The party remained in their place of concealment for another quarter of an hour, till the two Indians and Percival had quitted the open space before the lodges, and had entered the woods. They then followed in a parallel direction, Malachi and John going ahead: Martin and Alfred following so as to keep them in sight, and the remainder of the party at about the same distance behind Martin and Alfred. They continued in this manner their course through the woods for more than an hour, when a herd of deer darted past Malachi and John. They immediately stopped, and crouched, to hide themselves. Martin and Alfred perceiving this, followed their example, and the rest of the party behind, at the motion of the Strawberry, did the same. Hardly had they done so, when one of the herd, which had been pierced by an arrow, followed in the direction of the rest, and after a few bounds fell to the earth. A minute or two afterwards the hunters made their appearance, and stood by the expiring beast, where they remained for a minute or two talking, and then took out their knives to flay and cut it up. While they were thus employed, Malachi and John on one side, Alfred and Martin from another direction, and the rest of the party from a third, were creeping slowly up towards them; but to surround them completely it was necessary that the main party should divide, and send one or two more to the eastward. Captain Sinclair despatched Graves and one of the soldiers, desiring them to creep very softly till they arrived at a spot he pointed out, and then to wait for the signal to be given.
As the parties gradually approached nearer and nearer to the Indians and Percival, the Old Raven appeared to be uneasy, he looked round and round him, and once or twice laid his ear to the ground; whenever he did this, they all stopped, and almost held their breaths.
"The Indian woman says that the Old Raven is suspicious; he is sure that some one is in the woods near him, and she thinks that she had better go to him," said the Strawberry to Captain Sinclair.
"Let her go," said Captain Sinclair.
The Indian rose, and walked up in the direction of the Indians, who immediately turned to her as she approached.
She spoke to them, and appeared to be telling them how it was she returned. At all events, she occupied the attention of the Old Raven till the parties were close to them, when Malachi arose, and immediately all the others did the same, and rushed upon them. After a short and useless struggle, they were secured, but not before the younger Indian had wounded one of the soldiers, by stabbing him with his knife. The thongs were already fast round the arms and legs of the Indians, when Percival, who had not been tied, again attempted to escape, and by the direction of Malachi, he was bound, as well as the other two.
As soon as the prisoners were secured, Martin and Graves and the soldiers employed themselves cutting up the venison and preparing it for dinner, while the Strawberry and the Indian woman were collecting wood for a fire. In the mean while Captain Sinclair, Alfred, Malachi, and John were seated by the prisoners, and directing their attention to Percival, whom they had been compelled to bind, that he might not make his escape; for his sojourn of nearly two years in the woods with the Indians, without seeing the face of a white man, had (as has been invariably proved to be the fact in every instance where the parties were very young) wholly obliterated, for the time, his recollections of his former life—so rapid is our falling off to the savage state. To the questions of Alfred he returned no reply, and appeared not to understand him.
"Let me try him, sir," said Malachi, "I will speak to him in the Injun tongue, he has perhaps forgotten his own. It is wonderful how soon we return to a state of nature when we are once in the woods."
Malachi then spoke to Percival in the Indian language; Percival listened for some time, and at last replied in the same tongue.
"What does he say, Malachi?" said Alfred.
"He says he will sing his own death song; that he is the son of a warrior, and he will die like a brave."
"Why, the boy is metamorphosed," said Captain Sinclair; "is it possible that so short a time could have produced this?"
"Yes, sir," replied Malachi; "in young people a very short time will change them thus, but it won't last long. If he were to meet again with his mother at the settlement, he would by degrees forget his Injun life and become reconciled; a woman has more effect than a man. Let the Strawberry speak to him. You see, sir, he is bound, and considers himself a captive, and let him loose we must not, until we have done our work; after that, there will be no fear, and when he has been with us a short time, he will come all right again."
Malachi called the Strawberry, and told her to speak to Percival about his home and his mother, and everything connected with the farm.
The Strawberry sat down by Percival, and in her soft tones talked to him in her own tongue of his father and mother, of his cousins, and how he had been taken by the Indians when he was hunting, how his mother had wept for him, and all had lamented his loss; running on in a low musical key from one thing to another connected and associated with his former life in the settlement, and it was evident that at last he now listened with attention. The Strawberry continued to talk to him thus, for more than an hour, when Alfred again addressed him and said, "Percival, don't you know me?"
"Yes," replied Percival in English, "I do; you are my brother Alfred."
"All's right now, sir," said Malachi; "only he must be kept fast; but the lad's coming to his senses again. The Strawberry will talk to him again by-and-bye."
They then sat down to their meal; the two Indians were removed to a distance under the guard of one of the soldiers, but Percival remained with them. John sat by Percival, and, cutting off a tempting bit of venison, held it to his mouth, saying to him, "Percival, when we go home again, your hands shall be untied, and you shall have a rifle of your own instead of a bow and arrows. Come, eat this."
This was a long speech for John, but it produced its effect, for Percival opened his mouth for the venison, and, being fed by John, made a very good dinner. As soon as their meal was over, they consulted as to what steps should next be taken. The question discussed was whether they should now capture the women who were left in the lodges, or remain quiet till the Angry Snake and his party arrived.
Malachi's opinion was as follows:—
"I think we had, at all events, better wait till to-morrow, sir. You see, the women will not be at all surprised at the hunting party not returning for even a day or two, as they know that they will not return without game, and may not find it immediately; their absence, therefore, will create no suspicion of our being here. I think we should return to our former place of concealment, and watch their motions. There is no saying when the party with Miss Percival may return; they may have arrived while we have been away, or they may come to-morrow. It will be better, therefore, not to encumber ourselves with more prisoners unless it is necessary."
This opinion was at last assented to, and they set off, on their return to the Indian lodges. They arrived about an hour before dusk at their hiding-place, having taken the precaution to gag the two Indians for fear of their giving a whoop as notice of their capture. Percival was very quiet, and had begun to talk a little with John.
