bitter sarcasm. "Consult your own heart,
and ask if its catalogue of crime be not far greater than my own: yet I
ask not my life. I would but have the manner of my fate altered, and
fain would die the death of the soldier I WAS before you rendered me
the wretch I AM. Methinks the boon is not so great, if the restoration
of your son be the price."

"Do you mean, then," eagerly returned the governor, "that if the mere
mode of your death be changed, my son shall be restored?"

"I do," was the calm reply.

"What pledge have we of the fact? What faith can we repose in the word
of a fiend, whose brutal vengeance has already sacrificed the gentlest
life that ever animated human clay?" Here the emotion of the governor
almost choked, his utterance, and considerable agitation and murmuring
were manifested in the ranks.

"Gentle, said you?" replied the prisoner, musingly; "then did he
resemble his mother, whom I loved, even as his brother resembles you
whom I have had so much reason to hate. Had I known the boy to be what
you describe, I might have felt some touch of pity even while I delayed
not to strike his death blow; but the false moonlight deceived me, and
the detested name of De Haldimar, pronounced by the lips of my nephew's
wife--that wife whom your cold-blooded severity had widowed and driven
mad--was in itself sufficient to ensure his doom."

"Inhuman ruffian!" exclaimed the governor, with increasing indignation;
"to the point. What pledge have you to offer that my son will be
restored?"

"Nay, the pledge is easily given, and without much risk. You have only
to defer my death until your messenger return from his interview with
Ponteac. If Captain de Haldimar accompany him back, shoot me as I have
requested; if he come not, then it is but to hang me after all."

"Ha! I understand you; this is but a pretext to gain time, a device to
enable your subtle brain to plan some mode of escape."

"As you will, Colonel de Haldimar," calmly retorted Wacousta; and again
he sank into silence, with the air of one utterly indifferent to
results.

"Do you mean," resumed the colonel, "that a request from yourself to
the Ottawa chief will obtain the liberation of my son?"

"Unless the Indian be false as yourself, I do."

"And of the lady who is with him?" continued the colonel, colouring
with anger.

"Of both."

"How is the message to be conveyed?"

"Ha, sir!" returned the prisoner, drawing himself up to his full
height, "now are you arrived at a point that is pertinent. My wampum
belt will be the passport, and the safeguard of him you send; then for
the communication. There are certain figures, as you are aware, that,
traced on bark, answer the same purpose among the Indians with the
European language of letters. Let my hands be cast loose," he pursued,
but in a tone in which agitation and excitement might be detected, "and
if bark be brought me, and a burnt stick or coal, I will give you not
only a sample of Indian ingenuity, but a specimen of my own progress in
Indian acquirements."

"What, free your hands, and thus afford you a chance of escape?"
observed the governor, doubtingly.

Wacousta bent his stedfast gaze on him for a few moments, as if he
questioned he had heard aright. Then bursting into a wild and scornful
laugh,--"By Heaven!" he exclaimed, "this is, indeed, a high compliment
you pay me at the expense of these fine fellows. What, Colonel de
Haldimar afraid to liberate an unarmed prisoner, hemmed in by a forest
of bayonets? This is good; gentlemen," and he bent himself in sarcastic
reverence to the astonished troops, "I beg to offer you my very best
congratulations on the high estimation in which you are held by your
colonel."

"Peace, sirrah!" exclaimed the governor, enraged beyond measure at the
insolence of him who thus held him up to contempt before his men, "or,
by Heaven, I will have your tongue cut out!--Mr. Lawson, let what this
fellow requires be procured immediately." Then addressing Lieutenant
Boyce, who commanded the immediate guard over the prisoner,--"Let his
hands be liberated, sir, and enjoin your men to be watchful of the
movements of this supple traitor. His activity I know of old to be
great, and he seems to have doubled it since he assumed that garb."

