« PředchozíPokračovat »
gined many additional horrors as she first saw the black roving eyes, and the expression of wildness, as the savage countenance was revealed, as it might be, inch by inch; but, when the entire head was raised above the floor, a second and a better look assured our heroine that she saw the gentle, anxious, and even handsome face of June.
Spectre though I be,
It would be difficult to say which evinced the most satisfaction, when Mabel sprang to her feet, and appeared in the centre of the room, our heroine, on finding that her visiter was the wife of Arrowhead, and not Arrowhead himself, or June, at discovering that her advice had been followed, and that the blockhouse contained the person she had so anxiously and almost hopelessly sought. They embraced each other, and the unsophisticated Tuscarora woman laughed in her sweet accents, as she held her friend at arm's length, and made certain of her presence.
Blockhouse, good," said the young Indian ; “got no scalp.”
“ It is, indeed, good, June,” Mabel answered with a shudder, veiling her eyes at the same time, as if to shut out a view of the horrors she had so lately witnessed. “ Tell me, for God's sake! if you know, what has become of my dear uncle ; I have looked in all directions, without being able to see him.”
“No here in blockhouse ? ” June asked, with some curiosity.
“ Indeed he is not : I am quite alone in this place ; Jennie, the woman who was with me, having rushed out to join her husband, and perishing for her imprudence."
“ June know, June see ; very bad, Arrowhead no feel for any wife; no feel for his own.”
" Ah ! June ; your life, at least, is safe !
“God bless and protect you ! June ; he will bless and protect you for this humanity. Tell me what is to be done, and if my poor uncle is still living ?”
- Don't know. Salt-water has boat; may be he go on river.”
- The boat is still on the shore, but neither my uncle nor the Quarter-master is any where to be seen.
“No kill, or June would see, Hide away! Red man hide ; no shame for pale-face.”
“ It is not the shame that I fear for them, but the opportunity. Your attack was awfully sudden, June ?"
“ Tuscarora ! ” returned the other, smiling with exultation at the dexterity of her husband. “ Arrowhead great warrior!”
“You are too good and gentle for this sort of life, June; you cannot be happy in such scenes ? ”
June's countenance grew clouded, and Mabel fancied there was some of the savage fire of a chief in her frown as she answered,
“ Yengeese too greedy, take away all hunting grounds; chase Six Nation from morning to night : wicked king, wicked people. Pale-face very bad.”
Mabel knew, that even in that distant day, there was much truth in this opinion, though she was too well instructed not to understand that the monarch, in this, as in a thousand other cases, was blamed for acts of which he was most probably ignorant. She felt the justice of the rebuke, therefore, too much to attempt an answer, and her thoughts naturally reverted to her own situation.
“ And what am I to do, June ? ” she demanded. cannot be long before your people will assault this building."
« Blockhouse good-got no scalp.”
“But they will soon discover that it has got no garrison, too, if they do not know it already. You, yourself, told me the number of people that were on the island, and doubtless you learned it from Arrowhead.”
“ Arrowhead know," answered June, holding up six fingers, to indicate the number of the men. 66 All red men know. Four lose scalp already; two got 'em, yet.”
“ Do not speak of it, June : the horrid thought curdles my blood. Your people cannot know that I am alone in the blockhouse, but may fancy my uncle and the Quartermaster with me, and may set fire to the building, in order to dislodge them. They tell me that fire is the great danger to such places."
“No burn blockhouse,” said June, quietly.
“ You cannot know that, my good June, and I have no means to keep them off.”
- No burn blockhouse. Blockhouse good ; got no scalp.” “ But tell me why, June ; I fear they will burn it.” 66 Blockhouse wet- much rain - logs green
- no burn easy. Red man know it-fine t’ing—then no burn it to tell Yengeese that Iroquois been here. Fader come back, miss blockhouse, no found. No, no; Indian too much cunning ; no touch any thing.”
“ I understand you, June, and hope your prediction may be true ; for as regards my dear father, should he escape - perhaps he is already dead or captured, June?"
“ No touch fader - don't know where he gone-water got no trail - red man can't follow. No burn blockhouse -blockhouse good; got no scalp.”
think it possible for me to remain here safely, until my
father returns?" “Don't know; daughter tell best, when fader come back.”
