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Wacousta: A Tale of the Pontiac Conspiracy--Volume 3 By John Richardson Characters: 36535

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


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 pro

jecting 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.

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