The command was executed, and the prisoner stood, once more, free and
unfettered in every muscular limb. A deep and unbroken silence ensued;
and the return of the adjutant was momentarily expected. Suddenly a
loud scream was heard, and the slight figure of a female, clad in
white, came rushing from the piazza in which the apartment of the
deceased De Haldimar was situated. It was Clara. The guard of Wacousta
formed the fourth front of the square; but they were drawn up somewhat
in the distance, so as to leave an open space of several feet at the
angles. Through one of these the excited girl now passed into the area,
with a wildness in her air and appearance that riveted every eye in
painful interest upon her. She paused not until she had gained the side
of the captive, at whose feet she now sank in an attitude expressive of
the most profound despair.

"Tiger!--monster!" she raved, "restore my brother!--give me back the
gentle life you have taken, or destroy my own! See, I am a weak
defenceless girl: can you not strike?--you who have no pity for the
innocent. But come," she pursued, mournfully, regaining her feet and
grasping his iron hand,--"come and see the sweet calm face of him you
have slain:--come with me, and behold the image of Clara Beverley; and,
if you ever loved her as you say you did, let your soul be touched with
remorse for your crime."

The excitement and confusion produced by this unexpected interruption
was great. Murmurs of compassion for the unhappy Clara, and of
indignation against the prisoner, were no longer sought to be repressed
by the men; while the officers, quitting their places in the ranks,
grouped themselves indiscriminately in the foreground. One, more
impatient than his companions, sprang forward, and forcibly drew away
the delicate, hand that still grasped that of the captive. It was Sir
Everard Valletort.

"Clara, my beloved wife!" he exclaimed, to the astonishment of all who
heard him, "pollute not your lips by further communion with such a
wretch; his heart is as inaccessible to pity as the rugged rocks on
which his spring-life was passed. For Heaven's sake,--for my
sake,--linger not within his reach. There is death in his very
presence."

"Your wife, sir!" haughtily observed the governor, with irrepressible
astonishment and indignation in his voice; "what mean you?--Gentlemen,
resume your places in the ranks.--Clara--Miss de Haldimar, I command
you to retire instantly to your apartment.--We will discourse of this
later, Sir Everard Valletort. I trust you have not dared to offer an
indignity to my child."

While he was yet turned to that officer, who had taken his post, as
commanded, in the inner angle of the square, and with a countenance
that denoted the conflicting emotions of his soul, he was suddenly
startled by the confused shout and rushing forward of the whole body,
both of officers and men. Before he had time to turn, a loud and
well-remembered yell burst upon his ear. The next moment, to his
infinite surprise and horror, he beheld the bold warrior rapidly
ascending the very staff that had been destined for his scaffold, and
with Clara in his arms.

Great was the confusion that ensued. To rush forward and surround the
flag-staff, was the immediate action of the troops. Many of the men
raised their muskets, and in the excitement of the moment, would have
fired, had they not been restrained by their officers, who pointed out
the certain destruction it would entail on the unfortunate Clara. With
the rapidity of thought, Wacousta had snatched up his victim, while the
attention of the troops was directed to the singular conversation
passing between the governor and Sir Everard Valletort, and darting
through one of the open angles already alluded to, had gained the
rampart before they had recovered from the stupor produced by his
daring action. Stepping lightly upon the pegs, he had rapidly ascended
to the utmost height of these, before any one thought of following him;
and then grasping in his teeth the cord which was to have served for
his execution, and holding Clara firmly against his chest, while he
embraced the smooth staff with knees and feet closely compressed around
it, accomplished the difficult ascent with an ease that astonished all
who beheld him. Gradually, as he approached the top, the tapering pine
waved to and fro; and at each moment it was expected, that, yielding to
their united weight, it would snap asunder, and precipitate both Clara
and himself, either upon the rampart, or into the ditch beyond.

More than one officer now attempted to follow the fugitive in his
adventurous course; but even Lieutenant Johnstone, the most active and
experienced in climbing of the party, was unable to rise more than a
few yards above the pegs that afforded a footing, add the enterprise
was abandoned as an impossibility. At length Wacousta was seen to gain
the extreme summit. For a moment he turned his gaze anxiously beyond
the town, in the direction of the bridge; and, after pealing forth one
of his terrific yells, exclaimed, exultingly, as he turned his eye upon
his enemy:--

"Well, colonel, what think you of this sample of Indian ingenuity? Did
I not tell you," he continued, in mockery, "that, if my hands were but
free, I would give you a specimen of my progress in Indian
acquirements?"

