The search was not long, but it was intently anxious. At length Margery saw the lost canoe just as it was drifting past them, and it was secured immediately. In a few minutes, le Bourdon succeeded in forcing the two craft into open water, when it was easy for him to paddle both to windward. The reader can readily imagine that our hero did not permit many minutes to elapse, ere he questioned his companion on the subject of her adventures. Nor was Margery reluctant to tell them. She had become alarmed at le Bourdon’s protracted absence, and taking advantage of Pigeonswing lying down, she unloaded her brother’s canoe, and went out into the river to look for the absent one. As a matter of course—though so feminine and far removed from all appearance of coarseness, a true American girl in this respect—Margery knew perfectly well how to manage a bark canoe. The habits of her life for the last few years, made her acquainted with this simple art; and strength being much less needed than skill, she had no difficulty in going whither she wished. The fires served as beacons, and Margery had been a distant witness of the bee-hunter’s necromancy as well as of his escape. The instant the latter was effected, she endeavored to join him; and it was while incautiously paddling along the outer edge of the rice, with this intention, that her canoe was seized by two of the swimmers. As soon as these last ascertained that they had captured a “squaw,” they did not give themselves the trouble to get into the canoe—a very difficult operation with one made of bark, and which is not loaded—but they set about towing the captured craft to the shore, swimming each with a single hand and holding on by the other.
“I shall not soon forget this kindness of yours, Margery,” said le Bourdon, with warmth, when the girl had ended her simple tale, which had been related in the most artless and ingenuous manner. “No man could forget so generous a risk on the part of a young woman in his behalf.”
“I hope you do not think it wrong, Bourdon—I should be sorry to have you think ill of me!”
“Wrong, dear Margery!—but no matter. Let us get ourselves out of present difficulties, and into a place of safety; then I will tell you honestly what I think of it, and of you, too. Was your brother awake, dear Margery, when you left the family?”
“I believe not—he sleeps long and heavily after drinking. But he can now drink no more, until he reaches the settlements.”
“Not unless he finds the whiskey spring,” returned the bee-hunter, laughing.
The young man then related to his wondering companion the history of the mummery and incantations of which she had been a distant spectator. Le Bourdon’s heart was light, after his hazards and escape, and his spirits rose as his narrative proceeded. Nor was pretty Margery in a mood to balk his humor. As the bee-hunter recounted his contrivances to elude the savages, and most especially when he gave the particulars of the manner in which he managed to draw whiskey out of the living rock, the girl joined in his merriment, and filled the boat with that melody of the laugh of her years and sex, which is so beautifully described by Halleck.