“They are dancing their infernal war dance,” said Captain Wentworth. “How I should like to be able to discharge a twenty-four pound battery, loaded with grape, into the very heart of the devilish throng.”
“Do you see any prisoners?—Are any of our friends among them?” eagerly and tremblingly enquired De Haldimar of the officer who had last spoken.
Captain Wentworth made a sweep of his glass along the shores of the island; but apparently without success. He announced that he could discover nothing but a vast number of bark canoes lying dry and upturned on the beach.
“It is an unusual hour for their war dance,” observed Captain Blessington. “My experience furnishes me with no one instance in which it has not been danced previous to their retiring to rest.”
“Unless,” said Lieutenant Boyce, “they should have been thus engaged all night; in which case the singularity may be explained.”
“Look, look,” eagerly remarked Lieutenant Johnstone—“see how they are flying to their canoes, bounding and leaping like so many devils broke loose from their chains. The fire is nearly deserted already.”
“The schooner—the schooner!” shouted Captain Erskine. “By Heaven, our own gallant schooner! see how beautifully she drives past the island. It was her gun we heard, intended as a signal to prepare us for her appearance.”
A thrill of wild and indescribable emotion passed through every heart. Every eye was turned upon the point to which attention was now directed. The graceful vessel, with every stitch of canvass set, was shooting rapidly past the low bushes skirting the sands that still concealed her hull; and in a moment or two she loomed largely and proudly on the bosom of the Detroit, the surface of which was slightly curled with a north-western breeze.
“Safe, by Jupiter!” exclaimed the delighted Erskine, dropping the glass upon the rampart, and rubbing his hands together with every manifestation of joy.
“The Indians are in chase,” said Lieutenant Boyce; “upwards of fifty canoes are following in the schooner’s wake. But Danvers will soon give us an account of their Lilliputian fleet.”
“Let the troops be held in readiness for a sortie, Mr. Lawson,” said the governor, who had joined his officers just as the schooner cleared the island; “we must cover their landing, or, with this host of savages in pursuit, they will never effect it alive.”
During the whole of this brief but exciting scene, the heart of Charles de Haldimar beat audibly. A thousand hopes and fears rushed confusedly on his mind, and he was as one bewildered by, and scarcely crediting what he saw. Could Clara,—could his cousin—could his brother—could his friend be on board? He scarcely dared to ask himself these questions; still it was with a fluttering heart, in which hope, however, predominated, that he hastened to execute an order of his captain, that bore immediate reference to his duty as subaltern of the guard.