“This may be all right, Mr. Muir, though, if the whole is accidental, the flag might be the occasion of the fort’s being discovered.”
Mabel stayed to utter no more; but she was soon out of sight, running into the hut towards which she had been first proceeding. The Quartermaster remained on the very spot and in the precise attitude in which she had left him for quite a minute, first looking at the bounding figure of the girl and then at the bit of bunting, which he still held before him in a way to denote indecision. His irresolution lasted but for this minute, however; for he was soon beneath the tree, where he fastened the mimic flag to a branch again, though, from his ignorance of the precise spot from which it had been taken by Mabel, he left it fluttering from a part of the oak where it was still more exposed than before to the eyes of any passenger on the river, though less in view from the island itself.
Each one has had his supping mess,
The cheese is put into the press,
The pans and bowls, clean scalded all,
Reared up against the milk-house wall.
It seemed strange to Mabel Dunham, as she passed along on her way to find her female companion, that others should be so composed, while she herself felt as if the responsibilities of life and death rested on her shoulders. It is true that distrust of June’s motives mingled with her forebodings; but when she came to recall the affectionate and natural manner of the young Indian girl, and all the evidences of good faith and sincerity she had seen in her conduct during the familiar intercourse of their journey, she rejected the idea with the unwillingness of a generous disposition to believe ill of others. She saw, however, that she could not put her companions properly on their guard without letting them into the secret of her conference with June; and she found herself compelled to act cautiously and with a forethought to which she was unaccustomed, more especially in a matter of so much moment.
The soldier’s wife was told to transport the necessaries into the blockhouse, and admonished not to be far from it at any time during the day. Mabel did not explain her reasons. She merely stated that she had detected some signs in walking about the island, which induced her to apprehend that the enemy had more knowledge of its position than had been previously believed, and that they two at least, would do well to be in readiness to seek a refuge at the shortest notice. It was not difficult to arouse the apprehension of this person, who, though a stout-hearted Scotchwoman, was ready enough to listen to anything that confirmed her dread of Indian cruelties. As soon as Mabel believed that her companion was sufficiently frightened to make her wary, she threw out some hints touching the inexpediency of letting the soldiers know the extent of their own fears.