« PředchozíPokračovat »
already; for it is our duty to be close-mouthed, whether anything depends on it or not. I am afraid, however, I shall not keep you long enough in the Scud to show you what she can do at need."
"I think a woman unwise who ever marries a sailor," said Mabel, abruptly, and almost involuntarily.
"This is a strange opinion; why do you hold it ?"
"Because a sailor's wife is certain to have a rival in his vessel. My uncle Cap, too, says that a sailor should never marry.”
"He means salt-water sailors," returned Jasper, laughing. “If he thinks wives not good enough for those who sail on the ocean, he will fancy them just suited to those who sail on the lakes. I hope, Mabel, you do not take your opinions of us fresh-water mariners from all that Master Cap says."
"Sail, ho!" exclaimed the very individual of whom they were conversing; "or, boat, ho! would be nearer the truth."
Jasper ran forward; and, sure enough, a small object was discernible about a hundred yards ahead of the cutter, and nearly on her lee-bow. At the first glance he saw it was a bark canoe; for, though the darkness prevented hues from being distinguished, the eye that had got to be accustomed to the night might discern forms at some little distance; and the eye, which, like Jasper's, had long been familiar with things aquatic, could not be at a loss in discovering the outlines necessary to come to the conclusion he did.
"This may be an enemy," the young man remarked; " and it may be well to overhaul him."
"He is paddling with all his might, lad," observed the Pathfinder, and means to cross your bows and get to windward, when you might as well chase a full-grown buck on snow-shoes!" "Let her luff!" cried Jasper to the man at the helm. "Luff up, till she shakes,-there, steady, and hold all that."
The helmsman complied; and as the Scud was now dashing the water aside merrily, a minute or two put the canoe so far to leeward as to render escape impracticable. Jasper now sprang to the helm himself; and by judicious and careful handling, he got so near his chase that it was secured by a boat-book. On receiving an order, the two persons who were in the canoe left it, and no sooner had they reached the deck of the cutter, than they were found to be Arrowhead and his wife.
What pearl is it that rich men cannot buy,
Tell me and I will tell thee what is truth.-COWPER.
THE meeting with the Indian and his wife excited no surprise in the majority of those who witnessed the occurrence; but Mabel, and all who knew of the manner in which this chief had been separated from the party of Cap, simultaneously entertained suspicions, which it was far easier to feel than to follow out, by any plausible clue to certainty. Pathfinder, who alone could converse freely with the prisoners, for such they might now be considered, took Arrowhead aside, and held a long conversation with him; concerning the reasons of the latter for having deserted his charge, and the manner in which he had been since employed.
The Tuscarora met these inquiries, and he gave his answers with the stoicism of an Indian. As respects the separation, his excuses were very simply made, and they seemed to be sufficiently plausible. When he found that the party was discovered in its place of concealment, he naturally sought his own safety, which he secured by plunging into the woods; for he made no doubt that all who could not effect this much would be massacred on the spot. In a word, he had run away, in order to save his life.
"This is well," returned Pathfinder, affecting to believe the other's apologies; " my brother did very wisely; but his woman followed?"
"Do not the pale-faces' women follow their husbands? Would not Pathfinder have looked back to see if one he loved was coming?"
This appeal was made to the guide while he was in a most fortunate frame of mind to admit its force; for Mabel, and her blandishments and constancy, were getting to be images familiar to his thoughts. The Tuscarora, though he could not trace the reason, saw that his excuse was admitted, and he stood, with quiet dignity, awaiting the next inquiry.
"This is reasonable and natural," returned Pathfinder in English, passing from one language to the other, insensibly to himself, as his feelings or habit dictated; "this is natural, and may be so. A woman would be likely to follow the man to whom she had plighted faith, and hushand and wife are one flesh. Mabel, herself, would have been likely to follow the Sergeant, had he been present, and
retreated in this manner; and, no doubt, no doubt, the warmhearted girl would have followed her husband. Your words are honest, Tuscarora," changing the language to the dialect of the other. "Your words are honest, and very pleasant, and just. But why has my brother been so long from the fort? his friends have thought of him often, but have never seen him."
66 If the doe follows the buck, ought not the buck to follow the doe?" answered the Tuscarora, smiling, as he laid a finger significantly on the shoulder of his interrogator. "Arrowhead's wife followed Arrowhead; it was right in Arrowhead to follow his wife. She lost her way, and they made her cook in a strange wigwam."
"I understand you, Tuscarora. The woman fell into the hands of the Mingos, and you kept upon their trail.
“Pathfinder can see a reason, as easily as he can see the moss on the trees. It is so."
"And how long have you got the woman back, and in what manner has it been done?"
66 Two suns. The Dew-of-June was not long in coming, when her husband whispered to her the path."
"Well, well, all this seems natural, and according to matrimony. But, Tuscarora, how did you get that canoe, and why are you paddling towards the St. Lawrence, instead of the gar
"Arrowhead can tell his own from that of another. This canoe is mine; I found it on the shore, near the fort."
