It was then that the joyful news was suddenly brought us, “They are found! They are at the Fort!” A party of soldiers who had been exploring had encountered them at Hastings’s Woods, twelve miles distant, slowly and feebly making their way back to the Portage. They knew they were on the right track, but had hardly strength to pursue it.
Exhausted with cold and hunger, for their provisions had given out two days before, they had thought seriously of killing the horse and eating him. Nothing but Currie’s inability to proceed on foot, and the dread of being compelled to leave him in the woods to perish, had deterred them.
Agathe had from the first been convinced that they were on the wrong track, but Robineau, with his usual obstinacy, persevered in keeping it until it brought them to the Rock River, when he was obliged to acknowledge his error, and they commenced retracing their steps.
Agathe, according to the custom of her people, had carried her hatchet with her, and thus they had always had a fire at night, and boughs to shelter them from the storms; otherwise they must inevitably have perished.
There were two circumstances which aroused in us a stronger feeling even than that of sympathy. The first was, the miserable Robineau’s having demanded of Currie, first, all his money, and afterwards his watch, as a condition of his bringing the party back into the right path, which he averred he knew perfectly well.
The second was, Bellaire’s giving his kind, excellent wife a hearty flogging “for going off,” as he said, “on such a fool’s errand.”
The latter culprit was out of our jurisdiction, but Mons. Robineau was discharged on the spot, and warned that he might think himself happy to escape a legal process for swindling.
I am happy to say that Sophy Mata, in whose behalf all these sufferings had been endured, was quite recovered by the time her father returned from the Prairie.
Agathe was the daughter of an Indian who was distinguished by the name of Rascal Day-kau-ray. Whether he merited the appellation must be determined hereafter. He was brother to the grand old chief of that name, but as unlike him as it is possible for those of the same blood to be.
The Day-kau-rays were a very handsome family, and this daughter was remarkable for her fine personal endowments. A tall, well-developed form, a round, sweet face, and that peculiarly soft, melodious voice which belongs to the women of her people, would have attracted the attention of a stranger, while the pensive expression of her countenance irresistibly drew the hearts of all towards her, and prompted the wish to know more of her history. As I received it from her friend, Mrs. Paquette, it was indeed a touching one.
A young officer at the Fort had seen her, and had set, I will not say his heart—it may be doubted if he had one—but his mind upon her. He applied to Paquette to negotiate what he called a marriage with her. I am sorry to say that Paquette was induced to enter into this scheme. He knew full well the sin of making false representations to the family of Agathe, and he knew the misery he was about to bring upon her.