"If you would avoid a death even more terrible than that of hanging,"
shouted the governor, in a voice of mingled rage and terror, "restore
my daughter."

"Ha! ha! ha!--excellent!" vociferated the savage. "You threaten
largely, my good governor; but your threats are harmless as those of a
weak besieging army before an impregnable fortress. It is for the
strongest, however, to propose his terms.--If I restore this girl to
life, will you pledge yourself to mine?"

"Never!" thundered Colonel de Haldimar, with unusual energy.--"Men,
procure axes; cut the flag-staff down, since this is the only means
left of securing yon insolent traitor! Quick to your work: and mark,
who first seizes him shall have promotion on the spot."

Axes were instantly procured, and two of the men now lent themselves
vigorously to the task. Wacousta seemed to watch these preparations
with evident anxiety; and to all it appeared as if his courage had been
paralysed by this unexpected action. No sooner, however, had the axemen
reached the heart of the staff, than, holding Clara forth over the edge
of the rampart, he shouted,--

"One stroke more, and she perishes!"

Instantaneously the work was discontinued. A silence of a few moments
ensued. Every eye was turned upward,--every heart beat with terror to
see the delicate girl, held by a single arm, and apparently about to be
precipitated from that dizzying height. Again Wacousta shouted,--

"Life for life, De Haldimar! If I yield her shall I live?"

"No terms shall be dictated to me by a rebel, in the heart of my own
fort," returned the governor. "Restore my child, and we will then
consider what mercy may be extended to you."

"Well do I know what mercy dwells in such a heart as yours," gloomily
remarked the prisoner; "but I come."

"Surround the staff, men," ordered the governor, in a low tone. "The
instant he descends, secure him: lash him in every limb, nor suffer
even his insolent tongue to be longer at liberty."

"Boyce, for God's sake open the gate, and place men in readiness to
lower the drawbridge," implored Sir Everard of the officer of the
guard, and in a tone of deep emotion that was not meant to be overheard
by the governor. "I fear the boldness of this vengeful man may lead him
to some desperate means of escape."

While the officer whom he addressed issued a command, the
responsibility of which he fancied he might, under the peculiar
circumstances of the moment, take upon himself, Wacousta began his
descent, not as before, by adhering to the staff, but by the rope which
he held in his left hand, while he still supported the apparently
senseless Clara against his right chest with the other.

"Now, Colonel de Haldimar, I hope your heart is at rest," he shouted,
as he rapidly glided by the cord; "enjoy your triumph as best may suit
your pleasure."

Every eye followed his movement with interest; every heart beat lighter
at the certainty of Clara being again restored, and without other
injury than the terror she must have experienced in such a scene. Each
congratulated himself on the favourable termination of the terrible
adventure, yet were all ready to spring upon and secure the desperate
author of the wrong. Wacousta had now reached the centre of the
flag-staff. Pausing for a moment, he grappled it with his strong and
nervous feet, on which he apparently rested, to give a momentary relief
to the muscles of his left arm. He then abruptly abandoned his hold,
swinging himself out a few yards from the staff, and returning again,
dashed his feet against it with a force that caused the weakened mass
to vibrate to its very foundation. Impelled by his weight, and the
violence of his action, the creaking pine gave way; its lofty top
gradually bending over the exterior rampart until it finally snapped
asunder, and fell with a loud crash across the ditch.

"Open the gate, down with the drawbridge!" exclaimed the excited
governor.

"Down with the drawbridge," repeated Sir Everard to the men already
stationed there ready to let loose at the first order. The heavy chains
rattled sullenly through the rusty pulleys, and to each the bridge
seemed an hour descending. Before it had reached its level, it was
covered with the weight of many armed men rushing confusedly to the
front; and the foremost of these leaped to the earth before it had sunk
into its customary bed. Sir Everard Valletort and Lieutenant Johnstone
were in the front, both armed with their rifles, which had been brought
them before Wacousta commenced his descent. Without order or
combination, Erskine, Blessington, and nearly half of their respective
companies, followed as they could; and dispersing as they advanced,
sought only which could outstep his fellows in the pursuit.

