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away she skipped, as ye saw with your own eyes, Pathfinder, as if her opinion were fully made up, and she cared to listen no longer. I fear her mind may be said to have come to its conclusion ?”
“ I fear it has, indeed, Quarter-master, and her father, after all, is mistaken. Yes, yes; the Sergeant has fallen into a grievous error."
“ Well, man, why need ye lament, and undo all the grand reputation ye've been so many weary years making ? Shoulder the rifle that ye use so well, and off into the woods with ye, for there's not the female breathing that is worth a heavy heart for a minute, as I know from experience. Tak’ the word of one who knows the sax, and has had two wives, that women, after all, are very much the sort of creatures we do not imagine them to be. Now, if you would really mortify Mabel, here is as glorious an occasion as any rejected lover could desire."
“ The last wish I have, Lieutenant, would be to mortify Mabel.”
“ Well, ye'll come to that in the end, notwithstanding; for it's human nature to desire to give unpleasant feelings to them that give unpleasant feelings to us. But a better occasion never offered to make your friends love you,
than is to be had at this very moment, and that is the certain means of causing one's enemies to envy us.”
“ Quarter-master, Mabel is not my inimy; and if she was, the last thing I could desire, would be to give her an uneasy moment.'
“ Ye say so, Pathfinder, ye say so, and I dare say ye think so ; but reason and nature are both against you, as ye'll find in the end. Ye've heard the saying of love me, love my dog :' well
, now, that means, read backwards, don't love me, don't love my dog. Now, listen to what is in your power to do. You know we occupy an exceedingly precarious and uncertain position here, almost in the jaws of the lion, as it were ?”
“ Do you mean the Frenchers by the lion, and this island as his jaws, lieutenant ?"
“Metaphorically only, my friend, for the French are no lions, and this island is not a jaw- unless, indeed, it may prove to be, what I greatly fear may come true, the jawbone of an ass.”
Here the Quarter-master indulged in a sneering laugh, that proclaimed any thing but respect and admiration for his friend Lundie's sagacity in selecting that particular spot for his operations.
“ The post is as well chosen as any I ever put foot in," said Pathfinder, looking around hiin as one surveys a picture.
“ I'll no' deny it, I'll no deny it. Lundie is a great soldier, in a small way; and his father was a great laird, with the same qualification. I was born on the estate, and have followed the Major so long, that I've got to reverence all he says and does : that's just my weakness, ye'll know, Pathfinder. Well, this post may be the post of an ass, or of a Solomon, as men fancy; but it's nost critically placed, as is apparent by all Lundie's precautions and injunctions. There are savages out scouting through these thousand islands, and over the forest, searching for this very spot, as is known to Lundie himself, on certain information ; and the greatest service you can render the 55th is to discover their trails, and lead them off on a false scent. Unhappily Sergeant Dunham has taken up the notion that the danger is to be apprehended from up-stream, because Frontenac lies above us; whereas all experience tells us that Indians come on the side which is most contrary to reason, and, consequently, are to be expected from below. Take your canoe, therefore, and go down stream among the islands, that we may have notice if any danger approaches from that quarter."
“ The Big Sarpent is on the look-out in that quarter ; and as he knows the station well, no doubt he will give us timely notice, should any wish to sarcumvent us in that direction.”
“ He is but an Indian, after all, Pathfinder; and this is an affair that calls for the knowledge of a white man. Lundie will be eternally grateful to the man who shall help this little enterprise to come off with flying colours. To tell you the truth, my friend, he is conscious it should never have been attempted; but he has too much of the old laird's obstinacy about him to own an error, though it be as manifest as the morning-star.”
The Quarter-master then continued to reason with his companion, in order to induce him to quit the island without delay, using such arguments as first suggested themselves, sometimes contradicting himself, and not unfrequently urging at one moment a motive that at the next was directly opposed by another. The Pathfinder, simple as he was, detected these flaws in the Lieutenant's philosophy, though he was far from suspecting that they proceeded from a desire to clear the coast of Mabel's suitor. He did not exactly suspect the secret objects of Muir, but he was far from being blind to his sophistry. The result was that the two parted, after a long dialogue, unconvinced, and distrustful of each other's motives, though the distrust of the guide, like all that was connected with the man, partook of his own upright, disinterested, and ingenuous nature.
