Meanwhile the anxious and harassed officers had regained their place of concealment under the bridge, where they listened with suppressed breathing for the slightest sound to indicate the approach of the canoe. At intervals they fancied they could hear a noise resembling the rippling of water against the prow of a light vessel, but the swelling cries of the rushing band, becoming at every instant more distinct, were too unceasingly kept up to admit of their judging with accuracy.
They now began to give themselves up for lost, and many and bitter were the curses they inwardly bestowed on the Canadian, when the outline of a human form was seen advancing along the sands, and a dark object upon the water. It was their conductor, dragging the canoe along, with all the strength and activity of which he was capable.
“What the devil have you been about all this time, Francois?” exclaimed the taller officer, as he bounded to meet him. “Quick, quick, or we shall be too late. Hear you not the blood-hounds on their scent?” Then seizing the chain in his hand, with a powerful effort he sent the canoe flying through the arch to the very entrance of the river. The burdens that had been deposited on the sands were hastily flung in, the officers stepping lightly after. The Canadian took the helm, directing the frail vessel almost noiselessly through the water, and with such velocity, that when the cry of the disappointed savages was heard resounding from the bridge, it had already gained the centre of the Detroit.
Two days had succeeded to the departure of the officers from the fort, but unproductive of any event of importance. About daybreak, however, on the morning of the third, the harassed garrison were once more summoned to arms, by an alarm from the sentinels planted in rear of the works; a body of Indians they had traced and lost at intervals, as they wound along the skirt of the forest, in their progress from their encampment, were at length developing themselves in force near the bomb proof. With a readiness which long experience and watchfulness had rendered in some degree habitual to them, the troops flew to their respective posts; while a few of the senior officers, among whom was the governor, hastened to the ramparts to reconnoitre the strength and purpose of their enemies. It was evident the views of these latter were not immediately hostile;