And thus he cried, until Roland and Nathan seizing him by the shoulders, dragged him by main force from the Indian, who was found, when they came to examine the body afterwards, actually pommelled to death, the skull having been beaten in as with bludgeons.—The victor sprang upon his feet, and roared his triumph aloud:—“Ar’n’t I lick’d him handsome!—Hurrah for Kentucky and old Salt—Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
And with that, turning to his deliverers, he displayed to their astonished eyes, though disfigured by blood and mire, the never-to-be-forgotten features of the captain of horse-thieves, Soaring Ralph Stackpole.
The amazement of Stackpole at finding to whom he owed his deliverance, was not less than that of the travellers; but it was mingled, in his case, with feelings of the most unbounded and clamorous delight. Nathan he grasped by the hands, being the first upon whom he set his eyes; but no sooner had they wandered to the soldier, than throwing his arms around him, he gave him a hug, neither tender nor respectful, but indicative of the intensest affection and rapture.
“You cut the rope, stranger, and you cut the tug,” he cried, “on madam’s beseeching! but h’yar’s the time you holped me out of a fix without axing! Now, strannger, I ar’n’t your dog, ’cause how, I’m anngelliferous madam’s: but if I ar’n’t your dog, I’m your man, Ralph Stackpole, to be your true-blue through time and etarnity, any way you’ll ax me; and if you wants a sodger, I’ll ’list with you, I will, ’tarnal death to me!”
“But how, in heaven’s name, came you here a prisoner? I saw you escape with my own eyes,” said Roland, better pleased, perhaps, at the accession of such a stout auxiliary than with his mode of professing love and devotion.
“Strannger,” said Ralph, “if you war to ax me from now till doomsday about the why and the wharfo’ I couldn’t make you more nor one answer: I come to holp anngelliferous madam out of the hands of the abbregynes, according to my sworn duty as her natteral-born slave and redemptioner! I war hard on the track, when the villians here caught me.”
“What!” cried Roland, his heart for the first time warming towards the despised horse-thief, while even Nathan surveyed him with something like complacency, “you are following my poor cousin then? You were not brought here a prisoner?”