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66 Jasper is never noisy; and he tells me noisy ships are generally ill-worked ships. Master Cap agrees in this, too. No, no; I will believe nought against Jasper until I see it. Send for your brother, Sergeant, and let us question him in this matter; for to sleep with distrust of one's friend in the heart, is like sleeping with lead there. I have no faith in your presentiments.'
The Sergeant, although he scarcely knew himself with what object, complied, and Cap was summoned to join in the consultation. As Pathfinder was more collected than his companion, and felt so strong a conviction of the good faith of the party accused, he assumed the office of spokesman.
"We have asked you to come down, Master Cap," he commenced," in order to inquire if you have remarked anything out of the common way in the movements of Eau-douce this evening. "His movements are common enough, I dare say, for fresh water, Master Pathfinder, though we should think most of his proceedings irregular, down on the coast."
Yes, yes; we know you will never agree with the lad about the manner the cutter ought to be managed; but it is on another point we wish your opinion.'
The Pathfinder then explained to Cap the nature of the suspicions which the Sergeant entertained, and the reasons why they had been excited, so far as the latter had been communicated by Major Duncan.
"The youngster talks French, does he ?" said Cap.
"They say he speaks it better than common," returned the Sergeant gravely. "Pathfinder knows this to be true."
"I'll not gainsay it, I 'll not gainsay it," answered the guide: "at least, they tell me such is the fact. But this would prove nothing ag'in' a Mississagua, and, least of all, ag'in' one like Jasper. I speak the Mingo dialect myself, having learnt it while a prisoner among the reptyles; but who will say I am their friend? Not that I am an enemy either, according to Indian notions; though I am their enemy, I will admit, agreeable to Christianity."
"Ay, Pathfinder;-but Jasper did not get his French as a prisoner: he took it in boyhood, when the mind is easily impressed, and gets its permanent notions; when nature has a presentiment, as it were, which way the character is likely to incline."
"A very just remark," added Cap, " for that is the time of life when we all learn the Catechism, and other moral improvements. The Sergeant's observation shows that he understands human nature, and I agree with him perfectly; it is a damnable thing for a youngster, up here, on this bit of fresh water, to talk French. If it were down on the Atlantic now, where a seafaring-man has occasion sometimes to converse with a pilot, or a linguister, in
that language, I should not think so much of it,-though we always look with suspicion, even there, at a shipmate who knows too much of the tongue; but up here, on Ontario, I hold it to be a most suspicious circumstance."
But Jasper must talk in French to the people on the other shore," said Pathfinder, "or hold his tongue, as there are none but French to speak to."
"You don't mean to tell me, Pathfinder, that France lies hereaway, on the opposite coast?" cried Cap, jerking a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the Canadas: "that one side of this bit of fresh water is York, and the other France?"
"I mean to tell you this is York, and that is Upper Canada; and that English and Dutch and Indian are spoken in the first, and French and Indian in the last. Even the Mingos have got many of the French words in their dialect, and it is no improvement, neither."
"Very true-and what sort of people are the Mingos, my friend?" inquired the Sergeant, touching the other on his shoulder, by way of enforcing a remark, the inherent truth of which sensibly increased its value in the eyes of the speaker: no one knows them better than yourself, and I ask you what sort of a tribe are they?"
"Jasper is no Mingo, Sergeant.
"He speaks French, and he might as well be, in that particular. Brother Cap, can you recollect no movement of this unfortunate young man in the way of his calling, that would seem to denote treachery?"
"Not distinctly, Sergeant, though he has gone to work wrongend foremost half his time. It is true, that one of his hands coiled a rope against the sun, and he called it querling a rope, too, when I asked him what he was about; but I am not certain that anything was meant by it; though, I dare say, the French coil half their running rigging the wrong way, and may call it 'querling it down,' too, for that matter. Then Jasper himself belayed the end of the jib-halyards to a stretcher in the rigging, instead of bringing in to the mast, where they belong, at least among British sailors."
"I dare say Jasper may have got some Canada notions about working his craft, from being so much on the other side"-Pathfinder interposed; "but catching an idee, or a word, isn't treachery and bad faith. I sometimes get an idee from the Mingos themselves; but my heart has always been with the Delawares. No, no, Jasper is true; and the King might trust him with his crown, just as he would trust his eldest son, who, as he is to wear it one day, ought to be the last man to wish to steal it."
"Fine talking, fine talking!" said Cap, rising to spit out of the cabin-window, as is customary with men when they most feel their own great moral strength, and happen to chew tobacco; "all fine talking, Master Pathfinder, but d-d little logic. In the first place, the King's majesty cannot lend his crown, it being contrary to the laws of the realm, which require him to wear it at all times, in order that his sacred person may be known, just as the silver oar is necessary to a sheriff's officer afloat, In the next place, it's high treason, by law, for the eldest son of his Majesty ever to covet the crown or to have a child, except in lawful wedlock, as either would derange the succession. Thus you see, friend Pathfinder, that in order to reason truly, one must get under way, as it might be, on the right tack. Law is reason, and reason is philosophy, and philosophy is a steady drag; whence it follows that crowns are regulated by law, reason, and philosophy."