Scarcely had they been five minutes again concealed among the spruce fir-trees, when they heard a distant whoop from the woods on the other side of the lodges.
"They are now coming on," said Martin; "that is their signal."
One of the Indian women from the lodges returned the whoop.
"Yes, sir, they are coming," said Malachi. "Pray, Captain Sinclair, be quiet and sit down; you will ruin all our plans."
"Down, Sinclair, I beg," said Alfred.
Captain Sinclair, who was very much excited, nevertheless did as he was requested.
"Oh, Alfred!" said he; "she's so near."
"Yes, my good fellow, but if you wish her nearer, you must be prudent."
"True, very true," replied Captain Sinclair.
In about half an hour more, the Angry Snake and his party were soon seen to emerge from the woods, and it was perceived that four of the Indians carried a litter made of branches between them.
"She could walk no farther, sir," said Malachi to Captain Sinclair; "so they are carrying her; I told you that they would not hurt her."
"Let me once see her get out of the litter, and I shall be satisfied," replied Captain Sinclair.
The Indians soon were over the clearing, and stopped at one of the lodges; Mary Percival was lifted out, and was seen to walk with difficulty into the wigwam, followed by two of the Indian women. A short parley took place between the Angry Snake and the other two women, and the chief and rest of the party then went into another lodge.
"All's right so far, sir," observed Malachi; "they have left her to the charge of the two women in a lodge by herself, and so there will be no fear for her when we make the attack, which I think we must do very shortly, for if it is quite dark some of them may escape, and may trouble us afterwards."
"Let us do it immediately," said Captain Sinclair.
"No, not immediately, sir; we have yet an hour and a-half daylight. We will wait one hour, for I think that as they have nothing to eat, and are pretty well tired from carrying Miss Percival, they will, in all probability, go to sleep, as Injuns always do. An hour hence will be the beat time for us to fall upon them."
"You are right, Malachi," replied Alfred. "Sinclair, you must curb your impatience."
"I must, I believe," replied Captain Sinclair; "but it will be a tedious hour for me. Let us pass it away in making out arrangements; we have but six to deal with."
"And only two rifles," replied Alfred; "so we are pretty sure of success."
"We must watch first," said Martin, "to see if they all continue in the same lodge, for if they divide we must arrange accordingly. Who will remain with the prisoners?"
"I won't," said John, in a positive manner.
"You must, John, if it is decided that you do," said Alfred.
"Better not, sir," replied Malachi; "for as soon as the boy hears the crack of the rifles he will leave his prisoners and join us; that I'm sure of. No, sir, the Strawberry can be left with the prisoners. I'll give her my hunting-knife; that will be sufficient."
They remained for about half-an-hour more watching the lodges, but everything appeared quiet, and not a single person came out. Having examined the priming of their rifles, every man was directed to take up a certain position, so as to surround the buildings and support each other. John was appointed to the office of looking after his cousin Mary, and preventing the women from escaping with her from the lodge in which she was confined; and John took this office willingly, as he considered it one of importance, although it had been given him more with a view that he might not be exposed to danger. Leaving the prisoners to the charge of the Strawberry, who, with her knife drawn, stood over them, ready to act upon the slightest attempt of escape on their part, the whole party now crept softly towards the lodges by the same path as had been taken by Malachi and the Indian woman.
As soon as they had all arrived they waited for a few minutes while Malachi reconnoitred, and when they perceived that he did so, they all rose up and hastened to their allotted stations round the lodge into which the Angry Snake and his followers had entered. The Indians appeared to be asleep, for everything remained quiet.
"Let us first lead Miss Percival away to a place of safety," whispered Captain Sinclair.
"Do you do it, then," said Alfred; "there are plenty of us without you."
Captain Sinclair hastened to the lodge in which Miss Percival had been placed, and opened the door. Mary Percival, as soon as she beheld Captain Sinclair, uttered a loud scream of delight, and, rising from the skins on which she had been laid, fell upon his neck. Captain Sinclair caught her in his arms, and was bearing her out of the lodge, when an Indian woman caught him by the coat; but John, who had entered, putting the muzzle of his rifle into their faces, they let go and retreated, and Captain Sinclair bore away Mary in his arms into the brushwood, where the Strawberry was standing over the Indian prisoners. The scream of Mary Percival had roused the Indians, who, after their exhaustion and privations, were in a sound sleep; but still no movement was to be heard in the lodge, and a debate between Malachi and Alfred whether they should enter the lodge or not, was put an end to by a rifle being fired from the lodge, and the fall of one of the soldiers, who was next to Alfred. Another shot followed, and Martin received a bullet in his shoulder, and then out bounded the Angry Snake, followed by his band, the chief whirling his tomahawk and springing upon Malachi, while the others attacked Alfred and Martin, who were nearest to the door of the lodge. The rifle of Malachi met the breast of the Angry Snake as he advanced, and the contents were discharged through his body. The other Indians fought desperately, but the whole of the attacking party closing in, they were overpowered. Only two of them, however, were taken alive, and these were seriously wounded. They were tied and laid on the ground.
"He was a bad man, sir," said Malachi, who was standing over the body of the Indian chief; "but he will do no more mischief."
"Are you much hurt, Martin?" inquired Alfred.
"No, sir, not much; the ball has passed right through and touched no bone; so I am in luck. I'll go to the Strawberry, and get her to bind it up."
"He is quite dead, sir," said Graves, who was kneeling by the side of the soldier who had been shot by the first rifle.
"Poor fellow!" exclaimed Alfred. "Well, I'm not sorry that they commenced the attack upon us, for I do not know whether I could have used my rifle unless they had done so."
"They never expected quarter, sir," said Malachi.
"I suppose not. Now, what are we to do with the women? They can do no harm."
