“I hope,” timidly observed her cousin, shuddering as she spoke, “that none of those horrid chiefs will be present, Madeline; for, without any affectation of fear whatever, I feel that I could not so far overcome my disgust as to sit at the same table with them. There was a time, it is true, when I thought nothing of these things; but, since the war, I have witnessed and heard so much of their horrid deeds, that I shall never be able to endure the sight of an Indian face again. Ah!” she concluded, turning her eyes upon the lake, while she clung more closely to the embrace of her companion; “would to Heaven, Madeline, that we were both at this moment gliding in yonder vessel, and in sight of my father’s fort!”
The eyes of Miss de Haldimar followed those of her cousin, and rested on the dark hull of the schooner, with which so many recollections of the past and anticipations of the future were associated in their minds. When they had last looked upon it, all appearance of human life had vanished from its decks; but now there was strong evidence of unusual bustle and activity. Numerous persons could be seen moving hastily to and fro, their heads just peering above the bulwarks; and presently they beheld a small boat move from the ship’s side, and shoot rapidly ahead, in a direct line with the well-known bearings of the Sinclair’s source. While they continued to gaze on this point, following the course of the light vessel, and forming a variety of conjectures as to the cause of a movement, especially remarkable from the circumstance of the commander being at that moment in the fort, whither he had been summoned to attend the council, another and scarcely perceptible object was dimly seen, at the distance of about half a mile in front of the boat. With the aid of a telescope, which had formed one of the principal resources of the cousins during their long imprisonment, Miss de Haldimar now perceived a dark and shapeless mass moving somewhat heavily along the lake, and in a line with the schooner and the boat. This was evidently approaching; for each moment it loomed larger upon the hazy water, increasing in bulk in the same proportion that the departing skiff became less distinct: still, it was impossible to discover, at that distance, in what manner it was propelled. Wind there was none, not as much as would have changed the course of a feather dropping through space; and, except where the dividing oars of the boatmen had agitated the waters, the whole surface of the lake was like a sea of pale and liquid gold.