In the meanwhile, Edith sat in the tent abandoned to despair, her mind not yet recovered from the stunning effect of her calamity, struggling confusedly with images of blood and phantasms of fear, the dreary recollections of the past mingling with the scarce less dreadful anticipations of the future. Of the battle on the hill-side she remembered nothing save the fall of her kinsman, shot down at her feet,—all she had herself witnessed, and all she could believe; for Telie Doe’s assurances, contradicted in effect by her constant tears and agitation, that he had been carried off to captivity like herself, conveyed no conviction to her mind: from that moment, events were pictured on her memory as the records of a feverish dream, including all the incidents of her wild and hurried journey to the Indian village. But with these broken and dream-like reminiscences, there were associated recollections, vague, yet not the less terrifying, of a visage that had haunted her presence by day and by night, throughout the whole journey, watching, over her with the pertinacity of an evil genius; and which, as her faculties woke slowly from their trance, assumed every moment a more distinct and dreaded appearance in her imagination.
It was upon these hated features, seen side by side with the blood-stained aspect of her kinsman, she now pondered in mingled grief and terror; starting occasionally from the horror of her thoughts only to be driven back to them again by the scowling eyes of the old crone; who, still crouching over the fire, as if its warmth could never strike deep enough into her frozen veins, watched every movement and every look with the vigilance, and as it seemed, the viciousness of a serpent. No ray of pity shone even for a moment from her forbidding, and even hideous countenance; she offered no words, she made no signs, of sympathy; and, as if to prove her hearty disregard, or profound contempt for the prisoner’s manifest distress, she by and by, to while the time, began to drone out a succession of grunting sounds, such as make up a red-man’s melody, and such indeed as any village urchin can drum with his heels out of an empty hogshead. The song, thus barbarously chanted, at first startled and affrighted the captive; but its monotony had at last an effect which the beldam was far from designing.