While the Pathfinder was giving these directions, he was also making his own preparations; for he saw it was time to act. Killdeer was deliberately raised, pointed, and discharged. The whole process occupied about half a minute, and as the rifle was drawn in the eye of the marksman was applied to the hole.
“There is one riptyle the less,” Pathfinder muttered to himself; “I’ve seen that vagabond afore, and know him to be a marciless devil. Well, well! the man acted according to his gifts, and he has been rewarded according to his gifts. One more of the knaves, and that will sarve the turn for to-night. When daylight appears, we may have hotter work.”
All this time another rifle was being got ready; and as Pathfinder ceased, a second savage fell. This indeed sufficed; for, indisposed to wait for a third visitation from the same hand, the whole band, which had been crouching in the bushes around the block, ignorant of who was and who was not exposed to view, leaped from their covers and fled to different places for safety.
“Now, pour away, Master Cap,” said Pathfinder; “I’ve made my mark on the blackguards; and we shall have no more fires lighted to-night.”
“Scaldings!” cried Cap, upsetting the barrel, with a care that at once and completely extinguished the flames.
This ended the singular conflict; and the remainder of the night passed in peace. Pathfinder and Cap watched alternately, though neither can be said to have slept. Sleep indeed scarcely seemed necessary to them, for both were accustomed to protracted watchings; and there were seasons and times when the former appeared to be literally insensible to the demands of hunger and thirst and callous to the effects of fatigue.
Mabel watched by her father’s pallet, and began to feel how much our happiness in this world depends even on things that are imaginary. Hitherto she had virtually lived without a father, the connection with her remaining parent being ideal rather than positive; but now that she was about to lose him, she thought for the moment that the world would be a void after his death, and that she could never be acquainted with happiness again.
There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily, and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods.
As the light returned, Pathfinder and Cap ascended again to the roof, with a view to reconnoitre the state of things once more on the island. This part of the blockhouse had a low battlement around it, which afforded a considerable protection to those who stood in its centre; the intention having been to enable marksmen to lie behind it and to fire over its top. By making proper use, therefore, of these slight defences, — slight as to height, though abundantly ample as far as they went, — the two look-outs commanded a pretty good view of the island, its covers excepted, and of most of the channels that led to the spot.