The bee-hunter was astonished at the immovable calmness with which Pigeonswing still stood to his tree, awaiting the approach of the sentinel. In a few moments the latter was at his side. At first the Pottawattamie did not perceive that the prisoner was unbound. He threw him into shadow by his own person, and it required a close look to note the circumstance. Boden was too far from the spot to see all the minor movements of the parties, but there was soon a struggle that could not be mistaken. As the Pottawattamie was examining the prisoner, an exclamation that escaped him betrayed the sudden consciousness that the Chippewa was unbound. The sound was no sooner uttered than Pigeonswing made a grasp at the sentinel’s knife, which however he did not obtain, when the two closed and fell, rolling down the declivity into the darkness. When the Pottawattamie seized the Chippewa, he uttered a yell, which instantly brought every man of his party to his feet. As the savages now united in the whoops, and the dogs began to bark wildly, an infernal clamor was made.
At first, le Bourdon did not know how to act. He greatly feared the dogs, and could not but think of Margery, and the probable consequences, should those sagacious animals follow him across the marsh. But he did not like the idea of abandoning Pigeonswing, when a single blow of his arm, or a kick of his foot, might be the cause of his escape. While deliberating in painful uncertainty, the sounds of the struggle ceased, and he saw the sentinel rising again into the light, limping like one who had suffered by a fall. Presently he heard a footstep near him, and, calling in a low voice, he was immediately joined by Pigeonswing. Before the bee-hunter was aware of his intention, the Chippewa seized his rifle, and levelling at the sentinel, who still stood on the brow of the hill, drawn in all his savage outlines distinctly in the light of the flames, he fired. The cry, the leap into the air, and the fall, announced the unerring character of the aim. In coming to the earth, the wounded man fell over the brow of the sharp acclivity, and was heard rolling toward its base.
Le Bourdon felt the importance of now improving the precious moments, and was in the act of urging his companion to follow, when the latter passed an arm around his body, whipped his knife from the girdle and sheath, and dropping the rifle into his friend’s arms, bounded away in the darkness, taking the direction of his fallen enemy. There was no mistaking all this; Chippewa, led by his own peculiar sense of honor, risking everything to obtain the usual trophy of victory. By this time, a dozen of the savages stood on the brow of the hill, seemingly at a loss to understand what had become of the combatants. Perceiving this, the bee-hunter profited by the delay and reloaded his rifle. As everything passed almost as swiftly as the electric spark is known to travel, it was but a moment after the Pottawattamie fell ere his conqueror was through with his bloody task. Just as le Bourdon threw his rifle up into the hollow of his arm, he was rejoined by his red friend, who bore the reeking scalp of the sentinel at his belt; though fortunately the bee-hunter did not see it on account of the obscurity, else might he not have been so willing to continue to act with so ruthless an ally.