"Not much, sir; but at all events, we must put it out of their power. We must take possession of all the weapons we can find in the lodges. We have their two rifles; but we must collect all the bows and arrows, tomahawks, and knives, and either destroy or keep possession of them. John, will you look to that? Take Graves with you."
"Yes," replied John, who, with Graves, immediately commenced his search of the lodges.
The two women, who had been in the lodge with Mary Percival, had remained where they were, as John's rifle had kept them from leaving the lodge; but the other two had escaped into the woods during the affray. This was of little consequence; indeed, the others were told that they might go away, if they would; and, as soon as they heard this from Malachi, they followed the example of their companions. John and Graves brought out all the arms they could find, and Malachi and Alfred then went to the bushes to which Mary Percival and Sinclair had previously retired. Alfred embraced his cousin, who was still too greatly agitated to say much, being almost overpowered by the sudden transition in all her thoughts and feelings:—and, in the variety of her emotions, perhaps the most bewildering was that occasioned by the re-appearance of Percival,—like a restoration from the dead. Alfred was in consultation with Malachi, when he perceived the flames bursting out of the lodges. Martin, as soon as his wound was dressed, had returned and set fire to them.
"It's all right, sir," said Malachi; "it will leave the proof of our victory, and be a caution to other Injuns."
"But what will become of the women?"
"They will join some other band, sir, and tell the story. It is better that they should."
"And our prisoners, what shall we do with them?"
"Release them; by-and-bye, sir, we shall have nothing to fear from them, but we will first take them two or three days' march into the woods, in case they have alliance with any other band whom they might call to their assistance."
"And the wounded Indians?"
"Must be left to Providence, sir. We cannot take them. We will leave them provisions and water. The women will come back and find them; if they are alive they will look after them; if dead, bury them. But here comes John, with some bears'-skins which he has saved for Miss Mary; that was thoughtful of the boy. As soon as the flames are down, we will take up our quarters in the clearing, and set a watch for the night; and to-morrow, with the help of God, we will commence our journey back. We shall bring joy to your father and mother, and the sooner we do it the better; for they must be anything but comfortable at our long absence."
"Yes," said Mary Percival; "what a state of suspense they must be in! Truly, as the Bible saith, 'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.'"
CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.
THE FAMILY REUNITED.
Not one of the party slept much on this night. There was much to do, and much to be looked after. Captain Sinclair, as it may be supposed, was fully occupied with Mary Percival, of whom more anon. As soon as they had taken up their position in the clearing, and made arrangements for the accommodation of Mary, they relieved the Strawberry from her charge of the prisoners, whom they brought to the clearing, and made to sit down close to them. Percival, who had not yet been freed from his bonds, was now untied, and suffered to walk about, one of the men keeping close to him and watching him carefully. The first object which caught his eye was the body of the Angry Snake. Percival looked on it for some time, and then sat down by the side of it. There he remained for more than two hours, without speaking, when a hole having been dug out by one of the party, the body was put in and covered up.
Percival remained a few minutes by the side of the grave, and then turned to the two wounded Indians. He brought them water, and spoke to them in the Indian tongue; but while he was still with them, Mary sent for him to speak with him, for as yet she had scarcely seen him. The sight of Mary appeared to have a powerful effect upon the boy; he listened to her as she soothed and caressed him, and appearing to be overcome with a variety of sensations, he lay down, moaned, and at last fell fast asleep. The soldier who had been shot by the Angry Snake was buried before they buried the chief. Martin's wound had been dressed by his wife, the Strawberry, who was very skilful in Indian surgery. She had previously applied cataplasms made from the bruised leaves which she and the Indian woman had sought for to the feet of Mary Percival, which were in a state of great inflammation, and Mary had found herself already much relieved by the application. Before the day had dawned the two Indians who had been wounded were dead, and were immediately buried by the side of the chief.
Alfred and Malachi had resolved to set off the next morning, on their return home, if they found it possible to convey Mary Percival; but their party was now reduced, as one of the soldiers had been killed, and Martin was incapable of service. The Indian woman would also be fully loaded with the extra rifles, the two which they had captured from the Indians, the one belonging to the soldier, and Martin's who could not carry anything in his present state.
They were now only six effective men, as John could not be of much use in carrying, and, moreover, was appointed to watch Percival. Then they had the two prisoners to take charge of, so that they were somewhat embarrassed. Malachi, however, proposed that they should make a litter of boughs, welded together very tight, and suspended on a pole so as to be carried between two men. Mary Percival was not a very great weight, and, by relieving each other continually, they would be able to get some miles every day, till Mary was well enough to walk with them. Alfred assented to this, and, as soon as it was daylight, went into the woods with Malachi, to assist him in cutting the boughs. On their return, they found that all the rest of the party were up, and that Mary felt little or no pain. They made their breakfast on their salt provisions, which were now nearly expended, and as soon as their meal was over, they put Mary upon the litter and set off, taking the Indian prisoners with them, as they thought it not yet advisable to give them their liberty. The first day they made but a few miles, as they were obliged to stop, that they might procure some food. The party were left under a large tree, which was a good land-mark, under the charge of Captain Sinclair, while Malachi and Alfred went in search of game. At nightfall they returned with a deer which they had killed, when the Strawberry informed them that the Indian woman had told her, that about two miles to the southward there was a river which ran into the lake, and that there were two canoes belonging to the band, hauled up in the bushes on the beach; that the river was broad and swift, and would soon take them to the lake, by the shores of which they could paddle the canoe to the settlement. This appeared worthy of consideration, as it would in the end, perhaps, save time, and at all events allow Mary Percival to recover. They decided that they would go to the river, and take the canoes, as the Indian woman said that they were large enough to hold them all.
The next morning, guided by the Indian woman, they set off in the direction of the river, and arrived at it in the afternoon. They found the canoes, which were large, and in good order, and having carried them down to the beach, they resolved to put off their embarkation till the following day, as they were again in want of provisions for their subsistence.
