Two days had succeeded to the departure of the officers from the fort, but unproductive of any event of importance. About daybreak, however, on the morning of the third, the harassed garrison were once more summoned to arms, by an alarm from the sentinels planted in rear of the works; a body of Indians they had traced and lost at intervals, as they wound along the skirt of the forest, in their progress from their encampment, were at length developing themselves in force near the bomb proof. With a readiness which long experience and watchfulness had rendered in some degree habitual to them, the troops flew to their respective posts; while a few of the senior officers, among whom was the governor, hastened to the ramparts to reconnoitre the strength and purpose of their enemies. It was evident the views of these latter were not immediately hostile; for neither were they in their war paint, nor were their arms of a description to carry intimidation to a disciplined and fortified soldiery. Bows, arrows, tomahawks, war clubs, spears, and scalping knives, constituted their warlike equipments, but neither rifle nor fire-arms of any kind were discernible. Several of their leaders, distinguishable by a certain haughty carriage and commanding gesticulation, were collected within the elevated bomb-proof, apparently holding a short but important conference apart from their people, most of whom stood or lay in picturesque attitudes around the ruin. These also had a directing spirit. A tall and noble looking warrior, wearing a deer-skin hunting frock closely girded around his loins, appeared to command the deference of his colleagues, claiming profound attention when he spoke himself, and manifesting his assent or dissent to the apparently expressed opinions of the lesser chiefs merely by a slight movement of the head.
“There he is indeed!” exclaimed Captain Erskine, speaking as one who communes with his own thoughts, while he kept his telescope levelled on the form of the last warrior; “looking just as noble as when, three years ago, he opposed himself to the progress of the first English detachment that had ever penetrated to this part of the world. What a pity such a fine fellow should be so desperate and determined an enemy!”
“True; you were with Major Rogers on that expedition,” observed the governor, in a tone now completely divested of the haughtiness which formerly characterised his address to his officers. “I have often heard him speak of it. You had many difficulties to contend against, if I recollect.”
“We had indeed, sir,” returned the frank-hearted Erskine, dropping the glass from his eye. “So many, in fact, that more than once, in the course of our progress through the wilderness, did I wish myself at head-quarters with my company. Never shall I forget the proud and determined expression of Ponteac’s countenance, when he told Rogers, in his figurative language, ’he stood in the path in which he travelled.’ "