The mulatto’s blows produced no serious effect upon the heads of the two villains, and, recovering from the surprise and shock the act had occasioned, they lost not a moment in pursuing their assailant. Hatchie directed his course to the river, and scarcely a moment had elapsed before he heard the steps of his pursuers. Leaping down the bank, he ran along by the edge of the water, with the intention of reaching a boat which he knew was moored a few rods further down. In his flight, however, he discovered the canoe in which De Guy had arrived, and, casting it off, he paddled with astonishing rapidity towards the opposite shore.
His pursuers reached the bank, and perceiving the canoe through the darkness, Jaspar discharged his rifle at it. A heavy splash followed the discharge. The canoe appeared to float at the mercy of the current. Jaspar and De Guy, satisfied that the rifle-ball had done its work, hastened down stream to a small point of land which projected into the river, with the hope of securing the canoe and the body of the slave, upon which they expected to find the will. The canoe was driven ashore, as they had anticipated; but it contained not the objects for which they sought. The corpse of Hatchie was nowhere to be found, though they paddled about the river an hour in search of it,—not that the body of the mulatto was of any consequence, but in the hope of obtaining the precious will.
Here was a contingency for which Jaspar was wholly unprepared. The original signature of the will was not now available, and they must trust to luck for accuracy in signing the false one. There was little difficulty in this, as the will was known to have been signed in the usual manner, and the private character they had in their possession. Still Jaspar felt that the original paper afforded the surer means of deceiving the witnesses. They had before intended to produce a fac-simile, mechanically, of the original,—a purpose which could not now be accomplished. The witnesses were all friends of Colonel Dumont, and they had various papers signed by them from which to copy their signatures. The worst, and to Jaspar’s daring mind the only difficulty which now presented itself, was the fear that the body of Hatchie might be found, and the genuine will thus brought to light. After much reflection and consultation with De Guy, he determined to risk all, to watch for the body, and be prepared to overcome any obstacle which might be presented. With this conclusion they returned to the library. By the aid of old notes, checks, and other papers, the fictitious will was duly signed, the significant character affixed, and the document enveloped so as to exactly resemble the original packet.
The whole transaction was so well performed that Jaspar retired to his pillow confident of success, to await the result on the morrow, when the will was to be read.