"That sounds reasonable, too, for the canoe does belong to the man, and an Indian would make few words about taking it. Still, it is extraordinary that we saw nothing of the fellow and his wife, for the canoe must have left the river before we did ourselves."
This idea, which passed rapidly through the mind of the guide, was now put to the Indian in the shape of a question.
"Pathfinder knows that a warrior can have shame. The father would have asked me for his daughter, and I could not give him to her. I sent the Dew-of-June for the canoe, and no one spoke to the woman. A Tuscarora woman would not be free in speaking to strange men."
All this, too, was plausible, and in conformity with Indian character and Indian customs. As was usual, Arrowhead had received one-half of his compensation previously to quitting the Mohawk; and his refraining to demand the residue was a proof of that conscientious consideration of mutual rights that quite as often distinguishes the morality of a savage as that of a Christian. To one as upright as Pathfinder, Arrowhead had con
ducted himself with delicacy and propriety, though it would have been more in accordance with his own frank nature to have met the father, and abided by the simple truth. Still, accustomed to the ways of Indians, he saw nothing out of the ordinary track of things in the course the other had taken.
"This runs like water flowing down hill, Arrowhead," he answered, after a little reflection, "and truth obliges me to own it. It was the gift of a red-skin to act in this way, though I do not think it was the gift of a pale-face. You would not look upon the grief of the girl's father?"
Arrowhead made a quiet inclination of the body, as if to assent.
"One thing more my brother will tell me," continued Pathfinder, "and there will be no cloud between his wigwam and the strong-house of the Yengeese. If he can blow away this bit of fog with his breath, his friends will look at him, as he sits by his own fire, and he can look at them, as they lay aside their arms, and forget that they are warriors. Why was the head of Arrowhead's canoe looking towards the St. Lawrence, where there are none but enemies to be found?"
"Why were the Pathfinder and his friends looking the same way?" asked the Tuscarora, calmly. "A Tuscarora may look in the same direction as a Yengeese.
"Why, to own the truth, Arrowhead, we are out scouting, like-that is sailing ;-ni other words, we are on the King's business, and we have a right to be here, though we may not have a right to say why we are here.”
66 Arrowhead saw the big canoe, and he loves to look on the face of Eau-douce. He was going towards the sun at evening, in order to seek his wigwam; but finding that the young sailor was going the other way, he turned that he might look in the same direction. Eau-douce and Arrowhead were together on the last trail."
"This may all be true, Tuscarora, and you are welcome. You shall eat of our venison, and then we must separate. The setting sun is behind us, and both of us move quick my brother will get too far from that which he seeks, unless he turns round."
Pathfinder now returned to the others, and repeated the result of his examination. He appeared himself to believe that the account of Arrowhead might be true, though he admitted that caution would be prudent with one he disliked; but his auditors, Jasper excepted, seemed less disposed to put faith in the explanations.
"This chap must be ironed at once, brother Dunham," said Cap, as soon as Pathfinder finished his narration; "he must be
turned over to the master-at-arms, if there is any such officer on fresh-water, and a court-martial ought to be ordered as soon as we reach port."
"I think it wisest to detain the fellow," the Sergeant answered; "but irons are unnecessary so long as he remains in the cutter. In the morning the matter shall be inquired into."
Arrowhead was now summoned and told the decision. The Indian listened gravely, and made no objections. On the contrary, he submitted with the calm and reserved dignity with which the American Aborigines are known to yield to fate; and he stood apart, an attentive but calm observer of what was passing. Jasper caused the cutter's sails to be filled, and the Scud resumed her course.
It was now getting near the hour to set the watch, and when it was usual to retire for the night. Most of the party went below, leaving no one on deck but Cap, the Sergeant, Jasper, and two of the crew. Arrowhead and his wife also remained, the former standing aloof in proud reserve, and the latter exhibiting, by her attitude and passiveness, the meek humility that characterizes an Indian woman.
"You will find a place for your wife below, Arrowhead, where my daughter will attend to her wants," said the Sergeant, kindly, who was himself on the point of quitting the deck; “ yonder is a sail, where you may sleep yourself."
"I thank my father. The Tuscaroras are not poor. The woman will look for my blankets in the canoe."
"As you wish, my friend. We think it necessary to detain you; but not necessary to confine or to maltreat you. Send your squaw into the canoe for the blankets, and you may follow her yourself, and hand us up the paddles. As there may be some sleepy heads in the Scud, Eau-douce," added the Sergeant, in a lower tone," it may be well to secure the paddles."
"Jasper assented, and Arrowhead and his wife, with whom resistance appeared to be out of the question, silently complied with the directions. A few expressions of sharp rebuke passed from the Indian to his wife, while both were employed in the canoe, which the latter received with submissive quiet, immediately repairing an error she had made, by laying aside the blanket she had taken and searching for another that was more to her tyrant's mind.
"Come, bear a hand, Arrowhead," said the Sergeant, who stood on the gunwale, overlooking the movements of the two, which were proceeding too slowly for the impatience of a drowsy man; it is getting late; and we soldiers have such a thing as réveillé-early to bed and early to rise."