Meanwhile the fugitive, assisted in his fall by the gradual rending
asunder of the staff, had obeyed the impulsion first given to his
active form, until, suddenly checking himself by the rope, he dropped
with his feet downward into the centre of the ditch. For a moment he
disappeared, then came again uninjured to the surface; and in the face
of more than fifty men, who, lining the rampart with their muskets
levelled to take him at advantage the instant he should reappear,
seemed to laugh their efforts to scorn. Holding Clara before him as a
shield, through which the bullets of his enemies must pass before they
could attain him, he impelled his gigantic form with a backward
movement towards the opposite bank, which he rapidly ascended; and,
still fronting his enemies, commenced his flight in that manner with a
speed which (considering the additional weight of the drenched garments
of both) was inconceivable. The course taken by him was not through the
town, but circuitously across the common until he arrived on that
immediate line whence, as we have before stated, the bridge was
distinctly visible from the rampart; on which, nearly the whole of the
remaining troops, in defiance of the presence of their austere chief,
were now eagerly assembled, watching, with unspeakable interest, the
progress of the chase.

Desperate as were the exertions of Wacousta, who evidently continued
this mode of flight from a conviction that the instant his person was
left exposed the fire-arms of his pursuers would be brought to bear
upon him, the two officers in front, animated by the most extraordinary
exertions, were rapidly gaining upon him. Already was one within fifty
yards of him, when a loud yell was heard from the bridge. This was
fiercely answered by the fleeing man, and in a manner that implied his
glad sense of coming rescue. In the wild exultation of the moment, he
raised Clara high above his head, to show her in triumph to the
governor, whose person his keen eye could easily distinguish among
those crowded upon the rampart. In the gratified vengeance of that
hour, he seemed utterly to overlook the actions of those who were so
near him. During this brief scene, Sir Everard had dropped upon one
knee, and supporting his elbow on the other, aimed his rifle at the
heart of the ravisher of his wife. An exulting shout burst from the
pursuing troops. Wacousta bounded a few feet in air, and placing his
hand to his side, uttered another yell, more appalling than any that
had hitherto escaped him. His flight was now uncertain and wavering. He
staggered as one who had received a mortal wound; and discontinuing his
unequal mode of retreat, turned his back upon his pursuers, and threw
all his remaining energies into a final effort at escape.

Inspirited by the success of his shot, and expecting momentarily to see
him fall weakened with the loss of blood, the excited Valletort
redoubled his exertions. To his infinite joy, he found that the efforts
of the fugitive became feebler at each moment Johnstone was about
twenty paces behind him, and the pursuing party at about the same
distance from Johnstone. The baronet had now reached his enemy, and
already was the butt of his rifle raised with both hands with murderous
intent, when suddenly Wacousta, every feature distorted with rage and
pain, turned like a wounded lion at bay, and eluding the blow,
deposited the unconscious form of his victim upon the sward. Springing
upon his infinitely weaker pursuer, he grappled him furiously by the
throat, exclaiming through his clenched teeth:--

"Nay then, since you will provoke your fate--be it so. Die like a dog,
and be d--d, for having balked me--of my just revenge!"

As he spoke, he hurled the gasping officer to the earth with a violence
that betrayed the dreadful excitement of his soul, and again hastened
to assure himself of his prize.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Johnstone had come up, and, seeing his companion
struggling as he presumed, with advantage, with his severely wounded
enemy, made it his first care to secure the unhappy girl; for whose
recovery the pursuit had been principally instituted. Quitting his
rifle, he now essayed to raise her in his arms. She was without life or
consciousness, and the impression on his mind was that she was dead.

While in the act of raising her, the terrible Wacousta stood at his
side, his vast chest heaving forth a laugh of mingled rage and
contempt. Before the officer could extricate, with a view of defending
himself, his arms were pinioned as though in a vice; and ere he could
recover from his surprise, he felt himself lifted up and thrown to a
considerable distance. When he opened his eyes a moment afterwards, he
was lying amid the moving feet of his own men.

