Immediately over the gateway of the fort there was an elevated platform, approached by the rampart, of which it formed a part, by some half dozen rude steps on either side; and on this platform was placed a long eighteen pounder, that commanded the whole extent of road leading from the drawbridge to the river. Hither the officers had all repaired, while the schooner was in the act of passing the town; and now that, suddenly brought up in the wind’s eye, she rode leisurely in the offing, every movement on her decks was plainly discernible with the telescope.
“Where the devil can Danvers have hid all his crew?” first spoke Captain Erskine; “I count but half a dozen hands altogether on deck, and these are barely sufficient to work her.”
“Lying concealed, and ready, no doubt, to give the canoes a warm reception,” observed Lieutenant Johnstone; “but where can our friends be? Surely, if there, they would show themselves to us.”
There was truth in this remark; and each felt discouraged and disappointed that they did not appear.
“There come the whooping hell fiends,” said Major Blackwater. “By Heaven! the very water is darkened with the shadows of their canoes.”
Scarcely had he spoken, when the vessel was suddenly surrounded by a multitude of savages, whose fierce shouts rent the air, while their dripping paddles, gleaming like silver in the rays of the rising sun, were alternately waved aloft in triumph, and then plunged into the troubled element, which they spurned in fury from their blades.
“What can Danvers be about? Why does he not either open his fire, or crowd sail and away from them?” exclaimed several voices.
The detachment is in readiness, sir,” said Mr. Lawson, ascending the platform, and addressing Major Blackwater.
“The deck, the deck!” shouted Erskine.
Already the eyes of several were bent in the direction alluded to by the last speaker, while those whose attention had been diverted by the approaching canoes glanced rapidly to the same point. To the surprise and consternation of all, the tall and well-remembered form of the warrior of the Fleur de lis was seen towering far above the bulwarks of the schooner; and with an expression in the attitude he had assumed, which no one could mistake for other than that of triumphant defiance. Presently he drew from the bosom of his hunting coat a dark parcel, and springing into the rigging of the main-mast, ascended with incredible activity to the point where the English ensign was faintly floating in the breeze. This he tore furiously away, and rending it into many pieces, cast the fragments into the silver element beneath him, on whose bosom they were seen to float among the canoes of the savages, many of whom possessed themselves, with eagerness, of the gaudy coloured trophies. The dark parcel was now unfolded by the active warrior, who, after having waved it several times round his head, commenced attaching it to the lines whence the English ensign had so recently been torn. It was a large black flag, the purport of which was too readily comprehended by the excited officers.