Alfred, Malachi, and John went out this time, for Percival had shewn himself so quiet and contented, and had gradually become so fond of being near Mary Percival, that he appeared to have awakened from his Indian dream, and renewed all his former associations. They did not, therefore, think it necessary to watch him any more—indeed, he never would leave Mary's side, and began now to ask many questions, which proved that he had recalled to mind much of what had been forgotten during his long sojourn with the Indians. The hunters returned, having been very successful, and loaded with meat enough to last for four or five days. At daylight the next morning, they led the prisoners about half a mile into the woods, and, pointing to the north as to the direction they were to go, cast loose the deer-thongs which confined them, and set them at liberty. Having done this, they embarked in the canoes, and were soon gliding rapidly down the stream.
The river upon which they embarked, at that time little known to the Europeans, is now called the river Thames, and the town built upon it is named London. It falls into the upper part of Lake Erie, and is a fine rapid stream. For three days they paddled their canoes, disembarking at night to sleep and cook their provisions, and on the fourth they were compelled to stop, that they might procure more food. They were successful, and on the next day they entered the lake, about two hundred miles to the west of the settlement Mary Percival was now quite recovered, and found her journey or voyage delightful; the country was in full beauty; the trees waved their boughs down to the river side, and they did not fall in with any Indians, or perceive any lodges on the bank. Sometimes they started the deer which had come down to drink in the stream, and on one occasion, as they rounded a point, they fell in with a herd which were in the water swimming across, and in this position they destroyed as many as they required for their food, till they hoped to arrive at the settlement.
Percival was now quite reconciled to his removal from an Indian life, and appeared most anxious to rejoin his father and mother, of whom he talked incessantly; for he had again recovered his English, which, strange to say, although he perfectly understood it when spoken to, he had almost forgotten to pronounce, and at first spoke with difficulty. The weather was remarkably fine, and the waters of the lake were so smooth, that they made rapid progress, although they invariably disembarked at night. The only annoyance they had was from the mosquitoes which rose in clouds as soon as they landed, and were not to be dispersed until they had lighted a very large fire, accompanied with thick smoke: but this was a trifle compared with their joy at the happy deliverance of the prisoners, and success of their expedition. Most grateful, indeed, were they to God for His mercies, and none more so than Mary Percival and Captain Sinclair, who never left her side till it was time to retire to rest.
On the sixth day, in the forenoon, they were delighted to perceive Fort Frontignac in the distance, and although the house at the settlement was hid from their sight by the point covered with wood which intervened, they knew that they were not above four or five miles distant. In less than another hour, they were abreast of the prairie, and landed at the spot where their own punt was moored. Mr and Mrs Campbell had not perceived the canoes, for, although anxiously looking out every day for the return of the party, their eyes and attention were directed on land, not having any idea of their return by water.
"My dear Alfred," said Mary, "I do not think it will be prudent to let my aunt see Percival at once; we must prepare her a little for his appearance. She has so long considered him as dead, that the shock may be too great."
"You say true, my dear Mary. Then we will go forward with Captain Sinclair, and Malachi, and John. Let Percival be put in the middle of the remainder of the party, who must follow afterwards, and then be taken up to Malachi's lodge. He can remain there with the Strawberry until we come and fetch him."
Having made this arrangement, to which Percival was with difficulty made to agree, they walked up, as proposed, to the house. Outside of the palisade, they perceived Mr and Mrs Campbell, with their backs towards them, looking towards the forest, in the direction which the party had taken when they left. But when they were half-way from the beach, Henry came out with Oscar from the cottage, and the dog immediately perceiving them, bounded to them, barking with delight. Henry cried out, "Father— mother, here they are,—here they come." Mr and Mrs Campbell of course turned round, and beheld the party advancing; they flew to meet them, and as they caught Mary in their arms, all explanation was for a time unnecessary—she was recovered, and that was sufficient for the time.
"Come, mother, let us go into the house, that you may compose yourself a little," said Alfred,—that she might not perceive Percival among the party that followed at a little distance. "Let me support you. Take my arm."
Mrs Campbell, who trembled very much, did so, and thus turned away from the group among whom Percival was walking. Emma was looking at them attentively, and was about to exclaim, when Captain Sinclair put his finger to his lips.
As soon as they arrived at the house, and had gone in, Alfred, in a few words, gave them an account of what had passed—how successful they had been in their attempt, and how little they had to fear from the Indians in future.
"How grateful I am!" exclaimed Mrs Campbell. "God be praised for all His mercies! I was fearful that I should have lost you, my dear Mary, as well as my poor boy. He is lost for ever; but God's will be done."
"It is very strange, mother," said Alfred, "but we heard, on our journey, that the Indians had found a white boy in the woods."
"Alas! not mine."
"I have reason to believe that it was Percival, my dear mother, and have hopes that he is yet alive."
"My dear Alfred, do not say so unless you have good cause; you little know the yearnings of a mother's heart; the very suggestion of such a hope has thrown me into a state of agitation and nervousness of which you can form no conception. I have been reconciled to the Divine will; let me not return to a state of anxiety and repining."
"Do you think, my dear mother, that I would raise such hopes if I had not good reason to suppose that they would be realised? No, my dear mother, I am not so cruel."
"Then you know that Percival is alive?" said Mrs Campbell, seizing Alfred by the arm.
"Calm yourself, my dear mother, I do know—I am certain that he is alive, and that it was he who was found by the Indians; and I have great hopes that we may recover him."
"God grant it! God grant it in His great mercy!" said Mrs Campbell. "My heart is almost breaking with joy; may God sustain me! Oh, where is—my dear Alfred—where is he?" continued Mrs Campbell. Alfred made no reply; but a flood of tears came to her relief.
"I will explain it to you when you are more composed, my dear mother. Emma, you have not said one word to me."
"I have been too much overjoyed to speak, Alfred," replied Emma, extending her hand to him; "but no one welcomes your return more sincerely than I do, and no one is more grateful to you for having brought Mary back."
