In the course of half an hour’s rough scramble, the party gained the crest of the Goat’s Pass and descended in rear of the native village. The country over which they had to travel, however, was so broken and so beset with rugged masses of rock as to retard their progress considerably, besides causing them to lose their way more than once. It was thus daybreak before they reached the heights that overlooked the village; and the shot from the Avenger, with the broadside from the frigate, was delivered just as they began to descend the hill.
Ole, therefore, pushed on with enthusiasm to attack the village in rear; but he had not advanced half a mile when the peculiar and to him inexplicable movements of the two vessels, which have been already described, took place, leaving the honest commander of the land forces in a state of great perplexity as to what was meant by his naval allies, and in much doubt as to what he ought to do.
“It seems to me,” said he to his chiefs, in a hastily-summoned council of war, “that we are all at sixes and sevens. I don’t understand what maneuvers these naval men are up to, and I doubt if they know themselves. This being the case, and the fleet, if I may so name it, having run away, it behooves us, my friends, to show these sailors how we soldiers do our duty. I would advise, therefore, that we should attack at once. But as we are not a strong party, and as we know not how strong the savages may be, I think it my duty, before leading you on, to ask your opinions on the point.”
The officers whose opinions were thus asked were Hugh Barnes, already mentioned, Terence Rigg the blacksmith of the settlement, and John Thomson the carpenter. These, being strong of body, powerful of will, and intelligent withal, had been appointed to the command of companies, and when on duty were styled “captain” by their commanding officer, who was, when on duty, styled “general” by them.
Ole Thorwald, be it remarked in passing, was a soldier at heart. Having gone through a moderate amount of military education, and possessing considerable talent in the matter of drill, he took special pride in training the natives and the white men of the settlement to act in concert and according to fixed principles. The consequence was that although his men were poorly armed, he had them in perfect command, and could cause them to act unitedly at any moment.
The captains having been requested to give their opinions, Captain Rigg, being senior, observed that he was for “goin’ at ’em at wance, neck or nothing;” to which warlike sentiment he gave a peculiar emphasis by adding, “an’ no mistake,” in a very decided tone of voice.
“That’s wot I says too, General,” said Captain Thomson, the carpenter.
Captain Barnes being of the same opinion, General Thorwald said:
“Well, then, gentlemen, we shall attack without delay;” and proceeded to make the necessary arrangements.