Mabel sickened at this sight, which not only did so much violence to all her notions of propriety, but which was in itself so revolting and so opposed to natural feeling. She withdrew to a seat, and hid her face in her apron for several minutes, until a low call from June again drew her to a loophole. The latter then pointed out the body of Jennie seemingly standing in the door of a hut, leaning forward as if to look at the group of men, her cap fluttering in the wind, and her hand grasping a broom. The distance was too great to distinguish the features very accurately; but Mabel fancied that the jaw had been depressed, as if to distort the mouth into a sort of horrible laugh.
“June! June!” she exclaimed; “this exceeds all I have ever heard, or imagined as possible, in the treachery and artifices of your people.”
“Tuscarora very cunning,” said June, in a way to show that she rather approved of than condemned the uses to which the dead bodies had been applied. “Do soldier no harm now; do Iroquois good; got the scalp first; now make bodies work. By and by, burn ’em.”
This speech told Mabel how far she was separated from her friend in character; and it was several minutes before she could again address her. But this temporary aversion was lost on June, who set about preparing their simple breakfast, in a way to show how insensible she was to feelings in others which her own habits taught her to discard. Mabel ate sparingly, and her companion, as if nothing had happened. Then they had leisure again for their thoughts, and for further surveys of the island. Our heroine, though devoured with a feverish desire to be always at the loops, seldom went that she did not immediately quit them in disgust, though compelled by her apprehensions to return again in a few minutes, called by the rustling of leaves, or the sighing of the wind. It was, indeed, a solemn thing to look out upon that deserted spot, peopled by the dead in the panoply of the living, and thrown into the attitudes and acts of careless merriment and rude enjoyment. The effect on our heroine was much as if she had found herself an observer of the revelries of demons.
Throughout the livelong day not an Indian nor a Frenchman was to be seen, and night closed over the frightful but silent masquerade, with the steady and unalterable progress with which the earth obeys her laws, indifferent to the petty actors and petty scenes that are in daily bustle and daily occurrence on her bosom. The night was far more quiet than that which had preceded it, and Mabel slept with an increasing confidence; for she now felt satisfied that her own fate would not be decided until the return of her father. The following day he was expected, however, and when our heroine awoke, she ran eagerly to the loops in order to ascertain the state of the weather and the aspect of the skies, as well as the condition of the island. There lounged the fearful group on the grass; the fisherman still hung over the water, seemingly intent on his sport; and the distorted countenance of Jennie glared from out the hut in horrible contortions. But the weather had changed; the wind blew fresh from the southward, and though the air was bland, it was filled with the elements of storm.