“Truly, it is but a small matter to have to thank me for. Doubtless, if my stout man John Bumpus had carried the carbine, he would have done you as good service. And methinks, Henry, that you would have preferred to owe your life to either of my men rather than to me, if I may judge by your looks.”
“You should not judge by looks, captain,” replied the youth quickly,—“especially the looks of a man who has just had a hand-to-hand tussle with a savage. But, to tell the plain truth, Captain Gascoyne, I would indeed rather have had to thank your worthy man John Bumpus than yourself for coming to my aid; for although I owe you no grudge, and do not count you an enemy, I had rather see your back than your face; and you know the reason why.”
“You give me credit, boy, for more knowledge than I possess,” replied Gascoyne, while an angry frown gathered for a moment on his brow, but passed away almost as quickly as it came. “I know not the cause of your unreasonable dislike to one who has never done you an injury.”
“Never done me an injury!” cried Henry, starting and turning with a look of passion on his companion; then, checking himself by a strong effort, he added, in a milder tone, “But a truce to such talk; and I ask your forgiveness for my sharp words just after your rendering me such good service in the hour of need. You and I differ in our notions on one or two points—that is all; there is no need for quarreling. See, here is a note from my mother, who sent me to the bay to meet you.”
During this colloquy, Dick and Bumpus had mounted guard over the wounded savage, just out of ear-shot of their captain.
Neither of the sailors ventured to hold their prisoner, because they deemed it an unmanly advantage to take of one who was so completely (as they imagined) in their power. They kept a watchful eye on him, however; and while they affected an easy indifference of attitude, held themselves in readiness to pounce upon him if he should attempt to escape. But nothing seemed farther from the mind of Keona than such an attempt. He appeared to be thoroughly exhausted by his recent struggle and loss of blood, and his body was bent as if he were about to sink down to the ground. There was, however, a peculiar glance in his dark eyes that induced John Bumpus to be more on his guard than appearances seemed to warrant.
While Gascoyne was reading the letter to which we have referred, Keona suddenly placed his left leg behind surly Dick, and, with his unwounded fist, hit that morose individual such a tremendous back-handed blow on the nose that he instantly measured his length on the ground. John Bumpus made a sudden plunge at the savage on seeing this, but the latter ducked his head, passed like an eel under the very arms of the sailor, and went off into the forest like a deer.
“Hold!” shouted Captain Gascoyne, as John turned, in a state of mingled amazement and anger, to pursue. “Hold on, Bumpus; let the miserable rascal go.”