“They be cunning vermin,” said Bars. “But now, that I recollect, methinks that when they deceived me it sounded a little heathenish.”
“Then, why did you admit them?” demanded Cowlson.
“A fine question for you to ask, Jim Cowlson. An’ I had not, the chance is they would have bowled you off with them, as a hostage for the sachem, and like as not burned us up besides. But the fact is, I was half asleep. An’ I had been wide awake, perhaps I would have discovered the trick. And who would have guessed that Indians knew anything about countersigns? I wonder how they found it out.”
“I must report this night’s work forthwith,” said Cowlson, rising; “but I had almost as lief have lost my scalp as my musket.”
The disconsolate soldier accordingly wended on his way, to tell the best story he could to save himself from blame; while Bars, after relocking his empty prison, and barring his door, snuggled himself alongside his partner to busy his rather obtuse brain with schemes of a like nature on his own behalf.
“This monument shall utter of the
It hath no tongue; and yet Demosthenes,
Or Roman Tully, never stirred the breasts
Of gaping citizens with subtler speech,
Than shall this pile of stones the wayfarers.
Who pass this way.”
While with rapid steps through the tempestuous night the retiring party were seeking the forest, one of them, the only one in the dress of the whites, and who for that reason had not ventured into the cabin of the jailer, but had kept watch on the outside, approaching Sassacus, said:
“Let the feet of the chief be swift, for many warriors will be after him with the morning light.”
“My brother!” said the delighted Sagamore, recognizing the voice of Arundel. “Let not my brother be afraid. The forest loves Sassacus, and tells him all its secrets.”
“Yet remain not here, my friend, my Sassacus, nor be troubled about Neebin. I will take care of her, and she shall be restored to thee.”
“Sassacus trusts his young white brother,” said the Indian, “He hears Neebin singing by the river of the Pequots.”
“We part here, and perhaps forever,” said Arundel. “Farewell, Sagamore. A nobler heart than thine never beat in savage or Christian bosom. I will never forget you.”
He wrung the hand of the chief, and, turning, was instantly lost in the darkness.
The occasion permitted no further words, and, as the two separated, it was with a glow of pleasure on the part of each. Arundel reflected with satisfaction on the success of his enterprise, and the Sagamore’s enjoyment of his recovered freedom was heightened by the thought that he had been remembered by one who had so much attracted him. The young man succeeded in reaching his quarters without being discovered, and we now leave him, to accompany those with whom he had been associated.