Then, leaping to his feet, and snatching from the post the bundle of withered scalps—the locks and ringlets of his own murdered family,—which he spread a moment before his eyes with one hand, while the other extended, as if to contrast the two prizes together, the reeking scalp-lock of the murderer, he sprang through the door of the lodge, and fled from the village; but not until he had, in the insane fury of the moment, given forth a wild, ear-piercing yell, that spoke the triumph, the exulting transport, of long-baffled but never-dying revenge. The wild whoop, thus rising in the depth and stillness of the night, startled many a wakeful warrior and timorous mother from their repose. But such sounds in a disorderly hamlet of barbarians were too common to create alarm or uneasiness; and the wary and the timid again betook themselves to their dreams, leaving the corse of their chief to stiffen on the floor of his own wigwam.
From an uneasy slumber, into which, notwithstanding his sufferings of mind and body, he had at last fallen, Roland was roused at the break of day by a horrible clamour, that suddenly arose in the village. A shrill scream, that seemed to come from a female voice, was first heard; then a wild yell from the lungs of a warrior, which was caught up and repeated by other voices; and, in a few moments, the whole town resounded with shrieks dismal and thrilling, and expressing astonishment mingled with fear and horror.
The prisoner, incapable of comprehending the cause of such a commotion, looked to his guards, who had started up at the first cry, grasped their arms, and stood gazing upon one another with perturbed looks of inquiry. The shriek was repeated, by one,—twenty,—a hundred throats; and the two warriors, with hurried exclamations of alarm, rushed from the wigwam, leaving the prisoner to solve the riddle as he might. But he tasked his faculties in vain. His first idea—and it sent the blood leaping to his heart—that the village was suddenly attacked by an army of white men,—perhaps by the gallant Bruce, the commander of the Station where his misfortunes had begun,—was but momentary; no lusty hurrahs were heard mingling with the shrieks of the savages, and no explosions of fire-arms denoted the existence of conflict. And yet he perceived that the cries were not all of surprise and dismay. Some voices were uplifted in rage, which was evidently spreading among the agitated barbarians, and displacing the other passions in their minds.
In the midst of the tumult, and while he was yet lost in wonder and speculation, the renegade Doe suddenly rushed into the wigwam, pale with affright and agitation.
“They’ll murder you, captain!” he cried, “there’s no time for holding back now—Take the gal, and I’ll save you. The village is up—they’ll have your blood, they’re crying for it already—squaws, warriors and all—ay, d——n ’em, there’s no stopping ’em now!”