Such were the more remarkable features of the apartment into which our adventurers were now ushered. Both looked cautiously around on entering, as if expecting to find it tenanted by spirits as daring as their own; but, with the exception of the daughter of their conductor, whose moist black eyes expressed, as much by tears as by smiles, the joy she felt at this unexpected return of her parent, no living object met their enquiring glance. The Canadian placed a couple of rush-bottomed chairs near the fire, invited his companions to seat themselves until he had completed his preparation for departure, and then, desiring Babette to hasten supper for the young hunters, quitted the room and descended the stairs.
The position of the young men was one of embarrassment; for while the daughter, who was busied in executing the command of her father, remained in the room, it was impossible they could converse together without betraying the secret of their country, and, as a result of this, the falsehood of the character under which they appeared. Long residence in the country had, it is true, rendered the patois of that class of people whom they personated familiar to one, but the other spoke only the pure and native language of which it was a corruption. It might have occurred to them at a cooler moment, and under less critical circumstances, that, even if their disguise had been penetrated, it was unlikely a female, manifesting so much lively affection for her parent, would have done aught to injure those with whom he had evidently connected himself. But the importance attached to their entire security from danger left them but little room for reflections of a calming character, while a doubt of that security remained.
One singularity struck them both. They had expected the young woman, urged by a natural curiosity, would have commenced a conversation, even if they did not; and he who spoke the patois was prepared to sustain it as well as his anxious and overcharged spirit would enable him; and as he was aware the morning had furnished sufficient incident of fearful interest, he had naturally looked for a verbal re-enactment of the harrowing and dreadful scene. To their surprise, however, they both remarked that, far from evincing a desire to enter into conversation, the young woman scarcely ever looked at them, but lingered constantly near the table, and facing the window. Still, to avoid an appearance of singularity on their own parts as far as possible, the elder of the officers motioned to his companion, who, following his example, took a small pipe and some tobacco from a compartment in his shot pouch, and commenced puffing the wreathing smoke from his lips,—an occupation, more than any other, seeming to justify their silence.