From the instant of the closing of the unfortunate Valletort with his
enemy, the Indians, hastening to the assistance of their chief, had
come up, and a desultory fire had already commenced, diverting, in a
great degree, the attention of the troops from the pursued. Emboldened
by this new aspect of things Wacousta now deliberately grasped the
rifle that had been abandoned by Johnstone; and raising it to his
shoulder, fired among the group collected on the ramparts. For a moment
he watched the result of his shot, and then, pealing forth another
fierce yell, he hurled the now useless weapon into the very heart of
his pursuers; and again raising Clara in his arms, once more commenced
his retreat, which, under cover of the fire of his party, was easily
effected.

"Who has fallen?" demanded the governor of his adjutant, perceiving
that some one had been hit at his side, yet without taking his eyes off
his terrible enemy.

"Mr. Delme, sir," was the reply. "He has been shot through the heart,
and his men are bearing him from the rampart."

"This must not be," resumed the governor with energy. "Private feelings
must no longer be studied at the expense of the public good. That
pursuit is hopeless; and already too many of my officers have fallen.
Desire the retreat to be sounded, Mr. Lawson. Captain Wentworth, let
one or two covering guns be brought to bear upon the savages. They are
gradually increasing hi numbers; and if we delay, the party will be
wholly cut off."

In issuing these orders, Colonel de Haldimar evinced a composedness
that astonished all who heard him. But although his voice was calm,
despair was upon his brow. Still he continued to gaze fixedly on the
retreating form of his enemy, until he finally disappeared behind the
orchard of the Canadian of the Fleur de lis.

Obeying the summons from the fort, the troops without now commenced
their retreat, bearing off the bodies of their fallen officers and
several of their comrades who had fallen by the Indian fire. There was
a show of harassing them on their return; but they were too near the
fort to apprehend much danger. Two or three well-directed discharges of
artillery effectually checked the onward progress of the savages; and,
in the course of a minute, they had again wholly disappeared.

In gloomy silence, and with anger and disappointment in their hearts,
the detachment now re-entered the fort. Johnstone was only severely
bruised; Sir Everard Valletort not dead. Both were conveyed to the same
room, where they were instantly attended by the surgeon, who pronounced
the situation of the latter hopeless.

Major Blackwater, Captains Blessington and Erskine, Lieutenants Leslie
and Boyce, and Ensigns Fortescue and Summers, were now the only
regimental officers that remained of thirteen originally comprising the
strength of the garrison. The whole of these stood grouped around their
colonel, who seemed transfixed to the spot he had first occupied on the
rampart, with his arms folded, and his gaze bent in the direction in
which he had lost sight of Wacousta and his child.

Hitherto the morning had been cold and cheerless, and objects in the
far distance were but indistinctly seen through a humid atmosphere. At
about half an hour before mid-day the air became more rarified, and,
the murky clouds gradually disappearing, left the blue autumnal sky
without spot or blemish. Presently, as the bells of the fort struck
twelve, a yell as of a legion of devils rent the air; and, riveting
their gaze in that direction, all beheld the bridge, hitherto deserted,
suddenly covered with a multitude of savages, among whom were several
individuals attired in the European garb, and evidently prisoners. Each
officer had a telescope raised to his eye, and each prepared himself,
shudderingly, for some horrid consummation. Presently the bridge was
cleared of all but a double line of what appeared to be women, armed
with war-clubs and tomahawks. Along the line were now seen to pass, in
slow succession, the prisoners that had previously been observed. At
each step they took (and it was evident they had been compelled to run
the gauntlet), a blow was inflicted by some one or other of the line,
until the wretched victims were successively despatched. A loud yell
from the warriors, who, although hidden from view by the intervening
orchards, were evidently merely spectators in the bloody drama,
announced each death. These yells were repeated, at intervals, to about
the number of thirty, when, suddenly, the bridge was again deserted as
before.

