It had been settled at the departure of the adventurers, that the instant they effected a communication with the schooner on Lake Huron, Francois should be immediately sent back, with instructions so to contrive the period of his return, that his canoe should make its appearance soon after daybreak at the nearest extremity of Hog Island, the position of which has been described in our introductory chapter. From this point a certain signal, that could be easily distinguished with the aid of a telescope, was to be made from the canoe, which, without being of a nature to attract the attention of the savages, was yet to be such as could not well be mistaken by the garrison. This was a precaution adopted, not only with the view of giving the earliest intimation of the result of the enterprise, but lest the Canadian should be prevented, by any closer investment on the part of the Indians, from communicating personally with the fort in the way he had been accustomed.
It will easily be comprehended therefore, that, as the period approached when they might reasonably look for the return of Francois, if he should return at all, the nervous anxiety of the officers became more and more developed. Upwards of a week had elapsed since the departure of their friends; and already, for the last day or two, their impatience had led them, at early dawn, and with beating hearts, to that quarter of the rampart which overlooked the eastern extremity of Hog Island. Hitherto, however, their eager watching had been in vain. As far as our recollection of the Canadian tradition of this story serves us, it must have been on the fourth night after the final discomfiture of the plans of Ponteac, and the tenth from the departure of the adventurers, that the officers were assembled in the mess-room, partaking of the scanty and frugal supper to which their long confinement had reduced them. The subject of their conversation, as it was ever of their thoughts, was the probable fate of their companions; and many and various, although all equally melancholy, were the conjectures offered as to the result. There was on the countenance of each, that deep and fixed expression of gloom, which, if it did not indicate any unmanliness of despair, told at least that hope was nearly extinct: but more especially was this remarkable in the young but sadly altered Charles de Haldimar, who, with a vacant eye and a pre-occupied manner, seemed wholly abstracted from the scene before him.