The mandate was promptly obeyed; and, in despite of his own unceasing prayers and protestations of innocence, and the tears and entreaties of his dark-eyed daughter Babette, who had thrown herself on her knees at his side, the stout arms of mine host of the Fleur de lis were soon firmly secured behind his back with the strong rope that had been found under such suspicious circumstances in his possession. Before he was marched off, however, two of the men who had been sent in pursuit, returned from the orchard, stating that further search was now fruitless. They had penetrated through a small thicket at the extremity of the grounds, and had distinctly seen a man answering the description given by their comrades, in full flight towards the forest skirting the heights in front.
The governor was evidently far from being satisfied with the result of a search too late instituted to leave even a prospect of success. “Where are the Indians principally encamped, sirrah?” he sternly demanded of his captive; “answer me truly, or I will carry off this wench as well, and if a single hair of a man of mine be even singed by a shot from a skulking enemy, you may expect to see her bayoneted before your eyes.”
“Ah, my God! Monsieur le Gouverneur,” exclaimed the affrighted aubergiste, “as I am an honest man, I shall tell de truth, but spare my child. They are all in de forest, and half a mile from de little river dat runs between dis and de Pork Island.”
“Hog Island, I suppose you mean.”
“Yes sir, de Hog Island is de one I means.”
“Conduct him to the centre, and let him be confronted with the prisoner,” directed the governor, addressing his adjutant; “Captain Blessington, your men may resume their stations in the ranks.”
The order was obeyed; and notwithstanding the tears and supplications of the now highly excited Babette, who flung herself upon his neck, and was only removed by force, the terrified Canadian was borne off from his premises by the troops.
While this scene was enacting in front of the Fleur de lis, one of a far more touching and painful nature was passing in the very heart of the detachment itself. At the moment when the halt was ordered by Captain Blessington, a rumour ran through the ranks that they had reached the spot destined for the execution of their ill-fated comrade. Those only in the immediate front were aware of the true cause; but although the report of the rifle had been distinctly heard by all,