After the lapse of a minute, the tall figure of a warrior was seen to
advance, holding a female in his arms. No one could mistake, even at
that distance, the gigantic proportions of Wacousta,--as he stood in
the extreme centre of the bridge, in imposing relief against the flood
that glittered like a sea of glass beyond. From his chest there now
burst a single yell; but, although audible, it was fainter than any
remembered ever to have been heard from him by the garrison. He then
advanced to the extreme edge of the bridge; and, raising the form of
the female far above his head with his left hand, seemed to wave her in
vengeful triumph. A second warrior was seen upon the bridge, and
stealing cautiously to the same point. The right hand of the first
warrior was now raised and brandished in air; in the next instant it
descended upon the breast of the female, who fell from his arms into
the ravine beneath. Yells of triumph from the Indians, and shouts of
execration from the soldiers, mingled faintly together. At that moment
the arm of the second warrior was raised, and a blade was seen to
glitter in the sunshine. His arm descended, and Wacousta was observed
to stagger forward and fall heavily into the abyss into which his
victim had the instant before been precipitated. Another loud yell, but
of disappointment and anger, was heard drowning that of exultation
pealed by the triumphant warrior, who, darting to the open extremity of
the bridge, directed his flight along the margin of the river, where a
light canoe was ready to receive him. Into this he sprang, and, seizing
the paddle, sent the waters foaming from its sides; and, pursuing his
way across the river, had nearly gained the shores of Canada before a
bark was to be seen following in pursuit.

How felt--how acted Colonel de Haldimar throughout this brief but
terrible scene? He uttered not a word. With his arms still folded
across his breast, he gazed upon the murder of his child; but he heaved
not a groan, he shed not a tear. A momentary triumph seemed to,
irradiate his pallid features, when he saw the blow struck that
annihilated his enemy; but it was again instantly shaded by an
expression of the most profound despair.

"It is done, gentlemen," he at length remarked. "The tragedy is closed,
the curse of Ellen Halloway is fulfilled, and I
am--childless!--Blackwater," he pursued, endeavouring to stifle the
emotion produced by the last reflection, "pay every attention to the
security of the garrison, see that the drawbridge is again properly
chained up, and direct that the duties of the troops be prosecuted in
every way as heretofore."

Leaving his officers to wonder at and pity that apathy of mind that
could mingle the mere forms of duty with the most heart-rending
associations, Colonel de Haldimar now quitted the rampart; and, with a
head that was remarked for the first time to droop over his chest,
paced his way musingly to his apartments.



CHAPTER XIV.

Night had long since drawn her circling mantle over the western
hemisphere; and deeper, far deeper than the gloom of that night was the
despair which filled every bosom of the devoted garrison, whose
fortunes it has fallen to our lot to record. A silence, profound as
that of death, pervaded the ramparts and exterior defences of the
fortress, interrupted only, at long intervals, by the customary "All's
well!" of the several sentinels; which, after the awful events of the
day, seemed to many who now heard it as if uttered in mockery of their
hopelessness of sorrow. The lights within the barracks of the men had
been long since extinguished; and, consigned to a mere repose of limb,
in which the eye and heart shared not, the inferior soldiery pressed
their rude couches with spirits worn out by a succession of painful
excitements, and frames debilitated, by much abstinence and watching.
It was an hour at which sleep was wont to afford them the blessing of a
temporary forgetfulness of endurances that weighed the more heavily as
they were believed to be endless and without fruit; but sleep had now
apparently been banished from all; for the low and confused murmur that
met the ear from the several block-houses was continuous and general,
betraying at times, and in a louder key, words that bore reference to
the tragic occurrences of the day.

The only lights visible in the fort proceeded from the guard-house and
a room adjoining that of the ill-fated Charles de Haldimar. Within the
latter were collected, with the exception of the governor, and grouped
around a bed on which lay one of their companions in a nearly expiring
state, the officers of the garrison, reduced nearly one third in number
since we first offered them to the notice of our readers. The dying man
was Sir Everard Valletort, who, supported by pillows, was concluding a
narrative that had chained the earnest attention of his auditory, even
amid the deep and heartfelt sympathy perceptible in each for the
forlorn and hopeless condition of the narrator. At the side of the
unhappy baronet, and enveloped in a dressing gown, as if recently out
of bed, sat, reclining in a rude elbow chair, one whose pallid
countenance denoted, that, although far less seriously injured, he,
too, had suffered severely:--it was Lieutenant Johnstone.

