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soon fell into a deep sleep. June lay near her, and a quiet reigned on the whole island as profound as if the dominion of the forest had never been invaded by man.
When Mabel awoke, the light of the sun was streaming in through the loop-holes, and she found that the day was considerably advanced. June still lay near her, sleeping as tranquilly as if she reposed on-we will not say " down," for the superior civilisation of our own times repudiates the simile-but on a French mattress, and as profoundly as if she had never experienced conThe movements of Mabel, notwithstanding, soon awakened one so accustomed to vigilance; and then the two took a survey of what was passing around them, by means of the friendly apertures.
What had the Eternall Maker need of thee,
THE tranquillity of the previous night was not contradicted by the movements of the day. Although Mabel and June went to every loophole, not a sign of the presence of a living being on the island was at first to be seen, themselves excepted. There was a smothered fire on the spot where M'Nab and his comrades had cooked, as if the smoke that curled upwards from it was intended as a lure to the absent; and all around the huts had been restored to former order and arrangement. Mabel started involuntarily when her eye at length fell on a group of three men, dressed in the scarlet of the 55th, seated on the grass in lounging attitudes, as if they chatted in listless security; and her blood curdled as, on a second look, she traced the bloodless faces and glassy eyes of the dead. They were quite near the blockhouse, so near indeed as to have been overlooked at the first eager inquiry, and there was a mocking levity in their postures and gestures, for their limbs were stiffening in different attitudes, intended to resemble life, at which the soul revolted. Still, horrible as these objects were to those near enough to discover the
frightful discrepancy between their assumed and their real characters, the arrangement had been made with so much art that it would have deceived a negligent observer at the distance of a hundred yards. After carefully examining the shores of the island, June pointed out to her companion the fourth soldier, seated, with his feet hanging over the water, his back fastened to a sapling, and holding a fishing-rod in his hand. The scalpless heads were covered with the caps, and all appearance of blood had been carefully washed from each countenance.
Mabel sickened at this sight, which not only did so much violence to all her notions of propriety, but which was in itself so revolting, and so opposed to natural feeling. She withdrew to a seat, and hid her face in her apron for several minutes, until a low call from June again drew her to a loop-hole. The latter then pointed out the body of Jennie, seemingly standing in the door of a hut, leaning forward as if to look at the group of men, her cap fluttering in the wind, and her hand grasping a broom. The distance was too great to distinguish the features very accurately; but Mabel fancied that the jaw had been depressed, as if to distort the mouth into a sort of horrible laugh.
"June! June !" she exclaimed, this exceeds all I have ever heard, or imagined as possible, in the treachery and artifices of your people."
"Tuscarora very cunning," said June, in a way to show that she rather approved of, than condemned, the uses to which the dead bodies had been applied. "Do soldier no harm now; do Iroquois good; got the scalp, first; now make bodies work. By and by, burn 'em."
This speech told Mabel how far she was separated from her friend in character; and it was several minutes before she could again address her. But this temporary aversion was lost on June, who set about preparing their simple breakfast, in a way to show how insensible she was to feelings in others, that her own habits taught her to discard. Mabel ate sparingly, and her companion as if nothing had happened. Then they had leisure again for their thoughts, and for further surveys of the island. Our heroine, though devoured with a feverish desire to be always at the loops, seldom went that she did not immediately quit them in disgust, though compelled by her apprehensions to return again in a few minutes, called by the rustling of leaves, or the sighing of the wind. It was, indeed, a solemn thing, to look out upon that deserted spot, peopled by the dead in the panoply of the living, and thrown into the attitudes and acts of careless merriment, and rude enjoyment. The effect on our heroine was much as if she had found herself an observer of the revelries of demons.
Throughout the livelong day, not an Indian or a Frenchman was to be seen, and night closed over the frightful but silent masquerade, with the steady and unalterable progress with which the earth obeys her laws, indifferent to the petty actors, and petty scenes, that are in daily bustle and daily occurrence on her bosom. The night was far more quiet than that which had preceded it, and Mabel slept with an increasing confidence, for she now felt satisfied that her own fate would not be decided until the return of her father. The following day he was expected, however; and when our heroine awoke, she ran eagerly to the loops in order to ascertain the state of the weather, and the aspect of the skies, as well as the condition of the island. There lounged the fearful group on the grass; the fisherman still hung over the water, seemingly intent on his sport; and the distorted countenance of Jennie glared from out the hut, in horrible contortions. But the weather had changed: the wind blew fresh from the southward; and though the air was bland, it was filled with the elements of storm.
"This grows more and more difficult to bear, June," Mabel said, when she left the window. "I could even prefer to see the enemy, than to look any longer on this fearful array of the dead."
Hush! here they come. June thought hear a cry, like a warrior's shout when he take a scalp."
What mean you? There is no more butchery!—there can be no more."
"Salt-water!" exclaimed June, laughing as she stood peeping through a loop-hole.
My dear uncle! Thank God! he then lives! Oh! June, June, will not let them harm him ?”
"June poor squaw. What warrior t'ink of what she say? Arrowhead bring him here."
