How shall we attempt to paint all that passed through the mind of Captain de Haldimar during this important conference of the fierce chiefs?—where find language to convey the cold and thrilling horror with which he listened to the calm discussion of a plan, the object of which was the massacre, not only of a host of beings endeared to him by long communionship of service, but of those who were wedded to his heart by the dearer ties of affection and kindred? As Ponteac had justly observed, the English garrisons, strong in their own defences, were little likely to be speedily reduced, while their enemies confined themselves to overt acts of hostility; but, against their insidious professions of amity who could oppose a sufficient caution? His father, the young officer was aware, had all along manifested a spirit of conciliation towards the Indians, which, if followed up by the government generally, must have had the effect of preventing the cruel and sanguinary war that had so recently desolated this remote part of the British possessions. How likely, therefore, was it, having this object always in view, he should give in to the present wily stratagem, where such plausible motives for the abandonment of their hostile purpose were urged by the perfidious chiefs! From the few hasty hints already given him by his guide,—that kind being, who evidently sought to be the saviour of the devoted garrisons,—he had gathered that a deep and artful plan was to be submitted to the chiefs by their leader; but little did he imagine it was of the finished nature it now proved to be. Any other than the present attempt, the vigilance and prudence of his experienced father, he felt, would have rendered abortive; but there was so much speciousness in the pleas that were to be advanced in furtherance of their assumed object, he could not but admit the almost certainty of their influence, even on him.
Sick and discouraged as he was at the horrible perspective thus forced on his mental view, the young officer had not, for some moments, presence of mind to reflect that the danger of the garrison existed only so long as he should be absent from it. At length, however, the cheering recollection came, and with it the mantling rush of blood, to his faint heart. But, short was the consoling hope: again he felt dismay in every fibre of his frame; for he now reflected, that although his opportune discovery of the meditated scheme would save one fort, there was no guardian angel to extend, as in this instance, its protecting influence to the other; and within that other there breathed those who were dearer far to him than his own existence;—beings, whose lives were far more precious to him than any even in the garrison of which he was a member. His sister Clara, whom he loved with a love little inferior to that of his younger brother; and one, even more dearly loved than Clara,—Madeline de Haldimar, his cousin