"Now, Alfred, I am calm," said Mrs Campbell; "so let me hear at once all you know."
"I see you are calm, my dear mother, and I therefore now tell you that Percival is not far off."
"Alfred! he is here; I am sure he is."
"He is with Malachi and the Strawberry; in a minute I will bring him."
Alfred left the house. The intelligence was almost too overpowering for Mrs Campbell. Mary and Emma hastened to her, and supported her. In another minute Alfred returned with Percival, and the mother embraced and wept over her long-lost child, and then gave him to his father's arms.
"How this has happened, and by what merciful interference he has been preserved and restored to us," said Mr Campbell, when their first emotions were over, "we have yet to learn; but one thing we do know, and are sure of, that it is by the goodness of God alone. Let us return our thanks while our hearts are yet warm with gratitude and love, and may our thanksgiving be graciously received."
Mr Campbell knelt down, and his example was followed by all the rest of the party assembled. In a fervent tone he returned thanks for the recent mercies vouchsafed to his family, which, he expressed a hope, would never be forgotten, but would prove a powerful inducement to them all to lead a more devout life of faith in Him who had so graciously supported them in the hour of peril and affliction—who had so wonderfully restored to them their lost treasures, and turned all their gloom into sunshine, filling their hearts with joy and gladness.
"And now, my dear Alfred," said Mrs Campbell, whose arms still encircled the neck of Percival, "do pray tell us what has taken place, and how you recovered Mary and this dear boy."
Alfred then entered into detail, first stating the knowledge which Captain Sinclair, Malachi, and himself had of Percival being still in existence from the letter written by the Indian woman, the seizure and confinement of the Young Otter in consequence, which was retaliated by the abduction of Mary. When he had finished, Mr Campbell said—
"And poor Martin, where is he, that I may thank him?"
"He is at his own lodge with the Strawberry, who is dressing his wound; for we have not been able to do so for two or three days, and it has become very painful."
"We owe him a large debt of gratitude," said Mr Campbell; "he has suffered much on our account. And your poor man, Captain Sinclair, who fell!"
"Yes," replied Sinclair, "he was one of our best men; yet it was the will of Heaven. He lost his life in the recovery of my dear Mary, and I shall not forget his wife and child, you may depend upon it."
"Now, Mary, let us have your narrative of what passed when you were in the company of the Indians, before your rescue."
"I was, as you know, gathering the cranberries in the Cedar Swamp, when I was suddenly seized, and something was thrust into my mouth, so that I had no time or power to cry out. My head was then wrapt up in some folds of blanket, by which I was almost suffocated, and I was then lifted up and borne away by two or three men. For a time I kept my senses, but at last the suffocation was so great that my head swam, and I believe I fainted, for I do not recollect being put down; yet after a time I found myself lying under a tree and surrounded by fire or six Indians, who were squatted round me. I was not a little terrified, as you may imagine. They neither moved nor spoke for some time; I endeavoured to rise, but a hand on my shoulder kept me down, and I did not attempt a useless resistance. Soon afterwards an Indian woman brought me some water, and I immediately recognised her as the one whom we succoured when we found her in the woods. This gave me courage and hope, though her countenance was immovable, and I could not perceive, even by her eyes, that she attempted any recognition; but reflection convinced me that, if she intended to help me, she was right in so doing. After I had raised myself and drunk some water, the Indians had a talk in a low voice. I observed that they paid deference to one, and from the description which my father and Alfred had given of the Angry Snake, I felt sure that it was he. We remained about half an hour on this spot, when they rose and made signs to me that I was to come with them. Of course I could not do otherwise, and we walked till night came on, when I was, as you may imagine, not a little tired. They then left me with the Indian woman, retiring a few yards from me. The woman made signs that I was to sleep, and although I thought that was impossible, I was so fatigued that, after putting up my prayers to the Almighty, I had not lain down many minutes before I was fast asleep.
"Before daylight, I was awakened by their voices, and the woman brought me a handful of parched Indian corn; not quite so good a breakfast as I had been accustomed to; but I was hungry, and I contrived to eat it. As soon as the day broke we set off again, and towards evening arrived at a lake. A canoe was brought out from some bushes; we all got into it, and paddled up along the banks for two or three hours, when we disembarked and renewed our journey. My feet were now becoming very sore and painful, for they were blistered all over, and I could scarcely get along; they compelled me, however, to proceed, not using any great force, but still dragging me and pushing me, to make me keep up with them. I soon perceived that I was a prisoner only, and not likely to be ill-treated if I complied with their wishes. Towards evening I could hardly put one foot before the other, for they had obliged me to walk in the water of a stream for two or three miles, and my shoes were quite worn out in consequence. At night they again stopped, and the Indian woman prepared some herbs, and applied them to my feet. This gave me great relief, but still she continued to take no notice of any signs I made to her. The next morning I found I had received so much benefit from the application of the herbs, that for the first half of the day I walked on pretty well, and was a little in advance, when, hearing the chief speak in an angry tone behind me, I turned round, and, to my horror, saw him raise his tomahawk, and strike down the poor Indian woman. I could not refrain from hastening to her; but I had just time to perceive that her skull was cloven, and that she was, as I imagined, dead, when I was dragged away, and forced to continue my journey. You may imagine how my blood curdled at this scene, and how great were now my apprehensions for myself. Why I had been carried away I knew not; for I was as ignorant as you were of Percival being alive, and of the Young Otter having been detained at the fort. My idea was, when the chief struck down the Indian woman, that it was to get rid of her, and that I was to replace her. This idea was almost madness, but still I had hope, and I prayed as I walked along to that God who sees the most secret act, and hears the most silent prayer of the heart, and I felt an assurance while praying that I should be rescued. I knew that my absence would be immediately discovered, and that there were those who would risk their lives to rescue me, if I was still in existence; and I therefore used all my efforts to walk on as fast as I could, and not irritate the Indians. But that night I had no one to dress my feel; which were bleeding and very much swelled, and I was very wretched when I lay down alone. I could not drive from my thoughts the poor Indian woman weltering in her blood, and murdered for no crime or fault— nothing that I could discover. The next morning, as usual, my food was some parched Indian corn, and of that I received only a handful for my sustenance during the twenty-four hours; however, hunger I never felt, I had too much pain. I was able to drag myself along till about noon, when I felt that I could not proceed farther. I stopped and sat down; the chief ordered me to get up again by signs; I pointed to my feet, which were now swelled above the ankles, but he insisted, and raised his tomahawk to frighten me into compliance. I was so worn out, that I could have almost received the blow with thankfulness, but I remembered you, my dear uncle and aunt, and others, and resolved for your sakes to make one more effort. I did so; I ran and walked for an hour more in perfect agony; at last nature could support the pain no longer, and I fell insensible."
