“No stand,” answered the Indian in a low whisper—“too much tie.”
At the next moment the feet of the Chippewa were released, as were also his knees. Of all the fastenings none now remained but that which bound the captive to the tree. In not cutting this, the bee-hunter manifested his coolness and judgment; for were the stout rope of bark severed, the Indian would have fallen like a log, from total inability to stand. His thongs had impeded the circulation of the blood, and the usual temporary paralysis had been the consequence. Pigeonswing understood the reason of his friend’s forbearance, and managed to rub his hands and wrists together, while the bee-hunter himself applied friction to his feet, by passing his own arms around the bottom of the tree. The reader may imagine the intense anxiety of Margery the while; for she witnessed the arrival of le Bourdon at the tree, and could not account for the long delay which succeeded.
All this time, the dogs were far from being quiet or satisfied. Their masters, accustomed to being surrounded at night by wolves and foxes, or other beasts, took little heed, however, of the discontent of these creatures, which were in the habit of growling in their lairs. The bee-hunter, as he kept rubbing at his friend’s legs, felt now but little apprehension of the dogs, though a new source of alarm presented itself by the time the Chippewa was barely able to sustain his weight on his feet, and long before he could use them with anything like his former agility. The manner in which the savages came together in the hut, and the gestures made by their chief, announced pretty plainly that a watch was about to be set for the night. As it was probable that the sentinel would take his station near the prisoner, the bee-hunter was at a loss to decide whether it were better to commence the flight before or after the rest of the savages were in their lairs. Placing his mouth as close to the ear of Pigeonswing as could be done without bringing his head into the light, the following dialogue passed between le Bourdon and the captive.
“Do you see, Chippewa,” the bee-hunter commenced, “the chief is telling one of the young men to come and keep guard near you?”
“See him, well ’nough. Make too many sign, no to see.”
“What think you—shall we wait till the warriors are asleep, or try to be off before the sentinel comes?”
“Bess wait, if one t’ing. You got rifle—got tomahawk—got knife, eh?”