Above all, the people could not put aside the horrible truth, that hundreds of men, women, and children,—their friends and their acquaintances,—were perishing by the all-consuming element. They could not exclude from fancy, the agonized and dying shrieks of those dear to them, and the demoniac light shone on countenances, expressing emotions of pity, grief, horror, and despair.
While the missionary sat there waiting for the day, he recalled with startling distinctness the wild dream he dreamed, on that first night he spent at the Dubois House. Of course, his belief in foregleams of future events was confirmed by the scenes transpiring around him.
Mrs. Dubois sat near him, her countenance expressing profound grief.
“The dear young man!” she said. “How sad and awful thus to die!”
“My dear madam”, said Mr. Norton, “let us not mourn as those who have no hope. Our beloved friend, brilliant and susceptible, aspiring and tender, was illy fitted for the rude struggle of life. It is true he might have fought his way through, girt with the armor of Christian faith and prayer, as many others, like him, have done. But the fight would have been a hard one. So he has been kindly taken home. Sad and awful thus to die? Say rather, infinitely blest the God-protected soul, thus snatched away from this terrific uproar of natural elements into the sphere of majestic harmonies, of stupendous yet peaceful powers”.
At daybreak the little community took to their boats, crossed the river and re-entered once more the dwellings they had but a few hours before left, never expecting to return to them again. Some went home and gathered their families in unbroken numbers around them. Others, whose husbands and sons had been absent in the forest at the time of the breaking out of the fire, over whose fate remained a terrible uncertainty, gathered in silence around lonely hearths. The terrors of the past night were, to such, supplemented by days and even weeks of heartbreaking anxiety and suspense, closed at last by the knowledge of certain bereavement.
All had been deeply impressed with the horror of the scene, and sobered into thoughtfulness. A few felt truly grateful to the Most High for their wonderful preservation.
With the morning light and the return to the settlement, Mr. Lansdowne awoke to a consciousness of the duty immediately before him, that of making arrangements for the safe conveyance home of the precious form now consigned to his care.
His friends at the Dubois house manifested the deepest sympathy in his affliction, and aided him in every possible way. In making his journey he concluded to take a boat conveyance to Chatham, and a trading vessel thence to his native city.