"My poor Mary!" exclaimed Emma.
"I thought of you often and often, my dear sister," replied Mary, kissing her, "I believe it was a long while before I came to my senses," continued Mary, "for when I did, I found that the Indians were very busy weaving branches into a sort of litter. As soon as they had finished they put me upon it, and I was carried by two of them swinging on a pole which they put on their shoulders. I need hardly say that the journey was now more agreeable than it was before, although my feet were in a dreadful state, and gave me much pain. That night we stopped by a rivulet, and I kept my feet in the water for two or three hours, which brought down the inflammation and swelling very much, and I contrived after that to gain some sleep. They carried me one more day, when they considered that they had done enough, and I was again ordered to walk; I did so for two days, and was then in the same condition as before. A litter was therefore again constructed, and I was carried till I arrived at the lodges of the Angry Snake and his band. What passed from that time you have heard from Alfred."
When Mary Percival had finished her narrative, they all sat down to supper, and it hardly need be said that Mr Campbell did not fail, before they retired to rest, again to pour forth his thanksgivings to the Almighty for the preservation of those who were so dear. The next morning they all rose in health and spirits. Martin came early to the house with the Strawberry; his wound was much better, and he received the thanks and condolence of Mr and Mrs Campbell.
When they were at breakfast Mr Campbell said, "John, in our joy at seeing your brother and cousin again, I quite forgot to scold you for running away as you did."
"Then don't do it now, sir," said Malachi, "for he was very useful, I can assure you."
"No, I won't scold him now," replied Mr Campbell, "but he must not act so another time. If he had confided to me his anxious wish to join you, I should probably have given my permission."
"I must now take my leave and return to the fort," said Captain Sinclair. "I do, however, trust I shall see you all again in a few days, but I must report the results of the expedition, and the death of poor Watkins. May I borrow one of your horses, Mr Campbell?"
"Certainly," replied Mr Campbell; "you know the bateaux are expected every day from Montreal; perhaps you will bring us our letters when it arrives."
Captain Sinclair took his leave, as it may be imagined, very reluctantly, and in a day or two the family again settled down to their usual occupations. The emigrants had, during the absence of the expedition, gathered in a great portion of the corn, and now all hands were employed in finishing the harvest.
"How happy we are now, Mary," said Emma to her sister, as they were walking by the stream, watching John, who was catching trout.
"Yes, my dear Emma, we have had a lesson which will, I trust, prevent any future repining, if we have felt any, at our present position. The misery we have been rescued from has shewn us how much we have to be thankful for. We have nothing more to fear from the Indians, and I feel as if I could now pass the remainder of my life here in peace and thankfulness."
"Not without Captain Sinclair?"
"Not always without him; the time will, I trust, come when I may reward him for his patience and his regard for me; but it has not yet come; and it is for my uncle and aunt to decide when it shall. Where's Percival?"
"He is gone into the woods with Malachi, and with a rifle on his shoulder, of which he is not a little proud. John is not at all jealous. He says that Percival ought to know how to fire a rifle, and throw away that foolish bow and arrows. Do you not think that his residence among the Indians has made a great change in Percival?"
"A very great one; he is more manly and more taciturn; he appears to think more and talk less. But Henry is beckoning to us. Dinner is ready, and we must not keep hungry people waiting."
"No," replied Emma; "for in that case I should keep myself waiting."
RETURN TO ENGLAND.
Captain Sinclair on his return to Fort Frontignac reported to the Colonel the successful result of the expedition, and was warmly congratulated upon it, as the Colonel had been made acquainted with the engagement between him and Mary Percival. The Young Otter, who had remained in confinement during Captain Sinclair's absence, was now set at liberty; and the Colonel, who was aware that Captain Sinclair must be very anxious to remain at the settlement for a short time after what had occurred, very kindly offered him leave for a few days, which it may be supposed Captain Sinclair did not fail to avail himself of. The Colonel at the same time sent a message to Mr Campbell, stating that as soon as the bateaux should arrive from Montreal, he would bring any letters or newspapers that might arrive for them, and take that opportunity of offering in person his congratulations.
