Occasionally the Indians turned and watched the girl. When they saw that she was asleep, they looked at each other and smiled. Then they brought forth their blackened clay pipes, which they filled and lighted. For a time they smoked in silence and contentment. At length they began to converse softly in their own language. That they were talking about the sleeping girl was evident, for several times they glanced in her direction. Once Sam ceased in the midst of his talk, leaped to his feet, and clutched an imaginary object with both hands. He then squatted down again, and continued his tale of the tragedy that night by the shore of the forest stream.
When he was through he rose to his feet, picked up his musket, and looked again at the girl. He then plunged into the night and the forest, leaving his wife to keep guard alone by the fire. The dawn of a new day was breaking when he returned and threw two snared partridges down upon the ground for his wife to prepare for breakfast. But something more important than birds had kept him abroad that night. His face was serious, and his eyes glowed with anxiety and anger as he laid aside his gun, and spoke a few commanding words to his wife.
It was broad daylight when Jean opened her eyes and looked curiously around. It was a still, frosty morning. The sun sifted down through the branches of the trees, and formed a fantastic net-work of light and shadow upon the ground. A deep silence prevailed, and as the girl looked dreamily at the lordly pines, birches, and maples, her eyes wandered far up among their overhanging branches. They reminded her of some majestic cathedral, with stately pillars and crowning arches, pictures of which she had at times seen. She remembered how her father had once told her that the forest was the original cathedral, and that along the silent woody aisles primitive people used to worship the Great Spirit. She understood now, as never before, how the designs for the first cathedral had been copied from the forest.
Lowering her eyes, they rested upon the Indian woman kneeling before the fire. It was a fascinating scene, and in keeping with the solemn grandeur of the place. There was the humble worshipper at the altar-fire, offering her devotions in a simple reverent manner. Jean smiled at this fancy, for she was certain that the idea of worship was not at all in the woman’s mind. She was merely cooking the partridges her husband had brought in several hours before.
“Good morning,” Jean at length accosted.
The woman turned quickly, and rose to her feet. She smiled as she stood and watched the girl lying there with her hair tossed in rich profusion over cheeks and shoulders.
“Plenty sleep, eh?” she asked.
“Yes, I have had a great sleep, and am much rested. It is very comfortable here.”