A conference that took place soon after between Sergeant Dunham and the Lieutenant, led to more consequences. When it was ended, secret orders were issued to the men, the blockhouse was taken possession of, the huts were occupied, and one accustomed to the movements of soldiers might have detected that an expedition was in the wind. In fact, just as the sun was setting, the Sergeant, who had been much occupied at what was called the harbour, came into his own hut, followed by Pathfinder and Cap; and as he took his seat at the neat table which Mabel had prepared for him, he opened the budget of his intelligence.
“You are likely to be of some use here, my child,” the old soldier commenced, as this tidy and well-ordered supper can testify; and, I trust, when the proper moment arrives, you will show yourself to be the descendant of those who know how to face their enemies."
“You do not expect me, dear father, to play Joan of Arc, and to lead the men to battle ?
“Play whom, child ? Did you ever hear of the person Mabel meptions, Pathfinder ?'
“ Not I, Sergeant; but what of that? I am ignorant and unedicated, and it is too great a pleasure to me to listen to her voice, and take in her words, to be particular about persons.”
“I know her,” said Cap, decidedly ; "she sailed a privateer out of Morlaix, in the last war; and good cruises she made of them.”
Mabel blushed at having inadvertently made an allusion that went beyond her father's reading, to say nothing of her uncle's dogmatism, and, perhaps, a little at the Pathfinder's simple, ingenuous earnestness; but she did not forbear the less to smile.
“Why, father, I am not expected to fall in with the men, and to help defend the island ?
“ And yet women have often done such things in this quarter of the world, girl, as our friend, the Pathfinder, here, will tell you. But, lest you should be surprised at not seeing us when you awake in the morning, it is proper that I now tell you we intend to march in the course of this very night.”
“We, father! and leave me and Jennie on this island alone ? "
“ No, my daughter; not quite as unmilitary as that. We shall leave Lieutenant Muir, brother Cap, Corporal M‘Nab, and three men, to compose the garrison during our ab
Jennie will remain with you in this hut, and brother Cap will occupy my place?
" And Mr. Muir? said Mabel, half unconscious of what she uttered, though she foresaw a great deal of unpleasant persecution in the arrangement.
Why, he can make love to you, if you like it, girl ; for he is an amorous youth, and having already disposed of four wives, is impatient to show how much he honours their memories by taking a fifth.”
“ The Quarter-master tells me," said Pathfinder, inno. cently, “that when a man's feelings have been harassed by so many losses, there is no wiser way to soothe them than by ploughing up the soil anew, in such a manner as to leave no traces of what have gone over it before.”
“Ay, that is just the difference between ploughing and harrowing,” returned the Sergeant, with a grim smile. “ But let him tell Mabel his mind, and there will be an end of his suit. I very well know that my daughter will never be the wife of Lieutenant Muir.”
This was said in a way that was tantamount to declaring that no daughter of his ever should become the wife of the person in question. Mabel had coloured, trembled, half laughed, and looked uneasy; but, rallying her spirit, she said, in a voice so cheerful as completely to conceal her agitation, “ But, father, we might better wait until Mr. Muir manifests a wish that your daughter would have him, or rather a wish to have your daughter, lest we get the fable of sour grapes thrown into our faces.”
" And what is that fable, Mabel ? ” eagerly demanded Pathfinder, who was any thing but learned in the ordinary lore of white men ; “ tell it to us, in your own pretty way; I dare say the Sergeant never heard it.”
Mabel repeated the well-known fable, and, as her suitor had desired, in her own pretty way, which was a way to keep his eyes rivetted on her face, and the whole of his honest countenance covered with a smile.
“ That was like a fox!” cried Pathfinder, when she had ceased ; "ay, and like a Mingo, too, cunning and cruel ; that is the way with both the riptyles. As to grapes, they are sour enough in this part of the country, even to them that can get at them, though I dare say there are seasons, and times, and places, where they are sourer to them that can't. I should judge, now, my scalp is very sour in Mingo eyes.”
“ The sour grapes will be the other way, child, and it is Mr. Muir who will make the complaint. You would never marry that man, Mabel ?
“Not she," put in Cap; a fellow who is only half a soldier, after all. The story of them there grapes is quite a circumstance.”
“I think little of marrying any one, dear father and dear uncle, and would rather talk about it less, if you please. But, did I think of marrying at all, I do believe a man whose affections have already been tried by three or four wives would scarcely be my
choice.” The Sergeant nodded at the guide, as much as to say, you see how the land lies; and then he had sufficient consideration for his daughter's feelings to change the subject.
Neither you nor Mabel, brother Cap,” he resumed,