Captain Sinclair did not, however, return for two or three days, as he had many letters to write in answer to those which had arrived during his absence. On his return to the settlement, he found them all well and happy; Mary quite recovered from her fatigue, and everything going on in the same quiet order and method as if the expedition had never taken place, and had never been necessary. Indeed, nothing appeared now wanting to the happiness of the whole party, and their affairs were prospering. The emigrants who had joined Mr Campbell were industrious and intelligent, very civil, and very useful. They paid the greatest respect to Mr and Mrs Campbell, who were certainly very liberal and kind to them, assisting them in every way in their power. Although the farm had been so much increased, the labour was light, from the quantity of hands they could command; the stock had increased very fast; old Graves had taken charge of the mill during the absence of Alfred and Martin, and had expressed his wish to continue in that employment, which Alfred gladly gave up. In short, peace and plenty reigned in the settlement, and Alfred's words when he recommended his father to go to Canada, had every prospect of becoming true—that his father would be independent, if not rich, and leave his children the same. In three days Captain Sinclair arrived; he was received with great warmth by all the party, and after dinner was over, Mr Campbell addressed the family as follows:—
"My dear children, your mother and I have had some conversation on one or two points, and we have come to the decision that having so much to thank God for, in His kindness and mercies shewn towards us, it would be selfish on our parts if we did not consult the happiness of others. We are now independent, and with every prospect of being more so every day; we are no longer isolated, but surrounded by those who are attached to us, and will protect us should there be any occasion. In short, we are living in comfort and security, and we trust to Providence that we shall continue so to do. You, my dear Alfred, generously abandoned your profession to which you were so partial, to come and protect us in the wilderness, and we knew too well the value of your services not to accept them, although we were fully aware of the sacrifice which you made; but we are no longer in a wilderness, and no longer require your strong arm and bold heart. We have therefore decided that it is our duty no longer to keep you from the profession to which you belong, but, on the contrary, to recommend you now to rejoin and follow up your career, which we trust in God may prove as prosperous as we are convinced it will be honourable. Take our best thanks, my dear boy, for your kindness to us, and now consider yourself at liberty to return to England, and rejoin the service as soon as you please.
"And now I must address you, my dear Mary; you and your sister accompanied us here, and since you have been with us, have cheered us during our stay by your attentions and unwearied cheerfulness under all the privations which we at first had to encounter. You have engaged the affections of an honourable and deserving man, but at the same time have never shewn the least disposition to leave us; indeed, we know what your determination has been, but your aunt and I consider it our present duty to say, that much as we shall regret to part with one so dear, you must no longer sacrifice yourself for us, but make him happy who so well deserves you. That you will remain here is of course out of the question; your husband's connections and fortune require that he should return to England, and not bury himself in the woods of Canada. You have therefore our full permission, and I may say, it will be most pleasing to us, if you no longer delay your union with Captain Sinclair and follow your husband; whenever and wherever you go, you will have our blessings and our prayers, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have been to us as a dutiful daughter, and that we love you as dearly as it is possible for parents to do. Take her, Captain Sinclair, from my hands, and take with her our blessings and best wishes for your happiness, which I do not doubt will be as great as we can expect in this chequered world; for a dutiful daughter will always become a good wife."
Mary, who was sitting between Mrs Campbell and Captain Sinclair, fell upon her aunt's neck and wept; Mr Campbell extended his hand to Captain Sinclair, who expressed in return his warmest thanks and gratitude. Alfred, who had said nothing more, went up to his mother and kissed her.
"I wish you to go, Alfred," said his mother; "I wish you to rejoin a service to which you are a credit. Do not believe otherwise, or that I shall grieve too much at your departure."
"Go, my son," said Mr Campbell, shaking him by the hand, "and let me see you a post-captain before I die."
Mrs Campbell now took Mary Percival into the next room, that she might compose herself, and Captain Sinclair ventured to follow. Everyone appeared happy at this announcement of Mr Campbell's except Emma, who looked unusually serious. Alfred, perceiving it, said to her, "Emma, you are very grave at the idea of losing Mary, and I do not wonder at it, but you will have one consolation—you will lose me too, and I shall no longer plague you as you continually complain that I do."
"I never thought of that," replied Emma, half angry; "well, you are a great plague, and the sooner you go—"
Emma did not, however, finish her speech, but left the room, to join her sister.
Now that Mr Campbell had announced his wishes, the subject of Mary's marriage and Alfred's return to the service was, for a few days, the continual subject of discussion. It was decided that Mary should be married in a month, by the chaplain of the fort, who had returned, and that Captain Sinclair, with his wife and Alfred, should leave the settlement at the end of September, so as to arrive at Quebec in good time for sailing before the winter should set in. It was now the last week in August, so that there was not much time to pass away previous to their departure. Captain Sinclair returned to the fort, to make the Colonel acquainted with what had passed, and to take the necessary steps for leave of absence, and his return to England. This, from his interest with the Governor, he was sure to obtain, and when in England it would be time sufficient to decide whether he should leave that service, or exchange into some regiment at home. As every prospect of war or disturbance in Canada was now over, he could take either step without any censure being laid upon him.
A week afterwards, the bateaux arrived from Montreal, and the Colonel and Captain Sinclair, made their appearance at the settlement, bringing with them the letters and papers from England.
Having received the congratulations of the Colonel, Mr and Mrs Campbell, with his permission, opened their letters, for all the family were present, and all, as usual, anxious to hear the news. The first letter Mr Campbell opened, to the surprise of all, produced an immediate change in his countenance. He read it a second time, and laying it down on his knee, appeared to remain in a state of complete abstraction.
"No bad news, I hope, Campbell?" said his wife anxiously, as all the rest looked upon him with astonishment.
"No, my dear Emily, no bad news, but most unexpected news; such as it has been my fortune in life to receive once before this time. You remember, although years have since passed, the letter that was brought to us in our little parlour—"
"Which put you in possession of Wexton Hall, Campbell."
"Yes, I did refer to that; but I will not keep you all in longer suspense. This is but a counterpart of the former letter."
Mr Campbell then read as follows:—
"May 7th, 18—.
"Dear Sir,—It is with great pleasure that we have again to communicate to you that you may return, as soon as you please, and take possession of the Wexton Hall property.
"You may remember that many months back Mr Douglas Campbell received a fall from his horse when hunting. No serious consequences were anticipated, but it appears that his spine was injured, and after some months' close confinement, he expired on the 9th of April. As Mr Douglas Campbell has left no issue, and you are the next in tail, you have now undisputed possession of the property which you so honourably surrendered some years since.
"I have taken upon myself to act as your agent since Mr Campbell's decease. Mrs D. Campbell has a handsome settlement upon the property, which will of course fell in upon her demise. Waiting your commands,
"I am, dear sir,
"Mr Campbell, I congratulate you with all my heart," said the Colonel, rising up, and taking his hand. "You have proved yourself deserving of such good fortune; Mrs Campbell, I need hardly add that my congratulations extend to you."
