Then in a clear strong voice he read the ninety-first psalm, and as the words of promise sounded forth an intense silence reigned. The psalm ended, the Colonel closed the book, and dropping upon his knees began to repeat the Lord’s Prayer. All immediately followed his example, including the captain and the crew of the schooner. As they rose to their feet, one man started to sing. The words and tune were familiar, and in another minute old and young were lifting up their voices in Isaac Watts’ grand hymn of comfort and hope.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Never before had the silent, brooding forest witnessed a like gathering, nor its dark mysterious depths re-echoed with such unfamiliar sounds. But that camp-fire scene was merely a prelude to the tide of progress already setting, when unnamed rivers, hidden lakes, crouching valleys, lofty hills, and secret woodland depths would know those sounds, and rejoice in the knowledge.
An hour later silence reigned over the camp in the wilderness, broken only by the occasional hoot of an owl, or the light steps of some little forest creature.
About midnight the moon rose beyond the eastern hills, and rode high above the Isle of Vines. It cast its bright beams across the now placid water, and stole on furtive foot into the camping ground of the weary sleepers. As the river and shore thus became illuminated, a tall Indian stepped out from the darkness of the forest, and stood for a few minutes gazing upon the ghost-like tents. In one hand he carried a heavy flint-lock, and in the other a string of fine trout, while across his right shoulder hung a long bow and several arrows. He was not at all surprised at the sight before him, as he had been lurking near all the evening, watching with intense interest the group about the camp-fire. His attention now, however, was fixed upon the tent where Jean and Old Mammy were sleeping, and the Colonel’s form wrapped in his blankets just outside.
At length he placed his gun and fish upon the ground, unslung the bow from his back, and fitted an arrow to its place. Then the bow-string twanged, and the arrow hurtled through the air, and sank deep into a great pine tree a few feet from where the Colonel was lying. For several minutes the Indian stood as motionless as the trees around him. Then picking up the fish, he glided silently forward, and reaching the pine, he fastened them to the embedded arrow. This done, he cast a quick glance toward the still form near at hand, turned and moved swiftly away. In another minute he had recovered his weapons, and disappeared in the depths of the great gloomy forest.
OUT OF THE STORM
Early the next morning Old Mammy drew back the flap of the tent, stepped outside, and waddled over to where she had prepared supper the previous evening. She had always prided herself upon being the first to rise, and she was determined that she would continue the custom here in the wilderness.