By this time Mabel was at a loop; and, sure enough, there were Cap and the Quarter-Master in the hands of the Indians, eight or ten of whom were conducting them to the foot of the block; for, by this capture, the enemy now well knew that there could be no man in the building. Mabel scarcely breathed until the whole party stood ranged directly before the door, when she was rejoiced to see that the French officer was among them. A low conversation followed, in which both the white leader and Arrowhead spoke earnestly to their captives, when the QuarterMaster called out to her, in a voice loud enough to be heard,
"Pretty Mabel! Pretty Mabel!" he said, "look out of one of the loop-holes, and pity our condition. We are threatened with instant death, unless you open the door to the conquerors. Relent
then, or we'll no be wearing our scalps half an hour from this blessed moment."
Mabel thought there were mockery and levity in this appeal, and its manner rather fortified than weakened her resolution to hold the place as long as possible.
66 Speak to me, uncle," she said, with her mouth at loop, "and tell me what I ought to do."
"Thank God! thank God!" ejaculated Cap; "the sound of your sweet voice, Magnet, lightens my heart of a heavy load, for I feared you had shared the fate of poor Jennie. My breast has felt the last four-and-twenty hours as if a ton of kentledge had been stowed in it. You ask me what you ought to do, child, and I do not know how to advise you, though you are my own sister's daughter! The most I can say, just now, my poor girl! is most heartily to curse the day you or I ever saw this bit of fresh water.
"But, uncle, is your life in danger-do you think I ought to open the door?"
"A round turn and two half-hitches make a fast belay and I would counsel no one, who is out of the hands of these devils, to unbar or unfasten anything, in order to fall into them. As to the Quarter-Master and myself, we are both elderly men, and not of much account to mankind in general, as honest Pathfinder would say; and it can make no great odds to him, whether he balances the purser's books this year or the next; and as for myself, why, if I were on the seaboard, I should know what to do; but up here, in this watery wilderness, I can only say, that if I were behind that bit of a bulwark, it would take a good deal of Indian logic to rouse me out of it.'
"You'll no be minding all your uncle says, pretty Mabel," put in Muir, "for distress is obviously fast unsettling his faculties, and he is far from calculating all the necessities of the emergency. We are in the hands, here, of very considerate and gentlemanly pairsons, it must be acknowledged, and one has little occasion to apprehend disagreeable violence. The casualties that have occurred are the common incidents of war, and can no change our sentiments of the enemy, for they are far from indicating that any injustice will be done the prisoners. I'm sure that neither Master Cap, nor myself, has any cause of complaint, since we have given ourselves up to Master Arrowhead, who reminds me of a Roman, or a Spartan, by his virtues and moderation; but ye'll be remembering that usages differ, and that our scalps may be lawful sacrifices to appease the manes of fallen foes, unless you save them by capitulation."
"I shall do wiser to keep within the blockhouse, until the fate
of the island is settled," returned Mabel.
"Our enemies can feel no concern on account of one like me, knowing that I can do them no harm; and I greatly prefer to remain here, as more befitting my sex and years."
"If nothing but your convenience were concerned, Mabel, we should all cheerfully acquiesce in your wishes; but these gentlemen fancy that the work will aid their operations, and they have a strong desire to possess it. To be frank with you, finding myself, and your uncle, in a very peculiar situation, I acknowledge that, to avert consequences, I have assumed the power that belongs to His Majesty's commission, and entered into a verbal capitulation, by which I have engaged to give up the blockhouse, and the whole island. It is the fortune of war, and must be submitted to; so open the door, pretty Mabel, forthwith, and confide yourself to the care of those who know how to treat beauty and virtue in distress. There's no courtier in Scotland more complaisant than this chief, or who is more familiar with the laws of decorum."
"No leave blockhouse." muttered June, who stood at Mabel's side, attentive to all that passed. "Blockhouse good-got no scalp."
Our heroine might have yielded but for this appeal; for it began to appear to her that the wisest course would be to conciliate the enemy by concessions, instead of exasperating them by resistance. They must know that Muir and her uncle were in their power, that there was no man in the building; and she fancied they might proceed to batter down the door, or cut their way through the logs with axes, if she obstinately refused to give them peaceable admission, since there was no longer any reason to dread the rifle. But the words of June induced her to hesitate; and the earnest pressure of the hand and entreating looks of her companion strengthened a resolution that was faltering.
"No prisoner yet," whispered June, "let 'em make prisoner, before 'ey take prisoner-talk big; June manage e'm."
Mabel now began to parley more resolutely with Muir, for her uncle seemed disposed to quiet his conscience by holding his tongue; and she plainly intimated that it was not her intention to yield the building.
"You forget the capitulation, Mistress Mabel," said Muir; "the honour of one of His Majesty's servants is concerned; and the honour of His Majesty, through his servant. You will remember the finesse and delicacy that belong to military honour?"
"I know enough, Mr. Muir, to understand that you have no command in this expedition, and therefore can have no right to yield the blockhouse; and I remember, moreover, to have heard