Surprise at first rendered Mrs Campbell mute; at last she said—
"We are in the hands of Him, and do but execute His will. For your sake, my dear Campbell, for the children's sake, perhaps, I ought to rejoice—we hardly know. That I am happy here, now that my children have been restored to me, I confess. I doubt whether that happiness will be increased by the return to Wexton Hall; at all events, I shall leave this place with regret. We have had too many revolutions of fortune, Campbell, since we have been united, not to have learnt by experience that a peaceful, quiet, and contented home is more necessary to our happiness than riches."
"I feel as you do, Emily," replied Mr Campbell, "but we are growing old, and have been taught wisdom practically, by the events of a chequered life. Our children, I perceive, think otherwise—nor do I wonder at it."
"I shan't go," said John; "I shall only be sent to school; no master shall flog me—I'm a man."
"Nor me," cried Percival.
The Colonel and Mr and Mrs Campbell, as well as the elder portion of the party, could not help smiling at the exclamations of the two boys. They had both played the part of men, and it was but too evident how unfitted they would be for future scholastic discipline.
"You shall neither of you go to school," replied Mr Campbell, "but still you must render yourselves fit for your stations in life, by improving your minds, and attending to those who will instruct you."
It is hard to say whether much real joy was felt by any of the party at the prospect of returning to England. It is true that Mary Percival was delighted at the idea of not being so far away from her aunt and uncle, and that Emma was better pleased to be in England for reasons which she kept to herself. But it was not the coming into the large property which occasioned pleasure to any of them. However, if there was not much pleasure derived from this re-accession to properly, Mr and Mrs Campbell knew their duty too well to hesitate, and every preparation was commenced for their return along with Alfred and Captain Sinclair. John, however, still continued obstinate in declaring that he would not go, and Percival was very much of John's opinion, although he did not speak so plainly.
When Mr and Mrs Campbell were alone, the former said to his wife—
"I do not know what to do about John. He appears so resolute in his determination not to go with us, that I fear he will run away into the woods at the time of our departure. He is now continually with Malachi and Martin, and appears to have severed himself from his family."
"It is hard to decide, Campbell; I have more than once thought it would be better to leave him here. He is our youngest son. Henry will, of course, inherit the estate, and we shall have to provide for the others out of our savings. Now this property, by the time John is of age, will be of no inconsiderable value, and by no means a bad fortune for a younger son. He appears so wedded to the woods and a life of nature, that I fear it would only be the cause of continual regret and discontent if we did take him to England, and if so, what comfort or advantage should we gain by his returning? I hardly know what to advise."
"I have serious thoughts of leaving him here, under the charge of Martin and Malachi," replied Mr Campbell. "He would be happy; by-and-bye he would be rich. What could he obtain more in England? But it must be for you to decide, my dear Emily. I know a mother's feelings, and respect them."
"I cannot decide at once, my dear husband. I will first talk with John, and consult Alfred and Henry."
The result of Mrs Campbell's communicating with her sons was a decision that John should remain in Canada under the charge of Martin and Malachi, who were to superintend the farm and watch over him. Martin was to take charge of the farm. Malachi was to be John's companion in the woods, and old Graves, who had their mill under his care, engaged to correspond with Mr Campbell and let them know how things went on. When this was settled, John walked at least two inches higher, and promised to write to his mother himself. The Colonel, when he heard the arrangement, pledged himself that, as long as he was in command of the fort, he would keep a watchful eye, not only over John, but the whole of the settlement, and communicate occasionally with Mr Campbell.
A month after the receipt of the letter the whole family, with the exception of John, embarked in two bateaux and arrived at Montreal, where they remained a day or two, and then proceeded to Quebec.
At Quebec, their agent had already taken all the cabins of one of the finest ships for their passage, and, after a ran of six weeks, they once more found themselves at Liverpool, from which town they posted to Wexton Hall, Mrs Douglas Campbell having retired to a property of her own in Scotland.
We have now finished our tale, and have only to inform our little readers what were the after-lives of the Campbell family.
Henry did not return to college, but remained with his father and mother at the Hall, employing himself in superintending for his father the property to which he afterwards succeeded.
Alfred was appointed to a ship commanded by Captain Lumley. He soon rose in the service, was highly distinguished as a gallant clever officer, and four years after his return to England was married to his cousin Emma—at which the reader will not be surprised.
Mary Percival was married to Captain Sinclair, who sold out, and retired upon half-pay, to live upon his estates in Scotland.
Percival went to college, and turned out a very clever lawyer.
John remained in Canada until he was twenty years old, when he came home to see his father and mother. He had grown six feet four inches high, and was stout in proportion. He was a very amusing fellow, and could talk fast enough, but his chief conversation was upon hunting and sporting.
The farm had been well conducted; the emigrants had adhered to the agreements, and were now cultivating for themselves.
Martin had three little papooses (as the Indians call the children) by the Strawberry. Malachi had grown too old to go out often into the woods, and he sat by the fire in the winter, and basked in the sun at the door of the house during the summer. Oscar was dead, but they had some fine puppies of his breed. Mr Campbell gave John a deed, on his return, conveying to him the Canadian property, and shortly afterwards John picked up a little Canadian wife at Quebec, who made him perfectly happy.
Mr and Mrs Campbell lived to a good old age, respected as long as they lived, and lamented when they died. They had known prosperity and adversity, and in each state of life had acquitted themselves with exemplary propriety, not having been elated by the one, or depressed by the other. They knew that this world was a world of trial, and but a preparation for another; they therefore did their duty in that state of life to which it pleased God to call them—proving in all their actions that they remembered their duty to their God, and their duty to their neighbour; living and dying (as I hope all my young readers will) sincere and good Christians.