The narrative was at length closed; and the officer, exhausted by the
effort he had made in his anxiety to communicate every particular to
his attentive and surprised companions, had sunk back upon his pillow,
when, suddenly, the loud and unusual "Who comes there?" of the sentinel
stationed on the rampart above the gateway, arrested every ear. A
moment of pause succeeded, when again was heard the "Stand, friend!"
evidently given in reply to the familiar answer to the original
challenge. Then were audible rapid movements in the guard-house, as of
men aroused from temporary slumber, and hastening to the point whence
the voice proceeded.

Silently yet hurriedly the officers now quitted the bedside of the
dying man, leaving only the surgeon and the invalid Johnstone behind
them; and, flying to the rampart, stood in the next minute confounded
with the guard, who were already grouped round the challenging
sentinel, bending their gaze eagerly in the direction of the road.

"What now, man?--whom have you challenged?" asked Major Blackwater.

"It is I--De Haldimar," hoarsely exclaimed one of four dark figures
that, hitherto, unnoticed by the officers, stood immediately beyond the
ditch, with a burden deposited at their feet. "Quick, Blackwater, let
us in for God's sake! Each succeeding minute may bring a scouting party
on our track. Lower the drawbridge!"

"Impossible!" exclaimed the major: "after all that has passed, it is
more than my commission is worth to lower the bridge without
permission. Mr. Lawson, quick to the governor, and report that Captain
de Haldimar is here: with whom shall he say?" again addressing the
impatient and almost indignant officer.

"With Miss de Haldimar, Francois the Canadian, and one to whom we all
owe our lives," hurriedly returned the officer; "and you may add," he
continued gloomily, "the corpse of my sister. But while we stand in
parley here, we are lost: Lawson, fly to my father, and tell him we
wait for entrance."

With nearly the speed enjoined the adjutant departed. Scarcely a minute
elapsed when he again stood upon the rampart, and advancing closely to
the major, whispered a few words in his ear.

"Good God! can it be possible? When? How came this? but we will enquire
later. Open the gate; down with the bridge, Leslie," addressing the
officer of the guard.

The command was instantly obeyed. The officers flew to receive the
fugitives; and as the latter crossed the drawbridge, the light of a
lantern, that had been brought from the guard-room, flashed full upon
the harassed countenances of Captain and Miss de Haldimar, Francois the
Canadian, and the devoted Oucanasta.

Silent and melancholy was the greeting that took place between the
parties: the voice spoke not; the hand alone was eloquent; but it was
in the eloquence of sorrow only that it indulged. Pleasure, even in
this almost despaired of re-union, could not be expressed; and even the
eye shrank from mutual encounter, as if its very glance at such a
moment were sacrilege. Recalled to a sense of her situation by the
preparation of the men to raise the bridge, the Indian woman was the
first to break the silence.

"The Saganaw is safe within his fort, and the girl of the pale faces
will lay her head upon his bosom," she remarked solemnly. "Oucanasta
will go to her solitary wigwam among the red skins."

The heart of Madeline de Haldimar was oppressed by the weight of many
griefs; yet she could not see the generous preserver of her life, and
the rescuer of the body of her ill-fated cousin, depart without
emotion. Drawing a ring, of some value and great beauty, from her
finger, which she had more than once observed the Indian to admire, she
placed it on her hand; and then, throwing herself on the bosom of the
faithful creature, embraced her with deep manifestations of affection,
but without uttering a word.

Oucanasta was sensibly gratified: she raised her large eyes to heaven
as if in thankfulness; and by the light of the lantern, which fell upon
her dark but expressive countenance, tears were to be seen starting
unbidden from their source.

