“What I can I will do, Blessington,” rejoined the youth, as they both moved from the ramparts; “but the task is, in truth, one to which I find myself wholly unequal. How do I know that, even at this moment, my defenceless, terrified, and innocent sister may not be invoking the name and arm of her brother to save her from destruction.”
“Trust in Providence, Charles. Even although our worst apprehensions be realised, as I fervently trust they will not, your sister may be spared. The Canadian could not have been unfaithful, or we should have learnt something of his treachery from the Indians. Another week will confirm us in the truth or fallacy of our impressions. Until then, let us arm our hearts with hope. Trust me, we shall yet see the laughing eyes of Clara fill with tears of affection, as I recount to her all her too sensitive and too desponding brother has suffered for her sake.”
De Haldimar made no reply. He deeply felt the kind intention of his captain, but was far from cherishing the hope that had been recommended. He sighed heavily, pressed the arm, on which he leaned, in gratitude for the motive, and moved silently with his friend to join their company below the rampart.
Meanwhile the white flag had again been raised by the Indians upon the bomb-proof; and this having been readily met by a corresponding signal from the fort, a numerous band of savages now issued from the cover with which their dark forms had hitherto been identified, and spread themselves far and near upon the common. On this occasion they were without arms, offensive or defensive, of any kind, if we may except the knife which was always carried at the girdle, and which constituted a part rather of their necessary dress than of their warlike equipment. These warriors might have been about five hundred in number, and were composed chiefly of picked men from the nations of the Ottawas, the Delawares, and the Shawanees; each race being distinctly recognisable from the others by certain peculiarities of form and feature which individualised, if we may so term it, the several tribes. Their only covering was the legging before described, composed in some instances of cloth, but principally of smoked deerskin, and the flap that passed through the girdle around the loins, by which the straps attached to the leggings were secured. Their bodies, necks, and arms were, with the exception of a few slight ornaments, entirely naked; and even the blanket, that served them as a couch by night and a covering by day, had, with one single exception, been dispensed with, apparently with a view to avoid any thing like encumbrance in their approaching sport. Each individual was provided with a stout sapling of about three feet in length, curved, and flattened at the root extremity, like that used at the Irish hurdle; which game, in fact, the manner of ball-playing among the Indians in every way resembled.