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Jasper knows of them. I do not think he would suffer these tnings, Pathfinder, if they were once pointed out to him."
"Let Jasper manage his own cutter, Mabel; let him manage his own cutter. His gift lies that-a-way, and I'll answer for it, no one can teach him how to keep the Scud out of the hands Who cares of the Frontenackers or their devilish Mingo friends. for round turns in kedges, and for hawsers that are topped too high, Master Cap, so long as the craft sails well, and keeps clear of the Frenchers? I will trust Jasper against all the seafarers of the coast, up here on the lakes; but I do not say he has any gift for the ocean, for there he has never been tried."
Cap smiled condescendingly, but he did not think it necessary to push his criticisms any further just at that moment. His air and manner gradually became more supercilious and lofty, though he now wished to seem indifferent to any discussions on points of which one of the parties was entirely ignorant. By this time the cutter had begun to drift at the mercy of the currents of the lake, her head turning in all directions, though slowly, and not in a way to attract particular attention. Just at this moment the jib was loosened and hoisted, and presently the canvas swelled towards the land, though no evidences of air were yet to be seen on the surface of the water. Slight, however, as was the impulsion, the light hull yielded; and, in another minute, the Scud was seen standing across the current of the river, with a movement so easy and moderate as to be scarcely perceptible. When out of the stream, she struck an eddy, and shot up towards the land, under the eminence where the fort stood, when Jasper dropped his kedge.
"Not lubberly done," muttered Cap, in a sort of soliloquy, "not over lubberly, though he should have put his helm a-starboard instead of a-port; for a vessel. ought always to come-to with her head off shore, whether she is a league from the land, or only a cable's length, since it has a careful look, and looks are something in this world."
"Jasper is a handy lad," suddenly observed Sergeant Dunham, at his brother-in-law's elbow; "and we place great reliance on his skill in our expeditions. But come, one and all, we have but half an hour more of daylight to embark in, and the boats will be ready for us by the time we are ready for them."
On this intimation the whole party separated, each to find those trifles which had not been shipped already. A few taps of the drum gave the necessary signal to the soldiers, and in a minute all were in motion.
The goblin now the fool alarms,
Hags meet to mumble o'er their charms,
THE embarkation of so small a party was a matter of no great delay or embarrassment. The whole force confided to the care of Sergeant Dunham consisted of but ten privates and two noncommissioned officers, though it was soon positively known that Mr. Muir was to accompany the expedition. The Quarter-Master, however, went as a volunteer, while some duty connected with his own department, as had been arranged between him and his commander, was the avowed object. To these must be added the Pathfinder and Cap, with Jasper and his subordinates, one of whom was a boy. The males of the entire party, consequently, consisted of less than twenty men, and a lad of fourteen. Mabel and the wife of a common soldier were the only females.
Sergeant Dunham carried off his command in a large bateau, and then returned for his final orders, and to see that his brotherin-law and daughter were properly attended to. Having pointed out to Cap the boat that he and Mabel were to use, he ascended the hill to seek his last interview with Lundie. The Major was on the bastion so often mentioned; leaving him and the Sergeant together, for a short time, we will return to the beach.
It was nearly dark, when Mabel found herself in the boat that was to carry her off to the cutter. So very smooth was the surface of the lake, that it was not found necessary to bring the bateaux into the river to receive their freights; but the beach outside being totally without surf, and the water as tranquil as that of a pond, everybody embarked there. As Cap had said, there was no heaving and setting, no working of vast lungs, nor any respiration of an ocean; for, on Ontario, unlike the Atlantic, gales were not agitating the element at one point while calms prevailed at another. This the distances did not permit; and it is the usual remark of mariners, that the sea got up faster and went down sooner, on all the great lakes of the West, than on the different seas of their acquaintance. When the boat left the land, therefore, Mabel would not have known that she was afloat on so broad a sheet of water by any movement that is usual to such cir cumstances. The oars had barely time to give a dozen strokes, when the boat lay at the cutter's side.
Jasper was in readiness to receive his passengers; and, as the deck of the Scud was but two or three feet above the water, 'no
difficulty was experienced in getting on board her. As soon as this was effected, the young man pointed out to Mabel and her companion the accommodations prepared for their reception, and they took possession of them. The little vessel contained four apartments below, all between decks having been expressly constructed with a view to the transportation of officers and men, with their wives and families. First in rank, was what was called the after-cabin, a small apartment that contained four berths, and which enjoyed the advantage of possessing small windows, for the admission of air and light. This was uniformly devoted to females whenever any were on board; and as Mabel and her companion were alone, they had ample space and accommodation. The main-cabin was larger, and lighted from above. It was now appropriated to the uses of the Quarter-Master, the Sergeant, Cap, and Jasper; the Pathfinder roaming through any part of the cutter he pleased, the female apartment excepted. The corporals and common soldiers occupied the space beneath the main hatch, which had a deck for such a purpose; while the crew were berthed, as usual, in the forecastle. Although the cutter did not measure quite fifty tons, the draft of officers and men was so light, that there was ample room for all on board, there being space enough to accommodate treble the number, if necessary.