"I know little of all this, Master Cap; but nothing short of seeing and feeling will make me think Jasper Western a traitor." "There you are wrong again, Pathfinder; for there is a way of proving a thing much more conclusively than by either seeing or feeling, or by both together: and that is by a circumstance.'
"It may be so, in the settlements; but it is not so here, on the lines."
"It is so in nature, which is monarch over all. Now, according to our senses, young Eau-douce is this moment on deck, and by going up there, either of us might see and feel him; but, should it afterwards appear that a fact was communicated to the French at this precise moment, which fact no one but Jasper could communicate; why, we should be bound to believe that the circumstance was true, and that our eyes and fingers deceived us. Any lawyer will tell you that."
"This is hardly right," said Pathfinder; "nor is it possible, seeing that it is ag'in' fact."
"It is much more than possible, my worthy guide; it is law, absolute King's law of the realm, and, as such, to be respected and obeyed. I'd hang my own brother on such testimony, no reflections on the family being meant, Sergeant."
"God knows how far all this applies to Jasper; though I do believe Mr. Cap is right, as to the law, Pathfinder; circumstances being much stronger than the senses, on such occasions. We must all of us be watchful, and nothing suspicious should be overlooked."
"Now I recollect me," continued Cap, again using the window, "there was a circumstance, just after we came on board this evening, that is extremely suspicious, and which may be set down
at once as a make-weight against this lad. Jasper bent on the King's ensign, with his own hands; and while he pretended to be looking at Mabel and the soldier's wife, giving directions about showing them below here, and all that, he got the union flag down!"
"That might have been accident," returned the Sergeant, "for such a thing has happened to myself; besides, the halyards lead to a pulley, and the flag would have come right, or not, according to the manner in which the lad hoisted it."
"A pulley!" exclaimed Cap, with strong disgust; “I wish, Sergeant Dunham, I could prevail on you to use proper terms. An ensign-halyard-block is no more a pulley, than your halbert is a boarding-pike. It is true, that by hoisting on one part, another part would go uppermost; but I look upon that affair of the ensign, now you have mentioned your suspicions, as a circumstance, and shall bear it in mind. I trust supper is not to be 'overlooked, however, even if we have a hold full of traitors."
"It will be duly attended to, brother Cap; but I shall count on you, for aid in managing the Scud, should anything occur to induce me to arrest Jasper."
"I'll not fail you, Sergeant; and in such an event you'll probably learn what this cutter can really perform; for, as yet, I fancy it is pretty much matter of guess-work."
"Well, for my part," said Pathfinder, drawing a heavy sigh, "I shall cling to the hope of Jasper's innocence, and recommend plain dealing, by asking the lad himself, without further delay, whether he is or is not a traitor. I'll put Jasper Western against all the presentiments and circumstances in the colony."
"That will never do," rejoined the Sergeant. "The responsibility of this affair rests with me, and I request and enjoin, that nothing be said to any one without my knowledge. We will all keep watchful eyes about us, and take proper note of circumstances."
"Ay, ay! circumstances are the things after all," returned Cap. "One circumstance is worth fifty facts. That I know to be the law of the realm. Many a man has been hanged on circumstances."
The conversation now ceased, and after a short delay, the whole party returned to the deck, each individual disposed to view the conduct of the suspected Jasper in the manner most suited to his own habits and character.
Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
Drew Priam's curtain in the dead of night,
And would have told him half his Troy was burned.-SHAKSPEARE.
ALL this time, matters were elsewhere passing in their usual train. Jasper, like the weather and his vessel, seemed to be waiting for the land-breeze; while the soldiers, accustomed to early rising, had, to a man, sought their pallets in the main hold. None remained on deck but the people of the cutter, Mr. Muir, and the two females. The Quarter-Master was endeavouring to render himself agreeable to Mabel, while our heroine herself, little affected by his assiduities, which she ascribed partly to the habitual gallantry of a soldier, and partly, perhaps, to her own pretty face, was enjoying the peculiarities of a scene and situation that, to her, were full of the charms of novelty.
The sails had been hoisted, but as yet not a breath of air was in motion; and so still and placid was the lake, that not the smallest motion was perceptible in the cutter. She had drifted in the river-current to a distance a little exceeding a quarter of a mile from the land, and there she lay, beautiful in her symmetry and form, but like a fixture. Young Jasper was on the quarterdeck, near enough to hear occasionally the conversation which passed, but too diffident of his own claim, and too intent on his duties, to attempt to mingle in it. The fine blue eyes of Mabel followed his motions in curious expectation, and more than once the Quarter-Master had to repeat his compliments ere she heard them, so intent was she on the little occurrences of the vessel, and, we might add, so indifferent to the eloquence of her companion. At length, even Mr. Muir became silent, and there was a deep stillness on the water. Presently an oar-blade fell in a boat, beneath the fort, and the sound reached the cutter as distinctly as if it had been produced on her deck. Then came a murmur, like a sigh of the night, a fluttering of the canvas, the creaking of the boom, and the flap of the jib. These well-known sounds were followed by a slight heel in the cutter, and by the bellying of all the sails.
"Here's the wind, Anderson," called out Jasper to the oldest of his sailors; "take the helm."
This brief order was obeyed; the helm was put up, the cutter's bows fell off; and, in a few minutes, the water was heard murmuring under her head, as the Scud glanced through the lake at the rate of five miles in the hour. All this passed in profound