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Wacousta: A Tale of the Pontiac Conspiracy--Volume 3 By John Richardson Characters: 37704

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

"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 f

ather. 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.

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