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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Nick of the Woods.
when recovered.  He was loath, however, to leave the highly-prized and long-tried charger behind; and Colonel Bruce, taking advantage of the feeling, and representing the openness and safety of the road, the shortness of the day’s journey (for the next Station at which the exiles intended lodging was scarce twenty miles distant), and above all, promising, if he remained, to escort him thither with a band of his young men, to whom the excursion would be but an agreeable frolic, the soldier changed his mind, and, in an evil hour, as it afterwards appeared, consented to remain until Brown Briareus was brought in,—­provided this should happen before mid-day; at which time, if the horse did not appear, it was agreed he should set out, trusting to his good fortune and the friendly zeal of his host, for the future recovery and restoration of his charger.  Later than mid-day he was resolved not to remain; for however secure the road, it was wiser to pursue it in company than alone; nor would he have consented to remain a moment, had there appeared the least impediment to his joining the companions of his exile before nightfall.

His measures were taken accordingly.  His baggage-horses, under the charge of the younger of the two negroes, were sent on with the band; the other, an old and faithful slave of his father, being retained as a useful appendage to a party containing his kinswoman, from whom he, of course, saw no reason to be separated.  To Edith herself, the delay was far from being disagreable.  It promised a gay and cheerful gallop through the forest, instead of the dull, plodding, funeral-like march to which she had been day after day monotonously accustomed.  She assented, therefore, to the arrangement, and, like her kinsman, beheld, in the fresh light of sun-rise, without a sigh, without even a single foreboding of evil, the departure of the train of emigrants, with whom she had journeyed in safety so many long and weary leagues through the desert.

They set out in high spirits, after shaking hands with their hosts at the gates, and saluting them with cheers, which they repeated in honour of their young captain; and, in a few moments, the whole train had vanished, as if swallowed up by the dark forest.

CHAPTER VI.

Within an hour after the emigrants had set out, the sky, which had previously been clear and radiant, began to be overcast with clouds, dropping occasional rains, which Roland scarcely observed with regret, their effect on the sultry atmosphere being highly agreeable and refreshing.  They continued thus to fall at intervals until nine o’clock; when Roland, as he sat on the porch debating with Bruce the probabilities of their continuance, was roused by a shout from the outer village; and looking up, he beheld, to his great delight, Richard Bruce, the second son of his host, a lad of sixteen, ride into the enclosure, leading in triumph his recovered charger.

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