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“ You will not give up one of your own sex to the tomahawk?”
“ No tomahawk touch you. Arrowhead no let 'em. If June must have sister-wife, love to have you."
“ No, June; my religion, my feelings, both forbid it ; and, if I could be the wife of an Indian at all, I would never take the place that is yours, in a wigwam.”
June made no answer, but she looked gratified, and even grateful. She knew that few, perhaps no Indian girl, within the circle of Arrowhead's acquaintance, could compare with herself in personal attractions; and though it might suit her husband to marry a dozen wives she knew of no one, beside Mabel, whose influence she could really dread. So keen an interest, however, had she taken in the beauty, winning manners, kindness, and feminine gentleness of our heroine, that when jealousy came to chill these feelings, it had rather lent strength to that interest; and, under its wayward influence, had actually been one of the strongest of the incentives that had induced her to risk so much, in order to save her imaginary rival from the consequences of the attack that she so well knew was about to take place. In a word, June, with a wife's keenness of perception, had detected Arrowhead's admiration of Mabel ; and instead of feeling that harrowing jealousy that might have rendered her rival hateful, as would have been apt to · be the case with a woman unaccustomed to defer to the superior rights of the lordly sex, she had studied the looks and character of the pale-face beauty, until, meeting with nothing to repel her own feelings, but every thing to en. courage them, she had got to entertain an admiration and love for her, which, though certainly very different, was scarcely less strong than that of her husband's. Arrowhead himself had sent her to warn Mabel of the coming danger, though he was ignorant that she had stolen upon the island, in the rear of the assailants, and was now intrenched in the citadel along with the object of their joint
On the contrary, he supposed, as his wife had said, that Cap and Muir were in the blockhouse with Mabel, and that the attempt to repel him and his companions had been made by the men.
sorry the Lily,'” for so the Indian, in her poetical language, had named our heroine June
sorry the Lily no marry Arrowhead. His wigwam big, and a great chief must get wives enough to fill it.”
“ I thank you, June, for this preference, which is not according to the notions of us white women,” returned Mabel, smiling in spite of the fearful situation in which she was placed ; “but I may not, probably never shall, marry at all." “ Must have good husband,” said June ;
marry Eaudouce, if don't like Arrowhead.”
“ June ! this is not a fit subject for a girl who scarcely knows if she is to live another hour, or not. I would obtain some signs of my dear uncle's being alive and safe, if possible.
“ June go see."
“ Can you ? - will you ? - would it be safe for you to be seen on the island ? is your presence known to the warriors, and would they be pleased to find a woman on the war-path with them?"
All this Mabel asked in rapid connection, fearing that the answer might not be as she wished. She had thought it extraordinary that June should be of the party, and, improbable as it seemed, she had fancied that the woman had covertly followed the Iroquois in her own canoe, and had got in their advance, merely to give her the notice which had, probably, saved her life. But in all this she was mistaken, as June, in her imperfect manner, now found means to let her know.
Arrowhead, though a chief, was in disgrace with his own people, and was acting with the Iroquois temporarily, though with a perfect understanding. He had a wigwam, it is true, but was seldom in it; feigning friendship for the English, he had passed the summer ostensibly in their service, while he was, in truth, acting for the French, and his wife journeyed with him in his many migrations, most of the distances being past over in canoes. In a word, her presence was no secret, her husband seldom moving without her. Enough of this to embolden Mabel to wish that her friend might go out, to ascertain the fate of her uncle, did June succeed in letting the other know; and it was soon settled between them, that the Indian woman should quit the blockhouse with that object, the moment a favourable opportunity offered.
They first examined the island, as thoroughly as their position would allow, from the different loops, and found that its conquerors were preparing for a feast, having seized upon the provisions of the English and rifled the huts. Most of the stores were in the blockhouse ; but enough were found outside to reward the Indians for an attack that had been attended by so little risk. A party had already removed the dead bodies, and Mabel saw that their arms were collected in a pile, near the spot chosen for the banquet. June suggested that, by some signs which she understood, the dead, themselves, were carried into a thicket, and either buried, or concealed from view. None of the more prominent objects on the island, however, were disturbed, it being the desire of the conquerors to lure the party of the Sergeant into an ambush, on its return. June made her companion observe a man in a tree, a look-out, as she said, to give timely notice of the approach of any boat, although the departure of the expedition being so recent, nothing but some unexpected event would be likely to bring it back so soon. There did not appear to be any intention to attack the blockhouse immediately; but every indication, as understood by June, rather showed that it was the intention of the Indians to keep it besieged until the return of the Sergeant's party, lest the signs of an assault should give a warning to eyes as practised as those of Pathfinder. The boat, however, had been secured and was removed to the spot where the canoes of the Indians were hid in the bushes.
