The gale was still blowing very fresh at south; and there were places in the river where its surface looked green and angry, though the wind had hardly sweep enough to raise the water into foam. The shape of the little island was nearly oval, and its greater length was from east to west. By keeping in the channels that washed it, in consequence of their several courses and of the direction of the gale, it would have been possible for a vessel to range past the island on either of its principal sides, and always to keep the wind very nearly abeam. These were the facts first noticed by Cap, and explained to his companion; for the hopes of both now rested on the chances of relief sent from Oswego. At this instant, while they stood gazing anxiously about them, Cap cried out, in his lusty, hearty manner,
Pathfinder turned quickly in the direction of his companion’s face; and there, sure enough, was just visible the object of the old sailor’s exclamation. The elevation enabled the two to overlook the low land of several of the adjacent islands; and the canvas of a vessel was seen through the bushes that fringed the shore of one that lay to the southward and westward. The stranger was under what seamen call low sail; but so great was the power of the wind, that her white outlines were seen flying past the openings of the verdure with the velocity of a fast-travelling horse — resembling a cloud driving in the heavens.
“That cannot be Jasper,” said Pathfinder in disappointment; for be did not recognize the cutter of his friend in the swift-passing object. “No, no, the lad is behind the hour; and that is some craft which the Frenchers have sent to aid their friends, the accursed Mingos.”
“This time you are out in your reckoning, friend Pathfinder, if you never were before,” returned Cap in a manner that had lost none of its dogmatism by the critical circumstances in which they were placed. “Fresh water or salt, that is the head of the Scud’s mainsail, for it is cut with a smaller gore than common; and then you can see that the gaff has been fished — quite neatly done, I admit, but fished.”
“I can see none of this, I confess,” answered Pathfinder, to whom even the terms of his companion were Greek.
“No! Well, I own that surprises me, for I thought your eyes could see anything! Now to me nothing is plainer than that gore and that fish; and I must say, my honest friend, that in your place I should apprehend that my sight was beginning to fail.”
“If Jasper is truly coming, I shall apprehend but little. We can make good the block against the whole Mingo nation for the next eight or ten hours; and with Eau-douce to cover the retreat, I shall despair of nothing. God send that the lad may not run alongside of the bank, and fall into an ambushment, as befell the Sergeant!”