Only one thing seriously affected them, and that was a superstitious fear. It hounded them wherever they went, as is so often the case with low, base minds. They had signs many, in the heavens above and the earth beneath, and to these were slaves. Therefore, when they saw Seth Lupin lying dead on the bank of the river with the marks of the clutching fingers upon his throat, some trembled with fear, and glanced apprehensively around. It was the work of the devil, so they said, and they were anxious to leave the place. Others, however, scoffed at them, declaring it was none other than Sam, the ranger, who had been seen lurking in the vicinity that very day. These latter by threats had induced the fearsome ones to accompany them into the wilderness where they knew the supposed murderer had his abode. They could easily overcome him, so they believed, and carry off the beautiful girl. But it had been a difficult journey. They had lost their way, and floundered about in valleys and swamps. Fear still possessed the hearts of more than half their number, and time and time again they were on the point of turning back. But as Sam and his followers watched from the darkness of the woods, the slashers were in better spirits. They were to attack at midnight, and carry off the girl. They discussed their plans for some time, and then curled up near the fire for a short sleep ere beginning the march.
The lurking Indians waited patiently until silence reigned around the fire. Then like unleashed hounds they swept forward, each with a musket in one hand and a hunting-axe in the other. With blood-curdling yells they leaped into the midst of the prostrate men, and as the slashers sprang to their feet, amazed and stricken with fear, they went down before the blows of their assailants like grain before the reapers. Only a few managed to escape by darting aside and losing themselves in the blackness of the forest. The others lay still where they had fallen, with their conquerors standing over them. The Indians had accomplished their task, so with grunts of satisfaction they stripped the slashers of their powder-horns, hunting-knives, muskets, and all the provisions they could find. Loaded with these, they sped back to their former place of waiting, where they cast their booty upon the ground. Here they squatted and watched the unconscious men near the fire.
For some time the Indians remained in this position, and when they began to think that their blows were heavier than they had intended, the slashers showed signs of life. First one and then another lifted his head and looked about in a dazed manner. Presently all but two or three were sitting bolt upright staring at one another. Then as the recollection of what had happened dawned upon their confused minds, they staggered to their feet and groped for their guns. Being unable to find them, they threw a few small sticks upon the dying fire. When their search