“Look, look,” eagerly remarked Lieutenant Johnstone—“see how they are flying to their canoes, bounding and leaping like so many devils broke loose from their chains. The fire is nearly deserted already.”
“The schooner—the schooner!” shouted Captain Erskine. “By Heaven, our own gallant schooner! see how beautifully she drives past the island. It was her gun we heard, intended as a signal to prepare us for her appearance.”
A thrill of wild and indescribable emotion passed through every heart. Every eye was turned upon the point to which attention was now directed. The graceful vessel, with every stitch of canvass set, was shooting rapidly past the low bushes skirting the sands that still concealed her hull; and in a moment or two she loomed largely and proudly on the bosom of the Detroit, the surface of which was slightly curled with a north-western breeze.
“Safe, by Jupiter!” exclaimed the delighted Erskine, dropping the glass upon the rampart, and rubbing his hands together with every manifestation of joy.
“The Indians are in chase,” said Lieutenant Boyce; “upwards of fifty canoes are following in the schooner’s wake. But Danvers will soon give us an account of their Lilliputian fleet.”
“Let the troops be held in readiness for a sortie, Mr. Lawson,” said the governor, who had joined his officers just as the schooner cleared the island; “we must cover their landing, or, with this host of savages in pursuit, they will never effect it alive.”
During the whole of this brief but exciting scene, the heart of Charles de Haldimar beat audibly. A thousand hopes and fears rushed confusedly on his mind, and he was as one bewildered by, and scarcely crediting what he saw. Could Clara,—could his cousin—could his brother—could his friend be on board? He scarcely dared to ask himself these questions; still it was with a fluttering heart, in which hope, however, predominated, that he hastened to execute an order of his captain, that bore immediate reference to his duty as subaltern of the guard.
Meanwhile the schooner dashed rapidly along, her hull occasionally hid from the view of those assembled on the ramparts by some intervening orchard or cluster of houses, but her tall spars glittering in their covering of white canvass, and marking the direction of her course. At length she came to a point in the river that offered no other interruption to the eye than what arose from the presence of almost all the inhabitants of the village, who, urged by curiosity and surprise, were to be seen crowding the intervening bank. Here the schooner was suddenly put about, and the English colours, hitherto concealed by the folds of the canvass, were at length discovered proudly floating in the breeze.