As soon as Mabel had taken possession of her own really comfortable and pretty cabin, in doing which she could not abstain from indulging in the pleasant reflection that some of Jasper's favour had been especially manifested in her behalf, she went on deck again. Here all was momentarily in motion; the men were roving to and fro, in quest of their knapsacks and other effects; but method and habit soon reduced things to order, when the stillness on board became even imposing, for it was connected with the idea of future adventure and ominous preparation.
Darkness was now beginning to render objects on shore indistinct, the whole of the land forming one shapeless black outline of even forest summits, that was to be distinguished from the impending heavens only by the greater light of the sky. The stars, however, soon began to appear in the latter, one after another, in their usual mild placid lustre, bringing with them that sense of quiet which ordinarily accompanies night. There was something soothing, as well as exciting in such a scene; and Mabel, who was seated on the quarter-deck, sensibly felt both influences. The Pathfinder was standing near her, leaning, as usual, on his long rifle, and she fancied that, through the growing darkness of the hour, she could trace even stronger lines of thought than usual in his rugged countenance.
"To you, Pathfinder, expeditions like this can be no great no
velty," she said, "though I am surprised to find how silent and thoughtful the men appear to be."
"We learn this by making war ag'in Indians. Your militia are great talkers, and little doers in general; but the soldier who has often met the Mingos learns to know the value of a prudent tongue. A silent army, in the woods, is doubly strong; and a noisy one, doubly weak. If tongues made soldiers, the women of a camp would generally carry the day."
"But we are neither an army, nor in the woods. There can be no danger of Mingos in the Scud."
Ask Jasper how he got to be master of this cutter, and you will find yourself answered, as to that opinion. No one is safe from a Mingo, who does not understand his very natur'; and even then he must act up to his own knowledge, and that closely. Ask Jasper how he got command of this very cutter."
"And how did he get the command?" inquired Mabel, with an earnestness and interest that delighted her simple-minded and true-hearted companion, who was never better pleased than when he had an opportunity of saying aught in favour of a friend. "It is honourable to him, that he has reached this station, while yet so young."
"That is it; but he deserved it all, and more. A frigate wouldn't have been too much to pay for so much spirit and coolness, had there been such a thing on Ontario, as there is not, hows'ever, or likely to be."
"But Jasper, you have not yet told me how he got the command of the schooner."
"It is a long story, Mabel, and one your father, the Sergeant, can tell much better than I; for he was present, while I was off on a distant scouting. Jasper is not good at a story, I will own that; I've heard him questioned about this affair, and he never made a good tale of it, although everybody knows it was a good thing. No, no; Jasper is not good at a story, as his best friends must own. The Scud had near fallen into the hands of the French and the Mingos, when Jasper saved her, in a way that none but a quick-witted mind and a bold heart would have attempted. The Sergeant will tell the tale better than I can, and I wish you to question him, some day, when nothing better offers. As for Jasper himself, there will be no use in worrying the lad; since he will make a bungling matter of it, for he don't know how to give a history at all.”
Mabel determined to ask her father to repeat the incidents of the affair that very night; for it struck her young fancy that nothing better could well offer, than to listen to the praises of one who was a bad historian of his own exploits.
"Will the Scud remain with us when we reach the island?" she asked, after a little hesitation about the propriety of the question; or shall we be left to ourselves?"
"That's as may be: Jasper does not often keep the cutter idle, when anything is to be done; and we may expect activity on his part. My gifts, however, run so little towards the water and vessels generally, unless it be among rapids and falls, and in canoes, that I pretend to know nothing about it. We shall have all right, under Jasper, I make no doubt, who can find a trail on Ontario, as well as a Delaware can find one on the land."
"And our own Delaware, Pathfinder-the Big Serpent-why is he not with us to-night?"
"Your question would have been more natural, had you said, Why are you here, Pathfinder?-The Sarpent is in his place, while I am not in mine. He is out, with two or three more, scouting the lake shores, and will join us down among the islands, with the tidings he may gather. The Sergeant is too good a soldier to forget his rear, while he is facing the enemy in front. It's a thousand pities, Mabel, your father wasn't born a general, as some of the English are who come among us; for I feel sartain he wouldn't leave a Frencher in the Canadas a week, could he have his own way with them.
“Shall we have enemies to face in front?" asked Mabel, smiling, and, for the first time, feeling a slight apprehension about the dangers of the expedition. "Are we likely to have an engagement?"
"If we have, Mabel, there will be men enough ready and willing to stand between you and harm. But you are a soldier's daughter, and, we all know, have the spirit of one. Don't let the fear of a battle keep your pretty eyes from sleeping."
"I do feel braver, out here in the woods, Pathfinder, than I ever felt before amid the weaknesses of the towns, although I have always tried to remember what owe to my dear father. "Ay, your mother was so before you. You will find Mabel, like her mother, no screamer, or a faint-hearted girl, to trouble a man in his need; but one who would encourage her mate, and help to keep his heart up when sorest pressed by danger,' said the Sergeant to me, before I ever laid eyes on that sweet countenance of yours,-he did!'
"And why should my father have told you this, Pathfinder?" the girl demanded a little earnestly. "Perhaps he fancied you would think the better of me, if you did not believe me a silly coward, as so many of my sex love to make themselves appear.
Deception, unless it were at the expense of his enemies in the field, nay, concealment of even a thought, was so little in