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 and affianced bride,—were both inmates of Michilimackinac, which was commanded by the father of the latter, a major in the —— regiment. With Madeline de Haldimar he had long since exchanged his vows of affection; and their nuptials, which were to have taken place about the period when the present war broke out, had only been suspended because all communication between the two posts had been entirely cut off by the enemy.
Captain de Haldimar had none of the natural weakness and timidity of character which belonged to the gentler and more sensitive Charles. Sanguine and full of enterprise, he seldom met evils half way; but when they did come, he sought to master them by the firmness and collectedness with which he opposed his mind to their infliction. If his heart was now racked with the most acute suffering—his reason incapacitated from exercising its calm deliberative power, the seeming contradiction arose not from any deficiency in his character, but was attributable wholly to the extraordinary circumstances of the moment.
It was a part of the profound plan of the Ottawa chief, that it should be essayed on the two forts on the same day; and it was a suggestion of the murderer of poor Donellan, that a parley should be obtained, through the medium of a white flag, the nature of which he explained to them, as it was understood among their enemies. If invited to the council, then they were to enter, or not, as circumstances might induce; but, in any case, they were to go unprovided with the pipe of peace, since this could not be smoked without violating every thing held most sacred among themselves. The red, or war-pipe, was to be substituted as if by accident; and, for the success of the deception, they were to presume on the ignorance of their enemies. This, however, was not important, since the period of their first parley was to be the moment chosen for the arrangement of a future council, and the proposal of a ball-playing upon the common. Three days were to be named as the interval between the first conference of Ponteac with the governor and the definitive council which was to ensue; during which, however, it was so arranged, that, before the lip of a red skin should touch the pipe of peace, the ball-players should rush in and massacre the unprepared soldiery, while the chiefs despatched the officers in council.