“There is danger,” said he to himself, after a short pause, and recovering from his surprise. “That Indian’s manner betokens no good, but my trust is in God; he has never deserted me!” and, resuming the path, he shortly reached the mansion of Rufus Rugsdale.
“His appearance was the signal of joy among the party assembled, each of whom vied with the other to do him honour. Although grave in council, and bold in war, yet in the bosom of domestic bliss no one knew better how to render himself agreeable. The old were cheered by his consolatory word; the young by his mirthful manner; nor even in gallantry was he wanting, when it added to the cheerful spirit of the hour. The protestations of friendship and welcome were warmly tendered to him by his host. Fast and thick the guests were assembling; the laugh and mingling music rose joyously around. The twilight was fast emerging into night; but a thousand sparkling lamps of beauty gave a brilliancy of day to the scene; all was happiness; bright eyes and blooming aces were every where beaming; but alas! a serpent was lurking among the flowers.
“In the midst of the hilarity, the sound of a cannon burst upon the ear, startling the guests and suspending the dance. Washington and the officers looked at each other with surprise, but their fears were quickly dispelled by Rugsdale, who assured him it was only a discharge of ordnance in honour of his distinguished visitors. The joy of the moment was again resumed, but the gloom of suspicion had fallen upon the spirit of Washington, who sat in moody silence apart from the happy throng.
“A silent tap upon the shoulder aroused him from his abstraction, and looking up he perceived the person of the Indian standing in the shadow of a myrtle bush close to his side.
“‘Ha! again here!’ he exclaimed with astonishment; but she motioned him to be silent, and kneeling at his feet, presented him with a bouquet of flowers. Washington received it, and was about to place it in his breast, when she grasped him firmly by the arm, and pointing to it, said in a whisper ‘Snake! Snake!’ and the next moment mingled with the company, who appeared to recognise and welcome her as one well-known and esteemed.
“Washington regarded the bouquet with wonder; her words and singular appearance had, however, sunk deeper into his heart, and looking closer upon the nosegay, to his surprise he saw a small piece of paper in the midst of the flowers. Hastily he drew it forth, and confounded and horror-stricken, read, ‘Beware! you are betrayed!’ It was now apparent that he was within the den of the tiger; but to quit abruptly, might only draw the consummation of treachery the speedier upon his head. He resolved therefore that he would disguise his feelings, and trust to that Power which had never forsaken him. The festivities were again renewed, but almost momentarily interrupted by a second sound of the cannon. The guests now began to regard each other with distrust, while many and moody were the glances cast upon Rugsdale, whose countenance began to show symptoms of uneasiness, while ever and anon he looked from the window out upon the broad green lawn which extended to the river’s edge, as if in expectation of some one’s arrival.