Mabel felt uneasy at the glance of June's dark eye, as she uttered this ; for the unpleasant surmise arose that her companion was endeavouring to discover a fact that might be useful to her own people, while it would lead to the destruction of her parent and his party. She was about to make an evasive answer, when a heavy push at the outer door suddenly drew all her thoughts to the immediate danger.
“ They come !” she exclaimed, perhaps, June, it is my uncle, or the Quarter-master. I cannot keep out even Mr. Muir at a moment like this.”
Why no look; plenty loop-hole, made purpose.”
Mabel took the hint, and going to one of the downward loops, that had been cut through the logs in the part that overhung the basement, she cautiously raised the little block that ordinarily filled the small hole, and caught a
glance at what was passing at the door. The start and changing countenance told her companion that some of her own people were below.
“ Red man,” said June, lifting a finger in admonition to be prudent.
“ Four; and horrible in their paint and bloody trophies. Arrowhead is among them.”
June had moved to a corner, where several spare rifles had been deposited, and had already taken one into her hand, when the name of her husband appeared to arrest her movements. It was but for an instant, however, for she immediately went to the loop, and was about to thrust the muzzle of the piece through it, when a feeling of natural aversion induced Mabel to seize her arm.
“No, no, no! June,” said the latter ; “not against your own husband, though my life be the penalty.”
“No hurt Arrowhead,” returned June, with a slight shudder,“ no hurt red man at all. No fire at'em ; only scare.'
Mabel now comprehended the intention of June, and no longer opposed it. The latter thrust the muzzle of the rifle through the loop-hole ; and taking care to make noise enough to attract attention, she pulled the trigger. The piece had no sooner been discharged than Mabel reproached her friend, for the very act that was intended to serve her.
“ You declared it was not your intention to fire,” she said, “and you may have destroyed your own husband.”
“ All run away before I fire,” returned June, laughing, and going to another loop to watch the movements of her friends, laughing still heartier.
.“ See! get cover — every warrior. Think Salt-water and Quarter-master here. Take good care now."
“ Heaven be praised! And now, June, I may hope for a little time to compose my thoughts to prayer, that I may not die like Jennie, thinking only of life and the things of the world.”
June laid aside the rifle, and came and seated herself near the box on which Mabel had sunk, under that physical re-action which accompanies joy as well as sorrow. She looked steadily in our heroine's face, and the latter
thought that her countenance had an expression of severity mingled with its concern.
“ Arrowhead great warrior," said the Tuscarora's wife. “ All the girls of tribe look at him much. The pale-face beauty has eyes too ?”
« June ! - what do these words -- that look imply? what would you say !
??" Why you so 'fraid June shoot Arrowhead ?” “ Would it not have been horrible to see a wife destroy her own husband ? No, June, rather would I have died myself.”
Very sure, dat all ? ” “ That was all, June, as God is my judge—and surely that was enough. No, no! there has been sufficient horrors to-day, without increasing them by an act like this. What other motive can you suspect ?”
.- Don't know. Poor Tuscarora girl very foolish. Arrowhead great chief, and look all round him. Talk of paleface beauty in his sleep. Great chief like many wives.”
“ Can a chief possess more than one wife, June, among your people."
“ Have as many as he can keep. Great hunter marry often. Arrowhead got only June now; but he look too much, see too much, talk too much, of pale-face girl.”
Mabel was conscious of this fact, which had distressed her not a little, in the course of their journey ; but it. shocked her to hear this allusion, coming, as it did, from the mouth of the wife herself. She knew that habit and opinions made great differences in such matters ; but, in addition to the pain and mortification she experienced at being the unwilling rival of a wife, she felt an apprehension that jealousy would be but an equivocal guarantee for her personal safety, in her present situation. A closer look at June, however, re-assured her; for while it was easy to trace in the unpractised features of this unsophisticated being the pain of blightel affections, no distrust could have tortured the earnest expression of ber honest countenance into that of treachery or hate.
“ You will not betray me, June?" Mabel said, pressing the other's hand, and yielding to an impulse of gene