Released from the embrace of her, whose life she had twice preserved at
imminent peril to her own, the Indian again prepared to depart; but
there was another, who, like Madeline, although stricken by many
sorrows, could not forego the testimony of his heart's gratitude.
Captain de Haldimar, who, during this short scene, had despatched a
messenger to his room for the purpose, now advanced to the poor girl,
bearing a short but elegantly mounted dagger, which he begged her to
deliver as a token of his friendship to the young chief her brother. He
then dropped on one knee at her feet, and raising her hand, pressed it
fervently against his heart; an action which, even to the untutored
mind of the Indian, bore evidence only of the feeling that prompted it,
A heavy sigh escaped her labouring chest; and as the officer now rose
and quitted her hand, she turned slowly and with dignity from him, and
crossing the drawbridge, was in a few minutes lost in the surrounding
gloom.

Our readers have, doubtless, anticipated the communication made to
Major Blackwater by the Adjutant Lawson. Bowed down to the dust by the
accomplishment of the curse of Ellen Halloway, the inflexibility of
Colonel de Haldimar's pride was not proof against the utter
annihilation wrought to his hopes as a father by the unrelenting hatred
of the enemy his early falsehood and treachery had raised up to him.
When the adjutant entered his apartment, the stony coldness of his
cheek attested he had been dead some hours.

We pass over the few days of bitter trial that succeeded to the
restoration of Captain de Haldimar and his bride to their friends;
days, during which were consigned to the same grave the bodies of the
governor, his lamented children, and the scarcely less regretted Sir
Everard Valletort. The funeral service was attempted by Captain
Blessington; but the strong affection of that excellent officer, for
three of the defunct parties at least, was not armed against the trial.
He had undertaken a task far beyond his strength; and scarcely had
commenced, ere he was compelled to relinquish the performance of the
ritual to the adjutant. A large grave had been dug close under the
rampart, and near the fatal flag-staff, to receive the bodies of their
deceased friends; and, as they were lowered successively into their
last earthly resting place, tears fell unrestrainedly over the bronzed
cheeks of the oldest soldiers, while many a female sob blended with and
gave touching solemnity to the scene.

On the morning of the third day from this quadruple interment, notice
was given by one of the sentinels that an Indian was approaching the
fort, making signs as if in demand for a parley. The officers, headed
by Major Blackwater, now become the commandant of the place,
immediately ascended the rampart, when the stranger was at once
recognised by Captain de Haldimar for the young Ottawa, the preserver
of his life, and the avenger of the deaths of those they mourned, in
whose girdle was thrust, in seeming pride, the richly mounted dagger
that officer had caused to be conveyed to him through his no less
generous sister. A long conference ensued, in the language of the
Ottawas, between the parties just named, the purport of which was of
high moment to the garrison, now nearly reduced to the last extremity.
The young chief had come to apprise them, that, won by the noble
conduct of the English, on a late occasion, when his warriors were
wholly in their power, Ponteac had expressed a generous determination
to conclude a peace with the garrison, and henceforth to consider them
as his friends. This he had publicly declared in a large council of the
chiefs, held the preceding night; and the motive of the Ottawa's coming
was, to assure the English, that, on this occasion, their great leader
was perfectly sincere in a resolution, at which he had the more readily
arrived, now that his terrible coadjutor and vindictive adviser was no
more. He prepared them for the coming of Ponteac and the principal
chiefs of the league to demand a council on the morrow; and, with this
final communication, again withdrew.

The Ottawa was right Within a week from that period the English were to
be seen once more issuing from their fort; and, although many months
elapsed before the wounds of their suffering hearts were healed, still
were they grateful to Providence for their final preservation from a
doom that had fallen, without exception, on every fortress on the line
of frontier in which they lay.

Time rolled on; and, in the course of years, Oucanasta might be seen
associating with and bearing curious presents, the fruits of Indian
ingenuity, to the daughters of De Haldimar, now become the colonel of
the ---- regiment; while her brother, the chief, instructed his sons in
the athletic and active exercises peculiar to his race. As for poor
Ellen Halloway, search had been made for her, but she never was heard
of afterwards.



THE END





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