“We can do the chief no good, lad, and must quit this spot as fast as possible.”
“Without one attempt to rescue him? — without even knowing whether he be dead or living?”
“Jasper is right,” said Mabel, who could speak, though her voice sounded huskily and smothered; “I have no fears, uncle, and will stay here until we know what has become of our friend.”
“This seems reasonable, Pathfinder,” put in Cap. “Your true seaman cannot well desert a messmate; and I am glad to find that motives so correct exist among those fresh-water people.”
“Tut! tut!” returned the impatient guide, forcing the canoe into the stream as he spoke; “ye know nothing and ye fear nothing. If ye value your lives, think of reaching the garrison, and leave the Delaware in the hands of Providence. Ah’s me! the deer that goes too often to the lick meets the hunter at last!”
And is this — Yarrow? — this
Of which my fancy cherish’d
So faithfully a waking dream?
An image that hath perish’d?
Oh that some minstrel’s harp were near,
To utter notes of gladness,
And chase this silence from the air,
That fills my heart with sadness.
THE scene was not without its sublimity, and the ardent, generous-minded Mabel felt her blood thrill in her veins and her cheeks flush, as the canoe shot into the strength of the stream, to quit the spot. The darkness of the night had lessened, by the dispersion of the clouds; but the overhanging woods rendered the shore so obscure, that the boats floated down the current in a belt of gloom that effectually secured them from detection. Still, there was necessarily a strong feeling of insecurity in all on board them; and even Jasper, who by this time began to tremble, in behalf of the girl, at every unusual sound that arose from the forest, kept casting uneasy glances around him as he drifted on in company. The paddle was used lightly, and only with exceeding care; for the slightest sound in the breathing stillness of that hour and place might apprise the watchful ears of the Iroquois of their position.
All these accessories added to the impressive grandeur of her situation, and contributed to render the moment much the most exciting which had ever occurred in the brief existence of Mabel Dunham. Spirited, accustomed to self-reliance, and sustained by the pride of considering herself a soldier’s daughter, she could hardly be said to be under the influence of fear, yet her heart often beat quicker than common, her fine blue eye lighted with an exhibition of a resolution that was wasted in the darkness, and her quickened feelings came in aid of the real sublimity that belonged to the scene and to the incidents of the night.
“Mabel!” said the suppressed voice of Jasper, as the two canoes floated so near each other that the hand of the young man held them together, “you have no dread? You trust freely to our care and willingness to protect you?”