The soldiers were soon satisfied with the prospect, and one by one they disappeared, until none were left on deck but the crew, the Sergeant, Cap, Pathfinder, the Quartermaster, and Mabel. There was a shade on the brow of the last, who had been made acquainted with the real state of things, and who had fruitlessly ventured an appeal in favor of Jasper’s restoration to the command. A night’s rest and a night’s reflection appeared also to have confirmed the Pathfinder in his opinion of the young man’s innocence; and he, too, had made a warm appeal on behalf of his friend, though with the same want of success.
Several hours passed away, the wind gradually getting heavier and the sea rising, until the motion of the cutter compelled Mabel and the Quartermaster to retreat also. Cap wore several times; and it was now evident that the Scud was drifting into the broader and deeper parts of the lake, the seas raging down upon her in a way that none but a vessel of superior mould and build could have long ridden and withstood. All this, however, gave Cap no uneasiness; but, like the hunter that pricks his ears at the sound of the horn, or the war-horse that paws and snorts with pleasure at the roll of the drum, the whole scene awakened all that was man within him; and instead of the captious, supercilious, and dogmatic critic, quarrelling with trifles and exaggerating immaterial things, he began to exhibit the qualities of the hardy and experienced seaman which he truly was. The hands soon imbibed a respect for his skill; and, though they wondered at the disappearance of their old commander and the pilot, for which no reason had been publicly given, they soon yielded an implicit and cheerful obedience to the new one.
“This bit of fresh water, after all, brother Dunham, has some spirit, I find,” cried Cap about noon, rubbing his hands in pure satisfaction at finding himself once more wrestling with the elements. “The wind seems to be an honest old-fashioned gale, and the seas have a fanciful resemblance to those of the Gulf Stream. I like this, Sergeant, I like this, and shall get to respect your lake, if it hold out twenty-four hours longer in the fashion in which it has begun.”
“Land, ho!” shouted the man who was stationed on the forecastle.
Cap hurried forward; and there, sure enough, the land was visible through the drizzle, at the distance of about half a mile, the cutter heading directly towards it. The first impulse of the old seaman was to give an order to “stand by, to ware off shore;” but the cool-headed soldier restrained him.
“By going a little nearer,” said the Sergeant, “some of us may recognize the place. Most of us know the American shore in this part of the lake; and it will be something gained to learn our position.”
“Very true, very true; if, indeed, there is any chance of that we will hold on. What is this off here, a little on our weather-bow? It looks like a low headland.”