June now announced her intention to join her friends, the moment being particularly favourable for her to quit the blockhouse. Mabel felt some distrust as they descended the ladder; but, at the next instant, she was ashamed of the feeling, as unjust to ber companion, and unworthy of herself, and by the time they both stood on the ground, her confidence was restored. The process of unbarring the door was conducted with the utmost caution; and when
the last bar was ready to be turned, June took her station near the spot where the opening must necessarily be. The bar was just turned free of the brackets, the door was opened merely wide enough to allow her body to pass, and June glided through the space. Mabel closed the door again, with a convulsive movement; and, as the bar turned into its place, her heart beat audibly. She then felt secure ; and the two other bars were turned down in a more deli. berate manner. When all was fast again, she ascended to the first floor, where, alone, she could get a glimpse of what was going on without.
Long, and painfully melancholy hours passed, during which Mabel had no intelligence from June. She heard the yells of the savages, for liquor had carried them beyond the bounds of precaution ; occasionally caught glimpses of their mad orgies through the loops; and, at all times, was conscious of their fearful presence, by sounds and sights that would have chilled the blood of one who had not so lately witnessed scenes so much more terrible. Toward the middle of the day, she fancied she saw a white man on the island, though his dress and wild appearance at first made her take him for a newly arrived savage. A view of his face, although it was swarthy naturally, and much darkened by exposure, left no doubt that her conjecture was true; and she felt as if there was now one of a species more like her own present, and one to whom she might appeal for succour in the last emergency. Mabel little knew, alas ! how small was the influence exercised by the whites over their savage allies, when the latter had begun to taste of blood; or how slight, indeed, was the disposition to divert them from their cruelties.
The day seemed a month by Mabel's computation, and the only part of it that did not drag were the minutes spent in prayer. She had recourse to this relief from time to time ; and at each effort she found her spirit firmer, her mind more tranquil, and her resignation more confirmed. She understood the reasoning of June, and believed it highly probable that the blockhouse would be left unmolested until the return of her father, in order to entice him into an ambuscade, and she felt much less apprehension of immediate danger in consequence ; but the future offered little ground of hope, and her thoughts had already begun to calculate the chances of her captivity. At such moments, Arrowhead and his offensive admiration filled a prominent place in the back-ground : for our heroine well knew that the Indians usually carried off to their villages, for the purposes of adoption, such captives as they did not slay; and that many instances had occurred in which individuals of her sex had passed the remainder of their lives in the wigwams of their conquerors. Such thoughts as these invariably drove her to her knees and to her prayers.
While the light lasted the situation of our heroine was sufficiently alarming ; but as the shades of evening gradually gathered over the island, it became fearfully appalling. By this time the savages had wrought themselves up to the point of fury, for they had possessed themselves of all the liquor of the English ; and their outcries and gesticulations were those of men truly possessed by evil spirits. All the efforts of their French leader to restrain them were entirely fruitless, and he had wisely withdrawn to an adjacent island, where he had a sort of bivouac, that he might keep at a safe distance from friends so apt to run into excesses. Before quitting the spot, however, this officer, at great risk to his own life, had succeeded in extinguishing the fire, and in securing the ordinary means to relight it. This precaution he took lest the Indians should burn the blockhouse, the preservation of which was necessary to the success of his future plans. He would gladly have removed all the arms also, but this he found impracticable, the war. riors clinging to their knives and tomahawks with the tenacity of men who regarded a point of honour as long as a faculty was left ; and to carry off the rifles, and leave behind him the very weapons that were generally used on such occasions would have been an idle expedient. The extinguishing of the fire proved to be the most prudent measure; for no sooner was the officer's back turned than one of the warriors in fact proposed to fire the blockhouse. Arrowhead had also withdrawn from the group of drunk. ards, as soon as he found that they were losing their senses ; and had taken possession of a hut, where he had