Every one looked around, but the captive was nowhere to be seen. Search was made below, both in the cabin and in the fore decks, and men were sent up aloft to see if he had secreted himself in the rigging; but all returned, stating he was nowhere to be found. He had disappeared from the vessel altogether, yet no one knew how; for he had not been observed to stir from the spot on which he had first planted himself. It was plain, however, he had joined the mysterious party in the canoe, from the fact of the second paddle having been detected; and all attempts at pursuit, without endangering the vessel on the shallows, whither the course of the fugitives was now directed, was declared by the boatswain utterly impracticable.
The announcement of the Indian’s disappearance seemed to put the climax to the despair of the unfortunate officer. —“Then is our every hope lost!” he groaned aloud, as, quitting the centre of the vessel, he slowly traversed the deck, and once more stood at the side of his no less unhappy and excited sister. For a moment or two he remained with his arms folded across his chest, gazing on the dark outline of her form; and then, in a wild paroxysm of silent tearless grief, threw himself suddenly on the edge of the couch, and clasping her in a long close embrace to his audibly beating heart, lay like one bereft of all sense and consciousness of surrounding objects.
Volume Three of Three
The night passed away without further event on board the schooner, yet in all the anxiety that might be supposed incident to men so perilously situated. Habits of long-since acquired superstition, too powerful to be easily shaken off, moreover contributed to the dejection of the mariners, among whom there were not wanting those who believed the silent steersman was in reality what their comrade had represented,—an immaterial being, sent from the world of spirits to warn them of some impending evil. What principally gave weight to this impression were the repeated asseverations of Fuller, during the sleepless night passed by all on deck, that what he had seen was no other, could be no other, than a ghost! exhibiting in its hueless, fleshless cheek, the well-known lineaments of one who was supposed to be no more: and, if the story of their comrade had needed confirmation among men in whom faith in, rather than love for, the marvellous was a constitutional ingredient, the terrible effect that seemed to have been produced on Captain de Haldimar by the same mysterious visitation would have been more than conclusive. The very appearance of the night, too, favoured the delusion. The heavens, comparatively clear at the moment when the canoe approached the vessel, became suddenly enveloped in the deepest