As soon as Mabel had taken possession of her own really comfortable cabin, in doing which she could not abstain from indulging in the pleasant reflection that some of Jasper’s favor had been especially manifested in her behalf, she went on deck again. Here all was momentarily in motion; the men were roving to and fro, in quest of their knapsacks and other effects; but method and habit soon reduced things to order, when the stillness on board became even imposing, for it was connected with the idea of future adventure and ominous preparation.
Darkness was now beginning to render objects on shore indistinct, the whole of the land forming one shapeless black outline of even forest summits, to be distinguished from the impending heavens only by the greater light of the sky. The stars, however, soon began to appear in the latter, one after another, in their usual mild, placid lustre, bringing with them that sense of quiet which ordinarily accompanies night. There was something soothing, as well as exciting, in such a scene; and Mabel, who was seated on the quarter-deck, sensibly felt both influences. The Pathfinder was standing near her, leaning, as usual, on his long rifle, and she fancied that, through the growing darkness of the hour, she could trace even stronger lines of thought than usual in his rugged countenance.
“To you, Pathfinder, expeditions like this can be no great novelty,” said she; “though I am surprised to find how silent and thoughtful the men appear to be.”
“We learn this by making war ag’in Indians. Your militia are great talkers and little doers in general; but the soldier who has often met the Mingos learns to know the value of a prudent tongue. A silent army, in the woods, is doubly strong; and a noisy one, doubly weak. If tongues made soldiers, the, women of a camp would generally carry the day.”
“But we are neither an army, nor in the woods. There can be no danger of Mingos in the Scud.”
“No one is safe from a Mingo, who does not understand his very natur’; and even then he must act up to his own knowledge, and that closely. Ask Jasper how he got command of this very cutter.”
“And how did he get command?” inquired Mabel, with an earnestness and interest that quite delighted her simple-minded and true-hearted companion, who was never better pleased than when he had an opportunity of saying aught in favor of a friend. “It is honorable to him that he has reached this station while yet so young.”
“That is it; but he deserved it all, and more. A frigate wouldn’t have been too much to pay for so much spirit and coolness, had there been such a thing on Ontario, as there is not, hows’ever, or likely to be.”
“But Jasper — you have not yet told me how he got the command of the schooner.”