“Pray, calm yourself, I beg, and endeavour to collect your thoughts. To whom do you allude, and in what direction; do you wish us to go?” said Dorville, as he handed her some sherry and water from his flask; this she drank eagerly, then hurriedly continued—the whole group pressing nearer and nearer to the excited woman, to learn by what mischance or accident she had been thrown amongst them at such a time and place, so suddenly—“The Collector of Runjetpoora, his wife, daughter, and sister, with his four clerks, their wives and children, have been attacked and captured by a band of twenty mounted mutineers, who have sworn to massacre them, and some of the children have already been cruelly butchered by these remorseless villains; I, alone, escaped, and sought shelter in the jungle, where, from an opening down the ravine, caught a glimpse of your party, and have struggled through brake and briar to implore your assistance. Oh! do not lose a moment, if you would be in time. Even now it may be too late to save them;” and, weeping wildly, sank on her knees, convulsive sobs choking her further utterance.
There was now no need to urge them on, for they at once realized the horrors of the position in which the Collector and his party were now placed. Exclamations of anger, and vows of bitter vengeance burst from the lips of all, as they, with paling cheek, and flashing eye, their teeth clenched fiercely together, listened to the appaling tale of the half frantic girl before them.
“They are but three to one, the pack of mutinous scoundrels, and cannot resist our charge five minutes, and must go down before well-tried sabres,” cried Carlton, springing into his saddle, and taking the lead, saying, as he did so, “Point out the way we should take, my good girl, and what courage, brave hearts, and trusty swords can effect, shall be done to rescue your friends from the terrible fate which, doubtless, awaits them.”
“When you reach that single tree on the crest of yonder hill,” indicating with her right hand the direction to be taken, “you will come in sight of the place, where this villainous outrage has been committed; your own judgment will then tell you what is best to be done,” she replied, evidently strengthened and refreshed by the wine she had taken, and the comforting assurance held out to her by Arthur and his companions. These words had scarcely passed her lips when, applying the spur vigorously, the whole party, with one exception, dashed off in the direction indicated. Captain Crosby of the artillery, who had not started with the rest, feeling somewhat anxious for the poor girl’s safety—alone as she would be shortly in that dense jungle, for every Sabre would be needed in the coming onslaught—approaching her, said kindly and gently, “and you; what is to become of you? what will you do, or where can you go?” “Oh, do not think of me,” she replied, “I can retrace my steps the way I came, alone and unassisted,” moving a few